Saturday, January 26, 2013

Fictional Role Models

  We talk about the need for role models and how important it is that those role models look like us. And of course this blog's all about how my role models have given me a push to where I am now. But it's not just real-life women that can be role models - fictional women in pop culture and literature can have a powerful pull on young women, such as a show about a young black girl who pretends to be a doctor.

  Women doctors and scientists are few and far between in pop culture, and my 'pop culture' role models tended more towards young women warriors (some of my favorites: Alana of Trebond (though she had to hide her gender) and Wise Child (a budding herbalist)). Though my love of Star Trek (yet another post that hints at the geek within) brought me courageous women doctors. Now, what about professors? Whence the professor role models? Well, she was a bit late for my childhood, but Professor McGonagall's a great academic to have around. She's no-nonsense, uses evidence to make her decisions, and the expert in her field. Also, she's Maggie Smith, who is pretty awesome in her own right. But it's hard to come up with good female academics in popular culture. We've got some other notable professors, Indiana Jones comes to mind, but I suppose that even those are rare, especially ones without an older male with leather patches on their sleeves.
  I do think that having strong female characters, whatever their profession, goes a long way. There's been a lot of debate of what a 'strong' character is, and in this case, it doesn't mean physical strength. Here's a nice post on that theme - and it mentions one of my favorite strong females, Buffy (not just physically strong)! It means someone who can hold their own, has evidence of an inner life, and doesn't get mentioned only in regards to a male character. I'm a big fan of the Bechdal test (women have names and to talk to each other about things other than males) as a general guideline to developing strong female characters.
  Any favorites that I've missed?

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