She-Ra: Princess of Power isn’t made for men

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Alix Walker
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Netflix and DreamWorks Animation have joined forces to reboot Eighties classic, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. But some (male) fans seem to have a problem with a female character, known her incredible strength, also having muscle definition. 

There are a few standout moments from my childhood: Fluffit pens; the Magic Tree I got from my grandma every Christmas; buying a packet of Spicy Nik Naks from the vending machine after swimming and watching She-Ra: Princess of Power every Saturday morning on our blue flocked sofa.

As a six year old I was partial to the entire animated action hero genre - ThunderCats, He-Man, Ninja Turtles - but I particularly loved She-Ra, because, well, she was female. Which meant I had an easier job imagining I was her than a giant green turtle called Donatello. I got the She-Ra Crystal Castle for Christmas one year and spent hours locked in my head, imagining I was as powerful and ballsy as her as I surged through the blue castle doors. 

I might not have realised it at the time but in a world of male heroes she was the epitome of female empowerment. The anti-Barbie. The feminist cartoon who made a mockery of my wimpy doll that cried fake tears of water I refiled from our downstairs loo.

So I felt pretty nostalgic when I read that my favourite childhood hero has just been remade for Netflix by DreamWorks TV. Best of all she’s got a shiny new look thanks to illustrator Noelle Stevenson. And the princess has clearly been feasting on chicken breast as She-Ra 2.0 has muscular arms, a broad chest and a costume that’s less porn-star, more battle-ready which makes sense as that’s her job. 

She even has a pair of cycling shorts on, the kind you wore in PE so you could concentrate on running fast and kicking hard rather than worry about flashing to Year 7. All really rather exciting I’d say.  

But there’s a plot twist. Not everyone is happy about the modern day She-Ra. And by not everyone, I mean quite a lot of men. Twitter abounds with angry adult males who feel this new version is not, for want of a better phrase, w*nk-worthy enough. 

“Netflix is clearly afraid of She-Ra looking like a beautiful woman” says @Daddy-Warpig

“DreamWorks manages to fuck up She-Ra by turning her into a boy dressed as a girl,” adds the delightful @Batman_2020. Many have gone directly to illustrator Stevenson to criticise her personally: “Boyish lesbian re-imagines SHE-RA as a boyish lesbian. The utter selfishness and egotism of this is astounding,” says @DiversityAndCmx. What. A. Man.  

First thought: Can you imagine getting angry if He-Man suddenly got moobs? Would you feel you’d been denied a pin-up if under that mask Spider Man’s hair is actually receding, or if Clark Kent switched up his glasses for a pair of bog-standard Spec Savers? No, you cannot because you’re an adult woman who doesn’t rely on animated characters to get her kicks.

Second thought: Back off men, She-Ra is not made for you. That’s right, there is something that doesn’t hold your satisfaction at the heart of its purpose. Because deep down, I think, many men have a hard time believing that they might not be the target audience: that a female character or voice is not designed with their desires in mind. 

It’s why so many men hated Carrie Bradshaw - because her fashion and face didn’t necessarily fit into the traditional ‘what men find attractive’ box. Why they hate the fashion trends so many women love, like maxi dresses or androgyny… just ask ManRepeller. And why female-made versus male-made porn is so polar opposite.

She-Ra is made for young girls to teach them that Barbie and irritating little pigs called Peppa are not all they can aspire to. It’s also made for young boys (the re-made She-Ra is targeting children, not adult men) to reinforce to them that girls are not there to be rescued or to wear pink or look pretty in a tiara. 

In a sea thick with boy superheroes it’s so needed. It sure ain’t meant for grown men who sit behind computer screens. So back- off She-Ra… she’s for us. 

Images: Netflix / Twitter


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Alix Walker

Alix Walker is editor-at-large at Stylist magazine. She works across print, digital and video and could give Mary Berry a run for her money with her baking skills.