Something truly rad has happened in Winnipeg, Canada. A group of teenage girls has created their own set of superhero trading cards. The after school group has dreamed up heroines who fight against the everyday evils facing teenage girls.
Meet The Bookmark. Instead of fighting bank robbers or supervillains, The Bookmark works to "end discrimination against nerds."
This is Click, she puts an end to gossip. Her superpowers include the ability to "make "uncool" teens cool without changing anything about them."
Meanwhile, the fearsome Masked Peacock is able to "spread her multi-coloured feathers to turn racists into people who see the beauty in diversity" and also "heals invisible wounds."
Altogether, the awesome superhero team is called The Craftastics: Agents for Social Change.
This teen girl squad collaboration was facilitated by a community art program in Winnipeg that matched artist Jennie O with an after-school "Grrlz Club" to work on an art project that focused on community identity. The Grrlz Club appears to be as great as its name. Every week the girls get meet to:
"Make crafts, play games and have group discussions on topics from healthy dating relationships to self-esteem issues. Once a month or so, they volunteer in the community or help out another organization with events. The major goal of Grrlz Club is to empower girls in their teenage years and help them realize that girls are awesome and to help them inspire, heal and transform the community, each other and the world in which they live."
To make the superhero trading cards, the girls first created a team of superhero dolls out of clay and cloth. They also hand-made costumes so that they could embody their superheroes (adorable photos here). The group is hoping that other schools and libraries download the trading cards and use them as examples to make their own injustice-fighting leagues.
The Craftastics project speaks to two things that the world seriously lacks: afterschool programs that center on social justice and female superheroes. In 2012, the Crunk Feminist Collective wrote about the need start early in teaching young people about feminism and social injustice. Though it may seem silly to some people to sit around thinking up superheroes, this kind of teen program teaches young people to name and speak out about oppression in their lives. Besides, the lack of lady superheroes and superhero creators is well known. It is true that Marvel just released the first of an all-women series of X-Men and that more attention is being paid to how male dominated and male centric the industry is. But generally, women, trans and non-binary creators are significantly less published, and superheroines are often tokenized or hypersexualized.
Alternative super identities, especially the kind created by the Craftastics, are a means of imagining a different, better world in which injustice can be fought against. Superheroes (and heroins) embody empowerment. What remains to be done is bridge the gap between fantasy and reality. I hope these girls keep fighting racism, gossip, and nerd discrimination even when the capes come off.