Is the Badass Female Only the Female with a Gun?

A scene from code black

I love the badass characters. I enjoy the badass female leads in Quantico and Blindspot, to name a couple of examples from this fall’s TV season.

But I wish the badass qualities I love didn’t have to involve guns and violence. Is the standard audition practice these days to ask a woman to draw a weapon from a holster on her belt as quickly as she can?

I know we live in a violent world. I know we need FBI agents and other sentinels like them to protect us all.

But is gun-wielding female the only badass female character?

I want someone to write more badass characters like Erin Brockovich or Texas Senator Wendy Davis. (Oh, hey, someone is doing that! Yes!) I want more lifesavers like Dr. Leanne Rorish on Code Black or adventurers like Phryne Fisher from Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries or tractor-driving farmers like Gillian from Last Tango in Halifax or system-fighting women like Laurel Hester from Freeheld.

We define badass as something like Charlize Theron in Mad Max: Fury Road when we should be thinking that badass is Lily Tomlin in Grandma. I think we glorify the violent. We create drama around guns, killing, revenge, retribution. Then we uplift those characters to represent the best in the culture.

In reality, violence is the worst part of our culture. There is plenty of drama to be had in ordinary existence. Just living provides ample struggle. We can redefine badass to be something that represents the good in us, can we not? We are using pop culture to redefine the attitude toward LGBT individuals, toward all kinds of inclusion. Why not redefine the attitude toward badass?

I plan to start mentioning it on social media and here on the blog when I find a character that I can define as badass who is also uplifting and nonviolent in her greatness.

I hope you’ll join me in mentioning such characters when you find examples.

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