The following is crossposted from the author's site with her permission.
After seeing Guardians of the Galaxy, my four-year-old daughter wanted a Gamora action figurine and my son wanted Star-Lord, so we went to the store. Star-Lord is everywhere, but there was not a single Gamora to be seen. Even on the Guardians of the Galaxy t-shirts, no Gamora. Hey, Marvel! She is one-fifth of the team, what the heck! Even my six-year-old son noticed and passed up a t-shirt because he wanted her on it too. I asked the store if they were out. They said they do not carry her and suggested a Rocket raccoon instead. Not. The. Same.
Other people say, “Well, just order her one online.” Okay, wait, so I get to say to my son, “Hey here is your Star-Lord action figurine, we will buy him,” and to my other child, “Oh wait, no Gamora, well, we can order her online and you will get her in 5 to 6 business days.”
Something is very wrong here. Marvel, 44% of the opening audience of Guardians of the Galaxy were women! I know! I have seen it three times. And this is not just a problem with Gamora. We had this problem with Black Widow. We encounter this problem with my daughter's DC favorite, Wonder Woman. (I found her Wonder Woman t-shirt in a thrift store. And my daughter made the crown and bracers herself because she loves Wonder Woman so much.) I understand the politics of it, but a four-year-old does not.
So Marvel, do you know what my daughter thought after not finding yet another superheroine she loves in stores? Do you know what she said to me with her sad, green eyes?
“Maybe superheroes aren’t for girls, Mom.”
That is a problem. And it matters, Marvel. (DC, you aren’t off the hook either; you cause the same worry in my little girl.) I am so disappointed in you.
I cosplay as my DC favorite, a Green Lantern. When my daughter sees me suit up, she gets so excited to have a superhero mom that she even brags to people, “My mom is actually a Green Lantern.” I remember when I first cosplayed as my self-titled “Lantern Jovian,” I was so incredibly nervous. Because I am fat. Because of the idea that comics are “for guys.” Because a lot of people see adults dressing up as silly. Because of a million little reasons that have wormed their way into my social programming over the years.
But I was SO empowered by my children’s reaction the first time I suited up: “Mom, you are the most bravest, most beautiful Green Lantern ever!” It is not too much to say that I couldn’t have done it without them. It is amazing how your children can inspire you to be a superhero for them.
Thank goodness for every woman we meet who cosplays as a superhero or villain! They help to teach my daughter (and my son!) that the fandom is not limited by gender and that female superheroes DO exist. They counteract the message that lack of mass-market availability means superheros are “just for boys."