It’s hard not to get nostalgic about the glittering avaricious decade that was the 80s. In print, on TV and even in cartoons, we saw the rise of some fabulous, strong and unforgettable female protagonists.
You can reinvent yourself at any stage of the game.
2. Billy Ikehorn. The heroine of Judith Krantz’s Scruples owns the most desirable shop in Beverly Hills. She possesses a virile beauty, dresses superbly and surrounds herself with the most talented people in fashion. She didn’t start out this way. She was a plump penniless girl with only a Boston pedigree going for her.
The Lesson: When it comes to revenge, women do it in ruthless style.
3. Teela. She is the cartoon warrior of the Master of the Universe series. Teela is the alter ego of Princess Adora and the twin sister of He-Man or Prince Adam. While her brother wields the Sword of Power (so typically male, eh?), Teela is granted the Sword of Protection, which allows her transformation.
The Lesson : Every woman needs a secret identity and a really good costume.
4. Alexis Carrington. She blasted on to our screens on the black-tie night-time soap, Dynasty. The overlooked former wife of a tycoon, she came back to town to ensnare the lime-light with her fuchsia talons. She was over 40 and ready for the fight. Alexis was pure bitch—and never apologised for it. If there was a glass ceiling, well, she would buy the building and break that ceiling out to make way for her helipad.
The Lesson: Forget shoulder-pads—Power is the ultimate fashion accessory.
5. Lucky Santangelo. The daughter of a notorious Italian-American bootlegger, Lucky is the ultimate rebel. We meet her in Jackie Collin’s Chances, but the author has given her a string of books after this debut. She runs away from boarding school, marries a man twice her age, and takes her father on in his own racket. She launches two magnificent hotels in the bejewelled dust of Vegas but still Daddy Gino doesn’t see her as an equal.
The Lesson : Daddy’s Girls can become Magnificent Women.
Larger than life
What we can learn from all these fictional women is never be afraid to create larger than life characters. The best novels of this era were the ones that featured a compelling female hero—who took on men at their own game and won, who reinvented the idea of feminine power and revelled in that power, women who were brave, beautiful, sexy and strong.
Maybe we need more of these women in contemporary fiction.
P.S. I wrote this blog in honour of Women’s Day in South Africa. Women’s Day is celebrated on 9 August every year.
by Anthony Ehlers