In reading Ms Marvel and particularly in our discussion on Monday, two things became abundantly clear. First, I could really connect a lot of the content to feminist theory and critical studies in philosophy. Second, I may have taken a few too many philosophy courses if that’s the first thing my brain went to. There were two core concepts that stood out to me the most: Internalized oppression and Intersectionality.
Internalized oppression occurs when an individual does not live up to a perceived norm so they internalize the prejudices that others have and that effects their self-image. This theory or concept is often used in Critical Race theory (e.g. internalized racism) and Queer theory (e.g. internalized homophobia). I didn’t really see this connection until our discussion in class on Monday (the 15th) when we talked about how Kamala just wants to be seen as normal, she wants to live up to the unachievable standards that norms set. However, the way she sees it is that whatever is normal is not her and this causes some bitterness, frustration, and a lower self-esteem as a result. When I saw that I kind of went “Ahh! Internalized Oppression!” and that was that story.
Intersectionality is a term first popularized by feminist philosopher Kimberlé Crenshaw. It came about because many of the theorizing that went down in both feminist theory and critical race theory were not valuing the lived experiences of people who fit into multiple minority categories (e.g. a black woman) because having people with complex world views apparently made theorizing about humans in general too difficult. Long story short, intersectionality values complex world views through examining the lived experiences of people who fit into multiple minority categories and not weighing one over the other. The portrayal of Kamala in Ms Marvel is wonderful for showing off intersectionality at its finest. Kamala is a Muslim, Pakistani-American Female, but first and foremost she is a person. All of the minority categories make up a part of her identity and they cannot be examined separately because they work together along with other traits like her geeky love of superheroes to make up who she is and how she sees and interacts with the world around her.
Now this is definitely not an extensive look into how one could do a feminist reading (i.e. feminist philosophy) of Ms. Marvel, but it was where my thoughts took me this week so…that’s all for now, I guess.