Tag Archive: feminism


 

I know this might seem dramatic. I know so many of you are like “Nobody thinks its ok for adults to date teenagers!” But I’d be willing to challenge that assumption and say, “YES YOU DO!” Why do I know? To clarify my point, I need to bring up a situation that happened recently.

I have a friend. He is about twenty years old. He is constantly posting very dumb things on Facebook, and I am always commenting on them telling him how immature, sexist, or just plain ludicrous it is. Recently, he posted this:

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Now, this isn’t that crazy or insane, and I am aware. But I messaged him and told him that it was intense for a guy his age to think this was normal. He is young and shouldn’t be putting so much pressure on a relationship. He proceeded to tell me that he has been in a relationship for a few months and its been going well. I was immediately skeptical. It was odd, not because he said he had a relationship, but because I had no idea it was happening. He is the kind of person who posts everything on social media. He thinks that his random 4 am musings are relevant. But not a single peep about this girl on social media. I begin to question him. Why do they never post picture? Why do they rarely tag each other? Why is this the first I’m hearing about her? He claims that they just don’t like using social media and use Snapchat mostly, which is an even bigger red flag (snapchats lasts a few seconds, and stories a few days). I understand people not wanting to post their relationship on social media, but if you knew him, you would think something was very wrong. Every other relationship he’s had, he’d post a picture with the girl, talk about her all the time, etc. It was just uncommon. And it started to seem like he was trying to hide something.

If you haven’t guessed, the thing he was trying to hide was that this girl is seventeen years old. And a bunch of you literally just decided that I’m overreacting – I’m willing to bet. I had a conversation with a few people after this revelation. Surprisingly, most people are completely fine with an almost 21 year-old dating a 17 year-old. “I was 14 when my boyfriend was 18” someone would say. “I dated much older men as a teenager.” Another would comment. “Men are more immature than women as teens” the general public might assert.

But no, they are not. At least, not because they are incapable of maturity. Not to bring personal anecdotes into this, but when I was 17, 14 year-old girls were gross. When I was 20, 17 year-old girls were gross. Now, I don’t think its too large of a leap to assume that a normally developed 20 year old should also think that undeveloped 14 year old girls are gross (gross may be dramatic, but lets say “unattractive” instead). Maybe I’m weird, but I don’t think so.

What I think is happening is that society has somehow decided that its ok for adult males to date teen girls. Try having a conversation with someone about this topic. It’s normal for a 20 year old male (A verifiable adult) to date a teenaged girl. But what if it was reversed? 20 year old girl dating a teenaged boy? They will immediately say something along the lines of “that is weird” because, in their heads, there is no reason a 20 year old woman would in interested in a 17 year old boy. And there really isn’t. But why should it be the other way around?

This issue is made starker when you view it in terms of life position. The way a high school student thinks is much different from the way a high school graduate thinks. The things that they need to think about are drastically different. And I’m not even including college in the mix, which many young men are in at that point.

It’s weird. And these young men are, in fact, young men. They are pretty much adults, and they are fully aware of their position and power over teenaged girls. And we accept that. Why do we, as a society, decide that older men dating younger women is acceptable? I’m not talking about when both people are adults and don’t have power dynamics in the way. I’m talking about when there is a clear issue.

Why do we think this is ok? I quite honestly think the “maturity” argument is ridiculous. The men who I know who date women in that situation tend not to be “immature” as much as they are manipulative, emotionally unstable, or just lazy.

Why date a woman your age, or at least in the same life stage as you,  who will challenge you to be better, when you can date a teenager who doesn’t know any better? By virtue of you not being in high school, or being in college, you are already better than every guy she could possibly know. Why would she push you to be better when you are already drastically “better” than her other dating options? What sort of personal development do you feel you need to do when you can easily get a young girl to fall in “love” with you without even trying?

This barbaric practice needs to stop. Young men should not be finding girls to be romantically or sexually attractive. One thing I learned as I matured is that I thought I was a lot more mature than I was as a teenager. These young girls are being taken advantage of by these boys who know for a fact that they have the upper hand. Why do we justify this behavior? Why do we think this is normal? Where do we draw the line?

It’s, quite frankly, disgusting. The more I think about it, the more I feel grossed out. The more women say “but I did it” or “but he was pretty immature” the more I say “Why is it acceptable for men to be more immature?” I know plenty of men who were not “immature” for their age. It’s not “normal” for men to be immature – it is just a societal construct that men are immature. Why do these “immature” men get a pass? why are we not calling them out on their immaturity?

Immaturity is not the reason we allow this. We allow this because we have a misogynistic society that doesn’t care about men taking advantage of young women. It doesn’t care about telling women that their role is to allow weak, immature men to control them. It’s disgusting.

Let’s smash these ideals. Tell men its not cool to date someone so young. Stop making excuses that minimize then men’s decisions and make it the woman’s responsibility to make the right choice. We need to make sure that young women understand that older men who are interested in them have something wrong with them. We need young men to realize that the is something wrong with finding a teenaged girl attractive. We need to break down these dangerous and oppressive relationship ideals and show young people that there is a better way.

We need to teach women that one of the signs of an abusive relationship is for a man to be attracted to a young girl. It shows that he is interested in dating someone he has a clear power advantage over. We need to stop this foolishness. Call out your sons, brothers, cousins, nephews, friends, colleagues, etc., who do this sort of thing. It is not normal. It is not cool.

Change the world.

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When Star Wars: The Force Awakens revealed that Gwendoline Christie would be playing Captain Phasma, a Stormtrooper captain with unique armor, theories about her involvement and her role abound. Everyone believed that, at the least, Phasma would prove to be a dangerous enemy to our group of ragtag intergalactic heroes. The marketing surely portrayed her as such and many fans were excited to see what Disney would do with this character, which was truly a first for the franchise’s cinematic installments. Never had we seen a female Star Wars villain on the big screen.

When the Force Awakens came out, fans were less than impressed by what they saw. If you haven’t seen it, Captain Phasma plays almost no role in the movie. Her role is really just to provide exposition for Finn, a stormtrooper deserter who joins the resistance. Throughout the whole of The Force Awakens, Phasma is painted as a threat to Finn. We see Phasma and Finn as opposites: She is the obedient, loyal automoaton while Finn is the freethinking, independent rebel. The story plays with the idea, and we know that Phasma either wants to kill him, or force him back into subjugation. This causes viewers to expect, in some way, some sort of deciding conflict between the two characters. A conflict that confirms one of these ways of thinking as correct.

However, that moment doesn’t come in The Force Awakens. When Finn and Phasma finally meet toward the Film’s climax, she doesn’t even resist. He manages to force her to shut down the shields so resistance fighters can destroy the Starkiller base. Then, she is thrown into a trash compactor off screen. All without even putting up a fight.

Needless to say, this left a lot of fans unhappy. There were expectations that the movie set that were never fulfilled. It was a cheap shot, and it didn’t really fit with either the character of Phasma or of Finn. It was one of the biggest criticisms of the movie overall, and its important to note that this is the first cinematic female Star Wars villain we have seen. The way they treat her is similar to the way Hollywood treats most female characters: they have their use and then they are sidelined, often with little to no explanation, or just a single off-hand remark (for example, Han asking Finn about trash compactors).

Fans were excited when previews for the Last Jedi showed Finn and Phasma fighting in what seemed to be the middle of a battle. It seemed like Phasma would take a larger role in this movie, to make up for her lackluster role in the previous. The logical path for her character seemed to be that she would be angry at Finn for his betrayal, but also for her embarrassment at Starkiller. It would be logical that Phasma could potentially be a primary antagonist in this film, or at least to take a role similar to Jabba the Hutt or Bobba Fett, where she is hunting for the heroes and is still a looming threat, even if she is not a direct threat. But she does not end up playing much or a role in the story at all.

In fact, Phasma only appears at the very end of the film, after Finn and Rose have been captured by the first order. There is a very brief fight sequence between she and Finn, and he ends up defeating her by hitting her in the back of the head with a weapon. For me, it was one of the most disappointing parts of the movie. As a writer, I could have (and have) thought of a million ways to incorporate her into the already existing story without making her a cumbersome story element. Instead, what the Last Jedi did was make her into essentially a set piece. It disregarded a whole entire movie’s worth of characterization just for an average fight scene. And then we seem Phasma plummet into a fiery death, almost certainly gone for good.

I think it was the most disappointing part of the movie for me. Rian Johnson has stated that there was no room for Phasma in the movie’s plot – that she would make an already bloated movie bloat further – but I disagree. The decisions that Rian’s team made in regards to this movie were odd, starting with Phasma.

Phasma, in my opinion, is much more interesting than Hux, who I feel I still don’t really know after two movies of him. It also would seem like they are missing out on a fantastic opportunity to tempt Phasma. One of my thoughts about Phasma upon first meeting her, and one of the reasons why I though she didn’t fight back, and why I thought Finn didn’t just kill her, was that perhaps she was losing faith in the First Order. I thought that, perhaps, Finn would be able to convince her that the First Order was evil, or at least, that there was a better way.

After Kylo Ren becomes the Supreme Leader, my feelings about this idea grew stronger. I could see it now – Phasma seeing Kylo Ren growing increasingly unstable, and all of these soldiers blindly following him. She, being a smart and able woman, realizes that Kylo is not a worthy leader, and that he is endangering the system she worked so hard to help build and protect. This could give both she and Finn some much needed development and closure. This would have opened up doors that lead in the direction that Rian was going. The overarching theme of the movie was that ordinary people can do extraordinary things. She could have inspired a whole group of stormtroopers to betray the Empire and join the resistance!

I know I’m just posturing here, but my main point is that Phasma had a lot more promise than Rian and his team care to admit. If they wanted to include her in the story, they could have easily changed some scenes around to incorporate her. Hell, instead of having Finn and Rose get arrested by local authorities, they should have had Phasma after them instead. That would have taken absolutely nothing away from the movie.

My point is that Rian and his team intentionally chose not to have Phasma play a larger part. For whatever reason, Disney wants to use this character to market their movies, games, and merchandise, but not as an actual character in their movies. It baffles me, in all honesty. I can’t imagine why they would take a fan favorite character with so much potential and essentially make her a set piece.

Her role in the end of this movie could have been replaced with literally anything else. It could have been a random stormtrooper Finn was fighting and it would have made almost no difference. Rian says that the fight at the end was intended to show that Finn has overcome his past and is forging a new future, which is a strong theme of this movie overall – but even that I do not see. He did that in the first movie when he first confronted her. At this point, Phasma was only included as fan service, adding no real weight to the movie, emotional or otherwise.

I have decided that I need to see the movie again. This time, I am going to actively plot a storyline for Phasma that would not have interfered with any of the existing storyline. It might just be punishing myself, but I don’t really care. Phasma deserves more than this.

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CW’s Female Problem

Three years ago, CBS announced they were creating a Greg Berlanti led Supergirl Show. I, among many others, were elated at the news. Still, many were unhappy that they chose Supergirl, throwing all manner of sexist insults at the show before it even had a teaser. I wrote a little op-ed about why we needed Supergirl, and I still stand by that op-ed (which ended up being almost 100% accurate, by the way). But after the first season of Supergirl, it was picked up by the CW to join the other Berlanti DC television series Arrow, Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow. I was worried, since that would lead to a smaller viewership, but it would also lead to more flexibility in the roles. Once going on the CW, Supergirl’s episodes became more culturally relevant, adding positive LGBT+ representation, as well as dealing with sensitive subjects like immigration and feminism. However, they also lost a few of their bigger name people. Calista Flockhart, who played Cat Grant in the show, was a powerhouse of feminism and female power. She returned for only a few episodes, as the CW couldn’t afford her as a series regular. Peter Facinelli, who portrayed Maxwell Lord, the series’ Lex Luthor stand-in, also was lost into the abyss, never even mentioned again.

However, this opened the door for some great female characters. We were introduced to Katie McGrath’s Lena Luthor, Lex Luthor’s adoptive sister, and throughout season two the audience was left guessing whether she would follow in her family’s footsteps or become an ally to Supergirl. We got to see Sharon Leal’s M’gann M’orzz, or Miss Martian. We got to see Dana Delaney’s Maggie Sawyer, love interest to Kara’s Sister, Alex. We even got some great villains along the way, too numerous to recount here.

Most of these characters were done well. They had fulfilling story arcs and felt like real characters. In the current season, we were introduced to Samantha Arias (Odette Annable), a seemingly original character. We are introduced to her separate from the main cast, and we see that she has just moved to National City for a new, high pressure job. She is a single mother and works very hard to take care of her daughter and deal with her high demand job. It is revealed in the season 3 premier that she had some sort of superpowers, and she spends the first half of the season exploring their lengths. We also learn after a few episodes that her new job is acting CEO of L Corp while Lena is acting CEO of Cat Co.

Samantha quickly becomes friends with Lena, Kara, and Alex. They have an amazing friendship that you just love to see portrayed on a television. Rarely ever talking about men – dealing with real life problems – open and accepting of each other’s differences, etc. Samantha is my favorite character on the show, because she seems like a real snapshot of a struggling mother thrust into a job she wasn’t really prepared for.

Before I continue with Samantha, I need to talk about the CW’s Flash. The character of Caitlin Snow, played by Danielle Panabaker, over the course of the previous two seasons, had become the villain Killer Frost. Up until this point, Caitlin was my favorite character. Caitlin’s story arc was characterized by struggle to control her negative emotions, and struggle to deal effectively with her feelings.

Trajectory

Caitlin was the good character that was always struggling. All her love interests ended up getting killed or being the villain in disguise. She had some pretty severe PTSD from all of her experiences. She struggled regularly. For whatever reasons, the showrunners decided to have that struggle overcome her. After a stupid time-changing plot point, Caitlin was losing control of her (new and unexplained) ice powers. She ended up joining with the season’s villain and turning on her team. In the end, she aided them, and went off to figure herself out.

At the start of the next season, Caitlin has regained herself, but whenever she is angry or scared, she can lose control and become Killer Frost. I mention this because both Caitlin and Samantha share a similar story arc, and a similar fate in the DC Television universe. For whatever reason, secondary female characters with powers become villains (or get killed off).

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I don’t care if they become villains. What I care about it how and why. Caitlin is the perfect example of the kind, loving, sensitive woman who is also a bit of a badass. She ends up becoming a villain because of how good and kind she is. She becomes tired of being walked all over by everyone else. She wants to take control of her life. That’s a totally reasonable and something many women feel. However, most women do not become murderous ice queens when they reach this point. In fact, CW shows have men who experience similar struggle and end up becoming heroes who, surprisingly, do not struggle between good and evil (I’m looking at you Jimmy Olsen). Caitlin’s story arc seems to tell the viewers that those qualities are bad because they led her to become a villain. Either that they were bad qualities, or that they are too weak to cancel out her inherent badness. It’s a common trope in DC comics (and any comic, really) for a woman’s power’s to be triggered by her emotions, and to reflect her emotions. Presently in the show, Caitlin uses her ice powers for good, but she can still lose control as Killer Frost, as Killer Frost is actually a separate personality. There is even a scene in the four part crossover event, Crisis on Earth X, when Caitlin transforms and Killer Frost says something along the lines of “Where does she get this stuff?” or “I can’t believe she wears this.” I tried to find a clip, but I couldn’t. The point being, they are two completely different personalities. Which doesn’t really help the whole plight of women who are trying to prove that their emotions don’t turn them into irrational monsters.

This brings me back to Samantha. After Killer Frost, I was very jaded about how awesome Sam was, because as I saw her powers developing, I saw her mirroring Caitlin’s story arc. Overworked single mother with little support suddenly gains powers and becomes evil. It’s clockwork. I was waiting for that inevitable moment. I had hope that perhaps Samantha would be a counter to Caitlin – that she would actively chose to use her powers for good.

And while Samantha never descended into the depths of rage and fury, what happened to her was, if not worse, just as bad.

It was revealed in episode 7 that Samantha was a “Worldkiller” called Reign, which is one of Supergirl’s archenemies. This was a secret kept by the creators until then – nobody knew what Samantha’s purpose was. I was, needless to say, immediately disappointed. However, there was still hope. I hoped that, perhaps, Samantha’s strong ethics and well-developed character would have the will to overcome this revelation. The episode even ended on an unclear note. We were left waiting until the mid-season finale if she succumbed to her role or overcame it.

Supergirl

So now, instead of having a woman who succumbs to her weaknesses, we have a woman who becomes a monster and can’t do anything about it. She says she will fight it, but then is almost immediately overcome by it. When she learns she is Kryptonian, she wishes to become a hero like Supergirl. She is given no autonomy and no ability to control herself. Her entire characterization before this point now feels wasted. Why show her as such a strong, confident, kind woman if that is going to mean nothing? We see her give Supergirl a massive thrashing with none of Samantha’s actual character or personality.

I understand why the writers did this. It’s to create a sense of anticipation. Supergirl does not know that Reign is Samantha. Samantha doesn’t even know that she is Reign. I am assuming the idea is that their friendship will overcome Reign, but I am sort of tired of this trope. Why are none of these women strong enough to overcome this wickedness to begin with? Why can’t these women control themselves?

The fans are also an important element. Many fans were more than elated when Caitlin finally became Killer Frost (as her character in the comics is, in one iteration, Killer Frost). Many of these people were the ones who identified with Caitlin strongly, and wanted to see her take control of her life. This is not a fault on them. It’s also just a matter of just pleasing the fans. However, they could have empowered Caitlin in a way that didn’t immediately destroy all her previous characterization, or send a message that her qualities were not valuable. In any Comic Book iteration, there is a delicate balancing act between the source material and what makes sense for the show. The show tries to frame Caitlin’s transformation as somehow empowering, but it really just says that smart, kind, talented women are not valuable unless they can duke it out with the boys in the same way.

I have such an issue with this because of the way it represents women overall. Women are constantly trying to convince men that they are not made into irrational ice queens by their emotions. They are constantly trying to prove to men that they are not easily manipulated. They are trying to prove to men that they do not become irrational and emotional in positions of power. These stories actively fight against those ideals.

I’m tried of watching strong women fail. Society tries to convince women that no mater how strong they are, they will not do what they want. They will not control their emotions, they will not be successful, they will not resolve their inner turmoil. Why can we not see a strong woman who is being forced to be a “worldkiller” successfully say no? Why does a woman have to have some personal stake in something before she can get control? Making only once character capable of doing this while all others are failing is not hopeful.

What would have been better is if Samantha struggled against Reign, and then used Supergirl’s inspiration (a common theme of the show) to overcome Reign’s control. That would honestly be more entertaining that watching them fight for two minutes. There would be much more character and plot development if they did that. I’m not asking for much, I’m just asking for female characters who are good and strong to remain that way and don’t abandon hours of character development for the sake of shock.

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Spoilers ahead for Superman: Earth One, Batman: Earth One, and Wonder Woman: Earth One.

I was a major fan of Superman: Earth One when I first read it sometime in 2011. I was such a fan, that when Man of Steel came out in 2013, I immediately recognized the similarities between the two stories (Man of Steel was Based on Superman: Earth One). Much to my delight, DC announced they would be doing Earth One renditions of other DC Superheroes. They released Batman: Earth One, which is currently unfinished with two volumes, and Teen Titans: Earth One, also presently with two volumes. The most recent release was wonder Woman: Earth One (with Aquaman and Flash in production!). I was pretty excited to read Batman: Earth One, and after reading, just had to get my hands on Wonder Woman: Earth One.

I had heard that Wonder Woman was not as good as the other Earth One stories, but I wanted to make that judgement for myself. I ordered it from Amazon (which in itself is ironic) and it arrived this past Sunday with Volume 3 of Superman: Earth One. As I’d been dying to see Earth One Superman face off with Zod, I read that one Sunday night. Last night, when my internet decided to fight with me, I decided to read Wonder Woman.

I was not disappointed. Well, sort of. I was disappointed because, unlike Batman and Superman, Wonder Woman doesn’t really do much in her story. However, what I wasn’t disappointed about was the feminist, queer story that I read. Let me start with the bad of the story. Which really isn’t much, and really is only bad when related to other Earth One stories.

The BAD

Superman: Earth One focuses on Clark Kent, with his amazing abilities, trying to find his place in the world. He’s smarter than the smartest scientists, stronger than the toughest body builders, more deadly than the best trained military – yet he cannot find a place in this world. When an alien menace, Tyrell, arrives, searching for the last Son of Krypton, Clark Kent emerges as Superman to take down the menace (and, in turn, discover his true calling).

Batman: Earth One focuses on a fledgling Dark Knight who is trying to uncover the sleazy underworld of Gotham City and discover who put a hit out on his parents. He’s got his epically savage butler, Alfred, as his partner in crime, who continually urges him to bring guns to gun fights where Bruce Wayne insists on bringing flying razors, even when the guys with guns tend to wallop him. Bruce eventually uncovers who the criminal mastermind is and wins the day!

Wonder Woman: Earth One focuses on Princess Diana, who lives on the feminist island paradise of Paradise Island (was that exposition necessary?). The Amazonian society left “Man’s World” and created their paradise in the Bermuda Triangle after escaping from the slavery of the “man-god” Hercules. The story starts with Diana facing a trial before her mother and other Amazonian sisters. She tells her account of what she did, and the story takes place as each witness tells a part of the story in the trial. Each year, they have a three-day festival to commemorate their liberation from Man’s world. However, Diana is not like her Amazonian sisters and has a whole mess of special powers they do not, because her mother claimed she was a clay statue turned to life by the gods. Anyway, Diana always plays a special role in this ceremony, but this year she stumbled upon Steve Trevor and decided to take him home to help him, since the Amazonian healing technology only works on women. Diana defeats the strongest of her sisters in combat, being named the “Wonder Woman” and claims the invisible jet as her prize. When her mother smells the scent of man on her, she realizes what Diana is going to do and sends a hunting part after her. Diana escapes and manages to bring Steve Trevor to a hospital in the USA. She goes home after seeing how bad the men treat the women in Man’s World. But not before her mother sends Medusa the Gorgon, to turn Steve to Stone so he can never tell of what he knows of the Amazons. In her time in America, Diana saves a bus full of sorority women on their way to spring break and befriends them, eventually being named an “honorary sister.” They pretty much teach Diana all bout feminism in Man’s world. Then Steve gets turned into stone, before Diana even knows the gorgon is there. Then she surrenders to the Amazonian hunting party to stand trial.

 

Do you notice a difference between those three stories, other than the fact that I went into a lot more detail about Wonder Woman than the other stories? Well, the main difference is that while Superman and Batman start their stories taking on supervillains and crime bosses, Diana starts her story convincing her mother to let her go outside and play. Now, the way it is done is good, in my opinion, but it’s still important that Diana’s first step is nowhere near the first steps of her male counterparts. It’s ironic that a story with so much feminism in it fails to so much as show that Diana is a contender. Diana is part of the “Holy Trinity” of DC Comics and should be regarded as one of the ablest and most fearsome women in the world. It’s unfortunate that her first outing into the grittier world of Earth One is barely heroic and barely shows her skills. It’s ironic that it contains its titular character bound and chained for a good portion of the story.

 

The Good

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This is a feminist masterpiece (other than what was mentioned above). It has everything you can think of. Hell, it even has man-hating radical feminists. It talks about body shaming, sexuality, and women’s roles. It puts sorority women in a loving and supportive light.

The most important conflict in this story is between Diana and her mother, Hippolyta. Hippolyta is the woman who killed Hercules and freed the Amazons from slavery. She was enslaved by men. She was used by men like an object. This created her hatred of Man’s World. We even learn that Hippolyta literally created Diana to be her weapon used to destroy Man’s World. Hippolyta is that rad fem most feminists despise being compared to. A lot of other subtle things lead me to identify Hippolyta as the radical feminist here.

Hippolyta has a magic mirror she uses to look at the world. At one point early on in the story, she shows Diana an image of a woman in underwear, wearing a collar and leash held by a clothed man, and sitting over a food dish. She tells Diana that that is how men treat women in Man’s World. Clearly, she is taking a snapshot of a situation and using it to fit her means. Is it possible that woman was actually enslaved into bondage? Yes. But most sex positive people know that sometimes women actively participate in role playing, S&M and bondage activities like that with their lovers. Was the woman Diana was shown a slave or a submissive? We won’t know, and I don’t think Hippolyta cares. Which is ironic, because Hippolyta and the Amazonian culture regularly say that willful submission is a sign of love.

When Diana uses the purple rays to restore Steve Trevor from his stony fate, Hippolyta is shocked that the purple rays worked on him. Diana tells her that she simply re-calibrated it, something Hippolyta never even cared to try doing. And it clearly only took Diana a few moments to do so, as she hadn’t had access to purple rays until just a moment before.

The main conflict between Diana and her mother is that of choice. Diana wishes to choose her role, rather than have it be assigned to her from her mother. Hippolyta believes that women have only one role, and that is to be better than men and to rule.

Diana meets Betty (Earth One’s Etta Candy), one of the sorority sisters she rescues, and Betty is a slightly overweight – but healthy – bisexual woman. Betty is a symbol of modern feminism. When brought before Hippolyta at the trial, Hippolyta and other amazons scorn her for her body. Even Diana makes a comment about it when first meeting her. Betty is always mature yet firm in her response that she loves her body, is healthy, and is happy. Diana accepts that, but Hippolyta does not.

Betty is more than just body positivity;  she is also sex positivity. She talks about her crushes on both men and women, and about how Paradise Island is a kinky lesbian sex island. I can foresee Betty’s character being the most sex positive of all the characters in future volumes.

But that’s not all Betty does. When Hippolyta is using Betty and other women as examples of why Man’s World is cruel to women, Betty fires back. Betty tells Hippolyta that the patriarchy may be bad, but they (women) are fighting against it and trying to make change. Betty uses actual feminist language to counter Hippolyta’s insults. Betty is probably the hero of this story, in terms of theme. (And well, Diana doesn’t really do anything except save Betty’s sorority sisters, so maybe Betty is the bigger hero after all).

Aside from all of that, this is a primarily female story. Steve Trevor and Hercules are the only men who actually have names in the story (there may be a named soldier somewhere but they play no real role in this volume). This story is about women of all different backgrounds. There is Diana, the social outcast who wants to leave home and see the world. There’s Hippolyta, the vengeful, bitter women with a chip on her shoulder. There’s Betty, the young, optimistic, positive and happy one. There is Nubia, Diana’s black Amazonian sister who struggled to understand her then defends her in the end. There are Betty’s sorority sisters who support Betty and Diana equally, even though they are pretty opposite people.

 

But that is not all. This story is also incredibly queer. First, we have both visual and verbal confirmation that Paradise Island is pretty much a lesbian paradise. In one scene, we see the Amazonian women asleep, at different levels of undress, after an insinuated orgy. Diana tells Steve that she left her lover on the island to save him. Betty tells us that she has crushes on men and women. This is such a queer book and I love it.

We have Diana, who at this point has shown no interest in men, and is therefore only confirmed Lesbian. We have the rest of the Amazons, who have had no contact with men for three thousand years and most likely do not lust after them. We have Betty, who is surely bisexual, and will hopefully use that language in the future volumes.

And again we get back to Betty. Betty is the one most interested in the sexual themes of the story. She is the one commenting about the Paradise Island kinky lesbian sex. She is the one talking about her crushes. She is the every-woman, and she is teaching Diana what it is like to be a woman in Man’s World.

 

And if that isn’t enough, Steve Trevor takes the cake. After being saved from stone by Diana, Steve is wrapped in the lasso of truth and asked questions by Hippolyta. When he tells them he lied to his superiors to protect them, Hippolyta assumes it is because he lusts after Diana. He tells her, under the truth of the lasso, that he did it because his ancestors were slaves (Btw, Steve is a pretty badass Black Man) to men who thought they were better than others; men with too much power. And all of a sudden you realize that this story is about so much more than just feminism. Steve says he hid their secret because he understands why they don’t trust man’s world, since he doesn’t, either.

Image result for wonder woman earth one steve trevor

So the story may not be too epic, but it is still powerful. It makes powerful social commentary – commentary you don’t need to make with a superpowered fight or badass moves. Commentary that I hope we get to see metaphorically in the future of this series, hopefully introducing Cheetah with her own idea of feminism.

This story brings you back to the golden Age Wonder Woman, but takes the terrible tropes and flips them on their head. I strongly recommend it! (even after all these spoilers!)

supergirl

It’s finally here. Supergirl has seen the silver screen, or at least a taste of it. She’s been picked up by CBS with a “series confirmation.” If this does not make your feminist heart swell up with extreme excitement, you need to think about this a little more. I’m going to go over all of the reasons why this is amazing:

She is Female.

Take a moment and think about all of the superhero movies you have seen in the recent fifteen years. Hell, think of any superhero movie or television show. Aside from the entirely abysmal Catwoman movie (which ended up being about makeup?), and the less than magnificent Elektra, the gender palettes have been entirely monochromatic, at least where protagonists are concerned. We have Superman, Batman, Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk, Captain America, Green Lantern, Spiderman, Fantastic 4, X-Men, Daredevil, Smallville, Arrow, Gotham, The Flash, Ant-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy, and the rest are all spearheaded by a male lead. He’s the most important one in the movie/show. There are women present, but they are not in charge. They are there, essentially, to serve the protagonists (as any secondary character is). This isn’t a problem, except that the women never take larger roles. Check out Anita Sarkeesian’s YouTube channel if you don’t understand what I mean. There are plenty of other blogs, vlogs, and documentaries about female tropes in media, like MissRepresentation. you can find a bunch of different ones. Women’s roles are never center stage. They are always there to support the male protagonist. Having a show where the Superhero is female, and therefore the one who is in charge, the one who is making decisions and being important, is good. Not to say that female characters in these other shows are useless. Chloe Sullivan and Lois Lane in Smallville are often the ones pushing the story forward, while Clark is trying to keep up. But it’s not their story. It’s his.

This will be entirely Kara’s story. If they were going to stick to the comics, she’d have a lot of interaction with her cousin, but the show can have that be distant. He can be like a mentor to her who gives her advice, because essentially he’s got his own stuff to do. The release referred to Superman as her “famous cousin,” which means he is established in this world. It would even be funny if people mistook her for superman sometimes, or asked for her instead of Superman sometimes. Or, if on occasion, he asked for her help, and she just zipped over and solved his problem faster than he could have and then goes home.

She’s not Superman.

Some people will roll their eyes because they think Supergirl is Female Superman. She isn’t. She has similar powers, but varied powers. The main difference is that Kara (Supergirl) grew up on Krypton. She experienced Kryptonian culture and technology. She experienced the destruction of her planet. She experienced the deaths of all the people she ever cared for. You think Batman’s back story is tragic? Get over it. All of her worst fears were realized. In many of the stories, she left Krypton wanting one thing: to find her cousin. And then she got to Earth and it took years to find him. Depending on the iteration you refer to, she has a few different origins. Most of them have her end up in some sort of cryogenic stasis until Cal-El is at least older than her, so when she awakens, she’s looking for her little cousin, and cannot find him, and some man claims that he is the little boy she’s looking for. Crazy stuff, right? What an emotional roller coaster! Another thing about her is that, since she grew up Kryptonian, she identifies as Kryptonian. Therefore, she has full access to all of her Kryptonian abilities. Superman, on the other hand, is limited because he does not Identify as Kryptonian. He identifies as Human. The more he accepts that he isn’t a human, the more powerful he becomes. Kara doesn’t have that issue. Kara doesn’t have any identity issues. Her issue is that she’s a proud Kryptonian and she is trying to find a way to show that.

The Superfamily is All About Culture

As I mentioned, Supergirl is trying to find a way to express Kryptonian heritage in a human world. This is such an important issue. Our country is highly focused on race and culture right now. Supergirl wants to show off everything she can do as a Kryptonian, but its difficult because that makes her not human. That separates her, and it makes her an outcast. Even when she uses her abilities for good, she’s still different. We need a show about someone trying to adjust to our culture. We need a show about culture shock, and how it affects you. We need a show about how amazing it is to learn about and accept another culture, even if you don’t identify with it. This is very important.

There are some things that could go wrong, but this has the potential to be amazing! We’ll have a female lead with most likely female co-leads. This will open the door for other female Superheroes. This could open the eyes of Hollywood and let them know that a well written female protagonist can sell. Please, take some time to support Supergirl if CBS finally airs it. She deserves it. Women deserve it.

supermangirl

It’s not news to anyone that when we see women wearing medieval type body armor, this armor virtually always includes two breast shaped protrusions. Often, this armor not only accentuates the female’s breasts, it often provides little to no actual protection. I mentioned this topic briefly when discussing the changes to Thor. Check it out if you’re interested in my feelings on the hero’s gender change.

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Note the above image of a female warrior. This is not atypical. The woman is meant to look like an intimidating foe. However, her outfit is completely impractical. She’s wielding a sword, which means she intends to be in a close fight. Any actual warrior heading into a close quarters fight would want some protection. Depending on their skill level, they may opt for lighter, weaker, or more flexible armor. However, they will always go for the most coverage with whatever they have. Unless they need to do something very specific and armor would interfere with that. Also, they would be sure to cover their vital parts. The upper chest would definitely be covered, because an arrow could easily hit them there and kill them. Their back would be defended, because they can’t see what’s behind them. Their legs would be covered because even a shallow cut could make it more difficult for them to move or escape an enemy. She would have her hair up so an enemy couldn’t grab it. However, this woman’s outfit attempts none of that. She wouldn’t even wear this under a suit of armor, for reason’s I’ll explain later. What this image is doing is presenting her as a sexual image for the male audience of the fantasy genre. The most common occurrence of this sort of outfit is in the fantasy and sci-fi genre of video games, but that’s because there are markedly fewer movies of the same type released per year. To think that millions of boys and men are seeing images very similar to this one on a daily basis is sort of terrifying.

female warrior 2

This image is a little different. This woman is at least covered. Only that small circle in the center of her chest is revealed. Wait… what? This is another common trend for women in fantasy. They are all armored up; except for one spot that just so happens to show off their bodacious cleavage. This wouldn’t be an issue if no actual warrior would ever actually do that. Why would you cover yourself up just to leave your 1-hit-kill spot open? I don’t think women are so proud of their cleavage that they are willing to show it off to the enemies they are killing,especially when it leaves them open to instant kill. Also, I would comment on the single left sided pauldron we see here, but this isn’t an issue with women’s armor. This is an issue with armor in general. Single pauldrons were used by horseback knights using lances and spears to defend their non-weapon bearing arm. With a shield, this pauldron created a virtual barricade between the knight and their target. This became a trend for non-horseback warriors in media. I’m not entirely sure why, but I believe it has to do with Final Fantasy. Square Enix loves to make asymmetrical character designs. Many of these involve the characters having only one pauldron, usually on their non-dominant arm. This could have utility for a foot soldier, though there are better ways to protect yourself and keep mobility on the ground. It’s more of an artistic choice than a practical one, which in these situations is fine as long as they aren’t trying to treat it like its practical.

female warrior

This picture is just one of the many images of women in body armor that is both impractical and impossible. These images are perpetuating a sort of male fantasy that is unhealthy. There are three things I’m going to focus on here. The first is how the breastplate perfectly wraps around the woman’s breasts. It also looks to be just covering where one would expect to see a nipple. There are a few problems with his. The first is that nobody wears armor immediately on their body. They have something under it, generally some sort of shirt. This woman clearly has nothing under her breastplate. This would cause irritation of the skin, and would quickly lead to problems, most likely infections. The next thing that isn’t proper about this armor is that it fits her breasts perfectly. The cups were the exact right size and produce that perfect ball shape. Even if its acting in a push-up bra fashion, that makes no sense. No warrior would be like “I’m going to kill some people in a battle for my kingdom/freedom/justice/etc., better wear my push-up breastplate. Gotta look busty in this battle.” It would probably be more like “great, what do I do with these things?”

The second big issue with this breastplate is how it hugs her skin so tightly. This would severely restrict her mobility since twisting her body could cause the breastplate to grind on her skin. This might also just stop her from twisting all together. Armor causes the body to move in the confines of its shape. If it is shaped exactly like your body, you cannot move much. It also acts to accentuate her body shape.

The final issue with this armor is that it exposes almost half of her torso. Her upper torso is completely unprotected, leaving her heart and lungs vulnerable to an arrow. The armor also reveals a section of her midriff. This is dangerous for many reasons. Whereas this allows her some bending movement forward and back, this is a way for her to potentially stab herself in the stomach. The bottom of the armor is pointed. Imagine she needs to bend over suddenly. That point goes right into her abdomen. Ouch.

Her legs are also terribly unprotected, but that was discussed already. The clothes over her crotch could be an artistic move. However, it would be more realistic to wear a tabard of your kingdom’s symbol, or have the symbol on your armor, rather than have a cloth hanging from your belt which could easily be tripped over or grabbed. This is something that is common in general warriors as well. I believe that it started with the undershirts or tabards that people wore under their armor were longer than the armor and ended up handing down below the armor. They probably ended up getting scrunched between the legs as we often see. However, designers have started just putting them between the legs, essentially ignoring any idea that they are part of a larger garment. That’s just speculation, though. I’m no art historian.

female warrior1female warrior4

These two women share many similarities with the above woman, so I won’t repeat myself. The most notable thing here is that the parts that are unprotected are the sexualized parts. The one on the left has essentially no protection on her bottom. This paints the image of a strong woman whose sexuality is open and vulnerable. Her breasts are pushed up, but at least her armor is supported over her shoulders, which is something the previous woman lacked. This will give her more freedom of movement while ensuring her armor didn’t just fall off for being loose. The woman on the right has much more armor, but her modesty is not kept. Her breasts, stomach, and upper thighs are revealed and vulnerable. Again, her breasts are exposed, as is a perfect shot at her heart.

 

female warrior 5

This is probably the closest thing we have so far to a normal piece of armor. This is from the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. This female warrior is wearing Daedric Armor, the best heavy armor in the game. It covers her as it would any man, except for one thing. It’s got beast protrusions. Why is this a problem? Well, I will answer that question with a question: When women play sports, what do they wear on their breasts, generally? The correct answer is a sports bra. Sometimes they don’t wear a sports bra and end up wrapping their chest. Why do they do either of those things? To push their breasts close to their body and keep them there. This helps them with balance and coordination. This prevents larger breasts from hitting into the arms or getting in the way of whatever they are doing. Similarly, women in fictional fantasy world would have the same concerns. Their breasts would not be out of their body much. They wouldn’t be using those breast protrusions even if they were actually in the armor. In real life, breast protrusions would end up being a hindrance. They would reduce the range of motion of the arms, perhaps drastically depending on the size. If a woman didn’t have her breasts wrapped, and instead was wearing a normal bra or something, they would more than likely get pinched between the armor and her skin. Often, warriors will wear a mail shirt underneath their armor. This mail shirt would effectively make the breast protrusions useless. If she were to fall onto her chest, the base of the protrusions would press into her chest (think of what happens if you press a glass cup against your body. Now have someone do it with a bucket and all of their body weight. Exactly.) CHEST ARMOR SHOULD NOT HAVE BREASTS.

 

Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of instances of women wearing realistic, era-relevant armor. Historically speaking, there weren’t too many practical uses for female armor, so this is a work in progress. However, I am fully aware that these designers are fully capable of figuring this out. They are aware that these are impractical armor designs. They chose to put these women in these suits of armor to sexualize them. This removes the idea that these women are actually capable warriors and suggests they are just there as eye candy. Despite what many would claim, this is the way the mind views it.  The image below is a great example of what a woman in armor should look like. This is also from Skyrim. Comment below with some really great or really terrible examples of women in armor.

.female warrio 6

wall_e

 

I was bored and nostalgic yesterday. I decided to watch Wall-E again. When Wall-E was first released, I was completely enamored. I loved the lack of dialogue, the effects which are probably still the best animation Disney/Pixar has ever done, and the overall story. I loved Wall-E, because he was this cute, lonely little creature (robot) who gets thrust into this huge conspiracy that is way beyond him. It is also a massive political commentary on human waste and consumption. It shows the terrible things that can happen when we get greedy, like the destruction of our planet, and the increase of sedentary lifestyles. Laziness, gluttony, all that fun stuff. However, where this film truly shines is its female characters. All of the characters were strong and well developed, even the robots, but I write about female characters.

I guess that’s a lie, because I’m going to start by talking about Wall-E.

Wall-E is completely unexceptional. He’s not too smart, doesn’t have a variety of skills, and sort of just bumbles through the movie. However, this makes him a strong character because, although he isn’t your normal, garden variety hero type, he’s still the hero. He has a strong personality that you immediately fall in love with, and you’re rooting for him the whole time. His unrequited affection for EVE makes you root for him even more, because you know that he’s the underdog, and you want him to win. He saves the day not for the girl, but because it’s the right thing to do. He just wants to help, and he knows that getting that plant in the holodeck will help. He knows the Auto-Pilot is the bad guy, and that EVE and the Captain are the good guys. He’s just a good person (yes, I’m saying person) who is willing to sacrifice a lot for these people he literally just met. Or hasn’t even met.

Mary is the one of the humans on the ship. While Wall-E is trying to get to EVE, he turns off Mary’s chair, which makes her pay attention to the world around her. She doesn’t want to go back. She loves the Axiom and begins exploring immediately. She eventually meets John, who Wall-E woke up earlier. This is the main reason I like her so much. Although John was “awake” longer than Mary was, Mary ended up being the leader. She takes John to all of the places on the ship she likes, and introduces him to the world. They start a romance because they’re the only two people on the ship besides the Captain who aren’t sitting zombified in their chairs (Again, social commentary). However, she is the initiator and leader of the duo. John, who isn’t any less able than Mary, defers to her judgment, because he respects her as a person. Even at the end, she’s the one who grabs John while he’s falling and then let’s go to protect the children. She is the epitome of a strong female character because she used all of her feminine traits and was still able to do all of that.

EVE is our main female protagonist. We meet EVE, the Extra-terrestrial Vegetation Evaluator, when she is deployed on Earth in the city that Wall-E lives in. He’s immediately enamored by her because she’s something that isn’t garbage or a cockroach. However, she shows immediately that she’s no pushover. She packs a nice energy cannon on her arm which she uses pretty indiscriminately. She at first seems to just be another robot with no personality, but we quickly learn that she has a large range of emotions. She is patient, but still has a temper, as evidenced by the tantrum she throws when after searching for a long time she finds no plants. She destroys a whole line of Buy-n-Large tankers just out of frustration. She shows early on that she’s not a woman to be trifled with. She also shows a great dedication to her duty and her position. There is nothing wrong with this. As the movie progresses, she reveals more of her personality. Rather than grabbing the plant and putting it in the Holodeck, she saves the humans from getting crushed. Despite immediately bringing the plant to the captain after reclaiming it, she and Wall-E dance in space (which inspires Mary and John to explore the ship!). She’s the perfect combination of duty and honor. She’s caring and strong. She’s the leader between her and Wall-E, and she constantly feels the need to protect him.

 

Why don’t we have more characters like Mary and EVE? They show that women can fill the same roles as men, and still be feminine. They show that men can be heroes and not be the main actor in an event. Wall-E saves the day, but none of that would have mattered if EVE wasn’t there. They had to work together. This movie shows us that all people, regardless of gender, race (in this case, robot or human), ability (as shown by the “malfunctioning” robots who help save the day with their “disabilities”), and past (as evidenced by Mary and john, despite being zombified by their chairs), can work together to change the world. Plus, neither character is sexualized in any way. They get by on their own merits. We need more movies like this. We need more characters like this.

 

 

 

Now, I’m the type of comic book fan that will watch a comic book movie multiple times for no real reason. With DC movies, i like to pick up on the references to other characters or alternate storylines that i recognize. In Marvel movies, i don’t really notice those things because i don’t know them. However, i really enjoy “The Amazing Spiderman” for a different reason. As I write this, i realize that the same can be said about “Man of Steel” (though I was hardcore fangirling at all the DC universe easter eggs and references during that movie).

The amazing Spiderman has been on the movie channels a lot lately so I’ve been watching it. I first saw it a few months ago. I honestly didn’t expect too much from it and i was very pleasantly surprised.  There are three main reasons i enjoyed this movie. If you have not seen the movie, don’t read ahead!

1. Casting – The cast of this movie is great. Andrew Garfield makes the perfect Spiderman, and a believable awkward and quirky Peter Parker. Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy gives her that girl-next-door type vibe without making her a hyper sexualized, impossible to get girl. Denis Leary as Captain Stacy is probably the best casting call of the whole movie. He perfectly portrays the emotions and heroism of a New York city cop and father. Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben was inspiring. The reason these characters are so great is because they are relatable. These actors portray their characters so that we think “oh hey, that could be me” while watching it. I mean, that’s what the message is anyway, right?

2. The message – The message of this story is great. Unlike a lot of other Superheroes, Peter Parker doesn’t have some destiny or higher calling. He wasn’t created or sent to do something. He is just a kid trying to learn how to be a responsible adult. And that’s where the movie shines, i think. Throughout the course of the movie, Peter starts to learn about what being responsible really means. He feels guilty for his Uncle’s murder, so he goes around trying to get revenge. He thinks hes being responsible and helping people, but in reality he’s just trying to help himself. After Captain Stacy talks about how Spiderman has a vendetta and isn’t helping people, Peter realizes that its true. This is shown when he goes to the bridge when the lizard is attacking. This is the first time he is depicted going out there just to help and not to hunt down his uncle’s killer. However, Peter doesn’t just stop there. Once he learns that it is Dr. Connors that is the lizard, he doesn’t try to go take him out on his own. He doesn’t pull a Batman where he thinks only he can stop it. He goes to Captain Stacy and tries to work with him on it. Then, at the end of the movie, Spiderman and Captain Stacy defeat the Lizard together. The message isn’t like so many other superhero movies that say “screw the rules, do what you think is best!” The message here is, “Work with the rules and you will be more successful.”

3. Gwen Stacy’s role – So often in the Superhero genre the female love interest gets treated terribly. They get killed off, kidnapped (I’m looking at you, Mary-Jane), threatened, or are used as some pawn in the villain’s game. They didn’t do that with Gwen. Gwen served a purpose the entire time she was there. In fact, without Gwen, peter would not have been able to stop the Lizard from infecting everyone. Gwen went to Oscorp and made the antidote. She didn’t need help, she didn’t need someone to watch her. She did it. Then, when the Lizard comes for the machine, she hides it from him, stalling him. When he finds it, he leaves her there. How often do you see a Superhero movie where the bad guy just ignored the female love interest? To be fair, I would say that he more so decides that she sin’t worth the time, and leaves, since shes throwing fire at him at the moment, but it doesn’t make a difference. And you know what? The way it was done was way better than if they kidnapped Gwen.

So, the Amazing Spiderman is pretty good, and if you have’t seen it yet then go check it out. I have yet to see the second one, but I will soon enough. How do you feel about the movie? Are there any other Superhero movies that you feel similarly about? Let me know!

 

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In my time at college, I was focusing on a lot of topics related to feminism. We were working on sexual assault awareness campaigns for men, mostly, but I was, of course, exposed to a lot of feminist media that extended from the topic. I since identify as a feminist, though I assert that I have my own personal idea behind feminism. It mostly revolves around having accurate and healthy depictions of women in popular media including books, movies, and video games. I understand that true feminism is not an attack on men, nor it is trying to remove and rights from men. I consider women to be partners in my life, and therefore I expect them to be portrayed in the same light in media. This is often not the case. I always like to make a point that if women are 51% of the population and most likely a similar percentage of the people in the average person’s life, then why do books and movies often only have only one or two really strong female characters? I’ve been doing some digging, and anyone out there who knows anything about writing is that all the “research” is in mostly blogs. In college I read almost every issue of Writer’s Digest, and I don’t believe they ever touched on this fundamental issue in this field. Here are some articles I found that I think are useful for writers:

On Writing Strong Female Characters 

How Not to Write Female Characters

We’re losing all our Strong Female Characters to Trinity Syndrome

 

These all cover a series qualities and characteristics that make any character a good character. For some reason, when writing female characters, writes often forget that they are actually people. The industry immediately thinks that a character is male, regardless of if they are aware of it or not. Men need motivations and goals and quirks while women often need to just be there. There is often a subconscious objectification of these characters, particularly in movies and video games and comics. Contemporary fiction is probably the most progressive about this, but usually subsects, particularly science fiction and fantasy, are far worse. The female often serves as a reward for the male protagonist when he wins the story, serves as a way to motivate him to succeed, or is just there for a sexual aspect. Men are never put into this category, because we expect them to be the protagonist and be important. Even in romance and lush novels.

The saddest part is that we have to read and write articles about how to write a female character when it’s literally no different from a male character. It’s just so ingrained in us to not think of women as characters unless we teach ourselves that they are.