Note: This article was originally published on the now-defunct Talkbacker.com. It might contain some changes (original idea for a Real Girl Power article was Stalkeye’s).
Throughout the years the term girl power has been abused. Lots of women proclaimed to be girl power while they were not. It was blasphemy of the highest order and I didn’t like it. I have no use for women who earn money and then claim to be girl power. Earning money is not what makes you girl power, but they can’t get that through their numbskulls.
So how do I define real girl power? Real girl power, to me, means a woman who is confident, genuine, beautiful, modest, loving, doesn’t cry for help from a man, is not a feminist and can defend herself. If the woman is also intelligent and/or sophisticated this is a major plus. So, no, Spice Girls, you are not girl power no matter how many times you proclaimed to be. And don’t get me started on the Kardashians and similar scum.
The first time I encountered girl power is when, as a kid, I saw an episode of the Avengers with John Steed and Mrs Peel on German television. I was fascinated by Mrs Peel, who was not your typical damsel in distress. She had it all, knew martial arts and could shoot a gun. She was not John Steed’s helper; she was his equal!!! It was then that I said that I want to marry a woman like Mrs Peel.
Years later, when I became an adult, I rewatched the Avengers show and was fascinated with Mrs Peel even more. To me she is the godmother of real girl power and to this day nobody surpassed her. There have been various girl power women through the years after Mrs Peel and I want to talk about them for a little bit, because those women inspire and deserve some attention.
Honor Blackman might be the first girl power woman ever. She played in the Avengers show before Diana Rigg did, but Diana Rigg redefined the girl power role and that’s why I think Diana is the godmother of girl power. Diana had an edge over Honor Blackman, because she oozed sophistication and a certain classiness. Honor Blackman didn’t ooze it that much, but was a class A woman nonetheless. I love Honor Blackman to death, though, because if she didn’t pave the way in the Avengers there might not have been a Diana Rigg. Another cool fact about Honor Blackman is that she has a black belt in judo. How sexy is that?
As far as I know Angela Mao started the girl power Hong Kong movies. I grew up on a few of her movies thanks to re-runs on German television. That was the only way to see those movies. Holland didn’t show Hong Kong movies on television. You were dependant on VHS rental stores and they didn’t carry that many Hong Kong movies. Angela Mao was more skilled than Diana Rigg and it shows in her movies. She fought against man and defeated them. You couldn’t do anything but root for her.
Wonderful Pam Grier. When I first saw her in Nico aka Above The Law I didn’t know she was a Blaxploitation legend. Later on I found out and saw some of her movies like Coffy and Foxy Brown and knew she was girl power all the way. I think she doesn’t get enough respect.
RIP, Cleopatra Jones. I am not enough of a Blaxploitation expert to determine if Pam or Tamara is the godmother of Blaxploitation. Both of them were girl power all the way. I wish I lived at that era because it must have been awesome. Pimps, cool cars and asskicking women like Pam Grier and Tamara Dobson.
A cartoon character from Battle Of The Planets, aka Gatchaman? Hell, yeah. Is she the first girl power cartoon character? I don’t know, but she made a lasting impression on me. She was part of the G-Force team and not a dumb damsel in distress. She was brave and could fight. If someone asks me who is the female cartoon character who is girl power Princess is the first female cartoon character I can think of.
The 80s saw the coming of Michelle Yeoh. She brought girl power to a whole new level. She was not a trained martial artist, but made it look like she was a martial arts expert and could kick some serious ass. And… to top it all of she did her own stunts. That’s girl power right there. Just getting down and dirty when necessary and not crying about a broken fingernail or something. Michelle Yeoh is called the female Jackie Chan and rightfully so. She earned it. In the 90s Jackie Chan put her in Police Story 3 Supercop together with him and she upstaged Jackie Chan and Jackie was not too happy about that. This shows how good she really was. In the 90s she also got honered by becoming a Bond Girl in Tomorrow Never Dies, which is Pierce’s Brosnan’s best Bond movie. She was made Bond’s equal in the movie, which I wholeheartedly applauded. She deserved to be Bond’s equal. And everyone knows Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Some might say it is overrated and it might be, but now one can deny Michelle Yeoh was great in it and she put Zhang Ziyi on the map.
I always feel sorry for Cynthia Rothrock. She was a legit martial artist and deserved better than to be in STV movies. To make matters even worse they made her look like a tomboy and act like a tomboy in the United States. The short hair she had to have also made her less feminine. She did become kind of an icon, but imagine what an icon she could have been if they made her more feminine. She also teamed up with Michelle Yeoh in Hong Kong movies a few times and those movies were much better than the American counterparts.
Sarah Michelle Gellar
Some people will probably not agree with me, but Sarah Michelle Gellar used to be girl power. I think she became the first mainstream girl power woman since Diana Rigg. The fighting in the Buffy shows sucked big time, but it was all about the message. She was girl power. She was the female hero protecting the world against all kinds of demon and vampire scum. Of course she had help from various people, but her fighting skills were unmatched.
Xena, the Warrior Princess. This was a whole new take on girl power. I am surprised it took years to make a show about a warrior woman. I think Xena inspired a lot of women to be strong and brave and determined, and they all have Lucy Lawless to thank for that.
I consider this woman to be the successor of Michelle Yeoh. I didn’t see many of her movies but she already won me over in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.
The 2000s saw the emergence of Maggie Q. The Naked Weapon was her breakthrough. Then a few movies followed in which she was the bad girl making life tough for the heroes. But then she got what she finally deserved. Her own tv show Nikita. Unfortunately Nikita is cancelled now but she really came into her own in that show. Her action looked good and crisp and her beauty was amazing. In my opinion Maggie Q did one of the best portrayals of girl power ever. Now that Nikita is over it’s time to spread her girl power in Hollywood again. She deserves it because I think she is quite special.
Well, JeeJa Yanin took things to a whole new level. I consider her to be a Michelle Yeoh on dope. It’s amazing to see a woman do the stuff she does. I just hope she doesn’t wreck her body in the process. Here is to more JeeJa Yanin movies.
The Bitch Slap women
Of course, these women need to be mentioned. They made the best girl power movie ever. Bitch Slap had it all. The fights in the movie will not be surpassed soon because of their brutality. Are the Bitch Slap women the best girl power women? No, they are not, but they sure made an impact.
So what will the future bring? I don’t know exactly. I know Maggie Q is available for action movies now and Gina Carano is available for action movies, but who else is left? Who will be the next woman who is empowered and becomes a girl power icon. Time will tell.