I used to consider women pitifully weak and pathetically delicate. For this, I blame Marvel Comics.
As a boy in the 1960s, I was seldom without my nose in one of that company’s fables. From them, I learned many valuable life lessons.
Always lock the portal to the Negative Zone.
Never ignore your spider-sense.
Mutants are people, too.
But I also learned that womenwere fragile and decorative. In The Avengers, the Fantastic Four and the X-Men, during fighting, the girls usually stood – or were ordered – to the side, ifthey had even been allowed to go on the mission.
Occasionally, Marvel Girl would trip a bad guy with her telekinetic powers or the Invisible Girl would throw up a force field. Then they would promptly faint from the exertion. Once revived, they’d start dinner.
This was a pretty common mindset back then, but you wouldn’t think it’d have much currency now. Apparently, some of us think otherwise.
Or, to put that another way: Where’s Rey?
That’s the hashtag of a Twitter campaign that has exploded in recent weeks. Rey is a scavenger and a scrapper; she pilots – and repairs – the iconic Millennium Falcon spaceship, and she’s handy with a lightsaber, too. Rey is the undisputed star of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
Yet the new Star Wars-themed Monopoly game doesn’t have her in it. Ditto the Millennium Falcon playset. Ditto a six-pack of movie figurines.
A Hasbro toy company spokesperson told Entertainment Weekly that the character was omitted because her inclusion would have revealed a key plot point. The company said Rey will be featured in the second wave of toys reaching stores this month.
Which may sound reasonable until you remember the same company has faced the same complaints before. Last year, the omission of Black Widow from much of the Avengers merchandise caused Mark Ruffalo, a star of the films, to tweet a plea for more Widow toys “for my daughters and nieces.”
Toys are the medium by which children act out their aspirations and dreams. My granddaughter, Lena, who is 6, regards herself as a princess. And a superhero. She sees no reason she can’t be both and I want her to have toys that help her maintain that sense of herself as a person to whom all possibilities are open and for whom gender is no barrier. Girls need to know that they can do anything.
But it is also something boys need to know, especially if they are resistant to the idea. Although, I’m not sure if boys really are resistant or if Hasbro just assumes they are.
You hate to think that boys would be stymied by the idea that a hero can be a woman. Surely we have done a better job of teaching our sons that courage has no gender.
Maybe that’s something we couldn’t be expected to understand when I was a boy a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. But haven’t we all grown up some since then?