The Significance of a Sister

wp-1456256798833.jpgThe superhero/vigilante trope is guilty of being male dominated with the bulk of female characters being watered down versions of their male counterpart except with the “man” part of their name being replaced with “girl.” Original female characters tend to fall into two categories: those whose gender is irrelevant to the character and those who are completely defined by it. Both of course are natural responses to under-representation and yet each arguably reaches a point where they become either counter-productive or do nothing to fill the large gap in narratives that are needed to tell stories that need to inform our collective conscience.
And yes, most female characters are white.
If Lilly had to be categorized as either genderless or all things gender I would think she is the former. She witnessed the violent death of a loved one at a young age and used the significant resources at her disposal to become a warrior, vigilante, anarchist and hero. We’ve seen this before in stories featuring male protagonists from the Dark Knight to The Crow.  We can contrast this with say, Olivia Benson (who I am assuming is better known than say Miho from Sin City) who was conceived during a rape, raised by a single mother, and then becomes a detective specializing in rape and crimes against mothers and children.
But Lilly is the first sister, not the third son.
Lilly’s mother looks almost exclusively to her remaining son for comfort.  When he also dies violently and Lilly’s mother has no sons left, we can imagine how her reaction might have been different if Lilly had instead been Leo.  Brandon’s treatment of Lilly also is distinctly skewed because of gender. It is difficult to imagine a hypothetical Leo having the same conversation with his twin brother about their brother’s killer and being treated in the same paternalistic way. In the first book we see gender play out most significantly in Lilly’s relationships with her own family.
Lilly also falls into the trap of being un-sexualized.  This is in strong contrast with characters like Lilly’s friend Cassie or her Lord Kaine’s lover. The virtuous nun, the celibate warrior, the lone sentry…it’s popular because it works. But this is only the first book. Lilly doesn’t have a romantic interest now and she shows mild distaste for her friend’s overt sexuality but that is not the default celibacy of a batman-esque character or the eternal mourning of widowed killer.  Future storylines are always in flux but chances are Lilly will have relationships.

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