“We need stronger female role models,” says (nearly) every mother and young woman in America, “especially in geek culture.”
That was the statement that provoked me to start writing this series of articles – because we have some very strong female role models around, but maybe… you’re not looking at them quite the right way. Maybe you don’t like them for whatever reason. That being said, they do exist, and while there will always be a need for more, these ladies have been kickin’ ass and takin’ names in the name of girl power for some time.
Keeping that in mind, I offer up my first bit of evidence in the case of The People Vs. Anti-Girl Geek Culture: Android 18, first introduced to us in Dragon Ball Z.
Android 18 kicks some serious ass, and has been doing so since her introduction to Son Goku and his friends in the late 90’s (in Japan;\ the famous US run on Cartoon Network during Toonami was between 1998 and 2003 and reappeared in 2005.) Android 18, or 18 as she prefers to be called, was one of the five androids (for the sake of argument, we are not considering Cell as an android at this point, given that he was a melting pot of Saiyan and Human DNA as well as biomechanical bits) created by Dr. Gero after the defeat of the Red Ribbon Army (which served as one of the primary plot lines in Dragon Ball.) Like so many villains in DBZ, she eventually forgoes her evil ways and joins the Z Fighters (and, like Vegeta, she gets married (to Krillin and has a child, Marron – conveniently named after Krillin’s high maintenance and somewhat crazy – and hot – ex-girlfriend.) Why is this important? How – and why – does 18 kick so much ass? Let’s look at some facts, shall we?
- She would rather detonate the bomb in her chest cavity and blow herself up than lose herself. Admittedly, this doesn’t actually happen, but the intention is there. And when I say “lose herself,” I mean “get eaten by Semi-Perfect Cell’s weird tail vacuum thing.” NO ONE would want that, and the fact that 18 was willing to die to prevent it (even though it didn’t come to that) says something about her character.
She kicks the ever living crap out of Vegeta. There is no argument about this. 18 hands-down beats Vegeta within an inch of his life, breaks his arm, shatters part of Tapion’s Sword, and then uses Vegeta like a club, knocking out Future Trunks.
- She shows a surprising amount of compassion when she awakens – and then saves – Android 16. Given that we saw how brutal she could be in the History of Trunks movie, 18 choosing to save 16 is surprising. Sure, you could call it “android compassion”, but we all know that 16 was considered a lesser model, and incomplete, if Dr. Gero was to be believed. Something in her told her to save him, despite his flaws.
- She doesn’t kill Krillin. She doesn’t even try. In fact, she finds his seriousness and straightforwardness refreshing, so much so that she marries him later on down the road.
- She blackmails Hercule at the World Martial Arts Tournament. Now, I’m sure you’re asking “how is this strength?” Look at it this way: she knows she’s quite possibly the strongest woman alive, and she knows she could beat Hercule. However, she also knows that Hercule is, in fact, kind of a coward. (sure, he does do occasionally show bravery, but mostly? He’s a chicken shit.) and that his entire identity and fortune is tied up in his repeated wins at the World Martial Arts Tournament. Rather than beat him mercilessly in the ring, she makes a deal with him-he gets to keep his title, maintain his appearance as the strongest man on earth, and she ensures her family’s financial security to the tune of 20 million zeni.
- She was the only one who recognized that Mighty Mask was, in fact, two different combatants. For those of you who don’t know, it’s Kid Trunks and Goten, and they kept switching who was sitting on whose shoulders, which drastically altered Mighty Mask’s fighting style (although, to the audience it was more than obvious that something was up, which makes me question the average intelligence level of all humans in the DBZ universe…)
- She survives being absorbed by Semi-Perfect Cell. Gohan (in SSJ2) punches Perfect Cell SO HARD he regurgitates her whole. Even I’m not entirely sure how that works, but I’m not going to argue with the results.
While she didn’t do much in Resurrection F (which, I will admit, I was somewhat disappointed with considering how much stronger she is than Krillin and Tien, though one could argue that she showed a different kind of strength by staying home to protect her daughter), she is still one bad ass lady, and deserves a rightful spot in the lineup of Strong Women in Geek Culture.