All the superheroes

David Koepsell has a beautiful piece at the CFI blog which you must read right this minute. It’s in the form of a letter to his daughter.

Dear Amelia,

It broke my heart last week when we were talking as I drove you to school. You saw the poster for the Avengers movie and asked who “the girl” was. When I explained she is Black Widow, and that she is an Avenger, you laughed and said “how can she be an Avenger? Avengers are superheroes, and she’s a girl.” It horrifies me to know that already, there are forces at work on you that convince you that somehow, girls and women cannot be anything you want. And I meant it when I told you that yes, women can be superheroes.You can be.

The world is full of people who will try to tell you that you can’t be or do something, sometimes due to you background, sometimes due to other things that don’t matter. Many members of your father’s family, my grandparents and their relatives, were despised, imprisoned, tortured, and killed because of our ethnicity, because we are descended from Jews. Millions of people were judged as unworthy, unclean, unfit. While the nations that tried to wipe us out lost in a world war, the battles over prejudice continue. Captain America cannot save us from the ongoing harm that those who judge others due to ethnicity, religion, skin color, and gender pose to every child who wants to be exactly what she wants to be.

There, that should be enough to make it impossible for you not to read the rest.


  1. Callinectes says

    That reminds me of the story Djimon Hounsou, who played Korath the Pursuer in Guardians of the Galaxy, told about his son.

    “I wanna begin saying a story about my son. I have a four-year old son who loves superheroes from Spider-Man to Iron Man to Batman. He’s got all the costumes. One day he looks at me and says ‘Dad, I want to be light-skinned so I could be Spider-Man. Spider-Man has light skin.’ That was sort of a shock. This is why I am excited to be a part of the Marvel Universe, so I could be hopefully provide that diversity in the role of the superhero.”

  2. iknklast says

    This reminds me of my own upbringing, where I was taught that “cars are for boys” “blocks are for boys” “microscopes are for boys”. I put one over on them – I now have a microscope of my very own (a real, grown up one) in my lab where I do my science in my woman body. It took me a long time. People don’t always understand some of my complexes. My brain told me women could be these things. I was surrounded by smart women, capable women. But I was being told by the people who meant the most to me in the world that women couldn’t do these things, and that any woman who tried to do these things was a lesbian (though they refused to tell me what a lesbian was, or why it was bad. It was just bad). In spite of what I know, even now, whenever I find myself confronted with a male voice disagreeing with me (even when that male has absolutely no knowledge and I am an expert in the field), that little girl shrinks back and assumes she is wrong. It takes all my effort of will to keep from accepting that, because it was so imbedded in me, not only by my parents, but by my church, by my school, by the algebra teacher who only called on boys, by being required to take HomeEc and not allowed to take calculus…It doesn’t matter how strong or independent you are, or think you are, these messages are extremely powerful.

  3. iknklast says

    Please excuse me if I got tears all over the Internet. I rarely cry (even though I’m a female in a lab), but once in a while, something hits me….

  4. says

    This piece definitely hit me. But then, lots of things do. Despite my hardened and cynical exterior, I’m actually very easily hit. I couldn’t watch Asif Mohiuddin talking at the CFI conference without choking up.

  5. Crimson Clupeidae says

    Can I send this family some good comic books with strong women heroes?

    The over-sexualization is still a big issue, but there are some that are a bit more realistic in their depictions of human anatomy.

  6. Steve Watson says

    Good grief. There were black superheroes when I was a kid forty years ago. Wonder Woman dates back to WW2. Spiderman was Black-Hispanic a couple of years before Guardians of the Galaxy came out. Do these people live under rocks? They certainly don’t seem to read comics or have gone anywhere near a news-stand. Oh, and yes it is entirely possible to refrain from clicking on more turgid crap.

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