We Need More Karen Pages Sep25


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We Need More Karen Pages

Karen Page from Daredevil.
What defines a strong female role model? A woman who fights for what she believes in? A woman who won’t give up? A woman who isn’t defined by a man? A woman willing to make sacrifices for others? If it’s all of the above, then Karen Page from Netflix’s Daredevil fits the bill.

Karen’s character is introduced in the first Daredevil comic in 1964. She is a classic damsel in distress, secretary to the firm of Nelson and Murdock, and a love interest to various suitors. Eventually becoming an adult film star with a drug addiction, she cleans up her act but ultimately dies saving Daredevil. Karen of the Daredevil TV series, however, is different. Though she is a secretary and a love interest, those things do not define her.

Karen can’t always punch her way out of situations and though she could very much use her sexuality as a weapon, she doesn’t.

In comparison to other heroines from Marvel shows on Netflix, many wouldn’t describe Karen Page as a badass. She doesn’t have the physical power of Misty Knight, Jessica Jones, or even Madam Gao. Yet that’s the very reason she is strong, because she still manages to fight for what she believes in under the harshest of pressures.

With the rise of female-led shows and movies like Jessica Jones and Wonder Woman, I’m hungry for more heroines. Yet, people keep limiting their definition of “empowered” to characters like Arya Stark, Harley Quinn, and Colleen Wing without considering the immense strength of Sansa Stark, Lois Lane, and Karen Page.

It took me years to redefine my understanding of strength. Growing up in an Indian Malaysian household meant I was exposed to the wonders of Indian Cinema in all its splendour and, yes, these movies included singing and dancing, as well as preposterous action sequences. The women in these shows were there to look beautiful and be rescued by men.

After my introduction to Hollywood cinema, I learned that for a female character to equal her male counterpart, she either had to become someone who used her fists or her sexuality. But then along came Karen Page to change my preconceptions.

Karen can’t always punch her way out of situations and though she could very much use her sexuality as a weapon, she doesn’t. She’s not just a love interest. She’s not just eye candy that could be replaced with a sexy lamp. She’s not just there to be saved by Daredevil.

Karen is determined to find the facts at all costs and that is what drives the plot for both seasons of Daredevil. She nearly dies while digging for the truth on more than one occasion and yet she isn’t willing to look the other way or back down.

People limit their definition of “empowered” to characters like Arya Stark and Harley Quinn without considering Sansa Stark and Lois Lane.

Karen’s brand of heroism comes from her need to do what’s right. In Season One, she finds out that her previous employers, Union Allied, are money laundering for the Kingpin. After this Karen is framed for murder, almost killed, and ultimately forced to sign papers so she can’t speak about her time at Union Allied. Yet, this doesn’t stop her from seeking the truth. Even, when the men in her life tell her that investigating Union Allied is dangerous, she still does it. Similarly, in Season Two, it’s her need to pursue truth that makes her an ally of the Punisher. She believes him when no one else will, sees that there is more to his family’s death than meets the eye, and helps him investigate.

Karen isn’t perfect. Her unstoppable desire for knowledge can put others at risk, and her actions result in the death of an investigative journalist. However, her humanity and imperfectness are also what make her a valuable role model. She makes mistakes just like the rest of us, but it’s her desire to continue doing good that makes her heroic.

Karen seeks truth and justice, does so without the ability to fight as a superhuman, and refrains from relying on her sexuality as a form of manipulation. She is a shining example of a badass female character who has heart, who is feminine, who is willing go after dangerous men, yell at the Punisher, and seek the truth with only her wits and amazing hair. It’s her passion and heart that make her a hero, not a set of superpowers. We need more Karen Pages in our universe.

Erica Dass

Erica Dass

Guest Writer at Area of Effect magazine
Erica Dass is working towards an English and Film Major in Canada. When she isn’t stressing about papers and due dates, she can be found binge watching TV Shows, freaking out about the greatness of dogs, and overthinking everything, especially the likes of heroes (even the ones that don’t wear capes).
Erica Dass

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