Jubilee has defeated vampires. Storm has decimated nations. Kitty Pryde has toppled sentinels. Together, they form one half of Brian Wood’s exclusively female X-Men and this April, they will fight the most vicious villain known to comics: sexism.
Wood’s latest vision of the famed hero team may be a positive sign. If done correctly, it can be a story of feminine empowerment akin to Kathryn Immonen’s Wolverine and Jubilee or Gail Simone’s Birds of Prey. However, if done incorrectly, the tale will be placed alongside Joe Kelly’s Let’s Brutalize Some Prostitutes and Frank Miller’s How Many Lady Throats Can You Slit?
And Brian Wood does not just have to deny the overall misogynistic attitude of his industry; he also has to overcome the sexism of the X-Men franchise itself.
Jean Grey is the proverbial “good girl” that evolves into an overbearing seductress the first chance she gets, which is a fantasy as old as “private school” pornography itself. I’m just surprised they never gave her a plaid skirt.
Jubilee is young so she is not dressed provocatively. However, if we were indeed using the “it’s characteristic” excuse, it would make sense for her to, like most fit teenagers, flaunt her newborn proportions. But that’s disturbing and our wonderful artists should stick to only objectifying women above 18.
Emma Frost, a vicious villain that sees the light because of a man’s dreamy eyes, essentially fights in beachwear. Of course, she can make her body hard as diamond so she doesn’t need bulky armor and has to wear string bikinis to battle. Let’s give the writers some points for creativity there. And, to correct the mistake they made with Jean Grey, they do give her schoolgirl uniforms.
Storm is the classic warrior princess or insatiable jungle queen, depending on the writer. Older iterations even have her in leopard print so sexism and racism meld beautifully there. Of course, when black Victoria’s Secret models don tiger print, there’s no uproar because that’s empowerment, not objectification.
The all-woman fantasy is also an old favorite. Be it Odysseus’ sirens or the original retelling of Wonder Woman, sexists revel in these creations of “feminine empowerment,” so Wood’s decision to create an all-female team is no more an indication of feminism than Charlie’s Angels.
However, Wood has promised plenty of female promiscuity because he is tired of what one “feminist” writer called “slut-shaming” in comics. Yes, to show women as slaves to their passions and in desperate need of a penis; Aristotle told us that. He also called women “deformities of nature,” of course, but he’s a good source to describe the female sex, right?
It’s also great to see that feminists can now use the word “slut.” Here I was thinking it was just for misogynists.
Interestingly, when comic book fans attempt to prove they aren’t sexist, they start things like “the Hawkeye initiative,” a Tumblr project that puts Marvel’s archer in the dresses of his female counterparts so everyone can see the ridiculousness of wearing swimwear to a gunfight. Of course, since this is Frank Miller’s world, the submitted pictures are rife with homophobia and transphobia.
X-Men has attempted estrogen-fueled storylines in the past. My favorite example was on the Emmy Award-winning X-Men Evolution, where all the female X-Men, tired of playing second fiddle, once took charge and chose to stake their own claim.
It all worked brilliantly and really showed the value of the feminist movement, bringing X-Men into a new era … for about two-thirds of the episode. In the last few minutes, however, the ladies’ “womanly passions” overtook them and they bit off more than they could chew, ultimately needing their male counterparts to come save them.
Missed it by that much.