I recently wrote a guest post for SFSignal about Storm Bride and the question of “Strong female characters”. Allow me to quote myself:
I think it was because I read one too many cover blurbs for fantasy and urban fantasy novels with female protagonists. There was a depressing regularity: The leading woman will carry a gun, sword, or other weapon on the cover. She will look at the viewer either alluringly or defiantly. Her voice will be snarky. She will be “tough”. If it’s a more traditional fantasy, she’ll declare her disdain for princessy pursuits and traditional femininity. If it’s a contemporary fantasy, that attitude will be written in her torn jeans, tattoos, and the mysterious (but attractive) scar above her eye.
She’ll be, in other words, a Strong Female Character™.
And then I go on for another 700 words.