Let’s Talk About That Spider-Woman Cover
There is a phrase in media known as jumping the shark which refers to the moment something starts to creatively decline. I like to further extend that phrase to apply to a moment when something is so ridiculously and outrageously done that it starts to lose a bit of its stature and repute.
For example, midichlorians.
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When the Spider-Woman cover pictured above first surfaced and the feminist brigade were on it — I use this phrase with a hint of humour, not maliciously — I had to admit that I looked at my PC in dismay, thinking, “Really guys? Really?” Now of course, I know where the Spider-Woman cover was derived from and I could not have expected most others to also know this. But I went ahead and read some of what people were saying and something became astutely clear to me: The anti-sexism army, who have every right to do this I should probably say, are starting to see sexism where there most certainly isn’t any. At least, not on purpose. And not in that accidental racist kind of way… there just isn’t any.
In any case, for some background, Marvel offered an artist in the porn industry the chance to create a cover art for a Spider-Woman comic. Most comic book readers didn’t have an issue with the way it looked in terms of sexism, but we pretty much unanimously agreed that it is just an ugly cover. Nonetheless, lots of pro-feminists attacked Marvel after the tweet embedded above, causing a bit of controversy in a time when the internet was already reeling from genuine, sincere sexism that really did warrant addressing, ie. Quinnspiracy and thereafter. But we’re not getting into that today.
Then this tweet happened and finally brought some sense into the mix:
— Calle Wikman (@CalleWikman) September 4, 2014
Suddenly a lot of really loud voices were almost entirely quieted. Further by this:
Now I tweeted that image to someone I no longer follow, who at the time was going on and on about how sexist comic books are, and how Marvel done fucked up, and so on. Of yet, he has not responded to me or for that matter, spoken further about how Marvel done fucked up. Odd, hey?
And the thing about Spider-Woman is that she really is a very sexist character, if you want to look at her like that. She exists to be sexualised and all of her powers are focussed around being sexual and getting her way; well, almost all of them. The idea is that she’s a black widow type of spider (but since Black Widow was taken…) so she manipulates and uses men (and women) as she pleases. But the character of Jessica Drew is actually an empowered one. Kind of like that Destiny’s Child Independent Woman type of vibe, she doesn’t really answer to others and does her own thing. She’s very self-aware as a character.
Of course if you have none of this context then you’re just going to see her and go, “Sexualised object!” But that would be woefully misguided, and a rare moment in which a lot of the sexism soldiers kind of misfired a bit. Not to glorify their miss because in fairness a lot of people, once they realised, immediately stopped firing off shots at Marvel. And I can respect most of them for that, even if pretending nothing happened isn’t a cool way to handle being wrong about something.
It’s just that we’re in a time when it’s so easy to look around and spot prejudice, even when there actually isn’t really any to begin with. And to then caution restraint and encourage further (contrary) thought is to be labelled ‘on the opposing team’ or ‘condoning it’ and that’s not what it is at all. But hey, that’s just what I have to say. What do you guys think? Firstly, is this a sexist cover and should it have been some other design? Or is this a case of misguided feminism and that whole thing about imagined sexism? The floor is yours…