The other day I was scrolling through Instagram minding my own business when I stumbled upon a feminist-mini series that gave me so much life I had to reach out to the creators and learn more.
Meet Flavia, Devon, and Sarah – the women behind “MENACE”.
What inspired you to create this series?
Flavia: We wrote this series for ourselves and for women. Collaborating is the way we found to take ourselves out of a situation where we kept playing the secondary female parts to male leads. We spoke to women in our age demographic about what they wanted to see in media. Then we combined this feedback with our individual interests for characters we wanted to play but never had a chance to.
The whole process was very character driven from the beginning and as it progressed, we made tweaks here and there to fit the narrative. Just the idea of writing with other women was an awakening experience.
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I love the apocalyptic angle of the way women are treated. What inspired you to go with that vibe?
Devon: After the presidential election last year, the future did not look as bright as it once did.
I love how diverse the women’s backgrounds are. What inspired their backstories?
Sarah: The backstories for our characters come in part from ourselves and what we want to see portrayed in media, and partially from inspiration around us. We each crafted our own characters. Devon was inspired by an article she read about financial domination when writing Daisy, something she saw as completely autonomous and an extraordinary way of owning one’s own private business. Daisy has a really difficult past, and you can see that from how strong, confident and independent she is.
Flavia drew partially from her own experiences, as well as from people she knows, to write Ana. Though Flavia is not undocumented, she drew a lot of from her own experiences as an immigrant woman of color.
Similarly, I was inspired to write a character that is sort of an alternate version of myself. Jane has a similar background to me, but perhaps took a different path than I did growing up, leading her to be quite different from me in both behavior and circumstances. As well, so many of my close friends have experienced sexual assault and abuse, which I drew from when writing Jane.
All three characters come from diverse backgrounds quite simply because the three of us do. We thought it was important to show women not just as “besties” or family so that we could force these characters to work through conflict. So often in today’s world we are isolated in our own hyper-normalized communities, whether online or in real life.
But we saw a need in our society to push together women who are unlike and force them to face each other. Each character is a version of what she sees as an independent feminist, but in the end no woman is a perfect feminist, and we wanted to highlight that truth. We hope it inspires more women to recognize others’ experiences respectfully (unlike Jane, Daisy and Ana who sometimes trample over one another) and grow from it, rather than shying away from differences.
It’s about celebrating those differences and learning from the respectfully. Intersectionality in feminism is essential to equality, and it’s so important to us that people realize that not all women have the same opportunities, especially here in the US, where racism runs deep.
What was the hardest part of producing this series?
Flavia: Working with women. This seems like a counterintuitive answer for a predominantly female project but it’s the truth and that’s the exact reason why women need to keep working with each other. Our entire lives we are brainwashed to believe that women are each other’s enemies. I spent most my life hearing that girls and women are “complicated’ , “difficult” “envious”. and boys are just “easy”.
It requires a lot of self awareness and active listening not to let these negative constructs take over relationships. Women are not taught to trust, cooperate and support each other. This is extremely problematic. As long as we don’t get over that and start seeing opportunity for sisterhood in every relationship we have with women in our lives I don’t really see the fight for gender equality going further. But this only means that we have a lot of work to do and that we need to keep working to break free and start showing up for each other.
Our creative partnership is wonderful but it doesn’t mean it isn’t difficult, which only means we need to keep trying, keep working and being there for each other.
How can we support you?
Devon: Head over to @menaceseries and watch the series we made for you! Tell your friends about the it, let us know your feedback, share your stories.
Tell your own stories your own way, don’t let setbacks keep you down. Also, support your local female-centered organizations. There are people out there helping, so help them.
Volunteer, give money, spread the word, because sisterhood is a powerful survival tool.