What makes a strong woman?

There is nothing better than watching a strong female character strap on a gun, tie her hair up and get down to business. In film, we have certain archetypes. The hero, the villain, the damsel, the supporting cast and the likes. But the most-intriguing is the female hero/anti-hero. Now this is something to look forward to. A female anti-hero is something special. She doesn’t take any guff from anyone.

Imagine this scene: All is quiet, it is night time. From behind the clouds, a full moon creeps out and the whole world is bathed in moonlight. Standing off in the distance is a silhouette framed by the moon. The wind picks up and whips a coat tail. As the wind flows around, her hair unfurls. In her right hand, she holds a katana and in her left, a Glock 18, 9mm Parabellum, fully-automatic. Her face is in shadow, the music rises to a crescendo and she leaps off into the night to dispense justice and death.
Ladies and Gentlemen, you have just witnessed a hero. A strong woman, a tough girl. A damsel who is never in distress and more capable of busting a few caps and taking the pain to the bad guys. And say what you want, boys, you know that a woman who can handle a gun is like viper, beautiful and sexy as hell. And girls, you know that nothing is more satisfying than watching a capable woman breaking a few faces.
That is the point. We all love a strong woman.

I am not talking about a ball-busting, she-hulk with rage issues, the muscles the size of footballs, and massive cleavage on display designed to distract and delight. Nope… The strong woman is nothing like that. She is an epitome. An ideal, maybe? But she isn’t there to titillate or satisfy the base desires. A strong woman is someone who doesn’t even need to carry a weapon to make a point. She knows that the toughest and strongest weapon which she wields is her own strength and self-reliance. Hollywood has given us both. From the muscle-bound, roid ragers to the calm and silent, calculating and conniving, desired and deadly. As the years have gone by, we have seen the best in cinema bring fantastic characters to life. Along the way, we got the Disney versions too. But then again, do we really like those? Na… these days we need princesses who can raise hell, ride dragons, unsheath swords, charge from the hilltops and make the ground shake. For example Princess Fiona, the toughest and sweetest princess who can perform a split kick in mid-air and also tuck a stray strand behind her ear.

I have felt that movies which talk about the whole human experience and then decide to make characters one-dimensional, just can’t do well. This is why I enjoyed watching Trinity from the Matrix. Not the second and third parts. Just the character from the first part. She was this gorgeous creature in black leather and 9 mm Berrettas 84s and also a good SPAS 12. The funny thing is that, forget the guns, the shades, the whole “I am a badass who doesn’t need no assistance". She is in fact, a strong woman. A person who is capable of holding her own and making her point. Sometimes with a 4 inch heel to the head.

So there are many aspects to a strong woman. Films have helped us understand this and see different sides to the strength of a woman. Just think about it, for example, Maria from The Sound of Music. She is a brilliant character. Firstly, for openly causing trouble for the nuns, she shows massive cajones. Then for taking on 7 kids who are prone to suddenly start singing. That itself would drive a lesser person crazy but no, she makes the best of it and even has time to make clothes out of curtains. She even manages to sing and entertain these kids while they are scared out of their wits. All of this, prior to the outbreak of the Second World War. How cool is that? Speaking of the Sound of Music, let’s not forget Mother Superior and her two hench-‘nuns’. They kick some holy backside and tangle with the Nazi, disabling the cars and also helping the Von Trapp family hit the mountain trail. Those are some badass nuns with kickass habits. Here, these characters don’t even use a single firearm or even a blade, but they do know how to sing close harmony and trust me, that is just as scary.

If we have to talk about guns and gunplay, then there are tonnes of female characters out there who have made men whimper like little boys. Take Black Widow aka Natasha Romanov, played by Scarlett Johansson. Here is a master assassin who can disable a group of 5 Russian toughs and batter their skulls in, all the while maintaining a conversation over the phone and also not even skipping a breath. Dressed up in a black catsuit and armed to the teeth with dual pistols and stun grenades, garotte wire and her favorite the “Widow’s Stingers”, Natasha makes her mark, often on the skull on the enemy. But here is the best part, she acknowledges where she comes from and the harm that she has caused and things that she has seen. This duality makes her strong and human. She has demons which live in her head, and skeletons in the closet and in the backyard. As the years have gone by, she realizes that after a while, her life is a series of missions. As a spy, she makes the tough choices, often putting her life on the line, not for someone, but for an ideal. That defines her. And also that defines so many women in the armed forces. They don’t fight or serve for their benefit, but they do so because they are the best at what they do. Someone has to pull the trigger and we need to thank our stars that they do so.

 

Sometimes a strong woman doesn’t need to even raise her hand in anger or pull a trigger. She can also be a source of strength, a reserve of will, a voice of wisdom, a kind shoulder and a confidante. In other words, she is a mother. Susan Sarandon from Stepmom actually brings this character to life. You get to see a mother deal with the fact that she is terminal and also deal with two children. She guides them in understanding that death is a natural thing, but life goes on. She also gets the Stepmom played by Julia Roberts to realise that family comes first. All this and undergoing chemo. How tough is that? They say that an angered mother bear is the scariest thing out there, nope… an angry mother is the scariest thing anywhere. But here is the best part, for whatever we do, for whatever faults we have; our mothers have been forgiving us, even after the most severest tongue-lashing. You know the one, where you stare intently at your feet and start thinking that tiles are tetris blocks and in your mind, you are thinking about the lyrics to your favorite song. And our mothers, bless their hearts, they know that we are just in our own little world. Mothers, making the world a better, cleaner and more well-behaved place since the dawn of time.

And now, from the world of Luc Besson, we get Lucy. Starring Scarlett Johansson ( hubba, hubba), Lucy is the story of a woman who gets to tap into more than 10% of her brain. Imagine that, to be more aware, more in control, to anticipate, analyze, comprehend and execute faster, harder and stronger than the rest of the world. Here is the rub, is that true power? To use it or to refrain from using? What is the price that this gift will take from you? Think about it. And in the meantime enjoy the trailer.

 

There are many more archetypes of strong women out there. But let’s stop here for now and pay homage to these brilliant women, without whom the world would be darker, sadder and just one big sausage-fest. So take sometime out and find the strong women around and smile. Tell them how amazing they are. Lord knows, they are human, remind them that they make the world awesome. That’s all I have to say.

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