HomeOur ObsessionsHappy Birthday, Clary Fray: Celebrate with ‘Shadowhunters”s most feminist moments

Happy Birthday, Clary Fray: Celebrate with ‘Shadowhunters”s most feminist moments

In the past couple of months since 'Shadowhunters' was cancelled, we’ve been talking a lot about why the show is so important and why it deserves to be saved. But it’s also important that we return to looking at why it may have been cancelled in the first place.

Happy Birthday, Clary Fray: Celebrate with ‘Shadowhunters”s most feminist moments

Another day, another step forward in the fight for Shadowhunters’s return. It’s been a tough ol’ road for the ShadowFam so far, having embarked on an unrelenting battle to have their show saved since Freeform cancelled it back in June.

Like a group of determined demon hunters, the fandom members have utilized their best efforts in the hope that soon a network will listen and pick up the show. So far, this has involved the hiring of a #SaveShadowhunters pedicab that circled SDCC, a rented billboard in Times Square promoting their campaign, and ads placed in Seoul subway stations. The fandom also raised over $21,000 for The Trevor Project, a charity providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention for LGBTQI youth.

It’s been inspiring to see unfold – we’re with the ShadowFam every step of the way and will continue to report and promote all the reasons why Shadowhunters should be saved.

However, today we’re urging fans to put down their mortal instruments for a few moments so we can turn our attention to a lighthearted celebration within the ShadowFam. Because today it is the fictional birthday of Clarissa “Clary” Adele Fairchild a.k.a. Clary Fray. Portrayed in the TV adaptation by Katherine McNamara, Clary is the show’s central character and today (August 23, 2018) marks her 27th birthday.

It was on her birthday many years ago when Jace (Dominic Sherwood) gave Clary her first witchlight. How he’s going to top that this year we do not know. But what we do know is Clary is an unstoppable force in the show, one who is both stubborn and sharp, but also caring and compassionate with an artistic nature. She’ll go to extreme lengths for her friends and relatives, often putting herself in dangerous situations to save her loved ones.

But most importantly, she’s a fierce feminist force in a show full of badass women. To celebrate the birthday of this angel-blooded powerhouse, we’re taking a look at some of the most feminist moments from Shadowhunters so far.

Spoilers ahead!

Clary vs. Valentine

In Shadowhunters, the women are portrayed as having equal strength as the men – a sentiment that can be seen within its many action-packed fight scenes. One of our faves has to be the moment Clary (Happy Birthday, girl!) dukes it out with Valentine in S2E20 “Beside Still Water”. Let’s just say, Clary did not hold back.

Maia serves Jace a knuckle sandwich

Speaking of which, who can forget the storyline between Maia (Alisha Wainwright) and Jace in S2E13? In this episode, Maia reminds Jace that many of the Downworlders are pissed at him for his role in the activation of the Soul-Sword. Nonetheless, he agrees to use GPS implants on Downworlders to help stop the murder of Shadowhunters and Maia is having none of it.

While you should never solve your problems with violence, we can’t deny we loved watching Maia take physical charge of the situation by planting a knuckle sandwich right in Jace’s kisser. This is one woman who’s not to be messed with.

Boys do cry

On the flip side of this, it’s also worth noting that Shadowhunters actively challenges macho expectations of male characters within genre narratives. The men of the show aren’t all violent, muscle-bound maniacs, and they’re given the freedom to express emotions and sensitivity without it compromising their strength and power.

Just check out the scene in S2E11 in which Jace finally takes Clary’s advice and allows himself to feel. The moment he cries and turns to Alec (Matthew Daddario) for comfort is so powerful, as it’s rare to see male characters on TV with such vulnerability, particularly those as masculine as Jace. It’s a heartfelt moment, one that shows men it’s okay to cry and open yourself up. And that sometimes all you need is a big hug from your buddy.

Breaking down those stereotypes

As Twitter user loislane912 told Film Daily: “Magnus Bane (Harry Shum Jr.) is also a great example of a non-gender-conforming man who is still portrayed positively (not treated as ‘less masculine’ or ‘more feminine’), and he’s also excellent bisexual representation that doesn’t perpetuate biphobic stereotypes.” Obviously we love every moment between Magnus and his bae Alec (a.k.a. Malec) – here he is opening up about his childhood in a sweet and honest display of vulnerability and love.

Dinner with the Seelie Queen

We love how Shadowhunters is not afraid to serve up female antiheroes who can be just as dastardly as the men. Case in point: The moment Jace, Clary, and Simon (Alberto Rosende) take a trip to the Seelie realm to meet with the Seelie Queen. “She was interested to know more about Jace and Clary’s angelic gifts. She also took a liking to Simon and offered him a place in her court, but he turned her down,” pointed out Pop Culturalist. “The Seelie Queen plays a big role in the finale, and this scene gave us insight on just how conniving she can be.”

Clary bounces back from tragedy

From the first episode, Clary is faced with a double blow – her mom’s disappearance and the revelation she’s a Shadowhunter. Like so many of the female leads to follow, Clary shows strength in the face of adversity. Instead of sitting back and accepting defeat, she grabs a weapon, accepts her destiny, and by episode two she’s leading the search for her mother while trying to piece her past together. Because sometimes when the demons hit, you’ve got no choice but to pick yourself up and fight back.

Izzy and Clary – Besties 4lyf

One of the reasons Shadowhunters is a show for the ages is the way in which it depicts strong female friendships – women are frequently depicted as supporting each other rather than being catty and bitchy for no reason other than to pump the narrative with dramatic moments. As Twitter user spacemisha outlined, the friendship between Izzy (Emeraude Toubia) and Clary is one of the best examples of this and is shown as solid from the start.

Madzie users her powers to heal and restore

We’re forever grateful to the show for giving us female characters who are complex, headstrong, and independent in their own ways. As outlined by hellofavillain, we’ve got “Catarina (Sophia Walkers) working in hospital, Ollie (Alexandra Ordolis) being a police officer, Izzy the weapons master, Maryse (Nicola Correia-Damude) now looking for a new start,” and even the little warlock Madzie (Ariana Williams) and her incredible power to heal, which is put to great use in S2E09 when she restores Clary back to full health.

“No woman should ever kneel to a man”

While Lilith (Anna Hopkins) might be a bit of a psychopath, in S3 she’s not wrong when she tells Heidi (Tessa Mossey) that she shouldn’t have to change for Simon. In her words: “No woman should ever kneel to a man.” Damn straight!

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Daisy Webb is an outspoken, opinionated writer with a passion for all things horror and cult comedy. When she's not watching films, she likes listening to music, cooking too much food, and writing short stories with unhappy endings.

daisyp@filmdaily.co