Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Jennifer K. Stuller's "Ink-Stained Amazons and Cinematic Warriors"

Jennifer K. Stuller is a writer and journalist, specializing in gender and sexuality in popular culture. She has been researching and speaking internationally on superwomen for over a decade.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Ink-Stained Amazons and Cinematic Warriors: Superwomen in Modern Mythology, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Ink-Stained Amazons and Cinematic Warriors is in the chapter titled, “Love Will Bring You to Your Gift” – a chapter that explores how themes of redemption, collaboration and compassion play out in the lives of female heroes and what they might say about gender. The majority of the page uses examples from Dark Angel and Xena, Warrior Princess to illustrate specific points, but one passage in particular exemplifies larger themes that appear throughout the book, as well as the underlying mission that drove the project itself:
Compassion is an act of selfless love often born out of empathy and an essential component of the love ethic that drives heroes to action without expectation of reward. Superman acts out of his love for his adopted home world, and as that great mantra from the Spider-Man mythos points out, there is an understanding that “with great power comes great responsibility,” which underscores that our gifts are to be used for the greater good. They protect because it is just, as do superwomen, but again, the latter take heroic themes to a higher level. Their compassionate actions not only save others, but also inspire them to find and perfect the heroic in themselves.
When looking at how the journey of the female hero differs from the traditional Campbellian model, it’s obviously necessary to question the ways in which each are gendered, something I do throughout this section of the book. (In the previous section I explore how ideas about gender, sex roles, and indeed heroism, are influenced by the social mores of a particular time and place.) The whole of this chapter looks at the emphasis on “love” as motivation for female heroes, and whether that is empowering or reinforces cultural ideas about women as nurturers. This passage from page 99 looks at how both male and female heroes act out of compassion and how superwomen have taken it a step further to inspire people to be heroes too, working with others instead of merely for them. So in a sense, the page does reflect the “Page 99 Test” – and reveals the quality of the whole – because it touches on themes that are addressed throughout the book: female heroes, gender & storytelling, inspiration & social responsibility, friendship, and the history of popular culture.
Read more about Ink-Stained Amazons and Cinematic Warriors: Superwomen in Modern Mythology.

Visit Jennifer K. Stuller's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue