If you’re like me you may have already noticed that the media of today including, the Internet, cinema, cable TV, and even contemporary fictional literature has a new definition for the badass woman. I watch, with mild fascination, the glittering new icons of femininity that grace screens, large and small with recent colorful images. This is a breed of brave new adventurous women making their mark in the world in an atypical, almost bizarre way. This modern style of woman has been depicted as a kind of Amazonian powerhouse, physically adept, overly aggressive, predatorial, with an insatiable appetite for all things typically desired by the most pugnacious of their male counterparts. Where did they come from? How have they evolved? Who brought these beings into our consciousness?
As a woman who considers herself a badass woman, I ponder this on a daily basis as I am in the business of writing about and designing for women in all circles, ages and income brackets. I talk to women, all kinds of women, every day of my life and you might be interested in knowing that I have yet to meet a single one who even comes close to this definition of a modern-day badass woman. So how is it that they have now arrived on the scene, especially on the screens of our mass media in these gargantuan numbers?
My personal and somewhat provocative belief is that these new feminine icons have been created by men. The same men who create massively popular video games, pure and unabashed fantasies of the male ego designed to engage the minds and hearts of other men, young and older in a kind of muscular, brawny and even virile image of the great urban battlefield in their minds.
The modern woman has become a mystery for men. In fact, I believe that women have always been a mystery for men but at one time because women did not wield the powers and freedoms that now finally and mercifully enjoy, they were a kind of simple amusement for men. They were held in place and presented no threat to survival in our modern jungles and so they were depicted as delicate and fragile beings that required protection from their stout-hearted and rugged counterparts which I am at a loss to define any other way except as a traditional male.
Men have never completely understood the intricacies of the feminine mystique, pure and simple. They struggle to keep up with the evolution of women and as a result create female role models who can only be likened to an untamed beautiful but dangerous jungle cat. Wild and free but with a desperate need to be tamed.
Men are visual. Take a look at any Internet dating site, Facebook or other social media proposition and you will quickly recognize that men react to what they see. Of course, I will admit that women are not immune to the visuals themselves, I too enjoy viewing a bit of male eye candy on occasion, but most women, including me, can be much more forgiving if a man has obvious imperfections in his physical presence because women everywhere seem to have the uncanny and unique ability to “clean men up”, dressing and grooming him, thereby creating a being who is more than simply acceptable. He becomes a Zeus-like version of himself.
The modern icon of a woman, on the other hand, the creature that has evolved from the “gaming” culture is almost a caricature of the modern badass woman. Physically she is depicted as a well sculpted, buxom creature with the curves and sex appeal of Kim Kardashian. She is wildly aggressive and expert in martial arts and with any sort of weapon. She is fearless in face of physical adversity and to add to the mystery and excitement, she is generally very scantily clothed. Naturally she has an insatiable appetite for sex, often times she is the instigator and aggressor when it comes to sex and of course, she asks for nothing because she is completely self-sufficient. She also maintains all the child-rearing duties. What a wonder of nature! What a fantasy of God’s creation!
The design of this new feminine icon has slowly drifted from the minds of young video game developers to all other forms of media, including adventure series television programming and cinema. The reasons for this are pure and simple. Demographically traditional media, especially network TV has lost young men to gaming consoles where these Amazonian females lurk. In order to sell the valuable spaces to a shrinking group of large-scale advertisers including car and technology companies, food and beverage and even personal grooming concerns, network executives figured out that they had to mimic the experiences of gaming or otherwise lose a valuable group of consumers.
Media in all its genres is a powerful influencer in society. Clever advertising companies have organized us into a group of self-conscious, insecure individuals who will either buy a product or become an outcast in society. The same will hold true for this new brazen female entity. The modern girl. As a woman, you can either behave like some hybrid of yourself, maintaining some of your most “interesting”, let’s even call it “hyper-feminine” qualities but will exhibit the traits and characteristics of a powerful and completely independent beast in the wilderness. Now that’s sexy!
But in reality, what defines the 21st. century version of a badass woman? What are her concerns? How is she coping? Where does she wander? What does she crave?
In my next essay, I will attempt to define what I believe illustrates woman as the female adventurer. As one myself, I believe I can offer a more pure and fascinating manifesto.