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February 27, 2014



You've touched on what has always struck me as one of the seriously troubling aspects of Claremont's X-Men run, or perhaps its reception: the construction of female agency and sexuality, particularly in light of the fact that he's often praised for writing Strong Female Characters (a lot like Joss Whedon). Granted, he has written female characters who have distinct personalities and aren't shy about using their superpowers. But the fact that these characters are either killed in the "quest" for sexual pleasure, highly fetishized (Emma Frost), or, in the case of Kitty Pryde, agree to marry one of the Morlocks despite being about 14 in order to keep a promise made under duress - and are still described as "strong" - suggests a view of female "strength" that merits punishment and still has to answer to male agency.


I think it's also tied into Claremont's views on passion and self-control--it's fascinating, and dramatically kind of perfect, that he pairs Jean up with Scott, who by the very nature of his mutant powers has to exercise constant self-control. Their relationship (once Jean becomes Phoenix) is a brilliant clash of indulgence and restraint, but it's still very telling that he associates that destructive self-indulgence with Jean exploring and giving in to her own sexual desire. And it's telling that it's the men, for the most part, who win their struggles for self-control while the women are exploring their awakening sexuality. (Lilandra is an exception to this, at least in Dark Phoenix, for the way she places her duty to the empire above her love for Charles and the X-Men.)

Still, this all made for a strong and rewarding discussion in the classroom. Thanks for writing, Kelly.

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