It’s a bird! It’s a plane! Nope, it’s…a feminist?
When I was a little girl, I would sit on our bright blue sofa watching Wonder Woman with my mother.
I wore silver cuffs made out of spray painted toilet roll holder wrapped around my wrists. They weren’t the real deal of bulletproof bracelets but I really loved those cuffs. After my mother, Wonder Woman (WW) was my next fave female. My eyes lit up as the theme song started and I would ‘pow, pow’ my fists in the air with excitement. I was too young to understand that she was an empowering, strong female leader; I just liked her outfit and the fact she seemed to give Superman a run for his money in saving the day.
Looking back, it was vitally important that she ran her own show and didn’t rely on a man (even a superhuman one) to come swooping in to the rescue. Much like life. WW was the original embodiment of ‘girl power’ before the Spice Girls were even a twinkle in a feminist’s eye.
Fast forward to Halloween 2015 and WW costumes were everywhere. She’s so gorgeously retro, she’s back on trend. Even celebs stole my girl crush. Alyssa Milano posted a photo from last year of her breastfeeding in costume with the caption: “#tbt 2014 Wonder Woman! #normalizebreastfeeding.” Kourtney Kardashian Instragrammed an adorable old photo of two-year-old sister Kim wearing her hand-me-down Wonder Woman costume in a throwback triumph. Ah-mazing.
There’s such an appetite for superheroes, its little wonder Netflix is getting in on the act and airing the new WW – Supergirl. When the TV show premiered on CBS it pulled in a whopping 12.94 million viewers and became the most watched show of the season.
The premise of the show echoes the story of women trying to make it in the corporate world all around the globe. WW protagonist Kara’s stuck as a personal assistant in the media while her cousin (who has the same powers) shines. Women without superpowers might just watch it and find they’re not the only ones being put upon during work hours and summon some fight to change.
Watching the trailer of the much-hyped show, a couple of things struck me. Firstly, it’s interesting that our screens are saturated with superheroes from Daredevil to Gotham. Good versus evil stories are firm faves, from fables to films, but they seem to be particularly prevalent now we’re living in days where real life terror is raging out of control off-screen.
Secondly, I love that the show’s creators have styled Supergirl to be a family-friendly show. They didn’t have to. They could have taken an easier route and opted for the more predictable Victoria’s Secret version of the female hero, reminding us once again that our sexuality is what matters most. Instead, a new generation of impressionable little girls (and boys, if they’re not allergic to bracelets) can watch a strong woman tackle challenges just like I did. That gets a big tick from me.
Can Supergirl save a generation of sexists? No, nothing can save them. There’s no reasoning with a pigheaded misogynist. You’re best to walk away from them in conversation and leave them to talk to themselves at a dinner party. Will Supergirl polarize opinion? Absolutely, which underlines our problem with women in positions of power. But this is a show with a really positive message which can plant images of a tenacious, tough woman with feisty fight and drive in young minds.
You can never have enough superheroes or leading ladies – be they soaring onto screens or succeeding in real life. Maybe if we get used to watching them permeate our screens we’ll become encouraging of women fighting to succeed all around us and start to see more of them popping up on Forbes lists. Let them jump from our TVs and become a reality in boardrooms, parliaments, schools, medicine and become inspirational entrepreneurs.
Whatever the face or name of a superhero smash hit, the words to the theme tune of the original are as relevant today as they were in the 70s when WW first aired…
“All the world is waiting for you and the power you possess, in your satin tights, fighting for your rights. Now the world is ready for you and the wonders you can do…”
That’s a message we all need to hear.