I’m sort of both thrilled about being, having played, a kind of iconic character, but I wish it weren’t such a lonely feeling. Because I do feel that women are so incredible. It seems to be hard for Hollywood to come up with good just sort of straightaway – straight, true women characters that they don’t try to make, you know, ‘sympathetic’ or something. That’s always the kiss of death,” [Weaver] said. “When a person will try to write you to make people feel something for you instead of just letting you get on with it, it can be a kiss of death. It takes talented people in all these different fields to come up with good men and women characters. There’s so many great examples in the world of powerful, interesting personalities that I hope it’s more – perhaps if more women choose to enter this field of creating games, that will happen. I just think that, as someone who doesn’t know that much about games but thinks they’re great, I just feel like there should be games for everybody, for everybody’s taste. I am sure it will happen.
This is a great quote from Sigourney Weaver about female characters and it applies to writing all different kinds of fiction, but it’s especially true when working with action characters or characters like Ripley. When working with female characters who are outside the range of what is considered acceptable behavior by society, I think too often as writers we become scared that this character won’t be liked or won’t be relateable to the audience, which is what Ms. Weaver is saying in the quote above. We end up tacking on all these extras to try to bring the character back into line with where gender norms say they should be. This is how a lot of female characters end up becoming “unrealistic”, even within the rules of their own narrative.
Ultimately, you shouldn’t need any additions to make a female character likeable. Being a human being who struggles in the face of adversity and is challenged by their narrative is enough. Let them screw up and fall down, let them face their problems and figure them out.