“The Source of Our Power”

Female Heroes and Restorative Collaboration in Contemporary Television

Sarah Pepe

Recognizing the recent explosion of female heroes in contemporary media, and particularly in television, this paper explores a model of cooperative heroism in contrast to the “Lone Wolf” hero of past eras. Using four television shows as case studies–Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Steven Universe, Sense8, and Jessica Jones–I discuss the ways in which feminine models of heroism call in a larger and more diverse community to achieve heroic ends, and how this collaboration suggests the importance of community and inclusion in attempts to push back against evil forces, which, in these cases, often represent the patriarchy. Drawing on feminist theory that finds its roots in lesbian separatism, I suggest that queer and queer-coded relationships between heroic women model compassion and empathy for the men they fight with. Ultimately, this paper argues that it is love and solidarity between women that dismantles patriarchal domination and models non-hierarchical and compassionate heroism for their male counterparts.


Shawangunk Review Volume XXIX Copyright © 2018 by Sarah Pepe. All Rights Reserved.

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