How does Ms. Marvel draw on or respond to feminist theory? How does this comic represent a female brown Muslim?
Ms. Marvel is the first brown, Muslim, female superhero in the Marvel comic universe. She fights for justice and equality and represents empowerment, courage, resilience and self-discovery. Thus, she is sometimes labeled as a feminist icon, as she is an inspiration to many young, brown and Muslim girls and young women.
Feminism is a socio-political movement, theory, and ideology in which the main goal is to achieve social, political and economic equality of the sexes. You can read about the connection between feminism and pop culture here.
Ms. Marvel is a fictional character who appears in Marvel Comics. Her real name is Kamala Khan, and she is a 16-year-old Pakistani American girl from New Jersey who discovers that she has superpowers; inspired by her idol, Captain Marvel, Kamala becomes Ms. Marvel—a shape-shifting superhero who dedicates her life to fighting crime and the forces of evil.
Kamala deals with regular teenage problems—she's not so popular in school, her parents have big expectations from her and put her under a lot of pressure, and she sometimes struggles with her self-confidence, which makes her rather relatable; she often says how she doesn't know who she truly is. It seems that her shape-shifting powers are quite fitting in this case, as they reflect her doubts and uncertainties about her identity and her values. Even though she can transform into pretty much every shape and take on any appearance, however, Kamala never actually loses her true self and even manages to find her purpose.
Kamala's religion and ethnicity are simply a part of her—they represent some of the many ways in which she shapes her character. This makes her a powerful icon, especially for brown and Muslim girls; the fact that she is a young woman with extraordinary abilities only solidifies her status as an idol, especially in feminist theory. Many fans have mentioned that even though people of all genders and backgrounds can relate to Kamala and her story of self-discovery, brown and Muslim girls can probably understand her emotional struggles the most.
You can read more about Ms. Marvel and the female and Muslim representation in comics here.
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