An Open Letter to Disney After Watching Civil War

Dear Disney —

Listen. I’m an Old Feminist Geek. I was raised back in the bad old days when I had to scrounge up representation in genre. Mostly I found it in battered Pern paperbacks, read out of order and missing some, which a kindly but confused librarian dug up for me. Mostly I had to make do with mentally gender swapped characters, homegrown fanfic, and trying to find some sort of an arc for Leia.

I spent decades getting used to the idea that the only women I could find in stories were all princesses who were handed over as a sex reward to the hero. (Though, honestly, I’ve never forgiven Lloyd Alexander for it.)

So I go to Marvel movies with only a small wince when I see Sharon swapped in, like a “replacement goldfish“, for Peggy. I sigh but know that it’s inevitable that she’s essentially an interchangeable dispenser of emotional support, kisses, and plot advancement. Because of decades of conditioning, I keep watching even though we have to wait until 2020 for the chance of a Black Widow movie and that the entire MCU has two female-led movies on the schedule. I grumble but don’t skip Ant-Man when the movie itself acknowledges that Wasp should be the hero.

Because I remember the 1970s, I’m moderately excited when Frozen and Brave both have TWO female main characters, even if almost every other character is male. And I’m not surprised when you fail to produce enough merchandise.

Or any merchandise at all.

Hell, I’m so old that I’m excited by the thoughtfulness of the writing and acting in Jessica Jones, even though it means that Marvel’s only woman title character is a rape victim on a revenge spree. I mean, I was raised on Red Sonja. This is just the crap I have come to expect.

So I keep handing over my money to you. You’ve got me. I’m a captive.

But my kid?

She’s being raised on Lumberjanes, Gunnerkrigg Court, Girl Genius, and Zita the Space Girl. She’s got Rey and Korra and Jyn, not to mention Eve Baird and Toph Beifong, who is both cranky and kind, in her youth and in her old age. Her introduction to Marvel was Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. She isn’t willing to settle for one Strong Female Character tossed in as a romantic interest to help our Mediocre Every Man finish his quest. She expects a full roster of Complex Women and Girls, making up half the roles, the way they make up half the human race.

So if you want her money, you better get on the ball, Disney. She’s got an allowance and a bike, so she chooses her own books, comics, and movies. And she’s not willing to deal with Hope van Dyne’s arc getting sidelined for some two-bit theif or Eilonwy giving up her magic to marry a whiny little assistant pig keeper.

I’m raising her better than that.

Fair warning.

An Old Feminist Geek Mom




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