Let’s not get into the geek culture and pop culture argument when it comes to female role models. Both cultures have their negative sides, but you have to admit that pop culture seems to be bursting at the seams with terrible female role models. It is hardly surprising that the new age of geek culture is starting to attract as many women as it does men. Here are 15 great female role models from fiction (TV and movies). Due to the fact that so many characters are re-written and re-cast in modern TV shows and movies, I have stipulated which characters and from what.
1 Dana Scully (X-Files)
Noted for her intelligence and not her looks, she was a role model for both women and men during the X-Files era. Sensible and professional, she was the woman all thinking men wanted as a wife, and she was a woman that younger girls could look up to. She earned her position in the FBI, always did the morally right thing, stuck to the rules, and often used honest logic to counter the eccentricity of her FBI partner.
2 Ellen Ripley (Aliens)
She is professional and level headed, which are great traits in themselves and make her worthy of inclusion as a great female role model. But, you also have to take your hat off to this woman’s ability to adapt. She can adapt instantly to different personalities, positions and situations. She also shows women that loving a child is precious, even if the child is not yours.
3 Aeryn Sun (Farscape)
Born to be a soldier and eventually learns to love, yet she never loses her authority and strong will. You never see her throw a hissy fit or burst into tears because somebody called her a name. After somebody has a rant at her, the most common thing she says is, “Are you finished?” She is not perfect, but no person is. She makes her mistakes, but she is a powerful and strong woman that often overshadows and rescues the male heroes.
4 Olivia Pope (Scandal)
The image of Olivia Pope strutting around DC in a white coat "handling" business quickly became iconic after Scandal's rise to popularity. After all, how could fans resist this brilliant, powerful character? Olivia Pope is a leader, an innovator, and a renowned "fixer." Aside from having an affair with the president and bending the law from time to time, she's quite the role model for women interested in law or politics.
5 Catherine Janeway (Star Trek Voyager)
She has the poise, power, authority, smarts and sense that a captain needs, and she can stand shoulder to shoulder with any male captain and hold her head up high. She has all the traits you would want your daughter to have, and the only negative habit she has is to throw herself under the bus in order to save other people (often strangers), but even that is a noble idea in itself.
6 Buffy Summers (Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV Show)
Okay, so she is not perfect. She falls for the bad boys and occasionally misuses her power, but in essence, she is a teenage girl that has been saddled with a lot of responsibility and still makes mistakes. Doesn’t that sound like a lot of women you know that maybe became mothers a little too soon? Buffy is strong both mentally and physically, and frequently shows women that they do not need other people to fight their battles, and that it is okay to be different if you are a good person and do the right thing.
7 Sarah Connor (Terminator 1 & 2)
Thrown into a world of conflict and violence, when all she wanted was a normal life. Does she shy away from it and complain to a therapist at $200 per hour that it all makes her depressed? No, she gets the job done and she does it with a ruthless single-mindedness.
8 Cookie Lyon (Empire)
This fierce matriarch is a force to be reckoned with. Even fresh out of prison, she enters the scene raising hell and seeking justice. Cookie Lyon always knows what she wants and has a plan to make sure she gets it.
9 Black Widow (Captain America Winter Solider & Avengers Assemble)
She uses what are typically considered weaker female traits, such as emotion, sexuality and femininity to get her own way. She can wrap people around her finger while appearing to be the victim. She also keeps pace with a team of superheroes, despite the fact there is nothing typically “Superhero” about her. She also made the right decision in Captain America Civil War, even despite the fact she could have had her head ripped off by a super-being. Also, wasn’t it cute how her and Hawkeye were pulling punches; it’s nice when men and women are genuine platonic friends.
10 Mulan (from Mulan the Movie)
There are quite a few I didn’t put into this article, and Mulan was one of the few that I really had trouble deciding upon. On the one hand, she is looking for a nice man to pull her out of her current life and marry her, which is not a great role model for modern independent women. It is not a bad thing, but it is not good either. What tipped the balance for Mulan was the fact she was willing to take her dad’s place and face almost certain death because her dad was too ill to fight after being drafted. There are plenty of movies about men that are willing to throw themselves onto the sword for family members, but there are too few about women that are prepared to do the same.
11 Annalise Keating (How to Get Away with Murder)
Even though she has a more fragile side, she rarely shows it. For the most part, Annalise Keating is the epitome of a badass. She's a strong, confident, smart woman who excels in her field and knows how to take care of herself.
12 Lindsay Weir (Freaks and Geeks)
It’s okay if you do not remember Lindsay. She was a smart girl that was good at math, despite the stereotype that women are bad at math. She was also interested in politics, which is rather refreshing to see a young woman interested in more than a reason to march. She also tried to do the right thing when the opportunity arose, even if the end results would have a negative impact on herself.
13 Furiosa (Mad Max Fury Road)
The liberal media is having a good time pulling down women that are violent in movies these days by saying it is oppressive. We have had decades of men being violent in movies and being paid eye-watering amounts of money for it (the Expendable movies is living proof of that), and yet now it is suddenly “not” okay for a woman to do it? In Mad Max, Furiosa steals the show by stealing female rape victims from their captor, and then bringing back a female army to give power back to the people.
14 Evelyn Salt (Salt)
Evelyn gives up everything in order to do what is right. It may surprise you to know that this movie was originally created for a male lead, and Angelina actually fell into the role after Tom Cruise turned it down. It turns out that she played it better than anybody would have. This movie teaches girls that doing the right thing often takes sacrifice, and sometimes, doing the right thing has a very severe cost.
15 Mystique (X-Men)
She is no angel by anybody’s standard, but she is happy in her own skin. Take a look around at some women, and you see them caked in makeup with expensive hair and nails, and you wonder what they are trying to hide. Mystique is a mutant, but she walks around in her mutated skin despite the fact she can look like anybody else she wants. She has the power, but she is so confident and comfortable in her own skin, that her default appearance is her real appearance.
16 Jo March (Little Women)
Josephine March is clearly smart, if a little impulsive, and very different to the image of women in the time she lived in. Plus, she was argumentative and willing to do anything for her family if she thought it would help. She finally got what she truly deserved.
This one takes some explaining, but imagine you are a neglected child that develops telekinetic powers. She never goes all Carrie and takes revenge. She doesn’t even do a Pru from Charmed and throw them across the room. Darth Vader took over most of a Galaxy when he tamed his powers, and yet all Matilda does is play a few pranks. Morality wise, she is rather well balanced than most people would be in her situation.
18 Merida (Brave)
If young girls are looking for a strong female role model who also embodies some of the best principles of feminism, they should go no further than the red-headed Princess Merida. She’s willful and headstrong, gets in way over her head but that’s because she stands up for her right to rule her own life and will decide for herself whom to love. She has a huge respect for matriarchy and doesn’t believe women are oppressed if they are wives and mothers. She is a girl whose wisdom predates her use of lipstick and that’s awesome.
19 Sam White (Dear White People)
Sam White is never afraid to speak her mind and ensure that her voice is heard. She faces struggles many women are familiar with, from identity crises to boy troubles and fights with friends. Then Sam goes even farther by trying to destroy institutionalized racism. If trying to make the world a better place doesn't make you a badass, I don't know what does!
This article was updated by Sabrina Yates.
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