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Where Supergirl went wrong

Author:
Supergirl-CW-Logo

By Stephanie Wang

CN: mention of slavery

From being an unprecedented TV show focused on a female superhero and with a diverse cast, tackling issues such as xenophobia, sexism, and homophobia, season 2 of Supergirl, particularly the latter half, has morphed beyond recognition.

The cast’s behaviour at the San Diego Comic Con this past weekend mocking an LGBT ship and fans’ interpretations of the show, as well as glamorising a planet known for its slavery, has cemented the problem facing the CW’s Supergirl right now. From replacing a kind, African American love-interest (James Olsen) with a disrespectful and abusive former slave owner (Mon-El), cutting out and reducing the roles of its POC cast members, and featuring clearly unhealthy relationships, Supergirl has lost its roots as a show celebrating diversity and girl power. Now, what first attracted fans to Supergirl is the very thing that is pushing them away from the show.

If the message of Supergirl was to show us exactly what an unhealthy relationship looked like—refusing to listen to what your partner wants, guilt-tripping someone into returning your feelings, and demeaning your partner constantly—then it has succeeded. Despite several signs of a manipulative relationship, cast members, showrunners, and even the media have touted this relationship between Kara Danvers (alter ego Supergirl) and Mon-El as healthy, normal, and cute. Chris Woods, the actor that plays Mon-El, has even said that what he loves so much about his character’s relationship with Supergirl is that he gives her such a hard time. Even worse, showrunners have said that the only reason why they split up James and Kara was because they’re both “so noble and heroic.” Apparently, putting her with a “flawed” character like a misogynistic slave-owner that would give her a lot of “trouble” would be more “dramatically rich.”

It shouldn’t be Kara’s responsibility to make Mon-El a better man and certainly a show as “feminist” as Supergirl should get that. For a show which originally had themes of independence and girl power, Kara saying that having Mon-El is “enough” and completes her, as well as focusing so heavily on Mon-El in to the point that it seemed like the show was centered around him, just seems contradictory.

Interestingly enough, what showrunners laud as heroic and forgettable seems to differ by gender. Despite Mon-El’s past slave-owning roots, he’s viewed as a hero even though he does practically nothing unless it benefits his own selfish interests. Contrarily, Lena Luthor, who hails from an anti-alien family but has always saved the day and done good, is constantly treated with suspicion and hatred and never given the credit she deserves. Supergirl’s intention seems to be to provide an example of women not getting what they deserve and men being recognised for virtually nothing.

But perhaps the final nail in the coffin is the fact that Supergirl’s cast has no qualms in demeaning and making fun of its fanbase. Supergirl, naturally, has a pretty large LGBT fanbase with the coming out of Kara’s sister, Alex Danvers, and her relationship with a Latina cop, Maggie Sawyer. And with LGBT youth commonly feeling their sexuality isn’t valid and searching for representation absent in mainstream media, for the cast to make a joke at their sake is rather despicable. It seems pretty obvious that it’s generally not a good idea to alienate the fanbase that is providing your paycheck, but maybe not to the cast of Supergirl.

While season 2 wasn’t all bad—the introduction of Lena Luthor, Cat Grant’s return in the season finale, and the epic fight scene between Supergirl and Superman—there were just too many missteps and hopefully Supergirl’s show runners learn from them in time for season 3.

Five YouTube feminists to check out after unsubscribing from Laci Green

Author:
riley

By Pip Williams

Laci Green taught me a lot about my own body and sexuality when I had no one I could turn to in life. As a teenager at an all-girls boarding school, coming to terms with my bisexuality was difficult. The school servers blocked all content flagged as having explicit keywords, meaning I couldn’t access the most basic written resources about LGBT+ topics. In this instance, I turned to YouTube, where I found Green’s welcoming, inclusive Sex Plus series. Learning from her was a hell of a lot less embarrassing than trying to find answers from friends, parents, or the school library.

Green has messed up a few times in the past. Until recently, the self-appointed sex educator has been pretty good at kissing and making up with the online feminist community. 2017, however, is a whole different kettle of fish. Whilst still insistent that she’s a feminist, Green’s trajectory has taken her down a pretty concerning wormhole of “red-pilling” and transphobia.

As someone whose queer identity was shaped by Green’s cheerful sex positivity, seeing her parrot transphobic rhetoric on Twitter is hurtful at worst and embarrassing at best. I can only imagine how trans former fans are feeling.

To try and ease some of Green’s newfound grossness, here are some of my favourite YouTubers who cover sex, sexuality, and feminism. Hopefully some of them will be able to educate you in lieu of how Green educated me.

Riley J Dennis

Riley is the first person on this list for a variety of reasons. She’s an incredible trans YouTuber and feminist, but she’s also been the victim of a sustained online hate campaign. As a result, the amazing video linked below has a depressing thumbs down ratio. Ignore it. Riley breaks down the myth of “biological sex” in seven minutes, in an incredibly accurate and educational manner that takes into account the discrepancies in the usual chromosomes/genitals approach. Like, subscribe, and support this amazing creator and educator.

Marina Watanabe

Marina Watanabe’s “Feminist Friday” series tackles a massive bunch of topics, from cultural appropriation to racism, but on top of these videos Marina has in fact made a couple about Laci Green. These serve to outline the issues with Green’s recent changes of heart, and to provide constructive criticism in some of the areas she sees Green’s arguments falling down. They may be directed at one person, but there’s plenty in here the rest of us could do with paying attention to as well.

Stef Sanjati

Stef is the cool older sister everyone needs in their life. Talking candidly about her transition, her channel is a window into the daily life of a trans girl. She makes videos about all sorts of things, from makeup to dating to sex toys. In the video below, Stef chats with Chase Ross about their personal experiences as trans people having sex.

Ash Hardell

Niche questions about sex are often some of the hardest to find answers to elsewhere on the internet. Despite admitting to being uncomfortable talking about sex, Ash Hardell makes some great videos about it. This one, where Ash answers a bunch of questions about their own sexual experiences, touches on a lot of stuff I needed to hear, to know that my own experiences are totally normal – if different to those of the people around me. Ash’s channel has plenty more great stuff to offer along these, and many other lines – expect plenty of LGBT+ topics alongside personal vlogs.

Siv Greyson

Hailing from South Africa, Siv Greyson is a non-binary vlogger who makes videos covering all sorts of topics, plenty of which are approached from the viewpoint of an activist. Their video about sex addresses sexual safety and education in a culture where sex is considered taboo. It’s important to consider that the majority of resources shared and circulated regarding sex and sexuality come from US- or UK-centric viewpoints, and to uplift the voices of creators and educators from elsewhere in the world.

Ellen Jones

Recently recognised as Stonewall’s Young Campaigner of the year, Ellen Jones is a UK-based activist who makes videos about LGBT+ issues. If you want videos that feel like having a chat with a super well-informed friend, Ellen is your girl. She regularly hosts guests on her channel (with her Dad being a recurring star!), particularly in her LGBT+-centric “Queeries” series.

Summer reads 2017

Author:
sophia3

By Sophia Simon-Bashall

It’s that time of year again. If you’re lucky, the sun is out and shining gloriously down on you. If you’re British, it’s occasionally poking through the clouds a bit – and you’re chasing the patches of light whilst simultaneously groaning about the ‘heat’.

Oh yes. It’s Summer.

The best thing about Summer – in my humble opinion – is that there’s time to read, and no restrictions on what it is that you read. It makes me nervous that in a few years, my life won’t be structured around academic years, and I won’t have this open space to dedicate to lounging around, reading book after book. But I’m trying not to think about that too hard – I’ll save the breakdowns about my impending adulthood for more convenient times, such as exam season.

I’ve just finished my first year at university, where I study English Literature. I have read a few books for pleasure here and there, but I’ve found that when I’ve had free time I’ve wanted to spend it on other pursuits – by which I mean Netflix. I never thought I’d say this, but I haven’t wanted to read that much. I’ve been excited by new books and blew my student loan in Waterstones at the beginning of each term, but I haven’t read many of them. I’m generally very content to spend 85% of my time reading, but when I have no control over my TBR pile and said pile is full of pretentious essays that make little sense, and unsatisfying poetry written by white men I’m less keen. I love my degree, but it does suck some of the joy out of my favourite hobby.

However, now that I’ve had some time to decompress – and exhausted everything of interest on Netflix – I’m ready to read again. And I’m excited about it. Hopefully, you’re also feeling excited about it. It’s exciting. Books mean that not going on holiday doesn’t matter – you can travel all over the universe and across time, from the comfort of your home.

If you’re looking for some summer reading recommendations, you’re in the right place. I’m not going to patronise you and suggest nothing but novels about romance, shopping, and chocolate (which can be great fun, of course, but I’m tired of the assumptions that these kinds of lists tend to make). There are plenty of places you can go to for that. Powered By Girl is here to give you an alternative.

If you’re a fan of graphic novels, try….

PERSEPOLIS by Marjane Satrapi. All of Marjane Satrapi’s work is wonderful, but this is definitely the place to start. It’s an autobiography of her childhood and young adulthood, depicted in a beautiful and distinct style. Marjane grew up in Iran, during and after the Islamic Revolution, and PERSEPOLIS provides a great insight into what that was like. It is situated in personal experience but it also reveals a lot about the history and politics of the time. If you’re looking for something more lighthearted, EMBROIDERIES is fun and engaging, and is a completely unique work. It’s also a personal favourite of mine, just saying.

sophia1

If you’ve been watching The Handmaid’s Tale, try…

THE POWER by Naomi Alderman. This book has the greatest concept ever. Women can kill men with touch. If that isn’t the ultimate superpower, I don’t know what is. I also love ONLY EVER YOURS by Louise O’Neill, a novel heavily influenced by Margaret Atwood’s feminist masterpiece. It thoroughly critiques beauty standards and diet culture through compelling storytelling. It’s dystopian and yet hits incredibly close to home – it reflects the reality of our world and that is disturbing. If you struggle with an eating disorder, please be careful as it is brutally honest and does use numbers. Look after yourself and please reach out for support if you are triggered.

sophia2

If you’re pissed off about bi-erasure at Pride, try…

BI: NOTES FOR A BISEXUAL REVOLUTION by Shiri Eisner – a validating and thought-provoking manifesto for bi babes, everywhere. Reading this will make you feel powerful. It will remind you that it is not you that is wrong. They are.

If you miss One Direction and those solo careers aren’t quenching your thirst, try…

GRACE AND THE FEVER by Zan Romanoff. In case you’d forgotten, I love One Direction. And yes, I’m enjoying their solo careers, for the most part. But I miss them being THEM. To fill the void, I am reading a lot of boy band related fiction. YA authors sure do know how to fulfil a gal’s needs. GRACE AND THE FEVER DREAM does fangirls justice. It doesn’t patronise us. It doesn’t laugh at our expense. It is written FOR us. It is an ode to us and the way that we love wholeheartedly. It is fun. It is wonderful. I’m so completely obsessed with it. I think anything that I can relate back to One Direction is something I’m going to be obsessed with, but this book stands on its own in its brilliance.

Here’s to a summer of thousands of pages. Enjoy!

Being a feminist in the workplace

Author:
Office Professional Occupation Business Corporate Concept

By Lauren Ewing

This summer I am at my first real adult internship. Although I am in college and have done seminars and attended lectures at other universities for fun, I’ve never had a learning experience like this before in my life.

To me being a feminist means being confident in yourself and especially as a female. However, I have constantly been self-doubting myself. Normally some self-doubt is not a bad thing. It makes me focus and double check my work, however here I’m constantly trying to strive for perfection. And this time this attempt of perfection is what is causing my downfall. It is making me slower on tasks, and I’m making a bunch of errors.

Now you may be thinking it is the environment I’m in that is causing me to be this way – after all, my internship is with a prestigious law firm – but it’s not. My internship is with a great group of people. My boss is not only female and super stylish, but she is also a strong leader and is always on top of her game. It can be stressful sometimes in the office, and I have never seen her lose her cool. Truly she is an inspiration to me. Also, my other co-worker is the sweetest person ever. She helps me catch my mistakes and makes sure I’m on the right track. So trust me this is not an environment issue.

So what is making me so doubtful when it comes to my internship? After much reflecting I realised, I haven’t found a way to be a feminist in the workplace. Don’t get me wrong being a feminist is part of my identity and something that is uniquely part of me. I have no problem being assertive or calling people out when needed. I can easily spot inequality and speak up. I am part of organisations on my campus that try to improve the conditions of young girls in my community. However, somehow when I’m there part of my identity got disconnected.

To combat this issue, I went to the books. Currently, I am reading a great book called The Art of War for Women. Yes, the art of war finally has a version just for women and it is amazing. There is a ton of workouts in the books where you can analyse all your strengths and weakness as well as areas you would like to improve upon. This book is incredibly helpful as you become ready to transition into the working world.

One of the greatest lessons I have learned so far in reading this book is the power of knowing yourself. When you truly know yourself, you know what to do in a situation you may not have control over. The author, Chin-ning Chu is great at breaking down Sun Tzu’s intricate work. She also gives practical advice for the business world and how to compete with men even when it is a male dominated field. Chu’s explanation of Sun Tzu’s work also allows for more feminism in the workplace.

Another great read is Women Don’t Ask. Although this book is a little older, I find it to be true in every sense. Not only is it about the women in the workforce, it is about women in general, we simply don’t ask for things. After reading this book, I found myself constantly wanting to be more involved with my life. I wanted to participate more in class and ask for more leadership opportunities.

After looking over information and reminding myself of the lessons, I have learned over the years that I shouldn’t hold myself back even if I think I’m unqualified. I learned that it was okay for me to feel like I was under-qualified. This was an internship, an opportunity for me to grow and to ask questions. This opportunity wasn’t the place for me to know everything.

The danger of To The Bone

Author:
to the bone

By Sophia Simon-Bashall

Content note – eating disorders, anorexia

Netflix have done it again. They’ve managed to create something dangerous, and they’re trying to pass it off as helpful, a conversation starter. The show Thirteen Reasons Why (which, somehow, is being renewed – help us all) came under a significant amount of criticism, all of which was completely fair. The show was trivialising, unnecessarily graphic and triggering, and may have even inspired tragic actions taken by viewers.

Unfortunately, Netflix hasn’t learnt its lesson following the response to their show. Either that, or it really does value money over peoples’ lives – because the sad fact is, people are drawn into media such as this, especially when they’re already vulnerable. This is what concerns me most about the site’s new film, To The Bone. If you haven’t already heard about it, To The Bone is about anorexia. It’s about a middle-class white girl who is conventionally attractive, cisgender and heterosexual. It’s a story we’ve all seen before – because media surrounding is very much a visual phenomenon. And that is a major problem.

The trailer alone was enough to be upsetting, and caused considerable damage instantly. Stills from the 2 minutes and 24 second teaser have been put up on pro-ana sites, and tagged under ‘thinspo’ on Tumblr. Some might find this shocking, but I’m not at all surprised. As an eating disorder survivor, with anorexia at the heart of my history, that trailer made me deeply uncomfortable. Even though there was much they got wrong, the images portrayed were familiar – painfully so. The close-up shots of Ellen’s – the main character’s – protruding bones looked just like the images I used to scroll through, just like the image of ‘success’ I had pinned in my mind. I am ashamed to admit that my immediate response was not to be upset or even angry. I paused the trailer on the shot of her jutting spine and I thought “that used to be me”. I thought “I could be that again”. I thought “I could do even better”.

The makers of the film have defended their choice to use imagery such as this. They have said that it is meant to ‘serve as a conversation starter’, not to glamorise eating disorders. Whilst that’s a worthy intention, there would have been far better ways to go about this. They may not have wished to romanticise anorexia, but that is precisely what they’ve done. Depicting how sick and unhealthy it is to do these things to your body isn’t going to put people off if they’re in a vulnerable place. It’s not going to help sufferers of anorexia realise that what they’re doing is harmful. For many with the illness, that is precisely the point. Besides, how can these images of sickness be categorised as ‘undesirable’ when they are not at all dissimilar to those we see in magazines, on catwalks, on red carpets? How do we understand Ellen’s behaviours as disordered when they are those which we are all actively encouraged to partake in by the media and those around us? How do we separate this depiction of anorexia from the images and ‘tips’ used to fuel the illness?

I know that people who will be harmed by this content will watch it, because I am one of those people and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since the trailer was dropped. I feel compelled to watch it, not because I expect the film to shed any light on the reality of living with anorexia, nor because I think it’s going to provide a sense of hope. I’ve felt compelled to watch it because I have an eating disorder, and eating disorders thrive on this sort of thing. I’ve been sucked in by this film, and I’m over four years into recovery. I’ve been set back by it, and I’ve built up a lot of resilience against disordered thoughts and external triggers. It terrifies me to imagine how those new to recovery, or not yet ready for it will be affected. It terrifies me to think how this film will be used by people who are so sick that they see the portrayal of Ellen’s sickness as aspirational and inspirational. It terrifies me to think that those at Netflix genuinely believe that this could be anything other than incredibly harmful.

If you need a support with an eating disorder you can visit www.b-eat.co.uk (UK-based) or www.nationaleatingdisorders.org (US-based)

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