What defines a strong female character. Is it as simple as just writing them as a character? If so, how come we are so focused on it.
To me, Princess Leia (from Star Wars) is a strong female character and is perhaps one of the first female characters that I identified with as a strong character (maybe the first, but memory is an unreliable friend the further in life we get). I didn’t even realise why until I started to think about it recently. To me, it comes down to several reasons.
1. She is an action girl. She is always in the thick of the action and actually has a reason to be there.
2. She has her own ideas and contributes to the Rebellion. Even when she is captive, she has a hand in her own escapes without simply following others orders.
3. She looks good in a bikini. This may not seem important but just like male heroes being muscular, it represents an ideal to strive to. This is related to themes of eating healthy and fitness.
4. She is open to love but not enslaved by the idea of a relationship. She doesn’t go around saying how much she hates men or constantly searching for a man.
So the original Star Wars has one of the strongest female characters ever written. But then if you look at, say, The Bechdel Test (or a bunch of other tests out there), it fails. Star Wars only ever had the one female character, so it is technically a sexist film. Princess Leia is a really strong character (and I believe allot of the sexualisation of her is people shifting this intangible idea to the more tangible Point 3 above) in a cast of strong characters, but these stupid tests that try to break things down to simple rules would class this movie as sexist.