I love female superheroes, I love female heroes with tragic backstories and redemption arcs. Basically, I love female heroes. They’re great because they don’t conform to traditional female character roles of being quiet damsels in distress, and they show women as complex characters with stories and goals. However, while they break the mold of traditional female character narratives, these characters still overwhelmingly conform to heteronormative societal standards of beauty, gender presentation and sexuality.
So, while we should celebrate all awesome female characters, we should also be mindful of the heteronormative ideas that these characters reinforce and what type of character could challenge them even further. To put it bluntly, I want to see butch queer (super)heroines, but they‘re near impossible to find.
A while back, I wrote a post on Stargate and feminism, and said that I appreciated that the show at least tried to talk about women’s issues. Unfortunately, the episode in question, “Emancipation”, did it in the worst way possible, and it ended up being both racist and sexist. Sadly, “Emancipation” is hardly the only harmful episode in the first season. The other episode that stuck out to me is “Hathor”. In some ways, “Emancipation” is worse than “Hathor”, since the offensive material is so much more obvious, but at least “Emancipation” knew it was trying to address certain issues. In “Hathor”, one of the main characters is raped, and the show doesn’t even seem to be aware that it happened.