Xenia Melzer's Top 5 Heroines

Thursday October 26, 2017


Hi you all! I was asked to talk about my Top 5 for DreamReaders (thank you very much, Hayley and Naomi!) and was thrilled… until I started thinking which Top 5 I should be writing about. That’s when the first beads of sweat started to form on my suddenly heavily knitted brows, because the possibilities are endless. Top 5 songs, actors, movies, food, plants, or ways to do your nails… I’m not good at choosing. So, after a lot of turning and tossing at night, I finally found a Top 5 I really wanted to talk about – heroines in books and movies.


Given how women are still not equal to men in many respects (glass ceiling, unequal payment, to name just a few) and openly suppressed in some countries, I thought this is a Top 5 worth discussing, because when it comes to female role models, the discussions are as lively as when men discuss their favorite football teams (cliché, I know, but I couldn’t resist). I can’t wait to hear about YOUR favorite heroines that function as role models for us and our daughters.


Although this is a Top 5, I couldn’t really decide which heroine to put in number one, so I decided to list them in chronological order instead. I hope you can forgive me for being indecisive… Here they come:


Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice. Why? Because in a time and society that defined women through marriage and the number of kids they had, she was brave enough to stay true to herself and pursue the man of her dreams.


Dylan, Natalie, and Alex from Charlie’s Angels. Yes, they do take orders from a disembodied male voice, I know. But I can remember the time when the first film came out – it was a revelation to me and the girls my age. Three beautiful women kicking serious ass while at the same time not afraid to show her vulnerable side. And even though I don’t want my daughters to think they have to look a certain way to be successful, I still liked the idea of women being self-confident and kind of macho while still being obviously female.


Buffy from Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. Like Charlie’s Angels, she was a different kind of heroine, one that didn’t need rescuing, but did the rescuing. The first time I watched the show, there was this scene where two teenagers, a boy and a blonde, beautiful girl, break into High School at night. The girl acts all timid and frightened, while he’s the typical, testosterone-oozing jock who radiates youthful confidence. Well, he ended up as vampire food… and the girl turned out to be a badass vampire and one of Buffy’s opponents. Buffy was a play with clichés, which alone was worth watching the show, and some very good single episodes that were all about girl power.


The Queen from The Sleeper and the Spindle. A classic fairy tale turned dark, the Queen is about to live her happily ever after with the handsome prince. But then danger lurks and she takes her horse and her three dwarf friends to slay the proverbial dragon. In the end, she decides that marriage is not for her, after all, and walks into the rising sun, because, ‘there are always choices… you just have to make them.’


The last one is a tie. So this is really a Top 6, but I couldn’t decide… sorry. The Bride, from Kill Bill and Daenerys Targaeryen from Game of Thrones. I just think these two have a lot in common, though it doesn’t look like it at first glance. Whereas the Bride comes from a position of strength and actively chooses marriage to build a family for her unborn child, Daenerys is forced into marriage to gain her brother the military forces he needs. She’s traded like a cow. But when their happiness is taken from them, both women don’t hesitate to get their revenge/take back what they want. They don’t sit around and wait for a knight in shining armor. And the irony of a woman who doesn’t slay dragons but has her very own… if that isn’t a nice twist on everything classic, I don’t know. One of my favorite scenes in GoT is when Deanerys addresses her new mega-khalassar, asking them to give her the Seven Kingdoms like Khal Drogo promised her. In the back of my mind, a tiny voice always provides ‘If you don’t do it yourself…’.


How do you like my Top 5? Do you agree? Disagree? Have entirely different females in mind? I’d love to hear your opinions!