Finding Ninee » Sharing our parenting and special needs stories with heart and humor.

We Need Better Girl Superhero Powers

The world needs a lot. Greater empathy, kindness, acceptance. Respect for one another regardless of differences, beliefs, gender, and lifestyle. The world also needs a more global approach to special needs support at school.

But, today’s story is not one about special needs schooling (stay tuned, there is a post in drafts right now), or how the world needs more empathy and understanding.

This is a story about my son, and about how one night, while climbing the stairs to bed, he broke down in tears because my favorite Spiderman was the same as his was.

It’s about how I failed him as a girl and as a woman, and about how girl superheroes’ powers suck compared to the boy superheroes’ powers.

I

Recently, while climbing the stairs on the way to teeth-brushing and “jammies,” we played “What’s your favorite?” I love this game. It gives me a chance to listen to what my little boy is obsessed with, for me to let him know the reasons my own favorites are favorites, and to connect with him regarding something important to him at the time.

“Which is your favorite Spiderman?” he asked.

I tried to think what other Spidermen even exist beyond the regular one, and came up blank.

“Which is your favorite?” I asked him, hoping for insight and answers.

“My favorite is the blue and red one. After that, the black and red one,” he said.

“I want my favorite to be the one that is your favorite, so I choose the blue and red one, too,” I replied, thinking that would make him happy and I might learn what’s different about the black versus the blue because I was, and am, clueless.

“No,” my son answered. “Yours has to be the GIRL Spiderman.”

“The girl Spiderman? I didn’t even know there was a girl Spiderman.” I explained that my favorite could be the boy Spiderman and that girls could like boy superheroes and that boys could like girl superheroes. That all of us are powerful and awesome, whether we’re girls or boys. That each of us has super-powers, even when we’re just here and being normal. That gender doesn’t matter.

He got really upset and collapsed on the stairs while climbing our way to bed. Tears. Big, huge, heart-broken tears. His crying tapered off with an eventual, barely understandable muttering of “Yours is the GIRL Spiderman,” followed by “I don’t want to be beautiful.”

W.T.F.

I told my son that he doesn’t have to be beautiful and that my favorite Spiderman has nothing to do with how handsome he is, and that girls can have cool super-powers, too. He cried, and I felt like a failure.

I’m not sure how my favorite Spiderman not being the girl one relates to my son not wanting to be beautiful, but I’m pretty sure that it’s got something to do with the fact that girl superheroes are beyond beautiful, and have really lame powers compared to the boy ones.

Let’s take a look at Superheroes. I’ll start with the classics.

The ultimate superhero, Superman. His powers include flying, superhuman strength, making powerful wind by blowing through his mouth, and having x-ray vision and super hearing.

Wonderwoman, his counterpart, is able to deflect bullets with her arm bands and use her lasso, but does not have laser-beam eyes or x-ray vision. She requires her invisible jet to fly, and can’t shoot fire or ice from her hands. She’s definitely not as powerful or as awesome as Superman. She’s a princess.

I asked my son about the best superheroes. The top of his list was Iron Man. Why? He has suits, powered armor and can shoot rays from his hands and shoulders. Also his helmet shows his Tony Starks’ face which means he’s a superhero on purpose, and not born one.

There’s Hulk, who can smash things and jump very high and can crack the street because of his super-strength. Spiderman can shoot webs and climb walls and leap from building to building using his webs. Batman defends the world from evil, has the Batmobile, is strong, fast, smart, and has amazing gadgets to defeat The Joker.

I asked my son who the best girl superhero is and his reply was “Invisible Woman,” who does not exist in real superhero books as far as I know, but is the one I pretend to be when we play.

Who are the super girls? The sexy-as-hell Black Widow? Wonder Woman, the Princess of The Amazons? Me? His mother? Well, yeah, <em>obviously</em>, but there should be as many superhero girls as there are boys, and their powers should be just as incredible and contain the stuff of boys – laser beams, fire shooting from their hands, and power-suits that enable them to fly.

My son doesn’t know who the best girl superhero is because they don’t compare, in powers, to the boy ones. Certainly none that have x-ray vision or super-human strength. WTF Marvel and Disney and superhero makers? And WTF me, who was convinced I was raising a boy who understood that girls and women are powerful and brave?

What are we teaching our children? Why can’t the super strength-having Mega Hero also have boobs and be a mom?

I want to ask superhero creators to give girls and women the cool super-powers. Make her not sexy, or make her sexy, but let her shoot laser beams from her eyes, possess the ability to launch frozen darts or flames from her hands, give her mind reading, time-freezing skills, and a kryptonite that has nothing to do with a boy superhero.

Superhero Girls should be more powerful because I am girl, and I AM POWERFUL

This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post, where writers and bloggers gather around the week’s prompt. This week’s is “The world really needs more…”
Hosts:
Me (Kristi from FindingNinee.com)
Co-hosts:a Shelley Oz (http://slightly-off-kilter.com/), and Anna Fitfunner   (http://blog.fitfunner.com).

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  • Allie - AMEN sister! I seriously could not agree more. And why is there always a hot side kick for the super heroes and they never get any “powers” until the sequel – Yes, talking to you Gwyneth/Pepper Potts!June 4, 2015 – 10:16 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - YES YES YES Allie!!! OMG I wish I had more time with this because SO TRUE>June 4, 2015 – 10:48 pmReplyCancel

  • Lisa @ The Meaning of Me - Oh, absolutely. This is very true and while it seems trivial, it’s really not. It’s a big deal when kids try to find that hero, role model, etc. to identify with and get nothing. A society so far advanced and we still can’t come up with decent strong heroes for women? Honestly.
    On a lighter note, Iron Man is one of my favorites – him and Batman. Guess I go for the regular guy with lots of cool stuff model. And both are sort of dark, brooding, mysterious. OK, and cute. Let’s be fair. 😀June 4, 2015 – 10:45 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - hahahh Lisa YES, I agree and I agree with my son liking Iron Man and Batman and they are awesome and cool and dark and YES!!! But um, yeah, what about you and me who could also be superheroes??? 🙂June 4, 2015 – 10:50 pmReplyCancel

  • Janine Huldie - We just had tears tonight over our favorite stuffed animal being ripped in one spot. I did what any mom would do and sewed to fix it for now. Never mind that I don’t see, but still I did my best and thank god it was, because smiles reigned once again here, too.June 5, 2015 – 2:05 amReplyCancel

  • Kathy Tyson - Super !!!! I have similarly had the wtf response when my boys had similar comments. Let’s get the super powers for te ladies, Marvel!June 5, 2015 – 2:18 amReplyCancel

  • Ruchira Khanna - This was such a cute post, Kristi. And have been there for such talks where I mostly land up crossing my fingers and toes (if possible) with the hope that I said something that he actually wants me to say 😛
    Hugs to Tucker 🙂
    xoxoJune 5, 2015 – 2:56 amReplyCancel

  • Reta Jayne - Yes! The world DOES need more girl superheroes!June 5, 2015 – 3:02 amReplyCancel

  • Dana - Hell yes! I had Spider Woman underoos when I was a kid, and my sister had Bat Girl. It never occurred to us that these characters were just made up (as opposed to male superheroes, hah!)…but then again, we didn’t have any brothers to tell us differently.

    I bet there is a start up campaign somewhere with female superheros who are just as awesome as male ones. But in terms of main stream media? Nope. Girls get princesses – don’t get me started on that!June 5, 2015 – 7:05 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Yeah, the whole princess thing is such a disappointment. I love the idea of a campaign where female superheroes are as cool as male ones! If one doesn’t exist, I should start it. Except you know – time and stuff.June 5, 2015 – 11:36 amReplyCancel

  • My Inner Chick - –Brilliant.
    have you sent this off anywhere else like HUFF Post?
    It muuuuuuuuuuust be read by everybody.
    Also, I want the Super Hero Women to be big boned, not like Barbie Dolls!

    xxxxxJune 5, 2015 – 7:54 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Hi Kim!
      I haven’t… I feel like it needs some editing – as always, I waited right before the deadline of FTSF to write it… but thank you for thinking it’s Huff Po worthy!!! And YES! Screw Barbie Dolls and their stupid weird proportions!June 5, 2015 – 11:37 amReplyCancel

  • Kenya G. Johnson - LOL he must have needed that cry and that answer was just the last straw. Poor thing. I can’t wait until he’s old enough to watch Avengers so he can meet Black Widow. She’s pretty cool and strong. Maybe you can pre-mom it and see if he’s ready for it. It’s PG-13. On another note of “girl stuff”, Christopher used to hate when people would say he looked like me. One day I asked him why that made him mad. He said, “Because I don’t want to look like a girl.” I had to tell him that he didn’t look like a girl no more than I look like a boy.June 5, 2015 – 9:34 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - OOH Black Widow, huh? So there IS a cool girl superhero?? I’m going to have to check it out. My husband was talking about Avengers but I think Tucker’s still a little young for it. Maybe not, though. I’ll have to watch it and see if it’s maybe too violent.
      Aww to Christopher not wanting to look like a girl! So cute!June 5, 2015 – 11:39 amReplyCancel

  • Tamara - Just gorgeous.
    As a superhero lover, and a mother of both a daughter and a son – both superhero lovers, I think a LOT about all of it. The powers, the colors, the role models, the messages. And I worry I’m ruining it all.
    And Tucker is just so adorable with his thoughts and the tears he clearly needed to get out!June 5, 2015 – 10:37 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Tamara,
      The whole superhero thing is a big deal! I love love them but sheesh why are there not cooler girl ones???June 5, 2015 – 11:45 amReplyCancel

  • Julie Jo Severson - I love your blunt honesty with everything you write Kristi. And, wow, can I ever relate to feeling like a failure in not understanding fully the emotions and tears of my children.June 5, 2015 – 11:04 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Aw thanks, Julie! And yeah, figuring out the tears of children can be mystifying at times!June 5, 2015 – 11:45 amReplyCancel

  • Christine Carter - Oh what a story!! And I am just blown away that Disney and Marvel have really failed to produce more supergirls with increidble superpowers!! That is just WRONG. SO wrong!! Bless Tucher’s heart!!June 5, 2015 – 12:12 pmReplyCancel

  • Lisa @ Golden Spoons - Well, of course I love this!! With three daughters, we are not into superheroes at all in our house. I think the fact that there are no good female superheroes is a big part of that. (Of course, they don’t know Wonder Woman because she was from when we were kids – the show anyway – but you are right – she has crappy powers compared to her male counterparts!)June 5, 2015 – 3:30 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Tucker is SO into superheroes and I do wonder whether the reason your girls aren’t into them and he is is because the girl superheroes have sucky powers compared to the boy ones!June 6, 2015 – 10:03 amReplyCancel

  • Rabia Lieber - *Slow clap* Awesome job, Kristi. Well said. Girls and boys need both types of super heroes to look at while growing up!June 5, 2015 – 4:22 pmReplyCancel

  • Letty Leal Evans - You are really discrediting Wonder Woman here. She has super human strength, is telepathic, and actually can fly after being hit by a feather by Hermes, and this is on top of her many other abilities. She has all the powers of Greek dieties for goodness sakes. In addition to Wonder Woman, there are several X-Men female characters that possess very impressive powers. Plus there is Hawkgirl, one of the very first super heroines, she uses a mace! Not to mention the new Thor is a female. There are plenty of female super heroes, all you have to do is look.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_superheroinesJune 5, 2015 – 4:30 pmReplyCancel

  • Lisa @ The Meaning of Me - I had to come back because A) I love the comments here and 2) I remembered a girl – that character in Kick Ass or something? Pretty cool.
    I did love Wonder Woman, by the way…she was pretty tough.June 5, 2015 – 5:02 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - OOOH I’ll have to find the character you’re talking about in Kick Ass!!! Thank you!June 6, 2015 – 10:04 amReplyCancel

  • Stephanie Smith Sprenger - I totally loved this, but it also made me really sad. And I think it’s a really important and problematic issue.June 5, 2015 – 5:19 pmReplyCancel

  • Nicki - I recently saw a few moments of an X-men movie in which January Jones was some kind of ice girl – her superpower was so lame and so was she. Infuriating!

    “Why cant the super strength-having Mega Hero also have boobs and be a mom?”

    LOVE what you are saying in this awesome piece. And also that Tucker asks which Spiderman is your favorite… That is so incredibly perceptive, because really that’s what superheroes are right, different aspects/facets of ourselves? Different egos. And that makes your question even more important!June 5, 2015 – 6:20 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - UGH to ice girl Nicki!!! I love your thought about superheroes being different aspects of ourselves!! Different egos indeed. Thanks, Love!June 6, 2015 – 10:06 amReplyCancel

  • Anna Fitfunner - I agree with Letty below. There are some superheroines. It’s just that they tend to be more recent, and don’t include the standards (Superman, Batman, Spiderman — all “man”). I really never understood that. Maybe it had to do with gender roles in the 1940’s and 1950’s when these characters were being created? In any case, it’s great that Tucker is beginning to sort out gender identification at such an early age! There are a lot of kids on the spectrum that don’t really concern themselves with such socially sophisticated topics, so it’s a win for your family even though a meltdown was involved!June 5, 2015 – 8:48 pmReplyCancel

  • Kelly L McKenzie - Hmmmm … great point! I played with Barbie Dolls and we always had to put them in the fridge in the summer. Why? Their faces were melting in the heat! Noses were smushing over to the side. Horrific. I think you and Tuck are on to something. The world needs a “proper” superwoman – one who can fly and do all the super cool stuff and withstand any kind of heat.June 5, 2015 – 9:26 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Kelly! Your Barbies faces melted in the sun?? Holy cow!! That’s got the makings of a horror movie. Yikes. And yes to the world needing a better Superwoman!!June 6, 2015 – 10:20 amReplyCancel

  • Marcia @ Menopausal Mother - Amen to this! Bring on the superhero females with extraordinary powers— but they DON’T have to look like Barbie dolls—just ordinary folk. 🙂June 6, 2015 – 12:24 amReplyCancel

  • Kristi - I did appreciate The Incredibles, but I think you are right–the vast majority of superheroes are men. No wonder it’s always the guys in my home that discuss the question, “If you could have any superpower, which would it be and why?”June 6, 2015 – 7:28 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I want superpowers! But yeah, kinda crazy about the majority of the superheroes being men. Gah.June 6, 2015 – 11:09 amReplyCancel

  • A.J. Goode - There have been a few powerful superheroines over the years — the Phoenix, She-Hulk, Rogue, Storm, the new Thor, etc — but you’re right that they seem to be more about looking pretty than crushing the villains.

    However, I remember an issue of Fantastic Four when Dr Doom realizes that Susan, The Invisible Girl, has the potential to be the most powerful member of her team. She had threatened to put an invisible force field inside his heart and expand it until his heart exploded.

    So she’s a pretty powerful superhero, but only after the bad guy threatened her baby. I think all of us Moms can relate, so maybe motherhood is the strongest superpower of all?June 7, 2015 – 7:09 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - AJ-
      I have to check out Invisible Girl because I’ve never even heard of her!! But yeah, sucks that she only got powerful after some superMAN threatened her baby. I mean, that part is cool because true but why couldn’t she kick butt before then???June 8, 2015 – 11:57 pmReplyCancel

  • Emily Nichols Grossi - This is fantastic, Kristi, and so very true. I think about the recent backlash against Scarlett Johansson’s character -Black Widow- deriving her strength from her sterility. As is she couldn’t just be strong and amazing on her own. Go you, Superheroine!!June 8, 2015 – 11:35 amReplyCancel

  • Allison carter - I love this post!
    But, alas, I feel like this will happen when women and girls stop dressing up as “sexy ” for Halloween. Let’s keep trying though, together. Changing the world through words will be our superpower!June 8, 2015 – 8:40 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks, Allison! And yeah, quitting the sexy Halloween would certainly help. I mean, I understand women and girls wanting to look pretty and sexy but the whole slutty nurse? Not so much. And in a world when our magazine covers are airbrushed and photoshopped and and and… well yes. I LOVE that changing the world through our words being our superpower!June 9, 2015 – 11:32 amReplyCancel

  • Ashley - I LOVE THIS! You are so badass, Kristi! “KRISTI?! KRISTI CAMPBELL?!” 😉 hahaha it was SO awesome meeting you and spending time with you this weekend. You are one in a million. XoJune 8, 2015 – 11:54 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Ashley Smashley Ashley! So fun to see your awesome self here! I loved hanging out with you and meeting you. You’re a blast even when you have no idea who I am. xoJune 9, 2015 – 11:34 amReplyCancel

  • karen - A MILLION TIMES YES!!!! I am finding the same thing with AJ, he sees the world as boy vs girl and I never raised him like that. I am trying to get him to see it as anyone can do whatever they want.June 9, 2015 – 12:35 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Isn’t it interesting, Karen? I seriously have always told Tucker that girls and boys can do anything and yet, he’s convinced that boys are better superheroes because the shows he watches (and he doesn’t even watch many so even weirder but a lot of them were in Lego Movie) make the boys cooler with cooler powers. Argh.June 9, 2015 – 6:00 pmReplyCancel

  • Kerri - First I HATE it when an innocent game meant to draw us closer to our children end up smacking us in the face.

    But you are so right, there ARE girl superheros and they are not just eye candy. Hell they can poke your eye out with their stiletto. You just can never find them in the toy store, much to Abby’s dismayJune 11, 2015 – 3:24 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Kerri,
      YES why can’t we find them more easily and what in the world has the world been teaching my boy about girls?June 11, 2015 – 7:17 pmReplyCancel

  • Aussa Lorens - At least we have Katniss 🙂June 11, 2015 – 3:37 pmReplyCancel

  • Comic Book Guy - This really is’t fair to the women of comics. I really think that what you are really lamenting is the world and the culture your son (and yourself) has been exposed to – it’s a lack of popular attention, not a lack of strong female superheroes that is the problem.

    It is unfortunate that most of the recent movies have featured male heroes (but look at movies in general), however, look at the comics world and you’ll quickly discover a vast array of extremely strong and capable women, many equal to or greater than Supes, Bats, or any Avenger. The new Thor, who is female, many female X-Men, She-Hulk, Power Girl, and The Invisible Woman – who is commonly considered by far the most powerful of the Fantastic Four.June 11, 2015 – 8:06 pmReplyCancel

  • Jolene @ Different Dream for My Child - All I can say is “My thoughts exactly!” The sexy girl costumes have bugged me for years. Thanks for adding this link to DifferentDream.com’s Tuesday special needs link up.June 11, 2015 – 8:14 pmReplyCancel

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