Sunday, June 14, 2009

Femme Fatale

I have waaaayyy more superhero favorites than any sane person should have. That should tell you something right off the bat. With three older siblings, I cut my teeth on comic books about the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, the Hulk, Spiderman, Daredevil, Iron Man, and oh, yes, Superman and Batman as well. (Our house was a House of Marvel.)

Like any normal kid, I wished I had the power of living flight like Angel, the ability to turn invisible like Sue Storm, and the capacity to blast my grade school out of existence like Cyclops. As reality would have it, apparently I wasn't born a mutant (although some friends might disagree) and I hadn't been exposed to radiation in any form be it a storm of some kind or a radioactive spider, so I realized I wouldn't be morphing into anything Marvel-ous at some point in my life. What to do?

I found a "real" person to emulate. When the British TV show "The Avengers" first hit American stations, most lead female characters wore dresses and skirts, behaved politely, and were there to help out the leading man. In detective series, the women were the secretaries. In the family shows, they were moms and teachers. And then Mrs. Peel (see above) hit our shores. Not only did this woman drive a sports car with a stick shift, and apparent heel-toe abilites, have marksmanship qualifications, and demonstrate martial arts skills that would have done The Matrix proud, she was equally as likely to rescue her partner as he was to rescue her. In addition to that, she could do it wearing outrageous R-rated fashions and looking gorgeous the whole time. Now, there was a role model for an over-imaginative, unathletic bookworm!

Mrs. Peel opened the door for a lot of the strong female characters that followed, the ones who weren't content to answer phones and pour coffee at the police station or in the private detective's office. She also made me think long and hard about what girls really could do: in short, just about anything the boys could. Mrs. Peel-confidence has gotten me through some pretty interesting situations, too. But that's another blog...

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