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10 Lead Women in Film & TV Who Don't Need No Man

10 Lead Women in Film & TV Who Don't Need No Man
Which of these leading ladies from film & TV is most likely to take down the Patriarchy? Vote at the bottom of this blog!

In honor of Women's History Month, and with 2021 marking the 101st anniversary of women being able to vote, join MoPOP in celebrating these 10 leading ladies from popular film and TV (who don't need no man). When you're done reading, make sure to cast a vote in our poll at the bottom to help determine which woman you think is most likely to take down the Patriarchy!

*Note: these are in no particular order of badassery.

Danaia Gurira in Black Panther

1. Danai Gurira as Okoye in Black Panther (2018)

Who: Only Wakanda’s mightiest and most loyal warrior. You would definitely want her as your bodyguard, but she’s already the bodyguard of a nation—so you may need to find other plans.

Why: Okoye’s love is for Wakanda, her culture, her people, and her land. She tells her own husband to step the hell down and drop his weapon. Anyone who has seen her skills with a spear would for sure hope she was on their side. Also, she’s not sexualized and she looks fly as hell in her armor.

Odds of Taking Down the Patriarchy: Let’s just say this: I wouldn’t bet against her.

Laverne Cox in Orange is the New Black

2. Laverne Cox as Sophia Burset in Orange Is the New Black (2013-2019)

Who: Sophia Burset is the sweetest, best-dressed, and baddest woman (and hair stylist) at Litchfield Penitentiary. However, I don’t recommend getting on her bad side.

Why: Sophia faces transphobia on a daily basis and doesn’t fight it with anger. She also gets everyone evacuated from supermax by doing some genius stuff with a paper towel roll and a lightbulb. She gave the LGBTQIA+ and Black Trans community a representation and a strength that had rarely been seen on screen before—and she did it with class.

Odds of Taking Down the Patriarchy: She would do it without breaking a sweat and would look flawless the whole time.

Greta Gerwig in Frances Ha

3. Greta Gerwig as Frances in Frances Ha (2012)

Who: Frances, in her own words, isn’t a real person yet. She’s living in New York, she doesn’t really have an apartment per se, and she wants to be a dancer, but—well, she’s having trouble with that too. To top it off, her friends are moving on without her.

Why: She does whatever she wants even if she doesn’t exactly know what she wants. She’s unapologetically awkward, a bit messy, and the most important relationship in the film is between her and her best friend. Frances destroys the idea of the “modern woman,” and she does it in black & white.

Odds of Taking Down the Patriarchy: Frances’ character is a breath of fresh air. In a world of too many expectations for women, she trips—like seriously, and skins her knee—but jumps right back up again. Take down the Patriarchy? She probably wouldn’t do it on purpose, but she would absolutely stumble into it and knock it the hell down.

Nichelle Nichols in Star Trek

4. Nichelle Nichols as Lieutenant Nyota Uhura in Star Trek (1966 and forever)

Who: Uhura is a sassy, respected Lieutenant on the Enterprise—and doesn’t take anyone’s bull. She keeps up morale by singing and she tells it like it is.

Why: Though there are hints of love interests, they never go anywhere (besides that one time she shocked mainstream television by kissing Captain Kirk—albeit under pretty cringy circumstances, still groundbreaking for 1966). Basically, she’s a boss who represented and gave hope to the Black community in a predominantly white-run industry. Her fight is still being fought today.

Odds of Taking Down the Patriarchy: Pretty sure she’s been at it since 1966.

Sigourney Weaver in Alien

5. Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley in Alien (1979)

Who: Ripley is a survivor. Her personal goal is to kill as many damn Xenomorphs as she can, and hell, she’s a pro. She depends on nobody but herself to save her—because nobody but herself is better equipped.

Why: Ripley is one of the first main characters to crush gender stereotypes, especially in science fiction. She has no love interest in the film, and doesn’t need it. She’s not running around in tight leather jumpsuits, and she’s definitely not afraid to get a little Xenomorph blood on her.

Odds of Taking Down the Patriarchy: If she puts the same energy into flattening the Patriarchy as she does taking down Xenomorphs, then yeah, Ripley’s got this.

Uma Therman in Kill Bill

6. Uma Thurman as Beatrix “The Bride” Kiddo in Kill Bill (2003)

Who: Beatrix used to be a member of the “Deadly Viper Assassination Squad,” but tried to retire and settle down…which, well…it didn’t work out.

Why: Sure, we first see her in a wedding dress, and sure, everything that follows was to take revenge on the people who ruined her wedding day, but is it just me or did y’all forget about all that the second she showed off her insane assassin skills? Even though Quentin Tarantino dehumanized Uma as they created the character, her legacy is her own and let’s face it, she could probably kick Tarantino’s ass anyway. Also—every single fight scene is just like…dayummmmmm, girl.

Odds of Taking Down the Patriarchy: One-hundred percent no contest — just give that woman a katana.

Yuriko Ishida voices Princess Mononoke

7. Yuriko Ishida as the Voice of San in Princess Mononoke (1997)

Who: San was abandoned to the wolves when the wolf goddess attacked her parents for damaging the forest. They literally threw her to the wolves and ran. Like her adoptive wolf goddess mother, she’ll kill anyone who gets in the way of her mission to save the forest from the humans.

Why: Her first words in the film to the male Ashitaka (after sucking the poisoned blood out of a wolf and spitting it out, staining her face), translates to “go away,” which I think all women can relate to? Maybe just me? Anyways, even though she ends up having affection for a fellow human, she still can’t forgive them, and peaces out to go live again in the forest. Ashitaka says he’ll visit, but c’mon—who cares.

Odds of Taking Down the Patriarchy: It would take her less than a day and she’d be riding a wolf.

Frances McDormand in Nomadland

8. Frances McDormand as Fern in Nomadland (2020)

Who: Fern's life was uprooted and she was left alone. Instead of wallowing, she takes to the road.

Why: She remains strong and hopeful in the face of a tragedy, and decides to see what else life has to give. Her true love is with the land and with herself. Fern (and the ever-talented Frances McDormand) breaks ageism stereotypes for women everywhere. Female directed and female-led, Fern is a strong nod to women and a big middle finger to Hollywood's idea of aging.

Odds of Taking Down the Patriarchy: Fern would run it over in her van on her trip across the country—without slowing down.

The Descent starring Shauna Macdonald, Natalie Mendoza, Alex Reid, Saska Mulder, MyAnna Buring, and Nora-Jane Noone

9. The Entire Female Cast of The Descent (2005) - Shauna Macdonald, Natalie Mendoza, Alex Reid, Saska Mulder, MyAnna Buring, Nora-Jane Noone

Who: Six friends decide to do a little spelunking. It doesn’t go super well, they might be stuck, and they’re not alone down there.

Why: This is one of the first horror film casts that rejected the female stereotypes typical to the genre, and unfortunately, are still atypical to the genre. These women are not dumb, they aren’t killed due to careless mistakes, and they aren’t wearing heels. We never see a man after the first 10 minutes of the film because…well, we don’t need to.

Odds of Taking Down the Patriarchy: They would definitely do it, then climb a mountain or something.

Disney's Moana

10. Auli’I Cravalho as the Voice of Disney's Moana (2016)

Who: Moana is (feel free to argue) the strongest, and baddest Disney princess to date—also the first Polynesian one. She’s anything but weak, she’s headstrong, and she definitely doesn't listen to anyone…especially men.

Why: Not only does Moana not need men, she goes above their authority and takes on what they’re too afraid to do, all in order to save her island and her people. No wonder that she’s the best candidate for chief. OH, and by the way, she's the first Disney princess to have no love interest.

Odds of taking down the Patriarchy: Consider it done…but there will be a Disney montage and some sort of song to go along with it, so just prepare for that.

So, which leading woman from film & TV gets your vote for most likely to take down the Patriarchy? Cast your vote in the poll below!

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