KENSINGTON, MD, January 11, 2012 - So here’s the thing: we need more girl superheroes.
My son has hit that magical age when his fancy turns to Spiderman. The influence was entirely wholesome: he saw the highlights from the Spiderman musical during the Macy’s parade and was hooked. Later, he stumbled upon a selection of super-hero books aimed at young kids in a bookstore and was entranced by the escapades of Iron Man, Batman, Superman, the Flash and others. I’ve been indulging him by buying a bunch of the books because they’re cute, non-violent, and emphasize teamwork. And my one hard and fast parenting philosophy is that the best way to foster a love of reading is to let kids have books with content that appeals to them.
Within limits, of course. I mean, I’m not going to hand my son Playboy when he’s 12 and into girls. But I’ll let him have Sports Illustrated. What’s that? The Swimsuit Issue? Um, yeah, we were talking about superheros, here, not the glaring imperfections in my parenting philosophy, ok?
Anyway, I’ve been immersed in the super world of superheroes for a few weeks now and something has really struck me: there are not enough female superheroes. As I read about Aquaman and Iron Man and Batman and so on I keep thinking “Girls can be super too! And you know what? I bet they can be super and wear pants at the same time. Yeah, I’m lookin’ at you Wonder Woman.”
I know that superheroes are generally considered the province of boys and therefore most of them are male so as to be relatable. (Also many of them were created in days gone by when women were not as allowed to be overtly super as they are in this day and age. Wonder Woman was a striking aberration but maybe they needed someone unexpected to fight Nazis, as was her original mission.) And I’m not saying the boy superheroes need to be relegated to the annals of history and replaced with an army of the kind of feminist heroes that would make Rush Limbaugh wet his pants.
I’m saying that there’s no reason there can’t be more female superheroes in the mix, having a role in group super-ops, taking down bad guys like the boys do. I’ll even relax my stance on them wearing pants if they could just show up a little more frequently.
I’ve started doing a bit of research on where the girls are in the super firmament and the answer seems to be they’re all X-Men. Or are they X-Women? I don’t know for sure but whatever the case, there isn’t a line of Fisher-Price X-Men or series of X-Men books aimed at pre-schoolers the way there is with the old-school DC Comics heroes like Superman and Batman.
It appears that if I want my son to get exposure to truly badass women, I’ll need to hit a comic book store and comb through the selections to find some that won’t scare the bejeezus out of him. And I can think of nothing cooler than being a pregnant, nearly 40-year old suburban mom in a comic book store asking the clerk questions about violence and sexism in the comics. Truly.
But if that’s what I need to do to provide my son with a few good female superheroes, that’s what I’ll do. I’m a feminist mom. Hear me roar.
The thing is, women make up 53% of the regular-people population. Surely, isn’t it time for them to make up a greater percentage of the superhero population, too? If for no other reason than they might bring along enough fashion sense to convince Superman to stop wearing his underpants over his clothes.
Rebekah is a DC-area mom with an over-developed sense of irreverence, socialist tendencies, ADD, and a blog. She recently quit her non-profit sector job to pursue her dream of not working. She now spends her time answering her 4-year-old son’s questions and ranting at her blog Mom-in-a-Million, talking about life as a DC Mom at The DC Moms and sharing her political views at The Broad Side. You can find her on Twitter at MomIn_AMillion.
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