Why I hate the phrase: ” We need more strong female characters”

Film and television doesn’t need more strong female characters. We need  more complex female characters. The word “strong” implies the women need to be physically tough or/and emotionally solid and/or intellectually superior. In my opinion having women characters who are all “strong” is equally as harmful as having women characters be passive or submissive.  Female viewers of all ages need to see diversity not a singe stereotype no matter how badass the characters turn out to be. Both the silver screen and small screen need to have women characters who are: disabled, able bodied, normal intelligence, geniuses, different races, mentally challenged, crazy, female versions of ” the dude”, strong, weak, white, queer, straight, super heroes, villains, teachers, police officers, etc.

We all need to see multi-dimensional female characters. I celebrate women characters like Buffy Summers from Buffy the Vampire Slayer who has special powers, but still has her emotional vulnerabilities. Buffy can kill any bad ass vampire, but still break down and cry when her vampire boyfriend Angel turns into the bad guy after he losing his soul. Weakness or vulnerability does not equal  passivity or submission. A rainbow of emotions means the character is a fully actualized human being.

Women need to see female characters on screen that are just as complex and varied as male characters have been  throughout cinema’s history. I call for a new phrase or calling,” We need more complex female characters” , because we don’t need another stereotype pervading our screens even if they are “strong”.

SARAH MICHELLE GELLAR stars Licensed by CHANNEL 5 BROADCASTING. Five Stills: 0207 550 5509. Free for editorial press and listings use in connection with the current broadcast of Channel 5 programmes only. This Image may only be reproduced with the prior written consent of Channel 5. Not for any form of advertising, internet use or in connection with the sale of any product.

One thought on “Why I hate the phrase: ” We need more strong female characters”

  1. Considering there are more female leads in TV shows and more female show runners out there, hopefully we getting down the right path of more diversity in female characters. I have zero hope for Hollywood movies though. They almost seem to be going backwards at times and when there are movies with complex women in them, there is major backlash for some group and the producers fall upon themselves to apologize and explain.


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