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The Female Perspective: Ninja’s Abound

Welcome! This is a weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc

With everything going on right now in politics and more, I wanted to write a blog that focused on the lighter, more fun side of life. It can be hard for me to not focus on the negative, but when you really look around, there’s a lot of positive in our crazy world. One of those positives is the show American Ninja Warrior. Yep. That’s right, I said American Ninja Warrior, the insane obstacle course show hosted by a comedian and a former NFL player.

I think June marks the start of the 8th season of this show. I’ve only been watching for one or two seasons, I always saw it as a silly show with no merit whatsoever. I have since changed my mind because there may be more male competitors than female, but the women that are creeping into the ANW team are powerhouses that give feminism, that give healthy, and strong good names.

Here are a couple examples of the cool women of American Ninja Warrior.

Kacy Catanzaro

The Might Kacy!
The Might Kacy!

You may or may not have heard this woman’s name, but Catanzaro was the first woman ever to make it up the famed “Warped Wall” on American Ninja Warrior. She showed that women can in fact compete on ANJ. Not only can they compete, they can stand toe to toe with the guys. An impressive feet for the 5 foot tall woman.

In 2014, Catanzaro became the first woman to complete the qualifying course of American Ninja Warrior, making it up the warped wall on her second try at 5:26.18 at the Dallas qualifiers, ranking her 21 out of 30; this also makes her the first woman to make it up the warped wall in competition. On July 14, 2014, Catanzaro competed in the Dallas finals of American Ninja Warrior. She was the first woman ever to complete the course (and the second woman to attempt it after Jessie Graff in season 5), qualifying for the national finals in Las Vegas with a time of 8 minutes, 59 seconds. Host Akbar Gbaja-Biamila remarked “I’ve seen greatness during my NFL career…And I’ve been in awe of people, but I am really in awe of Kacy”. Her achievement made her a social media phenomenon, with her run being viewed over 100 million times. –Wikipedia

Kacy had a really tough season last year, the stress and pressure of being the first woman through the course got to her and she had a few tearful moments that broke my heart. I have a lot of respect for her because she keeps coming back,she doesn’t stop trying. She does not give up and I have hopes for her 2016 season. She’s going to make it all the way to the end!

Jessie Graff

Jessie rocking it, ANW style.
Jessie rocking it, ANW style.

Jessie Graff is probably my favorite of the female competitors. She is a stuntwoman who has worked on Supergirl, The Walking Dead, X-Men: First Class and Iron Man 2 to name a few. She often rocks some kind of awesomely adorable outfit (last week she wore a Wonder Woman ensemble) and she is strong. Like, seriously strong. In season 8 of ANW they have raised the height of the “Warped Wall” to 14.5 feet and Jessie was the only woman in the LA qualifiers to make it up in one try. Many of the seasoned male competitors didn’t make it up the wall at all.

This chick is amazing. She makes me want to train even harder when I watch the agility and confidence with which she moves through this course.

I could go on, because thankfully, there are A LOT of women now on American Ninja Warrior and that makes it worth a watch for families especially. Little girls (and boys) can see what the human body can actually do when perseverance and commitment are at their top. For a show about jumping through obstacles, it continually impresses me with it’s message of hard work, dedication and heart. This show has a lot of heart. We hear stories about compeitors competing for their families, for loved ones they’ve lost, for loved ones battling disease and so much more.

It’s not just a show about being the best, it’s a show about being a human and it shows you that giving up is not an option.

The Warped Wall. Now 14.5 feet high!
The Warped Wall. Now 14.5 feet high!

American Ninja Warrior is on NBC on Thursday nights at 8pm. 

What do you think? Do you watch the show? Who’s your favorite Warrior? Sound off in the comments!

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The Female Perspective: Jessica Jones

Welcome! This is a weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc.

Alright, it’s been a couple weeks since Jessica Jones was released on Netflix so hopefully this won’t be a spoiler blog post for those who haven’t watched it yet.  I try not to be a spoiler but if you haven’t seen it then maybe don’t read this yet! You can always save it for later, post-viewing.

"Jessica Jones" is a very different superhero show and I love it.
“Jessica Jones” is a very different superhero show and I love it.

That being said let’s talk about Jessica Jones and why it is so important to the television landscape. It’s not just because it’s centered around a female character (that, in and of itself is a miracle at a time when we have two other female-centered shows in Supergirl and Agent Carter), it’s about the fact that it’s not all lightness and humor. It’s about a woman who was kidnapped, raped and abused for years by a man and who came out the other side to try and live a normal life (well, within the confines of also being a superhero). As with all things, life has a different plan for Jessica and she quickly finds out that her abuser is alive and stalking her through other people.

It’s a brutal premise and it’s beautifully executed by the folks at Netflix. Jessica isn’t treated like a damaged, fragile creature. She’s treated as a human being who has been through absolute Hell and who just wants to move on. Jessica has flaws, lots of them. She’s snarky, has a bad drinking habit and she distances herself from other people because she fears what might happen to them because of her past pain. She’s messed up and I absolutely love her for it.

So I get understandably frustrated when I see people comparing Jessica Jones to Daredevil. These are not the same shows folks. These are VERY different shows. Just because they live in the same Marvelverse as one another does not mean they are the same thing. Where Daredevil was more carefree and action-oriented, Jessica Jones is a character study about living with abuse. Where Daredevil is the origin of a superhero in the making, Jessica Jones is about a woman who doesn’t want anyone to know about her abilities and even more than that, she doesn’t even really want to be a hero to anyone. She simply wants to do her job, drink her booze and get through each day.

Kilgrave makes my skin crawl.
Kilgrave makes my skin crawl.

On the other hand, I get it, of course you’re going to compare one superhero show to another. We do it all the time with the Avengers movies versus the Superman movies and things like that because they do exists in the same Marvelverse with one another but I am hard-pressed to say that one is better than the other simply because they are both so very different from one another. They share a common darkness but where Daredevil goes around saving people and beating up the bad guys, Jessica Jones turns her back and wants to run away from the man who abused her for so long. In fact, we aren’t even sure if she is going to go after him until, ultimately, she has no other choice.

Let’s talk about her abuser, her captor, Kilgrave. A name that gets some fun jokes near the end of the season but those jokes do not lesson the horrific nature of Kilgrave’s power. The man can literally make you do things you don’t want to do. Add to that that he is played by the fantastic David Tennant and you have a match made in villain heaven. When he’s on screen (and even when you only hear him obsessively saying Jessica Jones over and over again) he oozes creepy vibes. He makes your skin crawl and you want Jessica to beat him to a pulp so badly it hurts! This man cannot be trusted and he must be stopped but it’s also totally understandable as to why Jessica has such a hard time being near him. Wouldn’t you if this man kidnapped you and forced you to do horrible, demeaning things? Forced you to have sex against your will? He makes my skin crawl even as I type this. This is the kind of superpower that should never exist.


Now, I’m a fan of the gritty superhero movie. I have loved all of Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies and am enjoying the world Zach Snyder has created in Superman, but I also enjoy the lighter flicks like the Joss Whedon-helmed Avengers movies. I can go either way as long as the show or movie is well written and directed and acted. Jessica Jones is all these things and more. It’s gritty and has dark humor, it’s got sex and violence and a lot of heart to it. What I love most about it is the fact that it’s not about someone trying to do right, it’s simply about a woman trying to survive her trauma and make some kind of a life for herself.

I sure hope that Jessica Jones gets a Season 2 and I look forward to all the other superhero shows helmed by female characters that will be coming our way and that exist in our world today. It may be baby steps, but we are making progress people. Now, if only we can get those Black Widow, Princess Leia, etc action figures things will really be smoking!

What did you think of Jessica Jones? Good, bad, ugly?

Tell me YOUR thoughts in the comments!

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The Female Perspective: I’m More Than My Hair

Welcome! This is a weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc.

Before I really get into this blog I want to start by saying that I realize there are way more important things in the world to be talking about other than my hair or women’s hair or haircuts. I get it, the world is messed up right now and there are many, MANY people hurting and I feel for them. At the same time, there isn’t much I can say here that isn’t already being said better by other, smarter, folks than me.

Let me just say this, closing our hearts and boarders to people isn’t the way to make this country safe. Evil always finds away, sad but true. Becoming part of the evil though, that’s a choice we make when we turn our backs on the hungry, the poor, the scared and “huddled masses”, we are all smart people capable of smart choices. Let’s try doing that for a change.

Just a thought.

I, like so many women, have attempted most hairstyles (not the mohawk, I would look silly) and dyed my hair a rainbow of colors. I have always liked to experiment and see how I look different ways. Eventually, that stopped when I was at my heaviest weight. I grew my hair out nice and long and kept it that way because I was convinced that my head was far too small for my body and the long hair masked that issue.

My "before" photo.
My “before” photo.

Recently I have lost over 100 pounds and I can see my cheekbones for the first time in a very long time. Also recently, I have gotten into wearing fun wigs, one of which being a purple wig in a short bob. I really enjoyed the look and decided that  maybe it was time to cut off my long locks in favor of a shorter do.

I went back and forth on this for a week or so, because for me (and a lot of women) hair is a big deal. It’s part of our femininity, our sexuality and I had been around so many men that said long hair was sexy, short hair was not, that I had pretty much decided that if I cut off my hair I would be unattractive to my love. Which could not be farther from the truth, he was ALL for me changing my look. He urged me to get really daring with it (I love that man) and to really transform my hair in the same way I have been working so hard to transform my body this last year.

Then a good friend of mine posted a story about a woman who cut off all her hair, it’s a story of sickness and recovery, of unbelievable bravery and I realized, holy crap, it IS just hair. It grows back. It’s not who I am or even what I am. It’s just some fuzzy stuff on the top of my body that I style (sort of) or dye different colors or get annoyed with when it gets caught in zippers or under purse straps. It’s. Just. Hair.

Clare Bowen. Photo credit - Joseph Llanes Photography
Clare Bowen. Photo credit – Joseph Llanes Photography

Here’s the story:

Clare Bowen

Wanna know why I cut it all off?

When I was four years old, I asked my mother; “Are there heaters in Heaven?”

I had just been diagnosed with end stage nephroblastoma, after several visits to a GP who denied anything was wrong and dubbed my parents “paranoid.” I’d overheard the doctors telling my family that the only hope of saving me, was an experimental treatment that might kill me anyway. But without it I had maybe two weeks left. The hospital was cold. I’d never felt air conditioning before.

Life in the White Palace (Granddad’s nickname for hospital) meant I got to grow up surrounded by children just like me. We were mostly bald, all tubed, taped, bandaged up and stitched back together. We were all missing parts, some obvious like eyes or legs, others more hidden, like lungs and kidneys. Those who still could, tip-toed around like little fairies because chemotherapy had destroyed the muscles in our legs and it hurt to put our heels on the floor. But we were all together, so no one’s appearance came into question. No one got laughed at or teased. We were all we knew.

And then I got really lucky. I survived, my hair grew back and I got strong again. I look relatively normal on the outside, but on the inside, I am still the same stitched back together little creature, in a world where people are judged so harshly for the way they look. It has always been completely incomprehensible to me. How can people think there’s time for that?

I was really inspired when I heard a story about a little girl who said she couldn’t be a princess because she didn’t have long hair, and I wanted her, and others like her to know that’s not what makes a princess, or a warrior, or a superhero. It’s not what makes you beautiful either. It’s your insides that count… even if you happen to be missing half of them.

Every scar tells a story, every baldhead, every dark circle, every prosthetic limb, and every reflection in a mirror that you might not recognize anymore. Look deeper than skin, hair, nails, and lips. You are who you are in your bones. That is where you have the potential to shine the brightest from. It is where your true beautiful self lives.

Thank you ABC network and particularly our creator, Callie Khouri for letting me change Scarlett’s hair, and my team, family and friends for helping me make the decision. If it makes even one person think twice about judging another, then in some small way, the world is better.
Self-esteem takes a lot longer to grow back than hair.


Amazing right? It says everything I am trying to say with a beauty that leaves me breathless and a little teary. It made me see that my worry over the length of my hair is about much more than physical appearance. It goes so much deeper than that, to a place where I lived for much of my life. To a place where I was afraid and lonely, thinking that no one could ever love me. To a place where I felt completely inferior.

I don’t live in that place anymore. Therapy. Friends and a man named Frankie have changed my life forever. I’ve learned to be confident and happy and to know that I am loved no matter what I wear, what I look like or what I do. It’s a beautiful place to live and it’s a place I live in with short hair now and guess what? I feel really pretty and free of long hair misery that the hair represented. That hair represented the fat Jessica. The unhappy Jessica. The unhealthy Jessica. While it is just hair it’s also so much more than that which it shouldn’t be and the good news? Most of it is all gone now and I couldn’t be happier.

So what’s my point with all of this? My point is that life is too short to obsess over a haircut. It’s too short to worry about what other people might think about how you look. Life should be lived in full color, with the sound turned way up, with laughter, with love (lots of love), with good food, good friends and good times. Don’t live in the place of fear. Live in a place of joy and your life will be a life well lived.

My "After" Photo.
My “After” Photo.

What are you afraid of? What fear do you wish you could conquer? Maybe 2016 is the time to do that! Tell me in the comments.