The Goddess Mentality – Part 3

Artist: Alex Ross (Credit: DC Comics)
Artist: Alex Ross (Credit: DC Comics)

Let me start by saying that I do not respect powerful people simply for being powerful.  I respect people for being humble, conscientious, empathetic, and compassionate and for doing what they can with what they have. I can’t recall how many times I’ve heard the following argument:

“They resent her because she’s aggressive, abrasive, egotistical, etc. (fill in the blank), but it’s okay for a man to be that way.”

When it comes to these types of attitudes and (alliteration warning) pugnacious, pugilistic behavior, it is not okay for a man to be this way. It is not okay for anyone to be this way. I respect powerful people when they wield power ethically, responsibly, and with humility for the benefit of others.  I know that not all of my readers share my Christian beliefs, but a saying of Jesus Christ taken from the Parable of the Talents seems appropriate to this week’s topic. It says, in essence, that much is expected of those to whom much is given.

Artist: Alex Ross (Credit: DC Comics)
Artist: Alex Ross (Credit: DC Comics)

Please consider the above statements while considering what I have to say next. I think it is responsible to ask the following: If women are encouraged to cast off traditional societal protections and to draw a sense of empowerment from “bad ass” female characters (please refer to Part 2 before getting mad at me), is this a potential recipe for disaster? Are they isolated in a game which requires them to compete using tools which favor men?

Credit: DC Comics
Credit: DC Comics
Credit: DC Comics
Credit: DC Comics
Credit: DC Comics
Credit: DC Comics

I am alarmed and dismayed by the promotion of competition rather than cooperation between the sexes, and this applies to our entertainment as well. I’m not talking about competing for the same job or political office or demanding fair and equal treatment (e.g. wages). I’m talking about a more general animosity based on gender. This can feed wrong attitudes in which men regard women as physical competitors, and it can be a potent driver of pornographic fan art, sexual assault, and domestic violence. To strengthen my argument, let me mention a comment about the above panel in which the writer gloried in the fact that this proved that Wonder Woman can “take a punch.” I am alarmed by anything that encourages men to look at women this way. I say this as a husband, as a father of three daughters, as a grandfather of two granddaughters, and as a professor who has worked for the last quarter of a century at a women’s college. One of my former students runs a women’s shelter in the town where I live, and another used to work there full-time. Yet another was a victim of domestic violence, which I discovered when I noticed she had a black eye in class. When I asked her privately how it had happened (as faculty at our institution are instructed to do), she confirmed my suspicions and was referred to a counselor.

I don’t object to the existence or development of “bad ass” female characters per se. Superheroes (members of our more modern, albeit fictional, pantheon) such as Wonder Woman of DC Comics, the Scarlet Witch of Marvel Comics, and Winged Victory and Cleopatra of the Astro City series are portrayed as women who can take care of the themselves and handle adversaries, including those of the male variety.

Artist: Alex Ross (Credit: DC Comics)
Artist: Alex Ross (Credit: DC Comics)
The Scarlet Witch by Frank Cho (Credit: Marvel Comics)
The Scarlet Witch by Frank Cho (Credit: Marvel Comics)
Winged Victory
Winged Victory
Cleopatra
Cleopatra

The responsibility is on us as readers, viewers, and consumers to evaluate how such characters are represented and how they should be regarded. I have said in previous posts (Graphic Mythology: black strip on the left) that I especially like the Winged Victory and Cleopatra characters. For the most part, I believe their portrayal to be socially responsible. Those of us who are adults can encourage our children (male and female) and each other to require higher standards in our role models, real and imagined.

Artist: Alex Ross (Credit: DC Comics
Artist: Alex Ross (Credit: DC Comics
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17 thoughts on “The Goddess Mentality – Part 3”

  1. I quite agree that our society has gone overboard with the “us v. them” mentality of male and female. And when someone says that a woman must be a b**** to survive in a male dominated society, I point out that a man who acts in the same manner is not considered manly and successful; he’s considered an a******. J.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “Are they isolated in a game which requires them to compete using tools which favor men?” I still dream that women will find a way to be grounded enough, smart enough, and with a big enough sense of humor and empathy, to be able to shift the rules and change the tools of the game.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Great points, Robert. I always thought your blog was was one of the most thoughtful I’ve seen and I just haven’t had time in ages to look at anyone’s WP… BTW my husband was once in a PhD program at Columbia University studying the history of religion in America. He collected two boxes of Christian comics (largely fundamentalist) planning to write about it. However, since we are Jewish, I told him that now that we are moving it’s time to give them to someone who can use them. (He left academia.) There are very few Jewish comics which is ironic because it was actually Jews who invented Superman and I think Batman. Superman’s parents even had names that ended in -El like “Jorel” as a sort of nod to Judaism. Things were so different back then– e.g. Superman was really invented to inspire Americans and give them hope in bad times.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I think what you just mentioned is major from an historical perspective. Plus, there are the more modern contributions which are remembered more than the demographic identity of the people who made them. I really appreciate your thoughtful comments. Take care.

        Liked by 1 person

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