Arielle Tschinkel
May 17, 2018 12:24 pm

Ever since landing her breakthrough role as Daenerys Targaryen on HBO’s hit Game of Thrones, Emilia Clarke has played a slew of badass characters in movies and on TV. But Clarke has a bone to pick with journalists who praise her for playing “strong female characters,” and her reasoning makes a ton of sense.

In an interview with Variety at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, Clarke explained why she hates the term “strong female character,” especially when journalists ask her how it feels to play a “strong woman.”

"I'm gonna tell you how it feels to play a woman. The end. That's it," Clarke said. "Take the 'strong' out of it. Find another adjective, dammit. I'm just playing women. If it’s not strong, what is it? Are you telling me there’s another option, that there’s a weak option? You think a lead in a movie is going to be a weak woman? It just doesn’t even bear having the conversation. So enough already with the strong women, please. Let's just be women."

Emilia Clarke also shared some suggestions for what journalists can ask instead.

"'How does it feel to play the female lead in a big blockbuster movie?' Or, 'How does it feel to play someone with power in that position?' The list goes on. I get very frusted with that in particular."

Clarke noted the hypocrisy in including “strong” with the term “female characters.” Men are usually inherently considered “strong,” especially if they’re wielding weapons on screen or are physically strong.

"You don't get 'strong men' unless they're, like, physically strong men. So unless I'm packing guns I don't know about, then let's change [it]."

We totally hear what she’s saying, especially because the term “strong female character” reduces women to a descriptor that feels sexist at worst and lazy at best. Separating characters with the word “strong” implies that those who aren’t are weak or helpless. But the truth is that all women are strong, and female characters in entertainment deserve to have their stories told as often and as equally as male characters do.

We applaud Emilia Clarke for speaking out against sexist terminology. Here’s hoping that Hollywood continues to find more ways to tell women’s stories without reducing them to a three-word descriptor. We’re here for less of that in 2018 and beyond.

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