There is a reason why Wonder Woman was on the cover of Ms. #1.
There is also a reason why women get so mad when the fictional characters that have become feminist icons are treated poorly. They are what we grow up wanting to be and who we look to for strength when society tells us we “can’t”. These women are our power fantasies in a world where we have to continually fight to be respected. When you can count on cat-calls and are almost guaranteed to be making less than a man doing the same job, seeing Wonder Woman say “There’s the door spaceman,” or watching Leia strangle Jabba after enslaving and sexually exploiting her make you feel empowered.
How many women have been inspired by Lois Lane and Sarah Jane Smith? Or looked to Catwoman when they need to be reminded that they can be both sexy and strong?
In a world where girls are groomed by the media to be princesses, damsels in distress, and manic pixie dream girls, having kick-ass characters to look up to are a necessary foil. They are the characters that show girls and women how strong we can be and how much change we affect. Heroic women are there to teach (and remind) us that we don’t need to take any of the crap that is thrown our way because of our gender, that we are more than the limits placed on us because we’re “just a girl”.
This is why women hold these characters in such esteem. It is also why we get so angry when these characters are degraded or relegated to window dressing. They are our heroes. The only princess I wanted to be as a child was Leia. There are days I still want to be Catwoman.
Don’t our daughters deserve to feel the same way?