I don’t know about you, but I don’t remember growing up with a lot of good images of women at work. We talked before about my favorite image, but most of the rest that I remember were either a nice girl or bitchy boss. While these characters make for good protagonists and fun antagonists, they aren’t all there is, and that doesn’t make them women I’d like to work with. We now have various images of the competent woman at work. We have so many that they even have completely different personalities and jobs.
We can see several variations in just the The Hunger Games Trilogy alone. Effie is probably the most child-like of these women, but she is recognized for her prowess in public relations. Cressida is an exemplary director and given the job of leading the team that makes Katniss’s promotional video’s. Katniss’ mother is recognized as a wreck and not good for much of anything until Gale gets hurt and she shifts right into healer mode. Her mom and Prim are both recognized healers from that point on and no one questions either of their judgment or abilities in this area (ok, Katniss does freak out but it’s in the same way everyone does when a loved one is hurt so not a valid argument against this). Katniss is recognized from the beginning as an amazing hunter, as a victor her failures only come in not having a convincing love life. Her “job” as the symbol of revolution is always done well when she’s just being her. I loved that she utterly failed at pretending to be a revolutionary but is great in the field. It is arguable, though, whether or not she leads the rebellion. Even if you don’t believe that she led it, you’d have to recognize that President Coin was the architect of everything that happened after Katniss struck the right mood in the districts.
I won’t spoil the end of the final movie, but I think it was pretty clear even from the latest one that President Coin is an amazing politician, administrator, and leader of her district. She may be a little stoic, but I would never associate her with the “bossy bitch” archetype because she seemed to genuinely care about her people, which makes the difference to me. She doesn’t just sacrifice people, but she plays the game exceptionally.
Grey’s Anatomy, Bones, NCIS, The Good Wife, Madame Secretary and State of Affairs are a few more places where you can find great examples of the competent woman on TV.
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