Christy Marx: 'Emma Frost was created to be a slut'

Note added 4/21/11:
Some perceive this post as problematic in that it sounds as if being a 'slut' is a bad thing. This was the issue I was facing when I was writing the post. I didn't want to defend Emma for NOT being a slut because it makes it sound as if a woman who likes sex is a bad thing. But the term is rooted in misogyny and does have negative connotations. Using that term for a woman is, obviously, misogynist, and Christy Marx was slut-shaming Emma. And by mainstream standards, Emma is not a 'slut.' I did mention in the 5th paragraph that a women who likes sex is NOT a bad thing, though; however, I probably should have made my intentions clearer in the 1st paragraph than in the 5th paragraph.

In “The Unauthorized X-Men: SF And Comic Writers on Mutants, Prejudice, And Adamantium,” Christy Marx argues “Emma Frost was created to be a slut” in her supposedly feminist chapter titled “Why I Didn’t Grow Up to Be Marvel Girl.” Here is the context of the quote:

“Then came the final straw of straws in the decline of the X-men. Not only did Jean Grey die — again — but Scott Summers dumped her for a slut. Let’s be honest about it now. Emma Frost was created to be a slut. She certainly has nothing to offer a girl reader, or any reader looking for something other than a fanboy fantasy.”
- Christy Marx

These types of accusations about our lovely White Queen aren’t new, but it is deplorable that a woman of high academic standard sees Emma Frost as nothing but a slut and has the nerve to make such a blanket statement in a collection of published essays.

As most of us know, Chris Claremont and John Byrne created Emma Frost, along with the Hellfire Club, in the 1980s, where she first appeared in “Uncanny X-Men” #129. Her first on-panel appearance characterized her as a formidable foe in a dominatrix-like outfit with a fluffy cape and spouting the words, “As you say, Shaw!”

She certainly proved she was as scary as she looked when she telepathically assaulted the X-Men and had them captured and caged by the next issue. Although Emma presented herself as a powerful woman who was confident in her sexuality during her first appearance, it seems she was mainly created to be a villain and not a slut.
The derogatory term “slut” is highly problematic, though, and it seems defending Emma Frost as not a “slut” is problematic as well. What exactly is a slut? A woman who enjoys sex? In this case, most women are sluts. Christy Marx does mention the affair of Scott and Emma; however, it was no more of wrong of Emma than it was of Scott, plus Emma had already admitted the affair was wrong in “Astonishing X-Men” #14. Still, it’s irrational to call a woman a slut, and it’s too bad the age-old term can’t be erased from everyone’s vocabulary.
There are misconceptions about Emma’s character, and it’s unfortunate people see her as just a pretty face with big boobs. Contrary to popular belief, she has slept with only 4 men in comic book canon: Sebastian Shaw, Namor, Iron Man and Scott Summers. But Christy Marx feels it’s okay to dub Emma as a slut, even though I have a hunch she judges the character based off her looks. It’s also irrational to call Emma a slut because of the way she dresses. As Emma said in “Classic X-Men” #34, it cheapens them and not her:

The way she dresses isn’t any more revealing compared to other superhero females, however. Emma’s sexual awareness is one of her greatest strengths. Unlike some characters, Emma knows what she wears is revealing, and she uses that to her advantage. It’s in character for her, whereas it would be bizarre to see Mary Jane running around in a thong and crazy push-up bra with double D’s. In her case, the creators are turning her into a sexual object. On the other hand, Emma has already chosen her outfits. However, this is not to say it’s wrong if Mary Jane chooses to wear clothing like Emma’s, but I do think it’s degrading when a character is portrayed like this.
Emma makes a great point about the way some men view women, but I would have to disagree about the part where she claims others can make sexism work for them. In her case, yes, wearing her outfits is an advantage to her, but there are other women out there oppressed by the patriarchy in such horrific ways, such as rape. So, no, viewing it through a larger scope, sexism is not that simple. On a side note, Ken Kneisel and Autist's Corner have blogged about their differing views on Classic X-Men issue (thanks to nikbackm for the links).
Now, back to Christy Marx’s argument, Morrison’s characterization of Emma certainly didn’t lead to the decline of X-Men. In fact, Emma is now one of the most popular X-Men characters in the comic books right now, and she will even be a star character played by the beautiful January Jones in “X-Men: First Class.” I’ve been running this site for about 4 years and each year it gets harder to keep track of Emma Frost news.
Ironically, Christy Marx believes Emma has “nothing to offer a girl reader.” Pfft, I’m a female, and I know plenty of other females who love Emma Frost. Sure, she killed a horse (slightly joking!), but she is a strong, confident character with awesome dialogue and is quite identifiable for anyone. She is an educator, a businesswoman, an activist and an idealist. As I say on the front page of the website, we are aware of Emma’s moral ambiguity, self-absorbed nature and “sluttiness” – when, in fact, she’s just sexually aware. She isn’t perfect, and she isn’t the ideal female superhero, but this is exactly why we love her: she’s fucked up, and she’s Emma Frost.
So, in summation:

  • Emma Frost was first created to be a villain.
  • Emma Frost is not a slut, even though calling a woman a slut is not okay by itself. However, by mainstream societal standards, she is not one.
  • Emma Frost is totally aware of herself and what she wears.
  • Emma Frost, as a complex character, has a lot to offer to any reader.
  • Finally, Christy Marx is wrong about Emma Frost.

Comments