The Perfect Woman

As a relationship coach I get a lot of questions from the clients of, some fun, some impossible, some outright odd and some that we can answer with our eyes and minds shut, as we've done them that often. 

Then there is the whole class of opinion questions. What is hot, what is sexy, what do you like in bed, can I make you a sandwich (note, that one is totally made up, but roast beef, cheese and horseradish, if anyone is offering). 

Basically, snatches of conversations with different readers that, answered or not, have added up to the idea of what makes the perfect woman. Or, rather, who would be the perfect woman.

There isn't one single perfect woman in popular culture. 

A few, like Electra, Lara Croft or Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada, come close, but apparently Hollywood is not yet ready for the awesome potential of a true kick-ass female lead, and I do mean lead. Not eye candy. Not someone who gives it all up for lurve. Not 2 dimensional comic fodder. The actual lead character carrying a film on her own.

There is, however, one TV show and associated movie that contains my perfect woman. She is just in four separate pieces, which is not how I tend to normally prefer my woman, preferring the holistic and blood and fragment free approach.

I refer, of course, to Firefly/Serenity. Lets look - in order of importance. Yes, I know they are fictional. But each of these actresses goes well above and beyond the job, making the character their own.

Kaylee (Jewel Staite): Now this is, if you like, the ground state of my perfect woman. Competent, knows stuff that I don't have clue freaking one about. Not afraid to get her hands dirty fixing something. Yet with an innocence and exuberance about her, a sheer joy in life and the fun it offers that keeps every experience new and fresh and exciting. Happy, nearly always cheerful and completely unselfconscious.

Zoe (Gina Torres): Why second in importance? Watch her interact with her husband in any episode at all. She is tougher than him, faster than him, more pragmatic than him. Yet the love and affection shines through. He may be a leaf on the wind, she is his wind. That is something worth having.

River (Summer Glau): OK, what is a complete psycho who could chop me into sushi in about 4 seconds flat if she didn't like what I was thinking doing on the list at all? Satisfying my death wish? Well, no.
She needs protection. Doesn't need it physically, if the sh*t hits the fan I'll just hold her coat and try not to get splattered with blood and various other bodily fluids, but at the same time she does need it emotionally. A guy needs to be needed sometimes. And sometimes, as from the awesome line "You've always taken care of me. My turn," well a guy needs protection too. At least from time to time. No shame in admitting that.

Inara (Morena Baccarin): Actually, someone I ignored for a long time. Sure, she has mad bed and social skills - that is fairly irrelevant to any guy over the age of about 16 who has any self confidence whatsoever. Then, re-watching several times, you see her true strength. Compassion. It is not flashy, or in your face. Just there. How it should be. The bedrock of her character.

So, in summary, my ideal woman is competent, has an innocent joy in life, a rock hard core of love and respect, both needs me and is capable of flipping right the f*ck out and is compassionate. Not something you really needed to know. Something I did.

So why do I have to combine these four characters at all? They all sound appealing in their own ways. 

Well, mainly because I want a human being, not an archetype, to share my life. A woman with both virtues and faults. You note that none of them have what you would call faults, except for River being completely insane. Zoe is a bit too literal, Kaylee is a little too trusting, Inara is a little too full of herself. Yet these women are supposedly some of the best characterizations of women to come out on film in the last decade.

Compare them to the male characters in the series, and they come off as admittedly strong and comely two dimensional characters.

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