Marvel’s Feminist Astigmatism

OK. Full disclosure here. I grew up reading comic books, and my preference was for Marvel. Until my sophomore year in college (a/k/a the prehistoric era).

In fairly short order (or so it seemed to me) they turned Jean Grey, Marvel Girl, into the Phoenix, and then the sun-eating-killing-billions-of-people-monster Dark Phoenix. Then Storm, also known as the African semi-goddess Ororo, became leader of the X-Men…and thereafter got her weather-control powers taken away by a mutant-power-neutralizing gun. They messed with my two favorite characters. I was, to put it mildly, Very Upset.

These story lines prompted my one-and-only letter to Marvel, accusing them of not being able to handle women with real power. Let ’em be able to go toe-to-toe with the men, and suddenly they were somehow too big for their britches and needed to be cut down.

I pretty much stopped reading comics after that. Yeah, maybe I was Very, Very Upset.

So now, after more years than I care to think about, Marvel is making headlines about the “New Thor”…who’s a woman.

Let’s put aside for a moment that this decision disses Thor himself as a hero. He is somehow “unworthy” for his hammer, Mjolnir (which he’s only honorably wielded for, like, a millenia?)

Who it really disses are the female super-heroes, already on the job. Doing the same job as the boys–in high heels and backwards, as Ginger Rogers famously remarked. But everybody gets excited because “finally” women will get some new level of respect, because one takes over a man’s name. Like Ginger would be any better, if we called her Fred Astaire?

Ororo–who later went on to wield Thor’s hammer during the time she’d lost her mutant abilities–really doesn’t need it to be herself. Don’t ever make the mistake of calling her Thor. Her name stands on her own merits.

I think there’s a lesson in there. Too bad the Marvel folks just don’t get it.