If you haven’t yet seen Marvel’s new cinematic masterpiece ‘Captain Marvel’, you might want to drop what you’re doing and head to the theater.
Let’s get the spoiler out of the way. For the first half of this movie, I was sitting angrily in the movie theater with crossed arms and a reluctance to like the glorious distraction of Marvel’s powerful action because I truly believed that the movie was sending a message that women are only ever as powerful as the men who train them.
If you’ve seen the movie, you know it took me almost the entire viewing to see the crucial turn in this message. When Carol finally tells her deceptively caring Kree commander that she doesn’t have to prove anything to him, then defeats him on her own terms and not based on the training he provided her, she demonstrates a valuable lesson for women. In this moment, she showed that she was there of her own right, she could listen to her own training, instinct and heart, and she would serve to equalize the playing field for all, not merely reinstate existing power for the already powerful.
I recently read a great piece from TIME entitled “Women Achieved Enormous Power in Ancient Egypt. What They Did With It Is a Warning for Today.” This in-depth piece showed a survey of how women, when they achieved power in ancient Egypt, merely in turn reinforced the patriarchy and male dominance. Their power was, in a sense, merely viewed within the confines of what men would allow them to achieve.
The author, Kara Cooney, wrote, “And so when we look at female power in the world today, we must not assume that a woman in a high position is there to lay the groundwork for other women to follow. Instead we must ask whom these women are really serving.”
Women have achieved much in our country and continue to do so, but we must be careful to not fall into this ancient trap. We must ensure that as we rise, we remember those who are still grappling for a chance. We must not simply rise for the purpose of filling a diversity quota to make men look good for choosing us. We cannot allow ourselves to be distracted by opportunities afforded us by others who seek to fill their own agenda. We must make our own opportunities, bring our own unique chairs to the table and live in a way that encourages equality for all.
As Captain Marvel showed us, the modern feminist is a powerful, beautiful thing. She is strong, kind and caring. She doesn’t need permission to succeed and refuses to prove herself to people who do not matter. She fights for the weak and loves good. May we all be her.