I suspect I may well be the last comics blogger on the Internet to comment upon this scandal involving the Mary Jane statue.
This is not, it should be noted, due to any lack of timeliness on my part but rather a desire to avoid redundancy in the face of the writings of so many other bloggers more qualified than me to talk about how this scandal is affecting the female comic fans of the world.
I’m a white guy from Texas and while I like to consider myself more sensitive and socially aware than most men who meet that description, that still doesn’t qualify me to speak for the women around me - much less the feminine gender as a whole. And yet, my thoughts have been requested enough that I have decided to risk redundancy for the sake of popular demand.
So where do I stand on this alleged abomination?
Well, I don’t think it will be a surprise to anyone that I believe that this statue is sexist, degrading and an insult not just to women but to thinking people of either gender.
My colleague Paul Sebert did an excellent job listing some of the more alarming elements of the statue in his own humorous yet detailed fashion. And a number of other blogs have charted the rather troubling news that Sideshow Collectibles and Marvel Comics have been deleting respectful, non-threatening letters of complaint regarding the statue from their blogs in order to keep the Feminist Uprising repressed. But what truly disturbs me is the on-line reaction of some of the male comic-reading populace to the scandal.
Go to the blogs of Devil Doll, Ragnell and just about any page linked off of When Fangirls Attack! and you will find a metric ton of insulting, derogatory and just plain hateful posts by men who are attacking these women for daring to express their opinions. Thankfully, most of these opinions are poorly thought out and are as capable of holding water as the Holey Pail. Still, here are some of my favorite common complaints along with a rebuttal.
Q: Why are you complaining about some statue when there are real serious issues you should be worrying about, like sex-slavery in Russia or forced female circumcision?
A: Would you go up to Mother Teresa and say “Why are you feeding the hungry when there is a rain-forest to be saved?” Of course not. Is fighting world hunger less noble than saving the rain-forest? No. So why would you argue that one form of protest is more important than another? You wouldn’t – unless you were against feeding the poor for some reason and were trying to stop people from doing it. The fact of the matter is that the portrayal of women in the media IS part of a larger number of serious issues (abusive relationships, teen suicide, drug use, eating disorders) and that changing how the media depicts women is a noble pursuit. Besides, by this logic all the male comic bloggers should quit writing about why Wolverine could easily beat Batman in a fight and start writing about boys being forced to become camel-racing jockeys in Saudi Arabia.
Q: It isn’t like that many women are into superheroes anyway, so why bother listening to these women who are clearly just a vocal minority?
A: Tell that to the large group of teenage girls I saw by themselves, no dates or boyfriends, seeing Spider-Man 3 as a group at the opening midnight show. Tell that to the large number of women who watch Heroes every week. You take a look at the Nielsen ratings, they’ll tell you that Heroes routinely tests well among PEOPLE 18-34. Not just men. Women too. Women are interested in superheroes although it seems that certain comic companies are less than interested in catering to them. Regardless, the audience is there.
Q: What’s the big deal? She’s wearing more than most female superheroes do in their costumes and women in comics are supposed to look sexy.
A: As far as sexual objects go, what we oppose is the objectification – not the sex. The issue with the statue is not that MJ is depicted sexually. The issue is that she is depicted in a sexist fashion. And as anyone who has experience dealing with the female gender personally can tell you (forgive my assuming that you haven’t known the pleasures of the flesh with a lady) there is a world of difference between sexy and sexist. Lynda Carter, as Wonder Woman, is sexy. Power Girl, flexing her muscles, is sexy. Mary Jane, bending over to show off her thong and breasts while doing her man’s laundry… barefoot and in pearls… is sexist.
Q: What’s wrong with wanting to look at a hot chick with boobs?
A: Nothing. Although I would dare say that spending $125 on a statue of an unrealistically proportioned fictional woman purely for the purposes of satisfying one’s masturbatory fantasies indicates a high level of social dysfunction, a lack of imagination and an overabundance of free money that would be better spent on pornography featuring real women, psychiatric help or perhaps etiquette lessons so one might have a chance of learning how to treat a real woman in a socially acceptable manner.
So listen up Spanky and all the rest of you would-be He-Man Woman-Haters Club members – Darla and the rest of the girls are in the clubhouse. They like it inside the clubhouse. And they aren’t going anywhere.
And you boys can cry to your mommies about how mean those girls are being to you, making you listen to their point of view. You can whine to your friends, assuming you have any, about how your dad says there’s nothing wrong with treating women like objects. And you can bitch to anyone who will listen that the girls need to learn how to take a joke. You can protest and posture all you want boys – that doesn’t make you men.
Real men respect strength in others. They don’t fear it. And the fact of the matter is that every single one of you are boys are heart and the time is long past for you to grow up. So quit your whining, get back in the garage and fix my damn car!
Tune in next week! Same Matt Time! Same Matt Website!