Where have all the bad girls gone?

I was discussing vampires on Twitter the other day (as you do) and it occurred to me that there are no proper awesome hardcore female vampires. A couple of people pitched some names my way, but they all failed to live up to expectation in some way. None of them were the bloodthirsty creatures of the night, the fearsome legend that used to keep us awake at night for fear that they might drain our blood. These days they’re more likely to keep us awake at night so they can drain us of less vital fluids…

The main failing of the female vampire, seems to me, to be their relationships. Each one appears to be defined by their partnership, whether with another vampire, a human or a werewolf. They’re portrayed as soft, compliant, standing in the shadows of love, or overpowered by their lust, only coming into their own when their loved one is threatened. Or worse, they’re a mere supporting character, to be killed off at the whim of the writer before they can prove me wrong.

One of the worst offenders is Buffy The Vampire Slayer, a show which empowered women, gave a young woman the ability to slay demons, made her friend the most powerful witch in the world, and left the male characters as bystanders when danger appeared. The most prominent female vamps were Harmony who wanted nothing more than to please Spike and go shopping, a subservient and fickle creature of the ‘Clueless’ generation, and Drusilla who is again defined by her relationship with Spike. Her “madness” leaves her mostly dependant on her paramour, and she is used as an emotional weapon to feed the conflict between Angelus and Spike when the former is evil. When she leaves the series it’s due to her being overpowered by her lover and forcibly removed, also removing the potential she had as an evil character.

Anne Rice has a highly successful history of creating vampires that you can believe in, ones that you might watch out for as you walk alone down a dark street at night, but she too fails to bring forth a powerful female vamp that can survive without being eclipsed by her male counterparts.
Claudia the eternal child who develops the mind of a full grown woman and her character is built upon the fury and frustration that brings. All she wants is to grow up and experience what it is to be a woman.
Akasha, the queen of the damned gave me more hope. She was a fearsome goddess queen, mother of vampires with an insatiable blood lust, but she succumbs to the male Lestat’s charms despite her plans to slaughter the men of the world.

Twilight. I fear I must talk about these books as they’re possibly the most popular vampire stories of all time. What can I say about these novels that hasn’t already been said? They’re a masterclass in controlling relationships and female abuse, and their main vamps are vegetarian (they eat animal blood instead of draining humans). They can all fuck off as far as I’m concerned.

By no means am I a vampire expert. There are probably a hundred people out there more qualified to talk about this sort of thing than I am, but I do like to have an opinion and I’m not shy to shout it out! Got an opinion yourself or think I’ve missed someone/something? Let me know!

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13 thoughts on “Where have all the bad girls gone?

  1. You do have Selene, from the Underworld series but she is more of an action woman than a Vampire. The deep sweeping romance of the undead is lost form tight leather and p.c, sprayed to butt cheek… Not that I’m complaining mind you.

    True, there is a gap in the cinema field but in novels I’m sure you’ll find a wealth of female Vampires. The problem is that I simply can’t back that up with a single name… Which tells you something. Either I’m not reading those books or they aren’t as big as the male vamps.

    Good post mr Beard.

    • There is indeed a wealth of female vamps in literature, but few that survive without being portrayed through their relationships or controlled by males.

      I didn’t discuss Selene from Underworld because she, like the character in Ultraviolet, have an over-reliance on guns and matrix style moves rather than traditional vampire techniques. If the writers hadn’t made it explicit that she was a vampire then it could have just been any other futuristic style, weaponry driven Hollywood blockbuster.

  2. I guess you could argue that the We Are The Night film is all female vampires, but equally the lack of men/desire for men is their eventual downfall so, hmm… From Buffy, Darla was a pretty powerful female character, and Anne Rice did eventually write a book about Pandora, although I confess it’s the only one of her books I failed to finish, so also, hmm!

    Think there’s a lack of strong female characters in many genres though, Millennium Trilogy’s Lisbeth Salander is the only one off the top of my head who’s ever really wowed me…

    • Thanks for reading and replying! I’ve not read that far into the Vampire Chronicles, only up to The Body Thief, so I may have to dip back in at some point.

      I agree that the lack of males is just as bad, especially if it causes their downfall!

      I just wish that Hollywood in particular would abandon the need to show female vamps as subservient to males and purely defined by them.

  3. Very well said Mr Beardy!
    Where are all the female vampires? Some you’ll find in true blood, Not hiding or in denial of their vampire status. Pam Eric’s progeny, is feisty, blood thirsty and capable of looking after herself, but still is bound by Eric and we see that relationship link come in again. Film, tv don’t seem to be able to release women for a relationship! Gosh what might happen! Er nothing! She’d be even more admired and feared a vampire as edsnotdead said Vampires should be killers with no remorse or respect to life. Xx great blog Xx

    • Cheers Jo!

      Completely forgot to mention True Blood. Pam is awesome, but yes, totally restrained by her sire Eric. She shows little of her own character and is developed little.
      There is the queen of Louisiana, supposedly the strongest and deadliest vamp in the show, but portrayed as nothing more than someone who meddles in human and vampire affairs simply because it amuses her. In the books she is easily disposed of and replaced by a male counterpart. Disappointing.

  4. How about the grandmother of all female vampires Carmilla. Am I the only one who thinks that Laura family lied about putting the vamp down and she got the heroine/protagonist in the end.

    • I’ve been trying to download the Gutenberg copy of the story, but it seems to be unavailable at the moment! I’d love to see if the vamp does live up to her reputation…

      • I know for a story I assume that is in public domain it is hard to find. I lucked out I found a copy in an anthology at a thrift store.It is worth a read, if you can get your hands on it,if for no other reason to see a pre-Dracula interpretation of a vampire.

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