‘Xena: Warrior Princess’ taught me how to be a powerful woman

Kai Cheng Thom: Lucy Lawless’s Xena confirmed me a technique to be female, and on the identical time robust, fierce and unstoppable

I just lately modified my cellphone ringtone to Joseph LoDuca’s The Warrior Princess, the once-iconic leitmotif from the tv present Xena: Warrior Princess. I do know, I do know, customized ringtones are thought of horrifically cringe-worthy in 2022, however I can’t assist myself. Prior to now month, I’ve binge-watched the primary 4 seasons of Xena, comprising 90 45-minute episodes in complete, and I’m staring down the barrel of the final two seasons with feverish anticipation.

It’s the slow-motion finish of the world, and all I wish to do is watch Xena kick some warlord butt. Properly, that and I wish to be Xena, a lot in order that I’ve began doing kickboxing exercise movies once more. Oh, sure, I’m in deep, immersed in an obsession I first emerged from 20 years in the past, as a preteen. I’ve to surprise: why Xena? Why now? However maybe I get forward of myself.

For these not accustomed to the mythos of the Warrior Princess, Xena originated as a derivative of the equally kitschy journey sequence Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, during which she is a villain, the despotic warlord often known as the Destroyer of Nations. Reformed by Hercules, Xena went on to star in her personal present, during which she fought to atone for the atrocities she dedicated prior to now and conquer her personal bloodthirsty nature.

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The sequence is ready in historical Greece, a time of gods and kings in a land in turmoil that cried out for a hero. Within the ’90s, I used to be an effeminate, closeted little Asian trans lady, and I too longed for a saviourfrom the constraints of masculinity, my mother and father’ expectations and my very own deeply ingrained disgrace and helplessness in a world the place being queer was thought of a sick joke at finest. Thankfully, a imaginative and prescient in a corset and miniskirt got here to reply my prayers: Kiwi actress Lucy Lawless within the position of Xena, the Warrior Princess. Wielding sword and chakram (the razor-sharp metallic frisbee she threw at her enemies) and belting an ululating battle cry, Xena burst onto the display to battle the forces of evil, take sexually ambiguous baths together with her sidekick, Gabrielle, and rescue me from all different fashions of femininity.

Individuals don’t speak a lot about Xena anymore. In contrast to her ’90s lady warrior modern, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Warrior Princess by no means achieved status tv standing. Although the present was, for a time, ubiquitous, Xena wasn’t identified for fastidiously crafted storylines or subtle world-building. As a substitute, Xena was a campy (and at instances nonsensical) assemblage of excessive melodrama, slapstick comedy, historic anachronism and very tacky—however nonetheless thrilling to this then eight-year-old fan—motion scenes.

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Although it was misplaced on me on the time, there was additionally copious pandering to the heterosexual male gaze; I’m undecided there’s a single feminine character whose costume isn’t primarily a metallic corset, leather-based swimsuit or some mixture thereof. But the gratuitous nature of Xena was sophisticated by its forays into queer feminine sexuality, which looking back appear shockingly daring for prime-time tv of that decade. The complete six-season enterprise is tied collectively by Lawless’s electrical efficiency: she snarls, seethes, broods, whoops and cackles within the warmth of battle with such fervour that it’s unimaginable to not learn feminine empowerment into her character, it doesn’t matter what ridiculous factor she’s sporting.

That is the place my obsession with the Warrior Princess started, in her expression of a femininity that spoke to my very own repressed and oppressed gender. I bear in mind insisting to my mother and father that I used to be a woman as early as three years outdated, but I used to be by no means actually aligned with the kind of post-feminist Barbie doll aesthetic that was so closely promoted to little ladies within the early ’90s. I knew I used to be a woman, I felt it in my soul, however I additionally needed to be robust, fierce and unstoppable—like Xena. And like Xena, I used to be stuffed with disgrace. Like Xena, I used to be stuffed with rage.

Nowadays, there’s a lot debate in regards to the tone and depth of trans-rights activism. Famed creator J.Ok. Rowling has described receiving “accusations and threats” from trans activists and being subjected to a “persistent low stage of harassment” in response to a few of her engagement on social media associated to transgender points. In his current particular The Nearer, comic Dave Chappelle defended Rowling, describing the trans group as “mad as s–t” and declaring himself to be on “workforce TERF.” Whereas I don’t assume it’s true on the entire that trans activists are threatening or overly emotional, I additionally need to ask—what if we’re certainly offended? What if I, a trans lady, am livid? What if I, like so many trans folks my age and older, spent many years residing in secrecy and disgrace, derided and denigrated, underneath the fixed risk of violence from each strangers and family members for expressing the reality of what I’m? Who wouldn’t wish to raze just a few villages?

I work as a battle decision guide and mediator. I actually wrote a e-book about selecting love in response to hatred and violence. But one thing inside me nonetheless yearns to strap on some armour, seize a sword and scream a bloodcurdling struggle cry—and look good doing it. Like Xena, I comprise contradictions. I wish to overturn this wretched, oppressive world, and heal it on the identical time.

Is there room on this world for a trans lady to be offended—to be a warrior—and nonetheless should be referred to as a lady?

Twenty years later, Xena nonetheless makes me hope there’s.

This text seems in print within the February 2022 problem of Maclean’s journal with the headline, “I’m lady (additionally, warrior).” Subscribe to the month-to-month print journal here.

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