Apr 032012
Authors: Matt Miller

The odds would be entirely not in my favor if I were to be thrown into a nationally televised battle with Katniss Everdeen. She wouldn’t even need her bow, or even the entire empire cheering for her. I’d freeze to death, having forgotten everything I learned to get my fire-starting merit badge in Boy Scouts. Her resourcefulness and quick wit would immediately trump my suburban-bred laziness.

If I cut Lisbeth Salander in line at Starbucks, I would wake up hours later tied to a dumpster with, “I cut in line,” tattooed to my forehead. Then, my bank account would be remotely drained before I could even Google her address.

Say I make a snide remark to Hermione Granger in potions class? While I’m trying to figure out how to pronounce Petrificus Totalus, she would turn my testicles into hedgehogs.

There’s no point in trying to be macho or manly about it, the women in some of the most popular books-turned-movies of the last decade could kick my ass. And I’m okay with it. In fact, I kind of like it.

I’m into these ladies of “The Hunger Games,” “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” and “Harry Potter.” Their intelligence and power and all-around badassness is, simply put: sexy. I’m not the only one who thinks so too.

Every one of these franchises have become worldwide sensations with kids and adults alike. The books are all international bestsellers, and the movies are blockbusters.

A new wave of feminism is becoming popular –– one in which the women heroines command the pages and screens of their respective stories. Their male counterparts are all but forgotten once you read that last sentence or the credits roll.

Let’s start with “The Hunger Games.” This one is pretty obvious. Peeta is completely worthless. Yeah he can kind of lift heavy things and apparently he’s good at painting, but if Katniss hadn’t been coddling him and protecting him every step of the games, he just would have covered himself in some mud and rolled over and died.

Then there’s Lisbeth from “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.” Mikael Blomkvist, her male partner, is really just a hack journalist who doesn’t have the common sense to verify his sources, check facts or even competently defend himself in dangerous situations. Lisbeth takes problems into her own hands, and not only saves her own life and Mikael’s on multiple occasions; she does most of the key investigative work.

Finally, we have Hermione from the “Harry Potter” series. That entire series would have been approximately 100 pages without her. In nearly every situation, Hermione, who I’m pretty sure is the only one in Hogwarts who should receive a diploma, saves those bumbling idiots Harry and Ron. She solves every single mystery, and in every tight fix is the only one capable of producing any sort of useful spell. Let’s face it: Why were Harry and Ron even in the seventh book?

So, why is it that I’m so smitten with these rather intimidating women? Why do they sell books and tickets and action figures and t-shirts? WHY do they make me want a girl who can kick my ass?

I see two main themes in these characters that I just can’t resist.

The first trait they all share is their lack of sexuality. None of them are your typical, overtly sexualized, female character.

Katniss barely even seems to notice her physical appearance and doesn’t even care about her looks and is reluctant to use them to succeed in the games. Lisbeth is frequently called ugly. She in no way attempts to attract men and actually despises them. Hermione is constantly described as a plain nerd with frizzy hair and big teeth. Her beauty goes unnoticed (until the Yule Ball, that is).

These girls don’t need to flaunt their sexuality. Brains and talent are enough.

Another theme is their complete disregard for normal female roles. They take charge. They don’t let the men in their lives take over and screw everything up. It’s refreshing. The male-female relationship is one of mutual support where each partner contributes equally to succeed. The damsel in distress is dead.

I don’t want some weak girl who thinks she has to show some cleavage to do anything. I want to meet a girl with some substance, who is tough, who is smart. Katniss, Lisbeth and Hermione are mysterious, powerful and unforgettable.

I’m pretty confident there are a lot of girls out there like that, and I’m thankful for these books for showing young women that they can kick my ass, and I’ll be okay with it.

News Editor Matt Miller is a senior journalism major. His column appears Wednesdays in the Collegian. He can be reached at letters@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 3:22 pm

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