A Paucity of Dark Heroines
I am mortified to say that not a single dark heroine pops to mind. Maybe it’s my definition of ‘dark’ that’s at fault here. I admit I’d thought of the Firefly heroines mentioned earlier this week. I’d dismissed them. Why?
Because within the context of their situation, each of them is 100% true to her moral code. Aaaaand I realize that maybe that puts my sympathy a little bit far along on the psychopathic scale. But really. In Firefly, most of the lying, cheating, conning, stealing and killing happens when the crew are put in a position of chosing the lesser of two evils. Yeah. In other words, there ain’t no killing of those who don’t sorely need it.
That said, I tried to think of a heroine who embraced her bad without crossing over to becoming the villainess. Clearly, I’m reading the wrong books, seeing the wrong movies and the wrong TV shows. I know of so many more dark heroines who have to be forced into being bad. Think La Femme Nikita or another Joss Whedon show – Doll House. The heroines are compelled/brainwashed/whatever into being what they are.
My heroines usally aren’t dark. Okay. One of them IS an assassin. The fact that the good guys bought her services to protect the hero from another assassin is the only reason she’s doing the moral thing. When push comes to shove, she doesn’t have any compunction whatsoever about strangling her nemesis. She’s the closest I’ve come in my own work to writing someone who defined morality as flexibly as Cashel does (this was in an erotic futuristic called Enemy Mine).
The thing that bothers me is that I can think of so many more dark heroes. Damaged men who’ve built lives and careers out of their deep mental/emotional wounds. Few dark heroes want to change. Some simply can’t – they’re broken on too fundamental a level to ever fix. I have yet to find a dark heroine who matches that. Every single heroine I’ve thought of has wanted redemption and has been capable of attaining it. If she ISN’T capable of change, she dies. Notably, the guys don’t. Is that a double standard?
Now I wonder if I could write a heroine who had a deep fundamental injury that prevents her healing – without having to kill her off…but still make her accessible, sympathetic and fun to hang out with book after book. Hmm.