7 Strong Independent Intersectional Women in Media

Intersectionality, coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw, exists where different forms of discrimination combine, overlap or intersect. The representation of women in the media today includes a range of colourful women from myriad backgrounds. In this article, I’d like to highlight some of my favourite women characters in popular mainstream series! From people of colour to disabled persons to persons living with mental illnesses to queer people, all of these persons inspire me to be strong and aspire for greatness.

 

WARNING: THE FOLLOWING CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE MENTIONED SHOWS!

 

1. Elena Maria Alvarez, One Day at Time | Isabella Gomes  

Elena Maria Alvarez Riera Calderón Leyte-Vidal Inclán represents the third-generation of Cuban women in the show. Although she is of Cuban descent, she recognizes that she is “white passing” and would not experience the same discrimination as others would. Elena is brilliant, her dedicated work ethic shines through in everything she does. As an older sister, she tries to be a great role model for her brother - being eco-friendly, inclusive and encouraging non-toxic masculinity. Identifying as a lesbian, she protests for the rights and equality of all queer people. She also deals with anxiety issues and opened up about it to get help. Her strength shines through in her persistence to be who she is, no matter who wishes to accept her or not.

 

2. Rosa Diaz, Brooklyn 99 | Stephanie Beatriz

Detective Diaz is played by Argentine-American Stephanie Beatriz. She is portrayed as tough, strong, scary, smart, mysterious, and a great friend. Rosa deals with multiple issues through the series - her fiance going missing, and coming out to her parents. She tries to gain acceptance from her parents, who preferred that she were a mistress than queer. My favourite aspect of Rosa is her showcasing of strong friendships - that you can be platonic friends with someone, without having other feelings attached.

 

3. Calliope Torres, Grey’s Anatomy | Sara Ramirez

Callie was the attending orthopedic surgeon in Shonda Rhimes’ medical hit television series, Grey’s. Throughout the series, we see her grow from a spontaneous marriage with a male colleague to a few relationships to a loving relationship with Arizona Robbins. She showed the difficulties of marriage and divorce, particularly when a child is involved. Throughout the series, she had to make harrowing decisions, the most notable when she gave the order to save her Robbins by amputation, despite Robbins’ instruction not to do so. The most important lesson that I’ve learnt from Callie is to remember to make yourself happy. It’s important to have moments to yourself where you can dance crazily in your underwear alone without a care in the world.     

 

4. Theodora Crain, The Haunting of Hill House | Kate Siegel & McKenna Grace

Theo is one of the five children in the popular Netflix horror series, 'The Haunting of Hill House’. As a young child, Theo is a dancer and has strange premonitions when she touches things. Her mother, realizing her child’s gifts, presents her with a set of gloves so that she can protect herself from feeling too much. Theo, as an adult, is seen as alone and has grown cold from the early death of her mother, but we later see that she chose to live with her sister because she felt that she was needed there. Despite the traumatic work she does with children, she always seems serious and stoic even under the grimmest of situations. As time progresses, we see her tough exterior come down, as she eventually is able to open her heart to her family again.

 

5. Cheryl “Bombshell” Blossom, Riverdale | Madelaine Petsch

Cheryl is perhaps one of the most underrated characters on this crazy whirlwind of a show. Cheryl proves a strong character - dealing with the deaths of her twin brother Jason and her father, who murdered her brother. Despite being a badass archer, her awesomeness is clouded by an almost villainous flair for the dramatic and “raising chaos.” Cheryl struggled with mental health issues almost committing suicide, but then finding a reason to live when saved. In the wake of #MeToo, she was also almost sexually assaulted. Petsch made a statement after the episode detailing the severity of the issue, and the effects on the mental health of the character. The character showcased the struggle of staying true to herself when left by her mother at a conversion therapy institution. A controversial character, Cheryl tries her best to be strong and support her fellow women while the world burns around them.

 

6. Natalie Pierce, Switched at Birth | Stephanie Nogueras

Natalie is a deaf character who first appears in Season 2, portrayed by Nogueras who is of Puerto Rican descent and grew up in New Jersey. While a secondary character, she raises a lot of important issues that should be discussed. Natalie at first resents the hearing students who start attending Carlton School for Deaf Kids’. However, after getting to know Bay, she opens her heart and declares a truce. She doesn’t agree with the pilot program that mixes hearing and deaf students at Carlton.

She is seen as a trusting person, and the other students seek her counsel and advice. When her girlfriend was told she wouldn’t be allowed to wear a tuxedo at their prom, she got other women on board and they all dressed in tuxes to the prom, in solidarity. As a disabled QTPOC, she shows how we are unique and special when our intersectionalities meet.

 

7. Kelsey Philips, Dear White People | Nia Jervier

Kelsey is a student at Winchester University. While she is a minor character in both the indie film and Netflix adaptation series, her character represents an important minority. Identifying as a “gold star lesbian,” she is a caring roommate to Coco, and good at reading people. As a person of colour, she understands the struggles that black women face and support Coco in whatever decision she wants to make regarding her pregnancy. With her Trinidadian ancestry, she is a proud representation of Trini culture with her authentic accent and her use of bush tea (a mixture of ginger, sorrel and callaloo), the cure for everything.

 

All of these amazing women embody intersectional feminism. It is refreshing to see such great examples of minorities in media to inspire younger generations. May they encourage even more representation in the future

 

Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7