This Magazine

Progressive politics, ideas & culture

January-February 2020

Dear She-Ra: an ode to activist organizing across generations

Megan Kinch


Dear She-Ra (Princess of Power), Glimmer, and Bow,

Hi, She-Ra. I’m a long-time fan of your work, but this is my first time writing to you and the Best Friend Squad. There’s been a reboot on Netflix which seems laser-focused on my child-of-the-1980s demographic (the fact that I have a six-year-old daughter who also loves She-Ra is a bonus). We know that you, She-Ra (like your twin brother He-Man), are all about the fight for justice against oppression. I’m specifically writing to you because I noticed a subtext: that of intergenerational conflict in social justice activism. And, I have to say, that gives me all the feels.

The new She-Ra appeals to six-year-old girls and young queer adults, but also to feminist moms with small princess-obsessed daughters, like myself and mine. I dressed as She-Ra for Halloween in senior kindergarten and 30 years later so did my daughter.

Your planet is really far from ours. But in your brave struggle as teens fighting an army invading from space, I see Greta Thunberg’s call for intergenerational organizing to prevent the destruction of our planet; I see the youth in the streets for the climate strike being dismissed by their elders. I see my generation of intersectional feminists struggling against the TERF-y, racist and classist tendencies hidden within feminism’s third wave. Establishment journalists write endless op-eds about millennials killing things, we are stuck in a terrible housing market and crushed with student debt and all we can come up with is “OK Boomer” to start to address inequality between generations.

I do know that the three of you were totally right that reforming the Princess Alliance is completely critical to fighting the invading Horde army. It’s been so hard for you to organize in the shadow of the failure of the last Princess Alliance, which failed to halt the invasion of the Horde, but you are slowly building up a team of alliances across the different parts of your planet. Are we not all bound by the success and failure of past generations? We lose again and again but keep trying, hopefully learning from the past, but not getting caught in their defeats.

Glimmer, I feel for you so much. Dealing with the intergenerational trauma of your father being killed in the resistance, which also kind of ruined your relationship with your mom. That alternative timeline moment where you got to experience a whole family before it was torn apart is heartbreaking. But you are so strong. It seems like your mother keeps trying to hold you back and telling you your efforts are doomed to fail, but she is also a voice of wisdom and measured response. She was trying to keep you safe but she was also trapped by her own failure to fight the Horde. I see your determination to try again, to learn, and to do better this time.

And Bow. Your gay dads want so badly for you to take over their library, but one of your dads is a veteran of the struggle and you feel compelled to follow that legacy, not the researcher/librarian/historian one they have charted out for you.

And, of course, you, She-Ra/Adora. Raised by the Horde and imbued with their ideology, you nonetheless opened your eyes to the settler-colonist invasion you were a part of. You carry the legacy, not only of the last generation of resistance to the Horde, but also the heavy burden of all the She-Ras in the past.

Thanks, She-Ra and friends, for giving ways to think about overcoming intergenerational tensions in organizing to accomplish the things we all really need, like keeping the whole planet from burning up. It’s going to be complicated and we will have a lot of stuff to work out, but having some fabulous sci-fi cartoons to help us think with will only help us in the very real struggles we have ahead.

Love, your forever-fan,

Megan Kinch

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