Sexualized Saturdays: Trans, Intersex, and Non-Binary Headcanons

Fanfiction is often used to give representation to minorities that wouldn’t normally be featured in the mainstream media. While this doesn’t always work out, fanfiction in general has done a decent job at providing representation, especially queer representation. And while most fanfiction featuring queer relationships is comprised of slash fanfiction (fanfiction featuring male/male pairings), some efforts have been made to give more representation to the rest of the LGBTQ+ community. For example, last month was Femslash February, which focused on celebrating queer women. Fanfiction authors who wanted more ace representation have started Asexy April. So while the majority of queer pairings in fanfiction are still m/m pairings, there has been a push in the fanfiction community for more inclusion.

Laverne CoxHowever, when it comes to transgender, intersex, and non-binary characters, there is noticeably less representation, both in mainstream media and in fanfiction. Recently, I have seen some more trans and non-binary headcanons, but there are still very few intersex headcanons. Headcanons, for those of you that might not know, are fans’ personal idea about characters which could fit into the existing canon of a show, even if the show itself has little to support the idea. Usually headcanons have some sort of explanation or evidence to back them up.

So to encourage people to write more fanfiction with trans, intersex, and non-binary characters, I’m going to talk about some of my favorite headcanons.

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In Brightest Day: James Gordon, Jr.

Last week, I mentioned that I would be talking about James Gordon, Jr. I find James is rarely discussed by Batman fans, perhaps because he isn’t as flamboyant as some of the other villains in the Batman universe.

2325103-2290380_jamieHe may not have many appearances, but when he does show up, the reader is left with an extremely uncomfortable situation on their hands.

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Web Crush Wednesdays: bettersupes

It’s no surprise to anyone at this point that there’s misogyny in the Western comics fandom. This sexism is even committed by some of the people that work on said comics, which is unfortunate because then we end up with a bunch of people circle-jerking about how super cool male heroes are and how super sexy female heroines need to be. Though in recent times there have been some pretty major improvements—such as Wonder Woman as portrayed in Justice League: War and Starfire’s character becoming a bit less based around sexual objectification—the bar really should be set higher about how female characters and the female audience itself are treated. Of course, changing an industry so set in its ways is going to take possibly until the end of time. So to tide us over, allow me to show you this amazing site that proves that the female comics audience isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. And with a tagline like “Little girls are better at designing superheroes than you”, how could your curiosity not be piqued?

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Wonder Woman Breaks Into The Boys’ Club

everything-you-want-to-know-about-gal-gadot--the-actress-playing-wonder-womanSome shocking news was released just a few days ago: Gal Gadot is playing Wonder Woman in the upcoming Batman/Superman movie.

Wonder Woman, despite being one of the biggest and most well-known female superheroes, has never been in a live action movie, so this is kind of a big deal. And as a huge Wonder Woman fan, I am ridiculously and impossibly excited, but I also have some concerns.

There is a large part of me, a very large part, that is annoyed Wonder Woman is not, as of yet, getting her own movie. But I get it; the big boys at DC and Warner Bros. don’t think Wonder Woman can carry her own movie. I’m okay with her featuring in a movie with other heroes, but here is the thing: Wonder Woman does not play fucking second fiddle to Batman or Superman.

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Oh, My Pop Culture Religion: Jewish Representation

Jewish SuperheroesHappy Chanukah (Hanukkah), everyone! Chanukah is the spelling preferred by Jewish traditionalists, but Hanukkah is also fine, because Hebrew is a bit difficult to transliterate into English. The tradition of celebrating Chanukah comes from an event about 2,100 years ago, when, after reclaiming the Temple in Jerusalem, the Jews only found enough holy oil to light the sacred lamp for one day. The oil miraculously lasted eight days, until more oil could be pressed and ritually purified. The festival is about the triumph of light, purity, and spirituality over darkness, compromise, and materialism. To learn more, here’s a rather good website with information about all things Jewish. This year, the eight-day Jewish festival began November 27 and ends on December 5, and in honor of it we’re taking a look at Jewish representation in pop culture.

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Minority Villains! Minority Villains…

3396453-mystique-x-men-25756866-1280-1024As a feminist who critiques pop culture, I often struggle with lady villains, queer villains, disabled villains, and villains of color. The reason for this is pretty simple. On the one hand, villains can be dynamic, interesting characters and I love seeing minority characters in such a role. Villains are great, fun characters who are often more relatable than the hero, and fandoms do tend to latch onto and be protective of their favorite villains. On the other hand, when almost every TV show I watch only (or mostly) has minority characters filling the role of the villain, it often speaks to the terrible prejudice in our society.

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On Games and Giving

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Gentle readers, I was raised Catholic, by a mother who believed that you could pray all you want, but if you weren’t going out and actually doing good work, then your faith was half-hearted, and that half was the easy half. Now, that’s just an opinion, and it may not be shared by all reading this. But since Sundays were the day we went to church, they were the days also devoted to charity and volunteerism. I wasn’t always psyched for it, and for much of my childhood I wished that I could play video games instead of volunteering. As it turns out, you can do both! So today I’d like to tell you about some good deeds being done at the intersection of gaming and good intentions.

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Sexualized Saturdays: Sexism Against Men and Male Stereotypes

When I get a break and can sit down and actually enjoy myself on Tumblr, I often find myself getting angry at many of the things that are posted and reblogged in my fandoms. There are many things that piss me off, but recently it’s been the extreme gender roles and sexism against certain male characters. That’s right—the feminist is going to talk about sexism against men.

3220614-batman-vs-superman-1-tptivirz0s-1024x768I have always believed that sexism affects men as much as women, but in very different ways. Men, just like women, are forced into gender roles and societal expectations that they don’t necessarily want. When teaching feminist theology to my college students, I tried to point out to the men (because I always felt no one else was) that they should be just as insulted by sexism and gender roles as the women. After classes, many of my male students approached me to say that they were angry about the gender roles men were placed into. They felt they had to always be tough—not necessarily physically strong, but that they always had to act macho and unaffected by everything. They felt threatened and uncomfortable by ideas that claimed men couldn’t be loving or nurturing as fathers; that they shouldn’t say anything about it if they felt (or were) sick. They felt pressured to avoid asking for help or working toward peaceful compromises, but rather, felt that they must always be the aggressive loner who does his own thing. These are all roles that greatly influence men’s lives today.

So what does this have to do with fandoms? Well, masculine gender roles often results in stereotyped male characters like Dean Winchester, Batman, Derek Hale, and Wolverine, whom fandoms love and think are awesome. Now, granted, many of the characters I just listed have a lot of depth. Dean, for example, really grows and develops as a character (at least in the first five seasons), so it’s not that I think these characters are necessarily negative stereotypes. What bothers me is how fandom reacts to other male characters that don’t fit the typical male stereotype.

teen-wolf-3x01-tattoo-scott-mccall1For this post I’m going to talk about the three male characters I see picked on the most by fans: Sam Winchester, Superman, and Scott McCall. I always said these three characters need to sit down and get a drink together because it really makes no sense that the fandom hates them as much as they seem to. Of course, none of this means that the entire fandom hates a certain character, but that enough people hate a character that the rest of the fandom starts to notice it and see it as a problem. (I really should point out that characters like Superman, Sam Winchester, and Scott McCall are also male stereotypes of a different sort, but that is a post for another time.) For now, let’s look at why these characters are so hated.

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Red Hood and the Outlaws’s Starfire

StarfireA while back, Red Hood and the Outlaws, a title in DC’s New 52, became the source of much outrage, and we here at LGG&F weren’t the biggest fans of it either, if only because of the character Starfire and her blatantly misogynistic portrayal.

Starfire was never really that big of a character in the DC Universe before, except for in Teen Titans, but her portrayal in the reboot has upset a lot of people nonetheless. The New 52 initially seemed to have revamped her character from a sexually liberated, loving superhero, who fought with righteous anger and the power of her emotions, into a vapid sex doll who suffered a severe case of amnesia—to the extent that she couldn’t remember who Dick Grayson, the love of her life, was. She was no longer sexually liberated or her own person. She was nothing more than a woman who stood around posing sexily in spine-breaking positions for heterosexual men.

Case in point.

Case in point.

Her portrayal in the first issue was so sexist and misogynistic that it turned me off the entire series, and I had no desire to continue it. That was, until very recently, when I saw this picture:

Capture5Like, wow, she has clothes on. That’s a little odd for her, as she’s one of the few female characters whose personality actually does allow for the more-revealing outfits. But more importantly, she’s actually doing something. And she looks awesome. As such, I decided to give the series another try, went out to my local comic shop, bought Red Hood and the Outlaws Vol. 2: The Starfire (Red Hood and the Outlaws #814), and read it all in one sitting.

I was blown away, and I think I may have fallen in love with Starfire’s character. Spoilers after the jump.

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“We Need to Get Wonder Woman on the Big Screen”

I’ve been a Marvel kid since I could pronounce the word Spider-Man. I’ve long found many of DC’s titles boring, or found that their work was too busy putzing around trying to relate to their Golden Age and Silver Age comics to be compelling. So, with the obvious exception of Batman and one or two other titles, I’m not DC’s biggest fan. One of those “other titles” is Wonder Woman. She’s an archetypal ancient Greek hero, a quintessential badass, a household name, and a feminist icon.

kevin_tsujiharaI’ve always been rather disappointed that after god knows how many Batman and Superman movies, even an ill-fated Green Lantern movie, there has been no substantive big screen or television effort for Wonder-Woman since comics’ Modern Age (although there was a direct-to-tv animated film, which was actually quite good). Some people would like to see that change, and now “some people” includes not just yours truly, but also Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara.

Having been instrumental in making a new Warner Bros. deal with JK Rowling, Tsujihara is on the lookout for new content to produce through the WB studio. He’s been rather direct in the discussion of new properties he wants to work with, saying that “we need to get Wonder Woman on the big screen or TV.”

yass_girl_wonderwomanSomeone with money, power, and real pull has recognized the massive potential for Wonder Woman titles. That makes me happy enough to pop out of my star-spangled metal bra, especially when it comes without the caveat that she’s too difficult to write or whatever. Unlike, say, DC President Diane Nelson’s rather shifty claim that “She has been, since I started, one of the top three priorities for DC and for Warner Bros. We are still trying right now, but she’s tricky.”

I understand that there’s a lot of backstory to Wonder Woman, and I understand that yes, it would be truly catastrophic if a film were produced and happened to be awful. But to me, it would seem like the solution to that is to get it together, and do it right (something DC is having trouble with lately), not to just pussyfoot around it. There’s just not a good reason why a Wonder Woman movie couldn’t be made, and made well. Here, have a video to that effect, by which I mean a cogent and perfect argument as to why we should have this movie now:

Once you’re done nodding your head in agreement, go ahead and check this out:

wonder womanI’d argue that this gives us a pretty good sense of how a Wonder-Woman film might be realized, albeit with superior production values and dear-sweet-god-I’m-begging-you-please-better-fight-choreography (it’s a long standing pet peeve of mine that many superhero movies have awful fight choreography). How might Wonder-Woman battle moral corruption and religious intolerance, while also battling the monsters of Greek mythology and the opponents of the Justice League? There’s a question a Wonder Woman film could seek to answer. Furthermore, Wonder Woman is essentially an alien, the child of gods, much like Thor or Superman, so what do we learn from her? How does she relate to a strange world in which there are new kinds of deceit and enemies are less straightforward than Titans, a world with wars whose level of pettiness had previously been reserved for fights between Zeus and Hera?

There’s not a lack of producible content; there’s not even a dearth of artists who want to work on a Wonder Woman property. What gives? As Susana Polo has pointed out, they just seem to have real trouble figuring out how to make a compelling and exciting film that isn’t about a white man. That’s disappointing. Listen up, DC/Warner Bros./Whoever:

You’re sitting on the most well-known female superhero in history, DC. Do something with her, or you’re going to let Black Widow run away with that title.