Supergirl is Super Sexist
I watch some terrible T.V.. I do draw the line at Duck Dynasty, Real Housewives of… well anywhere, and anything that exploits and glorifies people wallowing in white trash glory. Yes Honey Boo Boo, I’m talking to you. But if it’s Reign, The Royals, The 100, you get the drift. On my list of trash T.V. is Supergirl, a show that I both love and hate. One the one hand, it gives me aliens, great snark from Calista Flockhart’s Cat Grant, and plenty of romantic tension going around. On the other hand, I get the worst blatant sexism that I’ve seen since the original Star Trek with Shatner.
Let’s start with the uniform. She might be able to stop bullets, but is there any reason for her to do it dressed like a pinup model? The outfit made sense when she was created, but it is out of fashion today. I know what you’re thinking. She wouldn’t be herself in a different outfit. Not true. DC has updated several outfits to catch up with modern audiences. Of course, those are usually the male characters. The women have found themselves in fewer clothes as times change and it becomes more acceptable. Supergirl could be put in a pair of jeans and a Supergirl t-shirt. It would be just as practical as having her skirt bunched up under what she’s wearing for her amazing quick changes.
Have you ever noticed that Supergirl always goes from plain to pretty. Her super powers must be something. Because on top of being faster than a speeding bullet, she also can do it without the wind not touching her skirt or her hair, which has managed to get fuller, glossier, and streaked. Then there is her makeup… from barely there to full on. The real point is why? As a disguise is hard for me to swallow, though this is a body of work in which Clark Kent successfully used a pair of glasses for a disguise. But that proves the point. Kara Danvers wears glasses, Supergirl doesn’t. So why does she have to get prettier? For the same reason she wears that little skirt. Sex sells.
As frustrating as watching them tart up Supergirl is, it pales in comparison to the rhetoric used in the show. Sometimes it is subtle and sometimes it is blatant but it was always insulting. There is the paternalistic set up, the career woman who is tough as nails but has neglected her children. More lines than I can reasonably quote here, you have to sit through an episode yourself to observe that because it is simply ubiquitous. Then there is the way the romantic tension between Kara and Jimmy. She can save the city without breaking a sweat, but she is all flush and mumble when it comes to the guy she likes.
I think it is important to state that I am not what most people would call a feminist. Feminism might have given women the right to vote, among other rights. The trouble is that currently all that particular ism has done is give women the right to go to work, earning $.70 cents to every $1 dollars that the men around her. Then she has the right to not have children or have them and take on everything that comes with them. Paying for child care, spending little time with them a la Cat Grant or going home to cook dinner and pick up the house after a long day at work. Feminism gave women the right to do it all, not to be equal to men, to do far more than most men while getting far less for it. That doesn’t mean that I am immune to obscene rhetoric.
And that is exactly what this is. Obscene rhetoric. Damaging rhetoric. It is difficult to teach our daughters to Lean In be assertive, demand true equality, as it is. When that message is blurred by Miss Speeding Bullet herself, it gets obscured. So much could get done if people would band together. In this case, women could band together to boycott the businesses that advertise during Supergirl until they the show. It has worked in the past. Putting that kind of pressure on the network is an effective method. In the mean time, children shouldn’t watch it and parents should communicate with them if they do watch it. Watch it together and if you see something sexist, explain it in a way that they can understand. Supergirl may be super sexist, but we have beat that with unity and teaching future generations in the past, and we can do it again.