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The Powerful Heroine

We’ve talked about TSTL heroines before and about kickass heroines and the characteristics that bother us about them. Today I want to talk about the powerful heroine, but it’s not a specific characteristic. As you know, a couple of weeks ago, I attended the RT Booklover’s Convention and one of my favorite workshops was a panel on contemporary romance.

Susan Elizabeth Phillips said something amazing (well, lots of amazing things, but this one stuck with me). She said there’s a reason that a lot of those early Harlequin romances were popular, i.e. The Secretary and the Shipping Magnate. Everyone fell for these books because this little secretary managed to conquer the big strong shipping magnate. She had power.

I never thought of it that way, but it makes a lot of sense. I’ve said before that I don’t generally read category romance (Harlequin books) mostly because they’re shorter. I have read some and just because they’re shorter doesn’t mean they’re easier to write. In my opinion, they’re harder to write (but maybe I’m just long-winded).

As I was looking through my file of blog ideas for what to write for today, I came across this post on Disney Princesses. It’s pretty long, but it uses the princesses to describe the dating scene for women. The first lesson – Don’t be a Doormat for Guys is the one that inspired this post. The author uses Snow White as the example for that lesson.

Thinking of Snow White made me think about the new movie Mirror, Mirror.

Mirror, Mirror is a new version of Snow White where she is not only active in deciding what happens to her, but she’s downright aggressive. Plus she saves the prince twice. Although in the movie she has strength and ability, she has to learn. She’s not a kickass heroine. In fact, in the beginning, she’s a mouse who’s so passive it’s kind of sickening.

I like the idea of a strong female character who can conquer the hero or the bad guy and still be kind of normal. Hence, the secretary with the power.

It never bothered me to let my daughters watch the Disney princesses because I don’t expect my girls to view them as role models, but I definitely like the new version of Snow White better. I like that she stands up for what she believes in and is willing to fight for what is right.

Then, serendipity struck after I drafted the beginning of this post. August McLaughlin wrote a post on her blog about Cinderella. Normally, I would’ve included her in my Friday Favorites post last week, but I knew I would be posting this and it fit right in. She looks at Cinderella as a metaphor. She muses that we all have a little Cinderella in us. It really is a beautiful concept, not to mention the wonderful song she includes.

Who is your favorite strong heroine?

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About Shannyn Schroeder

Mom of 3, editor, and contemporary romance writer

9 responses »

  1. Having 3 kids (now aged 16,14,11), I’ve had many years of Disney movies. Love them! But my favorite heroine from them all has always been Mulan. She courageous enough to be herself (or at least know she has to find her true self), she’s loyal and brave for her family, she saves a nation and let’s face it, she gets the Hot Shang!! Rrorrww!! 😉

    Great post.

    Reply
  2. I always related to Cinderella and how she was enslaved and put down and rose to greater heights. I always root for the underdog. But when you look closely at the story, she was passive. Maybe a victim of the times. : ) But, she did nothing to better her situation, it was all done through magic, which brings up wishful thinking. And there really isn’t any conflict.
    What if when they went to the ball she threw done the dustrags and escaped, saying damn it I’d rather starve than live here anymore? What if the prince’s carriage had knocked her down and he took her to his castle and had her nursed to health and then fell in love with her? And she wanted to pay him back so she worked at the palace as a tutor, or maid-in-waiting? When he says he loves her she leaves because she’s a commoner and it would be unheard of. And she has to battle all kinds of situations and hardships to make it on her own. And she grows and becomes stronger. And the prince pursues her and wins her over. Much better story. : )

    Reply
  3. Lovely post, Shannyn. Thanks for the warm shout out!

    It’s tough to choose one favorite female heroine, but Lisbeth Salander, of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” is up there. She becomes the hero of her own life, using her smarts above anything else, never gives up and overcomes endless challenges. I have a soft spot for charcters who are “broken” in some way, yet overcome.

    Reply
    • August, I totally agree with you about Lisbeth Salander. Such a powerful character, even when she was still broken, just in her fortitude alone.

      Reply
    • I haven’t read the book or seen the American version of the movie, but I did watch the foreign version with subtitles (which is why I didn’t want to read or watch more). I agree that she is probably one of the toughest heroines I’ve ever seen. But the story is so heartbreaking, that I have a hard time focusing on that aspect.

      Reply
  4. I think my favorite heroine is Buffy the vampire slayer. She is strong and powerful, but also a loyal friend. And she still dresses great and keeps a feminine side. She is a good mix of many characteristics. I, too, like a strong heroine. That is why the Twilight movies bug me so much. It’s hard to watch a girl be as weak and useless as Bella. Blah!

    Reply
    • I like the idea of Buffy, but I never like the actress. Something about Sarah Michelle Gellar bugs me, so it kind of takes away from Buffy. I’ve watched the Twilight movies as they hit cable and I can see their draw for teen girls (the angst!!) but I agree about Bella. She doesn’t do much for me.

      Reply

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