Intrepid Journalists deserve to be kidnapped for being Intrepid
I was going to include Lois Lane in a series about love interests, but sod it, this I feel is a more important thing to bring up.
If you look at any list of ‘Damsels in Distress’ compiled by nerd-dudes in their thirties, it’ll probably include these two women somewhere. At no point does this hypothetical bloke in an 80s cartoon shirt consider the possibility that maybe just maybe women in these careers have to put themselves in danger to get a story? Y’know, cause that’s what journalists do?
If you told Lois friggin’ Lane that she’d be safer behind a desk, she’d laugh and immediately head to the construction site full of supervillains. If you said to April O’Neill that she wouldn’t get kidnapped so much if she were a newsreader, she’d roll her eyes and be under that manhole cover before you could blink. These women know the risks. Boy howdy do they know the risks.
AND THEY DO IT ANYWAY.
They know they might fall prey to the armies of the Foot Clan or Lex Luthor, but they don’t give even the slightest slither of a fuck. They are going to get that story if it kills them and, what do you know, it very nearly does on multiple occasions.
‘But that means they have to rely on a man/group of man-turtles to rescue them! They aren’t Strong Independent Women™!’
Yeah, how… terrible? When they get in trouble for doing their jobs, they have backup. Heavily armed back up. I’ll bet if you asked an investigative journalist in the real world if they’d like a group of nun-chuck wielding turtles in their corner when they go into a war-zone, they wouldn’t turn it down out of pride.
Well, I suppose they don’t need Superman on their side when the president’s idiot son just dumps incriminating evidence on a public forum, but we expect a bit more from our fictional super villains I guess.
I mean, they are one human with a pen/camera/recorder, but they still throw themselves into danger. I’d argue that’s braver than any of Superman’s earthly accomplishments. Lois Lane has seen the end of the world and universe many many times and she has reported it. She watched the man she loved die painfully and bloodily and she reported it. It’s what Clark Kent admires about her- that she’s brave and brash and determined. She’s his polar opposite and he loves her for it. Her first love is the truth and Clark Kent is the embodiment of a truth Lois Lane is chasing. She may be a lot more cynical than him, but there’s a core of her that wants to believe she can make things better. He sees it as his job to pave the way. He maybe the most powerful being on Earth, but he considers Lois to be his equal, despite their physical differences.
As for April, again, the turtles are her closest friends as well as her allies. They don’t seem to begrudge being there to help her report an important news story, they consider her their most important human friend. Having them there, in a city where there’s a giant villain lair underneath and armies of ninjas at every turn, means she can do her job. I’d be willing to be that even if they weren’t there, she’d still do it.
All this said, I get the argument that women shouldn’t have to be put in mortal peril for the sake of male heroes and making fictional women journalists is a rather convenient excuse for this to happen on a weekly basis. This… sucks, but, again- being a journalist requires danger, or at least it does in places like Metropolis. Having Lois rescue herself rather cuts out the need for Superman all together which… works (and is the basis for these rather excellent novels).
I am also very aware that TMNT’s ageing nerdbro fanbase are uncomfortably keen on seeing her just as a sex object (just… google her and prepare to sigh in a pained sort of way). The various incarnations of her you see from the 80s and 90s do NOT help this. There is not godly reason why that jumpsuit needs to be zipped quite so low is what I’m saying. However, I honestly see her as so much more and, as far as I can see, more recent incarnations have at least attempted to make her less overtly sexualised (though nerdbros gotta nerdbro). I’ve not been all that involved in the ridiculously over-expanded series since childhood, but my hope for April was that she’d be recognised for her job? Pfft. Hope springs eternal I guess?
When all’s said and done, there’s plenty to criticise, I’m not arguing that- what I am arguing is that the one thing you really shouldn’t level at either Lois or April is their dedication to their jobs. They never asked to be kidnapped, but by all the New Gods, if that’s the risk of uncovering a toxic chemical dump or a new anti-Superman power armour, then so be it.
The story is it’s own reward.