Subliminal Sexism

 

When my husband first showed me the X-Men Apocalypse poster of Mystique being strangled or choked by Apocalypse and the immediate media response about it being a symbol of violence against women, I felt a little bothered but I echoed his statement about how people are too politically correct and over-sensitive these days. The poster must be okay because:

  1. Regardless of the protagonist’s gender, Apocalypse is a villain trying to kill them. They could put Charles Xavier on it and it would still be the same. Basically, Apocalypse doesn’t care about your gender, he will attack you all.
  2. Jennifer Lawrence is a headliner so it makes sense to feature her in a promotional poster.
  3. If women want to be taken seriously, then we should be willing to take what men do to other men. Equality goes both ways.

Although I’m a proponent of women’s rights, I was never one to react impulsively, nor am I oversensitive about issues. I was not raised in politically correct America. For me, equality is a right and not a privilege and we should not expect to be pampered and coddled for our sex.

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However, the poster still bothered me. After some thought about the matter, I explained to my husband why.

  1. My instinctual impression was negative. It looked like Apocalypse was able to overpower Mystique due to her physical weakness in comparison to him. Sure, most women are not as physically strong as men. But does this fact need to be glorified?
  2. EVERYONE will see this poster; not just X-men fans, moviegoers or those familiar with the X-men storyline and characters. These people argue that Mystique is obviously a strong character who will survive and the poster is all about Mystique’s survival in a seemingly impossible situation. But who else sees this poster? Children who are not familiar with the story and simply see a picture of big man strangling a smaller woman — children who see adults saying that it’s okay.
  3. Why choose Mystique? There are other headliners in the cast. Was it because the poster looked eye-catching? Or was it because she was beautiful, sexy and appealing to male audiences? I’m sure seeing a beautiful, appealing woman being treated in a violent manner is not sexy unless you’re into those things.
  4. There are many scenes portraying Apocalypse attacking the protagonists. Hell, I’m sure there are many scenes with Mystique and Apocalypse fighting. Why choose that particular one?

What bothered me was the public reaction to this. Some agreed that this poster was offensive but a huge chunk also slammed those people for being oversensitive. We were made fun of and told that we joined the “gender politics” club. You know what, there is a reason why there even is a gender politics crowd. There is a reason why women are starting to voice out their frustrations. Fifty years ago no one would have blinked to see a poster like this. Today, this poster has been questioned and criticized because we know that we finally have the right to do so without fear of being mocked by men as being irrational and oversensitive.

But we were still mocked. Mocked both by misogynists and even completely (supposedly) rational men who are tired of hearing women’s complaints. Is this an example of subliminal sexism? If they’re tired of women’s complaints, then maybe they should jump into a time machine where men telling women to shut up and “know their place” was the norm.

The Fox executives’ decision to use this as a promotional poster was in bad taste. Hopefully, they’ll replace it with a better one.

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