[I]t definitely is important to see heroines who don’t go the traditionally feminine route. We need to see displays of female strength that are accepted as valid despite not being accompanied by performances of femininity. We need to see that it’s acceptable to be strong — whatever your definition of “strength,” in this case, and we certainly discussed a number of different definitions on Saturday — without also putting on lipstick and heels to show that it’s okay, we’re not so strong that we’ve forgotten our place. A lot of what we’ve been exposed to in popular culture does follow that strength-plus-lipstick model — comic-book superheroines in ridiculous costumes and heels to make sure they’re still sexy even when they’re saving the world, tough female TV cops who go home at the end of a long day to cry and eat ice cream in pink pajamas to show that they still have a feminine side and that there’s still a woman under that stiff uniform.
But we also have to remember how often strength and femininity are seen as mutually exclusive, and how often a woman is expected to shrug off any femininity in order to be respected and seen as strong. […] Young women who choose, or feel obliged, to perform that kind of femininity need to see figures who are still perceived as strong even without shedding their feminine qualities. They, just as much as young women who don’t perform femininity, need to see reinforcement that they are capable of strength exactly as they are, without abandoning parts of themselves that they either see as essential to their sense of self or, frankly, required for their protection in a hostile society.
On top of all of that, of course, we also have to look at different kinds of behavior, and different aspects of strength, as they’re associated with masculinity and femininity — seeing physical strength (and, yes, even a capacity for violence) as something that women are still capable of having, but also seeing non-physical aspects (more frequently associated with femininity) like intelligence, reasoning, and empathy as equally valid forms of strength, even if they’re generally associated with kicking metaphorical, rather than literal, ass.
–Caperton on depictions of female strength.
I mean, not to be glib about it. But it’s almost like we need diversity of women in media that accurately represents the diversity of women in the Really Real World, rather than conforming to one or two walking cliche nerdbro fuckfantasies. I mean, gosh. Wouldn’t that be an amazing thing?