Let me preface this by saying that I thank the good Lord every day that I have the immense privilege to get pissed about stuff like this. It is not frivolous or meaningless — cultural criticism, especially feminist cultural criticism, combats deeper evils than we give it credit for — but I am nonetheless pretty well-off for having the computer to read this news, the mental energy to contextualize it, and the small social platform from which to toss it into the great Internet void.
What I don’t have, though, are big feet.
I have relatively small feet, thanks to inheriting my grandma’s dainty limbs. I run about a size 5 in men’s footwear, depending on the shoe in question. That is, unless the shoe in question is only available in men’s sizes 8-12. In which case, I am size none of them because they will all look like clown shoes on me. Such is the case with Ellen Ripley’s Alien Stompers.
“Hm,” you may be thinking to yourself. “Maybe this is a different Ellen Ripley than the one I’m thinking of. Maybe there’s a dude out there named Ellen who also stomped on aliens with shoes manufactured by Reebok. It’s possible.” About as possible as my tiny-ass foot fitting into one of these shoes, is what it is. These are, indeed, the Alien Stompers of one Warrant Officer Ellen Ripley, Supreme Space Bitch of Alien and Aliens and the third (and fourth, because no one knows when to quit) one that we don’t talk about.
Men’s sizing? Fine, cool. That was the original make, and I wear men’s shoes all the time — tons of women do. Ellen Ripley did, obviously. Women are used to finding ways to fit into male spaces, especially women in sci-fi. We deal with the fake nerd girl comments and comic book store side-eye and keep churning out amazing creative works in the hopes that we might one day be taken seriously in the genre that we literally invented. We deal. It’s fine. It’s not, but it is. It’s better than nothing.
But these shoes. I cannot.
This is a painfully tangible reminder of the way sci-fi thinks about us — or, more accurately, the way it doesn’t think about us. Want to wear Ripley’s shoes? Too bad, tiny toes! She’s an outlier, you see — her shoes really are just men’s shoes that she was exceptional enough to fill. You should be grateful there’s an Ellen Ripley at all; to ask that you are able to envision yourself as her is just absurd. Who do you think you are, a protagonist or something?
And I am grateful that there’s an Ellen Ripley, a Leia Organa, a Nyota Uhura, a Rey Probably Skywalker. I hope to see more like them in the future, and I will happily and foolishly buy up any novelty corporate offering of their characters. But you need to, like, remember who’s wearing the shoes, Reebok. We don’t need to fill them; they need to fit us.