Terry Dresbach

Outlander Costume Designer

Reply To: On the TV portrayal of the "Strong Woman"


[quote quote=6744]So I have a site that I follow that posted this excellent review of one of my new faves, Agent Carter. This was the part that resonated with me the most (bolding mine):

This was my favorite scene of the episode, even if it was a bit on-the-nose and failed to even mention race in what seems to be developing into an unfortunate theme for Agent Carter. Howard is an ally to Peggy in some ways, but that didn’t stop him from lying to her, then using the excuse that he did it to spare her feelings. Howard didn’t tell Peggy about the vial of Steve’s blood not because he didn’t trust her, but because he was afraid that she couldn’t handle it emotionally, which is such a characteristically masculine decision to make because it is not only based on the assumption that Peggy’s feeling would overwhelm her (when Peggy has already proven that she is able to operate in the midst of terrible emotional agony), but the assumption that reacting emotionally is a sign of weakness rather than strength.

The last decade has seen a rise of strong female characters on television: the Starbucks and the Sarah Connors and the Aeryn Suns of the world. The next step in this feminist female character progression needs to include the representation of women who are strong not because they exemplify traditionally masculine qualities such as stoicism and physical strength, but because traditionally feminine qualities such as empathy and emotional intelligence are seen as primary strengths. Peggy Carter exemplifies these qualities. It’s the fact that she is able to do 107 one-armed push-ups that is the aside. (Though that physical strength does come in handy when taking out all of those goons, and these two forms of strength are not mutually exclusive.)

I love the romance in Outlander, don’t get me wrong, but THIS. This is why I read, and why I watch. Because Claire is a woman who just tries really hard, does stupid things sometimes, but perseveres and is refreshingly flawed and so very strong.


Yes to what you said. And you mentioned Aeryn Sunn 🙂 🙂 Farscape remains one of my very favorite shows of all time. Aeryn kicked ass.

Peggy Carter is fast becoming one of my favorite shows, yet my first reaction was to dismiss the show as another Marvel attempt to cash in on The Avengers when I saw the previews. I’m so glad I gave it a try.