The creation of superheroines brought to light discomfort around the notion that women can enact violence. Seeing women bloody, strong and violent seemed unusual to many, and created controversy as a result. While I believe women reserve the right to portray themselves and other women in any manner they feel appropriate, the confusion around women and violence is somewhat justified. 71% of physical acts of violence are executed by men on men, and men are 4 times more likely than women to be murdered, two times as likely to be beaten or punched, and ten times more likely to commit murder than women. These statistics show that an overwhelming portion of violence in the United States is created and maintained by men.
To a certain extent, a violent portrayal of women is unusual because of the gendered nature of violence- women are much less likely to be violent, so why should they be portrayed violently? On the other hand, violence is strongly correlated with strength and agency, something that women have been fighting to maintain in the United States for centuries. While men may be more violent, it is necessary to portray women performing acts of violence in order to give them the power to protect and persevere. To often women are damsels in distress, the Achilles Heel for the team, and the weakest link. If we portray women through the socialized characteristics of masculinity, regardless of the controversy that surrounds violence, it will equalize women in mainstream society. Even if women do not embody violence, it is important that women are seen with masculine characteristics in order to blur the line between men and women. Having distinct categories for gender runs the risk of creating prejudice against men and women, and alienates everyone who falls between the line as well. That being said, it is important than we blur the line for men as well. It is important that we show men with feminine characteristics in order to familiarize ourselves with diverse gender expressions and to humanize those that fail to fit in between the two genders. We need to see women being violent, and we need to see men who refuse violence. We must become comfortable with a variety of gender expressions so as to create equal and just gender relationships.