IN YOUR FACE JAM: The X-Men Made Me A Feminist
Here’s this week’s column, which I wrote partly in response to comments made on another post that I did not write. This stuff seems like such a no-brainer, I just don’t get it. How can you be an X-Men fan and not be a feminist?
Is it tacky to quote yourself? I don’t know, I just like the last paragraph of my own thing enough to quote it. I’m tacky.
Feminism doesn’t mean “anti-men” — it means pro-equality. It means Mary Jane exists for something other than just Spider-Man. It means Wonder Woman makes national headlines for something other than whom she’s kissing. It means movie studios green light a Black Widow film based on the strength of her role in the third biggest movie of all time. It means Lois Lane gets a birthday celebration from the company that publishes her. It means every comic book fan gets representation, and it means every comic book fan gets comics that they love. The X-Men did it in the ’90s, and comics should be doing an even better job of it now than they are.
…Comics should be doing an even better job?
Anyone who’s read a Marvel line can tell you that women are the power houses. Especially in X-Men.
I swear I’m not going to make a habit of responding to every response to this, but this comment is right. It’s actually what my whole article is about, which makes me think this person just responded without even reading the title of the piece. So that’s a problem.
But the problem is that I don’t think a small-yet-powerful part of the comics industry, and especially the old guard fanboys who flip out in comments like it’s their job, get that.
Marvel’s done an incredible turnaround in the past year, going from canceling every single one of their female-lead books to starting up a bunch of new, great, feamle-lead ongoing series. A number of team books feature either 50/50 rosters or lean towards more women. That’s a change, and it’s very appreciated.
But. Like I state in my article. Which is worth a read?
Books with female leads have a hard time surviving. All-female team books are viewed as a gimmick or criticized for not having men on the team (did Jonathan Hickman’s “New Avengers” dude-fest get anywhere near the criticism Brian Wood’s “X-Men” has gotten?). Female characters are expected to show skin on the battlefield, and when they get a practical redesign, fans lose it. Team rosters feature three men to every one woman almost as a rule. It took over 70 years for a woman to draw Batman in an issue of “Batman.” Seventy. Years. The label “fake geek girl” exists, with no male analogue.
Part of the problem, too, is that commenters who ostensibly support feminist causes and are pro-female heroes, like to shout down people that call stuff like this out. This comment itself, that I’m responding to, is part of the problem. While I can’t speak to the author’s intent at all, and I’m doing a lot of assuming (I’m going off of the one sentence comment, so there isn’t much to go off of), one could easily read a tone of
“Hey, Marvel’s doing SOMETHING now, so back off and don’t say anything bad about them!”
But I think there is a lot that can still be done, no matter how great a job Marvel is doing (and I think they are). All of the problems I quoted above still exist. It’s going to take years of Marvel and DC not backing off of the current stances they have. It’s going to take Marvel standing by their female ongoing series and pushing them like they are doing now for a while. This upswing of strong female-driven comics can’t just be a trend or a fad, it has to stick to be important. There was a similar upswing in the late ’70s, with Ms. Marvel, Spider-Woman and Dazzler all having ongoing series, but that died out and Marvel went decades before this current resurgence.
So stick by it, Big Two.