Weaponizing Women FTW

Lucy is a film about a woman who gains access to “100% of her brain.” She becomes a superhero, kills a bunch of bad guys, and then becomes a god kind of, which is how we do in Hollywood, now, all day / every day, and I’m not even standing here opposed. I mean, who would be standing here opposed? Look at this trailer.

Actually, okay, some people are standing here opposed.

Yes, the “100% of her brain” premise is very stupid and annoying and should go away. It’s lazy, pseudoscientific nonsense. But let’s set that aside for a moment, because this isn’t a superhero movie. Lucy stars a woman and is therefore, according to the internet, a female superhero movie. Phew! Now it’s worthy of a think piece.

Over at WIRED, Devon Maloney was vague in her specific criticism, but holds clearly that the “weaponized woman” trope is problematic to begin with (why?), and especially so with this movie, because “Lucy isn’t really about a female action star or one character’s liberation from the chokehold of Hollywood tropes—it’s about an idea.” And the idea Maloney takes to task, here, is not feminism. The director barely even talks about feminism! This is a movie about a woman fighting bad guys and she is not talking about how she is a woman! Lucy isn’t even defined by her femininity in this movie, you guys. She’s defined by her humanity. Wtf is this nonsense?!

Wait a minute.

Isn’t that a good thing? When was the last time a male superhero talked about his own gender in a searching, thoughtful way on film? Great superhero stories do tend to explore an aspect of our culture with some thoughtfulness, whether it’s Batman’s odyssey of the ‘Hero’ and his relationship to the city, Iron Man’s individuality and his complicated relationship with the American war industrial complex, or civil rights as center stage throughout the X-Men franchise. But why is every female superhero expected to comment on ‘women in society’?

Maloney defines her “weaponized woman” as a character whose abilities are “a) dangerous, b) either present from birth or given to her without consent, and c) exploited by adversaries for their own purposes.” This is a bad thing. We cannot have women running around being “weaponized,” okay? This is automatically anti-feminist! Women aren’t weapons, you guys, they’re women! They’re not male fantasies! They’re people, not ideas! And look at all of this coded sexism up in here, somehow, someway, or… actually I have no idea, because nobody seems able to make a compelling argument for why the weaponization of women in film is bad. Our knee-jerk reaction is simply that it is. A guy directed this film. Guys aren’t really being all that helpful re: women. This guy probably isn’t really being all that helpful re: women.

Any questions?

But of course the real problem, here, is we are once again discussing the treatment of women in a vacuum, free of thoughts concerning the treatment of men. How are we supposed to measure the treatment of women as equal or unequal if we have nothing to measure their treatment against?

From within an imbalanced gender framework, any data point can represent both the great height or abject failure of gender equality. So check it out: I could have told you at six-years-old, from beneath my mountain of comics, that every superhero is a weapon, and a whole shit ton of them became weapons because of some effed-up bad guys trying to use them for effed-up bad guy stuff!

Consider Akira. Consider Wolverine. Consider the Matrix’s Neo. Maloney’s description just about touches every great superhero, male and female, in existence.

This begs an interesting question. If we take away the weaponization of women in genre, what’s left? Well, in a superhero movie, where a feminist consumed by the question of her own femininity could probably not do much against, for example, the Sentinels, or the Terminator, or Galactus, for god’s sake, the answer is pretty clear: she’d have to play sidekick, or love interest, to a man.

And that sounds pretty sexist.

So please, internet, let a lady kick some ass. TC mark


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  • http://squisheddiorama.wordpress.com Jiggs KC

    Reblogged this on Chock Full of Anecdotes and commented:
    Do you know why the WNBA players/franchise doesn’t make nearly as much money as the NBA players/franchise? it’s because of demand. People – men and women both prefer watching the males play basketball. Women aren’t taking this opportunity to put their money where their mouths are and buying season tickets to the WNBA. it’s just not happening like that. Mostly, because women have other interests, like their dating profile and shopping their fashion style or beauty products.

    With comics, there ARE female superheroes already. Eh hem … Anyone heard of:

    Wonder Woman
    Invisible Woman
    Phoenix (Jean Grey)
    Emma Frost
    Batgirl (Barbara Gordon)
    Black Cat
    Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers)
    Kamala Khan
    Black Widow
    WitchBlade (Sara Pezzini)
    Black Canary
    Power Girl

    Are they written by males? Some of them are. You have to realize that this was once a heavily male dominated industry. Women didn’t care for comics until fairly recently. This used to be a male hobby. Sure there were those girls on the fringe, who picked up a comic and loved it, but they were few and far between. You would find Japanese comics or Manga comics if you were looking for something that had the fashion appeal of Sailor Moon, and then work your way into some obscure offbeat publication.

    Until Comicon became the MASSIVE MEGA INDUSTRIAL CORPORATE CONGLOMERATE that it is today. And now that we are seeing Hollywood running out of things to make movies about, comic-book movies are finding much attention. And women like attention. So here we are. Why aren’t they making a Love & Rockets movie, or a Strangers in Paradise movie? idk, buy the rights. I’d go watch it – if you did it right.

    The question is: how much does this industry have to bend to appeal to women folk? Feminism will find a way to complain about anything. If a female character acts like a man, they complain that they aren’t promoting the everyday woman. If she acts like a feminine woman; they shout to all the inter-webs about how she doesn’t get to be the action hero like a man does.

    it seems like you can’t just tell a story anymore, because the story needs to appeal to everyone. They want to pack in the seats. So Hollywood is trying to placate men, and women, and kids, fan boys, and fan girls, and people who want the story to evolve to say something about this age, pushing art, and all while looking spectacular. This diminishes the story. It puts too much expectation on a story and takes it in too many directions, so as it can’t just be a great story – or a great movie (or a great comic) it has to be a great story/movie/comic for everyone. And that’s just not possible most of the time.

    The truth is, men and women aren’t equal. Equality is bullshit. It’s a term used to try and usurp the pros that the other gets without accepting the cons. “Equality” as a term is used to boost up people in society and push down others. We have these gender disputes which have become a HUGE deal because everyone wants to act like you get to pick your gender, or you get to pick your pros and cons. It’s ridiculous. But that’s the landscape we live in. Where are all the woman clamoring for a an all female draft . . . yeah, nowhere.

    In comics we have age old tropes, characters, franchises, and mythos which get told and retold, and re-imagined. And just like you shouldn’t make a female Mohammad, or a female Jesus Christ, or a female Albert Einstein, you shouldn’t change Thor into a female. It’s just dumb. Find your own stories, females. Become the female writer who writes females better. Sell your story to a female director, or a feminist male director and make Feminist art. But don’t go changing our beloved characters into women, just because you are tired of being women yourselves. Stop trying to act like men. Celebrate being a woman.

    Woman and men are different; and that’s okay.

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