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DC Super Hero Girls is Not Pandering to the Vocal Minority

by on April 23, 2015
 

Hera almighty! DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. are banding together to launch a brand new universe for young girls! In a press release today, DCE and WB, in partnership with Mattel, announced a line of action figures, apparel, tv specials, digital content, and more all centered around DC Comics’ female superheroes and supervillains.

DC Super Hero Girls’ represents the embodiment of our long-term strategy to harness the power of our diverse female characters. I am so pleased that we are able to offer relatable and strong role models inDC-Girls-Action-Image-042015-v-FINAL-6-0b5f0 a unique way, just for girls.

Not surprising to see this happen, but it feels great knowing there will be content for girls very soon! Some highlights of the announcement included: action figures and fashion dolls with “strong, athletic bodies that stand on their own in heroic poses” and Lego sets centered around the DC Super Hero Girls. Additionally, in 2016, Random House will begin an imprint of books for young readers about this new universe. Shea Fontana, the writer for Doc McStuffins, will be tackling the story of the new universe. More merchandise and literature for girls that focus on female role models? I’m sold!

It makes me wonder if this is DC’s answer to 11-year-old Rowan, who sent a letter  arguing for more female representation. Of course, the project has been in the works for a while, nevertheless, Rowan’s letter was a truth bomb on the state of comics. Girls read and buy comics, and it’s no secret that books with female protagonists sell big. The praises for Gotham Academy, Sensation Comics, and Batgirl didn’t go unnoticed, and a superhero market for girls seems like a step in the right direction.

Women roughly make 43% of the comic fan population, so there should be more content that caters to female audiences. For about every four male characters, there’s one female character. Even more troubling is that the most frequently appearing female characters appear only 29% of the time (this is specifically for DC Comics). This means that girls see less of themselves in comics than boys, and it sends a message that comics are a boys club. The gap is improving and characters like Olive Silverlock and Barbara Gordon are leading the charge!

The push for inclusivity of women in comics is extremely important, but for real differences to be made women have to become an intrinsic part of the equation. This also needs to happen for members of the LGBTQ community, and people of different ethnic backgrounds. These groups have to become the norm or standard; this only happens if content for and about these groups continues to be made. We also need individuals and organizations that act in a way to support inclusivity and show that it’s appropriate to have diverse people in all places. This isn’t so men can be replaced, it’s so other groups can have a seat at the table.

Now, some of you might say “Isn’t this making comics a girls club?” Considering the fact that there’s never been a girls club and the default has always been male we need a girls club. It doesn’t mean boys can’t enjoy DC Super Hero Girls. Boys, just as much as girls, need to know that women are an equal part of the comicverse. Having merchandise focused on female heroes is great way of showing kids that women play a big part in the things they love.

Love for female characters is not mutually exclusive! I work in a comic book shop, I’ve met young girls who know more about Batman than most comic book fans and I’ve had young boys list Kamala Khan, She-Hulk, and Storm as their favorite characters. So, this won’t be a girls club; boys are going to want those action figures and books just as much as girls. To those of you saying it’s pandering to the “vocal minority,” I say read this thread from @jkskylerinc. It’s all about the money so you can get over your “vocal minority” bs.

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At the end of it all this is a business decision, not DCE having a bleeding heart for underrepresented young girls. Girls buy things and this makes DCE money. If money can be made then companies will try. Still, companies don’t take risks on women, so it feels pretty damn good to see DC Super Hero Girls happen.

From a personal standpoint, I can’t help but think this is a win. I understand the skepticism behind the whole ordeal. If it fails then it will just be another nail in the coffin the entertainment industry likes to put women in. We’re held to unattainable standards half the time while men get to mess up and try again. But the fact that I will get to read more lady hero stories and young girls will have access to stories about lady heroes makes me far too happy. If you think you’re too cool for all-ages titles, hate to break it to you but comics have always been political propaganda for young minds. I bet you’ll want those action figures and lego sets just as much as little girls and boys because comic book fans are just kids on the inside.

What do you think of the new DC Super Hero Girls universe? Disagree/Agree with what I have to say? Want to discuss the complexities of norm building with me? Have something interesting to add? Drop me a line in the comments below! I definitely want to here what word around the block is!

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