Last night, my fiancÚ and I had a conversation about the relative lack of female superheroes. Yes, we have Wonder Woman and Bat Girl, but they are just cheap knock-offs of Superman and Batman. There are many intriguing female action heroes – like Storm from X-Men, Lara Croft from Tomb Raider, and Max from Dark Angel. But, while these characters are portrayed as smart and capable, they are also portrayed as sex bombs. And not in a way that affirms the power and significance of female sexuality. No, these characters are scantily clad to appeal to men.
There have been some positive female role models on television and in the movies: for example, Dana Scully from The X-Files, as well as Buffy from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and, when it comes to animated movies, Princess Fiona from Shrek. But these characters are vastly outnumbered by the Storms and the Lara Crofts of the pop culture world.
What we should take away from this observation is that what seems like “girl power” on the surface might just be a marketing ploy that is actually disempowering for women. And it’s not just true in the case of movies and television. Remember the Spice Girls? They sang about girl power while dressed up as sexist stereotypes. And more recently, girls and women have had perhaps even fewer role models than we have in the past. Real girl power is about believing in oneself and loving and appreciating everything it is to be a woman.