One Equal World

“SheZow” Sparks Controversy, Naturally

Posted on: July 22, 2013

There’s a new television show for kids airing on The Hub, and it’s stirring up a lot of controversy. “SheZow” is a cartoon about a boy, Guy, who has the power to fight evil when he transforms into his alter ego. The superhero secret identity has long existed as a classic plot point in comics and superhero stories. So what’s the twist in “SheZow” that’s causing such a commotion? Guy’s superhero alter ego is female.

Naturally, homophobic organizations have issued aggressive anti-gay and anti-trans statements like this one from One Million Moms that discourage parents from letting their children be subject to this kind of television. While “SheZow” creator Obie Scott Wade has insisted that, “While the character of Guy does learn many things about himself by becoming SheZow, the main focus is on responsibility and less on gender,” the show’s unique content has many people labeling it a “transgender cartoon.”

The fact that so many people are quick to label and condemn a fictional children’s cartoon character is a testament to the misinformation and judgment that surrounds transgender-identified individuals. Guy doesn’t identify as being transgendered, and he doesn’t become female as SheZow. His superhero identity is simply female; he adorns “girly” clothes to conceal his identity when fighting evil.

Superhero and comic expert Comics Alliance weighs in on the cartoon explaining, “Secret identities lay at the core of much superhero fiction, and some heroes go through greater transformations than others. The simple notion of a male hero with a female alter ego is well within the bounds of the genre…In essence, SheZow is a girl superhero in the same way that Batman is a bat superhero…” equating Guy’s alter ego to that of other beloved superheroes who have unusual secret identities.

The real reason “SheZow” is causing some controversy seems to be because a boy character is adopting “girly” traits as a superhero. Strength, power, and courage are superhero qualities that our society also wants to instill in boys, establishing norms for masculinity. In that regard, “SheZow” is a somewhat radical cartoon because it allots those same strong traits to a female superhero identity, and even promotes some gender fluidity.

Have you seen “SheZow” yet? What do you think of the show and its concept?


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