Now, there's been a whole lot of progress recently when it comes to the representation of female superheroes in the Marvel and DC universe's, with the rise to prominence of Black Widow and Peggy Carter, and the imminent arrival of Wonder Woman, Supergirl and Captain Marvel on our screens. They're still very much in the minority, but it's definitely a step in the right direction.
Great as that is, though, it doesn't mean that we're anywhere near even a vague approximation of equality when it comes to female superheroes, and the way in which they're treated by (the dominantly male) comic-book industry.
Sadly, there's a solid line of bias, misogyny and often-patronizing disinterest running through a whole lot of the industry - and one of the most visible areas in which it's still a huge problem is in merchandising.
Fortunately, though, an 11-year-old named Rowan (via a freelance writer named David Perry) just raised a whole lot of awareness about the problem, in the most awesome way possible - through an incredibly bad-ass letter to DC comics...
Here's a transcript, just in case:
Dear DC comics,
My name is Rowan and I am 11 years old. I love superheroes and have been reading comics and watching superhero cartoons and movies since I was very young. I’m a girl, and I’m upset because there aren’t very many girl superheroes or movies and comics from DC.
For my birthday, I got some of your Justice League Chibis™. I noticed in the little pamphlet that there are only 2 girl Chibis, and 10 boys. Also, the background for the girl figures was all pink and purple.
I remember watching Justice League cartoons when I was really young with my dad. There are Superman and Batman movies, but not a Wonder Woman one. You have a Flash TV show, but not a Wonder Woman one. Marvel Comics made a movie about a talking tree and raccoon awesome, but you haven’t made a movie with Wonder Woman.
I would really like a Hawkgirl or Catwoman or the girls of the Young Justice TV show action figures please. I love your comics, but I would love them a whole lot more, if there were more girls.
I asked a lot of the people I know whether they watched movies or read books or comics where girls were the main characters, they all said yes.
Please do something about this. Girls read comics too and they care.
Now, aside from the fact that she's absolutely right - which she most certainly is - there's something particularly inspiring about an 11-year-old being willing to fight a battle that so many grown adults (despite believing in it) don't always take the time to assist in.
That's especially true in a world where, despite the best efforts of Marvel and DC to slowly catch up - and the fact that there are more and more world class female comic-book writers and artists (like Kelly Sue DeConnick, G. Willow Wilson, Gail Simone and Fiona Staples, for instance) getting published every year is a great sign - there's still a huge bias towards men when it comes to the heroes who get their own TV series, comic-book or movie, and the creative talents who are hired to work on them.
Add in seriously problematic pieces of merchandising like this...
...and the fact that a whole lot of female superheroes are still regularly depicted as little more than sex-objects in mainstream comic-books...
...and it's not too surprising that we still need an 11-year old kid to show us the way.
On the plus side, though, DC did respond to Rowan's heartfelt plea...
...but until their - presumably very genuine - hard work pays off, it wouldn't hurt for the rest of us to stand beside those brave enough to stand up and be counted in the fight for comic-book equality, and to echo Rowan's courageous words:
"Girls read comics too and they care."
Because damn straight they do.