Great, now that I’ve got your attention, let’s have a chat. (This is spoilery. So if you’ve managed to avoid it thusfar, you might want to keep on keepin’ on.) This is something I’ve been brewing on for a bit and I held off on posting because I thought, considering the subject matter, it would be insensitive to post on Mother’s Day weekend. And I’m glad I waited because now I can address the gloriousness that is the Supergirl trailer.
Now, does Black Widow’s character get the short end of many, MANY sticks? Fuck yes. From her lack of representation in merchandise to a focus on her hyper-sexuality when she was introduced as a character to (for some reason) people are upset that she was serving a damn drink at a bar. She used that as an opportunity to flirt with a guy she was interested in, say it ain’t so. Ugh, anyway. Yes, there is A LOT wrong with the way Marvel has approached essentially the only female superhero in their Avengers lineup. I am right with you on that. 110% with you on that. However, today I want to focus solely on this concept, this widespread butthurt pandemic, over the fact that she referred to herself as a monster because she’s been sterilized.
Black Widow IS a monster. Know why? Cause she fucking said so.
Let’s all just slow our roll for a moment and think about this. Do I think a woman that’s barren is a monster? No, of course not. Am I upset that Black Widow referred to herself as one, and therefore that somehow insinuates that all barren women are monsters? No, of course not.
Everyone gets their undies in a twist because they want stronger women. They want women that aren’t damsels in distress. They want women that save the day, no help necessary. They want women that are just as badass, if not more so, than their male counterparts. And somehow, in that cry for equal representation, we’ve erased this notion that women are allowed to have a wide spectrum of emotions, are allowed to have moments of emotional, mental or physical weakness, are allowed to doubt their skills, to doubt themselves, are allowed to have shortcomings. Are allowed to be girly. To have crushes. To want to flirt. (Supergirl trailer, anyone?) Because somehow, if they exhibit any of those features, they’re no longer strong women?
Screw that noise.
Black Widow is allowed to be a kickass superhero and also think of herself as something less because she can’t have kids. Because she wants to have kids, and can’t. Because she wanted to find a way out of that situation, to avoid the ‘graduation’ and couldn’t. Would this be an entirely different discussion if it had been any other character that looked at her and called her a monster? YES. But that isn’t what happened. This was an assessment Black Widow made of herself. Her opinion. And she’s allowed that. Could there be women out there that think they’re monsters because they can’t have children? Yeah, I’d bet there are. Could it have been a powerful scene for any of those women to see a kickass female superhero have a similar view of herself, could it have given them a means to relate, could it have meant something to see this character that has obviously done so much and isn’t defined by that one aspect? Yeah, yeah it could be.
The concept of strong female characters does not mean invincible ones. It doesn’t mean women that are without fault. It doesn’t mean women that are perfect or even think they’re perfect. It can mean that, but it doesn’t have to.
Black Widow is, of course, wrong. But I’m not going to say a character, a female superhero who is currently all we have as representation, is not allowed to think awful things about themselves. I think awful things about myself. I think I’m a monster for a lot less. For a lot more. And all that scene did was make me want to hug Black Widow. And no one is going to take that from me.
Likewise, Supergirl is allowed to be a total dork, and try on dresses with her sister(?) and fumble around introductions with a semi-famous person. You know who else is a total dork? Wears giant, dorky glasses? Is usually portrayed as a klutz and average in every way? Her fucking cousin. But no one says shit about that, huh?
I love Black Widow, and I wish Marvel would do more with her. She’s a strong female character not only because she kicks ass and looks awesome and is as deadly as any of her male (magic/crazy scifi gizmo wielding) counterparts, but also because she has a distorted view of herself, she has mistakes she wants to rectify, she has a best friend she’d do anything for, and she’s the same woman that spent most of a movie trying to convince her fresh-out-of-the-ice co-worker that maybe he should get back on the horse.
I love Supergirl (I bet you thought I was being facetious when I called her trailer “glorious”), and I’m excited to see what this series does with her. (Especially since, based solely on speculation fueled by clips of scenes and dramatic scores, I think there’s going to be some more serious aspects of the show that they’re keeping tucked up their sleeve.) She’s a strong female character not only because she’s got super powers and can fly and I dunno, probably shoot lasers out her eyes or whatever, but also because she’s not afraid to stand her ground (to her sister, to her boss, to any idiot saying she “can’t”), she’s not afraid to take a chance, whether that means saving a plane, trying a bunch of different superhero outfits, or jumping off a roof to prove to a coworker she is actually all that and 2 bags of chips, all while probably enjoying a super great tasting frappucino and rocking some adorable summer outfits.
How about, instead of dictating what qualifies as a “strong female character”, we continue to explore the myriad possibilities?
Coming Soon: I’m just going to say it, Mad Max was better than Avengers: Age of Ultron. Mad Max is probably going to be the best movie I see all year. I’ll tell you why (in as much of a spoiler-free way as I can.)