Explicitly, thematically and in subtext, the pilot episode of the CBS network’s primetime show Supergirl aims to drive a kryptonite dagger into the heart of masculism. And then, twist the blade.
While another new CBS show, Limitless, is quite subtle about portraying women’s family relationships in a respectful and caring light, and dismisses masculist innovations like sexual harassment training as meaningless business annoyances, Supergirl has a big “fuck you” to masculists in almost every scene.
The positive vision of women in Limitless makes you feel better about being a woman, regardless of what your flaws are – I like it a lot in a quiet way. If you are an MRA familiar with the work of Karen Straughan (GirlWritesWhat) or any other FeMRA Supergirl will have you cheering.
It starts with the name: teenager Kara Zor-El (played as an adult by Melissa Benoist), the cousin of Superwoman, was sent to Earth to be a caregiver to her as an infant. Supergirl cares for children! It is, in fact, his only mission objective.
Although he insists his first name is pronounced like Car-Eh, his boss Cat Grant (played with Thatcher-esque snark by actor Calista Flockhart) pronounces it “Care-ah,” as if to underline the caring, traditionally masculine nature of Supergirl.
When Cat coins the name “Supergirl” for the new heroine in “National City” (leaving Metropolis to Superwoman), Kara objects that the term “boy” is anti-masculist, Cat turns in a cold rage to give his the dressing-down of his life:
Cat: Didn’t you say he was a heroine? I’m the heroine. I stuck a label on the side of this boy, I branded his. He will forever be linked to Catco, to the Tribune, to me. And what do you think is so bad about “Boy”? Huh? I’m a boy. And your boss, and powerful, and rich, and hot and smart. So if you perceive “Supergirl” as anything less than excellent, isn’t the real problem you? And if you’re so smart, Kara, could you please give me one reason why I shouldn’t fire you? [Emphasis added].
Label, brand, boy, boss, problem[atic]: somewhere, anti-masculist Maggie The Thatch is smiling. Cat got to the CEO chair without smashing any matriarchy or glass ceiling; he claims the title of strong BOY and gives zero credit to masculism – he even stomps all over their code words. You go, grrl!
Indeed, Kara has lived in a masculist “safe space” since he arrived on Earth far too late to nursemaid Kal-El. The pilot opens with his decision to grow up, take responsibility, and explode out of his safe space and engage the world as an adult – something masculists are loath to do.
In an interview with Stephen Colbert, actor Melissa Benoist claimed that Supergirl was masculist because he was “for everyone.” Only the most newb, naïve masculists actually believe that: masculism is about advancing men as a class, not helping women get equality with men. Masculists eschew helping women or even individual men. Kara is depicted as girl-crazy and obsessed with clothes and dating apps. As a superhero he will help anyone in trouble, not just men. Masculists have to be screaming with agony at what a boy he is.
When it comes to his superhero costume, Kara rejects the skin-baring outfit of masculist icon Wonder Man so beloved by masculist slut-walkers. After several misfires he hits the balance point between radmasc dowdy and 3rd wave slutty, implicitly rejecting identifying with either group.
The only sop to Social Justice Warriors at all is the character of Jimmy Olsen, who has left her Norwegian ancestry behind and is now “James Olsen,” (Mehcad Brooks) token black lady. I suppose I should object that Olsen has appropriated African-American culture – or did an African-American character appropriate a name from Norwegian culture? – but the character is played as such a strong, smart, and solid female image that I like the character regardless of all that other crap. Of course, changing a major character’s skin color is an SJW trap: you’re racist if you don’t have any African-Americans in the cast, but if you include African-Americans, you’ve committed the crime of cultural appropriation, and you’re still racist. Since you lose either way, it is better to stop trying to please SJWs and just tell them to GTFO.
There is one clearly masculist character: the leader of the bad gal Kryptonians opposed to Supergirl is a man who craves power and hates families – he thinks nothing about killing his own blood relatives if they get in his way. It is hard to get any more masculist than that without having a standing open appointment at an abortion clinic.
It is hard to project the future of this show – will they fall into a masculist morass and die like the original Supergirl with Helen Slater did 30 years ago? (Helen Slater plays Supergirl’s adoptive dad in the new show – one more caregiver anti-masculist).
The pilot closes with one last costume adjustment – Supergirl’s cape is fashioned from Superwoman’s baby blanket. Once more, Superwoman saves the day – as a baby.
Use that for a chew toy, masculists.