I’m going to apologize up front about the delays of this post because let’s face it, this should have been posted last week.
I also wrote most of this last week but got busy writing an essay and sewing 200 plastic balls (like the ones you find in a ballpit) together into a dress for a party with the theme ‘anything but clothes.’
But! On the bright side, this won’t get buried now under all of the other IWD posts!
Happy (belated) International Women’s Day!
*I’ll wait while you call your mom, aunt, grandmother, sister, cousin, or friend*
Right. It’s that time of year again for my annual ‘angry feminist rant.’
When I was a young kiddo, I used to replace the heads on my little medieval action figures so that my princess character could be the knight and fight the dragons. (This was probably inspired by reading Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness Quartet.) As it was, all the female figurines wore dresses. Not only was it impossible for them to be put on the horses, they didn’t have scabbards to store their swords!
Honestly, it was tragic.
To my young brain, you obviously needed a both a horse and a place to put your sword to go on quests and slay dragons.
This story might seem a bit silly when you just think of my childhood bedroom floor littered with a bunch of male-bodied knight figurines with female heads, but at the root of it was my desire to see the women I wanted to be when I grew up.
And it really, really sounds cliché writing it here, but reading the Hunger Games at thirteen changed everything. It was one of the first books I read with a recognized female narrator in an action role. I had, of course, read female narrators before in Tamora Pierce’s books but a large part of the plot is that Alanna disguises herself as a boy in order to become a knight. None of the other characters are aware that she is a girl and most of her interactions and decisions in the plot are based around maintaining her status as a boy. That is, until the fourth book where she reveals her secret and establishes herself as the biggest badass in Tortall. Honestly, ten-year-old Kennedy was amazed.
But, with the Hunger Games, for the first time, I was getting an upfront first person female perspective on the action and the adventure. Not just second hand from a male narrator. While I adored Harry Potter and worshipped at the feet of Percy Jackson and the Olympians and as much as Hermione and Annabeth were central characters, they weren’t the narrators.
They weren’t the ones controlling and driving the stories.
Which, I guess, brings me to the point of this post: The importance of female driven stories. If young girls see or read about someone who looks like or acts like them it gives them someone to believe in. It shows them something tangible to remember and to hold on to.
I’ll always remember the feeling I had walking out of the cinema after seeing The Force Awakens or Wonder Woman. Watching Rey wield a lightsaber or Diana Prince walk into No-Man’s land was symbolic in more ways than one. And, what made them such compelling characters was the fact they were distinctly female as well.
Which is why I was so excited to see Captain Marvel last Friday.
Carol Danvers has been my hero since basically forever. I’m not going to claim any hipster status here… but I was a member of the Carol Corps before it was cool.
I won’t spoil the film for those who haven’t had a chance to see it yet, but I will say that Captain Marvel is the film I wish I could have had when I was eight or nine years old.
It is a film written for women by women.
It shows how emotions are not a hindrance to success and that if believe in yourself, you don’t have to prove anything – to anyone. (That and the film touches on important themes about fear mongering which is a lesson, I think, a lot of people should learn for themselves.)
Frankly, I’ll always be a little jealous of girls today who get to grow up with so many more stories written for and about them. (That and how none of them have to brutally maim their toys.) But, I am beyond excited to see what happens next.*
Higher, Faster, Further, baby!
(*What’s happening next is Carol Danvers is going to show up in Avengers: Endgame and Thanos is not ready.)