The writers of Criminal Minds have given us a beautiful gift; strong female characters. Good, strong female characters are hard to find.
“Strong” for a female character seems to translate into “bitch” or “masculine”. To be a “strong” female character women must turn off their emotions and they must stop caring. A “strong” woman gets what she wants, it doesn’t matter how she gets it. A “strong” woman is comfortable with sex and freely expresses this with several men.
This is not the type of woman I would want my son falling in love with. These traits are not what makes a strong woman and I wish someone had taught me that when I was younger. My childhood and adolescence would have been a lot easier.
This is why the women of Criminal Minds are so important. They are strong women without losing the very things that make them women.
Jennifer Jareau (JJ) works for the BAU, finding cases for the team to help with, handling the media side of things and assisting in the investigation itself. She is also a wife and a mother.
Emily Prentiss interviews suspects, visits crime scenes, takes down suspects and she has also spent years doing undercover work. She also just enjoys spending time with her cat, or with the other women of the BAU.
Penelope Garcia assists the team using her knowledge of technology. She is a genius. She sees the same horrors the team sees. She also maintains her own unique, quirky style, cooks, goes to Comic Con and enjoys a girl’s night out.
These three are not “strong”, because they aren’t emotional or because they chose a career over family. These women are strong, because of the horrors they face everyday; everyday the see the worst of humankind; they see mutilated bodies, gory crime scenes and child victims. These women see all of these terrible things, but they are still caring, loving and compassionate.
JJ enjoys her job, has received promotions and has been sent on special assignments, but never at the expense of her family. One of my favorite scenes: After a particularly difficult case JJ calls home to check on her son. She asks her husband (boyfriend at the time I believe) if he is still awake. He informs her that Henry said he was not going to bed until mama read to him. Then over the phone, JJ reads a bedtime story to her son. It is such a touching scene to see this hardworking, wonder woman taking the time to care for her son from hundreds of miles away.
I appreciate JJ’s character, because it portrays a working mother in a positive light. Often times a mother character is portrayed as a depressed stay-at-home mom or the distant working mother who’s kids never see her.It is refreshing to see a mother character who both enjoys her job and spending time with her family.
Prentiss is another amazing character. She works hard to prove she belongs in the BAU. She is stubborn and will work hard to do what she thinks is right, but not in a way that harms other people. She is continuously thinking of her team, considering them her family. She shows emotion and compassion for victims.
Prentiss is an amazing character, because she is career oriented woman without being a emotionless character. I’ve seen it so many times. The career driven woman character is in a perpetual state of anger. Anger at those above her, anger at those who question her, anger at those who offer her advice. It is awesome to see a woman who chose to pursue the job she loves and is happy with her life choices.
Don’t get me started on Penelope “Baby Girl” Garcia. I would classify her as the typical “outcast character”, but the truth is I don’t think Garcia really fits into any type of stereotypical role. She is not a typical female character done right, she is an entirely new female character. She is intelligent, sassy and a fashion queen. She is comfortable with herself, she is confident in who she is. She is delightfully quirky. Every girl should look up to Garcia. (This is of course my opinion.)
This new female character is one I could get used to. A strong woman who is strong in completely different way. She is strong in her personality. She is strong, because of her mind. Isn’t that awesome?
Another reason Criminal Minds is a brilliant show; the women characters are respected. Hotchner, Morgan, Reid; they all value the opinions of their female counterparts. No one talks down to Emily, no one tells JJ she should quit and be at home with her family and no one treats Penelope like she is less them. The women are all valued members of the BAU team.
We need more characters like the Women of Criminal Minds. We need to redefine the “strong” woman character. We need the strong woman character to be more like real women.
And to my fellow writers out there, if you want to write a strong female character, I recommend watching Criminal Minds for inspiration.