It’s been a while since I’ve done an honorary lady post, but I think it’s time. For those of you new to these posts, this is where we want to highlight and all attention to those who are out there fighting the good fight, highlighting issues, blazing paths, creating, and building community. You get it, yeah? We want to give some love back to Ladies (and some non-ladies) who are doing things we love and want to see more of. There is a lot to be said for positive reinforcement and I feel like these days it’s even more important to acknowledge those who make a positive impact on you and prompt you to learn more about something that you might not be totally familiar with. So my Honorary Lady this time around is Shoshannah Stern!
So, who is she?
Shoshannah Stern is a deaf actor and writer who has most recently been on Supernatural (but has also been on other shows like Lie to Me, Jericho, and the lady-led comedy Another Period). I’m gonna keep this write-up spoiler free about that because really this post is about the actor, not the character. But suffice to say, Shoshannah has made a huge impact on the SPN fandom in her few appearances with her portrayal of Eileen Leahy, a hunter who happens to be deaf. This is an important distinction as deafness is not what defines the character, but rather is merely one aspect of who Eileen is. Not having deafness as the central character driver is a point of representation that Shoshannah feels passionate about. So often when deaf characters are represented in entertainment being deaf is what defines their character and their story is a discussion of struggle or hardship solely around being deaf. Deafness is often seen as something that one must overcome to be successful. It can have an encompassing hold on the character and prevent other aspects of a character from being explored. This type of representation can carry over to how how people see deaf people outside of the media, and that’s not great.
How is she helping representation?
Shoshannah works hard to push back against one dimensional representation of deafness. In her own writing characters are deaf because they are, and that’s because people just are. There isn’t a point to be made about being deaf except to show that while being deaf is a minority experience, within that experience there are many levels of how deafness is part of ones life (and many different levels of deafness itself). Shoshanna has played character with more or less levels of hearing than she herself has and her character on Supernatural can read lips much better than she can. Her most recent work The Chances is a series about deaf characters written by deaf people. The hope is to highlight the intersectionality of the lives of deaf people and move toward portraying them as full 3-dimensional characters rather than ones with only one note. Like all representation this can also help educate those who may not have interaction with deaf people on a regular basis about the different aspects of the deaf experience. But more, and perhaps most importantly it helps to break down stereotypes about deaf people and opens doors to new opportunities and experiences.
A cool thing she did that you should know about.
Shoshannah established the Eileen Leahy Scholarship, named after the character she played on Supernatural. Shirts and mugs were sold and the majority of the proceeds from these items support the scholarship that will help a deaf woman attend Gallaudet University, the premier university for deaf students and Shoshannah’s alma mater.
As Women’s History Month marches on, we are happy to bring you another post in our “We Can Do It” series, highlighting women who strike out in underrepresented fields. Check out our first installment about female tattoo artist, Sandra Burbul.
When local creator and publisher Lindsay Moore reached out to us wanting to tell her story of publishing an all-female horror anthology, we jumped at the chance to have her share her experience. Lindsay talks openly and honestly about her challenges as a woman in the male-dominated fields of comics and horror. When she met resistance, Lindsay decided to strike out on her own and make her dream of Dark Lady (and other works) a reality.
Well well well, we haven’t done one of these in a while. Recently the Ladies did a little research into our own Meyers-Briggs types. You have to pay for the real test but here is a free online assessment to take for funsies. Once we had our types, of course the next logical/fun step was to look at various fandoms and see what fictional characters shared our types. (There are tons of these out there, pick any fandom, Google and enjoy.) I’ll spare you some of mine lest you think I am a total sociopath (I’m looking at you Supernatural MBTI chart), but this exercise did remind me of a character I have often felt a connection to and who may not get as much attention in the pantheon of kick-ass fictional ladies.
I’ve been writing a lot about zombies lately, so I was going to change it up this month and write about some great comics I’ve been reading. But then I read this strange review of the new Netflix Original Series, Santa Clarita Diet, (SCD) from Esquire by a woman named Katie Van Brunt, and frankly, it demanded a response.
Some of us ladies had the pleasure of attending Harvard Book Store’s author panel “Gender and Color in Comics” on Monday, February 6, 2017.
If you missed it, the full video of the event will eventually be available on the Harvard Book Store Channel.
In the meantime, here are some transcribed quotes from the evening.
When you think of industries where ladies are underrepresented, the ones that spring to mind are likely the tech industry, or the comics industry, airline pilots, STEM, construction….anyway. One area that might not be at the forefront of your mind is the tattoo industry. Getting tattoos in Massachusetts (where the Ladies are based) was illegal until 2000, and since then shops have popped up fast and furious. On my less than 2 mile walk to work, I pass four! So while tattoos have become fairly mainstream, the make-up of those who do the work still skews heavily male. However there are ladies out there, working hard, pushing their way in, and doing amazing work. Last year I met one of them and while she did a lovely piece for me, she was cool enough to tell me a little about her experience. This past December, I decided to visit her again to get an old piece reworked, and this time I was prepared, with Smalerie in tow to take notes. I combined getting a tattoo reworked with learning more about my artist, the industry, and even some best practices around getting a tattoo.
[Updated January 9, 2017]
Chewing Gum will have you laughing, squirming, and nodding in that “Yeah, I know how that goes” kind of way. The comedy — created by, written by, and starring Michaela Coel — follows Tracey, a 24-year-old woman discovering how awesome and awkward sex can be.
The 6-episode first season originally premiered on the BBC’s channel E4 in October 2015. Thankfully, Netflix brought the show to U.S. audiences in the fall of 2016. Season two premieres on E4 this January (watch the trailer).
I stumbled across the series while browsing Netflix, and I quickly binged all of season one. Here are my top 3 reasons why Chewing Gum should be next on your list.
iZombie is based on the comic book of the same name by Chris Roberson and Mike Allred, who provides the gorgeous opening credit art, but apart from the primary conceit about how zombies work — that they absorb the personalities and memories of the previous owners of the brains that they eat, and if they don’t eat brains, they lose all intelligence and humanity — they couldn’t be more different.
The original comic was chock-full of other sorts of monsters — vampires, werewolves, and ghosts — and was a meditation on Emerson’s concept of an over-soul. iZombie, the show, is a police procedural about a zombie medical examiner with the punny name of Liv Moore who uses her brain-connections to solve murders. It sounds goofy, when you describe it like that, but trust me, the concept works. Mind you, I’m not sure if this show is totally “hidden,” but since I know so few other people watching it, I’m calling it.
In the pattern typical for showrunner Rob Thomas (no, not that Rob Thomas — though the Season Two finale makes great use of the connection), who previously helmed Veronica Mars and Party Down, iZombie seems to be critically acclaimed and enjoys a rabidly loyal but very small fan base.
As someone who hopes to see it last long enough to get a satisfying conclusion, here are five reasons you should be watching this show.
[Updated November 29, 2016]
Our first Star Trek Trivia event was a roaring hit! Three dozen Trekkies turned out for seven rounds of trivia, laughs, and quality nerd camaraderie. Special thanks to Comicazi for having us and Wes Hazard for hosting. (If you attended and want to give us feedback, please contact us!)
The final team rankings were:
- The Niners
- Rock out with your Spock out
- Deep Space Fine
- Keeping up with the Cardassians
- What happens on Risa… (their final score was 69, no joke!)
- The Uhuras
- Captain Kirk’s Toupe
- Trouble with Trekkies
I bring you the second in what we hope is a series on Kickass Fictional Ladies. You may remember when The Red Menace brought you the first post about Princess Eilonwy, from the Chronicles of Prydain. Well, it’s time to share another lady who we see as a strong female character.
Warning: this post contains minor spoilers for the Firefly television series and the Serenity movie……
Those of you who know me in real life may be surprised that I didn’t pick Buffy Summers (the Vampire Slayer) for my first foray into this feature. I still like Buffy, and much as Buffy kicks ass, and as important a character as she was to me in my teens and 20’s, I find that now that I’ve reached Ladyhood, it’s Zoe who’s caught my attention.