Why strong female role models are important

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Upon deciding to write a superhero story, I was in no doubt that I wanted to write about a female. The inspiration for the story and the name of the superhero come from a project in junior school where my classmates and I wrote about ‘Ultra-Man’. We never discussed the possibility of a female superhero and that was not our shortcoming alone, but a shortcoming shared with all of society and Hollywood too. In the twenty years that have passed, women’s roles within superhero movies have taken a few steps forward. Wonder Woman was a huge part of that. However, in spite of Gal Gadot’s excellently received movie; women are still overlooked, misused and underpaid in Hollywood films, especially superhero movies.

Wonder Woman is in the DC Universe, which also features Harley Quinn, Katana, Enchantress and Catwoman. All of these characters are less important than their male counterparts though – and in the cases of Harley Quinn and Catwoman – exist purely to provide conflict and/or romance with the men.

DC’s competitor Marvel fares a little better, but none of their females have their own movies. They are limited to guest starring in the guys’ films – such as Black Widow in Captain America. In fact, until the introduction of Scarlett Witch, Black Widow was the sole female member of The Avengers. One day, she may get her own movie, but it will be after most of her male co-stars have their own trilogies completed. There are two other female heroes and a female villain in the newest Avengers movie, but it’s still a very masculine-heavy two and a half hours.

TV series are doing better, with Marvel’s Agent Carter and DC’s Supergirl bringing in viewers and receiving positive feedback in recent times.

My hope is that with my new book, ‘Ultra-Girl’ featuring both a female hero and a female villain, it will inspire a new generation of children. Boys and girls alike. My school visits encourage kids to really think about equality; teaching students that it is neither boys nor girls who are stronger – but that it depends on the individual. I use the example of myself versus Wonder Woman, a fight I would certainly lose!

In a world where authors such as Joanne Rowling are forced to publish using their initials rather than their first name for fear that their books won’t sell; feminism is still regarded as a somewhat dirty word. People seem to be embarrassed by it, fearing it because of a huge misunderstanding of what exactly it stands for. Feminism means equality, it’s clearly that simple. There is still a lot of work to do going forward, and we all owe it to society and ourselves to do everything we can.

There are two trailers for new animated movies circulating currently, one is for Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph 2 and the other, also a sequel, is for The Lego Movie 2. Both of these trailers feature a reference to feminism (or lack of it). Disney’s trailer questions the main female character of being a real princess and the discussion ends with the question “Does everyone assume that all your problems were solved by a big strong man showing up?” Vanellope agrees that this was the case and is accepted as a Disney Princess on this basis. The Lego Movie sequel hints at the female lead, Wildstyle, having a lesser part in the movie than Emmet, the male lead, even though she did most of the ‘heavy lifting’. These are passed off as jokes in the trailer, and people will laugh – but hopefully the very real point being made will hit home with audiences, script writers and studio executives alike. It’s time for females to be given lead roles in movies starring men, instead of female entourage movies only, such as Ghostbusters and Ocean’s Eight.

Ultra-Girl will be ready by the end of the year and I will be continuing the female lead with stories published in Parenta’s own magazines as well as in my re-telling of the classic Peter Pan story told from Tinker Bell’s perspective. Ultra-Girl herself will appear in future books as the leader of a group of superhero children, enlisted by the government to fight crime around the country.

About the author

Richard has been writing for as long as he can remember. English was a subject he enjoyed in school as it just made sense to him. He loved to read and requested his own bedroom so that he could have a bookcase! His favourite childhood authors included Enid Blyton, R. L. Stine, M. D. Spenser, and Charles Dickens.

Characters, stories and even words he has taken in through all of those books have stayed with Richard for two decades. He firmly believes that books are integral in a person’s upbringing and that those experiences will stay with them throughout their lives.

He can recall parts of those books in their entirety, from the tone of voice described by the author to certain scenes from The Famous Five or Secret Seven. Richard loves fiction and the idea of escaping and therefore creating an escape for a reader is the very reason he writes.

Richard has written four books, three in the Fluffy the Magic Penguin series and a stand-alone book called ‘The Secret Passageway’.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/richarddodd.author/

Email: Richard.dodd@upburypress.co.uk

Website: www.upburypress.co.uk

 

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