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To Be a Woman Is Not a Weakness, It’s a Strength

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Sci-fi is is having a feminist moment. Hopefully, it’s not just a moment but an actual turning of the tide in the way women are represented in science fiction. Women and women’s issues are coming to the forefront. Evangeline Lilly, The Hobbit’s Taurial, describes her role in geekdom’s favorite franchise:

“When I play ‘strong’ females, and particularly with Tauriel, it was my mission to represent true female strength. I was super proud not to be in there as a ‘kickass’ woman and say, ‘Look what I can do, I can slay and kill,’ but say, ‘Look what I can do, I can protect, have compassion, I can care and be gentle. And be feminine and graceful while slaughtering orcs.”

She’s making the point that women don’t have to be like men to be strong. Through more typically female traits (though men can have these traits, too) women can be successful, effective, and important. She says, “I believe our strength as women comes from our compassion, our selflessness, our instincts to help, to protect, to put others first.” Women don’t have to be like men to be strong; they can be strong in their own way.

Doctor Who has had a strong feminist season with companion Clara’s strong personal story and a classic villain returning as a woman. One of the best episodes, in fact, centered around Clara, a school girl and a female astronaut making the very pro-choice decision not to kill a creature that lives inside the moon while the Doctor took a supporting role and let the women make the choice. The BBC’s sci-fi hit Orphan Black takes a new approach to telling a cloning story by viewing it through the lens of women’s reproductive rights. Makes for some interesting and compelling entertainment!

I’ve tried to get my 14-year-old daughter hooked on sci-fi, but she’s just not that into it. But that doesn’t mean this feminist moment is wasted on my family because I watch all of these shows with my two boys. (Well, maybe not Orphan Black; it comes by its TV-MA rating pretty fairly.) We are whovians of the highest order and are counting down the days to the final installment of The Hobbit. It’s just as important that boys are exposed to these feminist ideas as it is that girls are. I don’t think the feminist uprising taking place in sci-fi is lost on them. In fact, I’m thrilled that my boys are growing up with these female leads and that more stereotypically female characteristics such as compassion, selflessness, and kindness are being exemplified and praised. I want them to be all of these things and I want them to recognize these traits in women (and men). Strength, money, and power can be wielded by women as well as men, just as men can be compassionate, selfless, and kind. It’s nice to see that these traits don’t always have to be associated with weakness. Expanding their view of women will affect the way they regard me and their sisters, their future wives and the daughters they may one day raise.

If Tauriel is as much a part of their pop culture DNA as Indiana Jones and Luke Skywalker are a part of mine, I think they’ll be in great shape!

Photo courtesy of The Hobbit Facebook page

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