Jul 26 2010 6:18pm

I Blame Buffy

Once upon a time, I was happy with the old story of a strong, powerful vampire finding his one true mate—he bit her, and then they lived forever in undead bliss.

Once upon a time…

But that story doesn’t work for me anymore. I don’t just want a heroine who stands there and waits for her undead prince charming to come at her with his razor-sharp teeth. No, these days, I want a heroine who carries a back-up stake in her jacket. I want a woman who’s never afraid of the dark, no matter what may wait in that darkness.

I want my kick-ass heroine, please.

And, lucky for me, there are plenty of those heroines these days. If you open an urban fantasy novel or pick up a dark paranormal romance, odds are good that you won’t find one of those “too-stupid-to-live” heroines. Instead, you’ll find a heroine who knows how to fight the bad guys and how to romance her man (whether he’s an undead vamp, a howling shifter or anything else…).

Buffy made me love heroines like this. Sure, in season one we saw Buffy falling for a vampire, but, hey, she still killed him later (hmmm…was that once or twice?). Buffy showed me that heroines can be funny, they can be vulnerable, and they can still kick a whole lot of supernatural butt…and these heroines can look good while doing it.

Women are empowered in these paranormal stories. Sure, often they are humans surrounded by beings that are far, far more physically powerful. But, sometimes, it’s not about the physical strength. It can be about intellectual power or even psychic power. What you see isn’t always what you get—and our modern crop of heroines is proving this point amazingly well.

So when you pick up an urban fantasy or a paranormal romance, and you see a woman on the cover (sure, she may be wearing leather and she may have some cool tattoos—and a weapon), then you know you’re not about to read a story about a meek, waiting-to-be saved heroine.

It’s fighting time, and the heroine is ready to save the day.

If a vamp comes at her, ready to take a bite…perhaps she’ll let him enjoy a nibble (if he’s hot), or, well, she may just stake him.

Because the kick-ass heroine is cool like that.

And what are your thoughts on the tough heroine? Did Buffy bring you over to loving the “dark side” of heroines, too?

Cynthia Eden writes tales of paranormal romance and romantic suspense. Her publishers include Kensington Brava and Grand Central (Forever). She loves monsters, haunted tours, and chocolate. Cynthia’s latest paranormal romance, I'll Be Slaying You is available in stores now. Find the ebook on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Sony.

This article is part of Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy Month: ‹ previous | index | next ›
1. tnielsenhayden
I already loved them. Buffy just gave me a lot more to love.
2. Cynthia Eden (Author)
tnielsenhayden, I think I feel the urge to re-watch some Buffy episodes tonight!
3. Sherry/Jillian
Always hated the "too dumb" and "too weak" woman. Chased me away from the genre for a long time. Am glad to say that I'm back to loving romances but ONLY with a strong heroine. I think the changes in the jobs women are "accepted" in now and the fact that we CAN kick butt as well as Buffy is part of the reason! And the fact that tv and movie producers aren't afraid to depict the strong woman is a very good thing.

Great post.
4. Jacqui Jacoby
Chicks with tats!! Always a good sign!! LOL ... Great article Cynthia and I love the message!

Was it Buffy for me? Naw? When I joined martial arts over a decade ago I was asked why a woman my age was starting. "Because I want to be Xena when I grow up!!"

The reality is, I've campaigning for tough chicks since high school. Got into self defense before the marital arts for practical reason and just recently learned through Facebook that the reason in high school no one hung out with me was due to, as they put it, "a take no prisoners" attitude I apparently had.!! Got my girls into the same stuff, along with my son. Yeah ... go ahead .. make our day!! :)

Once again, great piece!!

5. Cynthia Eden (Author)
Excellent points, Sherry!
6. Cynthia Eden (Author)
Hey, Jacqui! Oh, Xena--I loved her! Totally strong and more than capable of terrorizing anyone who got in her way.
And I challenge anyone to make your day!
7. Viki S.
I loved Xena too. Now that woman could kick some serious a**. Beauty, strength and brains. Can't go wrong with that.
john mullen
8. johntheirishmongol
I have said a couple of times that Buffy made it cool to watch and read vamp stories. It showed you could have intelligent stories by downplaying the horror aspect and upgrading the character aspect. Buffy is one of the most critically acclaimed series ever done.

I did like Xena, but it was a syndicated series that was a totally different genre. There have been some series that starred women as the heroines long before Xena, including Emma Peel from the Avengers, Honey West, Bionic Woman, Girl from Uncle. It isn't a totally new phenomenon.
9. Hapalochlaena
And Modesty Blaise, in comic strip and novel.

I loved Buffy but for some reason couldn't bring myself to watch Xena.
10. Cyndi Tefft
Funny that you should blog on this, since I wrote a post from the opposite viewpoint just yesterday. I do love a kick-butt MC from time to time (Jeaniene Frost rocked my world), but I can also relate to a 'wimpy heroine'. I'd love your thoughts, since good, healthy debate is fun!

Michael Morton
11. MobileSalty
For me, it was Anita Blake who showed that being able to save the day was non-gender specific. I forget which book in the series had this quote, but she was pointed out as being 'the scariest person in the room'. I realized I quite agreed with the sentiment, and that she was someone who could very ably kick a$$ with the best of them.

There's been a lot of copycats since the Anita Blake series was first published, but to me, she is the original 'dark side heroine'.
12. Foxessa
I adored Xena; before dvds (no television of mine own) I followed her adventures / the series on the online forums that discussed her -- and Gabrielle -- and /Xena 'n Gabrielle/ endlessly.

Yes, before the Buff, there was Xena.

The worlds aren't all that different: gods, goddesses, demons, werebeasts, monsters, good buddies, big baddies.

Love, C.
Walter Lopez
13. Snakpakk
Personally, I can't think of any other way. Buffy was amazing to me for that very reason, any other female lead seems dated to me.
Makes for much better dialog and makes things much more interesting as a viewer.

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