Monday, September 18, 2006

Beyond The Cat Fight Fantasy

So a group of conservatives are sexually harassing a young feminist blogger; making rude comments about her breasts and claiming she's some sort of kiss-ass, suck-up slut. All this based on a picture where she's standing next to Bill Clinton and has straight posture. The two main women involved are picking on and trying to pull down another woman and using sex to do it. They're encouraging men to make crude statements and to objectify this young lady; ; she's a whore, she's trading on her looks, no man'd ever be interested in her brains.

The hubbub got me thinking about the cat-fights in comics and whether or not they make sense. Not that cat-fights ever make any general sense. But are they internally consistent in a realistic way? Do do these heroic women ever turn to the man involved and go 'What are you doing'? No. A lot of the times they look at the other woman and go 'You Hussy!' and out come the claws. There's seldom a pause to think a deeper game might be playing.

Now, aside from the fact that men seem to like being fought over, what else does the cat-fight bring to the story? Really, what does it bring outside of wish fulfillment? Why should two powerful women fight over a man? Is he a pawn? Is he a prize?

  • Emma vs Jean over Scott; In Ring One.

  • Rogue vs A Cast of Women over Remy: In Ring Two

  • Talia and Selina Over Batman: In Ring Three

I'm sure there are people who can think of more. Or perhaps the reverse, for example, Reed Richards vs Namor over Sue Storm. Sue's an object there and the men are fighting like neanderthals determined to disseminate their seed. But that's not quite the point I'm making.

In an industry that's so heavily dominated by men, what does it say when they have strong female characters ripping apart friends or even respected enemies, not over principles, but over a man? What does it say when one woman is jealous of another's looks and not her physical prowness and ability to do the job? Why isn't there an acceptance of talent and capability? Why is another woman on the scene a threat instead of a professional challenge?

Do the males in the industry think that our objections, to what we see as the unnecessary oversexualization of these female characters, really stem from some sort of jealousy? Are they so used to the concept of the cat-fight and its fantasy basis they can't hear the true objections?

Because I for one don't want large breasts, mine are bigger than I'd like actually. And while I wouldn't mind a couple extra inches in height, I don't want my feet to get any bigger. I would however appreciate an ass. I don't have one. It's a mystery - a painful mystery. But I wouldn't want to have to arch my back and push that butt out in some weird exotic pose in order to keep it. And I wouldn't want to wear a bathing suit when I headed into battle (Thank God in Reg Rucka's run, WW actually changed to varied battle dress when confronting Foes).

What I want is a woman I can want to emulate; one who can kick butt, save lives, take names and smile because she's done a good job. Isn't that the same thing the men who read want to feel about the male characters they like? Why is that so hard to believe, accept and understand?

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