The trailer for the coming CBS Supergirl show dropped, and the way people reacted, you’d think the creators used Flash’s super speed to travel back in time to kick everyone’s childhood.
As you can see, after the obligatory “My name is…” opening that every single TV show has to start with now, we find out that our Supergirl isn’t super at all yet. She’s doing menial things, menial girly things! AAHHHHH!!!!
The reaction was as surprising as a sunset to the inclusion of clothing, dating, or anything with that tinge of feminine pink:
See! You can’t have punching next to girly shit. That’s like impossible. Punching is serious business that only men and women who aren’t like those other girls can do. But fashion? That’s silly stuff those ladies play with until they find a husband. It’s not important like building an earthquake machine or unleashing a horde or superpowered men on a city because someone hurt your feelings. That’s true man shit there.
Everyone is rushing to call it trite and stereotypical (and tell the same stupid joke about SNL over and over and over again) because all they can see is oh God, girly shit! Girly shit is bad! Only boy shit matters!
And we’re here yet again.
Anything within the sphere of feminine is and has always been downgraded and cast aside as if it’s little more than a trifle or distraction. The ladies are just doing some housework, they’re just raising kids, they’re just playing with makeup or clothes, while the men get on with the important business of making another Batman movie.
To make it even more hilariously depressing, something once considered frivolous because it was woman’s work becomes super important once a man realizes he can make serious money doing it. In the early days of computers when they filled entire office buildings, most programmers were women. It was considered secretary work, menial and below a man’s intelligence. But then guys went, “Hey! I can make a shit ton of money at this. Okay, women are banned from this. Chase them out of the industry, make everything a God damn penis joke, and sexually harass them every chance you can. Go!”
This is by no means a 20th-21st century phenomenon. Brewing of beer was once not as serious a business as wine. It was also a frivolity pushed aside for those ladies to entertain themselves while men handled the wine making until the little ice age knocked out grapes. Now beer was their only source of alcohol and all of a sudden those women who’d been brewing beer for years couldn’t be trusted to handle it. Their poor lady brains would overheat from trying to do something they’d already been doing.
We still don’t think women can handle the brewing of beer because it’s a manly drink (despite having a much lower alcohol content than that “girly drink” wine – which I’ll never understand). Women were chased and banned from it because penis trumps all.
That’s where we are still in the great gender binary wars. Anything masculine is good, important, vital. Anything feminine is silly, stupid, pointless. Do we laugh at another blow ’em up, shoot ’em up Michael Bay movie? Sure. Do we derisively snort and call it a dick flick? No. I wonder why it is when a movie with more than one woman who isn’t there just to swoon on a guy’s arm gets so much vitriol, eyerolls, and the moniker “chick flick!”
(That was rhetorical, please don’t tell me.)
“I’m not like the other girls.” It’s a phrase so many women utter in their fledgling days trying to navigate this hostile world. It’s a way to scream, “I think all that other girlish stuff is stupid too, just like you cool boys, so won’t you give me a modicum of respect and treat me like a person?!”
But it’s a trap. You just locked yourself and all other women inside the gender crab bucket. In order to yank yourself out, you have to denigrate the others around you, which tells men that, “Hey, all that lady stuff IS stupid. I should ignore women and treat them like they’re basically idiots with boobs. THANKS!” So maybe that one guy thinks you’re a “cool girl,” but all the other guys who have heard the same “lady stuff is stoopid” shit won’t, and you’re back to square one.
Tomboy: it’s not just a title, it’s practically a badge of honor bestowed by approving adults onto girls who might not even care if their hobbies are gender approved or not. Girls, you’re doing something outside that froo-froo silly stuff. Chasing frogs and lightning bugs is far more important than playing dress up or house (because adulthood is full of frog battles and not having to wear clothes or clean houses). Here you go, have a cookie!
But what’s the masculine equivalent? What do you call a boy who likes making cookies and plays with dolls or makeup? I’m guessing your mind went to either a weakling and coward (sissy, pansy, pussy: derogatory terms based upon a woman’s genitalia) or something questioning a kid’s sexuality. There’s no, “Hey, you’re acting outside our idiotic gender norms, but it’s kinda cool” badge of honor for boys. If they don’t maintain that most highest of masculine ideals, they’re attacked from all sides. It isn’t usually the kids I see freaking the shit out over it, but the adults.
Teachers demand that a boy return home if he brings a My Little Pony backpack to school; parents get into shit fits if their precious little Kayden gets the girl toy in a happy meal. It’s a constant reminder to the girls watching that anything associated with them or with their gender is bad and they should do all in their power to act like those boys. Is it any wonder so many women go through a “I’m not like those girls” stage?
Back to that Supergirl trailer, which I’m sure another twenty people just patted themselves on the back for making another chick flick joke about. What is it that pisses you off so much? I see plenty of punching. She stops a truck with her face, for God’s sake! I see lots of humor. I see what looks an awful lot like The Flash pilot, frankly: a girl struggling in a city to make it who decides to use her superpowers to fight crime.
Oh, but, because she’s a girl and there’s clothing and dating and stuff, it must be bad. Right. Because Arrow and The Flash never ever bring up relationships. It’s just punch punch punch, one line, punch kick, bad guy’s down, let’s get a beer. That’s true manly man stuff there. No girly emotions in sight.
Supergirl is a woman. Women deal with clothing and makeup and pink in this world. Some, I dare say, even like it! And those same women occasionally punch bad guys. You don’t have to be a tomboy to be a superhero.
When I set out to make my elven engineer for Dwarves in Space, I wanted to do a couple things with her. First, I wanted her to be smart, not just have an emotional feel of the engines. She studied hard, she does intense calculations in her head for fun, she doesn’t have a noble savage rapport with technology. Second, despite being gruff and not friendly (those prized masculine traits in every Snyder film), she loves romance novels. Beneath her work aprons and overalls, she wears pink frilly blouses.
I didn’t want a caricature, I wanted a character. A woman you could find who eschews makeup when she’s face deep in an engine but gets dressed up for fun sometimes.
Pink isn’t less than blue.
Sparkle isn’t less than matte.
Enforcing the gender dichotomy, the pink cup vs blue cup, and in the same breath insisting that anything on the pink side is stupid needs to end. We have to stop treating women as if everything they touch turns so trite as to become invisible. Oh it’s lady work, you can pay them less for it. Oh daycare, child education, that’s all lady stuff and it isn’t super important. Why should we support that? Cut the funding!