Happy International Women’s Day, all! I was really lucky to grow up with a strong, independent and smart mother, who tried to pass down these traits to me. I was also lucky to be a shy and awkward geek/nerd, because the women I had as role models are just that: role models. None of this Gossip Girl or Bella Swan bullshit. The ladies of geekdom are smart, courageous, loyal, and kick-ass, while still being feminine! Here are some of the fictional women who influenced me from childhood through adulthood:



When I got my first Harry Potter book at age 8, my life was forever changed. Not only did Harry Potter really spark my love of reading and writing, but it taught me that it was ok to be myself. The character who most embodied that for me was Hermione. Growing up, I got picked on a lot. I was awkward (in both demeanor and appearance), I was smarter than a lot of my peers, and I didn’t like the same things as people my age. Hermione taught me that no matter what someone calls you and no matter what they do to you, you hold your head up high and carry on. She taught me that it’s ok to be intelligent and that your self-worth comes from your own accomplishments, not what anyone thinks of you. Hermione showed me that it takes more courage to fight back with smarts than with fists.

buffy-the-vampire-slayer buffy

When I was an impressionable preteen/teenager, Buffy the Vampire Slayer was in full swing. Of course, I automatically loved it because it had magic and vampires and werewolves and ghosts and a bunch of other stuff I was into. But the real draw of Buffy was Buffy. She was pretty, smart, and kicked major ass. But she also dealt with a lot of the same problems I had to deal with. Snotty cheerleaders, first crushes and being different from her classmates. And Buffy struggled, she wasn’t perfect, and that made it ok for me not to perfect either. She showed me that you don’t have to sacrifice who you are to be happy, you really can have it all.

Ellen-Ripley-Alien-Movies-alien-28784390-715-427 ripley

I didn’t watch Alien until I was 19 (I know, right?!), but I’d always heard the stories of Ripley. She was a badass, no nonsense female who kicked some alien butt. Ripley will always be an inspiration to women, and especially women interested in being action stars. Women in action movies were usually girlfriends/wives, love interests or just expendable after thoughts. They were usually hyper-sexualized and very one dimensional. But not Ripley. Ripley was nobodies love interest and had no love interest herself. It was just her, some weapons, her intelligence and a big ass alien. Ripley showed us that women can be action heroes too.

starbuck Kara

When you think of a poker playing, cigar smoking, heavy drinking, sex having, foul-mouthed fighter pilot, you most likely think of a man. But if you’re a Battlestar Galactica fan, you think of Kara Thrace. Peter urged me for months to watch Battlestar and on Christmas Eve 2011, I finally started. We watched one episode, and when we got back from the holidays, I devoured the rest. Like I literally stayed up until 4 a.m mumbling one more episode for a week straight. And there’s no denying the appeal of Starbuck. She was the ultimate guys-girl and yet still so hot! She’s a real inspiration for girls who are tough and like “guy stuff,” but also happen to be attractive.

dc comics 52 batgirl 1 Barbara

Admittedly, I’m more of a Huntress girl myself, but you can’t talk about cool comic book ladies without talking about Barbara Gordon. Barbara has always been cool, with her sassy ways and super intelligence, but I don’t think it was until the Joker put her in the wheelchair that she really came into her own. Despite not being able to don the Batgirl costume, Barbara never stopped fighting. Oracle showed us that not all heroes wear a cape and go around punching thugs. She helped keep Gotham safe with her brain and her loyalty to her friends and loved ones. And when she finally did don the Batgirl costume again, she was a better woman for the trials she’d suffered. She’s a symbol that no matter what ever knocks you down, you can always get back up.

femshep fem shep

This is sort of a broad topic, considering many RPG’s allow you to pick a male or female character. But unlike BioWare’s other awesome RPG, Dragon Age, Shepard’s gender is never an issue. Sure, you can play Shepard as a male, but the fact that Shepard saves the galaxy not once, but three times no matter the gender is a powerful message. She’s looked down more for being a human than she ever is for being a woman. There are a lot of things to love about her character, from her loyalty and compassion to her ability to be attractive while wearing a full suit of armor. But what she represents, a future where sexism might not exist is a future I really look forward to.

I know I’ve left a ton of people off this list (namely Princess Leia and Wonder Woman and a ton of others), but if I named everyone, I’d be here all day!

Who are the kick-ass women who’ve inspired you?


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Co-Founder at Wrong Button Media
Emily Kelley is a writer, actress, video game junkie, comic book nerd, and future galactic war hero. She lives in Los Angeles and spends most of her time at the Disney Interactive office. Along with being a multiple award winning journalist, she is an avid RPGer, cosplay noob, and mother to two beautiful cats.
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