The Tragedy of Betsy Braddock

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I made an off-hand mention to the fact that the depiction of women in comic books is actually preventing me from picking up my old hobby. The most egregious offender, of course, being the otherwise awesome Emma Frost. 


Emma Frost, like 95% of female comic book and video game characters, could really use a pair of pants. Spend a whole bunch of time outdoors? On all sorts of not very clean transit, with explosions right and left? That outfit is just begging for an unfortunate incident with some gravel. 

Whatever shock value advantage that wandering about fighting in underwear granted is long gone- there will always be a nakeder mutant. If your costume has less fabric than Britney's tour costume? You are doing it wrong. SUPER NERD FACTS: Up through the mid 90's, Lila Cheney, the only actual mutant rock star, wore vastly more clothing than many of the other female mutants. Easily three times as much as Emma. 

She made up for this by dating a underage (or barely legal) Sam Guthrie. Dazzler, the disco star who could turn sound into light, also wore a fairly practical outfit with pants during her time with the X-Men or when solo. Yet Psylocke the action ninja with ridiculously large breasts? A tiny bathing suit and no bra. 

Because nothing says "I'm a ninja" like bouncing breasts.

But I guess things have gotten better. I had no idea that Marvel had once published a swimsuit issue. Something tells me that the 13-year old market was important to the success of that endeavor--and that the pages tended to stick together. Which is fine, I guess. But you reach a certain age, and the way the books see women feels condescending--to women and men.

I think a key question is how different are comic books from movies in this regard. My sense is not very. I guess I should keep that in mind. 
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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