I’ve been on a bit of a Veronica Mars marathon over the past week. For those of you who don’t know the show, it aired about 10 years ago and ran for three seasons – they’ve just brought out a movie that ties up all the loose ends of the show and puts to rest all of the questions us die-hard fans had (like – who finally gets the girl? 🙂 ) It’s about a kick-ass chick who helps her Dad in his private eye business. Anyway, it got me thinking about fictional girls/women who I think rock – and why. Like Anne of Green Gables, Elizabeth Bennett (Pride and Prejudice), Lynda Day (Press Gang), Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Max Guevara (Dark Angel), C.J Cregg (West Wing), Jo March (Little Women) and, of course, Veronica Mars. I hear you ask – what on earth do Anne of Green Gables and Buffy the Vampire Slayer have in common? I’m glad you asked – because I’ve come up with a list.
Whether it’s book smart or street smart, these girls know the value of using their minds to get ahead. They’re not afraid to graduate top of their class, solve the problem before anyone else, or back themselves when everyone else thinks they’re wrong. Anne took competitive to a whole new level when she was facing down Gilbert Blythe to come first at Queen’s Academy. CJ backed herself against all her male counterparts time and time again, more often than not proving them wrong – and eclipsed them all in Season Six to be named Chief of Staff to the President. Elizabeth Bennet knew the value of literature in “refining the mind” and Veronica’s whip-smart intellect regularly solved the case and brought in the bad guy before anyone else had got out of bed. They all knew that being smart gets you where you need to go.
Humour looks good on a girl. I loved, loved, loved Lynda Day’s acerbic wit and piercing sarcasm. Every time she faced off against Spike it was pure scriptwriting joy. Veronica and Max’s sassy come-backs helped them get the better of hundreds of bone-headed dim wits who tried to knock them down. And Buffy’s one-liners were an integral part of her vampire-slaying armoury. In a gentler fashion, Anne, Jo and Elizabeth all knew how to see the humorous side of life, no matter how grim the circumstances.
One thing that really breaks my heart is seeing what happens to some girls as they become teenagers. These bright, fearless young women who bossed their brothers and bubbled with confidence suddenly crumble under the pressure of bikini bridges, perfect skin and the need to be popular. What I LOVE about each and every one of my heroines is that they couldn’t give a damn about being popular or living up to someone else’s expectations. That isn’t to say they didn’t care about other people’s opinions – I’m always suspicious of platitudes that proclaim we “shouldn’t care what others think”. I know people who live their lives like that, and they’re not very nice people. I wish they would pay a bit more attention to what others thought of them, they’d probably become a bit more self-aware. But what I love about these girls is that they stayed true to their own selves despite the forceful current of the crowd. Elizabeth refused to marry Mr Collins when everyone thought she should, and married Mr Darcy when everyone thought she shouldn’t. Lynda Day continued to publish controversial stories despite being ordered otherwise by the powers-that-be. Veronica brushed off the cruelty of those around her and the pressure to conform in her pursuit of truth. And Anne knew better than to care what the Josie Pyes of the world thought about her. More than anything I hope for Little Miss, I hope she never lets herself be defined by others.
They’re not all about the boy
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE a romance narrative. All kinds of stories – action, thriller, sci-fi – should have a romance in there somewhere, in my humble opinion. But when I was thinking about all my fictional heroines, I realised they all – every single one of them – did not pursue romance as their primary objective. CJ was too busy running the world, and Buffy too busy saving it. Elizabeth, Anne and Jo were far more interested in their own lives and interests to be setting themselves the rather mundane task of finding husbands. Lynda Day was doggedly in pursuit of her life’s ambitions to worry about dating, and Max and Veronica had to really try hard to find time to squeeze in any romance between catching bad guys and getting on with their lives. I know I probably don’t have much a right to talk about this issue – after all, I found Souljourneyboy at 16, and married him at 21. I don’t know what singleness is like, and it probably looks like I was one of those girls who grabbed onto a relationship and marriage as soon as it became available. But to be honest it really took me by surprise when it happened to me at such a young age. I grew up thinking I’d finish school, move overseas, travel, have a career – I honestly thought I’d probably meet someone in my late twenties or early thirties, like my Mum did. Anyway I don’t think it’s an age thing, but an attitude thing – when I was little I was far more interested in my potential career than when I’d find a boyfriend or husband. I’ll always tell Little Miss – don’t make your life about finding the boy/man. You miss out on so much.
So that’s my list – why I love these super cool chicks. I’m sure you’ve all got your favourite heroines – I’d love to hear about them 🙂