Felicity Smoak has been an important part of Oliver Queen’s journey since the beginning of the show. What was supposed to be a one-shot character became a compelling, multi-dimensional and strong female character in the DC Universe. From what we learned about her background, Felicity has been affected by being constantly let down by different men in her life and suffers from abandonment issues. It has been portrayed with the resurrection of her ex-boyfriend Cooper and the pain caused by her father who left her and Donna at a young age. She is smart, witty , not afraid to speak up and a great feminist model on television. Throughout the seasons, it has been emphasized in her personality that it is important for her to be included in a decision making process when it directly concerns her.
By agreeing to marry Oliver in season 4, Felicity has made it clear that it would forge them into a team; a team who consults each other before making decisions… together. It is an important value for her. When she found out that Oliver was keeping her out of the loop by hiding the existence of his son from her and that after coming clean with the secret, he didn’t include her in the decision making of what he would to do with the kid, she decided that she had enough. By doing that, she is not being selfish. She understands him, she forgives him but she is standing up for herself, to protect herself.
In the aftermath of the events that happened on the show, I’ve come across many comments on the Internet, mostly made my men (often comic book purists) who claimed that Felicity is being a “bitch”, whiny and that she should be written off the show because she is “has no right” to be angry at Oliver for his actions. I just want to mention that when I say men, I do not want to generalize all men because obviously not all men think the same and not all men represent what I have come across in my findings. However, from what I have gathered from these comments online is that misogyny and double standards are real issues.
I don’t know if it’s because strong women are a threat to masculinity or because some people still live with the delusional idea that men are supremes and women should obey but it has to change. From what I collected from men’s comments online is that women don’t have their say on superhero shows, women should always agree with the protagonist or serve as characters on the background with only minor involvement such as comic relief. When a woman stands up for herself and displays some kind of emotion, she is shown as morally weak or annoying.
On the other hand, when Diggle felt betrayed and was angry at Oliver for several months because he kidnapped his wife and endangered his kid, none of these men complained. None of these men said that Diggle was overreacting, none of these men said that he should be written differently. When Oliver refused to be with Felicity in season 3 because he was having some identity crisis, none of these men said that he was overreacting. When Oliver made Diggle, Felicity, Ray and Laurel think they were going to die, none of these men said he was being abusive or morally incorrect but as soon as a woman stands up for herself and say “no” to the main protagonist, she is in the wrong.
I can understand that when you are a casual viewer of the show, you don’t give much thoughts process to a character’s reaction. I am not saying the Arrow writing is perfect and these female characters have no flaws. Trust me, if I could change some things on the show, I certainly would but I accept and cherish it as it is. Maybe the whole Felicity reaction would have been different if we had had the chance to explore her issues through the lens of an outside perspective such as Diggle, Thea or Laurel. However, only Oliver’s side was explained through other characters with his scenes with Thea and Diggle who both supported his decision. As a casual viewer, you are more drawn to take the position that is given to you. Consequently, Felicity did not have that fair treatment and seem to be dealing with her issues on her own.
Nonetheless, this is an ongoing social issue that will always be present in the fandom/society. If we do not fight for equal treatment and representation of female characters, we won’t evolve. This is a serious issue that should not be ignored because someone’s value and opinion should never be diminished because of their gender. Female characters are important in superhero shows and as heroes themselves, they are crucial to the protagonist’s journey.