In a world where life can be scary and unpredictable, many people find solace in comics, video games, movies, and TV shows. These take us away from a world we don’t always want to be a part of; and transport us to another universe to get a breath of relief. The great thing about these forms of media is that people connect with them. We love our favorite characters because we relate to them on some level. The more a character is like us, or is dealing with the same issues as us; the more we care. This creates a beautiful opportunity in nerd culture to be more diverse and inclusive on all levels.
Today we’re going to talk about women.
Women have had to fight to have their voice heard. Even with victories in history, there is still a struggle to this day. Luckily, there are many women in nerd culture who are now being recognized, respected, and influencing others.
The first, and oldest heroine is Wonder Woman. She is tried and true, and has been around since 1941. The Amazonian is the most popular female comic book superhero of all time. She has been around for generations of girls to look to as a symbol for empowerment and independence. With the recent release of Wonder Woman (2017), this has continued to influence women. Though her beginnings challenged the societal norms at the time, her legacy with DC Comics had lead other artists to create more iconic women.
Marvel has created strong female characters from Black Widow to Captain Marvel, but one that has stood out recently is Jessica Jones. First appearing in Alias #1, she is an extremely powerful superhero who eventually ends up being a private investigator. Her portrayal by Krysten Ritter in Netflix’s Jessica Jones has turned heads and the series was arguably one of Marvel’s strongest TV franchises yet. Her tenacious and dominant personality has left all damsels in distress in the dust.
Not only did the series have several dynamic females in the cast, it also dealt with rape culture. This is something that is hard to articulate and has many emotions tied to it especially in light of recent court rulings and the popular #MeToo movement. This is a huge problem that women deal with and the TV series navigated those issues the right way. Not just regarding the physical aspect, but on a physiological level and how it can manipulate and destroy a mind.
Another great thing about this series is that when season two came out, every single episode was directed by a woman! This is a fantastic change for the television industry.
Women are becoming more prominent in the entertainment industry, especially with Disney. When they bought Lucasfilm in 2012, no one knew the drastic but pivotal shift the Star Wars universe was about to make. The first big one was Rey in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Finally having a female lead in a Star Wars movie was a breakthrough. Rey is tough, resourceful, and a fighter. Her significance is huge, and it seems it’s only the beginning of a series of strong female role models. One year after Episode VII we got the gift of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Though there was some skepticism, the movie was a huge hit, partly thanks to Jyn Erso. As the hero of the movie, this is one of the few times a woman has been the center of a Star Wars film and saved the day. Jyn had the rebels and friends supporting her; but for once there wasn’t a man that came and saved the day or a man that whisked her away in romance. She did it herself. This isn’t the only time Star Wars has had dynamic females, but it was refreshing.
In the older Star Wars films we have Padme and Leia who were both dominant characters. With the recent passing of Carrie Fisher the world has taken notice of how Princess Leia influenced women everywhere. Leia was portrayed with such power and leadership, she made way for many other women to take steps. We finally got feminist heroines that the world has needed for so long. Because of these women, generations of young girls will be able to see them and think, “I want to be like them and save the world.”
While most media has had issues with diversity and representation, more genre media has taken an effort in focusing on inclusiveness. From the original Star Trek, and this new generation of Star Wars, comic books, and fantasy films, nerd culture is growing in its diversity to support and represent more and more of their fans.
Many people look to superheroes to give them hope in a fallen world, and when that hero is like you- suddenly it’s a little easier to get through the day. When you know there are others like you going through the same thing, you aren’t left feeling alone.