Credit: Vivian Zink/ABC Television Group © 2011 Disney    
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Girl Power: Why Revenge and Pop Culture Today Is Dominated By Strong Women, And It Rules!

Geri Halliwell (also known as Ginger Spice) once said, “Girl power! Equalization between the sexes.” But lately it seems that not only are the sexes not equal, but it’s actually girls who run the world.

No, we’re not just talking about Beyonce and Blue Ivy, but rather the type of characters being portrayed in pop culture today. We’ve come a long way since Twilight’s Bella Swan jumped off a cliff because her albino boyfriend abandoned her, and trust us, that’s a good thing.

Now we have characters like The Hunger Games’s poverty-stricken Katniss Everdeen, armed with a bow and arrow prepared to risk her life so her family can eat, and street-smart science nerd, Gwen Stacy, who’s stolen Spider-Man’s heart.

Even in television shows that feature male-dominated societies, like Game of Thrones and Mad Men, it’s the women who are embarrassingly underestimated, twisting and manipulating the man's every move.

And though some may view these characters prostituting themselves to get what they want as a pathetic tactic, these savvy females are currently influencing some of the most powerful men in the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros and at the advertising agency Sterling Cooper, so take that!

But perhaps the best example of strong women in the pop culture is on ABC’s Revenge. You’d think a show about Hamptons elite would be filled with trophy wives and blondes in bikinis, but this drama is much deeper than a superficial day at the beach.

Take the main character Emily Thorne. She will stop at nothing to ensure her plot to avenge her father’s death goes smoothly, even practicing the age-old tradition of sleeping with the enemy, Daniel Grayson. After stealing Daniel’s heart, Emily is given a backstage pass to his home and, most importantly, his family.

Credit: Eric McCandless/ABC Television Group © 2011 Disney    

Daniel’s a suave, debonair 20-something of means that plenty of girls would drop everything to keep, but Emily treats their relationship like a used paper towel she can dispose of at any point. While revenge isn’t necessarily the noblest of paths, Emily never loses sight of her final goal.

Not to be ignored in the female empowerment category is Daniel’s vicious mother Victoria Grayson, a woman who has mastered the art of manipulation. She married Conrad Grayson in order to solidify a better life for herself, and was even willing to cast aside her true love, David Clarke, in order to save her children.

When she discovers her best friend, Lydia Davis, is Conrad’s slutty snuggle buddy, she doesn’t cause a scene, but rather destroys Lydia emotionally and, above all, financially.

When her husband threatens her in the divorce settlement, Victoria turns the tables with a flick of her wrist and prepares to hand over incriminating evidence pointing to his involvement in a terrorist plot. Nothing can stop this woman, not even a plane explosion.

At the age of 53, Revenge actress Madeleine Stowe (who plays Victoria) has practically reinvented herself, bringing life to a character far too fabulous to kill, all while wearing a wardrobe that’s the envy of most 20-year-olds.

What do these strong women represent? In a world filled with Lindsay Lohans and females whose lives revolve around relationships (we’re looking at you, Courtney Stodden), they are a beacon of independent hope, and proof that girls can kick some ass, too.

Follow Rachel McRady on Twitter @rachelmcrady.

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07.17.2012 / 10:46 PM EDT by Rachel McRady
Related: Revenge, Emily Thorne, Victoria Grayson

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