Sandahl Bergman in Conan the Barbarian. Man, that opened some eyes for me. As a young man just learning that women weren’t icky things, but rather interesting things? A strong women who could stand up to, and stand up for, the big strong barbarians? Could swing a sword with the best of them? Yeah. I’d say that had a say in my tastes for women as I grew up.

I’d also learned from a young age that women could be victims of some horrific violence, just because they were women. I also learned that children could be, too. My reaction to learning about these things wasn’t despair, or fear, or anger…but rather a stubborn determination that this wasn’t right, and should never be accepted as normal. Some part of me deep inside turned to stone, and promised it would make everything right, and would admit no compromise on the subject, ever. As I’ve gotten older that stone has been smelted, cast, forged and re-forged into a damned hard steel. I have a bitter hatred for anyone who thinks such things are part of life and should be accepted.

Q: So, why do you write these strong female characters?
A: Because you’re still asking me that question.

-Joss Whedon

And that, in some ways, is my feeling too. I’m starting a new martial art school with a somewhat female focus. And I get asked about that. People wonder why. Strong male imagery in the martial arts field is okay, strong female imagery is still somehow seen as weak.

Me? I prefer equality, but when the message is strongly slanted to one side, you have to try to balance it as best you can. There are great role models for young women out there, but they are lost in the media storm of addled young airhead startlets. I want to make a space for strong women to be comfortable being strong women, and become role models to other women. I don’t see why men should feel anything but happiness at training in such an environment. Strong men like strong women, and we like to make each other stronger.

The world needs more Valkyries.