Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

28 November 2015

Jessica Jones is not the superhero girls want, but she is the one they need


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One of the biggest take home messages from my meeting at Mattel was that according to their research, girls want their superheroes to also save the villain.

Jessica Jones blows that out of the water.

Ok, sure, few of us are going to have our kids watch "Jessica Jones" as it is quite violent, deals with rape and PTSD and has some hot and heavy sex scenes. But I know that many of us comic book geeks allow our kids to idolize superheroes that they don't really know the whole story for. Take for example Xena. My daughter loved Xena well before she ever watched an episode. Ditto for Buffy.

What we can do is start priming our daughters to fall in love with "Jessica Jones."

For those of us who have seen it or don't care about spoilers, let me state my case.

Why Jessica Jones Needs to Be Our Daughters' Hero

  1. She gives no fucks about people liking her: She even spends the first few episodes not returning her best friend/sister's phone calls. Jessica has a mission and will stop at nothing to get that done, even if it means pissing people off. 
  2. She leans all the way in: Jessica would rather be a freelance detective than to be under the thumb of a boss. She is the boss. She makes sure she is paid what she is worth too. I'm pretty sure Jessica is the poster child for "Ban Bossy." 
  3. She calls rape, rape: Jessica was forced to have sex with Killgrave due to his mind control. When he tries to reframe it as romantic, she says hell no and calls him a rapist to his face. 
  4. Her superpower is to see through bullshit: When Killgrave attempts to rewrite their relationship to make it look like Jessica wanted to stay with him, she gives him another serving of "Hell no!" She will accept no gaslighting!
  5. She is comfortable with her sexuality:  Too often girls are raised to believe we do not like sex or should never admit when we do. Jessica is comfortable with her sexuality and unlike other superheros such as Xena and Black Widow, does not use her sexuality to get what she needs.
And back to what girls like to see in a superhero. Jessica tries mightily to not have to kill Killgrave. First she does it because she wants to save Hope from murder charges. Then when she realizes she has her own power over him, she thinks she can harness his powers for good. She does everything she can to NOT kill him. But ultimately she realizes that his evil can't be allowed to live in our world.

Perhaps with guidance our daughters can see that Jessica tried. She did her best to not kill Killgrave. Does that make this anti-death penalty advocate squirm? Hell yes. But even I was questioning keeping him alive at a certain point. Certainly Jessica was smart enough to get Hope off without Killgrave being exposed! At least that was my wish.

In the end, I think that one big reason that Jessica Jones should be a superhero for our daughters is that she is flawed. She is not perfect like Wonder Woman. Jessica has fallen and is trying to make amends while saving the world, much like Xena. As she tells Killgrave, saving a life after taking one is not a way to erase the harm done, but it does help. And really, isn't that what we want our kids to know? That even when you royally screw up, you own up, and work hard the rest of your life to do better?

Now to watch this show again. And again.

1 comments:

I found it satisfying that Kilgrave reacted SO strongly when she first said the word rape. One of the times she was pushing his emotions instead of the other way around, and Tennant's acting in that scene was amazing. So clear that the character could not stand being confronted with reality.

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