Every year on 8 March, people all over the globe celebrate women’s contribution to society and reflect on how far we still have to go. International Women’s Day means something different to everyone, but to us it means celebrating women who have broken free from the shackles of the patriarchy in our favourite genre series and films and continue to be compassionate, independent, smart, vulnerable, badass and multidimensional, fully-formed characters.
Michonne (The Walking Dead)
From the moment she strutted on to the show in the Season 2 finale, cloak billowing, katana poised at the ready and zombie pack mules completely at her mercy, it was clear Michonne was going to be a badass. She was an enigma from the get-go, but the three seasons’ worth of character development has made her the coolest damn person left in the whole of Georgia. There’s no-one tougher or more awesome than Michonne. Not Rick, not Daryl, no-one. If you disagree, I’m going to have to fight you.
Hermione Granger (Harry Potter)
The Brightest Witch of Her Age started first year as an irritating know-it-all with no friends and transformed into a loyal know-it-all who would die for her friends in a heartbeat. But she was always a feminist role model. As a muggle-born, she’s experienced inequality first-hand but she still focuses her passion to get shit done on bettering the lives of those around her, whether that be by knitting hats to free house-elves or embarking on gruelling and uncomfortable camping trips to defeat the Dark Lord.
Natasha Romanoff (The Avengers)
Let me tell you a thing about Agent Romanoff: she doesn’t have any super powers but she’s still one of the most badass members of the Avengers Initiative. She manages to keep up with a Hulk, a genetically engineered super-soldier, a man in billions of dollars worth of suit technology and a Norse god. And she often bypasses them, with a stoic air that suggests she’s not even trying that hard. She also probably only makes 80% of their salary on SHIELD’s payroll.
Martha Jones (Doctor Who)
Martha doesn’t have time for people who don’t appreciate her for what she is (a complete and utter rock star). The moment the love she gives to her friends is disproportion to the love she receives, she is out of there. Martha knows her value and respects herself too much to be treated as anything less. She’s a strong, independent woman who doesn’t give a shit. But those who are lucky enough to be friends with Martha reap the benefits of her companionship.
Molly Weasley (Harry Potter)
Mrs Weasley proves you don’t need to be making waves in the Ministry of Magic as an Aurour to be a feminist icon. Molly is a stay-at-home witch because that’s just how she likes it, thank you very much. It gives her more freedom to take care of the people that matter to her the most. Criticise her cooking all you like, but Merlin knows if you mess with her family you’ll be on the fourth floor of St Mungo’s Hospital before she’s even finished with you.
Jemma Simmons (Agents Of SHIELD)
Simmons probably couldn’t beat you in a thumb war but she knows more about biochemistry than most people on the planet. She also knows the friend-zone is just a concept created by the patriarchy to make women feel bad about not wanting to bump uglies with their BFFs. But above all that, she know how to be kind. She’s the type of person who would jump out of a plane for you as quickly as she’d hand over her coat in a light breeze. There aren’t enough kind people in the MCU. They’re all too busy trying to one-up each other.
Peggy Carter (Agent Carter)
They say her lipstick was mixed from the blood of the slain patriarchy and her heels were the swords of the feminists that battled it before her. They say her skirt suits were made using the hides of her enemies and her eye-liner was so sharp that she could shred the hopes and dreams of an entitled misogynist just by winking at him. They say the US army had nightmares about the Nazis invading, but the Nazis had nightmares about Agent Peggy Carter.
Nyota Uhura (Star Trek)
The Original Series Uhura is kind of a big deal. She was the USS Enterprise’s communications officer and a multilingual badass. She was also one of the first characters of African descent to occupy a non-menial role on a US TV show, woman or no. That’s quite an achievement, and Uhura is quite the BAMF. Fun fact: Uhura’s name comes from the Swahili word ‘uhuru’ meaning ‘freedom’, which is just perfect.
Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games)
You see this girl here? She only went and sacrificed herself to the Hunger Games to save her sister’s life, then went and won the Hunger Games, escaped from second Hunger Games and started a goddamn nationwide uprising, all while under the watchful eye of Present shit-for-brains Snow. She’s an accidental political activist. She’s a commentary on class inequality and government brutality. She’s a new-age revolutionary with a side-braid.
Éowyn (The Lord Of The Rings)
After the sausage fest that is The Fellowship Of The Ring, Éowyn popping up in The Two Towers is a breath of fresh air. But it’s not until The Return Of The King that the Lady of Rohan gets a proper look at the patriarchy and plunges a sword into its gaping face. Her bellow of “I AM NO MAN” is arguably the best line in the entire trilogy and the mantra-come-war cry of Middle-earthian feminists everywhere.
Ellen and Jo Harvelle (Supernatural)
Ellen and Jo Harvelle were one of the greatest mother-daughter TV tag teams since Lorelai and Rory Gilmore, except they actually got shit done. Where the Gilmore girls spent their Friday nights eating comfort food in front of the telly, the Harvelles were out blowing shit up and sacrificing themselves for the greater good. The Gilmores ran the Dragonfly Inn in the charming town of Stars Hollow, and the Harvelles ran the Roadhouse, choice hangout for demon hunters everywhere. Who would you rather have round for a family dinner? Exactly, that’s what we thought.
The Clones (Orphan Black)
Orphan Black is such goddamn powerful feminist sci-fi show that a whole separate list of just the clones could have been compiled in this one’s place. First you have Sarah, freaking Sarah, with her fierce leadership intuition and intense loyalty towards her sister. Then you have bloody Cosima, the brains of the operation who manages to keep on going from her death bed. Next is Alison, that fearless mother of two who doesn’t take crap from anyone. And then there’s Helena. She’s completely loco after all the mistreatment she has endured but she’s still fighting for what she knows to be righteous. They are all one of a kind.
Tauriel (The Hobbit)
You can complain about her weird relationship with Fili the Hot Dwarf and the fact that she doesn’t exist in Tolkien canon, but Tauriel is tenfold the badass Hobbit!Legolas is. She was created purely to inject oestrogen into The Hobbit movies after the book’s testosterone fondue, and her introduction paid off. Her fighting technique is so fine-tuned that she could probably take on an orc army with both arms and legs tied behind her back, but she also lets herself feel actual emotions. Tauriel is basically a fully-formed Legolas upgrade.
Buffy Summers (Buffy The Vampire Slayer)
Being the Slayer is a pretty awesome accomplishment for anyone, but Buffy started while she was still in high school. While we were crying over acne, pop bands and Pokémon battles, freaking Buffy, that little shit, was standing against the vampires, demons and the forces of darkness, making the rest of us look bad. More than a decade later, she remains one of the best written teenage feminists in the history of ever.
Gamora (Guardians Of The Galaxy)
In the superhero movie world, a world where talking raccons and walking trees get more screen time than women, Gamora is like hitting the jackpot. She’s simultaneously serious and hilarious, ruthless and caring, vulnerable and badass, alien and human. Her parents were slaughtered in front of her and their executioner adopted her as his own and raised her as a killer but she managed to come out the other side stronger than ever. She’s a fighter, she’s a survivor and she will not succumb to Peter Quill’s pelvic sorcery.
Gwen Stacy (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Some people are school smart. They get straight A’s, get nominated class valedictorian and somehow manage to bag themselves work experience so cool and relevant that it makes everyone else in the year group feel lazy and inferior. Other people are life smart. They offer their shoulder to friends in need, find something they are passionate about and stick with it, and make everyone around them want to be a better person. Gwen Stacy is both.
It’s quite difficult to find a good quality still of Barbarella that doesn’t feature her in some kind of compromising position, but that’s part of her charm. She embraces her sexuality and doesn’t take herself too seriously. She’s always there to help but if there’s also a good time to be had afterwards, you can bet Barbarella is the first to get her kit off for a roll-around after saving the day.
Daenerys Targaryen (Game Of Thrones)
The phrase “I don’t need no man” applies to Daenerys Targaryen as much as Newton’s Third Law of Motion applies to aircrafts. She was pretty meek towards the start of Season One, which is not surprising considering she was about to enter into a sex-heavy arranged marriage with a man-giant. But after the passing of both her brother Viserys and her man-giant, she became an Iron Throne contender, a liberator of slaves and a mother of goddamn dragons.
Zoë Washburne (Firefly)
Zoë is a special sort of person and don’t let anyone ever tell you differently. She’s a war veteran and a loyal friend, and she needs saving about as much as she needs to deal with your shit. She’s also dedicated to her husband Wash in a way that’s beyond words. But that ain’t her being a sucker whose life revolves around pleasing her man. That’s her being a good human being with good human being emotions like ‘compassion’ and ‘love’ and ‘fondness’. Finally, she dresses like the space pirate goddess we all not so secretly wish we were.
Minerva McGonagall (Harry Potter)
The only reason Albus Dumbledore was widely regarded to be the greatest headmaster Hogwarts had ever had was because McGonagall hadn’t had a go at it yet. She can be a hard-ass at times but she doesn’t discriminate. She doesn’t care about your age, gender, sexuality, house or celebrity-status; if you haven’t done your homework you’re getting detention. McGonagall believes in justice and equality, and that’s basically what being a feminist icon is all about.
Have we missed anyone? Tell us who your sci-fi and fantasy feminist icons are in the comments! Find out more about International Women’s Day on the official website.