When I was very young, I wanted to be a boy. In all the books I read and all the films I watched, boys had such interesting lives, much better than girls. They had adventures, they fought, they changed the world, they protected their beloved. And the girls? Well. They mostly stayed loved and protected, while watching the boys do all those fantastic things.
Now don't get me wrong. I adore a good male hero loving and protecting his girl; anybody who read The Trouble with Belonging will have no doubts about it. But why couldn't those girls have some adventures, too? It was so unfair. (Here I have to pay homage to great Astrid Lindgren and her unforgettable Pippi. They saved my self-esteem as a child and helped me make peace with my gender.)
When my daughter was little, something started to change. We both watched Mulan a hundred times at least, and stories with enterprising, spiny, smart heroines popped up on bookstore shelves and on the screen one after another. But they all still carried this note of amazement: look, a girl, and she did THAT! Which basically meant that it wasn't normal, nor really recommended for ordinary girls to be so... unfeminine?
But then girls and young women grabbed at the pens and keyboards themselves, en masse, and started creating their own stories with kick-ass heroines, badass heroines, rebel heroines, genius-girl heroines etc. And now the youngest generation reads these books and treats them already as the classic canon. Isn't it marvelous?
I have no illusions. There are still enormous areas of our globe where girls are discouraged or even forbidden from having their own life and their own opinions. It happens on everyday basis even in the developed, allegedly modern societies. But.