Shame Day: Sexual Standards

asdfasdI’m double-posting today, so this week’s Shame Day is a little late [I try to update the blog before noon] but is brought to you by a topic I haven’t addressed much as of late: the wonderful world of comics.

Yesterday it was announced by various comic book news outlets that the newest title out of the Marvel NOW! line of books would be X-Men, written by Brian Wood and illustrated by Olivier Coipel. An X-Men title is certainly nothing new, but it is when the entire cast of said title is female.

Wood was interviewed in an article by USA Today, and had the following things today about the characters he’s writing:

Wood also promises to bring a lot of relationships, love and sex into the book, “in the classic X-men way — the way it used to be.”

He wants to challenge the double standards that have been in superhero books for years, where Wolverine can sleep with anybody but if a female character does it twice, she’s promiscuous, which Wood sees constantly online.

“To everybody’s credit, these people are often shot down immediately for being sexist and unfair, but that is a very common thing,” Wood says.

“We’re just going to do it. We’re not going to worry about that. If Kitty or Rogue has basic human bodily urges, tough luck (to those opposed). To me, that’s as much of the X-Men as anything else.”

It is certainly not news that this double standard exists, and I’d been thinking about this for a while due to my having watched most of Season 4 of How I Met Your Mother this past Thursday. It didn’t take more than a few minutes of watching Barney Stinson before it occurred to me that:

Barney Stinson is pretty widely known to be both a prolific and successful womanizer. He sleeps with women the way most people go to work: five times a week, maybe six to get in some overtime. He’s admittedly a painfully funny character, but also one that is congratulated for his sexual prowess.

Now take a female character and put her in Barney’s shoes. Thankfully, times are certainly a’ changin’, and I can actually point to one half of the roommates in Don’t Trust The B—- In Apartment 23, Chloe. She is a person who treats her sexual partners with just about as much respect [if not less] than Barney Stinson, and the show has for the most part done a great job not demonizing her for it.

The fact of the matter is that in most cases Chloe would be dubbed a slut. Is there a male equivalent for the term in the English language? An article I found on The Independent explores this very question, and ends up admitting that words like “roué” or “swordsman” or “playboy” all work as far as describing what I’ve mentioned, but don’t really “convey much sense of moral contempt and several of which are tinged with admiration.”

What I’m pointing an accusatory finger at this Shame Day is the fact that we hold as a culture a sickeningly obvious double standard. I’m not one who particularly praises rampant sexual promiscuity, but I certainly hope that I if I did I would be able to hold both with an equal amount of esteem.

This post is to shame those who give the Chloes of this world the finger with one hand while high-fiving the Barneys with the other. It’s also to give the bit of credit where it’s due to Brian Wood and to all others who realize how it is we view men and women, and who go out of their way to work against that.

As a parting note, it’s nice to know that even the characters within the comics have noticed this:

She-Hulk #17 (Vol. 2). Written by Dan Slott, illustrated by Rick Burchett.

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10 responses to “Shame Day: Sexual Standards

  1. I’d rather we stop congratulating the Barneys rather than start congratulating the Chloes.

    • I didn’t really state this in the post, but Chloe isn’t so much praised for her actions as they’re just not made a big deal out of. Which is a step towards equality, though perhaps not necessarily in the right direction.

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