I have written five essays under the provocative topic of saving science fiction from strong female characters, and proposed a rather unprovocative idea: namely, that woman can be both strong and feminine, and that one does not need to make them overtly masculine to make them admirable and edifying characters.
Indeed, I proposed the idea that confusing strength with masculinity is in truth not a feminist ideal, but a misogynistic idea. He is no friend of woman who says women must act masculine to be equal to men, because that merely makes the word ‘feminine’ equal ‘inferior’. Masculine and feminine are a complimentary relationship, not a master-slave relationship. Is Ginger Rogers inferior to Fred Astair when they waltz, even if he leads? She does all the same steps he does, and she does them backward, and, most impressive of all, Ginger can make goofy Fred look like a dashing figure of elegant romance.
I proposed further that a brief, utterly unscientific survey of pre-1950 science fiction showed a healthy number of perfectly strong female characters even in the most boyish of boy’s literature, for example Jirel of Joiry or the Red Lensman Clarissa MacDougal or Deja Thoris (who, in the text, is both a scientist and a maiden who talks and acts like a Spartan “were his wounds in his back?” -style matron).
The same unscientific survey showed a rise of weaker female characters in the form of Playboy-bunny-styled bits of fluff in the 1960’s and 1970’s. I believe I was the only respondent to this survey, so the answers showed one hundred percent of respondents quizzed being in agreement.