I’m back writing Her Stories for the next month. For those who don’t know me from my previous stint, I’m the audience development manager for HuffPost Canada, and this week, I’m excited to tell you about a story that caught my eye from HuffPost India.
First, I want you to picture a superhero in your mind. Is it a man or a woman? Are they wearing tights? And are they fighting for some kind of general sense of justice?
For India’s first female superhero, justice is a bit more defined. Priya, who first debuted in “Priya’s Shakti” in 2014, is a sexual assault survivor who uses her powers to fight violence against women. In the next volume, 2016′s “Priya’s Mirror,” she works with acid attack survivors to spread a message of body positivity.
Now in 2019, she’s taking on sex trafficking in “Priya and the Lost Girls.” Binjal Shah, a writer for HuffPost India, finds the subject matter both innovative and incredibly important at this moment in time.
“In a country where religious fundamentalism is on the rise and society is seen shifting back to conservative values, a female superhero — dark-skinned and salwar-kameez clad, no less — with a compelling origin story involving surviving rape and resisting the stigma that comes with — was path-breaking at several levels,” Binjal says.
And while the target audience for these stories — that is, the teens of Gen-Z — might seem young, Binjal is quick to point out that they’re hardly unfamiliar with the concepts.
“The younger population is much better poised to join conversations about all the ways in which we can change the world than even millennials were at that age. They’re at the forefront of protests, online campaigns and in general, are leading by example by being more socially conscious. Popular culture ought to keep up with that and feed that further — and superheroes like Priya are going to lead the charge,” she says.
It seems that fans in India agree, as creator Ram Devineni tells HuffPost that “Priya and the Lost Girls” has received a ton of positive press coverage and downloads are streaming in already.
While it might seem heavy, the idea of a superhero who survived rape only to go on and help others through a variety of powers feels like exactly the kind of lesson kids (not to mention their grown-ups) could learn from.
It did make me wonder about other “alternative” superheroes who might be out there. If you know of any, please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org — I’d love to read about them.
Hoping those of you who celebrated Thanksgiving had a holiday filled with gratitude and happiness,
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