“But what about Ripley? I know, there are examples here and there of female characters who take up that ring or big damn gun or quest and run with it into their own proverbial sunset (or don’t). But they’re still far from the norm in fiction. And, more importantly, there are certain types of characters who are practically never written as women. Captain Jack Sparrow. Ford Prefect. Loki. Jonathan Strange. Gandalf. In fact, that’s a whole other dilemma, but one that still demands investigation.
Lisbeth Salander of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is a hero of pop fiction, some might say. But how many women only become heroic figures due to terrible trauma in their lives (that are usually rape and/or physical violence)? Salander is the poster child for this sort of female character-building, the kind that films like Sucker Punch have capitalized on to their own overblown, outrageous conclusions.
It’s not that we should do away with narratives where women overcome abuse at the hands of men; those are important stories in their own right. But that’s not the sort of hero that every woman is looking for. Maybe she’d like a woman who is trying to overcome fear, or indolence, maybe she would like to see someone who is coming to terms with a Great Destiny™. Maybe everyone would like to see that.”