Stranger things is way, way more feminist than you think

Cameron Rout
Dec 17, 2018 · 29 min read

The name of the entire town is a reference to gender role reversal.
The knight in shining armor swoops in to save the damsel
Erica Sinclair displaying unexpected behaviors. Long before facing the Upside Down of adolescence, Erica is free to be herself without expectations of her gender.
“…I saw this girl, you know, trying to be someone else. But for that moment it was like you were alone, or you thought you were. And, you know, you could just be yourself.” -Jonathan Byers
The entire premise of Stranger Things revolves around Barb’s complete isolation and consumption by the Upside Down: the fate of women in general who do not conform to the world dominated by patriarchal chauvinism. This casualty is what sparks Nancy’s fight against the Upside Down as she uses her superpowers of prettiness to champion the lost Barb.
Mrs. Wheeler cares about her kids and is a strong woman, but her alignment with expectations of her gender prevents her from seeing into the struggle that her children are having with resisting the patriarchal forces and the Upside Down.

The bullies threaten the nerds because they refuse to conform to the norms of patriarchy. At an early stage of adolescence, these other boys at school have flipped their matriarchal childhoods “Upside Down” and are threatened and revolted by the ones that do not.

Will Byers as Superman in his Fortress of Solitude. Note the color scheme of red and blue with hints of yellow. The white paper on the walls resembling the ice of Superman’s fortress.
Superman in the Fortress of Solitude on the variant cover of Action Comics #977 (June 2017). Art by Gary Frank.
Johnathan Byers creating Superman by teaching his brother the superpower of resisting patriarchal norms through rebellious music.

Every character that survives the Upside Down emerges as a superhero in the battle against patriarchal chauvinism
Barb had no superpowers and so her attempt to remain independent and resist patriarchy resulted in her complete absorption by the Upside Down without even a search party to look for her.
The “Department of Energy” is a euphemism for institutionalized patriarchy, where the father tortures and represses his daughter on behalf of the state, dominating her mind and body completely in a guarded fortress. It is no coincidence that the tendrils of the Upside Down exude from this space into the larger world.
Eleven before discovering gender in her place amongst the boys.
The emotionally vulnerable Lloyd Dobler wooing the smart and accomplished Diane Court with Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes”. Basically the best scene in 80’s cinema.
Kali helps level up Elle by pointing out the source of her weakness.
Elle’s new outfit even has a little resemblance to Lloyd Dobler’s outfit (above)

As an apologetically feminine superhero, Buffy was the superhero of difference feminism of the 90s, a stark contrast to the liberal feminism that Eleven champions in Stranger Things.
Eleven closes the suspiciously shaped symbol of her womanhood to become a superhero of liberal feminism.
Elle’s demonstrates the caution behind her first expressions of femininity with a conservative dress with muted colors and

Cameron Rout

Written by

Product Manager at Google | Crypto Enthusiast

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade