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Nanami Hamahashi
Professor Beadle
ENGL 113A
3 November 2015
Superpowers and Gender
One day, when I was an elementary school student, I asked a question to one of my
friends who is a girl. The question was What do you want to be in your future? She answered,
I want to be a Superman! Another of my friends, who is a boy, heard her answer, and said Are
you sure? Only boys can be Superman because masculine is violence. You cant be a Superman
because you are a girl! Probably, many people regard violence as masculine like my experience.
Ms. Marvel created by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona explains to rethink gender and
physical strength. I disagree with the opinion that Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan is able to transgress
prescribed gender expectations, as a result of getting superpowers in terms of her constant
environment, no change of Kamalas nature and others response to her, and the definition of
masculinity.
First, if Kamala Khan continues to make her life in the society that requires her to behave
properly as Pakistan American and a Muslim girl, she will not transgress prescribed gender
expectations. Pakistani Americans are Americans whose ancestry begins from Pakistan or
Pakistanis who migrated to and have their permanent homes in the United States. The most
important religion of Pakistani American is Islam. Kamalas brother said May Allah forgive
you, Abu (Wilson 6). Members of her family are Muslim. At the opening of this comic, she
asked permission for going to a party to her father, however, he did not give her the permission

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because the party has participants of boys. Kamala does not care whether the party has
participants of boy. She is just interested in joining a party, because her friends always go to
parties. There are often distinctions between women and men in Islam. Some of the distinctions
are discriminative. In issue five, when she ate foods untidily and fell asleep in a dining room, her
mother got angry greatly because these behaviors are not appropriate as feminine performance.
She does not meet gender expectation. Even after she got superpowers, her parents restrict her
activities, require her to be beautiful, and behave properly because they were not trying to make
her life miserable.
Moreover, in pages that Kamala and her father are talking (Wilson 92-94), there is almost
no background because their faces are drawn mainly in each rectangle. The background is simple
and the light is dark. I analyze that the darkness expresses the feeling of both Kamala and her
father. I guess that her father does not want to get angry with her, but he also wants to protect
Kamala from dangerous things. Therefore, he is serious, and his facial expression is dark.
Kamala feels sorry that she made her parents mad, and feel sad that her parents do not accept her
thinking. She cannot do what she wants to do. Even if she gets superpowers, she has to live in the
society which restricts what she wants to actually do. The way of thinking that people in the
society have does not change easily. There is a convention. The community has people who have
similar opinions. The power of influence of people in communities is extremely big. Aaron
Devor refers to forming childrens gender identities in the article Becoming Members of
Society: The Social Meanings of Gender from Composing Gender. Very young children learn
their cultures social definitions of gender and gender identity at the same time that they learn
what gender behaviors are appropriate for them (Devor 36). The influence of culture and
circumstances for gender thinking is quite huge. Different cultures have different ideas on gender

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roles. Not only childrens parents, but also their relatives, neighborhoods, their friends, their
siblings, and their teachers influence forming their identities. Children get much information
when they are young. The information will form childrens identity. Identity includes thinking of
gender. Obviously, her parents forbid her to do something danger and expect to do prescribed
femininity as their daughter, because she is a woman. In other words, as far as she obeys her
parents, she cannot transgress prescribed gender expectations even when she gets superpowers.
Second, I argue that when she is Ms. Marvel, she just gets marvelous strength. It means that she
does not transgress prescribed gender expectations, and she does not become masculinity. I do
not think that her personality changed because of getting superpowers. Before she gets
superpowers, she cannot accept her parents thinking, and sometimes resists them. She went to
party at night at the beginning of the story. She said Why am I stuck with the weird holidays?
Everybody else gets to be normal. Why cant I? (Wilson 9). She could express her complaint
against her mother. After she gets superpowers, she also complains to her mother. She said,
Your definition of success is pretty narrow, is all Im saying (Wilson 114). Even after she gets
superpowers, her personality did not change, and her response to prescribed gender expectations
did not change. Bruno is one of her friends. When she came to the party at the beginning of this
story, he was worried about her safety. He said, Look, you need to go out of here...I just dont
want you to end up in trouble (Wilson 12). In addition, when he tried to fix his store, he already
knew that Kamala has superpowers, but he did not allow her to help with him. Kamala said, So
let me help, but he answered No way. It could be dangerous. Ill hand it (Wilson 74). Even
after she gets superpowers, he was worried about her safety because she is a girl. Brunos
response to her did not change.
Furthermore, physical strength or violence should not be masculine. Certainly, when Kamala is

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Ms. Marvel, she has marvelous strength and can do something that she cannot do when she is a
normal girl. For example, she can destroy some things (Wilson 52), and fight against Doyle;
nevertheless he uses a weapon (Wilson 87). These behaviors can be analyzed as violent
behaviors. Normal girls cannot do that. She feels something special and enjoys her superpowers.
She can be positive about her life. Patricia Hill Collins refers to femininity in the article
Hegemonic Masculinity and Black Gender Ideology from Composing Gender. One of
benchmark of hegemonic femininity is that women not be like men (Collins 232). When you
see a girl who has very short hair, wears clothing for men, and uses masculine words, you may
think the girl unusual. Women are required to be emotional, cooperative, subordinate and so on.
It is not good for women to do like men. There are some people who may think that prescribed
gender expectations means being masculine. To prescribe is to state authoritatively or as a rule
that an action or procedure should be carried out. I argue that transgressing prescribed femininity
is not gaining masculinity. Many people consider masculinity as violence. There is a difference
of physical strength between men and women. According to Collins, many African American
men desire prestige by using their bodies, physicality, and a form of masculine aggressiveness
(Collins 228). It is true that men tend to use their physical strength, appropriately and
inappropriately. However, I argue that people should not regard violence as masculine. When
Kamala is Ms. Marvel, she tends to do acts of violence. However, it means neither that she can
get masculinity, nor that she can transgress prescribed gender expectations.
In contract, there may be an opinion that she can transgress prescribed gender
expectations because she helped her friend, Bruno from a robber (Wilson 60). It is certain that
this behavior is masculine, and she had the courage to fight with a robber when she is Ms.
Marvel. However, she feels confident and gets brave because she can do whatever she hopes to

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do only when she is Ms. Marvel. Her personality does not change, when she is a normal girl.
Kamala said I always thought that if I had amazing hair, if I could pull off great boots, if I could
fly...that would make me feel strong. That would make me happy (Wilson 34). She had thought
that she feels confident if she could become a beautiful woman. The color of this page is
basically dark. Heavy fogs are expressed in order to express her unclear feeling.
According to Collins, Black women are ranked on the bottom of relation of gender
hierarchy (Collins 232). Not only among men, but also among women, there are hierarchies.
Some women respect women of other kind of races. She wanted to have confidence in herself, so
she wanted to be Captain Marvel who has blond hair, is a white, and has superpowers (Wilson
18). People get information from media, and have a powerful longing for other people.
Especially many women have their ideal. Therefore, they learn how to make up, popular
hairstyle, and popular clothes through media such as magazines. Kamala also has a huge longing
for a beautiful woman, but her heart was not filled with joy when she became Ms. Marvel at the
first time. She gradually feels confident, however, her personality did not change. She is not
mathematical, authoritative, or dominant. People often feel confident when they became able to
achieve what they wanted to do from long ago. By gaining superpowers, she can feel confident,
but it does not mean she achieves masculinity. She does not transgress prescribed gender
expectations.
For the reasons above, I argue that Kamala does not transgress prescribed gender
expectations, even when she gets superpowers. It is certain that she feels confident when she is
Ms. Marvel. However, it is because she can do what she wants to actually do with superpowers.
It does not mean that she can transgress prescribed gender expectations and she can achieve
masculinity. She has to behave properly within the society that requires her to satisfy prescribed

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gender expectations. Her parents have considerable influence on her, and they restrict what she
wants to actually do. Even after she gets superpowers, her personality did not change.
Transgressing prescribed feminine borders does not mean gaining masculinity. She could get
only physical strength, which does not mean masculinity. Also, masculinity should not include
violence. We have to remember it.

Works Cited

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1. Collins, Patricia Hill Hegemonic Masculinity and Black Gender Ideology Composing
Gender. Rachel Groner and John F. OHara. Eds. 2014. New York:Bedford/St. Martins.
222-240. Print.

2. Devor, Aaron Becoming Members of Society: The Social Meanings of Gender Composing
Gender. Rachel Groner and John F. OHara. Eds. 2014. New York:Bedford/St. Martins.
35-45. Print.

3. Writer; Wison, G. Willow artist; Alphona, Adrian Ms. Marvel Vol. 1 #1-5 Colored by Ian
Herring. Lettered by Vcs Joe Caramagna New York:Marvel Printers. 2015. Print.