Women Who Say No

“Remember remember the fifth of November, the gun powder treason and plot. I know of no reason why the gun powder treason should ever be forgot.” V for Vendetta

The film V for Vendetta (2005), based off Alan Moore’s graphic novel, opens with Evey Hammond’s voice-over. When she explains how Guy Fawkes attempted to blow up the British Parliament in 1605, she ends, “it is not an idea that I miss, it is a man… A man that made me remember the Fifth of November. A man that I will never forget.”

But Evey is the character I will never forget. She was one of my first fictional heroines who stood her ground and said no.  More importantly, she was not killed, raped or otherwise abused for her defiance. Because unfortunately, that is the reality for many women who say, no–especially to unwanted sexual advances. The tumblr When Women Refuse documents these real stories of violence against women. Seeing fiction where women say no, stand up for their beliefs and defy oppressors of any gender, is necessary for women to stand up in real life, even when the consequences can be terrifying. We need female heroes who say no and live to tell about it.

Here’s a list of 3 Defiant Fictional Women.

Natalie Portman as Evey Hammond
Natalie Portman as Evey Hammond

Evey Hammond (V for Vendetta) *Though I have read the graphic novel, I’ll discuss the film version in this post

The defining moment of Evey’s character is when she’s imprisoned, tortured and still refuses to cooperate and provide the government with information on V. Her values are more important than her life.

Defining quote:

Guard: Look, all they want is one little piece of information. Just give them something… anything.
Evey Hammond: Thank you … but I’d rather die behind the chemical sheds.

Esmeralda (Hunchback of Notre Dame) *Disney movie

Almost immediately after we are introduced to Esmeralda as the sexy, feisty dancer on stage, she proves herself to be so much more than her sexuality. She openly defies Judge Claude Frollo (literally, the law) and rescues the hero, Quasimodo, from public humiliation and torture. As a Romani woman, justice for her people cannot be achieved until there is justice for all. large

Defining moment:

Frollo: You, Gypsy girl! Get down at once!
Yes, Your Honor. Just as soon as I free this poor creature.
I forbid it!
[Esmeralda cuts the ropes tying Quasimodo to the wheel]
How dare you defy me?
You mistreat this poor boy the same way you mistreat my people. You speak of justice, yet you are cruel to those most in need of your help!

69c2c4a2e76c44e10480ea00e330aeb8Terra (Teen Titans)*cartoon

A hero who can’t control her Earth powers, Terra becomes the apprentice to the villain Slade and infiltrates the Teen Titans team with the sole purpose of betraying them. In the finale episode, “Aftershock Part II”, Slade has taken control of her body and her powers. There’s never been a more feminist and empowering fight for a young girl to (literally) take back her body and claim control of her life. When she fights against his control this is her kick-ass moment:

Defining quote:

Terra: You can’t control me anymore!

The more examples of these fictional women we have, the more women in real life can stand with the same confidence because we’ve seen it’s possible to say no and survive. What other fictional female women can you think of who stand up, stand tall and tell the world no ?