How To Fight Like A Girl: Why LadyStar Has The Greatest Fighting Team of Teenage Girls Ever Assembled
This is part one of a new three-part series from Theodore Jefferson, whose new book, The Incredible Untold Story of Sailor Moon, is available now.
When my fellow Lexicon Hollow author W. Scott created the LadyStar characters fifteen years ago, the major challenge was not just to tell an exciting story. After all, these girls have powers that would make the average comic book superhero run for cover. We don’t call them “The Greatest Fighting Team of Teenage Girls Ever Assembled” for nothing.
W. Scott’s challenge was to create a world where a sixteen year-old girl could face hand-to-hand combat and convince readers she had an authentic chance to win.
Many stories relegate girls to a role where they can only participate in fights by casting spells or firing weapons from afar. While the ideal situation is not to match a five-foot-two teenager up against Hulk Hogan in a charity benefit, LadyStar still presents its characters with a dangerous premise. It hands that five-foot-two teenager a sword and places her between evil and the innocent.
In the LadyStar series, Jessica Halloran has no choice but to fight, and some of her opponents might make even Hulk Hogan think twice.
Naturally, the first objection to this idea comes from those who believe that size and speed are the only factors in combat. While that is true for anyone who relies only on size and speed to win, it isn’t universal. Nature is replete with creatures who are vicious and dangerous enough to cause much larger beasts to avoid them altogether.
The size and speed argument also loses much of its persuasiveness when reversed. What if you are the smaller and ostensibly weaker combatant? What are you supposed to do? Surrender?
It’s a good thing that advice isn’t always heeded by the brave, otherwise humanity’s tales of great victories would be reduced to a scarce few. History is equally replete with thrilling stories of the underdog’s big win.
Jessica Halloran has a mighty weapon, enchanted plate armor and considerable battle magic, but she isn’t significantly stronger, quicker or larger than the average girl her age. Nevertheless, in the LadyStar stories, she learns to win, as do her battle companions, and she doesn’t accomplish it with fairy sprinkles or bolts of arcane energy either.
When a girl has no choice but to fight, she must rapidly understand her advantages and how to use them. If she is smaller, then she is harder to catch. If she is not as strong, then she must learn to turn her opponent’s strength against itself. If she is not as quick, then she must learn to avoid granting a quicker opponent an advantage.
In other words, she must learn the same lessons a 6’4″ 240 pound United States Marine would have to learn if he were facing a silverback gorilla.
It has been said nearly every fight is long since won by the time weapons are drawn and steel clashes with steel. The psychological advantages enjoyed by the victor are easily spotted with the perspective of time, but in the heat of battle, they can be overwhelmingly and immediately powerful.
Girls have always enjoyed psychological advantages. Emotional perceptiveness and the ability to gather precise observations of body language, facial expressions, and speech patterns can give females a dramatic advantage in a conflict. Males are generally too busy making brave noises and engaging in aggressive displays of strength, even subconsciously, to notice such things.
A sixteen year old girl who learns to turn her perceptiveness, observational skills and understanding of body language into a weapon can be a formidable force in battle. Give her exceptional combat skills and the means of bringing them to bear and you’ve just engineered what armies call a dogfight. Give her six battle companions with complimentary skills and the loyalty to stand by her through thunder and fire, and you have a fighting force not easily vanquished.
Jessica’s friend Alanna MacLeese makes good use of these skills when she is trained in the art of hand-to-hand combat and the proper use of a quarterstaff weapon. Early in the series, the Ajan Warriors’ teacher encourages Alanna to recognize how boys and men fight, and how male predictability makes them vulnerable to an opponent able to recognize their weaknesses.
Alanna actually learns to use the floor as a weapon, learns to manage her strength and endurance to outlast her strongest opponents and becomes a lethal adversary for anyone looking for a fight, regardless of their size or strength.
Shannon O’Keene has the exact opposite of Alanna’s skills. Where Alanna can incapacitate an opponent by applying simple leverage to a joint or hand, Shannon knows where her opponents are by listening to the sound of their bloodstream from a hundred yards away. When these two girls team up to fight monsters, it’s usually short, violent and decisive. They also happen to have five rather powerful friends.
The important principle all seven LadyStar characters learn is never to defeat yourself. Confronting evil is a challenge, and if those who fight for truth must also fight themselves, it makes evil’s job much easier.
Jessica Halloran and her friends happen to be characters born from a writers tradition hailing from the earliest stirrings of literate civilization. With her fiery hair and emerald eyes, Jessica would be right at home wearing the crown of an Irish princess. She also happens to be even more at home carrying a Highlander’s sword.
Plus, she knows how to fight like a girl.
In part two of this series, I’ll examine what sets LadyStar and stories like it apart from most of American culture. I’ll be introducing you to a rare phenomenon: teenage girls who work together as a team. I will also explain why that kind of teamwork is so urgently important.
Theodore Jefferson is a founding member of the Lexicon Hollow Authors Guild and is a creative consultant and Associate Editor for W. Scott’s LadyStar series of Romantic Fantasy Adventures, available at the Official LadyStar Bookstore.