Monday, September 22, 2014

Slut-Shaming Feminism: Bulls*** of the Spider-Woman

A very grave thing happened in the world of women’s issues in society. Is it the fact that Cee Lo Green pleaded no contest to drugging a woman who woke up naked next to him in her bed, and then gave an explanation of rape that parallelled Todd Akin’s? Is it that the vice president of the Arizona GOP suggested introducing legislation to force sterilizing poor women? Is it that the Equal Rights Bill was blocked again? Did Hobby Lobby go even further and require all female employees wear chastity belts? No. Even worse. Marvel let Milo Manara draw Spider-Woman. I hope your pearls are thoroughly clutched. 100+ years of advances in women’s rights and powers have been pushed back.


2004/2014. Clutch the pearls.
The issue that Time, CNN, MSNBC, io9, TheMarySue, Elle, even the Oatmeal, and many, many Twitterers had was that Jessica Drew was drawn in an overly sexual way. Her suit is not so much a suit as it is just body paint, since there is no fabric on earth that would hug the skin as tight as hers. The position in which she was crawling over the building is not only not possible (according to 3D modelling courtesy of TheMarySue), but also leaves her open for rear penetration, in her body painted suit. io9 posited that if it is inappropriate for Spider-MAN to be drawn in this position, then it is inappropriate for Spider-WOMAN to be drawn that way, and by an erotic/fantasy  artist, at that! This further turns women into nothing but sexual objects.


It has become apparent that the scribes of all these articles were born in 2005, because in 2004, Spider-Man was drawn in EXACTLY THE SAME POSITION. Spider-Man has been drawn in a myriad of different crouched and crawly positions, because his name is SPIDER-man, and he CRAWLS on WALLS. Why would Spider-Woman not be drawn in similar positions? Their names aren’t Arthritis-Man and StickJoint-Woman. Since around the time of Seth McFarlane’s run of drawing Spider-Man, the character has been much more flexible, so much to the point that he looks like he’s trying to clean himself like a cat. Spider-Woman was trained to fight by Hydra and AIM, and now it seems she can do many of the same things Spider-Man can do, so why would she not be in the same flexible positions?


Boris likes her in black
Complete with crotch shot
Clothing on superheroes has been mostly body paint after Jack Kirby retired. It is nearly industry standard for mainstream superhero books. They are all drawn like Adonis and Venus with the colourful body paint with the nipples and genitals blurred out. Just imagine Ken and Barbie dolls dipped in a vat of tie-dye. So the complaint that Spider-Woman’s clothes were impossibly tight would have to be extended to every superhero title, both male and female. Besides, in a universe where a person exposed to radioactive material becomes super strong and when I guy gets angry, he turns green and beats everything up, the dynamics of clothing drapery is your gripe? Really? The only thing that is valid that most articles say about the cover is that it is drawn/painted by a world famous erotic artist, Milo Manara. This is true, but Boris Vallejo, another erotic/fantasy artist, painted nearly the entire Marvel Universe in many action poses about 20 years ago. His style was very similar; all heroes and villains, male and female, were naked with painted-on clothes. No one batted an eye. These are fantasy characters. They and their clothes are not supposed to adhere to the traditional laws of physics.


Showing his crotch to
all those faces!
One can argue about whether the cover over-sexualised Ms. Drew. The artist’s long resume does help the argument. However, do you know who else sexualises superheroes? EVERYONE WHO READS COMIC BOOKS. Humans are sexual beasts in general. Exaggeration of the body parts that people finds sexy is a longstanding art tradition going back to the Stone Age. The over-inflated breasts and impossible abs and ridiculously long legs of heroes is partially objectifying the body, but also just what people do when they envision their larger-than-life heroes. I’m sure they like seeing the ridiculously ripped abs of a flexing Spider-Man or Silver Surfer as much as seeing the hyper tense back and hips of a  wall crawling Spider-Woman. All of the articles make the assumption that only dirty little boys read comics, and only dirty old men draw and write them. 47% of comic readers are female. This does not even account for the gay, bisexual, and transgendered readers. Elle, of all publications on the Kvetch-Fest™, really has no ground on which to stand based on morals or good taste since one of their editors thought that posing in blackface was a good idea, and the magazine regularly places a nearly nude woman on every cover. Glass houses, Elle. Glass houses.


I think my biggest issue with the Spider-Woman Kvetch-Fest is that it is directed at Marvel, who has done more in its books diversity-wise than DC. Thor is a woman. There’s a black Nick Fury, a Latina Ghost Rider, a black Spider-Man, a bunch of openly gay or bisexual X-Men, two of which are married, and a Pakistani Muslim American Ms. Marvel, and that is just in the last ten years! There will soon be ANOTHER Marvel movie with a black superhero as the title character. Black Widow will get her own film. Even Elektra got her own film...though we are still awaiting an apology for that and Daredevil.


Spidey in a weed patch
If you want to focus your nerd pop culture ire at any comic company, then why not DC? Where’s our Wonder Woman movie? Why to they keep mistreating Gail Simone, a writing GENIUS? Why did they think that a competition to depict Harley Quinn elaborately killing herself mostly nude was okay? Why is there an entire website dedicated to incredibly stupid things that DC has done? Why is there another site called “Women in Refrigerators”, named after the manner that a Green Lantern’s girlfriend was murdered, highlighting the many ways women are mistreated in comics (Mostly DC female fates)? All these were fine, but Spider-Woman climbing a building was not?


I think what we can take away from this non-troversy is: 




  1. There are many graver things that are detrimental to women's and men's welfare than how Spider-woman is drawn.
  2. People really should do their homework before complaining about something of which they know very little.
  3. Sex needs to stop being made such a taboo. Mostly everyone is going to do it, and it will be depicted subtly in everything. Responding negatively to it is more dangerous to society than just talking about it.
  4. People in Elle offices should not throw stones.
  5. Make mine Marvel.
  6. WHERE THE HELL IS OUR WONDER WOMAN MOVIE!



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