Feminism and Heroes

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It’s kinda my thing. Not really. I don’t go on many “feminist rants”. As I’ve said before, I’m a little new to expressing my feminist opinions. But sometimes there’s just something that happens, and it’s just too hard to stay quiet.

This post comes to you mainly as a response to the comments I’ve read since the reveal of Jodie Whittaker as the thirteenth Doctor on Doctor Who.

I also want to state that you can’t have feminism without having intersectional feminism. You just can’t. Even the geeks still have a long ways to go for intersectionality.

Additionally, if you’re looking for a very small sample of great female characters in this geeky world, I recommend the ones below. I could add so many more to this list, but I’ve tried to keep true to the rule of threes. Brevity is not my strong suit–sorry!

I’m not feeling terribly articulate today, so if you want to discuss, please comment! (And remember my cardinal rule: respect!)


 

Feminism is for everyone. We’re starting to see that in television and film more and more, and nothing makes me more excited! As a woman who hopes to have children in the near future, I have started to examine my life experiences in the context of feminism not for myself, but to try to learn how to parent my future children in this sociopolitically unjust world.

My husband and I are long-time geeks. We love superheros, Star Trek, and Doctor Who above most other things. We’ve long talked about how we would like to raise our children, and our ethics and values are very similar. We hope to raise decent human beings, and we hope they’ll be just as geeky as we are, because we believe that being a geek makes you strong.

We believe that feminism is as important for our future daughters as it is for our future sons. After all, children learn from their families, their peers, and their television sets, right?

The misogyny that is currently representative of the television and film industries is harmful, and I don’t want my children to be affected by that, even though I know it is, to an extent, unavoidable. As such, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about female representation in television and film, and how that representation challenges the current standards and practices of the patriarchy and misogyny in those industries.

Let’s start with superheroes.

Disclaimer: I haven’t followed many female superheroes, so I sincerely hope that there are some amazing ones out there who break these tropes. (And if you know of some, tell me!)

Now, I’ve never been a big Wonder Woman fan, and I think that’s because of how the lovely Diana Prince (and, let’s face it, probably most of the other female superheroes) have been represented. I don’t like the outfits. I don’t like the way they’re portrayed as sexual objects. They aren’t given as much time and effort as their male superhero counterparts, and that really bothers me.

Honestly, I’d always preferred the male superheros because they were just better superheroes. The characters were more authentic. Their stories were stronger. But when I saw Wonder Woman on the big screen, I knew it was different from any other superhero movie I had ever seen.

When those women rode into battle on the beach, it was one of the most empowering things I have ever seen. These were women, and they were fighting like warriors. So, basically take just about any large fight scene from just about any movie and replace all the men with women. Don’t change the weapons, don’t change the enemies–just change the gender.

You don’t even have to change the outfits. If you lived on a paradise island and learned to become an Amazon warrior, you’d want something comfortable and easy to move in, wouldn’t you? Of course you would.

The film was glorious. It was so refreshing to see women portrayed as capable and strong, rather than as pretty things to look at. There were no carefully-posed shots of women (see below), and when a love interest developed, it didn’t feel forced or out of place. I wasn’t even mad! There’s always a love interest in male-led superhero movies, isn’t there? #equality

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My favorite part? The thigh jiggle. You know the one. She’s a strong, powerful, ass-kicking athlete of a superhero, and when she sticks the superhero landing, her strong, athletic, superhero thighs move, because that’s what a superhero’s body does. Feminism and body positivity win!

Of course, Wonder Woman would certainly have benefited from more intersectional representation. Maybe we’ll have more of that in the future. I sincerely hope we do. But for now, Wonder Woman is the superhero movie we needed. At least, it’s certainly the superhero movie that I needed.

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Moving on from superheros and into a sci-fi classic, I present Kathryn Janeway, a character so dear to my heart, I seriously might name my future daughter after her. No, seriously.

We must admit that most of the female characters in Star Trek: The Original Series had the same problems as, well, most female characters on television shows–especially for the era. Female representation improved (a bit) as other variations of Star Trek came out, specifically (in my opinion) with characters like Doctor Crusher, Dax and Kira, and lastly Janeway.

I came to Star Trek later in my life, but I wish I had been watching Star Trek: Voyager when it originally aired. The idea of a female Starfleet captain wasn’t ever really considered to be outrageous in Star Trek, but they made a woman captain and gave her a show of her own

Ah, be still my feminist heart!

I love Janeway. I love her spunk, I love her attitude, I love her ability to command. She demands respect with her very presence. Could you bring together a Starfleet crew and a band of maquis rebels and make it  all the way home from the other side of the galaxy without your bridge crew killing each other? Me neither.

Janeway taught me to be curious, to be kind, and to be strong, and I love her for it. She’s the kind of role model I want to be for my future kiddos. She’s bright and doesn’t fear being afraid. In my humble opinion, she is one of the greatest examples of female representation in television.

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If there’s anything I love more than Star Trek (and that’s a big “if”), it would be Doctor Who.

The thirteenth Doctor was recently revealed, and I can honestly say that I was left in breathless. I was definitely in shock, and it took a while for the news to settle with me.

While I know there has been talk of a female doctor for a long time, I didn’t think it would happen anytime soon. I thought we’d just have to be happy with a female regeneration of the Master and that would be that. Besides, I’ve loved the Doctor since the moment I met him. I would have been happy with another male Doctor.

After all, for as much as we know, the Doctor has always been male. Why would that change? The show is so successful–why fix what isn’t broken?

I love Doctor Who, and I definitely don’t think it was broken. But, like the Doctor, we’re all subject to change. The Doctor always has to regenerate in the end–that’s just the way it is. That’s the way it always has been. And personally, I’ve loved every new regeneration of the Doctor more than the last.

Doctor Who has taught me that change is inevitable, and it’s good. And I think a female Doctor will only take a great show and make it even more brilliant.

There’s been a lot of fuss over Jodie Whittaker becoming the first female Doctor. After reading through a lot of the comments following the reveal, it was easy to tell that a lot of people are upset with the change. Some said some truly awful and misogynistic things. But I think there are some of these comments who might be upset for the wrong reasons.

We’re all familiar with the Whovian’s regeneration cycle. It’s so hard to say goodbye to the Doctor. It’s so hard to like a new Doctor.

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But we say goodbye, and we learn to love the new Doctor, and the cycle repeats itself over and over again. We’re all still stuck at the beginning of the cycle; we don’t want to say goodbye. I’m definitely still in this camp. But I’ve moved on before, and I’ll move on again.

A female Doctor won’t diminish the 50+ years we’ve had of Doctor Who. With good writing, I think Jodie’s Doctor will bring a great freshness and brilliance to the show. The Doctor will always be the Doctor, but it’s the writing that has to be good.

I am eagerly looking forward to series 11 of Doctor Who. I can only hope that the writing, the directing, the acting, etc. will live up to the show’s fantastic legacy. And I really think it will.

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These are just a small sample of my favorite female characters in television and film. I would love to hear who some of your favorites are! Leave a comment and let me know.

Also, if you want to discuss some points from this post, please comment! I’d be happy to share in a dialog with you about these issues.

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