MARTHA THOMASES: Girls’ Powers
Why do we like superheroes? There are many theories. The one that makes the most sense to me is that they arise from our frustrations with our own bodies. As someone who was once the mother of a two-year old (as well as once a two-year old myself), I’ve seen how the rage and frustration of an infant gets transformed with words into imaginative play, with storylines so complicated they would baffle Grant Morrison.
We want to fly and we can barely walk. We want to lift cars over our heads, yet we struggle to pull up our pants. We want to leap buildings with a single bound, but the monkey bars at the playground are too scary. No wonder we are drawn to superheroes.
Since most comic books have been written by men and purchased by boys, we can make fairly educated guesses about what most frustrates the male of our species. They want to be stronger. They want to be faster. They want to be more powerful. They want to be able to physically and mentally dominate.
What about women? Do we want the same things? Do we want something different? If women controlled the superhero comic book market, would other kinds of characters be more successful?
May I suggest the following:
Metabolism Lass – The woman you love to hate, she is able to eat anything at all, even cans of frosting, without gaining weight.
Multi-Task Mistress – She can tend to a screaming baby, a demanding boss, a helpless husband, all while explaining to her mother, on the phone, how to use the Tivo.
Invisible Girl – No, not Sue Richards. This I-Girl is able to walk past a group of construction workers, Wall Street traders or street kids without rousing any whistles.
Couture Queen – Sick and tired of clothes designed for people with no hips or thighs, she has the power to create clothes that actually fit, look good and feel comfortable on adult women.
Manicure Maid – It’s a cliché of modern times that if you want to show a character is spoiled, you make her complain about a broken nail. Hey, it hurts to break a nail! Despite the pain it causes, Manicure Maid uses hers as weapons, firing cuticles like bullets at badguys.
Princess IRA – Our heroine can stretch a pension check from here to Pluto, which is a useful power when women live longer than men, but earn less.
Guilt Girl – Doing amazing feats on your own is great, but she completely understands that you don’t have time to help her overcome the monstrous evil she faces. Really, it’s okay. She’ll get by. Don’t trouble yourself.
Have ideas of your own? Put them in comments!