Anda di halaman 1dari 6

Diep 1

Connie Diep
Professor Beadle
English 115
14 October 2015
Superpowers Breaking the Gender Boundaries
In our Western society we are bred to fit into different sex categories which includes
either male or female. Gender expectations are unavoidable in the world we live in now because
it has become the social norm. Males/females feel pressured to be accepted. In addition to these
gender expectations there is also hegemonic gender and races. Hegemonic means dominant or
powerful. The way hegemonic views are seen in our society are with the ideas of
masculinity/femininity. In Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan is a teenage Pakistani American who
struggles with becoming socially accepted. Kamalas gender expectation from her family is for
her to be obedient and submissive but her peers want her to be accustomed to their lifestyle such
as partying and drinking. Kamala has a battle within herself to be socially accepted by her peers.
When Kamala gains her superpowers she was able to use her incredible strength to rescue her
friends and look beautiful just like Captain Marvel. Although earning superpowers may have
given Kamala acceptance into society she did not challenge the gender roles. Kamala was not
confident enough with her natural appearance, she was already reading comic books prior to
gaining her powers, her parents still controlled the way they communicated with her because she
is a female, and even with her superpowers her friend Bruno still had to assert his male
dominance to keep Kamala safe. Superpowers did not transgress the gender boundaries in Ms.
Marvel and as a result, no one looked at Kamala any differently.

Diep 2
Media heavily impacts the way women believe they are supposed to look. Kamala being
like any another teenage girl struggles with her physical appearance. In Dines article, Visible or
Invisible: Growing Up Female in Porn Culture, she says, Women do seem enviable to girls and
young women since they appear to embody a type of power that demands attention and
visibility. (Dines, 252). In Ms. Marvel, there is a scene where Kamala is reading a Marvel
comic book and Carol Danvers (Captain Marvel) is seen as a beautiful blonde, curvy super hero
that looks good fighting enemies in thigh high boots. (Wilson and Alphona Wyatt, 5). Kamala
greatly expresses the way she feels about wanting to be exactly like Captain Marvel. This
example feeds into why women want to be like the flawless characters the media depicts in
movies, magazines, comics and books. Not only does she want to become a superhero but
someone who is socially accepted by their appearance as well. One of Kamalas peers named
Zoe resembles a popular, thin, bubbly, and beautiful woman who she wishes to be. Kamala is just
one of those insecure girls seeking for acceptance. She knows that in order to demand this
attention and visibility she must become somebody that she is not. The color scheme throughout
the comic shows the rich vibrant colors and the use of bigger panels to draw attention to Captain
Marvel and her importance. This is also an example of how a womans physique and beauty
draws attention to the audience. When Kamala became Captain Marvel it did not transgress the
gender boundaries, it only made those feminine barriers stronger.
Many women in Western society today believe that conforming to porn culture is the
only solution to demonstrate hegemonic femininity. Porn culture is the media figuring out a way
to make females more inferior to men by exploiting their bodies. Hegemonic Masculinity and
Black Gender Ideology, written by Patricia Hill Collins states, Because a good deal of
womens beauty is associated with their hair, this aspect of womens physical appearance takes

Diep 3
on added importance in the process of constructing hierarchies of femininity. (Collins, 233). A
couple scenes into the comic after Kamala transforms into a superhero she realizes that its not
what its cut out to be. I always thought that if I had amazing hair, if I could pull off great boots,
if I could flythat would make me happy. But the hair gets in my face, the boots pinch
(Wilson & Alphona Wyatt, 34). This scene in the comic is when Kamala realizes that beauty does
not mean much to her because she does not feel like herself. Kamala then embraces her own
identity by being comfortable in her own skin which challenges the gender expectations in the
end. She was able to incorporate her own style into her superhero costume. (Wilson & Alphona
Wyatt, 77). Although Kamala wants to be beautiful she will never be satisfied with the person
everybody wants her to be. Kamala also struggles with her responsibilities as a teenage female in
her family.
In families parents are the first ones to teach their children about gender. Based on our
sexes (male/female) we are treated with different respects. In Renzetti & Currans article, From
Women, Men, and Society, Renzetti and Curran state, That parents associate their childs sex
with specific personality and behavioral traits is further evidenced by the effort they put into
ensuring the others identify their childs sex correctly. (Renzetti and Curran, 76). This includes
the toys that they play with and how they interact with parents. In Ms. Marvel, Kamala is seen
again reading a Marvel comic book. (Wilson & Alphona Wyatt, 6). Even before Kamala was able
to become a super hero, she had already been reading action comic books. The Marvel comic
was not only filled with the male superheroes but a character that embodied superficial beauty. I
want to be you, Kamala says to Captain Marvel. (Wilson & Wyatt, 18). Kamala could have
chosen whoever she wanted to be, but instead she chose beauty over power. Superpowers did not
change part of who she had already become growing up.

Diep 4
Kamala is the youngest sibling of her family and her brother is seen as the role model.
Men dominate the positions of authority and leadership in government, the military, and the
law; cultural productions, religions and sports reflect mens interest. (Lorber, 30).
Unfortunately, their parents pressure Aamir to look for a job, which demonstrates the stereotype
that men are supposed to be the bread winners of the family. Kamalas father then starts to
compare Kamala and her friend Bruno by saying, Look at your friend Brunoworking hard for
his family and getting top grades does he complain? (Wilson & Alphona, 8). Kamala does not
transgress gender boundaries and neither does Aamir.
The way the parents talk to Kamala is with concern and care especially her father Abu.
When Kamala finds herself in trouble she does not go to her mother because she knows that
Ammi will get angry with her. Ammi worries about the innocence of her daughter and does not
want her to become out of line. Parents use a greater number and variety of emotion words
when talking with daughters than sons. (Renzetti & Curran, 79). Abu cares greatly about
Kamala and tells her how special and unique she is to their family. (Wilson & Alphona Wyatt,
93). Even after Kamala has superpowers she still finds herself living under the expectations of
her family values.
Not only does Kamalas family push her into gender expectations but her peers as well.
Zoe wants Kamala to be rebellious and break the rules so that she is able to fit in. Now Kamala
feels like she must impress Zoe by trying to neglect her obligations as a Pakistani daughter. You
thought that if you disobeyed your parentsyour culture, your religionyour classmates would
accept you, Captain America says to Kamala. (Wilson & Alphona, 17). Kamala comes to
realization that if breaking rules do not get her accepted she must be as beautiful as Captain
Marvel. She does not know who she is supposed to be and it forces her to conform to gender

Diep 5
expectations. Not only does Zoe enforce the gender role upon Kamala but her friend Bruno does
as well. Kamalas superhuman strength is incredible when she saves Bruno from the robbery but
then she gets shot by Vick. Even after being saved by Kamala Bruno asserts his male dominance
by trying to protect Kamala and calling the police for help. (Wilson & Alphona, 66). Kamala
attempts to go after Vick and save him from Doyle who is keeping him hostage. She was not
prepared for a fight that her superpowers couldnt even handle. She then fails to save Vick during
her first attempt and needs Brunos help. (Wilson & Alphona, 95). Superpowers do not prove that
she breaks the gender boundaries. Where is this smack talk coming from? Usually Im afraid to
correct a substitute teacher who cant pronounce my name, Kamala says. (Wilson & Alphona,
86). She uses her superpowers to disguise her identity as well as her personality and who she
really is.
Superpowers did not transgress the gender boundaries in Ms. Marvel and as a result, no
one looked at Kamala any differently. Kamala is a rebellious teenager that wants to be a part of
societys gender norms for women. She struggles with finding her inner beauty and acceptance
from her peers. And although Kamala may have saved Vick at the end of the day she still looked
for support from her family and Bruno. Both Kamala and Aamir suffered from gender roles in
the family and how they are seen by their parents. Bruno being the friend that he is, watched over
Kamala with protection and care even when she had superpowers. Kamala also realized that in
order to be accepted by society she must be someone that everyone would love-except herself.
Superpowers did make Kamala physically stronger than most women but not emotionally. She
felt that in order to be powerful she must be gorgeous. Being superficially beautiful did not make
Kamala happy with herself. She was not able to challenge the prescribed gender roles of women
in society but instead made them stronger by becoming a victim of the media.

Diep 6

Works Cited
Willow G., Wilson and Alphona, Adrian. Ms. Marvel. 1st C. Ed. Sana Amanat. NY: Marvel
Entertainment, 2015. Print.
Collins, Patricia. Hegemonic Masculinity and Black Gender Ideology. Composing Gender. 1st
Ed. Eds. John E. Sullivan III. MA: Bedford/St. Martins, 2014. Print.
Dines, Gail. Visible or Invisible: Growing Up Female in Porn Culture. Composing Gender. 1st
Ed. Eds. John E. Sullivan III. MA: Bedford/St. Martins, 2014. Print.
Lorber, Judith. Night to His Day The Social Construction of Gender. Composing Gender. 1st
Ed. Eds. John E. Sullivan III. MA: Bedford/St. Martins, 2014. Print.
Renzetti, Claire and Curran, Daniel. From Women, Men, and Society. Composing Gender. 1st
Ed. Eds. John E Sullivan III. MA: Bedford/St. Martins, 2014. Print