Friday, July 07, 2006

The S-Word

I read 'X-23: Innocence Lost' and 'NYX: Wannabe' recently, the two books that brought X-23 into the Marvel Universe (X-23 is a clone of Wolverine that, for various reasons, wound up being female). I'm not generally a person who goes into these things seeing any sort of political or subtextual agenda, and I generally enjoy my comfortable obliviousness to said agendas,, these books are pathetically sexist.

There. I've said it, and I'd say it again if I had to.

Basically, there's a certain element of laziness to X-23's origin story. She's "Wolverine as a teenage girl". Her origin is pretty much exactly the same, beat for beat, except where they felt they should change things to make them more "female". And that's where the sexism comes in. Because, you see, while Weapon X escaped from the project because they were torturing her, X-23 had a female scientist who acted as surrogate mother to the clone and felt all maternal to her (see, she lost her scientific detachment and went all gooey for the girl once she was born, because that's just what women do.) And it was Mom who helped X-23 decide that she needed to escape (because X-23 wouldn't have done it on her own, or something.) Mom dies in the escape, and X-23 is left on her own...

...and when we next see her, she's a hooker.

Do I even need to add anything to that last statement? Do I even need to explain what is so staggeringly, pathetically, loathesomely sexist about the idea that any woman who winds up on her own in a large city for more than a week winds up under the thumb of a domineering pimp, even one who can leave people's body parts in different zip codes and doesn't need money to survive? Do I need to point out that there's absolutely no explanation given for her career move--she just shows up in the book, and hey look, she's a hooker, and the writer (who is also, disappointingly enough, the editor-in-chief of Marvel) just expects us to accept that, no questions asked, because that is after all what women do?

Sometimes I wonder about this medium.

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