On Tuesday morning, I waited for almost two hours to vote. It was a big moment for me, and whatever your politics, it shouldn’t be hard to see why. It mattered when I got to check the box for President Obama, and it mattered Tuesday, too. I stood in line at 6 a.m. with several parents holding little girls, with college students, with seniors, many of them women. I left feeling nervous, disgusted that it would be even a slightly close race, but mostly feeling uplifted. I voted for a woman for president. How amazing. How overdue and wonderful.
This morning, I woke up to President-Elect Trump. I don’t want to write about that, not even a little. I want to write the piece I was supposed to write, and so I still will. It matters, maybe even more now. Now I write it, not in celebration of a milestone, but in defiance.
This morning, I believe in Supergirl.
The Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo played host in March to its usual roster of stars and artists, among them “Supergirl’s” Melissa Benoist and Chyler Leigh. They walked into a packed ballroom for a panel moderated by “Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s” Clare Kramer, and talked about their television series, about playing heroes (super- and otherwise), about the crossover with “The Flash,” and whether Leigh’s character Alex Danvers would ever become one of the DC Universe’s cool female superheroes. As the clock ran down, the line of would-be Q&A participants remained long, and that’s when the three women onstage did something really cool.
They asked everyone in line who wasn’t a young girl to sit down.
What followed was 15 minutes of girls, many wearing red capes of their own, asking questions to the “Supergirl” stars. One girl said she was excited, because her name is pronounced Car-a too, and it’s so great there’s a hero with her name. Another, a girl who couldn’t have been more than 12, asked how they feel about the fact that so many female heroes and villains wind up in hypersexualized costumes. Leigh and Benoist’s jaws both dropped.
“Do you want to come work for the show?” Benoist jokingly asked, before she and her on-screen sister honored a young girl’s thoughtful question with equally thoughtful responses.
This morning, I believe in Wonder Woman.
I believe in the character created by a man to demonstrate the kind of woman who could, and should, rule the world. When “The LEGO Movie” debuted in 2014, it marked the first big-screen appearance of Wonder Woman, ever. That’s insane. But now it’s 2016, and a new trailer for Gal Gadot’s first solo outing as the DC Comics icon exploded last week across the internet, where it has racked up more than 14 million views (and counting). Gadot opens the footage, a thrilling two minutes and 30 seconds of bad-assedness, with a voiceover:
“I used to want to save the world, this beautiful place. But the closer you get, the more you see the great darkness within.”
I believe in Lynda Carter, who joined “Supergirl” this season as the President of the United States on whatever earth Kara and company inhabit. I believe in a show that said, “Now, who should play the President?” and chose Wonder Woman. I believe in the performer who got that call and said yes. I believe in the writers who made the President of that show female, because they can, and the higher-ups who supported that choice. Women can be heroes, they can be CEOs, and dammit, they can be President.
In the months and years ahead, if you need a lift from the darkness, head to a comic convention on whatever day has the most family-friendly events. Wander into the middle of the showroom floor and look around. You know what you’ll see? Rey, everywhere. Jyn Erso, everywhere. Kids who watched the moment the lightsaber flew into Rey’s hand and saw that girls could be Jedis, too. It’s a potent thing, and it’s proof, like the line of girls who wanted to ask Supergirl a question, like the women who watched that “Wonder Woman” trailer and fist-pumped the air, that representation matters.
Earlier this year, comedian Leslie Jones was subjected to so much misogyny and racism that she quit Twitter. The reason? She dared pick up a Proton pack. She rejoined the social network, because there are decent people out there too, and because she wouldn’t be bullied. This morning, I believe in Leslie, because in 2016 she also got the chance to share this:
— Hoe Dameron (@hoe_dameron) October 13, 2016
I believe in in Leslie, and in Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy and Kate McKinnon. I believe in the women who were willing to endure so much hate just to make a comedy where nobody worried about getting a boyfriend and no one was saved by a dude. I believe in “Ghostbusters,” and I believe in all the little girls who picked up proton packs of their own and busted their hearts out. I believe in the writers who defended the movie’s right to exist, knowing what it would bring into their digital lives. And I believe in my friend Allison, whose big takeaway from the movie was this:
“I can’t remember the last time I saw a woman in a bad-ass action sequence without also seeing her cleavage.”
Women deserve to see themselves in pop culture as something other than the love interest, the mom or the frigid bitch. That’s especially true of trans women and women of color, who see far less of themselves than white women do. It’s not a matter of playing to a demographic, or a ploy for money, or a way to appease what pockets of the internet call “SJWs.” It’s a matter of showing women, and young girls in particular, that their choices aren’t limited by their gender, and it’s more vital now than it was 24 hours ago.
“Never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams,” Hillary Rodham Clinton said this afternoon in her concession. She said it because today girls everywhere needed to hear it. They’ll need to hear it tomorrow, too. They need to hear it every day, and see it, and know it in their bones.
That’s on the people who create media, and on the people who consume it. It’s on all of us. It’s on us to celebrate and champion Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Riri Williams, Rey and Jyn, Kamala Khan, Monica Rambeau, Carol Danvers, Storm, “Jane the Virgin” and “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” Jessica Jones, “Queen Sugar,” Black Widow, Squirrel Girl, Mockingbird, Alana, “10 Cloverfield Lane,” Michonne, Misty Knight, Hermione Granger, and the wonderful damn Ghostbusters. It’s important to champion these characters and properties even if you don’t care for them yourself, because some little girl is out there, learning every day about all the things she can’t be.
So today, I celebrate those characters and stories. I celebrate Gail Simone, Rachel Bloom, J.K. Rowling, Paul Feig, Melissa Rosenberg, Ava DuVernay, Patty Jenkins, Chelsea Cain and all the other people out there making sure girls (and grown-up women) are being told all the things they can be. They can be brilliant, and they can be flawed. They can be funny, and they can kick ass. They can be scientists, artists, writers, engineers, and busters of ghosts. And not today, but soon, one will be President.
Today, I believe in everyone who makes sure girls never learn otherwise.
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