A few weeks ago, my news feeds came to glorious, butt-waggling life as the Internet and feminism in general lost their freaking minds over a female superhero in a demeaning costume / bodily position. Amazing, but true.
Now, I didn’t weigh in because I felt, sure, it was a bit gratuitous and unnecessarily undignified and … well, basically “gratuitous” summed it up the first time. And I mean the cover image, and the howling that went on about it. And the folks at Marvel apparently backed down and apologised already (although their quote in the first article I linked seemed to be much more reasonable and less cowardly-foldy of them), so there’s not much point in stirring the pot further.
Except that I wanna.
Yesterday, I was pleased to see that someone far more loquacious, knowledgeable and brave than I am essentially said exactly what I sorta-kinda felt like saying at the time. And here it is.
Maddox. That is all.
Yeah, that’s some harsh slapdown and I may not have gone that far with it. And needless to say, it would have been commercial suicide for Marvel to say any of this stuff. But yes, a lot of what Maddox says here gets my seal of approval, in a justice-and-academic-integrity-for-all sort of way.
The difficulty is, this is one of those cases where yes, equality would be nice. And yes, if you shout about a woman being dressed and posed like this, you could shout about a man being dressed and posed in the same way (although the alternative, just not shouting at all, might be a nice thing to try), and then we might end up in a world where no kind of sexual liberty or depictions of fantasy or superhuman physical beauty exist at all.
Which is weird because the people wailing about too much raciness on comic book covers seem to intersect considerably with the people wailing about Sharia law taking over the Western World and making us all slaves to fundamentalist terrorists who hate our liberated ways.
But that’s another argument entirely.
My point is, yes – it would be nice for equality to be observed in this art form, and reverse-sexism bla bla, double standard, yackety smackety. But in order to get to equality, we also need to acknowledge that women have been (and still are in an awful lot of ways) downtrodden and objectified and basically treated like a slave-subspecies for centuries. So yes, there needs to be overcorrection before we can have proper equality.
And the simple truth is, it’s not racist when you joke about a white man going out and doing slave-work in your grandad’s plantation, and it’s not sexist when you pose a man in something skin-tight and poke his butt in the air. So. Get used to it.
Guys need to tolerate a bit of scolding when women decide something is sexist. I do still agree, despite various cases where I think it can go too far, that it’s the bigoted-against who get to decide when something feels like bigotry to them – it’s not those protected from bigotry who get to say so, or at least we don’t get to say when it’s not bigotry. It’s when people say something is always bigoted, regardless of context of nuance or common sense, that I begin to disregard their opinion. And this doesn’t happen very often. The point is, sometimes guys need to be willing to take a few lumps even when “equality” would theoretically justify the “crime” they’re getting lumps for.
 If this sounds familiar, it’s probably because a few days ago I was whining about how it can’t be racist to ask someone where they’re from (depending, of course, on cases and disclaimers and delivery and attitude and all of that, just go and read the damn post and comments). In fact, I could have called this post “Stop creating sexism”, but screw that. Since all I really seemed to get there was people (introverted people, no less) telling me it was intrusive, I will stand by my opinion until such time as an actual victim of actual racism tells me that shit is actually racist.
 Yes, adopted and / or second-plus-generation kids will probably still get taken for “foreign” in a sufficiently non-diverse and established community. Which is sad, but only insofar as people seeing “foreign” as negative is sad. My point is, the conversation that follows on from that doesn’t have to automatically be racist every single time, and it certainly doesn’t brand a questioner as racist. In my view.
And if that’s unfair, oh dear. It’s not like guys have such a rough time that they can’t afford to meet women more-than-halfway on a few things, right? Right. Sometimes some overcorrection is called for, in order for sexism to go away. Because equality is meaningless if sexism still exists.
I just don’t … is superhero comic book covers really the place where anyone wants this overcorrection to happen? Anyone but irretrievable crybabies?
Pictured: The sexy crybaby. As opposed to every other crybaby, anywhere, ever.
Doesn’t shouting about this distract everyone’s attention from real inequalities, injustices and demeaning objectification of women?
Or is it a case of “ignore it here, and it will remain accepted and normalised within our society”? “Fix the small stuff, and the big stuff will lose impetus”?
I do genuinely wonder.