Interview: Candice Patton, Caity Lotz, & Women of The CW’s Arrowverse Launch Shethority, a Platform for Women’s Stories
Amazing things happen when women support each other and tell their stories. Caity Lotz and Candice Patton learned this when they became fan favorites and friends while working on Legends of Tomorrow and the The Flash, respectively. As a black woman in a lead role (Patton), a bisexual superhero (Lotz), and passionate feminists, both their roles and personas resonated with fans, especially girls who had never seen themselves onscreen before.
Lotz and Patton heard so many amazing stories from fans, at conventions and through social media, about how their characters and stories had inspired them. On a hike in Vancouver two years ago, the two were discussing how to better connect with fans and empower them, especially young girls, and from that conversation, the idea of Shethority was born. This week saw the launch of Shethority’s website, a platform for women, girls, and their allies to share their experiences and stories. Patton and Lotz (pictured above) spoke with The Mary Sue about the project and how they hope it can empower their fans and amplify diverse voices.
“Shetority is an online global collective,” in Lotz’s words. “Its whole purpose is just to create a community for women to be able to talk about and share their experiences.” Patton explained: “The idea we had when we created it was just simply female empowerment. Having the authority over your female self. We wanted to create a space, for young girls especially, to share their experience and connect with each other.”
After that first hike, Patton and Lotz shared the idea with other women of The CW’s Arrowverse while filming a multi-show crossover event, and Shethority became a super group of super women including Lotz and Patton, as well as Melissa Benoist and Chyler Leigh of Supergirl; Katie Cassidy, Juliana Harkavy, and Emily Bett Richards of Arrow; Danielle Panabaker of The Flash; and Maisie Richardson-Sellers and Tala Ashe of Legends of Tomorrow.
The group had big ideas for Shethority from the beginning, but knew they had to start small. Lotz explained, “If you wait to do something perfect, or to have it all figured out, you might never do it, which is why we started the Instagram.” The Shethority Instagram, as well as other social media platforms, allowed them to connect with fans, and more importantly, share and amplify the audience’s stories.
The ladies also launched a shirt campaign through Represent, benefiting charity. The focus of the Instagram matched the mission of Shethority: “We just met so many interesting, unique people, especially young girls who relate to our characters or are inspired by things we’re doing in our lives,” said Patton. “So we wanted create a space for them to not only connect with us but connect with each other, and find empowerment through shared experiences.”
The full website took more work and planning, but that’s because the creators have big plans for the platform. Along with articles by the founding members of the Shethority collective, the site will feature articles from all sorts of women and allies to boost their voices and empower and connect people. Along with written content and stories, there are already great plans in the work for video content, with roundtable conversations discussing gender, race, and pay equity, a book club, resource lists, and more.
Those resources will include avenues for users to help themselves, even in times of crisis. Lotz also wants to “find a way to keep making it engaging. If someone doesn’t want to write an article but wants to be involved,” they can hopefully find a way to share their talents. A live Shethority event is hopefully in the future, too.
Though there are hopes that the site and administrators will have the bandwidth to manage a moderated forum in the future, at this point, the articles will not have a comment section, and with good reason. “If it was just our articles we would,” Lotz relayed, “but for the woman or girl who really puts herself out there or writes a piece that’s very personal … we don’t want to subject her to any online trolls. We want to keep the authors safe.”
Shethority will also continue to raise funds for charity with the merchandise, now available on the site, much of which will be designed by the founders. The current crop of merchandise will benefit Girls Forward, an organization that support refugee girls and women fleeing conflict, with some profits also going to site upkeep and admin costs.
The women of Shethority also want to keep the voices diverse, and intersectionality is a top priority. Shethority wants to empower women no matter how they came to womanhood (trans and non-binary folk are explicitly counted as part of Shethority on the site), as well as women of color and queer women of all experiences, because their stories are all different.
“My experience as a black women is different than Maisie’s experience as a black woman,” Patton explained, “and our experiences are different from a Hispanic woman or a Hispanic man, or someone that is bi, lesbian, gay, [or] transgender. So it’s really important that everyone shares their experience. And the more that we share experience and see how different we all are, the more we can learn to accept and tolerate.”
This also means including men in the conversation and the site. “Men can feel excluded from feminist movements, and we want to figure out how we can bring in men more,” Lotz observed. “Yes this is female focused, but we love and welcome male involvement.”
Patton agreed: “I think part of the fight for feminism is we can’t do it alone. I think one of our greatest assets is our male counterparts. This isn’t about excluding men, we love and value men for what they offer, and how they can help empower us, as well.”
Shethority began before the MeToo and Times Up movements became a part of our cultural conversation about women, but the movement and site matches with that greater shift. “It’s right in line with what’s going on,” said Patton. “Power in numbers is so powerful. The more we realize that we are stronger together, the less afraid we are to speak up about our experiences about sexual harassment and bullying and race.”
“I think everybody was feeling it before we started hearing about it … it only gives us more momentum,” Lotz said. “The biggest way that we get to equality it by supporting each other and lifting each other up. Too often in society, you find that women are pitted against each other.”
Patton also explained: “It creates less of secrecy between women, which I think has always been a problem.” Patton Loves Shethority because “women as so often, for whatever reason grew up with this idea that … women are competition and are our enemies, and that is the antithesis of what women are and should be for each other. We are truly sisters to each other, if we really value womanhood, and the relationships we have, we are really an asset to each other.”
Lotz joined in with that theme: “It used to be that there was only that one role or that one seat at the table … and now it doesn’t have to be. There’s space for all of us, and the way that we lift all of us up is just by listing each other instead of competing with each other.” And that’s what Shetority is about, “a place for women to support and learn from each other.”
While there was some stress at the launch of the site on Monday, especially when eager fans immediately crashed it, the women behind the movement are very excited for the next steps of this project and the stories they are going to help tell and discover. Shethority is about learning from other women, relating to their struggles and triumphs, and lifting all of us up through those stories.
Patton summed it up: “The more I talk to other women, the more I learn I’m not alone.” This is just the beginning of Shethority’s story, and they invite you to share yours.
(featured image: Tayo Ola)
Jessica Mason is a writer and lawyer living in Portland, Oregon passionate about corgis, fandom, and awesome girls. Follow her on Twitter at @FangirlingJess.
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