I read a lot of thrillers and romantic suspense. One of my pet peeves is the stupid female character.
Here's the scenario: Female MC is a girly girl and, for the sake of this discussion, runs an art gallery. Male MC is a manly man and is a member of special forces, a navy SEAL, or similar bad ass. They're working together to find the bad guys. So, the bad guys corner them in a dark alley. The Male MC tells female MC to stay back while he deals with the bad guys. And then... stupid female MC GETS IN BETWEEN the male MC and the bad guys in order to protect HIM and screws up the encounter. At which point, I throw the book across the room and add the author's name to my do not buy list.
The reason for her doing this is because "she is just as capable of protecting herself as a man," and "she doesn't need a man to take care of her." Seriously, is the female MC crazy or stupid? This situation has nothing to do with a woman's ability to take care of herself. It's about making sure neither one of them gets killed.
If I'm in a dark alley with Steven Segal and we're confronted by bad guys, I'm staying behind him and watching his back. He's bigger than I am. He's stronger than I am. He has a black belt in martial arts. He has skills that I don't. That doesn't make me weak nor does it mean that I have to have a man take care of me. It means I am not stupid enough to think that I am better qualified than Steven Segal to confront bad guys with guns.
If I'm in that alley with Jackie Chan, the same goes. Even though I am bigger than he is, he has more skills and is stronger. I'm watching his back.
If you put Steven Segal and Jackie Chan in a dark alley facing bad guys, one would take the lead, the other would follow. They would NOT argue over who is stronger, better skilled, or who should take the lead. They would NOT get their knickers in a twist if the other one took the lead. They would work together as a team to defeat the bad guys, then go have a beer together.
If the female MC is a police officer, CIA agent, FBI agent, etc. and/or has martial arts training and is therefore equal or almost equal in skills to the male MC, then she can take a more active role including taking the lead.
Please spare me the girly girl defending the big bad Navy SEAL against the bad guys. sheesh