Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Kicking Ass

Don't look at me like that.

After Hauling and Grabbing - it's a natural.

Exactly what is a "kick-ass heroine?"

Some seem to define her as one who does, literally, "kick-ass."

My definition may vary somewhat.
I see her as one who has the will ( though not necessarily the skill) to physically defend herself and others.
She does not back into a corner with her hand over her mouth when violence erupts. (shrinking violet, which see.)
If she has a kick-ass skill, like karate or kick-boxing, fine, or an associated ability like, say, picking locks or driving like a wheelman, also fine.
The main kick-ass quality is that she does not see herself as a victim of circumstances, villains, or creepy crawleys.
She does not always expect someone else, hopefully broad-shouldered and masterful, to do all the kicking for her. Nice though it might be.
She is not a wimp.
And, if she heaves something, like rocks, lamps or handbags, she does not miss because she is a "woman" and therefore cannot hit the broadside of a barn. In other words, she does not exhibit stereotyped gender weaknesses.
She is not a helpless klutz.
She does not have hysterics at critical moments.
She is perfectly entitled to be terrified but she saves the fainting, the floods of tears and the screaming ululations for after the fact.
She has a moral - not an emotional - code.
In other words, she can be just, fair and logical, even if her heart aches or she's maddernhell. She is capable of recognizing that certain goals may be more important than her snotty little self.
She has ordinary common sense. She does not run out of a safe house or surreptitiously phone her girl friend in a childish fit of pique. No sneaking, petty little tricks, because she's "female."
She is not a ding-bat.
She doesn't have some sexual chip on her shoulder. She doesn't have to show up men - unless they ask for it, and she is definitely not a male clone.
December keeps promising some of her pithy, acute thoughts on the topic. Watch for it.

NOTE: Jason has opened his third Flash Fiction contest. More, better, bigger each time. Author Anne Frasier is also attending as Writer in Residence. Check out Clarity of Night for the rulz.


MissWrite said...

I like your definition. Sure it's cool to have an Angelina Jolie type heroine once in awhile, but I don't think that's the only definition of 'kick ass'. Your 'breaking the steriotype' definition is best. A woman strong enough to overcome obsticles... and it's nice if she really can hit the broad side of a barn once in awhile.

Erik Ivan James said...

Bernita, dear, you forgot that some even know how to shoot. Um, trust me.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Tami.
Think what I'm reaching for is a strong female character. One who avoids those tiresome sterotyped cliches about "feminity" is a kick-ass female, imho.

Was ticking the Lowest Common Denonimator here, Erik, as in rocks and other handy objects.
A rifle is merely a mechanism that throws rocks when you come down to it, she said,who owns her own, and whose daughter shot at Bisley.

James Goodman said...

Yes, I like your definition too. I've known far more strong women in my life than the ones you find cowering in the corner. Not all of them were heroines, but all of them knew how to stand up for themselves.

With the influences I've had in my life, I couldn't imagine writing a truly weak female character.

S. W. Vaughn said...

Okay, you convinced me. I like your definition. :-)

But I still don't like Angelina Jolie. Or Uma Thurman in yellow spandex. Ugh.

Cynthia Bronco said...

Kick-ass women also have or earn the respect of their peers, both male and female.
Out of the actor category, I think Mila Jojovitch wins.

Bernita said...

But then, James, you are both intelligent and thoughtful - and not in doubt about your own masculinity.

Whoever she is, Sonya...
I'm sure I would like that type too - as long as the male counterpart was not a wimpy consort type ie. a gender reversal of the TSTL heroine.

Movies and actors always seem to intrude, Cynthia.
If the kicker-asser gives respect, they are likely to get it.

Ric said...

You can always tell a bad B movie by the way the girl opens the door. Slowly, scared, yadda yadda.

Just once, grab the damned ax and charge through the door swinging.

My nominee for kick ass heroine is.....

wait for it......


Bernita said...

Don't make fun of me, Ric.

Ric said...

Hey, that was a compliment.

Damie, from what I've read, fulfils your definition of kick ass.

And, I certainly feel, from your commentary and dispatching of errant posters, that were you to find yourself in a dangerous situation, you'd be more than capable of doing what needed to be done.

No offense intended.

Bernita said...

Ric, I apologize for mis-reading you.
Just can't see myself as a heroine.

EA Monroe said...

Ric, duck!
Bernita twirls a mean baton.
Just kidding!
Ouch! ~rubbing the back of my head~
Seriously, I like D. Gabaldon's Outlander heroine, Claire Fraiser. She's a time-traveling character who is semi-vulnerable, has a mind of her own, and manages to emerge stronger despite circumstances beyond her control. I'm going to go practice on my ass kicking abilities now. ;-)

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Ahh, that's a good description of my heroine! That is the one character that I can see in my head! She's Laura Croft-Tomb Raider, Mrs. Smith...(sorry S.W)...Angelina Jolie! In my second manuscript I have her learning Krav Maga (Israeli special Ops hand-to-hand combat)

And Bernita...Ric is right, you definitely strike me as the take-charge non-shrinking violet type!

Bernita said...

Hee, EA, Claire always struck me as a domineering, take-charge type, but she is profoundly sensible and I like that.

Moi, Bonnie?
Not a shrinking violet but more a defender than an attacker.
Perhaps that's why I like to read of real kick-ass characters such as yours.

Cynthia Bronco said...

P.S. Miss Snark is re-opening her Crapometer!

Candice Gilmer said...

For me, a totally kick ass woman is pretty much defined how you defined her. I do, however, like her to be able to shoot, if it's an action-adventure story. Or kick butt...

Ric made the comment about the opening door, and I totally agree. Was watching Peter Pan with my daughter the other day, and I sat there thinking, "Why doesn't Wendy save Tiger Lilly while Peter's fighting Hook?"

The scary thing is, my daughter (who's four) turned and asked me why Wendy was waiting on Peter to save Tiger Lilly.

I think I've already corrupted her. :)

December Quinn said...

Aaaw, I'm all blushy and embarrassed now. (Although now I feel bad, like I've been promising things and not delivering. Which is my own guilt talking and not you.)

I do like strong heroines. I don't like shrinking violets. They bug me and they tend to be TSTL too. There's just an alarming tendency to go overboard, which I will get to shortly. :-)

Bernita said...

Yes, Cynthia!
For first page AND query letter!
We can learn mucho, mucho!

Bringing her up right, Candice...to think!

Trying to nag you into it, December, because your comments are always so acute and on point

Robyn said...

If actresses enter into the discussion, my favorite is Katherine Hepburn. Can't imagine her karate-chopping her way through a room, but Kate could definitely kick some ass!

For novels, I love J.D. Robb's Eve Dallas. As a cop, she can handle the physical side of things. But she gets stronger through the series by becoming more vulnerable emotionally, if that makes sense.

Bernita said...

It makes perfect sense, Robyn, as long as one does not confuse vulnerability with weakness.
Hollywood always does seem to intrude, does it not?
The Modesty Blaise series featured a kick-ass heroine of the kung-fu type.

Ballpoint Wren said...

Shrinking violets used to be the style, but no longer. You watch old movies and they're always screaming, throwing the backs of their hands to their open mouths... or fainting.

One movie I liked from that era was Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes. The hero fights with the villain, the heroine picks up stuff to hit the villain on the head... but she keeps missing and hitting the hero!

Hitchcock took the timid heroine and gave her a twist: not so timid, but awfully klutzy, which I guess isn't that much better than timid, but it's funnier!

Zinnia said...

I love it when the kickass heroine has scathing witicisms. LOL! Can't help it; it's in my nature!

SassyJill said...

Right on. Although I must argue that she's allowed to faint if say, she has massive blood loss or a head wound ^_^*

Bernita said...

She had the right attitude at least, Bonnie, just had to work on her aim!

Goes with the territory, Zinnia.
Kick-ass equals smart-ass.

That's physical cause, Sassyjill, and not an emotion, panic-based reaction. We don't expect her to be super duper girl.