Miles Coverdale (manos74) wrote,
Miles Coverdale

Political stuff about Laundrygate and "choice"

I'm coming late to the whole Laundrygate thing--probably late enough that it might have passed out of people minds; after all, it was, what, three weeks ago now? In Internet time, that's like a century almost. And I know I'm definitely running a risk of just restating what others have said before and better.

So, as a refresher, here's an abridged version of the events:

Marvel Comics: Gosh, we wish more women would buy our comics. Oh, yeah, here's this little maquette of Mary Jane Parker washing Spider-Man's costume and bent over so that it looks like she's presenting. Knock yourselves out, fanboys.

Fanboys: HAWT

Female Comics Fans: Wow. This is... pretty foul, actually.

Fanboys: OMG STFU

Female Comics Fans: Seriously, what the hell? Visible thong, string of pearls, come-mount-me-now expression? You're making Mary Jane Parker into a damn porn star.


Marvel Comics: And what's wrong with being sexy?
Among the more correctly-spelled of the fanboyish blatherings was the sentiment that went something along the lines of "But I thought feminism was supposed to be about choice!! So she could've chosen to wear this and bend over like that!! So it's a feminist image after all!! O SNAP I HAVE DEFEATED YOU WITH MY STUNNING LOGIC", followed by rounds of virtual high-fiving and e-peen stroking.

The right to make choices is a wonderful thing. Being able to do our own thing for our own reasons is an ideal to be worked towards. ...But this isn't an ideal world, and choices are not always freely made, or they are made for miscalculated reasons. At the very least, a choice made without knowledge of all possible options--or, in the worst case, a choice forced upon someone by someone more powerful who deliberately keeps the options narrow--well, can you honestly say that's a free choice? Doing something because you genuinely want to do it for yourself--not because your spouse or friends or parents or authorities expect you to--is fine. The problem is that we all are entangled in often-invisible webs of socially-imposed expectations and obligations...and that what we think is something we do for ourselves can sometimes be done because it's what we think we "should" be doing without question.

Let's use an example that always seems to get trotted out with this sort of discussion: If a woman chooses to be a stripper, say... is she doing it for an end in itself? Does she honestly enjoy taking her clothes off on stage, deep down in her heart of hearts? Is she doing it because it makes her feel empowered in some way? (Which is a distinct possibility, of course--a sort of "go out naked and have no fear" kind of thing--but the whole "performance" aspect of the stripper complicates this a lot.)

Or, has she made her own personal calculus that she can make more money doing that than she can in any other job available where she lives (a possibility that is somewhat more than distinct in quite a few areas of the country), and move on to somewhere/something else after a few years? (Of course, that also raises the question of "Why is it that women can make more money taking their clothes off in public than they can in an office? And why aren't there many high-paying jobs for anyone in these parts of the country, anyhow? And hey, shouldn't we maybe look into that?")

Or, is she doing it because all the other voices she hears every day are telling her that being a woman automatically means being hypersexualized, that even being *attractive* automatically means being hypersexualized? In short--is she choosing to do it to please men, because she honestly believes that making men happy is whas she ought to be doing in order to get full membership in society?

(This is why there's such a hate-on for what's called "hegemonic thinking," because what hegemony does is it takes a very specific social code and power structure that serves to benefit a very specific group at the expense of everyone else, and presents it as The Natural Order Of Things.)

In situations like this, what feminists are doing, in essence, is asking ", are you sure you've thought this all the way through?"
Tags: fandom, politics
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