When I was young, I used to watch cartoons. And because I’m a child of the 80s, damnit, we had some of the best cartoons!
I watched HeMan. I watched every weekend as he fought off the evil forces of Skeletor. And it was awesome! But he was a dude. And I’m...Not.
And even though Teela was a headstrong woman, she was never part of the inner circle. She was stuck as the outsider.
Then She-Ra came out. And I had a heroine. But still, when times were tough, she still needed HeMan.
The shows typically for girls were annoying, and pink, and fluffy. So I watched Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or Thundercats, or Transformers. And if I was lucky, they had one token girl to whom I could attempt to relate.
As I got older, the available role models from which I could pick were a bevy of female characters on Star Trek, or Xena the Warrior Princess. Even Penny from Inspector Gadget and Velma from ScoobyDoo had skills to admire! Sci-Fi and fantasy slowly became my home because, apparently in the real world, women couldn’t be powerful or in charge. In the SciFi and Fantasy arena, they could!
When Buffy the Vampire Slayer came out, it was the best thing that ever happened. Finally, a character my age with power, and I'm not talking about the physical power, but power to lead and be heard! It was a game changer and I was obsessed. And the stories were compelling and kept me interested on a more intellectual level than other shows at the time had to offer.
Here's the half empty... For every one show with an awesome woman running things, there were dozens of similar shows with men in the lead.
“Well, we gave you a show with a powerful woman! What more do you want?!” they ask.
We simply want more. Representation is everything.
We need more Ellen Ripley! We need more Sarah Conner. We need more Uhura! And not because they’re a novelty. Not so you can tick off a box that says “HERE! WE GAVE YOU A POWERFUL WOMAN. NOW SHUT UP WHILE WE MAKE MORE SHOWS STARRING MEN THAT USE WOMEN AS PROPS”
Among the detritus of modern entertainment, there are gems like Sense8, Orange is the new Black, Orphan Black. And we want more!
We want shows and movies where women actually talk to each other; and have conversations of substance. We want to see in the media accurate portrayals of who we really are.
And we want to see the badass women too!
For years I cheered for Superman! He was my first favorite Super Hero! But while I couldn’t pretend to be him, we could try.
So I looked to my trusty SciFi.
And finally, here came Ray
And Jyn Erso
And then Wonder Woman. And the theatres were finally filled with young girls and their mothers cheering for a badass woman! Heck, I cheered my way through the Ghostbuster’s reboot. I also laughed my ass off!
My fandoms have women who are powerful. And they represent us because we are powerful.
And less confident men shout at us “how will I relate to a woman character? A woman would never be in charge! A woman-lead movie will never do well!”
For generations, we waited, we didn’t relate, and we weren’t in charge. For generations we dealt with movies that glorified men and ignored us. It’s our time! It’s time for Tina Fey, and Amy Poehler, and Mindy Kaling, and Zoe Saldana, and Viola Davis. It’s time for roles that usually go to men to spend some time on the other side!
And it’s time for men to get on board.