Sexualized Saturdays: The Life-Changing Magic of Being Not Like Other Girls

As I recently read S. Jae-Jones’s YA novel Wintersong, I noticed something troubling. The book seemed designed to appeal to me: it was a fantasy romance with strong (really strong) inspiration from both the movie Labyrinth and my favorite poem, Christina Rosetti’s Goblin Market. However, something about Liesl, the main character, bugged me, and it took me a while to figure it out. Not because it wasn’t obvious, but because I thought that, in this, the Year of Our Lord 2017, we had done away with the “not like other girls” trope.

It’s a tale as old as time: a girl who’s just ~not like~ the other girls around her, against all odds, wins the day. These stories are appealing to us because these girls are framed as the outcasts; we can relate to their being bookish or plain or unpopular. But a problem that uniquely affects the female characters who fit these roles is that they often succeed or achieve victory at the expense of other women and girls, or by denigrating traditional femininity (or both). Liesl is an on-the-nose example of this trope: she is terribly jealous of her sister’s physical beauty, a trait Liesl lacks and constantly laments. Liesl is a genius composer, but her skills are downplayed or overlooked because of her gender. Meanwhile, it feels like her gorgeous sister is set up to be resented, as she at least can win men’s attention with her looks.

The cup of a carpenter is not like those frilly other cups. (via indygear)

However, when offered a beautiful fae gown by the servants of the Goblin King, Liesl instead chooses a plain dress, and this is played like Indiana Jones correctly picking the right Holy Grail. But instead of just rejecting the wealth and majesty of the other dresses, it reads as though Liesl is casting a value judgment on the majority of the other women in the book, who did choose to wear frills and finery.

This is just the latest example of this issue, rather than the only one. Pop culture has a long and varied history of celebrating these not-like-other-girls, from formative Disney flicks all the way up to watch-at-your-own-risk premium television like Game of Thrones. These portrayals enforce a terrible message: that there’s only one right way to be a girl, and that it’s totally acceptable to tear down other girls who don’t meet those standards. Continue reading

Agent Carter: “Hollywood Ending” Review

marvel-agent-carterAfter a whirlwind eight weeks, we’ve arrived at the end of Season 2 of Agent Carter. This season has certainly had its ups and downs, hasn’t it? This week, does Team Carter get a Hollywood ending? Well, yes and no. Spoilers after the jump.

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Agent Carter: “Life of the Party” and “Monsters” Review

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We got a double dose of our favorite secret agent this week, although the episodes were each a little Peggy-lite. First in body, as Peggy was still recovering from her grievous injury, and then in mind, as she made a series of uncharacteristically stupid decisions.

Spoilers after the cut!

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Agent Carter: “The Atomic Job” Review

marvel-agent-carterYet another week and yet another Agent Carter episode has come and gone. “The Atomic Job” probably wasn’t my favorite episode, but it let us get to know a couple more reoccurring characters a little bit better, and they were super fun to watch. Hit the jump to find out my thoughts, and spoilers are up ahead.

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Agent Carter: “Smoke and Mirrors” Review

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There’s nothing quite like sitting down to an episode of Agent Carter after a long day of work, and it’s an especial delight when said episode delivers above the expected level of awesomeness. This week’s episode of Agent Carter was chock full of plotty intrigue as Peggy and her posse got down to business, but it also gave us a much-coveted look into Peggy (and Whitney)’s past.

Spoilers below the jump!

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Agent Carter: “Better Angels” Review

Marvel's Agent CarterSaying “Better Angels” is the best episode yet of Agent Carter‘s Season 2 is a bit of a stretch, considering that we’re only three episodes into the season, but it’s certainly the most interesting episode thus far. There’s already a lot more chemistry between our characters than there was at the start of Season 1, where Peggy seemed constantly surrounded by a crowd of boring, white male faces, and “Better Angels” continues an intriguing journey for our newer characters.

Spoilers below the jump.

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