The Rape of Emma Frost

Emma

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.

  1. Namor goes postal on Wakanda?
  2. Colossus acts like a very creepy stalker in Wolverine and the X-Men?
  3. Magic uses a hell on earth (limbo) to imprison the Avengers and all opposition?
  4. Emma, coming to terms with her ability to simply switch off every Avenger’s mind at a whim?
  5. 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.

1. struggling with Pheonix force

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. Pheonix emma 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) Collages2 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. Collages3 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.

http://www.themarysue.com/things-we-saw-today-324/

http://www.themarysue.com/john-scalzi-con-harassment/

http://kotaku.com/fake-geek-girl-stickers-used-to-sexually-harass-women-697482309

http://emmafrostfiles.com/2012/09/emma-frost-avengers-vs-xmen-11/

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.

20 Comments Add yours

  1. A brilliant article. I have a few thoughts…

    First of all, in my view Cyclops had treated Emma appallingly throughout Gillen’s run on Uncanny X-Men. Emma essentially sacrificed her wealth for Utopia, but Scott took her for granted; when her arm was broken in battle with Sinister, he was too busy plotting to show any sympathy, and only Namor treated her at all differently. Little wonder you could see the chemistry between Emma and Namor (and, incidentally, a chemistry that Unit brought to the fore as well as the Phoenix Force). To my mind, Scott doesn’t deserve her.

    My reactions to those panels were somewhat similar to yours. First of all, I was impressed with Emma’s control; alone among the Phoenix Five, she felt there was a risk of going out of control and struggled against it. We see no sign that any of the others were even conscious of their descent into madness, but Emma uniquely was. That’s a wonderful testimony to her character. And then, we find Scott’s actions on Utopia – shocking. I think these were all the more shocking because I’d been expecting to see Scott and Emma turn on one another, and I thought we’d see a Phoenix-versus-Phoenix battle; I had no idea how such a scrap would turn out, given their differing original power levels. Instead, I saw Emma turned on by Scott, and blasted down in a rather horrific manner.

    To me, Gillen’s writing in UXM – where Emma admits this psychic affair – only underlined this. From AvX alone, Scott’s action could be seen as cold, clinical, and tactical; now, it’s both tactical and an expression of rage, infinitely darker. From AvX, Scott recognises that he needs more power, and lashes out. From UXM, Emma tells him something he doesn’t like to hear, and he lashes out. I don’t think rape is a stretch; in fact, your use of that concept is spot-on. But UXM makes the picture worse, rather than better, for Scott.

    Like

    1. loz says:

      Thanks for the comments. I’ve always felt that Scott started getting interesting in Morrisons run when he started interacting with Emma. It seems to me that Emma carries my interest in him. He’s far more dynamic supported by Emma and by far more interesting backed by Both Emma and Magneto. I am so intrigued by What’s in store for the three of them.
      I think the most recent Uncanny was a great issue that is exploring Magneto and Cyclops relationship and past issues of this run have spotlighted Emma and scott coming to terms with all this broken power.

      Like

  2. Gargamel says:

    Count me as one of those trolls who thought Emma finally got what was coming to her. Sorry, but I do consider women who are sexual predators and who actively pursue married men as sluts and bitches. I also felt a satisfactory sense of poetic justice that it was due to her psychically cheating on Scott with Namor since Morrison clearly established that she wasn’t sorry at all about the affair and that she thought they did nothing wrong, i.e. what she did with Scott wasn’t really cheating.

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  3. Great article, really well put; food for thought here. 🙂

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    1. loz says:

      Thanks for the comment.

      Like

  4. Josh says:

    I only wish that you had included the scene you discussed as one of the options as the most disturbing act committed in AVX. You weren’t the only person that noticed what had happened between Emma and Cyclops but I think not including that option makes it seem as if you think you were the only person be affected by that scene. I’m even a Jean Grey fan and truly felt sorry for what happened to Emma when Cyclops came for her.

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    1. loz says:

      Definitely not the case, but thanks for pointing that out. I merely wanted to point out that I thought this act was worse for me than those other acts. See disclaimer.

      Like

  5. Antonio says:

    Your article just made me LOVE Emma Frost more. Her strong character overshadowed other premier X-Women and that’s where I feel all the hate from loyal Jean/Storm/Rogue/Psylocke fans began. She knows what she want, she does what she want, she says what she want, and a lot of people are threatened by women with that caliber.

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    1. loz says:

      Thanks for your comment. Seeing Emma’s growth over the past few years has made me a fan over most of those other characters you mention.

      Like

  6. Chrisisis says:

    I totally agree with you about the treatment of women within comics fandom. Especially with the comment above.

    But this article seems to be written as if Marvel/the writers of AvX are condoning Scott’s actions. (“I found the panel that Marvel supposed would make it okay for Cyclops to turn on Emma.”)

    At no point did I ever feel what Scott was doing was okay. He is without doubt the villain of AvX. He does evil things. This is one of those evil things done out of a ruthless desire to have all the phoenix force.

    I also feel that describing her murder as a metaphorical rape is slightly problematic. She is killed in cold blood by someone she is trying to help. That is not a metaphor for rape, it’s a LITERAL murder.

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    1. loz says:

      First, thanks for taking the time to post.We appreciate that. Here’s some thoughts I had: When I mentioned that “…Marvel supposed would make it okay for Cyclops to turn on Emma,” this is pure conjecture. I don’t know what they were thinking, just what it came off as in my opinion. I felt that the knowledge of Emma and Namor’s telepathic tryst was somehow supposed to make it alright that Cyclops could turn on Emma. I have just heard too many people say about women who are attacked or abused, that it was okay because they were a slut or promiscuous or unfaithful.

      “When you say, “At no point did I ever feel what Scott was doing was okay. He is without doubt the villain of AvX. He does evil things. This is one of those evil things done out of a ruthless desire to have all the phoenix force.” I totally agree with you.He was the villain.

      However, when you say murder, It wasn’t murder. It was Scott forcibly taking Emma’s portion of the pheonix force. Emma didn’t die. She wasn’t murdered. I feel the metaphor is appropriate in this case. In Xaviers case it was murder but we are mainly discussing Emma’s experience here.

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  7. forbiddentwo says:

    Yes, everything is rape. Every time something bad happens to a woman, it is somehow rape. All roads lead to rape.

    Also, words are never “just words”. Except when they are. Which is whenever your emotions aren’t triggered.

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  8. forbiddentwo says:

    First panel: Her emotions were out of control.

    Second panel; You realize he was going after his daughter, right? And that he had reasons on top of familial love to do so?

    And Xavier has done some pretty scummy things to Cyclops (mind wiping him after his brother ‘died’, etc).

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    1. loz says:

      First up, I disagree on your first point. All roads do not lead to rape. Please explain your second comment further. It’s pretty broad. Do you mean that words are just words when they do not trigger an emotion?

      “First panel: Her emotions were out of control.”
      I agree. All of the Phoenix 5s emotions and powers were out of control.

      “Second panel; You realize he was going after his daughter, right? And that he had reasons on top of familial love to do so?”
      Do you mean Cyclops going after Hope? For one thing, they are not related. He may have come to see her as the savior of all mutant kind, but I think at this point, it was irrelevant why he was going after her. She was in opposition to him and had sided with his enemies. Emma had not.

      I agree, Xavier did do some scummy things. I liked how X-men Legacy had him confront a lot of those things.However, are you excusing Cyclops for killing Xavier?
      We appreciate when readers comment. It means what we have written has made enough difference(whether you agree with us or not) for you to take the time to let us know what you think. Thanks for taking the time.

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    1. loz says:

      Thanks for commenting. We do Like Emma here at Mah Muse.

      Like

  9. Death Lord says:

    I know little about X-Men, but didn’t this Frost telepathically rape Cyclops or something? I don’t think that everybody who ridicules this character is automatically sexist, even if they call her a “bitch”, it’s possible they used these “misogynistic” words out of sheer anger towards her past record. I’m not saying that makes it right, but people say dark things when angered, things they wouldn’t normally say or agree with. Then again, I could be wrong, perhaps they are sexist. I didn’t read the comic, and I hear that Cyclops can be a whiny douchebag, but the basic idea I got from this article is “she was attacked by a man so that means she was raped…metaphorically.” I’ve seen metaphorical versions of rape before, I’m not sure that was the intention of Marvel. Bluntly put, certain people twist the concepts in fictional works to look more despicable then they really are, but he given that he attacked her, I don’t think that applies in this case…but then again, had she attacked him less people would be complaining about a women overpowering a man. I could be wrong.

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    1. TABacon says:

      Interesting comments 🙂 Emma and Scott first got together through a psychic affair. I think Loz’s point is that the robbing of power in such a violent scene – particularly given the added dimension from Uncanny X-Men – is akin to rape. In Uncanny X-Men, we learn Scott has just been told of Emma’s psychic affair with Namor, and that’s what causes him to lash out, robbing Emma of her power and beating her down.

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  10. Kaimi says:

    This is gold.

    GOLD, I SAY.
    Best article on the matter I’ve read so far. And I’ve read lots.
    Too bad I couldn’t agree less on Bendis’s take on Emma. :/

    Liked by 1 person

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