"Strong female characters," in other words, are often just female characters with the gendered behavior taken out. This makes me think that the problem is not that there aren’t enough “strong” female characters in the movies — it’s that there aren’t enough realistically weak ones. You know what’s better than a prostitute with a machine gun for a leg or a propulsion engineer with a sideline in avionics whose maternal instincts and belief in herself allow her to take apart an airborne plane and discover a terrorist plot despite being gaslighted by the flight crew? A girl who reminds you of you.
Carina Chocano, of the New York Times, has some interesting thoughts on the current trope of the strong female character. I began reading this article already poised to disagree with it, but Chocano's argument ends up being rather insightful. Thinking of the books, movies, and television shows I've been exposed to recently, I can definitely see her point. There needs to be some middle ground between the fashion-and-boys-obsessed, swooning, girly heroine and the combat-boots-wearing, relationship-phobic, man-with-breasts heroine. When I think back over the characters I've identified with and loved throughout the years, so very few of them women. I think writers need to work harder to create women who are complex, compelling, and admirable characters...not because they are female characters who happen to have those qualities, but because they are characters who have those qualities. Pure and simple.