Five Feisty, Feminist, Fictional Heroines We All Wish Were Real
National Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day is a day we honor real women. But sometimes our heroines are the fictional characters of books and movies. Here are five feminist heroines we all love.
While most Disney princesses were swooning over spinning wheels and pining for True Love’s First Kiss, Mulan was unsheathing her sword, defeating the Hun army, and single-handedly saving China. You don’t get much more badass than that. And she was rocking the lob look long before it was declared “the hairstyle of 2016”.
Mulan isn’t just born talented, though. In what is probably the single-best movie montage of all time, we see her struggles to become a soldier, battling pain, exhaustion, bullying and even a full-out rejection from her sneering boss: “Pack up, go home, you’re through.” Mulan fails over, and over, and over again. Does she ever give up? Not once.
Instead she buttresses her resolve, and smashes a challenge everyone declared impossible. She proves not only that women can beat out men at even the most “masculine” of tasks, but demonstrates the power of resilience and self-belief.
2) Hermione Granger
Let’s be honest, Hermione was the real hero of Harry Potter. She identifies the Basilisk, turns back time to save Sirius, makes the polyjuice potion and organises Dumbledore’s Army, all while Harry is moping around shouting at people that his scar hurts.
Hermione wears her smarts with pride, and shows that being a girl-nerd gets you far. She also don’t need no man, refusing to simper after an international sports player even when he takes a shine to her.
When she’s not being smarter than literally everybody else, Hermione is crusading for justice and fairness. She’s the only person who bothers to try to free the enslaved house elves (a metaphor for the women’s suffrage movement, natch) and she refuses to be ashamed of her ‘mudblood’ race.
A bookworm activist? Inspiring indeed.
3) Lisa Simpson
While we’re on the subject of super-smart campaigners with kooky hair…
Lisa Simpson may only be eight years old, but she’s got more sass than most people three times her age. When she’s presented with a misogynistic Malibu Stacy doll which spouts lines such as “don’t ask me, I’m just a girl!” Lisa doesn’t just reject the ideology – she puts into motion a plan to produce her own line of feminist dolls designed to inspire and empower children everywhere.
We should all be like Lisa; confronting the things we dislike with attempts to change it. We have more power than we know; just look at how Lisa uses her beauty pageant win to push for humanitarian causes.
Come on, she takes down a freakin’ Nazgul. Enough said.
Éowyn always wanted to win glory in battle, but being part of the Medieval-esq Lord of the Ring’s world, she was pretty much told to “stop thy twattling and get thee back into thy kitchen” (not an actual Tolkien quote). Éowyn doesn’t believe in letting other people limit her though, so she grabs a horse, dons some armour, and rides off to war anyway.
She is promptly confronted by the terrifyingly evil Ringwraith King, who swings a huge sword at her while boasting that “no man can defeat me”. Instead of letting fear stand in her way, Éowyn throws off her helmet, swishes her golden locks, and gives the ultimate feminist war-cry: “I am no man.”
The moral of the story? Just because other people have failed at something doesn’t mean you won’t succeed. Never underestimate anyone.
5) Lisbeth Salander
The girl with the dragon tattoo is crazy smart, crazy sassy, and crazy hardcore. She’s a genius with computers, mathematics and chess; smashing gender stereotypes with the same ease she hacks into a top-security system.
Lisbeth is a complex and imperfect character, who displays the same contradictions and vulnerabilities we all harbour. She shows that our past might make us stronger, but it also leaves scars. True, she is also selfish and occasionally criminal. But she is a crusader against powerful, abusive, and sexist men.
She beats them at their own game, torturing her rapist and swindling millions out of a corrupt billionaire. If something needs to be done, she stands up and does it, rather than relying on someone else.
Beth Leslie writes careers advice for Inspiring Interns, who specialise in matching candidates to their dream internship. Check out their graduate jobs listings for roles.