strong women characters

My Wonder Woman Wish List

Comic book image of Wonder Womanby Jarrah Hodge

I was heading to Ottawa for work on Monday and grumbling to myself over the predictably underwhelming airplane movie choices when I chanced upon a documentary I’d been trying hard to get my hands on since Geek Girl Con 2011: Wonder Woman: The Untold Story of American Superheroines.

Director Kristy Guevara-Flanagan discusses the history of Wonder Woman from her creation in the 1940s to today and looks at the impact she continues to have on female fans of all ages. She also connects the changing depictions of Wonder Woman and other women action heroines in pop culture to shifting social power dynamics.

It’s a great movie because it shows, even though there are still important critiques to be raised, just representing strong women in pop culture can make a big difference in real people’s lives.

I know fans have been arguing for some time that Wonder Woman deserves her own movie (she’s never before hit the big screen) but I didn’t fully feel I could claim that same hunger until I saw this documentary and realized what it felt like to have this one bad-ass woman character overlooked again and again while we get movie after movie about Superman or Batman, and that’s not even getting into the same issue with the gender imbalance in Marvel characters.

So I was pretty interested in today’s news that we’ll be seeing Wonder Woman in Batman vs. Superman by Zack Snyder. My initial reaction was a bit of disappointment because I still think she deserves her own movie, and because I doubt Zack Snyder’s commitment or maybe even ability to do the character justice.

I formed this opinion mostly based on how frustrated I was with Man of Steel. While other feminist geeks like Susana Polo at The Mary Sue liked Lois and Faora in Man of Steel, I was less than impressed. I thought Faora (Zod’s sidekick) was badass but very one-dimensional, and while Lois started off okay, she gets less independent as the film goes on.

There are other reasons to doubt. As Charlie James Anders says in her io9 article, “I still don’t want to see Zack Snyder’s take on Wonder Woman”:

After watching 300, Watchmen, Sucker Punch and Man of Steel, there’s plenty that I admire about Snyder’s film-making. He’s great at creating arresting visuals, and he has a deep appreciation for the grammar of comic-book storytelling, creating splash pages on the screen.

But he has a problem with capturing real emotions, as opposed to surfaces, something the cold and depthless Man of Steel confirms. And he especially has a problem with female characters, because his love for pulp imagery leads him to explore women as fetish objects. It almost doesn’t matter if, as some have discussed, Snyder is trying to turn this fetishization on its head or show how it’s harmful — it still tends to dominate.

But you know what? This thing is happening so I think what needs to happen is to get optimistic and hope the message gets through that we, the fans, expect Wonder Woman to be treated with the respect she deserves. And maybe if it works out she can finally get a movie of her own. Read more

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Feminism, Pop Culture 4 Comments

Feminism and Star Trek

WhatAreLittleGirlsMadeOfby Jarrah Hodge

I have had the best week ever. For those of you who don’t know, I’ve been a fan of Star Trek since I was a really little kid. There are few things I enjoy more than combining my passion for feminism with my love of Star Trek and other geeky things. That’s part of what led me to write my “Revenge of the Feminerd” column at Bitch blogs in 2011.

Anyhow, this week I found out my panel proposal for Geek Girl Con 2013, “Is Star Trek a Feminist Utopia?”, was accepted! Within a couple of days I had tracked down some other super cool panelists, including Tanya from Geekquality, Jamala Henderson from KUOW radio, and Mary Czerwinski of The Televixen and the DVD Geeks podcast. If you’re around the Seattle area in October, you should totally come check out Geek Girl Con. I’ve attended the last two years and am really excited to participate this year with these other awesome panelists.

As if that weren’t exciting enough, thanks to Mary I’ll also be coming down to Las Vegas in August to participate in her Trek Girls panel at Star Trek: Las Vegas!

Basically, I am as excited as a Ferengi rolling in a pile of latinum.

So now I have started the most fun homework project ever: an in-depth exploration of feminism and Star Trek, going episode-by-episode through all the series. If you’re a Trekkie and want to geek out with me, you can follow along at my new Tumblr, Trekkie Feminist. I’ll be doing slightly tongue-in-cheek episode recaps, shouting out some of my favourite women characters and poking loving fun at some of the failures in representation of women, people of colour, and LGBT people. I’m taking requests for specific episodes to watch and analyze, so if you have a suggestion, comment below!

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Feminism, Pop Culture Leave a comment

Not My Brother’s Horror Movie: Making a Feminist Horror Film

Pouring Fake Blood

Lindsey pouring fake blood

by Lindsey McNeill

I’m currently participating in a national independent film competition with my film concept called Gillian’s Just Right. It’s a fractured fairy-tale/classic horror film that explores rape culture and gender roles. Here’s my story…

I was born in the 80′s, a decade where Steven Spielberg dominated the film industry with some of the most celebrated action-adventure films ever made. It was a great time to be a kid. I wore out the VHS copies of The Goonies, E.T.- The Extra Terrestrial and Back to the Future, but I was always left with this incredible sadness that my life would never be as magical.

See, I too wanted to go on adventures and ride my bike alongside humorous side-kicks as we hunted for treasures. I wanted to befriend aliens and deformed strong-men, or travel through time and ride hover-boards. But what I came to understand was that being a girl meant to be left at home, to be afraid to cross the bridge when the bad guys descend, and maybe available for a kiss from a dirty, undeserving boy. I didn’t want to be the girl who helped the boys overcome dangers because she knew how to play the piano. I wanted the trench coat with all the booby-traps. My favourite films taught me that it’s a boy’s life and girls aren’t allowed.

Nancy and Freddy Krueger - Nightmare on Elm Street

Nancy and Freddy Krueger – Nightmare on Elm Street

And then I saw the film that changed my life: Nightmare on Elm Street. Finally, a female protagonist!

Nancy was an ordinary girl thrown into a terrifying situation and unlike Spielberg’s romantic side-dishes, Nancy sought out the danger and went in alone. Because of this, I became an instant horror fan. Read more

Posted on by Lindsey McNeill in Can-Con, Feminism, Pop Culture 1 Comment

Bella Swan Cullen, Action Hero?

Twilight Posterby Tracy Bealer

So, it’s happened. Breaking Dawn: Part 2 has premiered, and Twihards around the country (of whose number I count myself among) have either already, or have plans to, see the cinematic adaptation of the Twilight Saga’s conclusion. The following is not a review of the film, or the books, but rather an investigation of how (spoiler alert) Bella’s transformation into a vampire tweaks the series’ gender politics and power dynamics. This post assumes a basic familiarity with the story, which Wikipedia can provide if needed.

I come not to bury Bella, nor the Twilight novels and their author, Stephenie Meyer, though not quite to praise them either. Though I have, both verbally and in print, articulated my appreciation for the progressive masculinity demonstrated by Edward’s negotiation of his vampire bloodlust and human desire to connect with Bella, the heroine herself hasn’t been as easy to defend. She makes bad decisions (running off alone to confront a vampiric foe without enlisting the aid of her supernatural companions), is willfully ignorant of the emotional consequences of her flirtation with “just friend” and werewolf Jacob Black (pretty much from New Moon onwards to Breaking Dawn: Part 1), and is distressingly eager to sacrifice her own life to protect a fetus that may or may not be a) a child, either human or vampire or; b) a viable living being at all. The connection between Bella’s willing self-sacrifice and Meyer’s Mormon commitment to childbearing has been made elsewhere, and is not the cause of my concern here. What is disturbing is the attendant beatification of Bella, both in the book and the first film, as her body wastes away. Read more

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Feminism, Pop Culture 1 Comment

“Revolution” and Women in Radical Politics

Revolution poster

Is Revolution NBC’s Hunger Games?

Gender Focus welcomes new contributor Tracy Bealer! Tracy Bealer has a PhD from the University of South Carolina and currently teaches writing at Metro State University of Denver, where she regularly lets her students watch movies in class. She has published on Quentin Tarantino, the Harry Potter series, and sparkly vampires.

NBC’s latest conspiracy-driven sci-fi drama series reveals its interest in political radicalism with its title. Revolution imagines a post-apocalyptic America in which, fifteen years prior, all electrical power was mysteriously, suddenly. and permanently shut off, rendering cities overgrown wastelands, and driving citizens to small, rural communities where they scrounge out a meager existence and try to remain in the good graces of a totalitarian militia—the Monroe Republic. The third episode, “No Quarter,” reveals the existence of a band of rebels committed to overthrowing the militia and restoring democratic rule.

So far, Revolution’s women characters have been represented as not only nominally powerful, but crucial to the narrative structure of each episode. In fact, the only all-male sphere appears to be the villainous Monroe militia. Two women hold priceless information about the source of, and possible cure for, the blackout. The show’s main protagonist, Miles Matheson, also seeks out Nora, a female former comrade, to aid his niece, Charlie, to find her brother who has been kidnapped by the militia. When they find Nora in “No Quarter,” Miles and Charlie discover she has joined the rebel movement and follow her to the group’s nearby stronghold.

While camping with the rebels, Charlie, a young woman who was entrusted with her brother’s rescue as her father was dying, experiences a political awakening. In earlier episodes, her only interest was in ensuring her family’s survival. She expressed no interest in resisting the militia’s regime beyond getting her brother back. But, after witnessing the death of a young fighter, the episode implies that Charlie’s consciousness about the larger communal cost of political oppression is raised. She demands to stay and fight alongside the rebels against overwhelming odds, rather than saving herself and her uncle.

I’m curious to see if Charlie’s political resistance will be developed in further episodes, especially because of her similarity to another young female political radical in pop culture: Katniss Everdeen. Read more

Posted on by Tracy Bealer in Feminism, Pop Culture 3 Comments

FFFF: BAMF Girls Club Now a Webseries!

You may remember the spoof trailer for a reality show called BAMF Girls Club, which was our FFFF just over a month ago. Turns out that trailer was so successful that Comediva is turning it into a webseries, and after watching episode one, I am seriously stoked for more. Imagine Michonne, Katniss, Buffy, Lisbeth, Hermione, living in one big house with a very whiny, pine-y Bella.

If you want to keep track of the funny ladies who are working on this, find them on Twitter:

Written by Vickie Toro (http://twitter.com/vickietoro)
Directed by Emily McGregor (http://twitter.com/airhumps)
Produced by Linda Yvette Chavez (http://twitter.com/lindayvette)
Executive Producer – Erika Cervantes (http://twitter.com/erikacervantes)

-Jarrah

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in FFFF Leave a comment

FFFF: Badass Women Characters Club

Comediva brings you what would prove to be a very interesting reality show – BAMF Girls Club, including all your favourite badass women characters…plus Bella. Written by Vickie Toro and directed by Emily McGregor. Some people in the comments were suggesting other BAMFs that could be included in a future clip – what badass woman character would you add?

If you liked at check out the bonus video here.

-Jarrah

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Feminism, FFFF, Pop Culture 1 Comment