I remember seeing a tweet a long time ago that said something to the effect of, “One bad Catwoman movie and we never get a female superhero anything ever again, but Ben Affleck fucks up Daredevil and gets to be Batman.” Until Arrow, there were hardly any TV shows or movies with female superheroes in them, and the things that we did have were…Avengers, where there was exactly one- Black Widow. I don’t have time to get into everything wrong Joss Whedon has ever done to my girls, but just know that for every good thing he does with Black Widow, there are two bad things. So, it’s hard to love Avengers when that’s happening.
Now, I write about Arrow all the time (I'm bad at linking stuff, but if you click the tag for Arrow at the bottom, you can read all of my posts about Arrow). It’s because from season one, we got Laurel Lance- a complex, angry alcoholic who stood up for herself at every opportunity. For me, to quote Grey’s Anatomy, Laurel was a breath of fresh air. I hadn’t seen female characters like her outside of Shondaland and her creation was so important to me. And here she was, in the least likely of places- a show where the main image associated with it is a shirtless pretty white boy! As the series developed, we got Felicity (though not a typical superhero, is crucial to the team’s ability to fight crime which is hero-worthy to me) who I’ve written about, and who I love deeply. We got Thea, who is another complex character who has a very interesting story arc and ends up a superhero. We got Tatsu aka Katana, who I don’t even need to elaborate on. And, we got Sara “No woman should ever suffer at the hands of men” Lance. So, I defend Arrow as hard as I can as often as I can, because now, in season four, the team is mostly these women and it is wonderful.
With a show like Arrow, there is inevitably the squadron of male nerds who slither their way out of the hellmouth to try their best to ensure that women can’t enjoy these characters. They cut them down every chance they get, they question every decision they make, they nitpick every detail of everything they do. It must be exhausting, to not be able to enjoy a female character unless she’s literally and figuratively bulletproof. And yet, here these nerd dudes are, cutting Laurel down. Mocking her each time she fails, when, for example, Daredevil failed all the time but instead of being “weak” or “bad at fighting” (arguments I’ve seen made against Laurel), he’s “learning” and “realistic”. Male nerds will come up with ANY way to defend male superheroes, but have no interest in defending female superheroes. This is obviously not a coincidence, as sexism and misogyny are prevalent in society.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the third season of Arrow does the best job with its treatment of female characters, and that the third season is widely accepted by male nerds as being “the worst season yet”. They blame it on the plot…. and yet they suffered through season one with me, and that shit was ROUGH. Suddenly the show has a multitude of female superheroes but it’s during “the worst season yet”. Nobody is fooling me with those bullshit arguments.
Now, I don’t think it’s linked to Arrow’s push to have more women in the show, but this year we’ve gotten Scarlet Witch, and we got Supergirl and now we’re getting Jessica Jones. I think that it’s because of women making ourselves heard about not being represented in a world that is ours too. But with our increased representation, there is an increased pushback from male nerds.
I’m an avid TV watcher, I have a lot of nerd friends, I pay attention to the reactions to things featuring women. Supergirl aired two weeks ago, and I haven’t seen a superhero show be so widely loved since Daredevil. It’s really great to see, because I absolutely love what I’ve seen of the show so far, and it makes me happy that it’s getting the praise it deserves. I posted something online about Supergirl being better than Daredevil, and I stand by it. I think that the shows are both good, in their own ways, but I relate to Supergirl more and it exemplifies politics that are close to my own. I think that TV needed a show like Supergirl, and I know that I needed a show like Supergirl.
So, I’m here because I want to offer an alternative thought process to all the male nerds out there who fight so hard to not love a good show like Supergirl just because it’s about a woman- just let yourself love it. Let yourself love Kara Zor-El. Stop searching for her flaws and instead celebrate all of the ways in which she is wonderful. And then take that love and acceptance and understanding and apply it to Laurel Lance. Apply it to Jessica Jones. Apply it to the women and girls in your actual real lives. Stop fighting us and stop cutting us down and just support us and love us and care about us. Stop letting your nerd friends cut us down, and instead encourage them to love and support us and care about us. I promise you that it’s a better way to live. I know it’s fun to argue about how and why which characters are better than others, but at least give the same consideration and defense you give to male characters to the female ones. Give the female characters a chance to be good too, and to maybe even be better than the male characters. Give Supergirl a chance to be better than Daredevil. I promise that loving her won’t make you less of a nerd. In fact, as a female nerd, it would make me trust your nerdiness more to see you unapologetically loving Kara Zor-El. To see you not being afraid to let Kara stand in the same light as Matt Murdock.
Just let Supergirl be great.