Guest Author Stephen Zimmer
Strong Female Leads
There have been a lot of very compelling female warrior characters in both the book world and TV/Film realms, from Red Sonja, to Xena, to Katniss Everdeen and Wonder Woman. It so happens that a strong female warrior character has become my favorite character to write, and in many ways become an inspiration to me. That character is Rayden Valkyrie.
The foundation of Rayden Valkyrie is that she is a strong person. She has a personal honor code that she lives by. She is trustworthy and will put her life on the line rather than break her word. Raydenhas compassion for those who are oppressed, or in a state of weakness, and she has the courage to step forward to help such individuals.
Rayden is also a dedicated warrior. She trains regularly, honing her skills with weapons and hand to hand combat. She is always open to learning new skills and techniques, wherever she travels, and she does not use her high level of ability as a warrior to bully, intimidate or prey upon others.
These kinds of characteristics have nothing to do with her being a woman or a man. They are things that individuals of both sexes can embrace.
Yet the fact remains that Rayden is a woman, and that allows for some wonderful areas of development with her in things that are traditionally regarded as more feminine in nature and expression. Feminine qualities, in my eyes, are capable of demonstrating strength every bit as masculine ones.
In this area, I have been fortunate to have a number of shining examples of strong women in my life. I often think of my own mother, who was one of the strongest women I have ever known. Her interior strength was something to behold, wherever it manifested in her actions as a mother, a nurturer (to both family and friends), and as a true partner through and through with my father. Compassion, affection, wisdom, and encouragement flowed through my mother in her dedicated path as a wife and mother.
She was a true bedrock for our small family when my father passed away unexpectedly, helping all of us through that trial while shouldering her own great burden. She demonstrated incredible interior strength during that time.
These kinds of inner strengths, reflected in a motherly kind of atmosphere, are present in Rayden. Her reactions to children in need demonstrate a strong protective and nurturing side that is often very mother-like in nature. Her ability to hold up others while enduring trials herself demonstrates those kinds of strengths further.
Her mother-like empathy and compassion for those in need are strengths just as powerful as her formidable fighting skills. I've often said that Rayden's interior strengths are what make her the most compelling, as when her interior strengths combine with her other strengths, she becomes a force of nature.
Rayden lives her life with great passion too, and is very confident and secure as a woman in her sexual experiences. She is swift and fierce when a man tries to objectify her in a tavern or other such setting, but she is highly sensual toward those she chooses to embrace in a physical manner. She is truly comfortable with herself and with her body in every way.
Another aspect I find important to Rayden is that she is not a wielder of magic, or imbued with superpowers. She is a human being, imperfect, and with some vulnerabilities. She wrestles with sadness and anger at times. Rising above vulnerabilities and shortcomings also demonstrates genuine strength. Whatever the situation facing her, she has to reach within herself in the same way that any human being has to, in order to have a chance to prevail.
Rayden has a lot of dimension and is able to balance a number of strengths and attributes. She is a warrior inside and out, able to nurture and care for a young child while still primed to wield sword and axe with fury. She lives in a harsh world and cannot hesitate for a moment when a threat manifests, but has not lost her heart and emotional depth along the way.
Rayden is a blend of strengths, as a person and as a woman. She is every bit of a woman as much as she is a warrior. She is a human being, with all the limitations that come with being one. This comprehensive balance, in my eyes, is what makes her a strong female warrior character.
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