We were watching one of those superhero shows since this is my way to keep my husband from grumbling when I suggest we watch a documentary about, say, the Sinsombrero, or “Women without Hats,” the female half of a group of Spanish avant-gard painters, poets, and philosophers during the 1920s and 1930s.
In any case, we began to talk about the lack of representation of heroines in the collective imagination, and we ended up talking about “superpowers.” I stopped to think about the simple idea of superpowers, about what they signify and how they are signified, and about the traits that make one a superman.
I began writing this article with the intent of questioning the content and form of superpowers, but I realized that the Royal Galician Academy includes the word superman, but not superwoman. According to the Academy, there are two definitions of superman: one is a philosophical reference, and the other is “A man in possession of superior traits.” There is no female equivalent. There is no superwoman. According to the Galician language, the concept does not exist. And if language reflects our lives, then it is quite clear that heroines are so invisibles (in comparison to heroes) that they don’t event embody a word. And I did not wish to go into the debate about the use of the generic masculine. Yet, formulated in a practical manner and according to our dictionary, a father could be a superman, but a mother would have to be a superman as well.
In reality, this article was going to be a comparative reflection about the superpowers of heroes and heroines. I wished to write about the undervalued superpower to thrill, to move, because my intent was to celebrate the birth of a heroine who, even today, makes us feel things as profound as they are impossible to express: the superwoman Rosalía de Castro, who would turn 182 years old this coming Sunday.