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In Defense of Canaries
When it comes to the Arrowverse, I am primarily a Sara Lance stan. But I also love Laurel Lance and the Arrowverse’s Dinah Drake. My canaries. And you know what makes me really sad? To see Sara fans hating on Laurel, or Laurel fans hating on Sara, or either fans hating on Dinah, or Dinah fans hating on either Lance sister. It upsets me not just because I love these characters, but because I can’t stand seeing primarily female fans hating on what are, objectively, strong female characters.
Admittedly, I was not crazy about Dinah’s character when she was first introduced. I thought they were trying too hard to replace Laurel, and I found it beyond ridiculous that they actually named her “Dinah” (I believe my exact words were “are you f*****g kidding me?” said out loud in my empty apartment). But you know what? Dinah is a great character. She’s strong, she kicks ass, and she doesn’t take s**t from anyone. Regardless of what I think about her origins, I’m not going to hate her character because I don’t like how she was introduced. And you know what else? Juliana Harkavy is a great person. I got to meet her at HVFF San Jose back in December (dressed in my White Canary cosplay) and she was incredibly kind and said she loved my outfit, and she took several pictures with me even though I only paid for one.
It makes me sad when I’m online and see people referring to Dinah as “Tuna” or “Fake Drake.” First of all, I think “Tuna” is a really gross nickname for any woman, fictional or not, and I would never want to demean another woman like that. But honestly, there is nothing making you have to choose between loving Laurel and Dinah. Has Dinah’s writing been flawless? No, but to be honest neither has Laurel’s. Laurel is/was a strong character who is all about empowering other women, and I think if she was present in the Arrowverse right now (as I know I and many others would love her to be), I don’t think there would be hate between the two women – because they’re both mature women who don’t need to get catty over such things. Your favorite characters don’t need you to be offended on their behalf. They’re perfectly capable of defending themselves, and if they’re okay with something, I think there’s no reason the fans shouldn’t be as well.
On that note, I’ll move onto the hate between Sara and Laurel fans, which breaks my heart because I love both of the Lance sisters so much (I stan Sara, but I’m in law school and Laurel is one of two existing lawyer superheroes, and I absolutely adore her). And what really gets me about this hate is that the Lance sisters love each other. Neither of them has been perfect, and yes Sara made some very poor decisions in the past – nobody is denying that. But what else can’t be denied is that Sara and Laurel love each other beyond measure. The shows have made this explicitly clear on multiple occasions, I don’t think I should need to list them here as they are so common. So when I see Sara fans hating on Laurel and Laurel’s fans hating on Sara, I get really upset, because I LOVE Sara and Sara LOVES Laurel (and vice versa). I know how much their relationship means to each other.
And I know how pissed off it would make them see how people who are supposedly their fans hating on someone that’s very dear to them. And it’s completely unnecessary. Laurel doesn’t need you to hate on Sara over the Gambit when she’s clearly come to peace with that subject, and Sara doesn’t need you to hate on Laurel over Sara supposedly being fridged in order for Laurel to become the Black Canary. One thing in particular that drives me up the wall is the claim that Sara “didn’t love Laurel enough” to bring her back to life. Let me be completely clear: the one and only reason Earth-1 Laurel Lance has not been brought back to life is the show wants her to stay dead. The show actually went out of its way on several occasions to demonstrate how much Sara loves Laurel, and how much not being able to bring her back had such a detrimental effect on Sara. There is nothing Sara can do to change this, and hating on her character over it does nothing more than add to the negativity surrounding yet another female character.
The lovely actresses of the Arrowverse have already started a movement aimed at empowering women and having them help each other called Shethority. It’s a great movement that has already seen a lot of momentum and gained traction with many of the Arrowverse fans. It’s amazing to have such great actresses sending a message of female empowerment. And I think if we are going to claim we are for female empowerment, we can’t check the claim at the line between real women and fictional women – because how fictional women are treated has an effect on the women that play them, the women that watch them, and women everywhere. Did you know that Katie Cassidy never checks her Twitter mentions because they are constantly filled with nasty comments, and even worse, some incredibly awful things like death threats? Because of her fictional character. Are we supporting women’s empowerment when we allow actresses in our fandom to be treated this way?
I think that if you’re going to support women, you have to support them all the way, and that includes not hating on strong female characters. I’m not saying they have to be your favorite, or that you even have to like them really. Just don’t add to the pile of hatred that already exists towards women, fictional and real. Don’t add to the stress the actresses we love already have to deal with. Don’t you think that’s what they would want from you as their biggest fans? And is that really what we want? I constantly see people complaining about how dramatic and hate-filled the Arrowverse fandom is. There is never a shortage of ship wars, bigotry, and people being absolutely awful to each other, and I don’t think that’s what anyone wants the fandom to be. But we don’t have to feed into that. We can choose not to hate on strong female characters, starting with our different and ever lovely Canaries (side note: I debated including Black Siren in this article, but because she is primarily a villain at the moment I didn’t want to overcomplicate feelings towards characters that perhaps have some good reasons to not be fond of, so I decided against it).
Start with yourself. Choose to love all three of them. Isn’t that what Shethority is all about? Then talk to your friends about it, and encourage them to go to their friends. We can change what the Arrowverse fandom is like, and it has to come from within. We don’t have to be the fandom that pushes people away from the shows we love. Choose not to bring more hate into the world. Choose to be the person your Canaries would want you to be.