It isn't remarkable that the story is incredibly dumb, of course. That sort of thing happens. But I'm pretty impressed at how pitch perfect its tin ear is, Betty Friedan-wise. Doesn't miss a note. It even goes the extra mile of NOT having any hint of a lesbian subplot between the ambassador and Supergirl, which would be TOO obvious.
When things are this badly written - by Jim Shooter - what do you think is actually going on with the writer? Is he just sitting there weeping with laughter at what he has wrought? [their link, not mine - ed.]
No, he was 15 years old, 16 at the most, and that's probably what 15-16 year old boys thought back in 1968. When John wrote his post, he didn't realize Shooter was still a teenager. But in these "enlightened" times anyone can cringe when they see what was going through his mind and into his script. The girl Legionnaires are mind-controlled, but Supergirl finally breaks free of the control when Shadow Lass tells her that she'd set Brainiac 5 to doing housework. The Silver Age paragon of sweetness and femininity says, "When Shadow Lass made me think about what would happen to Brainiac 5 in a feminist world, my mind revolted ... my super-will snapped your control!"
When the villain (Ambassador Thora) commits suicide rather than return to her homeworld having failed to get Earth to change to a matriarchy. But while she was here, her homeworld overthrew its matriarchal government, and as Kara says, "...which goes to show that, despite our puny interference, there's a force in the universe that has a way of setting things right!" So even to Supergirl (via Shooter), having the men running things is the way things should be run.
One commenter put it a lot better than I could:
One can see in Shooter's storytelling a sort of throbbing conflict between a recognition of the barefaced wrongness of a "patriarchal background" and an instinctive allegiance to his gender and the status quo. Why would the dude feel the need to write this story, but to explain why something that seems wrong (the oppression of women) isn't actually wrong.
Kevin Drum of Washington Monthly mentions this article, and there are some comments there to read. Gary Farber makes the correction that Shooter was 15-16 when he wrote this story, not 17 as had been assumed on John and Belle's page.
More discussion of this story and article at PZ Meyers' Pharyngula: "Remember, kids, be nice to your girlfriends so that they'll squelch any uppity feminists who threaten your dominance!"
Incidentally, the letters page 3 issues later (issue 371) has a few comments on the story (go here and scroll down). Bruce Riley of Cleveland realizes you really can have two "girls revolt" stories separated by 4 years, as long as you change stuff:
I have just finished reading "The Mutiny of the Super-Heroines." At first I thought it would be like "The Revolt of the Girl Legionnaires" in ADVENTURE No. 326, but I was wrong. What made it different was giving the heroines extra powers, using more girls, and the major role played by Supergirl in defeating the villain. I did find two mistakes, though. On page 15, Star Boy's insignia is missing, while Ultra Boy's insignia is gone on page 16.
Interestingly, the only female's response to the story, from Shelley Van Geffen of New Orleans, discusses not the story but the clothes. Remember, that's all girls think about. That, and making fools of the boys. Oh, and jewelry.
Your Leigon stories are great! I havbe only one complaint. The uniforms of Cosmic Boy and Element Lad are PINK! Don't you think pink is a bit too feminine for heroes as great as these two?
For a bit more pre-modern look at what passed for feminist commentary back in the early Silver Age Legion (Adventure 326, Nov. 1964), remember how Queen Azura of the planet Femnaz caused the "Revolt of the Girl Legionnaires" (as recounted by Chris Sims for Prism Comics).
Let's see if anyone takes me to task for my calling this post "the feminist mistake" (a pun, of course, on Friedan's "Feminist Mystique" - and not my pun, it was John and Belle's).