The Action Girl — a female hero or villain who physically fights — is a common and beloved trope throughout all of popular culture. However, it is also somewhat unrealistic, for the average man is stronger than the average woman. Yet it persists — but not for the reason you think.
Because this isn’t about ideology. This is about a love of attractive women and violent activity.
Men like two things in entertainment: violence and nice-looking ladies. Many stories aimed at them are based on violent conflict, and men are more visually oriented when it comes to attraction. Action Girls often combine both qualities, since many of them do martial arts and have attractive bodies. This makes for such a potent combination that even people with no interest in feminism often enjoy such characters.
Case in point: Japanese anime. Attractive fighting females are extremely common, and the stories have little to no feminist soapboxing. This isn’t only true of “harem” anime focused purely at otaku hobbyists, either; the classic anime Sailor Moon gained a sizable male fanbase due in part to its attractive female cast.
Of course, this isn’t limited to anime; no less a superhero than Wonder Woman sports her famous bikini. In the 90s, superheroes like Ms. Marvel, Scarlet Witch, and Psylocke — among many others — had alluring looks that displayed slender, sexy, well-toned figures. Hollywood frequently uses attractive actresses for Action Girl roles as well — just ask Scarlett Johansson, Gal Gadot, Cara Deleveigne, or Halle Berry, but truly, the list is just too long.
So when you see a butt-kicking babe karate kick her way through ten Navy SEAL fireteams, keep in mind that high-minded ideology plays second fiddle to primal drives.