Ashley Clayson blogs about comics at Blah Blah Witty Comment. She’s contributed to rounds two and three of Women Write About Comics, and today she’s going to make a case for more science-based heroines. It’s worth pointing out that not only is there a dearth of science-based heroines in fiction, real female science heroes tend to get pushed to the margins, while male science heroes are celebrated. Correlation? Causation? You decide.
Let’s Zap Some Ladies: An Argument for More Sciencey Superladies
Warning: The following post is made without complete historical knowledge of the DC and Marvel multi-verses and without rigorous research and investigation. I spent about fifteen minutes on Wikipedia, y’all. If I’m forgetting someone, please let me know! I want to learn!
So, I made a joking status update on Facebook after seeing the following pin on Pinterest:
Science Bros, by Temporary Glitch.
The status read:
A theory: today’s (still-existing) gender imbalance in the sciences/engineering is because of comics. All the boys are trying to figure out how science can help them become the Flash, Iron Man, the Hulk, Spider-Man, etc….
Of course, such a “theory” is flawed on many levels. There are too many rival hypotheses (shoutout 8012!). But as I thought about it, I realized it was reeeeaaaaalllllyyyyy hard to think of female superheroes who had received their superpowers from “science.” The only two I could thing of are Spider-Woman and She-Hulk, and I’m not even positive about them. I’m assuming they got their powers the same way as their male counterparts. Which is problematic in of itself—I can’t think of a single female superhero who received her powers from “science” who is not a female version of an already-existing male superhero.
[Spider-Woman’s powers result from a botched ‘cure’ for radiation poisoning, while She-Hulk’s powers result from a botched blood transfusion from her cousin Bruce Banner (aka the Hulk). Botched experimentation is kind of a theme with science heroes. –Megan]
Granted, like I said in the above warning, my knowledge of DC and Marvel’s multi-verses is so scant. I’m new to the comics game–only a baby–I mostly read DC titles, and most of the Image and Vertigo titles I read aren’t superhero titles. So I could be forgetting people. A lot of people. My fifteen-minute (again, not incredibly extensive) Wikipedia search of DC’s New 52 titles didn’t yield a single title role for a science-superlady. But I didn’t check out all of the ensemble pieces, so I could be missing some there.
At first I thought, “Hey, we need some more sciencey superladies!” And I do think that. If a little girl can’t put herself in her hero(ine)’s shoes, she may be less likely to actually focus on that hero and aspire to be like them. But then I thought, maybe what we need is more little girls with male heroes, and more little boys with female heroes. Less caring about what gender roles you are or aren’t ascribing to, and maybe even erasing the lines between gender roles, so that people don’t automatically think “man” when they hear “scientist” and “woman” when they hear “nurse.”
But then I remembered that we live in a society that does, in fact, define gender roles from birth, and the only way to begin erasing those lines is to, in fact, do things like making more sciencey superladies.
So come on, creators! Let’s hit some ladies with lightning! Zap them with gamma radiation! It’ll be fun! And it’ll give your daughters, wives, girlfriends, lady friends, and moms some famous female scientist role models, even if they are fictional.
I’d like to end this post with a shout-out to Barbara Gordon, who, in some continuities, is super-awesome as computer genius Oracle.
This post originally appeared on Blah Blah Witty Comment.