That header got your attention right? Some may be thinking, When did that happen? Did we miss some major plot line or issue? Was this in Emma’s past and covered up? No is the answer, It happened in AVX. Click below the break for my reasoning and a slightly darker side to comics that often concerns me.
Last week I signed up for my first Comic Convention, The Salt Lake City Comic Con. I’m taking my son and it is going to be a lot of fun. I’ve been to Buffy conventions before but until now I’ve never had the money or the opportunity to go to a comic con. I’ve always gotten the articles and news bites from second hand news sites such as Newsarama. But in the last few weeks I’ve read a lot of disturbing things about conventions and even just Geek culture that makes me uncomfortable. Stories concerning creeping, and being over familiar with cosplaying women and other disrespectful actions are just the tip of the iceberg where mysogyny is concerned. This week, on an X-Men Facebook group I enjoy, I was suddenly faced with a ton of misogynistic comments directed at female characters Jean Grey and Emma Frost. Words like Bitch, whore, slut and other epithets were slung around like they were only words. I finally commented about how neither of these characters deserved those words, and a part of me wondered where this comes from. Are these personally held beliefs towards women in real life or just character bashing taking a very wrong turn. There was quite a discussion of what those words mean in respects to those characters. Here are some high(low) lights.
- Sluts deserve our derision.
- If you kiss someone other than your partner you are a slut.
- If you are a self confident woman you are a slut.
- If you are in opposition to another woman, you could be viewed as a slut by her friends.
- Emma is the biggest slut of them all and there is not a difference between slutty and sexy.
- If you are an uber fan of Jean Grey, Emma Frost is a whore/bitch/slut.
- If you are an uber fan of Emma Frost, Jean Grey is a whore/bitch/slut.
- Whore/bitch/slut’s deserve all the negative attention they get.
Not all comments were bad, as I said there are a lot of great people posting their thoughts and ideas, however, despite some great comments in defending these characters I was concerned by some attitudes as I have had this article in mind for a while. I made a text-to-life, text-to-Internet association that made me ask a couple of questions. Could this be just online ribbing from passionate fans with no real anathema? Is this a common belief among fans that it is perfectly acceptable to use this language? Is this a view of Women who also happen to be geeks, obsessed fans, cos-players, who are interpreted as encroaching on a scene long held to be the last bastion of the geek and nerd culture? The answer to all these questions could be yes, more so in some cases than others. With all the news stories recently from E3 and some other horror stories about the behavior of men in Fandom and geek/nerd culture, It would seem that while this isn’t a widely held belief, there are still some appalling cases of misogyny that I am uncomfortable with my son being around. I’m trying to raise him to be someone who believes in equality and that fandom and Geek culture is for all. There is a patriarchy and misogyny going on in the media and it has a hold (whether intentionally or not) on our geek culture. Let me change directions just slightly. What was the most disturbing act committed by the phoenix 5 and its members in Marvels blockbuster event, AVX? Here are a couple of potential candidates.
- Namor goes postal on Wakanda?
- Colossus acts like a very creepy stalker in Wolverine and the X-Men?
- Magic uses a hell on earth (limbo) to imprison the Avengers and all opposition?
- Emma, coming to terms with her ability to simply switch off every Avenger’s mind at a whim?
- Cyclops murdering Xavier?
For most people, and the majority of fans I’m guessing the answer is #5 right? I have a different answer and it happens right before Xavier is killed. ** Let me put it in pictures just for analysis sake. It starts in the previous issue.
Emma senses something is wrong. She takes herself away to somewhere that she can have some peace and can think things through. I’m not saying here that Emma is the saint among the pheonix 5. She subjugates her own people and goes off on a spree of punishing those who have harmed mutants (i’m guessing the one man who killed a flying mutant with his plane is not the only person she visits). However you see her reaching out for support. Cyclops doesn’t give it to her. This one scene made Emma one of the most sympathetic characters in this whole crossover. Unfortunately she doesn’t have that support system. She’s not prepared to take on so much power all at once, she also loves Scott with “All her predators heart,” as she’s mentioned before and in the penultimate issue of AVX she becomes the latest victim to women and feminism within comics. Bear with me for a moment. In that issue, Cyclops realizes that he can’t win against the collected heroes. So what does he do? Something I feel is worse than his murder of his father figure. (in my opinion) Cyclops decides to betray the one person who was on his side and abuse that relationship by abusing the individual, Emma, to further his own gain, attacking her while she is busy keeping a hulk from attacking him. He does this in a particularly spectacular, brutal, public and humiliating manner. It was also quite the metaphor for Rape. Empowered man takes power from a smart powerful women leaving her a husk afterward. Maybe Rape is a strong word, is it date rape? I’m obviously not talking penetration here. This scene really disturbed me and I couldn’t help but think of all the Slut/bitch/whore talk and the misogyny involved. Did no one else see this as blatant abuse of one of Marvels premier X-women. Taking her down a peg and leaving her a sullied, damaged woman who is now broken, seemed really harsh. I can’t help but think there are trolls online thinking, (if they thought anything of it) that “hah hah Emma Frost finally got what was coming to her.” Did she deserve it? With her recent actions subjugating other mutants and going on a revenge spree due to the influence of the Pheonix force, was she asking for it? * See bottom of article for a footnote on Emma and Namor. Did she invite it through her dress? If so, has Emma Frost been asking for it for a long time? Was this on the Writer’s mind when he wrote this chapter, or was it just a means to an end in Making Cyclops the ultimate big bad of the crossover. I would argue no. What did you think of this turn of events? Did you note that it was harsh? Did you think much of it at all? Was Xavier’s murder worse? Is Emma a slut? Is there more to her than her clothes? Is this the writer’s of AVX’s explicit view on how women are treated or was it completely coincidence? Maybe this author is looking into the matter too deep?
So what now? I’ve already followed Emma to Uncanny X-Men where she is still allied with Cyclops. What changed? What have we learned from all this? Misogyny is still rampant.What will be interesting is Emma’s path following this attack. And I am already a big fan of what Brian Michael Bendis is doing in All New X-Men and Uncanny.
I’ll be following this article up with another review of Emma’s progress, post-AVX. Come back and see how one of my favorite X-Men is doing in her newer role of broken, teacher/revolutionist. In the meantime you can go to the following sites to find out more on the related subjects of Cosplayers and convention goers and safety for all. To go along with this, expect a few articles on Salt Lake Comic Con in September where Hoo Mah Moos will be reporting on as much as we can there.
The link directly above is an interesting read on Emma Frost and her actions in AVX.
*Since starting this article, I found the panel that Marvel supposed would make it okay for Cyclops to turn on Emma. It’s kind of despicable and a cop-out on their part. It is supposed to make it all just fine that we see Emma treated the way she is in the above panel. It is a scene in Uncanny X-Men where Emma admits to a psychic affair with Namor. This is a relationship she had had with Namor years before Cyclops and one that until the pheonix force had resisted returning to. This seeming Pheonix inspired betrayal is still not grounds for what Cyclops felt he had to do.
** In answer to a commenter, I need to express that I definitely don’t think I am the first or only one to have this belief, just that I think the action and scene I discuss is worse than the 5 things I listed as potential candidates for most disturbing act.