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Jan 16 2016
by Bianca D'Agostino

8 Strong Feminist Characters We All Should Know and Love

By Bianca D'Agostino - Jan 16 2016

Feminism is really, really important. It can be defined as, "the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities, as well as organized activity in support of women’s rights and interests,” as stated by Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary. People recognize the importance of Feminism, and it's starting to show up more and more in our favorite movies and TV Shows through strong, female characters. So here is a post to help highlight the famous female wonders that show the world the power of women. 

1. Princess Leia:  Star Wars Episode IV, V, VI

One of the most powerful and fearless women in all the galaxy, Princess Leia is truly one of the strongest female characters in film. She always takes matters into her own hands and does not let her gender limit her. What is also great about her character is that people recognize Leia is a woman, but do not think she is incapable of fighting for herself or leading a rebel army--they trust she is just as able to do things as any man, and that's how should be. 

"I don't know who you are, or where you came from but from now on, you'll do as I say."-Princess Leia 

2. Aibileen Clark, The Help

The Help, a film that came out in 2011 about the housekeepers in her small southern town riddled with racism in the 1960s. The movie has won countless awards as it mainly highlighted racism while also bringing feminist ideals to light. Aibileen is played wonderfully by Viola Davis as she takes on the role of being a maid and a nanny who soon becomes one of the primary informants to Skeeter, Emma Stone's character who is exposing the lives of being a maid through her writing. Aibileen to me, is truly a strong feminist icon in this movie as she is overcoming not only limitations imposed on her by others because she is African American, but the limitations of her gender. She does not just sit by and let life beat her down--she, "dares to challenge the gender roles society sets up from them [her] and receives greater fulfillment in the process." Not only does Aibileen challenge gender roles, but she treats people equally and respects the value in every person, as shown through her most famous line: "You is kind, you is smart, you is important."

"You is kind, you is smart, you is important." -Aibileen Clark 

3. Rachel Green, F.R.I.E.N.D.S.

Rachel Green was originally a very spoiled trust-fund child, until she left her fiance at the alter and decided to have herself cut off. With the help of her friends she learns to be street smart, how to get a job and how to earn everything she owns. She sets a goal for herself to work in fashion and that's exactly what she does--as you can see, she gets an awesome job as an Assistant Buyer for a major fashion company--she worked for it from the bottom up and really earned her mark on the world. I find her truly inspirational because she originally really had everything she could have ever wanted, but gave it up to prove herself to her family, her friends, and herself.

"It's like, all of my life, everyone has always told me, 'You're a shoe.' 'You're a shoe, you're a shoe, you're a shoe!' I stopped and said, 'What if I don't want to be a shoe?' What if I want to be a purse? Or a hat?!" -Rachel Green 

4. Alex Parrish, Quantico

Personally, I have not seen  Quantico on ABC yet but it is one I am looking forward to because of its amazingly diverse cast and positive representations of women. It's main character Alex Parish played by Priyanka Chopra, a confident and intelligent FBI trainee who is headstrong and very talented. She is a progressive woman who is open with her opinions and tells it like its is--as Forbes states, "Quantico highlights the fact that female leads can have more to their plotlines than love, pregnancy or rape." Josh Safran, the writer for the show is recognized for his addition of strong female characters while simultaneously promoting gender equality by having equally strong male characters--the characters on this show have a balance that ensures that one does not overpower the other due to gender.  

"Sometimes you have to make a difficult decision for the greater good." -Alex Parrish

5. Leslie Knope, Parks and Recreation

One of the truest feminist icons in television, Leslie Knope has always been an advocate and leader in women's rights. In Parks and Recreation, she is constantly empowering women from a variety of ages while working feverishly on developing her awesome career in politics. Simultaneously she maintains friendships, a love life and a whiny community in her town of Pawnee with flying colors--she has the ultimate "can do" attitude and is a role model for women. Leslie feels like a real person to me in the show and she makes it realistic to aspire to be like her. 

"I am big enough to admit I am often inspired by myself." -Leslie Knope

6. Rey, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Rey is one of the newest characters added to the Star Wars universe and she is definitely one of my favorites. Rey lives on her own and is constantly taking matters into her own hands. She was left by her family and is now a self taught fighter without fear. She represents a strong willed and fierce young woman close in age (she is 19 years old), making her yet another out-of-this world role model (excuse the pun.)

"I know how to run without you holding my hand!"-Rey

7. Ben Wyatt, Parks and Recreation

I know he's not a female but Ben Wyatt from Parks and Recreation is truly one to recognize as a huge supporter of equal rights. He respects women and their accomplishments and does not for a second doubt their capabilities. Rock on Ben Wyatt, keep being a role model for men to promote equal rights in a positive and respectful way. 

"I love how independent my wife is." -Ben Wyatt 

8. Fa Mulan, Mulan 

A favorite Disney princess classic that is just gushing with feminist ideals that we may not have recognized when we were 5. But as mature college students we can now realize that Mulan completely broke through gender boundaries. Being set in the Sui Dynasty (years 581-618) era, progressive feminist movements such as letting women into battle were not even really thought about yet. As seen in the movie, women were made to be married and carry on their lives by having families--this obviously was not the case for Mulan, an exceptionally brave and inspired young women far beyond her years. She takes on the role of a man but *SPOILER ALERT BUT NOT REALLY SINCE THE MOVIE IS ALMOST 20 YEARS OLD* her true identity is discovered. Despite that, she still goes on to be an awesome woman who saves the emperor and China--what more of a role model do you want to have as a kid?

"The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all." -The Emperor of China

Lead Image:  Disney

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Bianca D'Agostino - University of Connecticut

Bianca is a freshman at the University of Connecticut majoring in business and minoring in communications and international business. She political articles and loves to be involved on her campus. Bianca loves to read, run, knit and craft. You can follow her on Instagram @biancadag!

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