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review 2017-02-22 03:19
Mockingbird Volume 2: My Feminist Agenda
Mockingbird Vol. 2: My Feminist Agenda - Chelsea Cain,Kate Niemczyk

As with the last volume, this was a lot of fun. Unfortunately, it also carried through the same problems as the last one too.

This series had been advertised as feminist, which I am obviously a big fan of,  but again, this is a clear example of white feminism and not the all-inclusive kind I'd rather see or be a part of. The feminism itself wasn't as in your face on this one as the last, though. Not that I see in your face feminism as a bad thing, but again it was a bit of the execution.

The plot of this volume takes place at a convention that is meant to celebrate Hawkeye, and having been to some conventions in different parts of the country, it's completely possible to end up at one that just is predominantly white. I had started the series with some erroneous preconceived notions about Mockingbird and Hunter from the Agents of SHIELD tv show, which I watch regularly. I had mostly dealt with them in the first volume, but they persist as a distraction here. The idea of Mockingbird as Hawkeye's ex-wife is a little odd, given the recent MCU revelation of Hawkeye's family in addition to that Mockingbird had been married to Hunter previously in the show. It's distracting that the comic versions are so different. I'm over it, but I feel like that needed to be pointed out for the sake of this review.

The story itself was fun. This is the Civil War II tie in for Mockingbird and it takes place after the events of the Civil War II volume. If you recall that volume ends the conflict but this one picks up some of the aftermath, what with Hawkeye being in prison still and all. Like Spider-Woman, Mockingbird was trying to escape the hoopla, given her own close ties to those central to the conflict. She also gets roped in anyway, this time by someone claiming to have evidence that might exonerate Hawkeye.

Things go awry and it's interesting to see Mockingbird do her thing and to see the way Hunter is portrayed in the series. I enjoyed the way it ended and figuring out who the villain was. Since I hadn't read much of anything with her in it before the series, it was a real surprise.

It's also great to see her continue to be used as a SHIELD agent in a capacity that is similar to that which she was on the tv show. She had been an Avenger at one point and the volume shows that too, just not in the main storyline. The series itself was cancelled before they could really have a full second volume, only having published 3 issues for it. They added the two New Avengers issues that contained the story of her transformation from a regular agent who could hang with the supers to an enhanced person by way of the super-serum/infinity-serum combo. She mentions in the first volume that this is what transformed her. Still, she had managed to be an Avenger before that.....

I love the image of Mockingbird with her "Ask me about my feminist agenda" t-shirt that had been the cover of the last issue. It was a lot of fun. I don't know whether or how much feminism or white feminism contributed to the cancellation of this series, but this volume is also the last of it. There's even a note in the Mockingbird #8 that points out that they knew it was going to be the end when it was written, so maybe that influenced some infuence on the way they ended it as well.

Altogether, it was a fun issue. The problem that I have with the make up of the series, despite it's short run, is that if we were going to have a full on feminist character headlining her own series and pointing out feminist issues, I'd want it to showcase the intersections that feminism has as well as women working together. This does neither of those. It gave us a loner who treats men like they're disposable, a female character who "acts liks a man" in almost every way.

It's fun, yes, but not the personification of what feminism really is. For that, I'd refer a reader over to Spider-Woman who does things to help other women (and men. She's a leader of heroes, you might say) in her series and she regularly interacts with other heroes in positive ways. She's got agency. She decides for herself when she's going to have life-changing events and while she knows she doesn't necessarily need a romantic partner to help out with those changes, she isn't too afraid to ask for help or give it when needed to those around her. I also find it exciting to have a hero who is a mom too. Because of her loner ways, Mockingbird only showcased one way to be a woman with agency and spends much of her time comparing it to the way that men do it instead of finding her own way. She's the kind of character that has been a point of a concern for many of the feminist blogs and websites that I've seen take on the "strong female character" trope, of which this is pretty much the personification.

None of this makes Mockingbird a bad hero or superhero, I love her appearances in Silk. Her series itself is just not the best example of feminism in comics, which is what it was touted as before I read it. If you're into those who would easily fall into the "strong female character" then this will be as fun for you as it was for me. If you'd like to see superhero comics with headlining women that include dealing with issues of race, ethnicities, religion, and accepting the lifestyles of others (I haven't read an LGBT hero yet but there are LGBT characters that show up in other series, like Silk's besties are a lesbian couple), then I'd refer you to Invincible Iron Man (Ironheart), Ms. Marvel, Silk, or Spider-Woman.


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review 2014-09-20 05:02
BOOK REVIEW | Lilus Kikus by Elena Poniatowska
Lilus Kikus and Other Stories - Elena Poniatowska

5 deconstructing stars.


Lilus Kikus by Elena Poniatowksa, on the surface level, is about a young girl and her adventures as she grows up.  This book was first published in 1954 erroneously as a child’s novel due to the age of the protagonist (although her age is never clearly defined) and the simplistic writing style.  However, Lilus Kikus is bursting at the seams with a feminist and anti-patriarchal agenda.  


 As a modern reader, the evidence of this book’s agenda is so apparently and blunt that the only explanation as to how it could ever be passed as a children’s novel is because the publishing industry in the 50s, especially in Mexico, was dominated by men and they just didn’t expect this sort of commentary from a woman.


The reader is first introduced to Lilus when she is outside playing.  Lilus does not like to play with dolls (which are traditionally feminine), instead she prefers to play doctor and perform experiments (traditionally masculine roles).  As she grows up, she joins an all-girls school where one of her closest friend, the “Lamb,” is being sent away due to pre-martial sex that resulted in pregnancy.  


When Lilus is talking to her next door neighbor, the Philosopher, he says this of the Lamb:


“The lamb, the lamb… let me think.  Ah yes, the feminist.  The free thinker.  … Well, life started too early for her.” Lilus herself is neither fully feminine nor fully masculine, but she knows better than to try and stand up for her female rights.  She knows she will end up exiled like the Lamb and decides that "she would rather keep quiet.  It is better to feel than to know."


Indeed, the Lamb was born into the wrong time period, where women are not allowed to commit the same “sins” as men or hold the same positions.  They are meant to be beautiful, vivacious and submissive: “Also, Lilus had heard it said that dummies were the most enchanting women in the world.”  


One of my favorite parts of this book is when Lilus is describing her good friend, Chiruelita, who is very naiive and innocent.   Chiruelita is the picture perfect idea of a "feminine" lady, of a "delicate" woman.  She ends up marrying an artist and obeying him easily, until the one day she decides to think for herself and “with a languid gesture, the eccentric artist wrung her neck!”


If that's not a blatant statement comparing the patriarchy to the silencing of women, then I don't know what is.  It is baffling to see how original readers missed all of this subtext. 


Eventually, Lilus cannot be contained and is sent to a nunnery where she is completely oppressed, both by the patriarchy and the Catholic religion.  The ending is open – it can be read as Lilus searching for signs of rebellion or as Lilus searching for signs of God.  Either way, the message is clear: the woman’s place is in the silence of the men’s voices. 


All this in a “children’s” book.


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