Anything a man can do, we can do bleeding. What if we could do more?
Alongside famous comic book writer, Marguerite Bennett and artist, Leila Leiz, Emilia Clarke is working on her newest adventure. Set in three issues, these women will be putting together MOM: Mother of Madness. My own mother would fit the bill pretty nicely as a single mother of three kids. The main character, Maya, is set to be doing the impossible: working, being a superhero and above all, raising her kids. According to the former Game of Thrones actress, she has seen numerous friends become parents and taken note of the incredible strength it requires. It gets even better when you learn that Mother Of Madness was created by an all female team encompassing Leila Leiz (illustrator), Isobel Richardson (contributor) and Jo Ratcliffe (cover artist).
Starting July 1st, anyone can meet Maya on her mission to take on a group of human traffickers. But according to Clarke, there’s a catch to where her powers come from. While deliberately vague, Clarke states, “She can do all of these wicked things, but they all come from the fact that she is a woman who has a menstrual cycle. I thought it would be cool to have all the things that women don’t like about themselves, flip that, and make those the things that make her superhuman.” She adds that this is an effort to destigmatize “the bloating, the hair growth, the mood swings, the [acne], all of it. Largely because we hate that when it happens.”
Speaking from my own experience, my menstrual cycle has been no cause for worry. Yet, when spoken of by others, the same cannot be said. You are told to not speak of it, and above all, not to be anything less than perturbed by it.
Even in the West, which predominantly known for its modernity, the stigma surrounding menstruation is still prevalent. For example, any girl whose boyfriend will buy her tampons is considered lucky. He’s a real feminist and truly cares if he’s willing to go through that for you. That singular example is just one way to show that there is a stigma surrounding this bodily function.
The International Women’s Health Coalition found that there are close to 5,000 slang terms for what we call the menstrual cycle. Why not just say it: period. Say it long and proud. Say it as you walk slewing tampons and pads from your pockets to everyone who looks at you. Maybe, just maybe, our new superhero, Mother of Madness might just help us with that.
Girls in comics
In my case, I have never experienced a keen interest in comic book but this new superhero just might change that. Per Clarke’s statements, women in this sector often feel excluded. After a poll taken by DC comics, it was discovered that women make up only 7% of the reading audience. Take that with a grain of salt if you will, because those polls have been changed numerous times. Regardless of the differing percentages, they still show that the female audience is in the minority.
Nevertheless, attitudes seem to be changing as the first female superhero, Fantomah, was created in the 1940’s. While she was a minor character, she was a major stepping stone for female involvement in this new genre. We all know about Wonder Woman; she was first introduced by Elizabeth Moulton and her husband, William. He elaborated that they wanted “the allure of an attractive woman, but with the strength also of a powerful man.” This doesn’t come as much of a surprise when you remember Wonder Woman’s curves and costume.
One interesting aspect is the depth of the gender conventions displayed through her character, whereas the female characters within this genre generally came to reflect society’s own views on women’s empowerment. Jean Gray is another manifestation of this when she turns into the Phoenix thus, coming to symbolise the Women’s’ Movement in the 1980’s.