Friday, May 8, 2015

Assemble & Unite: Feminine Feminists


      Feminism. How such a word can provoke such a wide array of emotions, from pride to disdain. To be honest, feminism is probably one of the most controversial issues in today’s society.

Who is a woman meant to be?

What is her place in the world?

Who does she answer to?

How equal is she to a man?

Is there feminism to be found in domestic life?

Can a woman truly succeed and still maintain the true quality of being feminine?

     Feminism has been woven throughout history since the Bible times, some of it positive, (think, Deborah the Judge and Lydia) and some of it is negative (think Jezebel and Vashti). Shortly after the Civil War ended, women started to rally for equal voting rights which started the first-wave feminist movement. All that women wanted was to be seen in the eyes of society as equals to men and to be treated as such.

     In the 1960s though, values shifted and morals plummeted as the original foundations of the first-wave feminists were broadened into the female empowerment movement with the ideal of “I’m a woman, hear me roar.” They call that feminism, but it’s not true feminism. Feminism means equality and the right to make your own personal decisions. I’ve studied feminism for a long time and I will go round with people all night long to prove my validated points on it.

     If the comic book world has done one thing right, they have presented women as strong, powerful and intelligent, and have coincided these qualities with beauty, compassion and loyalty. This is also known as the Princess Leia affect. She was one of the first screen heroines that was a balanced combination of strength and beauty, and really almost every female heroine I talk about today have a small piece of Princess Leia in them.

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S.H.I.E.L.D.
Agent Natasha Romanov//Black Widow
Agent Maria Hill 

     I don’t think true feminism has ever been more appropriately applied to two working women as Agent Natasha Romanov and Agent Maria Hill. Both women are considered the best of the best in S.H.I.E.L.D. Natasha is a brilliant spy and Maria is Fury’s second-in-command. As we saw in the Avengers films, both women are well respected and admired by everyone working within S.H.I.E.L.D. and their admiration and respect are well deserved.

     Agent Natasha Romanov//Black Widow: First meeting her as an undercover agent in Iron Man 2, she is introduced at sweet natured Natalie Rushman, Pepper Potts secretarial replacement. Since then, Natasha’s storyline has slowly been revealed and developed. Orphaned at a young age in Russia, she was recruited by a special undercover KGB spy network called The Red Room. There Natasha was trained to become a ruthless spy who has created a long list of murder and destruction on what she calls ‘her ledger.’ Natasha eventually got on S.H.I.E.L.D’s radar and was suppose to die at the hands of Clint Barton (Hawkeye), but an unexpected act of mercy from her would-be assassin changes her life forever. Clint allows her to live as long as she gives up The Red Room and ally with S.H.I.E.L.D.

     Afterwards, Natasha rises to the top of S.H.I.E.L.D. spy branch. She can do just about anything, from going undercover to hacking computers. Although she’s at the top, Natasha is still living in silent guilt for the sins of her past and hopes to one day wipe her ledger clean. Eventually she realizes she cannot do that; all she can do is make a better future for herself and the world she lives in.

     In Age of Ultron we are given a shocking and heartbreaking flashback into Natasha’s life in the KGB and the mental abuse she was made to suffer. None of that compared to the sterilization procedure she undergoes to prevent pregnancy. In spite of her successes and victories over adversity and betrayal, all Natasha truly wants is a family and it kills her on the inside knowing that dream was stripped away from her.

     Of course, the (said) feminists threw a tantrum, saying that Natasha was weak for mourning the loss of her ability to have children. All I can say is, how dare you accuse her of being weak?? All because she was acting on true female emotion. Women are born to be women and with that comes the deep maternal instinct, otherwise known as, a mother’s love. There is nothing more heartbreaking for most women than the knowing that they will never have children, because they have been created with that natural maternal instinct that the world and female empowerment can never take away. To portray Natasha in that very vulnerable light was a stroke of genius and gave a more real and personable persona as a character and a woman.

After that dissertation, what do I say about Maria?

     Agent Maria Hill
: Nick Fury’s right-hand-woman who is every bit as tough and intelligent as the man she answers to. We first see Maria in The Avengers as a level headed woman and agent who may question the motives of her boss from time to time, but always accomplishes whatever he asks. Maria knows how to take orders, how to fight and how to survive. Her calm nature is her greatest strength and is really what defines her as an agent. Never once in the time that Maria Hill has been in the MCU has she ever lost her temper or go into a state of confusion.

      When she’s off the clock, she’s lively and fun; just genuinely someone you would want to be friends with. After S.H.I.E.L.D. collapses in Captain America: The Winter Solider, Maria takes a position at Stark Industrial and eventually works on the home base for the independent Avenger’s Initiative; only now, her boss is Steve Rogers (I wouldn’t complain). Maria doesn’t mind having to answer to men, as long as men see her as their equal and trust her to do her job well.

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Women of X-Men
Raven Darkholme//Mystique
Dr. Jean Grey//Phoenix & Ororo Munroe//Storm

     In a world that hates and fears you and your kind, one can hardly be a mutant and a shrinking violet. In the X-Men universe, women are steel magnolias who know how to hold their own against a prejudiced world that is primarily run by men. The government is run by men, the Brotherhood and the X-Men are both run by men. Women do a play a vital role as just being women who have natural gifts and abilities that they use for fighting, protecting, learning and, above all, loving deeply, passionately and fiercely.

     Raven Darkholme//Mystique: Depending on which X-Men franchise you watch, the first trilogy or the prequel trilogy, Raven is multifaceted character (they’re also played by two different women). In the first trilogy, she is known only as Mystique and is Magneto’s assistant who does whatever he asks of her. Mystique is utterly loyal to Magneto and will maim, torment and kill to ensure that his diabolical plans are fulfilled.

     In the prequel trilogy, we are given the opportunity to see Mystique’s beginnings as Raven, a young abandoned child with an unusual blue form and the ability to shape shift, scavenging around in Charles Xavier’s kitchen. She is taken in by Charles’ family and together they grow up as close as any real brother and sister. Charles’ as the overprotective older brother who expects too much from his sibling and Raven as the independent sister who wants to break free from her brother’s shadow.

     In First Class Raven struggles with her odd blue form and believes that she can never be accepted. One night in bed with Magneto and all doubts and fears are gone (don’t you wish that self-acceptance was that easy?); Raven has a new pride in her blue form as well as being a mutant, but comes to odds with her brother about where mutants lives should be heading.

     Raven is strong-willed, but that doesn’t mean she has strength of character. Because she was over-protected by Charles for 18 years and then utilized for almost 40 years by Magneto, Raven’s life has always been at the mercy of men. This is why I loved Days of Future Past, because we were finally able to see the conflicting areas in Raven’s life and how she was torn between the brother she loved and abandoned and the lover that eventually abandoned her. In the end though (of both trilogies), Charles belief in his sister’s humanity always wins out and Raven or Mystique gets her justice and validation every time.

     Dr. Jean Grey//Phoenix and Ororo Munroe//Storm: Two of Charles Xavier’s first students to join the X-Men as a doctor and a teacher. Jean and Storm epitomize the ideal of strength in deep love. Storm especially, with her job as a teacher, loves the children of Xavier’s School dearly and will fight to protect them at any cost. Storm was orphaned at a young age and understands the loneliness that many of these children face and makes it her primary duty to know that every child is loved, wanted and accepted.

     Jean herself has had a hard time trying to find her place with in the X-Men faction. Quiet and reserved by nature, Jean is hardly one to let her feelings be made public (harder still when she finds herself caught between two amazing men). Her deep telepathic and telekinetic powers can be hard to control and dangerous to others around her if she cannot learn to control them. All Jean has ever wanted was a place to belong, a reason to belong and Jean really represents the people who struggle with their introverted personalities and the longing to better understand themselves.

~ ~ ~

Everyday Women
Peggy Carter, Pepper Potts, Jane Foster

     Feminism is defined as equality between men and women. All well and good, but now we can only accept and admire female heroines if they either know how to throw a punch or hack into a computer; well we all can’t be Natasha Romanov or Felicity Smoak. Peggy Carter is revered because she was in the military (sort of) and she knew how to shoot a gun, so femmi points for Peggy. Yet, somehow it’s a given that to have an ordinary woman who has an ordinary job such as a CEO or an astrophysicist isn’t considered feminist. So now it’s not enough to be equal to men on levels of education and careers, now we have to be the men themselves and forgo any thought of femininity; the lie of female empowerment at its finest.

     Agent Peggy Carter: An English recon. worker in the Strategic Science Reserve during WWII, Agent Carter may seem somewhat out of place in a military world, but she holds her own, due to her quick mind and wit. A true definition of beauty, brains and brawn, it’s easy to understand how Howard Stark and Steve Rogers were both crazy about her. Peggy is only one of two people who see the potential in Steve Rogers before he becomes Captain America and encourages him to find his true potential afterwards.

     While Peggy may love her job, doing the right thing will always come first; even if it means sacrificing everything you worked hard for. Peggy is willing to go through gunfire and blazes to assist Steve Rogers in his mission to end WWII. She stands firm in her beliefs and will not let any man (especially her boss) tell her that she is only led by her feelings.

     Pepper Potts: Tony Stark’s former secretary and CEO of Stark Industries, Pepper Potts defines the ultimate working, successful woman. Having to deal with Tony and his self-absorbed attitude is a fulltime job in itself and then he dumps the failing company in her lap and somehow expects her to do something about it. The great thing about Pepper is that she is not someone to complain. She picks herself up and gets the job done and usually does it better than anyone else. Pepper’s success has not made her arrogant in any way. She is fiercely protective of Tony and Stark Industries and always has the company’s best interests in mind.

     Jane Foster: A brilliant scientist who is also the least-liked of all the MARVEL female heroines. Why? Still trying to figure that out. Jane is different from other MARVEL heroines because she’s usually part of the comic relief, which I thought was great. People say that Jane isn’t a feminist because she fell in love with Thor so quickly. Ok….but Pepper was in love with Tony for years and only stayed for so long because of him? And didn’t Peggy almost kill Steve because she was crazy about him? Is there some kind of feminist love timeline that I’ve been completely unaware of? So Jane isn’t a computer whiz and she may be a dingbat from time to time, but she is also just the girl next door character who is successful in her career and got a lucky break with a god from above. It’s MARVEL fairy-tale. Get over it, wannabe feminists.







4 comments:

  1. I love this post, and these characters! Particularly Peggy, Natasha, and Pepper to me seem to have the perfect balance of strength and grace.

    It annoyed me to no end how people were whining at Joss Whedon for giving Nat the character development he did in AOU. It seems like to me they want her to be a man, not a strong woman, because she is a strong woman! And revealing those things about her past makes her even stronger, because she has more to overcome. What do people want? A heartless robot in a tight and curvy catsuit? That doesn't sound like what feminism should be.

    I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who thinks this feminist stuff with Nat is ridiculous! Great post and great blog! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much! It's great to know that there are other people out there that feel the same way I do! Thanks for the add on GFC and Bloglovin : )

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