As I’ve been trying to feel out what sort of content I want this blog to focus on, I thought it might be fun to try doing some pieces on iconic fictional characters. You’re probably wondering why it’s worth looking at fiction when there’s so many incredible, real feminist icons out there to talk about. You’d be right, of course, that reality is perhaps more powerful and inspiring, but I’m still interested in the fiction.
This is approximately my 23rd time trying to write this paragraph, so let’s see if I can explain this without lapsing into academic-ese or turning my prose into pudding. In the conventional wisdom of cultural/media studies, the characters who capture our imagination do so because they speak to deeply held cultural beliefs. They reflect our struggles, our ideals, our challenge to find a place within these ideals, and/or the fantasies of breaking or embodying these ideals. Looking at fictional characters can’t, of course, tell us how people really lived in any given time period, but it can give us an idea of how people imagined themselves.
This series of posts will include female characters (primarily American with a dash of British because, well, I am but one woman with one brain. I only feel comfortable working within the context of the culture that I know well [or reasonably well. Believe me, I know that Britain and American are more different than one might think]. I would like to add more diversity though, and if anyone has ideas, suggestions, or would like to do a guest post, I’d be happy to oblige.) from a variety of media who were somehow iconic in their eras. Granted, when I talk about “eras,” I sound like I’m limiting this to the past. I’m not. Dana Scully, will certainly make an appearance. Perhaps Xena will too. Maybe I’ll even jump way ahead and talk about a current TV show (President Roslin? I guess I’ll have to finish watching “Battle Star Galactica first.) We’ll see. My question is not “were these women feminist,” which is so incredibly arbitrary (also, if a character is popular, most of the time she usually somehow works within or around the gender norms of her society.), and I’ll probably even look at a few characters whom no one would even think of considering feminist. The fun is in seeing how different eras imagine women differently and what kinds of messages we can find in popular media.
If you have suggestions or would like to do a guest post, please comment or email me and let me know. :)