So this isn’t my own critique at how writers handle female superheroes, this is a critique of an article published on Louder with Crowder, written by Courtney Kirschoff titled “Dear Feminist Hollywood: Stop Trying to Make Female Action Heroes a Thing…”
Her article is a critique of feminism…and female action heroes. There’s a glaring problem here because on the one hand she’s right. Feminists are whiny people who are never happy with any portrayal of a female superhero ever. On the other hand, the author fails to comprehend the concept of female heroes or where they came from, when she says this:
Because men were action heroes first, and women insisting they do it too, for the sake of “equality” is pathetic copying. It’s actual gender appropriation. By insisting women should do what men did first, for the simple reason of just… “we want to do it to because the men did it” undermines the base idea of feminism. Bear with me for a second and allow me to explain with more of my words.
Except…the term action hero is pretty broad, and a lot of them weren’t created out of some kind of need for equality, they were created to get women to go see action movies, or to read comics, usually by men. Wonder Woman was created by a psychologist, who was a man. Even Firefly, which had some amazing women, was created by a man because….this is Joss Whedon and he does what he wants. Same thing with Buffy. Someone has a concept, someone sells it well and that concept comes to fruition because the networks, or movie studious or producers decided to fund the bill to make it. Although, sometimes female action heroes are just eye candy for the guys going to see it. But that’s not what we’re talking about here.
Yes, there are more demand for women to be in action movies, because it’s not like only men can shoot guns and drive fast cars. Now does that mean I think James Bond should be a woman, certainly not. Black Widow was created to be a femme fatale and the genre which included such characters was once again long established by men.
It actually kind of sounds like Ms. Kirschoff is intimidated by the concept of a strong female character.
Do I think women shouldn’t be heroic? Of course not. Women are heroes. But they’re heroic in their own ways. They don’t need to copy men to be heroes.
Well of course not, and most female heroes are not copies of men.
Most women aren’t as physically strong as most men. Therein lies the greatest reason women cannot be credible, believable action heroes. ACTION HEROES. As in being heroes via their action through their raw, physical strength and a capacity for swift violence. All of which are prerequisites for action hero status. To you feminists who want to make women action heroes: stop it. You’re actually doing women a great disservice and reinforcing a horrible and unattainable goal — in order for a woman to be “heroic” and a “strong woman” she has to have the physical strength of a man and exact physical violence on men. Cropping your hair short and wearing men’s clothes isn’t the same thing.
In a fictional world anything is possible, so why can’t there be women who are as strong as men? Wonder Woman and Big Barda are prime examples, sure the latter has only appeared in animation and the Wonder Woman movie is just week away. But this is a flimsy argument. There are characters in movies who shoot lasers out of their eyes and can take down entire planets.
She says that the problem is that strong hero=manly woman. There’s an argument to be made there. But I wouldn’t characterize Buffy or Veronica Mars as manly women. Not to mention nothing says being strong means being manly. By the logic of the author real women are meek and want to be saved by men and women in the army, the marine corps, etc are just being manly, instead of working hard to be strong soldiers. That’s not even counting historical figures like Joan of Arc, or Lyudmila Pavlichenko.
As for Supergirl, her failing numbers from last year were not because she was a solo led female show, again see Buffy, but because the show was on CBS, which is better known for their procedural dramas then it is for superhero stuff. So yeah, the usual CBS watchers weren’t going to be interested in a superhero show. But hilariously enough the first season had higher ratings then the current season. Most of that is because the focus is significantly off Kara and her story and development and focuses way too much on Mon-EL. The reason Black Widow isn’t getting her own movie and was included in Avengers, is firstly because she’s an Avenger, but she’s a spy and a movie about her wouldn’t be a superhero flick, it would be a spy flick. And despite that, she managed to be a pretty cool character. She fights differently than a man because she has a different skill set and ability than a man.
What you see illustrated in the gif above, while being from Iron Man 2, shows that Black Widow fights like a skilled female assassin would. No one turned her manly or made her some kind of soldier. She is a spy and fights like one. Yes, there are some women who like being saved by men and some women want to be saved by women. I may not be gay, but if Wonder Woman wants to save my life, I gladly volunteer as tribute. It should also be noted that strength is measured differently, and yeah some women are more capable than others. Women use different fighting techniques which utilize their strengths, why do you think Krav Maga is so popular.
Karen Page is a great character, but there are women who can crack skulls. Vixen is a great example and Legends of Tomorrow has women at the front, even taking a leadership role. She’s not manly. There are other heroic characters throughout who aren’t particularly strong, and at the same time there are those who are. It’s almost like women come in all shapes and sizes and are all different. What? How crazy is that. Scarlet Witch rewrote reality, that’s pretty powerful, she might not be able to take on the Red Skull in hand-to-hand combat, but that’s a pretty powerful thing to be able to do. Black Widow can kick major butt, but she’s not the Winter Soldier. Wonder Woman can keep up with Batman and Superman not only because of her powers, but also because of her mind. All these action heroines show that women can be strong and self-reliant. Unless women having a backbone and standing up for themselves and others is manly?
There is a difference between strong superheroes/action heroes, and what feminists want. SJW’s will never be happy no matter how much you try to appease them. But no, the majority of female action heroes these days on screen are not copies of men and they are not trying to be them.
Read the original article for yourselves and leave a comment, letting us know what you think.