Melinda May is a woman of color in a white men’s world on a white men’s show and that is so important.
Someone else wrote that she comes across as doing the right thing and being brave even though the narrative is not on her side, and I think that’s right, and it’s pretty incredible, and speaks to the strength of this character and the talent of the woman who plays her.
But mostly I want to talk about how people think Melinda May is cold and scary and unfeeling, but how May leaves the desk job she took to protect herself after a huge trauma because she is afraid for her friend and wants to be there for him in every possible way (even maybe up to putting him out of his misery, if it came to that). And when he finds out what she did (for him, completely for him—there was not one molecule of anything self-serving in that decision), he treats her like absolute shit, and I want to talk about the fact that May is strong enough and respects herself enough not to take that crap and she walks away. That is a rare, rare thing to see a woman do and not be intensely vilified for by the narrative on TV and it was the most valuable thing I think I’ve seen a character do. Because as women, we’re taught to care for other people at our own expense. We’re taught to stick it out and make things work and compromise and apologize and be nice. And it hurts us. But May left because she knew she needed to take care of herself, and that wasn’t selfish. It was right. It was self-respect.
I also want to talk about how May cares for everyone on her team so much, but especially how she interacts with the younger women on the bus, with Simmons and Skye. A lot of times on TV, you see women who have personalities and values as different as these women do fight and be in conflict, which is such a damaging trope. But not here. Even when Skye is pissy, May doesn’t respond to her by lashing back out. May’s assessment of Skye’s situation is the assessment of a good agent doing her job. And especially recently, we can see how May respects Simmons’s work and notices her efforts and how important that is to Simmons, how she reacts to May as a role model. Simmons who is afraid of conflict and weapons and doesn’t know how to fight but who was willing to jump off a plane to save her team and to fight for them against Hydra. May knows how big of a deal it is to Jemma Simmons to be noticed by her. And Skye? Skye wants to be accepted, she wants to be valuable, and now she wants to be able to fight the battles they’re fighting without her feelings getting in the way. And May’s seen Skye’s feelings being messy all over the place since day one and known it would hurt her, but she waits till Skye asks and then offers her help. The mutual respect growing between these women, a lot of it emanating from May’s example, is a rare thing to see on TV.
Speaking of the women of SHIELD, the field agents we know—May, Hill, and Romanov in particular— hide and control their feelings with an elegant finesse that elides how damaging that control can end up being. When we see everyone believing May is this unfeeling weapon, calling her the Calvary afraid of her— and then we see Coulson hurt her deeply, we see her react and leave, and we hear her tell Skye frankly that no, she has feelings, she is furious, but this is how she expresses that— THAT is so important. That is something that affects many of the women in the MCU, and it’s May who finally articulates it and explains to not only Skye but to the audience what is really going on with her, and implies how damaging the perception that women who control their emotions have no emotions is. May just took a grenade to the deadly dichotomy of “overemotional woman” and “coldhearted bitch” that the world tries to force on us, and that is incredibly significant.
Finally, although we don’t always see it because the narrative is not on her side, Melinda May has, throughout the run of the show, been fighting a terrible secret battle. Imagine what it’s like to have to watch one of your closest friends for signs of deterioration, for signs that he’s going to die (again), and you might have to be the one that does it. To know what happened to him and be unable to tell him. To have that heartbreak and that terror and never breathe a word, and never flinch. And after all that, because of all that, to have your loyalty questioned.
Melinda May is a goddamned hero. She is a loving, courageous friend. She would give her life for her team, kill for them, keep heartwrenching secrets for them. She has taken blow after blow with no time to recover and kept going, because what she does isn’t just survive. She walks out of the blaze carrying her friends in her arms. She does this when she is vilified by her friends, when the narrative elides her role or even casts her choices in darkness, when the world at large wants to crucify her. Melinda May carries her truth inside of her, and nothing can pull that from her. She does what is right, regardless of all the forces allied against her.
And that matters.
[Submitted by thebrightgeist]
The marauders sitting in the common room doing homework and James is reading for an assignment and he thinks it’s stupid and just yells “are you fucking serious?!”
Remus says “yes” before thinking it through and begins contemplating a jump off the astronomy tower. Sirius looks momentarily horrified then Peter passes over a galleon to James and they move on with their homework as if it never happened.