I had a conversation with an ex-colleague today, in which she commented that she was extremely surprised at how friendly I was when we first met because she “doesn’t generally get on with girls”.
The reason was unacknowledged but obvious: she’s absolutely stunning, which can make other women bristle in her presence. Luckily, there are a few things that make me jealous and another woman’s level of attractiveness isn’t one of them. Beauty doesn’t threaten me since I grew up with five beautiful sisters and am used to being the ‘average’ one in the room.
Intelligence, on the other hand, is a different matter altogether. Put me in front of a Riazat Butt (the Guardian’s religious affairs correspondent) or a Tahmima Anam (Harvard-educated, award-winning Bangladeshi author) and I’ll grumble with envy. It’s a good envy though because I have a lot of respect for smart women. In fact, I think it’s a shame there aren’t more strong females in the public eye – Asian or not.
I can name fictitious kick-ass women that I love – the women in Law & Order (played by Stephanie March, Mariska Hargitay, Angie Harmon and Diane Neal) are absolutely fantastic and represent some of the best female characters on TV – but ask me about real-life heroes and I can name only men.
Who can blame me when Margaret Thatcher, the assassinated Benazir Bhutto, Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton represent the strongest female figures of the past few decades? Yes, there are women like Mother Teresa who contributed a lot to the world and who were strong in their own way, but you can hardly describe them as ‘kick-ass’.
Suggestions, please! Bonnie can keep her hero, I need a heroine.