Thursday, May 17, 2007

Statue of Limitations

I am so goddamn tired of people grousing over this statue.

No, I'm not going to show it here. Go follow the link if you're the one person who doesn't know what I'm talking about.

I am so completely over this argument because it fails to address the point I find most salient:

Mary Jane is, always has been, and always will be, nothing more than Peter Parker's trophy wife.

There. I said it. I don't care how sexist or marginalizing or whatever it is that you think it, but the fact remains that MJ is not a symbol of female empowerment. Now I'm not a dedicated Spider-Man fanatic with an encyclopedic knowledge of all things sequentially arachnid, but I'm pretty sure that Mary Jane's main purpose in the comic is as follows:
  1. To complicate Peter's life (IE relationship problems);
  2. To be threatened or taken hostage by the villain;
  3. To remind Peter what he's fighting for/ reward him for his heroism when no one else will.
I'm sure I'll be corrected if I'm mistaken, but that's pretty much all I see her doing. Therefore, to me at least, a statuette of her washing Peter's Spidey-Jammies is nowhere near as dis-empowering as it would be if were a strong, notable female character.

Want to talk marginalization? Imagine Sue Richards in a similar pose, washing Reed's unstablies. Or, Eris help us, Black Canary doing Green Arrow's laundry. Both of these are strong women, both feminine and feminist, and relegating them to the role of washer-women would horribly undermine all of their heroic efforts, struggles, and sacrifices. If that kind of statue was made, believe you me, I'd join the mob with the torch and pitchfork that I keep near my front door for just such an emergency.

But MJ? Has she ever been anything other than a C-cup bosom for Spider-Man to rest his head on at the end of the day?

Seriously, people. If you're going to argue about anything, argue about how MJ is basically Peter's sex-kitten reward for a hard day's superheroing. But this statuette? Don't get your spandex in a bunch over it.


  1. She's been written that way recently, but wasn't always. She was the only one there for Peter in certain hard times in his life. Some of the best MJ scenes were right after he lost Gwen and right after a battle with the Puma where she tells Peter that she knows he's Spider-man. She isn't a ditz, it's an act she puts on to confront the world around her. I know people like that in my day to day life too.

    Also you might want to check out the new Sensational Spider-man Annual for a well written MJ.

    I'm tired of this argument too, but that's not MJ, just like the MJ during Todd McFarlane and Eric Larsen's runs on the title wasn't MJ either.

    Here's a short history of Mary Jane Watson Parker if you're interested.

  2. I'll see your interpretation of MJ, and I'll raise you something that really should get your grouse.

    For anyone who doesn't know, Big Barda (despite the silly name) is one of the most powerful warriors in the DC universe. She's seven feet tall, dwarfing Wonder Woman. She can go toe-to-toe with nearly anyone in the DCU physically. And that's her husband's cape she's presenting in that subservient gesture.

  3. I'm still waiting for Chris Sims to weigh in on this, but he and I had an IM conversation last night about this very thing... lemme see if I can find it.

    "Big Barda actually WANTS a suburban housewife lifestyle.
    Which is why I don't mind the Women of the DCU Mini-bust where she's folding Scott's cape."

    As Chris is a far bigger comics nerd than I am, I take him at his word in this.

  4. Wow. I hadn't thought of that.

    I don't like that particular bust any more now, but I can almost see what they were aiming at.

    I still don't see Big Barda when I look at that. I still see anorexic mid-70s Bond girl.

  5. Seems like a tempest in a teabag to me. (A) I always considered MJ sort of a consulation prize for Pete after Gwen died (where's the chemistry? I'm not seeing it). (B) I'm guessing that some of the same folks complaining would consider it an empowerment image if a sexualized Spidey were washing MJ's duds. Personally, I want to see a statue where Andrea Dworkin is darning Dave Sim's socks, but that's just me...

  6. You know, I'm not really into comics that much, but this seems like a whole lot of controversy over nothing. This isn't a statue being erected in a prominent location for all to see, it's a miniature statue being sold for what I assume to be the main demographic of comics-- the males.

    I get the impression that a large part of the statue's offensiveness comes from her act of washing Spider-Man's costume, a stereotypical thing for a woman to do (barefoot, etc). What if the artist who doodled this thing didn't even think of that? What if the artist was told, "Okay, we need a statue of MJ, but it has to be really apparent it's MJ, so throw some reference to Spider-man in there without actually including him, and call it a day." So, what's the artist do? MJ is now washing Spider-man's costume, just because it's a nice easy way to say, "Hey look! It's not some random girl from a comic, it's MJ!"

    I could be completely off-base, and Marvel is really trying to destroy the fabric of civility. But somehow I don't think that's the case...

  7. "washing Reed's unstablies"

    Heh, I dont know why, but I found that extremely funny =)

  8. "Has she ever been anything other than a C-cup bosom for Spider-Man to rest his head on at the end of the day?"

    The first thing that popped into my head was, "Yes. A D-cup bosom."

    I really have nothing to say about a statue destined to gather dust on the shelves of weaker comic shops with the rest of the $200 Voltron maquettes and Chromium Pogs.

    But then again, maybe I'm resentful because I'm still waiting for a girl to show up on my doorstep, look me in the eye, and say "Face it, Tiger. You just hit the jackpot."

    Off topic: Glad you dug the "Hellfire" pitch, Erin.

  9. If we focus on the minutiae of what is blatantly male and sexist about the world of comics don't we do a disservice to feminism? I would guess that the majority of women arguing against this 'statue' would call themselves feminists (and would hopefully be proud to do so) but to me, as a guy, there seem to be much bigger targets to aim at. The overt sexualisation of women is manifold but includes this statue, perfume ads, clothes ads, magazines, music videos... the list is endless. Why? Because sex(iness) shifts products and in a consumer driven world that is what companies want - sales and money. It is slowly happening to men - of the recent 'innovations' we have male grooming products, male make-up, mens health magazines, etc. Again, companies have invented a market and we are buying it - in both sesnes of the word. The objectification of appearance allows us to be sold aspirations and in order to meet those aspirations we need to buy stuff.

    Can't men and women for once accept their differences, unite and say 'I am not limited by my appearance and I am comfortable within my appearance'? An entire advertising industry would collectively piss its pants. That would be worth fighting for


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