The League of Super Feminists by Mirion Malle from Drawn+Quarterly serves as a veritable primer on feminism itself. Rather than a comic book style team of superheroes, the “league” is the collective community of people following the feminism: pursuit of equality regardless of gender. Far too often feminism is misconstrued or even dismissed outright as anti-male with words like “feminazi.” Malle’s book sets things right by serving up an intellectual toolbox enjoyable by kids and adults alike.
Rather than a narrative, Malle’s style delivers The League of Super Feminists as a conversation. Through the translation by Aleshia Jensen, the book does not give a sit-down lecture on historical feminism as much as an exploration of facets all over our world, particularly in media and culture. It begins with a unit on representation, inviting the reader to ponder the typical tropes of stories in which the strong boys come to rescue the fragile girl. Once these gender-based roles are evident, solutions become obvious in adding diversity. The impact is obvious: avoiding the devastation on self-confidence even by age eight.
Throughout The League of Super Feminists, numerous topics come at the reader in quickly paced chapters that cover friendship, romance, beauty, gender, and privilege. Short one-page guides present additional material, such as introducing the Bechdel-Wallace Test or defining consent with a spectrum of examples showing how complicated people really are inside. As the book continues, it reaches into wider scopes, discussing intersectionality and how feminism means inclusivity for everyone no matter their race, ability, orientation, size, or net worth.
The illustrations in The League of Super Feminists elevates the text with examples and laugh-out-loud sidebars. Malle’s cartoony style and the largely absent panel frames are gentle and approachable while adding a volume of energy. The conversation is carried by Malle’s self-portrait in narration and dialogue with popup characters. This makes counterarguments readily available for rebuttal without aggressive quarreling. For example, while Malle discusses stereotypes and girls being princess rather than tough knights, one girl points out that she likes watching them, “Does that mean we can’t watch princess movies anymore?” Malle replies that people should watch whatever they want and that it would be sad to not have any princess movies at all. The importance is being mindful of what we are consuming and to have plenty of options.
The League of Super Feminists is a quick read packed with examples as it covers such a broad range. As the discussion in “Do Feminists Hate Men???” shows, flowing seamlessly from the display of how many forms privilege takes in our everyday lives, the issue is about equality for everybody. This of course would mean an end to male privilege along with many other kinds of privilege; the flow of logic throughout the book ideally will have the reader nod along rather than have a kneejerk reaction of fear. The League of Super Feminists does well as an introduction for anyone onto the many topics discussed or even a textbook in a course on understanding.