Sunday, June 5, 2011

X-Men and Sexual Violence

The new X Men movie is pretty entertaining... much better than the last, but when they used female mannequins for target practice, repeatedly, I had to wonder why. And they weren't just female torsos, like the standard targets, usually men or bodies without sex markers. These were full body mannequins, with one knee bent to throw the hips into a standard flirtatious posture. And they were lined up, repeatedly, to be sliced and burned. And just to make sure you don't miss the point of the mannequins being female, they are sexualized by a caress across one of their plastic breasts by the man setting up the targets. Once again, violence as a response to women's sexuality is reinforced as the norm.

Now I understand that because these characters are mutants, they have issues with society accepting them. But when one of the main characters spends the entire film worrying that she isn't pretty, to the point of joining forces with the one man that tells her she's beautiful without artifice, despite his being morally corrupt, I had to wonder what lesson was I supposed to be learning. I recognize part of the repetition of this fear is to facilitate another character's development, but it is repeated to the point of tedium. A male character also expresses his frustration with hiding from society, but he never says that he feels unattractive... just that society at large would not accept him without his faking it. But I am still disappointed that it is always the woman who worries the most about being pretty.* If a man stressed about his physical attractiveness throughout an entire movie, especially if he was already quite good looking, it would be deemed utterly gay, i.e. feminine... a terrible, terrible gender transgressor.

*Granted, the scene in which her obsession about her looks is called out as a detractor to her ability to focus is a wonderful metaphor for women's energy being put into image over content to the point of utter distraction today.

Watching myself portrayed as a being that should expect violence as part of her sexuality does not feel very comfortable. And it doesn't fit me, anymore than watching myself sell mops and laundry detergent, or worry about my hair color, or act like men are incapable of anything but tolerant loathing towards their partners and anything that interests their female minds. But with every commercial I see like this, I think of North Korea and all the explicit methods they use to keep the people submissive: Radios in every house that cannot be turned off (only louder and quieter) that run government propaganda 24-7, a la Fahrenheit 451. And posters with pro-government slogans and images of the great leader with the only television available being government produced. I wonder what percentage of the populace embraces the lies out of mere exhaustion from such a media pummeling. Then I wonder how fair it is to judge the women who buy the bullshit, simply because it comes in the form of a barrage. Subtle and pernicious, but a barrage nonetheless.

And one more comment about the movie... why is the one black man in the script always the first to be killed?

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