The Kick Ass Female (in YA and beyond)

ATTENTION!  You will see the word ass repeatedly in this post.

I’ve been seeing a lot of post recently about books, one in particular that has been annoying the bejewel out of me.  It involves the archetype of a kick ass girl.  And the girls in these books where every one is raving how kick ass is she…. she’s not.  She’s violent yes, but not kick ass.  She’s just a girl with input of ego steroids placed in by author.  NOT kick ass.  Sure I’m going to offend some of you and others… but that’s the luxury of having an opinion and not being afraid to say it.

A real and true girl who is kick ass is more than a violent person.  She’s smart and self-reliant.  She’s doesn’t need a boy to determine the decisions she needs in her life and she most definitely does not need a boy to determine the direction she wants to take in her life.  She calculates well (in some cases not at all but hey, everyone makes mistakes) and is head strong.

She also has a personality or interest that is key to her.  She has values.  She has a core set of rules she sets for herself and follows rigidly.  She does not bend for anyone.  When she does, she does it with great difficulty and sacrifice.

This next part is where most (90 percent) girls in YA fail as the kick ass girl.  Their enemies are cold and ruthless and they have intelligence (or rather a strong will and determination).  The enemies are not fodder to make the kick ass girl look good.  They are real challenges for the kick ass girl to over come.  As Melissa, a reader and reviewer over at good reads, said, when the bad guys are “degraded for the sake of making the main character look better,” the girl ends up being not a kick ass girl, but just a regular girl made to look good.  When the bad guys serve no other purposes other than to make the good girl look good, better, or kick ass, then she’s not a kick ass girl because all she’s doing is just winning, winning over people who does not challenge her.  Winning over people without any sort of difficultly or challenges, and the sacrifices she makes are lame, not even detrimental to her or the people she knows (though the book tries to make it so, but in reality it’s just the author trying to tell us it is a sacrifice, but really look into the situation and evaluated the situation, most times they are illusions of great loss just so the girl can pretend to have sacrificed something great, but the sacrifice is a miniscule thing, something unimportant to character throughout the entire book until that last part when suddenly it’s important out of no where… give me a freaking break).

These girls are not kick ass, they are lame ass.  Are they bad?  Not at all.  They are the heroes in the book.  They do need to overcome the bad guys.  But the label kick ass should not be given to them because they do not deserve the title.  It is not them.  They are not these awesome kick ass girls.

Kick ass girls do not openly fawn over guys.  They don’t need a man.  They can kick the ass of any man.  Sure, they can secretly or discreetly want a guy, I mean, who doesn’t want romantic companionship – but the kick ass girls all know they got work to do which is kicking ass.  They don’t let a boy get in the way of them doing what they need done and they surely as hell won’t let some guy pull them down.  They’re world don’t revole around men.  It’s men’s world revolve around them and they’re in the center of it all – as they should be.

Are kick ass girls emotionless?  No not at all.  If they are, then they aren’t kick ass, they are lame ass.  Kick ass girls aren’t violent just to look cool.  They are violent because they have to.  Kick ass girls may be snide, rude, and abrasive, but they rarely boast.  They don’t need to because their actions will show for it.  Sure, they may smirk, may give you many “Are you serious?” looks or many  “This is beneath me” gestures, but rarely (not saying never) boast.  As I said, they show you how kick ass they are, they don’t tell you.

They may seem wild and untamed, but that’s their “we gotta get fecal stuff done now and we’ll talk later” attitude aka kick ass attitude.  And they actually do think and talk about it later.  They never pretend to say it and then never touch upon it again… those girls are posers.

So who do I think is kick ass?  Of course, I’ll give you examples, it’s what I should do after going on this rant.  Here are my short list of girls who would stomp and crush bad guys to the ground with no remorse and with attitude but also harbors a complicated attitude that extends beyond surviving and winning over the bad guys (< another important factor for a butt kicking girl).

Real Kick Ass girls (in random order):

1.  Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games.  Katniss has learned to survive in a world that is regulated by a corrupt government.  There is a slew of dystopian books out there and why is Katniss different?  Because she is strong willed. She makes decisions herself.  Sure there are times when she is cornered into a position and reacts, but there are also many times she makes a decision before hand and deals with the repercussions of the decision she chose later on.  She is not a reactive girl.  She’s smart and considers her choices wisely and makes decision before someone can make it for her or corners her into making one.  She chose to go into the games in place of her sister, knowing she may die.  She chose to enter the games a second time, knowing she could die.  She chose to do the “secret” hand gesture on televised TV, sign and symbol of resistance in the face of the nation of tyranny – the people who rein over her and the people with a cruel iron fist, knowing it will put her in the ugly spotlight.  She chose to willingly die together at the end (by eating the poisoned berries), refusing to let the government win.  Her decision making does not involve a boy.  The reasons why she comes to her conclusion of acting is usually for her well being and those around her, almost never out of romantic love, but out of a love of friendship and livelihood.

2.  Hermione Granger from The Harry Potter Series.  Yeah so, she isn’t the main character of the book but the series might as well be Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Ron Weasley and the Sorcerer’s Stone (etc.)… because let’s face it… it wouldn’t be Harry Potter without these two characters around, plus they are with Harry 90 percent of the time.  Hermione is a minority in the world of Harry Potter.  Her parents are human – and the magical folks even have a designated derogatory word from them – muggles.  She has faced this fact about her many times.  Over come them by acting as the more refined person by ignoring the taunts and teasing, but she isn’t a push over either.  When it gets too much she doesn’t just sits or stand there and takes it, she will punch you in the face (haha Draco).  Hermione is a very intelligent person and many times she has to scale back this intelligence just so the other characters in the book can look good, usually male characters.  It’s a shame that people have to feel threaten about someone who cares about knowledge and invests the time to be knowledgeable, but Hermione steps back allowing her to be in the background and those she cares about in the forefront.

3.  Yelena from Poison Study.  Chained and imprisoned, Yelena was given her “freedom” (a very fake one) to be a taste tester for some high up dude in the kingdom.  She’s cunning and perceptive when it counts.  She yearns for things any woman her time, era, and place would want, but she doesn’t let those dreams affect her decisions because she knows those dreams are unattainable for her in her current time and state.  She is not a dreamer but a realist.  She lives with regret, not because she killed someone (she has no issues of killing someone, especially if said someone had violated her in more ways than one) but because she felt like she abandoned many people she cares about.  She strives for freedom so she can save them.  She can out smart the best trackers in the kingdom and after a bit of training can poison anyone in the most subtle way possible.

4.  Xena from that TV show Xena Warrior Princess.  Yeah, yeah… it’s not a book.  But I feel like of all the media out there, Xena is the one person in my mind that epitomizes the kick ass girl.  She can beat anyone’s butt into the future, through the gates and pits of hell and back, up through heaven and beyond and you’d still feel in pain in whatever reincarnated form you have taken.  She killed off most of the Greek pantheon gods.  She killed gods as in they aren’t ever coming back.  You don’t mess with Xena, or with any of her friends or family.  You stay away from her friends and family if you want to take her down because she won’t bring hell on earth, she’ll destroy hell and try not to crush earth while she’s rampaging.  As outrageous as some her antics are, she does have a set of rules she abide by, a strict code of behavior she tries her best to live on (which the bad guys love to push to her limits and at times she has to break her code of ethics with a great sacrifice or guilt).  Many men want her, and she sleeps with a lot of them, but not many men have made her waiver her decisions and outlook on life (when they have, they usually screw her over and she pays them back with heaven and hell interest).  One thing is certain:  you don’t mess with Xena and it’s extremely personal when you target her friends or family.

5.  Vienne from Black Hole Sun.  She isn’t the main character but she’s the second in command and the love interest of our protagonist.  She’s a disgraced regulator (mercenary) not by choice.  She had the option to keep her grace but if her leader fails she too will choose the fail option.  One for all and all for one.  She shoots first and asks questions later.  She does the driving and extreme sports such as leaping across gorges in crappy space vehicles that could die any moment.  She is fearless.  At least, this is her exterior she puts forth and man does she excels in it.  Once or twice we see her falter, but her kick ass attitude resurfaces so fast, creating doubt and you find yourself asking if you really saw her “weak” side or not.  She isn’t constant bad ass.  She has her moments of painting her toenails, or caring about Durango (the lead), which makes her human, believable.  She isn’t superior and awesome just because the author made her so.  She exudes realism, she has doubts like anyone else, she has fears like anyone else and these doubts and fears motivate her to do better and be more aggressive.  They drive her to be kick ass, because let’s face it, when the boy you love is completely incompetent without you, you’re gonna have to do a lot of butt hurting.

6.  Mercedes Thompson in the Mercedes Thompson series (Moon Called being the first book and yes I know this is an adult book and not young adult).  First off, she’s a mechanic.  Massive points for her because of that fact.  She’s a girl who can change a tire, tune an engine, and change the gasket faster than most guys and she isn’t afraid to do so.  Oil and grime under her nails?  Please, that poo ain’t nothing.  Yet, she know’s how to dress and impress when it counts.  In the magical world, she only has the ability to shape shift into a coyote.  I mean for most folks, it’s a crappy power when all the other supernaturals can supposedly stomp on her and easily kill her with their massive powers, but she is one shrewd woman.  She’s quick and accesses her situations quickly and she reacts and trusts her gut instincts – which are honed in more correctly than a heat seeking missile aimed at the mouth of an active volcano.  It took her man years, to catch her… and he didn’t quite catch her.  She allowed herself to be catch.  I mean what woman wouldn’t want a nice guy.  And the man is nice, not some pretend bad boy who mopes because he feels like he has to protect her.  Anyway back to her powers, even with a seemingly small gift she still kick witches, werewolves, warlocks, fae, demon derriere more times than you can spell “butts.”  I mean seriously she can only change into a coyote…. a tiny cute version of a wolf and she goes up against creatures that can summon magic, kill her with a single utterance, make her kill herself slowly with a single touch, create and summon bolts of energy, invade a river and drowns and devours anything that steps into the water and she still ends up kicking their asses so hard and rough that even their moms would spank these bad guys for losing to someone so “powerless.”  Who needs power when you can shape shift into an ass kicking coyote and she doesn’t even need to shape shift more than half the time.

7.  Melinda Sordino from Speak.  All the books I listed are in the fantasy sci-fi realm.  I wanted to included something that’s real and more close to home.  Melinda is the outcast.  She hasn’t always been this way but at a party something had happened and she becomes shunned.  Everyone hates her.  Her friends and best friend turned their back against her.   The entire student body strips her of her voice.  They take away and ignore her pleas and willingness to explain why she did what she did.  For a high school kid, when your peers have turned against you, the world has turned against you.  But suicide doesn’t cross her mind (or enough to make a serious contemplation), all she wants to do is survive and move on.  It’s just high school she tells herself and she walks around school, sure sometimes with her face down, but she still goes to school even when no one wants her around, even when her world has turned its back on her.  She still possess the dignity of showing her face because she has done nothing wrong.  What she did was rightly so – she had every right and she wasn’t about to let anyone take her pride away.  She had a story to tell if only someone would listen, if only someone would believe her and if she couldn’t say it she would show it through a project.  Even when the world has silenced her, she still attempts to speak through her actions.  You can tape Melinda’s mouth closed but  no, you cannot crush her spirit.  The deed that was done unto her almost did but she refused to give up her life, what made her her, to the ill that was done onto her.  Even when she was alone with absolutely no one to turn to, she still relied on herself and told herself it was going to be okay.  She will not be the victim of a cruel world.

Doing this post I realized, there aren’t many true kick ass girls.   Girls who make the initiative to change their lives, who relies on themselves to change themselves or the world in which they live.  Girls whose life is not defined by a boy.  Girls who have personalities and a set beliefs to live on and tries to follow.  Sure there are many violent girls, but like a said, violent does not equate kick ass.  Many of these wannabes-posers start off okay but falls off into a gorge.  They let a boy rule their fate.  They lose their code of living at the drop of a wink (usually because of a boy).  They only want something because someone else wants it.  These girls below are wannabes.  IMPOSTERS.  People (mainly girls and women who has this cute and very weak idea of what kick ass truly means) usually classify these girls as kick ass.  They are not.  Though with that said, they are not horrible books (well maybe some of them are in my opinion) and I did in fact, enjoy a few of them, but we are talking solely about kick ass girl character and characteristic, not the merit and value of the book’s reading.

Wannabe Kick Ass Girls who are NOT kick ass:

1.  Clary Fray from The Mortal instrument Series.  Clary reacts a lot to what happens.  The boys she spends her time with usually makes the decisions.  Sure she gets an idea here and there but mostly she just gets tossed into a moment or place because something happened and they ended up where they are at because they had to react to what happened.  Then she is hopelessly in love with a boy and tries to pretend she is also in love with another dude so readers could get a lame love triangle.  Sure, she does great and handles the situations that falls on her great, but she lacks true leadership abilities and she doesn’t exude confidence.  If she was real and told me, “We’re going into Hell today, wanna come?”  I would definitely gave her a blank look, laugh loudly in her face, and snidely wish her luck.  She isn’t capable on her own.  Luckily, some guy is always with her to bail her out of sticky situations or some angel – like literally an angel.  Maybe she could be capable but the boys always swoops in to save her butt and she sighs in relief, not annoyed that hey, she could have so taken on those ignorant backwash Shadowhunters.  Boys tell her to stay safe for good reason too.  She sometimes just doesn’t seem bright.  The same could be said of her clone Tessa in the Infernal Devices series.

2.  Bella Swan from Twilight.  Her life revolves around a boy and she wants to become a vampire solely because she’s in love with a boy and loving him for the rest of her life is not enough for her.  Edward completes her and without him she is nothing.  She thinks she is completely and utterly worthless without Edward.  Nuff said.

3.  Miss J of Miss Book Reviews (Jordan iirc your name correctly) Do not read number 3!!!!  SKIP or else I may ruin Throne of Glass for you.  Celaena Sardothien from Throne of Glass.  She’s violent.  She wins in fight.  She literally kicks the bad guys asses and she is the perfect IMPOSTER.  This girl has no code of living.  She’s just trying to survive but all those real kick ass girls are just trying to survive too.  She is reactive.  She boasts that she is the world’s best assassin and could talk you to death of how many ways she could kill someone and escape but she never does.  When she fights the author makes her win.  She shows no skills – what so ever – and fancy things happens and falls at her feet, at the authors writing and wham she wins.  Then she boasts more such as saying, “Give me real men to fight.” And I think, yes please, give her real assassins and men to fight because I want her to get impaled and die because she is trying too damn hard to be a kick ass girl.  There are those types of people who tries so hard to be something they want and they do well because everyone else wants so badly to belive in such a person, that such a person could exist so they (readers) could live through this person, but they fail to see that all she is a poser with no real challenges, with no sacrifices, with no character beyond the violence.  She’s violent just because violence supposedly depicts a kick ass girl the best and people tend to forget that there’s more beyond the fighting.  Celaena is like an explosive Michael Bay movie….. you know where there are a lot of special effect and explosion, booms and bangs, and these visual effects ooooooo’s and ahhhhhhhh’s the crowd, blinding them that they are watching a movie with a crappy written plot/script.  Celaena is written well to be violent and she’s snarky and rude, perfect guise and veil to blindfold many readers into thinking she’s a kick ass girl, but she’s not.  She has no values.  If she does they are mentioned in passing and rarely are reflected or consistently shown.  The bad guys lose to her only to make her look better.  Everything that happens to her makes her look better.  She doesn’t lose anything.  Nothing happens to her to make her question her code of living and she just reacts to the situations she’s thrown in.  Kick ass girl she is surely not.  She’s just a fantasy girl who thinks she’s kick ass and many readers are blinded by her loud mouth, author placed wins so that she could be painted in better light and can’t see past it to actually see her real actions and thoughts.

4.  Zoey Redbird of the House of Night series.  She’s yanked along by boys.  She loses her virginity to a teacher who claims to love her and she, being the naive stupid girl that she is, believes she loves him (great job illustrating that all teenage girls are too stupid to protect their own virtues and are gullible enough to have sex with a boy they barely know but thinks it’s reason enough to sleep with a boy who they think is hot and tells her he loves her even though he barely knows anything about her).  I mean come on she just broke up with her boyfriend and her ex boyfriend before that was barely two months ago, but she decides to screw a hot male teacher because unlike the other two boys, he loves her… I really want to pull her out of the book just so I can punch her square in the nose … (Of course I only want to do this to fictional characters never real people. < Given the tone of my post so far that may have sounded like sarcastic but I’m serious.  I never want to cause harm to any real person.)  Zoey is willing to alienate her friends because they disagree with her.  She is willing to put her friends in danger just so she could fool around with a boy.  She has too much pride to apologize to said friends or try to compromise to fix their relationships.  She’s supposedly all-powerful but runs around headless not knowing what to do when the resources are readily available at her disposal (Grandma, some teachers around her).  She has no code of living (considering she’s willing to sleep with anyone as long as they are hot and mutters I love you into her ear.  Think it with me, a girl who is an easy lay is a <insert your word here>….).  She sacrifices nothing.  The sacrifices are all given and donated to her from friends.  Yeah, if she’s kick ass… I’m not just a blogger but own the damn internet – the whole thing, all of it.

5.  Okay I was going to do a 5 but I realize this post was going on LoooooOOOOoooOOOOoooOOOng.  So I’ll leave it at that.

So who do you think is a kick ass girl?  Who do you think isn’t when others think they are?  Come on, don’t be shy…. I may be a loud mouth but I am open to other’s opinions.  Be a loud mouth with me!  Seriously though, I won’t hate you or think you’re stupid if you disagree with me… I’ll only think you’re slightly stupid and only slightly hate you (Just kidding).  Honestly, if everyone loved and enjoyed the same books it’d be a very boring world.  The point of books is to begin conversations, discussions, and relay how we feel and think about a certain topic.  If everyone loved the same books we’ll have nothing to talk about because we all would think the same things.  So share your kick ass girls.  Maybe it’s a book I haven’t read and/or know about and it will prompt me to add or push the book up my reading list.

5 responses to “The Kick Ass Female (in YA and beyond)

  1. I would agree Clary isn’t that kick ass but not Tessa. For one she does get kidnapped and tortured only moments after she arrives in London. She outwardly resents Will for the most part and only secretly likes him. AND by Clockwork Prince she can actually defend herself pretty well. Plus I kind of disagree that Clary and Tessa are carbon copies but thats just me.

    • Sure their circumstances are different, but the details are all pretty much the same. Girl with two suitors, girl who is integral to the ShadowHunters, girl who secret harbors a love for another boy, girl who goes with the flow of things as things just plop and pop around her, girl who had no idea what was going on and has to find out about it through two boys… even plot tensions are the same…. there’s the rival shadowhunter who wants to take over the school who thinks the current person in charge lacks the skills, the love triangle…. Will and Jace are the same person too… They are sarcastic and yet care about the girl (gags*)… sorry unfortunately you can’t fool me with a change in names and time and place, don’t get me wrong… I did intially very much enjoyed the Mortal instruments, but as soon as I started reading Inferno Devices I began to dislike both stories as they are just to similiar to each one. The characters, plot, and romance. Same thing with different names, place, and time. Yet people eat it up like its candy. So yes Tessa and Clary may not be ‘exactly’ alike but they are much too similiar(a change in name and visuals does not equate a new and different character – both girls personality and assessment skills are practically the same, when in fact should be much different compared to the times they were raised and living in… Tessa should be vastly different from Clary…. the only reasons people think they are different is the hint towards time (setting of year) the pseudo “Oh but boys aren’t suppose to touch me because its improper” in Inferno Devices is the same as “Oh I shouldn’t touch boys because he’s makes my blood run” in the Mortal Instrument…reasons are different but paints the same tidmidness…. A closer look at personality reveals them to be the same) to each other to be special and interesting. I’m not saying you shouldn’t enjoy the books, because I very much enjoyed them when I first read them. This is just my analytical review of characterization.

      Thanks for leaving a comment! Too many people are unwilling to be active in a discussion. (I clicked on your name and was routed to your FB page… I LOVE Princess Mononoke. Awesome moive! :D)

  2. Haha thanks for warning me! Jordon* (I’m used to my name being spelt wrong, but it is my one huge pet peeve. I forgive you though!)

    So as I was reading these I missed the “Girls who are NOT kick ass” title, then I got incredibly confused when you were outlining things like the YA girl’s life revolved around a male and she would do anything for him regardless of anything else etc, I sat their thinking ‘That isn’t a kick ass character, huh?’, Then I realised my mistake haha.

    The points you have pointed out of the books that I HAVE read are the points that annoyed me most about those books. I couldn’t finish The House of Night Series because Zoey got to the point that it pissed me off so much that I too would like to pull her out of the book and punch her in the face.

    Rose from the Vampire Academy series. Hmm I’m umm-ing and ahh-ing this one because on one hand she can kick butt for sure, she runs away with Lissa, her best friend, to protect her but without realising that that is probably the one thing that they shouldn’t have done. Then on the other she would do anything for Dimitri. But then she would also do anything for Lissa including die for her. In the last few books though she pines over Dimitri and he drives her sole reason, she leaves Lissa behind but with the fact that Lissa will be safe where she is. So I’m on the fence with her.

    Luce from Fallen would be classed as an incredibly NOT kick ass character. I don’t even want to go into that one. I’m referring to the first book of the series as I have not read any of the others.

    I was looking at my book shelf to give me some ideas for characters, but I don’t have that many books so I have run out.

    Great post!

    P.S. I LOVE Xena! It’s my favourite T.V show from the 90’s! It got me through my childhood when I was pretty sick for most of it (I always looked forward to watching it every week in hospital).
    Lucy Lawless lives in the area I work in and she came in one day to see a movie (I’m a manager at a cinema). Somehow I managed to pretend I had no idea who she was, since I was the manager and all and didn’t’ want to look like an idiot, plus I’m an actor so that would have come across as incredibly unprofessional if I started to do anything that even slightly resembled squealing, or fainting, or crying, or rambling on about how much I admire her as an actor, a green peace activist and as a person (A bit too much with the last one haha)… Okay, I wouldn’t have done any of those things anyway for the embarrassment of my pride. She’s pretty gorgeous in person I have to say! That made my month to be honest. Long story…

    • Jordon* I knew I was spelling it wrong. I was just too lazy to go back and look for the post where you posted your name. Sorry. Gah Luce!!! I have wiped that series from my mind. Like literally. I vaguely remembers what happened in that series…. I read the first two books only. Then there’s Hush, Hush and I vaguely remember an angel boy Patch and a carnival/thrill ride scene. Horrible. Nora was the lead and she wasn’t kick ass either. I couldn’t stand Luce and Nora.

      I always thought of myself as someone who won’t get starstruck. But who knows what will actually happen when the time comes. That’s very cool you got to exchange some words with Lucy Lawless. My brother and I watched her religiously, Hercules (Kevin Sorbo) who? Now that I think about it Xena is a lot more complex than the male TV show counterpart. But yeah, we weren’t sick and watching it, we just were bored kids with nothing to do but watch TV.

  3. ….totally agree. can’t say more. Uhh, do you have any recommendation for YA novels that the main character is SMART enough, KICK ASS type, NO love triangle, and absolutely NO love at the first sight?
    Heck, I don’t follow the book trend. I love angst, only for normal dose. And I do like romance, but i’m not really into drama? -.-
    And thank you very much for the post, really help 😀

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