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Next week PBS will air Wonder Women! The Untold Story of America’s Superheroines that looks at the history, and more importantly, the legacy of Wonder Woman.
I viewed the documentary a few weeks ago and it is a powerful piece that shows why heroic characters like Wonder Woman are so important to society and to young girls and women. It includes interviews with Gloria Steinem, Lynda Carter, Gail Simone and Trina Robbins among others as well as everyday women who have been inspired by the character.
The project has been a labor of love over many years for the film’s director Kristy Guevara-Flanagan. I’ve touched base with her over the years as she’s been funding, creating and showing the film around the country. With the film about to debut to a television audience, she took a few minutes out of her busy schedule to talk about the project.
This documentary is AMAZING. I wrote about it back here, but I’d just like to re-iterate: I cried. This is powerful stuff and from the origins of Wonder Woman to the “will you choose to be strong” speech from the series finale of Buffy, it shows the history, the impact and the importance of superheroines.
So, all of you: read this interview, watch this documentary and keep kicking ass.
I’ve needed about 24 hours to collect myself in order to write this blog. If you follow my Twitter you probably saw a barrage of comments in regards to this topic and may have even read the article I’m going to reference. But if you haven’t, be warned: I’m angy about something.
Yeah, I know. Raise your hand if you’re surprised.
Little backstory: I’ve recently been working on turning a friend of mine onto comics. She’s never really read any, but started reading Buffy Season 8 and I saw my opportunity. So I started loaning her stuff from my collection that I thought she’d get into. Among those was a graphic novel from the now defunct MINX imprint, titled The P.L.A.I.N. Janes. The story revolves around a guerilla artist girl gang in a suburban neighborhood.
She loved it. It sparked us to talk about art more than we necessarily normally do and when a guy friend of ours got involved in the debate, I lent him the comic as well. His repsonse was overwhelmingly positive and I seriously have to quote part of his response here:
In a better world, or at least a world with a better publishing industry, we’d be hearing stories about PLAIN-inspired groups gluing pasties to statues of important men in small towns across the country, and concerned parents trying to get the book pulled from school libraries. Instead, we’ve got an artifact of a noble failure, shoved into the corners of comics shops next to the Naruto crap.
This prompted me to begin researching the MINX line, when it had shut down and whether or not we were going to get the third installment of Janes (the sequel released late last year and I splurged on a copy while picking up the new Umbrella Academy early this month). Through my research I stumbled on the livejournals of some very interesting ladies in the comic industry and began reading the rest of their thoughts on just about everything.
And one of those blogs finally led me to the point of this whole blog. A post to Cinema Blend, a movie website, talking about why women just really don’t like superheroes.
There’s a reason Wonder Woman is the only noteworthy solo female superhero anyone can name. It’s because men like superheroes, men wish they could be superheroes, and it’s men who see superhero movies and read superhero comic books.
Now, if this were a superhero comic? The next panel would probably have shown me putting my super-powered fist through my computer monitor. Then again, what would I know about that? I’m a girl. I’m too concerned with finding out who Carrie and the gang had sex with this week. Scandalous!
You know what? I’m tired of being told what I do and don’t want to see/hear/read because of my abundance of estrogen. Because as much as people say “generally” about these sorts of things? I have met more women in my life that buck those generalizations and stereotypes than women who strictly meet them.
So maybe the problem isn’t that men and women are “generally” drawn to certain things, maybe the problem is that the people in charge of the media haven’t yet realized that no, we’re not. Maybe you’re the ones with the outdated views and ideals, maybe you’re the ones who don’t know what’s hip and funky fly fresh.
And maybe it’s a shame you couldn’t quite figure out how to market a comic about a group of girl guerilla artists who celebrate each other’s individuality while focusing on a common interest. Because maybe, just maybe, there’s a ton of young women out there who might have sympathized with that message.
And maybe they would have become interested in comics because of that. Because do you know why a lot of young women don’t pick up comics and read them? There’s a lot of reasons, but let’s focus on a few here:
Look, maybe I’m not being uberlogical here, but I’m sick and tired of being told by society that certain things just don’t sell to girls because girls don’t like it. Because the reason a lot of girls don’t pursue those interests is, big gasp, because society tells them they’re not supposed to.
In closing, I wish that article I linked above was just one guy being an asshole. But the truth is, there’s a scary number of people, men and women, who agree with him and agree with what he thinks. And the sad part is, this is a case of if they keep saying it, especially saying it to young men and women, it might just be proven true.
Men are interested in action movies with heroes blowing things up and saving the girl. Men are interested in imagining themselves as ass-kicking heroes. Women are interested in movies about relationships and romance and love. Women are interested in imagining themselves finding the right guy and dancing till dawn. Little boys play with guns, little girls play with dolls.