16 thoughts on “Nice gifts for Spiderman fans

  1. The real question is, if they did make the male-gendered equivalent model, would it sell? My guess is no–at least not to the extent that Marvel would recoup their production costs–and then the follow up question is, why not?

    Of course, I still boggle at the fact that something like the Mary Jane model would sell. Fan markets are strange beasts.

  2. Saw an interesting discussion– sadly I don’t remember where– pointing out that Spidey’s pose is obviously one of sexualised submission, and arguing that the only reason this isn’t instantly apparent to everyone about MJ’s pose is that we’re so used to women being in poses of sexualised submission. Now, it probably also helps that Spidey’s naked except for a thong and mask, but still there’s a good point here.

  3. That’s interesting. But the immediate thing that strikes me is: who’s to say that the pose is one of submission? I read a piece recently talking about the interpretation of animal behaviour by biologists, and one of the things it pointed out was that it is always assumed that the female submits to the male’s sexual advances. In fact, certain primate females (possibly chimps, I can’t remember) are extremely persistent and forceful if they feel like having sex. But sticking their bottoms in the males’ faces is still interpreted as ‘submission’, even when the females are clearly the ones initiating sex.

  4. Fascinating, and a very good point! Now that you mention it, it’s not surprising at all that there’d be a bias in favour of viewing females as submissive. Though I think I do still tend to trust my judgement about MJ and Spidey. (That said, “submission” is of course a complicated thing. SM writers like Califia argue that submissives are often the ones really in control, despite appearances.)

  5. In the current issue of _Elle_ magazine (the body issue, does this make any excuses for my reading it?), there’s a quite interesting article about Tobey MacGuire’s body. He’s a somewhat unusual case of a male actor recognized first as good and then focused on for aspects of his body and physical appearance.

  6. I first read about this statue on in the Toronto Star (http://www.thestar.com/artsentertainment/article/214778) and I’m a little surprised at the outrage targeted at Marvel. Has anyone criticizing Marvel ever bothered to read a comic book? Being the vehicle for male teenage escapist fantasy, this statue should hardly be a surprise and is typical of mainstream comics. It left me to wonder what sparked this outrage. Is it the issue Mary Jane’s exaggerated features? Well, if that’s the case, then you could throw that blanket criticism over any mainstream comic published in the last 75 years. Is it the display of sexual submission? Again, this is typical of mainstream comics. So, that leaves the fact that she is doing laundry that distinguishes this statue from the other portraits of women in the comic industry. How dare Marvel make a statue of a woman doing laundry?

    I guess it could be a result of the fact that Spiderman has left comic book stores and crossed over into mainstream culture (I guess I’m being liberal with the term culture) and this statue is deemed offensive to the this mass audience, where this criticism would remain invisible while relegated to the marginal audience of comic book consumers. I’m not suggesting that this statue should not be consider offensive, however, Marvel shouldn’t be held accountable for playing into a chauvinist narrative that already exists.

    The cartoon of Spiderman drawn in MJ’s pose and clothes is missing the point. Spiderman is also drawn as an idealized homo erotic character (well most super heroes are) and statues of Spiderman vastly outsell those of Mary Jane (but don’t tell that to fanboys buying these statues, their lives are already hard enough). Criticism of the MJ statue merely serves as a release valve for pent up frustrations that are ubiquitous in a chauvinist culture. It allows for the expression of pseudo radicalism that modern feminism critique has become, where individuals are offended by particular products rather than the system that creates the environment for the products. I guess it easier to vent about this product and blame Marvel for falling short of putting out responsible art (and if you bother to look around there isn’t a whole lot of taste art in this mass culture) than to put forth a critique of consumerism.

  7. MJ is an idol, a fantasy for a lot of young folks who read and love Marvel comics. It’s ordinary guys who respect their girls as their favorite hero respects his. They know real life isn’t comics, as real people doesn’t look like this. Off course it’s exagerated, as all the male bodies also! come on, it’s comics! why do you feminists always see bad intention in everything?

  8. Joshka – I’ve no doubt that the people who designed and produced the statue weren’t intending to do anything offensive, or demeaning, or sexist, or anything of that sort. The problem – as feminists see it – is that we’re completely surrounded by images of women that feminists find problematic. Either because women are presented as submissive, or because they are presented as sexual playthings, or because they are presented as the ones who do the household chores whilst men go out to work, or because they are presented as delicate flowers in need of rescuing, etc. These images contribute to the creation of gender roles, which typically disadvantage women. (Men are also disadvantaged in various ways.) Given this cultural context, the ‘it’s just comics’ response is inadequate.

    There’s various empirical research which shows that people’s actions are subconsciously influenced by stereotypes. To give an example, people were subconsciously primed with words associated with old people, such as ‘grey’, and ‘bingo’ then asked to perform tests. After being primed, people tended to perform less well in tests, since the stereotypical image of old people is that they are slow and have bad memories. Similar experiments were conducted where people were primed with stereotypes of college lecturers (their test scores went up as the stereotype is that lecturers are clever), football fans (the people became ruder, since football fans are assumed to be impolite), and so on. Thus creating stereotypes can influence behaviour. Figures like the one of MJ feed into the creation of stereotypes which can be damaging to both women and men by exerting influence on the way that they behave.

  9. So there’s MJ damn close to fully clothed, and then we have Spider-man…who is wearing enough cloths to fit in a standard sized envelop…..I think that’s going just a little too far to visually prove a point.

    What is the ultimate goal of a Feminist?
    To be seen almost no different than a Male would?
    I say “almost because of the *cough*………”other”…..differences

    Just do yourselves a favor…leave the guys alone for a lil bit & focus on the WOMAN that are putting themselves out there half naked to be looked at as so called play things,and submissive,and blah blah blah…..if the can’t make the right choices from the get go then they are the ones that need to shape up….and don’t give me the “it’s society’s fault” BS….yes it is “there” fault for trying to put a image in our heads about what is & is not sexy or whatever…..but that DOES NOT excuse woman of not having there OWN MIND about themselves….especially now a days when people are more aware about society’s outlook on woman and where it could be headed.

    P.S. I am a Straight Male & I do not hate Feminists……there just my thoughts.CHEERS.

  10. Nunya,

    You are making assumptions about goals and effective methods that may well be false.

    Certainly, one of feminism’s standard goals is to help increase women’s sense of dignity and self-worth against the contrary messages in the society. Making fun of them, and criticizing in the way this post does, is an effective way to combat the messages.

  11. What I see is a very beautifull and caring woman which spiderman would go to hell and back for looking pretty and washing his costume. I think he would really appriciate her doing that for him and I’m sure she’s happy to do it.
    If she had powers I’m sure spidy would wash her super suit too. Spideys a good guy so don’t talk crap about his girlfreind!!
    Yes I know they are make believe…..maybe

  12. I want everyone to know up front that I am a woman. I am not a feminist, but a realist. The reality is that this statue could be a representation of gender stereotyping at it’s best…or it could be a gift to the fans of a comic book who care enough about this character and what she meant to the comic book world to actually read the literature it was based on. I believe that is what the case is. I believe that you have a very narrow and one-sided view of what comic books embrace. Comic books allow us to indulge our fantasies the same way that most works of fiction do. The truth of the matter is that people of all shapes and sizes, colors, creeds, and sexes read comic books…and if you can not appreciate that there are other people who do appreciate the art that comes from the fictional literature that is represented in the comic book medium…Then you don’t even believe the sermon that you are preaching.
    And by the way…using a piece of artwork that embraces the very thing you are supposedly fighting, makes you ignorant and makes you look like you embrace gender based stereotypes as long as they aren’t about women. That is what we call bigotry.

  13. a little research about this statue would show you that the artist’s intention was to represent mary jane FINDING the costume at his boyfriend’s and realizing he had a secret. She is not making laundry, and his position and clothes are less offensive that 95 percent of females apearence in comics.

  14. Monkey, do you have a male booty fettish by any chance? ;-)

    @#3 Female chimps, bonobos and orangutans are all very sexually aggressive. Young female chimps work out their urges with other females when no males will respond to their attempts to iniitiate sex. (Unlike humans, male chimps prefer the older females.) Bonobos use sex to diffuse potential violence when conflicts arise.

    I found a National Geographic article about orangutan sex a few years ago that was also very interesting. The female walked over to the male and gestured toward his genitals and then to her own. When he just stood there looking confused, she started waving her arms around and pulling on the male’s penis and pointing even more ferociously at herself. Isn’t that adorable?

    But these findings didn’t come about until the 1980’s and 1990’s. Yes, earlier work in the field of primatology had serious male biases too.

    As far as superhero sex, I’ll take Elastigirl from Disney’s The Incredibles any day. But that upside down rain soaked Spidey kiss was pretty hot too. What can I say? Gymnastics are sexy.

    Which reminds me…

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