Smart is a Super Power: My So-Called Secret Identity’s Kickstarter Campaign

My So-Called Secret Identity, the comic series in which a young woman named Cat takes on the terrorism and false superheroes of Gloria City with merely the power of her intelligence, ended last issue on a cliffhanger. According to Will Brooker and his co-creators Suze Shore and Sarah Zaidan, Issue #5 will be the final part of the story that completes MSCSI Volume One which we won’t be seeing online until 2015. Talk about one very long “to be continued …”

That is, of course, if you aren’t taking the Kickstarter Campaign into consideration.

It seems as though “smart” isn’t solely limited to Cat. If you back My So-Called Secret Identity, not only do you — at the bare minimum — get access to the next issue far sooner than 2015 (around October 2014), but in addition you have the potential to gain deluxe copies of Volume One, unique art work, your own name listed as a sponsor and even the signed and unreleased script for Issue #6.

Think about that: not only do you get the next issue of MSCSI in advance, but you can be listed as one of those people who aided a work that represents women in comics as three-dimensional individuals, promotes the inclusion of more diversity into the medium and, in your own way, become part of comics history. From all this, you can obviously see the minds from which Cat gets her intelligence.

I also want to make one other thing very clear. While I had criticisms with regards to some of MSCSI’s pacing, you also have to consider this. What we are looking at right here, right now, is the development of a story from its early stages all the way until the saga’s very end. As a creator in my own right, I can tell you that you can plan out everything and even follow it, but you will develop and change over time. And not only does My So-Called Secret Identity continue to have great characters, concepts and potential,  it is also my opinion that it is — and other works with strong and realistic female characters are — important.

It is very important.

And understand this. You all have a superpower. It is called being intelligent. It is called being smart.

So please: read the series as it is so far and then go My So-Called Secret Identity‘s Kickstarter and consider helping Gloria City unfold: and backing the voices of Cat and her friends.

Why Don’t You Just Make One? My So-Called Secret Identity

“Well, if you don’t like how women are portrayed in comics, why don’t you make your own comic?”

You can substitute the subject of this knee-jerk reaction in the form of a question to other media such as film, television, or video games, but the gist of it is pretty much the same. Usually this question is “asked” in an attempt to silence critics, or to reduce their observations about pop culture into “nitpicking” or something completely non-constructive. Most critics ignore this loaded question because creative works — at least in the area of fiction — are not their focus or area of expertise.

However Dr. Will Brooker, popular culture expert and Batman scholar, decided that in addition to criticism he was going to actually answer this question: in the form of My So-Called Secret Identity.

Brooker and his fellow artistic collaborators the illustrator Suze Shore and PhD in superhero art Dr. Sarah Zaidan, realized that while it wasn’t nearly enough to criticize the portrayal of women in mainstream comics,  it would definitely be a step forward to create a comic that could represent them as three-dimensional human beings. They, along with an extensive and predominantly female creative team, are managing to accomplish this and more.

So what is My So-Called Secret Identity about? It is a comic about Cat: a student of philosophy and literature and daughter of a policeman. She is a young woman who sees and understands the links between different subjects and is sick and tired of pretending to lack the intelligence that she truly possesses: that many have underestimated or believe that she fakes.

My So-Called Secret Identity

Cat, also known as Catherine Abigail Daniels, loves her home of Gloria City and wants to do her part to save it from the terrorism of the supervillains that also dwell within it. Unfortunately, her other obstacles seem to be the self-styled “superheroes” of Gloria City: posturing and brittle celebrities not unlike those you might see in Garth Ennis’ The Boys that, along with their villainous counterparts, use the City and its citizens as “a theatre” (complete with “a backstage” metaphor reminiscent of Neil Gaiman) and props respectively in their “morality war.”

What I really like about Cat as a character are three elements. First, she is a woman that knows what and sometimes even who she wants and will pursue them with assertiveness instead of over-exaggerated aggression. Second, she will call people out on their actions and words but also be reasonable enough to forgive and recognize that same person as a human being. She is a person that cares about people and it shows. But lastly, I am very intrigued by how Brooker and his team handle her genius. Without spoiling too much of the comic, Cat seems to have a very Humanities or interdisciplinary approach to how she attempts to solve crime: linking ideas, geography, culture, history, and facts all together in the form of a “mind-map”: in a style of collage reminiscent of Dave McKean, Eddie Campbell, or even Daniel Vallely.

My So-Called Secret Identity Mind Map

It’s very psychogeographical. God, I love that word.

In a sense, Cat’s method of learning is actually through creating art: synthesizing different elements and their connections together as opposed to analyzing and taking details apart. It is, in my opinion, simply beautiful. Unfortunately, you can also see why other people — especially her teachers and bosses throughout her life — underestimate her or simply do not recognize her genius for what it is. It is frustrating to watch and understand that this stigma against her is not merely because of her unorthodox thinking: but there are unspoken gender expectations she keeps breaking because she is smart and female.

My So-Called Secret Identity Cat's Life

But Cat doesn’t let the expectations of others stop her. At this stage in her life she is determined to live her life and keep Gloria City safe: even if it means becoming an actor in the theatre of villains and heroes and especially, I suspect, when she ignores, subverts, and outright discards their rules by her very nature. I myself suspect that Cat’s story isn’t about the chic of “a secret identity” or playing the hero, but rather doing the right thing and being accepted for who she is and what she can do. Cat is not a secret. She just is, and she should be.

According to its Facebook Page, not only will My So-Called Secret Identity have a June 16th Kickstarter Campaign, the fourth issue of My So-Called Secret Identity Volume One will be coming out Sunday June 8, 2014. You can also buy hard-copies of the issues so far or read them online. So please, Like this comic on Facebook and read it. I look forward to seeing where Cat, and Gloria City’s story, goes.

David S. Goyer’s All About The Green PR0N: Starring She-Hulk

David S. Goyer seems to have an idea for a comics character reboot. And it begins with that most fundamental of tenets: going back to the basics of the character.

The very basics.

In recent a Podcast of Scriptnotes, presented and recorded before a live audience, the film director, comic book writer, screenwriter and self-professed “comic book fanatic” was given a spontaneous reboot pitch challenge by screenwriters and podcast hosts Jon August and Craig Mazin. He was not the only screenwriter presented with the reboot challenge. Andrea Berloff, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, who were also part of Scriptnotes’ aptly named “The Summer Superhero Spectacular” panel also had to choose superheroes at random to make an imagined pitch and appeal to an eager audience.

Yet while they had to settle for poking fun at amplifying and ridiculing the angst of Spiderman (an oldy, but a goody), selling others on the merits of the Incontinent Hulk, keeping Ororo Munroe–or Storm– in Africa and limiting her elemental powers to an uncontrollable “Carrie-level” of temper-tantrum, and sowing some creative confusion as to whether or not Wonder Woman really should protect her ancient Greek roots in the Southern American Amazonian rainforest, Goyer took his innovation a step further.

He got the Marvel superhero Jennifer Walters–She-Hulk–to reboot. Goyer didn’t waste any time. Faster than a speeding bullet of Kryptonite, Goyer cut to the heart of the matter. He ignored all the superfluous details of continuity added to the character throughout the years: her painfully obvious intellect, the fact that she was a lawyer for Heroes for Hire and the Superhuman Law division of the New York law firm of Goodman, Lieber, Kurtzberg, & Holliway, her tendency to break the fourth wall in order to let the reader know that she was a character in a comic book, and the fact that her transformation through a Gamma-irradiated blood transfusion from her cousin Bruce Banner brought out her own natural assertiveness and self-confidence with an integrated personality instead of a propensity towards anger and destruction.

She-Hulk Lawyer

No, instead Goyer came right to the point of origin. He explained in some detail that She-Hulk is a female shadow of the Incredible Hulk–you know, the pre-reboot one that still has control over his basic bodily functions–who captures all the sexy musculature of the Hulk without challenging the sexuality of pre-pubescent boys. As Goyer himself put it, She-Hulk is “a giant green porn star.”

But that is just the starting point and she is much more complicated than that. Goyer goes on to explain to the audience that if all pre-pubescent boys identify with the Hulk’s strength and muscles, then the idealized, or fetishized She-Hulk is the woman “that only the Hulk could fuck.” If you are not the Hulk, however, you can’t fuck her and she will break you. You know, ignoring the fact that She-Hulk had lovers that were both superhuman and ordinary men she had varying degrees of affection for–who were not at least physically broken–this statement would be absolutely true. And after all,  fanboys would surely know that in order to have any real chance with She-Hulk, they’d have to relate to her, I mean literally to be related to her.

You know, like Bruce Banner: Jennifer’s cousin, the one who gave her that life-saving Gamma-radiated blood transfusion, and the very person who actually is the Incredible Hulk.

However, Goyer seemed to have a rather ingenious solution to this conundrum. It came after Martian Manhunter was chosen. After Goyer made sure to ask if anyone in the audience knew who the superhero was and then took some extra time to voice his concerns in asking  “How many people that raised their hands have ever been laid?” he proceeded to afford Martian Manhunter some of the same courtesies that he had gifted the character of She-Hulk.

He went right to the root of the issue: putting aside the fact that J’onn J’onzz had a whole life and family on his home world before becoming  a survivor of his entire race’s genocide, that he adopted his identity and even the idea of being a Martian through being exposed to Ray Bradbury’s stories, to shapeshifting into a human just so that he could help others and no longer feel lonely, and was a founding member of the Justice Society of America (the Justice League’s predecessor) in order to critique the Martian part of his superhero identity and his “overpowered nature” in spite of his inherent weakness to fire.

Martian Manhunter

Goyer’s reboot treatment solution was therefore two-fold. He decided to make Manhunter, as he’d like to call him, something angry and green grown out of a petri dish (perhaps with some influences from the aforementioned Hulk and Swamp Thing) with the sole purpose of, get this:

“Fucking She-Hulk.”

That’s right ladies, gentlemen and other beings throughout the universes. Apparently with his ongoing work on Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice weighing heavily on his mind, Goyer decided to kill two birds with one stone because, after all, what is a combination reboot and crossover other than an excuse for pornography?

But now let me talk about something a lot less serious than David S. Goyer’s ad hoc collaborations with the panel on Scriptnotes. I’m not a screenwriter or even a comics writer, so consider this an uneducated opinion. I do think that while it’s almost excusable for a panel of writers presumably involved in the Hollywood industry to generally not know what they’re talking about outside their own medium of film–save for the asinine manner in which they are making fun the fandom around the comics medium they clearly do not understand–I do think there is something very unprofessional in a comics writer and script writer of comics-based movies denigrating not just two franchises (including one that he’s already in the process of working with), but the people who love them.

Then again, I could be wrong. I mean I’m also not a woman so perhaps I might be wrong in thinking there is something terribly wrong with making fun of a powerful female character who might have started out from sexist origins but has attained some sense of self-agency with her love life and career, but hey: I’m not a woman. I’m also not a pre-pubescent fanboy. Or green for that matter. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, right?

I mean, I only have a few modest ideas of my own. After all, a screenplay where Jennifer Walters is shot, only to be saved by her cousin, having to struggle with her personal life, adjust to her powers, her apprehensions, and her newfound nature that’s really always been inside of her while the news media calls her She-Hulk does seem pretty amateurish. It’s just like my idea of J’onn having his own movie where he has to deal with the loss of his people and, perhaps as Goyer suggests, he is reconstructed in a military laboratory from basic building blocks of life, becomes a detective later after his escape and gets a partner that calls him the Martian Manhunter because of his zeal and his love for reading Bradbury fiction. He is, however, afraid of Fahrenheit 451 because if there’s anything that the Martian Manhunter knows, it’s definitely not a pleasure to burn.

But no. I’m probably wrong. Green crossover porn would be so much more interesting. Did I mention that I’m looking very much forward to Goyer’s work in Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice? And The Sandman movie?

For some more interesting insights into the Scriptnotes Podcast, please read Alan Kistler’s article on the matter in the Mary Sue. And if you’d like more information on She-Hulk, you might also appreciate Kistler’s Mary Sue article Agent of S.T.Y.L.E. – Gamma Ray Glamor With She-Hulk: Part 1!

And please listen to the original Scriptnotes Podcast Episode 144: The Summer Superhero Spectacular. 28: 14 on the track is where the rebooting fun begins.

Vuckovic and Headey Explore Jacqueline Ess: Her Will And Testament

Clive Barker’s short story “Jacqueline Ess: Her Will And Testament” is not only being adapted into a horror film by the Canadian and Torontonian film director Jovanka Vuckovic, but Lena Headey will be playing the role of Jacqueline Ess.

While until this announcement I was unfamiliar with Jovanka Vuckovic or her work, and I only know of Headey through her roles in Game of Thrones and 300 as Queens Cersei and Gorgo respectively, I have read “Jacqueline Ess” and it is a fascinating story. Beware my friends, if you intend to read this story there will be spoilers.

Books of Blood

“Jacqueline Ess” is a story found in Clive Barker’s Books of Blood. It is about a woman by the same name who, after being neglected and passive-aggressively abused by her cheating husband and being dissatisfied with her overall life, attempts to kill herself only to be brought back from death with–for lack of a better word–some strange, flesh-crafting abilities. Think of it as telekinesis that can only affect human flesh and organs. Now imagine all that rage and pain that she has suppressed her whole life in being the good wife or woman and patronizingly being told what how she feels by men.

But the story is so much more than simple revenge. It subverts stereotypes. It changes Ess from a victim to an accidental instigator of manslaughter, to a murderer, and into someone who examines the very nature of power. Her sexuality, which was used by men, becomes her most overt weapon. However, again, she is not simply a monster or a villain, or a Carrie that lets her repressed emotions completely rule her powers. She is an intelligent woman that not only wonders about this power and what it means, having gained it by temporarily piercing the veil beyond death, but she also truly examines what the meaning of life is in light–and despite of–the discovery of her powers.

The very weapon that is her power, that is her sexuality, that is her body, becomes a weapon that ultimately turns on her. What this might say about social perspectives with regards to female gender and sexuality is a whole other subject entirely that will hopefully be explored in further depth, but I will say that the story manages to move this power from the place of the stereotype into the dark, red realm of the archetypal: of that primal place where life comes from, where it is changed, in that plane suspended between sex and death and, when you get right down to it, even a sense of enlightenment and acceptance.

Clive Barker has an interesting sense of horror: at least in his earlier stories such as those found in The Books of Blood. For him, horror is not only your fear of the unknown, but your secret desire for it and that place where your anxiety is forced to meet your sense of anticipation in the language of the flesh.

Lena Heady

I suppose you can tell that I really took a lot away from this story. Certainly, I can see Lena Headey making an excellent Jacqueline. Not only does Headey have a sense of portraying women of power in Game of Thrones and 300–characters that exist in traditionally male-dominated spaces–but particularly in the first Season of Game of Thrones to me she actually portrays a more sympathetic version of Cersei Lannister: someone who has power, and knows she has power as a woman in a traditional role, but who was never trained to understand it to its fullest extent or to protect those that she loves.

Headey’s Cersei understands just how subjugated and micro-managed women in Westeros truly are and even in Season Four you can see just how powerless and vulnerable she can be when her father takes her son from her. To me, it’s almost as though Headey’s Jacqueline may well be a parallel to the character of Cersei: both start out with affluence but are limited by the men and patriarchal structure of their lives, but while Cersei stays with the trappings of power and never seems to explore their origins, hopefully Jacqueline will portray her vulnerability and continue to explore her more literal and supernatural power and its nuances on the environment around her.

As I said before, I didn’t even know who Jovanka Vuckovic was before news about her film came out. However, if she can explore the details of Jacqueline’s evolution and its effects on the men and society around her, while keeping in mind Barker’s own horror genre sensibilities we will definitely see an interesting multifaceted blood-soaked gem of a strong female character and what she says about our own world: as a master of the horror genre, the sub-genre of body horror, and the medium of film tends to do.

Given the fact that Jovanka Vuckovic was an Editor-In-Chief for Rue Morgue magazine, author of Zombies! An Illustrated History of the Undead, founder of She Wolf Films, studied physical anthropology, and the fact that she made The Captured Bird, a horror-fantasy short film about a young girl that discovers a black-inky evil underlying her world only adds to the fact that I very much look forward to seeing what she does with this film. I know that many of her friends in the Toronto geek community–including some here at GEEKPR0N–wish her and her endeavours well.

Sansa Stark is a Strong Female Character

There will be book and television spoilers in this article. Reader’s discretion is advised.

A little while ago, when I first started reading George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, the books which the Game of Thrones television show is based from, I started thinking about the female characters of Westeros. I thought about what cultural practices and processes shaped them and influenced their minds into the different personalities that we as readers and as an audience get to see.

Lately my friends have been talking about Sansa Stark: particularly motivated by Julianne Ross’ article Why Sansa Stark is the Strongest Character on ‘Game of Thrones.’ Ross makes a point of stating that she is focusing on the character in the television series and not how she is portrayed in the books. She specifically goes into how even though Sansa identifies more with the traditional idea of the feminine, of the courtly lady, how she is no less a hero in doing so.

Sansa Stark is one of those characters that also receives a considerable amount of contempt: being seen as spoiled, weak, cowardly, or even treacherous but more than certainly naive.

Sansa Loves Joffrey

I will admit that when I first read A Song of Ice and Fire, I didn’t particularly like Sansa. She came off as spoiled, arrogant, and downright ignorant and selfish. But then I looked at where she came from. In fact, I looked at where she and other women came from. If you watch the television show or, more specifically, read the books you begin realize that while Westeros seems to be an awful place for anyone to live, it is particularly bad for women. You have this setting, this social structure from Westeros to Essos where rape seems to be a given act in the many wars that are constantly going on. And these are for the smallfolk women.

In Westeros, the women of the nobility or the various Houses seem to have a better existence. They are taught how to read and write. They are generally protected as they grow up and they have the guidance of various mentors and a good name to back them up. Of course, there is the patriarchy of the entire thing. When it all comes down, highborn women in Westeros marry whomever their fathers say they will marry. They are little more than dowries, breeders, and bargaining chips exchanged between the Houses in an arrangement that is otherwise part of the political bandying known as “the game of thrones.”

Now, some of these highborn women learn how to use the traditional feminine role to their advantage. They hold court and meet with their friends. They organize social settings, or they make themselves popular within these settings. Some begin to understand that power is not merely a sword or an army or even a drop of poison, but information and the right word whispered to the right or wrong ear. The point I’m trying to make here is that those women who understand how to use what is traditionally considered feminine in Westeros and are capable blending into that role, do so in order to survive and thrive in an environment that they can navigate or even subvert. This is, of course, not always the case. Arya Stark’s interests are more in line with the smallfolk, the commoners of Westeros, and martial considerations whereas Brienne of Tarth doesn’t have what many consider to be traditional “feminine traits” and prefers the straightforward and “masculine-gendered” idea of chivalry and battle prowess.

Sansa and Arya

And as Ross in her article states, audiences generally seem to consider these kinds of female characters as stronger and more heroic. However, heroism is a questionable word at best. Throughout our own history, and that of Westeros, heroism has been applied to people who have done morally questionable and even reprehensible acts. And sometimes heroism glorifies a certain kind of suffering or struggle that is, really, in the end all about survival. Someone can be in a terrible place and have to act a certain way in order to keep on living or maintain their sense of sanity because–in the end–they have no choice.

Sansa Stark, at this point in the television series, would not consider herself a hero and right now, she too and despite her adherence to a more conventional archetype of femininity, has no place in courtly intrigue. Right now, Sansa Stark is a child. Sansa is a girl who has been sheltered by her lord father in Winterfell and kept from seeing the worst of humanity. She doesn’t hate her servants and she even has a friend in the form of Jeyne Poole her father’s Steward’s daughter. But she has been raised with stories of courtly love, nobility and true knights. She is the girl that always wanted to meet her Prince Charming and ride off with him. Her instructors and her mother Catelyn in particular train her to be the “perfect young lady.” In fact, Sansa really has no idea about politics or the game of thrones and what is done to maintain power.

Sansa Holding On

She is a girl that takes her world for granted, and the illusions behind it even more so and when she gets to King’s Landing she has that veil slowly ripped off of her. Here is a girl whose childhood wolf pet Lady gets slaughtered because another wolf attacked Joffrey. Here is a girl who looks up to the beautiful Queen Cersei as something of a fairy-tale surrogate mother before she knows how dysfunctional and shallow and cruel she truly is. Here is a girl who finds her beloved prince and learns the hard way that not all princes are noble and kind.

Sansa Watches Ned Die

Here is a girl who is coerced into betraying her own father for political games she has no understanding of, who watches her father get executed, who has to look at his decapitated head and gets beaten by knights for the King–her former beloved’s–amusement.

Sansa Beaten

She is married into the House that ends up instigating the slaughter of most of her family and to a man she doesn’t love.

Here is a girl who likes tales of maidens and true knights and lemon cakes.

And Sansa gets used. And used again. And again. She ends up getting her first menstrual cycle, which her mother should have been there to talk her through, and has to share that with Cersei: all the while dreading that natural human function because of what it will mean for her value as a woman, as a breeder, in this situation. That one scene sticks out at me the most and if everything else wasn’t enough to make Sansa grow up in such a traumatic way, that symbolized it the best from my perspective.

Sansa and Cersei

Even so, she still believes in those tales her mother and tutors used to tell her. But more than that, Sansa actually cannot stand to look at cruelty and even pleads for Ser Dontos’ life when he arrives drunk to one of Joffrey’s celebrations and when she tells Margaery Tyrell of Joffrey’s true nature. An even greater example of Sansa’s moral nobility is when, during Stannis Baratheon’s siege of King’s Landing and Cersei’s descent into despair, she actually leads the women hidden away in the castle in prayer:  keeping up morale and hope while their Queen essentially fails them and feels sorry for herself. The fact is, there is still that honour and decency that her father and House Stark instilled in her as well her own sense of compassion.

Sansa Morale

She is a girl who hasn’t been warped by bitterness and shallow displays of power like Cersei or her aunt Lysa Arryn, or blinded by the idea that political power will always benefit family first like her mother Catelyn (which was far more pronounced in the books where she wanted Lord Eddard Stark to go to King’s Landing as Hand), and she is definitely not as shrewd or as clever as Lady Olenna Tyrell but again, she found herself in this entire situation as a child. And now, for better or worse, Sansa is growing up: and she is learning. She is learning the rules of how to survive in her suddenly very cruel world.

I won’t say very much more about Sansa’s journey, but I will tell you this much. She may not be a warrior like Brienne, or a rebel like Arya, or even the fierce woman that Daenerys Targaryen forced herself to be by necessity but Sansa has many strengths that already exist inside her: great intelligence, a growing knowledge of the court and its rules, as well as compassion. I suspect she might become more ruthless in some ways, but never callow or vain or arbitrarily cruel. She won’t be as direct in her lessons of power, but she will do what she has to and, if she can, maintain her integrity and capacity for empathy in doing so. And, more than this Sansa Stark has also demonstrated, through her morality, the ability to take charge and provide a deep sense of moral support, inspiration and hope: as some might think that a good queen should.

In the end, I don’t think that Sansa Stark is a hero, or a coward, or a weakling. I think that she has her own personality and will eventually find her way through the game of thrones. I think, by necessity, she will continue to be a strong female character: perhaps not the strongest, but definitely one of them.

Sansa Smiles

Why Do You Write These Strong Women Characters?

It’s amazing how one person can answer the same question more than once. It’s even more amazing how many times someone has to repeat themselves before they get to the point where they reply to the same question with multiple choice answers.  Joss Whedon–the creator of Buffy, Angel, and the Avengers film– is always asked, time and again, “Why do you write these strong women characters?” I’m not going to recap everything that he has already said. Whedon has more than done his part in answering this question and if you would like to see his responses, please watch the video linked above. Instead, I’m going to do something else.

I am going to answer this question.

Why do you write these strong women characters? This question can be modified further. For instance, the question could also be “Why do you write about strong women characters?” or “Why do you like writing about strong women characters?” or better yet, “Why do you like writing these strong women characters and why is this so important?” But now I am just being annoying in the gadfly Socratic way: answering a question with other questions. So let me give you an answer without a question mark punctuating it for a while. Women are a part of our world. They are half of the global human population. They are a part of us. They are us.

At the same time, women have different experiences. And for the longest time, even to this day and probably beyond it, the default setting in many cultures has always focused on men: on male desire, conflict, and experience: which is very one-sided. Frankly, there is a whole other segment of the global population that is also born with self-awareness, desire, wants, dreams, fears, flaws, thoughts, feelings, and something to say: and there is a lot that can be written, created, made, and said about that. And then you add the rest of it: the discrimination, the stereotyping, the impossible and contradictory cultural and societal standards, the hurting, and the imposed silences–the ones that people impose from the outside and the one that people create inside themselves out of genuine mortal and spiritual fear–where every day is more often than not an unwanted comment, a gesture, a touch, a violation, and ridicule that eats up your metaphorical life-bar faster than if you were Samus Aran in lava or acid baths, and then ask a different question.

Where do you see the inspiration for these strong women characters?

My own answer is that I see and hear about them everywhere and more is never too many.

So why am I talking about all of this? Why am I rehashing what should be old ground and said much better than me by people better than me? I am a writer. I write fiction and non-fiction. I am also male. So is Joss Whedon, but I am not Joss Whedon. I am nowhere near as established or even as cognizant. When this video was first linked to me, I hesitated. Who am I to talk about writing strong women characters? I have tried. Sometimes, I even think I succeeded, while other times I’ve realized I still need to improve to that regard: both as a creator and as a human being. Whedon says something in his speech about how a strong female protagonist can help a man express a part of himself that he might not be comfortable looking at from any other perspective. And I have to admit: I am not entirely sure what he means by that and yet it’s definitely something that can be explored further and it should be. I want to write strong women characters. I want to identify and acknowledge and put into words the strong female personalities from my own life and do them justice: to show that they have power, courage and humanity, and that, as Whedon put it, there are men who respect, acknowledge, and love those elements.

If someone asked me, again, why I like to write strong women characters I would say that I would like to write weak female characters, angry female characters, sad female characters, intelligent female characters and the whole wide gamut of female characters because, in the end, the ultimate secret here is that female characters are people: and people are interesting to write about and explore.

This all being said and hopefully done, and even more hopefully made into a redundant discussion one day that will continue to go on regardless, if someone kept badgering me about why (if and when I get to this point in the future) I write strong women characters, I would just stare them in the face and ask them the following question.

Why not?

Feel free to click on the following link to the entirety of Joss Whedon’s Equality Now Speech. Also, if you do, notice how they are talking about the “upcoming Wonder Woman movie.” This video was uploaded in 2006 and this film has still not been made. That is definitely one strong female character that I want to see.

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