In my opinion we need to reevaluate our definition of what constitutes a strong character, regardless of gender. Does being the victim of abuse, crime, or even rape make a character weak? Or is it a lack of agency? Or is it something even more complicated and difficult to define? I'm not sure, but I think it is worth noting that statistically almost every person you know has been the victim of some sort of abuse or crime. Does that victimization make them a weak person? What if it were your mother, your wife, your child, rather than a person made up entirely of an author's imagination and words? Would you feel the same way? I would like to hope so.
With that as preamble, here are some articles I've found that discuss varying definitions of 'strong women' in fiction. I found them all very enlightening, but your mileage my vary.
- SF Signal's Mind Meld has some interesting thoughts on Strong Women in SF/F: I particularly enjoyed the comments of Teresa Frohock, Lauren Beaukes, and Jaye Wells.
- Chuck Wendig's thoughts on the matter from his excellent blog.
- This post from Culturally Disoriented doesn't talk about what defines a strong woman in fiction, but I think gets to the heart of why those characters are so very important.
- And last, but certainly not least, N.K. Jemison has this to say on the subject.