Looking for Insults in the Avengers

I have to add an addendum to my thoughts about the Avengers flick.  Apparently a lot of people are very upset about Black Widow in this film because of the scene with Bruce Banner about her inability to have children.  That is not a sexist moment.  Listen to the dialog.  She isn’t saying she’s a “monster” because she can’t have kids.  She’s saying she’s a monster because she was trained to be a killer from childhood.  She’s regretful she can’t have children because of the actions of her handlers, and there is nothing wrong with that moment.  Lots of women want to have children.  Acknowledging that fact is not sexist.  Saying or even implying that it is best and only role for women that is sexist.  This was a character moment.  We learned that Natasha would like to have had children.  That just adds to the character.  It’s not an insult.

Yes Jeremy Renner and Chris Evans did a bone headed thing during an interview calling Widow a slut.  The truth is that she has never been presented as a love interest for any of the male Avengers until this movie.  It was shaded in the first film that she’s sweet on Hawkeye, but with the added information about Clint’s personal life we can also take her concern as a woman who is worried about her best friend.

One of the things I loved about Winter Soldier was that there was no hint of romance between the Cap and Widow.  They were professionals and comrades.  There is respect and they are working toward friendship, but not romance.  Yes, she kisses him.  It’s a ploy and it shows once again that she is clever.  Just as her manipulation of Loki is one of the best moments in the first film.

The exchanges with Banner are the first time we’ve seen her be obviously interested in a man.  And there is much to admire in the man, the compassionate healer.  She lacks his essential kindness, it’s been crushed out of her so she’s attracted to that.  She also sees that they both have a dark side.  It was an interesting choice to have them toy with the idea of finding companionship with each other.

If you want to talk about sexism then you need to pull way back, and look at the superhero genre as a whole.  It’s definitely a bro kind of thing thing.   We have one woman as a member of the Avengers.  The X-Men do a bit better with a large slate of women who get to play at world saving, but slamming this movie for sexism because of this one scene is silly.

I’ve been a feminist since my youth, but when we allow ourselves to insulted by trivial things, or inject sexism where none exists then we hurt our struggle to be equal participants in society at large.

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