Unfortunately, I live in a city without a Women’s March and the nearest one is about a five hour drive away which didn’t logistically fit with all the IRL obligations that I have. However, because I am inspired by the many women out there who are marching to show solidarity and voice their feelings that women deserve equal pay, quality health care, etc. I thought I’d make a list of ten YA characters that I believe are iconic feminists-okay, some are more overt and gritty nitty feminists than others and I’m sure I missed a few. But I will tell you that there were a few characters on this list who inspired me to push myself and go into a filled where quite frankly there is a lot of sexism and fight the good fight.
Just for kicks here are a few of my IRL women icons: Hillary Rodham Clinton, Michelle Obama, Eleanor Roosevelt, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Queen Elizabeth the I, Ida B Wells, Susan B Anthony, Sacagawea, Marie Curie, Corrie ten Boom, Elizabeth Warren, Frida Kahlo, Harriet Tubman, Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austen, Princess Diana, Harper Lee, Audrey Hepburn, Meryl Streep, Meg Cabot, my mother, my sister. I know there are a lot of heavy hitters on that list, and some people who you’re like why are they on there, and some you’re like who is that…well, I only listed a few. In fact, I could probably do a post on iconic real women alone. You’d be surprised when you think about it there are a lot of female role models out there. Often under looked. Women’s history really needs to be taught more in the schools, unfortunately with the ignoramus who thinks that grizzly bears are in our schools being nominated as the secretary of education…it looks like it’s a pipe dream at the moment. Still though, the more you look into it there are a lot more female role models than you originally would think of. And there’s some good fictional ones too which brings me to this list:
10) Elle Woods (from the movie, Legally Blonde):
Yep, she was going to get on this list. She actually really helped me get through last year’s bar prep for Louisiana. I really didn’t have any support where I was living so watching that movie (well, having it on for background noise), listening to the broadway soundtrack-over and over again-throughout the study process helped with that stress. Also, the movie though exaggerated in part did prepare me for some of the more unsavory parts of the legal community.
Hard truth being a lady lawyer can suck. Your faced with sexism often for both genders. I experienced this very early on in law school because my Mac was covered with a pink hard case-big whoop dee doo, it was pink. I like pink it doesn’t make me a dumb person, it’s just who I am but some yahoo laughed and was like there’s always one “Elle” in the class. Well, honestly when the dick said that I smiled and acted like it didn’t bother me and I just thought in my head everyone underestimated Elle Woods and look how she turned out at the end of the movie.
Honestly though, showing that you can overcome people’s perspectives of yourself isn’t the only thing that I got from Legally Blonde, it’s being true to yourself. While it’s true I probably wouldn’t wear some of the outfits Elle wore to court, she didn’t try to change herself in order to fit such a rigid community. And that’s something I try to take in with me to my practice. Yes, I am going to be a professional and follow the guidelines that my profession has for me, but am I going to change myself to satisfy the dick who made that remark about my Mac’s cover.
9) Mia Thermopolis (The Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot):
In my brief mention of IRL superheroes, you might’ve saw that I stated Meg Cabot’s name. That’s because in some ways Meg was the first person to really introduce me to feminism through her books. I actually wrote an essay for my senior project in high school over female empowerment and Mia was one of the characters I used to show how feminism has evolved into what it is today. While Mia was privilege (okay, ridiculously privilege) she has to struggle with making several choices throughout the series that requires her to embrace the power that she has. In particular, I think the latter books of the series show this-which I really wish were out when I wrote that essay back in high school because I would’ve had a lot more things to quote.
8) Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer):
She’s a princess, lead a revolution, and can pretty much fix any machine. At this moment we definietly need a Cinder to defeat that Queen Levana wannabe.
7) Nancy Drew (The Nancy Drew Series and its various incarnations by Carolyn Keene):
Because she was solving mysteries long before you were alive. And she has been an enduring symbol of lady power so to speak. Seriously though, Nancy has been around and she has evolved with teh times. What I really like is that her stories are all about the mystery, not about boys (even though she is in a realtionship with a very cardboard character named Ned, should dump him for the delectable Frank Hardy but I digress) with Nancy its always about the mystery.
6) Jane Eyre:
Another pick from that high school essay. I actually picked up Jane Eyre because of The Princess Diaries (it was referenced a whole lot in that book) thinking I’d enjoy the romance aspects of the book. However, when I read the book the romance was the thing that I LEAST loved about the book. Jane Eyre worked for me, because of Jane’s journey of becoming a self assured woman. I actually liked the fact that she and Rochester were separated for awhile. He had to get his shit together and Jane knew it.
5) Wonder Woman (from the DC Universe):
Wonder Corgi not Wonder Woman, but close enough.
Okay, so if you look into details about her origin story not the most feminist-a bigamist came up with the idea for her. But Wonder Woman has evolved into one of the most powerful super heroes in the DC Universe. Is the portrayal, perfect, no. But she has become an iconic figure. Quite frankly, I think a lot of women superheroes need to be portrayed better than what we got, still waiting for that Black Widow movie. But Wonder Woman is iconic and I remember as a little girl being impressed that hey a girl can be just as powerful as Superman and on the same page as the Bat. Runner up superhero/antihero I guess in her case goes to Catwoman, who I just adore. However, given the fact that Wonder Woman is much more known, I’m giving Diana the spot.
4) President MacKenzie Allen (from Commander and Chief):
President Allen was portrayed by Geena Davis in a very short live ABC show about the first woman/independent president. It was a wonderful thing to see, I really wish the show would’ve continued because Mac kicked ass. But someone in programming f’d up the show when they put it on constant hiatus. You can still watch the series on Hulu though, and I suggest you do. Mac not only has to deal with being president, but with all the sexism that comes from being in US politics. I sort of view it as a “What If” America didn’t have a fucked up electoral system and didn’t discount almost 4 million votes but…hey, I’m not bitter at all.
3) Celie (from Alice Walker’s The Color Purple):
The Color Purple is probably the most serious fictional work I’m putting on this list. Again, I used this book as part of the essay I wrote in high school. And this book pretty much touches on every single important issue out there that faces women and people of color. The lead character,Celie, goes through so much in this novel. If you haven’t. Read it. It’s a bit graphic, I remember reading it as a high school student and crying several times. But it is so worth it. In fact, IRL feminist HRC recently attended the broadway show. If HRC thinks that this needs to be seen, it needs to be seen.
2) Suze Simon (from Meg Cabot’s The Mediator Series):
Another Meg Cabot character, and probably my favorite character (I think I’ve mentioned this already in lots and lots of posts) but Suze takes action and kicks ghost butt and is completely self reliant while wearing Kate Spade shoes. She also makes mistakes, which she cleans up and then some which is another reason why Suze is on this list. Best YA character ever.
1) Hermione Granger (from
Hermione Granger Harry Potter series by JK Rowling)
Okay, I know the book series might’ve been called Harry Potter, but can you imagine how much better the already fantastic series would’ve been had it been in Hermione’s POV. She’s the only reason that Harry survived. The one boneheaded move she made was getting together with Ron, but hey…no one is perfect. But Hermione is pretty close.
Okay, I know I missed a whole bunch. But these were the ten that immediately came into my head. Feel free to add your own list in the comments. And for all those who are marching, I am with you in spirit today.