In a world dominated by stereotypes and biases, one creation has single-handedly opened the door for a new wave of strength, inspiration, and wisdom.
That creation is the female superhero.
Prevalent in comics, literature, television programs, and film, female superheroes have become nearly as abundant as their male counterparts and two times as significant, if not more. Not to take away from the benevolence and strength that Superman and Iron Man generate and possess for their respective cities, but since their creations, it has always been assumed that men are the stronger of the two sexes. Every woman was to stand by and wait until their own hero came to sweep them off their feet and rescue them from danger. This ideal lasted generations, and while the creation of "Wonder Woman" in 1942 saw the first well-recognized female superhero among the ranks of male heroes, women were still believed to be inferior.
These ideals, when coupled with the infrastructure of a society, make it immensely difficult, if not impossible, for new generations of girls and women to see themselves as anything but inferior. So long as superheroes were predominately male, women were expected to be the secretaries, the nurses, the stereotypically "female" and therefore weaker figures in society.
A revolution has taken place in these fictional worlds of literature and film, and it triggered a revolution in our own. Fighting alongside heroes like "Batman and Superman," "Iron Man and Captain America," are their female team-members, stronger than ever—re-imagined, recreated, revitalized. Audiences watch in awe as Wonder Woman fights her way across No Man's Land, as Supergirl defends National City, as Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, and the Dora Milaje fend off Thanos and his forces all on their own. These images, regardless of which medium they take place in, have power.
They teach girls and women of all ages that they have that power within them to overthrow enemies and fight for what is good.
They endorse love and compassion, strength and wisdom, liberty and justice in the face of adversity.
They allow for all girls to believe that they can finally be what they want to be, and I don't mean a superhero.
For example, the classic trope of a superhero is having a secret identity, working at some low-profile job when they're not fighting off bad guys. Clark Kent's a journalist, Diana Prince's a curator, Bruce Wayne's an entrepreneur. These sides of the heroes' lives contribute to their characters, and despite being the "unheroic" sides, they can carry just as much weight if not more as the capes and superpowers.
Because while we may not have capes and superpowers in our real world, we do have journalists and curators and entrepreneurs. We have people who do good in the world, who make ground-breaking discoveries, who change people's lives for the better. With the surge in female superheroes in the media, young girls and women everywhere can see what these superwomen are doing, and the images become normalized just as much as those of their male counterparts.
Feminism continues to be an ongoing battle, fighting for rights in every corner of the world, but when bolstered with the images of female superheroes, each woman becomes her own hero, fighting the good fight in each aspect of her life. She's given the strength and intelligence of Wonder Woman, the wit and skill of Black Widow, and the ferocity and unity of the Dora Milaje. She's armed with earth-shattering power like Scarlet Witch, abilities in combat like Gamora, and a bullet-proof attitude like Supergirl.
Women don't need capes to become their own heroes. All they need is the image of those women that do to remind her of her true potential to change the world.