Is Marvel Too White for It’s Own Good?

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Finn Jones, of Game of Thrones fame, has officially been cast as Danny Rand in the new Netflix original series Iron Fist. The show will join the hugely popular Marvel crossovers Jessica Jones, Daredevil and the soon-to-premiere Luke Cage. With the success of its predecessors, there’s no doubt that Iron Fist will be a big hit, so why are some fans so upset?

Fans have been lobbying for Marvel to cast an Asian-American actor in the role to add some diversity to their universe. Though Rand is depicted as a white man in the original comics, fans hope that changing his race will not only add diversity to a whitewashed world, but also create more depth to the character.

Representation in the media has been a hot topic recently, ranging from A-list events like the Oscars to issues involving the silver screen. Still, people wonder why it matters so much.

A study performed by two Indian University professors researched how the lack representation can affect preteen children. They found that these young children use the media to evaluate themselves, and when their favorite shows misrepresent or fail to represent them at all, the lack of something to compare themselves to can have a huge impact on their self-esteem. Overall, they found that television exposure leads to a decrease in self-esteem for white girls and black boys and an increase for white boys. Looking at the kind of representation these children are exposed to, the results really aren’t that shocking.

Choosing not to represent minorities in the media is a choice. There are many successful shows that make a conscious effort to emphasize representation, and some critics even claim that this is the secret to their success. As we continue into the 2016 season of television and film, we have to realize that we can’t ignore the minorities any longer. They’ve always been there, and now it’s time to bring them into the light.

Is Marvel Too White for It’s Own Good?

Girls Only–Unless the boys think it’s unfair

EDF energy is a UK-based electricity company that hosts a yearly campaign aimed at “inspiring girls’ curiosity about science, technology, engineering and maths”. Their Pretty Curious Challenge is an annual competition that hopes to challenge young girls to create and invent new devices using their knowledge and passion for STEM.

They cited that only 1 out of every 7 people who work in the STEM field is a female, and they hope to change that by “sparking the imagination of young girls and inspiring them to stay curious”.

That sounds great. The only problem? This year’s Pretty Curious Challenge winner was a boy.

Josh, 13, won the Pretty Curious Challenge with his Pad Generator, a gaming device that creates kinetic energy while you play.

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EDF announced last year that the competition would now be open to both boys and girls in the interest of fairness, though assured the public that the Pretty Curious campaign itself was still aimed at inspiring girls. I wonder how inspired those girls feel when they realize that even when there’s a competition aimed specifically for their gender, they still lose to a boy.

But why is this not okay? Isn’t equality what us feminists are fighting for? Equal opportunity for all? This would be true if women had the same equal opportunities as men, but we don’t.

Let’s look at some other technology-oriented competitions.

  • The Dupont Challenge is a science essay competition open to grades 6-12. Of the six winners for both the junior and senior divisions, two were girls.
  • The National STEM Video Game Challenge encourages the same kind of passion for STEM as the Pretty Curious Challenge. Of the fifteen finalists from 2013-2015, three were girls.
  • The Rube Goldberg Machine Contest challenges students to solve simple problems with imaginative inventions. There were twenty-two children combined in the top four winning teams of 2015, and six of them were girls.

There are more, but who has the time? The great thing that the Pretty Curious Challenge could have done, which is allowing girls interested in STEM to finally have a chance to compete on an equal playing field, was destroyed when they opened the competition to both genders for “fairness”. Boys have fairness in every other science-geared competition out there. Let the girls have their chance.

Girls Only–Unless the boys think it’s unfair