Thor: Son of Asgard Part 2—“Enchanted”

Son of Asgard EnchantedLast week, I talked about “The Warriors Teen”, the first section in Son of Asgard, a twelve-issue story about Thor’s youth by Akira Yoshida and Greg Tocchini. In some ways, I like “Enchanted” more than I like “The Warriors Teen”, but in other ways, I find “Enchanted” very problematic. It does have a lot of positives; for starters, it really delves into the issues Sif faces as a female warrior in a male-dominated world, but unfortunately, the story falls into many sexist and stereotypical traps along the way.

Spoilers ahead, and a trigger warning for sexual assault.

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Sexualized Saturdays: Sexism Against Men and Male Stereotypes

When I get a break and can sit down and actually enjoy myself on Tumblr, I often find myself getting angry at many of the things that are posted and reblogged in my fandoms. There are many things that piss me off, but recently it’s been the extreme gender roles and sexism against certain male characters. That’s right—the feminist is going to talk about sexism against men.

3220614-batman-vs-superman-1-tptivirz0s-1024x768I have always believed that sexism affects men as much as women, but in very different ways. Men, just like women, are forced into gender roles and societal expectations that they don’t necessarily want. When teaching feminist theology to my college students, I tried to point out to the men (because I always felt no one else was) that they should be just as insulted by sexism and gender roles as the women. After classes, many of my male students approached me to say that they were angry about the gender roles men were placed into. They felt they had to always be tough—not necessarily physically strong, but that they always had to act macho and unaffected by everything. They felt threatened and uncomfortable by ideas that claimed men couldn’t be loving or nurturing as fathers; that they shouldn’t say anything about it if they felt (or were) sick. They felt pressured to avoid asking for help or working toward peaceful compromises, but rather, felt that they must always be the aggressive loner who does his own thing. These are all roles that greatly influence men’s lives today.

So what does this have to do with fandoms? Well, masculine gender roles often results in stereotyped male characters like Dean Winchester, Batman, Derek Hale, and Wolverine, whom fandoms love and think are awesome. Now, granted, many of the characters I just listed have a lot of depth. Dean, for example, really grows and develops as a character (at least in the first five seasons), so it’s not that I think these characters are necessarily negative stereotypes. What bothers me is how fandom reacts to other male characters that don’t fit the typical male stereotype.

teen-wolf-3x01-tattoo-scott-mccall1For this post I’m going to talk about the three male characters I see picked on the most by fans: Sam Winchester, Superman, and Scott McCall. I always said these three characters need to sit down and get a drink together because it really makes no sense that the fandom hates them as much as they seem to. Of course, none of this means that the entire fandom hates a certain character, but that enough people hate a character that the rest of the fandom starts to notice it and see it as a problem. (I really should point out that characters like Superman, Sam Winchester, and Scott McCall are also male stereotypes of a different sort, but that is a post for another time.) For now, let’s look at why these characters are so hated.

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Oh, My Pop Culture Jesus: Jesus and the Twelfth Doctor

It’s that time again—when the Doctor Who fandom explodes with theories and arguments over who will be the next actor to play Doctor Who’s titular role. Many people, including our own Lady Saika, have called for an injection of diversity into the role. I tend to agree; I’ve thrown my hat into the Idris Elba fangirl ring. One of the more contentious issues in the fandom is whether or not to cast a woman for the role. BBC has stated that they aren’t ruling out the possibility of a female Doctor. Some argue that the show needs to cast a woman as proof that we’ve moved beyond sexist stereotypes, that the Doctor’s reference to the multi-gendered regenerations of the Corsair (another Time Lord, long dead) in “The Doctor’s Wife” is proof enough that Time Lords can regenerate into Time Ladies. Some argue that the question is moot, that it shouldn’t matter whether a man or woman is cast, it should go to the actor with the best audition. I’m going to argue that the Doctor should remain a man.

Wait! Don’t go! Most of the arguments for why the Doctor should remain a man are pretty weak, if not sexist. They usually boil down to “It’s always been that way!” or “The Doctor is a man!” or “Women are companions, why do they need to be the Doctor too?” But I think I’ve stumbled upon an argument for why the Doctor should retain his maleness, rooted in feminist theology.

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Sexualized Saturdays: Playboys and Fluid Sexuality in Fanfiction

Bond-Silva-InterrogationToday I’d like to address a trope that has begun to bug me more and more recently. For me, it all started with Skyfall. Surprisingly engaged by the movie, and finding it surprisingly full of slash-bait, I drove home from the theater discussing the shipping possibilities with my friend and good-naturedly arguing over what exactly Bond meant when he said “What makes you think this is my first time?”

My friend pointed out, “Well, he is the quintessential playboy,” arguing that someone as addicted to the sensual pleasures as James Bond wouldn’t necessarily limit himself to experiencing those pleasures with just one gender.

I’ve also seen this a lot in Avengers slash fanfiction, especially about Tony Stark. It’s supposed to be unsurprising in these fics that he is bi, because hey, he sure does love having sex with women! Doesn’t it follow that he would love having sex with guys too?

Um, no. Not necessarily.

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Sexualized Saturdays: Sexualities in A Nightmare on Elm Street 2

A horror movie from the early 80’s may not seem like a likely choice for a discussion of sexuality, but when that movie is A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, it’s quite a different story.

Nightmare on Elm Street 2Sex is a common element in horror movies; in fact it’s usually the main indicator of who’s going to die (sexually active people) and who’s going to live (virgins, or at least monogamous partners) but very rarely have horror movies explicitly depicted anything other than heterosexual relationships until recently. There have been exceptions, such as the cult classic Sleepaway Camp, but the second Nightmare film is probably one of the most mainstream horror films to have included not only homosexual subtext but also blatant, in-your-face homosexual text. Today I will discuss three of the main characters from the film: Coach Schneider, the Phys. Ed. teacher; Jesse, the lead; and Grady, the friend.

(WARNING: Under the cut is a lengthy and mildly NSFW article)

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Adventures in Geekdom or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Comics

xkcd knows what’s up.

In my fifteen or so years of participation in geekdom, I’ve learned that there are two universal truths.

1. There are infinite shades of nerdity on the geek spectrum.
2. There are many people out there who still don’t get it.

Being a nerd was always part of my core identity, though I took pride in calling myself a “nerd” over “geek.” Geeks were socially awkward, not smart, like me (doesn’t that sentence just radiate hypocrisy?). I prided myself on being some kind of upper echelon of social outcast, defining myself through criticizing others. It didn’t matter that I never actually envisioned who that social outcast was who sat on the lower rung of the social ladder. I wasn’t like “those” weirdos, whoever they were.

So it really wasn’t a surprise when similar feelings resurfaced when I was invited to go check out Free Comic Book Day.

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Color-Coded Power Rangers

Power Rangers 1- Mighty MorphinSince the dawn of recorded time (aka: the early 90’s) the Power Rangers have fought the forces of evil with their flashy suits and even flashier fight scenes. Initially there were five Rangers, eventually joined by a sixth, and their characters seemed to be irrevocably entwined with the color of their suit. Not only did the characters wear street clothes of the same color as their Ranger suits, but as they left the team and their suits were taken on by new members, the character traits seemed to remain largely the same.

For example, the Red Ranger will invariably be the leader (unless some upstart punk joins the team late and decides he’s in charge now) and will typically be full of bravado and inspiring speeches. He will also always be male. The Pink Ranger will always be female and she will probably embody very traditional ideals of femininity: gentleness, a fondness for nature, grace, etc. The Yellow Ranger will typically be a spunky young woman, more spitfire than the girl donning the pink.

Despite the frequently changing Rangers, there always seemed to be a tie between the color of the suit and the personality of the one wearing it. It was often the case that the new team members seemed to be new variants of the person they were replacing. Not only do the colors seem to determine what kind of person will wear them, they also seem to be very gender-specific. For the majority of the Rangers’ history Yellow and Pink have been exclusively female while any and all other colors were reserved for the guys.

Even though the Japanese series on which the original Power Rangers were based had a male Yellow Ranger, the American version cast a female in the role instead. While it did offer more female representation on the show it also did something very limiting for women in the series by relegating them exclusively to the “girl colors” of Yellow and Pink from the get go while every other color seemed to be open to the men. Because Yellow and Pink were never the leaders of the team, female Rangers seemed to be precluded from this position, though one early exception to this rule came in the form of the Alien Rangers whose leader was a female White Ranger. They were a very special case though, coming from another planet and really only being around to help out Earth’s Rangers when they were incapacitated for an extended period.

For many years the Power Rangers continued on in this fashion until the Time Force Rangers saw the first Pink Ranger in the lead. Somehow, though, I don’t remember much about her being the leader…

I wonder why that is?

I wonder why that is?

It wasn’t until Power Rangers Ninja Storm that the Power Rangers really started breaking out of their color-coded gender norms. While the leader of the Rangers was still the Red Ranger there were two firsts: the first female Blue Ranger and the first male Yellow Ranger. Not only was a girl allowed to wear one of the traditionally male colors (and there’s probably no more male color in American culture than blue) but a man was actually allowed to wear one of the female colors which seems even more surprising.

It’s one thing for a woman to be shown with masculine characteristics, that’s usually associated with strength in the media, but a man, especially a straight man, taking on feminine characteristics is usually seen as degrading since being female is given so little respect in our culture.

Thankfully the Power Rangers have shown some growth in their many years fighting evil. Hopefully they will do so even more as they continue their battles. Maybe one day we’ll see a female Red Ranger or even a male Pink Ranger! The former seems more likely than the latter, but one can dream! I think the Ninja Storm Rangers showed us that the gender-restrictive color-coding should be defied more often because they were a kick-ass team.

Power Rangers 5- Ninja Storm