I think it is possible to find a balance. Not every heroine needs to be equivalent in every way. For example:
Princess Leia is a fantastic movie heroine. She is a freedom fighter but her skills set is not so broad that she outshines the heroes in all things. Sometimes she needs to be rescued and sometimes she's the rescuer.
Ripley in Alien and Aliens is a well rounded character who doesn't particularly outshine the others but when, in the second half of Aliens and in subsequent movies it becomes all about her instead of the story, she loses some of what makes her a great heroine and slips into cheesiness.
Emma Stone's Gwen is a fantastic heroine without outshining anybody else.
Padme is an example of a poorly designed heroine. She works as a fiesty politician in the first movie but turning her into an action heroine in the second film worked poorly since there was no reason for her to be one in her history and background. Then in the third film she becomes purely decorative, contributing nothing to the political or action arena. Having a second character to be an acton heroine (like Asoka) would have been better because they could then have focused on giving Padme a niche that could have been written into the story in all three movies.
Overall, a character's contribution need not be determined by their combat prowess. I want Uhura to be trained to shoot and fight because she is an officer but she is essentially a technician. I'd be happier if they had another character like Janice Rand (who most often acts moe like a security guard in the ongoing comics) to fill the role of action heroine and let Uhura be Uhura.
Having said that, Starfleet or the Imperial navy are not the modern US military. There is no genuine hardcore reason why the officer and technical support ranks cannot be staffed by equal numbers of both men and women (assuming we accept that soldier ranks should be domonated by men - not something I adhere to personally but hey ho) beyond the sexism of the writers and casting directors.
Steering back on track - some of the problem lies in the writers wanting to make their all-action heroes and heroines good at everything so that they dominate the story. That's not something I favour in an ensemble like Star Trek. I don't really want Spock to be carrying out complex engineerig repairs - he's a physicist, mathematician, and computer expert. Let the characters shine in their niche and succeed out of their comfort zone in a pinch but don't let them be accomplished in whatever the story requires for the sake of convenience - that just gets annoying.
Last edited by Pauln6 : 12-26-2012 at 06:33 AM.