In Defense of Villainesses

Sarah Gailey writes on Tor.com:

“She’s hungry. She wants money, and she wants more luxurious coats, and she wants power. She wants to sit in the chair that is currently occupied by whoever’s in charge, and she doesn’t want to wait for the world to give her that throne. She doesn’t have time for that. She’s not going to wait. She’s going to take it. …

“Why is it that I can easily remember the faces and voices of female cartoon villains, but if asked about female cartoon heroes, all I can remember is the clothes? …

We look at female cartoon villains and we see what’s forbidden: ferocity. Never laugh with your head thrown back. Never apply your eyeshadow as a cut-crease. Never draw in your brows or dye your hair. Don’t wear nice clothes (unless they’ve been sewn for you by people or animals who love you, or delivered to you by magic). Don’t look in mirrors. Don’t want things. Don’t get old or fat or tall. Don’t make demands. Hope, maybe, but never expect. No, not even if you’ve dedicated your life to a goal—even then, don’t you dare expect. Work hard, but don’t grind for years and years building an empire because if you do, then you’ll get taken down and the audience will cheer at your suffering. Don’t carve your face into a mountainside, because that territory is reserved and your name is not on the list.

What could we become if we were willing to push aside everyone who stands in our way? What could we accomplish? What would happen to us, if we decided that we didn’t want to scrub floors during the day and wish on stars at night and wonder when the adventure is going to come find us?”

Full essay.