#FemTrending: On Superheroes and Representations of Female Power

While working a birthday party at my job this weekend, I witnessed an interaction between the father of the birthday boy and the father of another child at the party. The birthday party was superhero themed; Captain American, Hulk, Thor, etc. The latter father commented that his daughter was also interested in making her upcoming birthday party superhero themed, however, it was nearly impossible. She had become fond of the female superheroes; wonder woman, cat woman, etc. And he was having a hard time finding nearly anything that she could use at the party for decoration.

According to The Beat in February of 2014, market research indicates that over 46% of comic book fans are female. While this is a drastic disruption of the norms presented about comic book fans, it becomes problematic when considering Bleeding Cool’s article from this month, which reports that only 16.9% of the creators of comic books are female.  Even more concerning, Comics Alliance reports that under 31% of DC/Marvel characters are female.

It is increasingly clear that females are underrepresented in the world but it has become important to consider female representation in comic books and their byproducts. We even use the word ‘superhero’ rather than ‘superheroine’ when describing individuals who use their powers to save the world; this indicates a serious bias when evaluating good deeds. Our male gendered labels of super powered individuals forces children to associate good deeds, strength, acts of heroism, and safety with men. This leaves women without any idols or representation for their actions.

While this is not a problem to be solved overnight, there are easy solutions. Primarily, it has become important to be conscious of where money is being spent. Numerous films about superheroines have been released in the last few years without success that mirrors that of the Avengers’ series, Spiderman, etc. While more of these movies get released (Wonder Woman, etc.) it is important to be just as excited (if not more excited) as you would for a new Avengers movie.

Hailie Johnson-Waskow