After reading the article “Are things getting better or worse when it comes to women’s media representation?”on Bustle, I started to think about women’s representation in geek media. By geek media, I mean comic books, tv shows, movies, and so on that are popular with folks who identify as “geeks.” As the article points out, women are exposed to media for hours each day, probably not helped by our constant access to the internet, and geek women are no exception.
Our exposure to media is sometimes great – seeing our favorite TV show finale. And sometimes not so great – sexist internet memes. In that spirit, we’re looking at the good news and the bad news for women’s representation in geek media:
The Bad News: We Still Don’t Have a Wonder Woman Movie
We’ve been waiting years for the announcement of a Wonder Woman movie and finally we have news that Gal Gadot signed a three-movie deal to play Wonder Woman in Superman v. Batman, a Justice League film, and, finally, a stand-alone Wonder Woman movie. After a failed TV show launch, we really hope that the Wonder Woman film is awesome, though critics are worried the dark, gritty tone of the Batman & Superman films will not fit well with Wonder Woman. Also, where is our Black Widow movie?
Want to know why the Wonder Woman TV show was canceled? Check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7khlfSE9Xmg
The Good News: Orphan Black is the Women-Focused TV Show We’ve Been Waiting For
There are plenty of women-focused shows on TV, but many of them are reality TV that show as many stereotypes they can cram in a 45 minute show. Orphan Black is a breath of fresh air with dynamic female characters in a sci-fi show – perfect for geek women looking for interesting women in a genre that should be challenging norms, but often finds itself just as mainstream as network television. Women are underrepresented on TV, not just in main roles, but also background extras.
Besides the fact that Tatiana Maslany’s performance as multiple clones is amazing, the show passes the Bechdel test and the female characters run the gamut of personalities (no flat female characters here). While many TV show execs are claiming audiences will not watch shows with many female leads, Orphan Black has successfully challenged that notion with record-breaking viewership.
Check out how they get three clones in one room: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4rALHr8gV1E
The Bad News: Women Underrepresented in Media Means They’re Underrepresented in Merch
If we’re not seeing women in the movies, then we’re also not going to see them in the merchandise, right? What about when we do have great female characters in the movies? Of course…. not. When merchandise for Guardians of the Galaxy was released, Gamora was not featured on much of anything, and inspired the Twitter hashtag #whereisGamora. In fact, when I was traveling in Orlando this summer, I did not see any Gamora merch in the Disney stores at all.
In fact, many options available to women (because we couldn’t possibly buy a men’s shirt), only talk about women as superhero’s girlfriends, wives, etc. The fact that this starts with baby’s pajamas makes my skin crawl. At least Her Universe has stepped up with a t-shirt featuring only the women of Guardians, but hopefully we’ll start seeing more mainstream options as well.
The Good News: We’re Getting a Supergirl TV Show
After getting a few superhero TV shows with male leads (Arrow and The Flash) and ensemble cast (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), we’re finally getting a female led superhero show! And it’s going to be on a major network (CBS). Not much is known about the show, but here’s hoping it does us proud.
What does this all mean? There’s definitely a lot of good things happening for women in geek media, but there’s also a long way to go. Of course, one of the best ways to make change is to purchase media that matches your interests and treats women well. You can also let the companies, writers, producers, etc., know what you want to see and why. Many companies have started responding positively to customer feedback that points out when women are being mistreated.
Author: Carolyn Noe
Carolyn is the Founder & Executive Director of Super Heroines, Etc. She is a recent transplant to Cincinnati and lives with her husband and her dog. She regularly nerds out about Parks & Rec, Firefly, and Pride & Prejudice.