It makes me sad when there’s a movie I really want to see, and that does so many things right, but that seems to go out of its way to belittle, objectify, and/or marginalize women. Below I’m going to mention some of the things in X-MEN: FIRST CLASS that upset me. To do so, I will have to mention some spoilers. Proceed at your own risk.
In the movie, women are repeatedly depicted:
1. Scantily clad in their lingerie (Moira, Emma, Angel), naked (Mystique), or with the zipper of their uniform pulled way down (Mystique)
2. As sex workers (Angel, Emma)
3. As being interested in relationships almost to exclusion of all else (Mystique)
4. As bad at their jobs because of their interest in men (Moira, Mystique)
Perhaps this wouldn’t be so bad if *any* of the men were depicted these ways. They aren’t. They are focused, concerned with big issues, powerful, and driven. They wear clothes.
But the worst for me were these two scenes:
1. Xavier and Erik encounter Emma Frost as she is performing her sex worker duties. Instead of being badass, Emma does not use any of her powers, but runs straight at the two men, as if she will squeeze between them and somehow escape. In short, she’s completely stupid and incompetent — despite the fact that she is powerful enough to fight both men at the same time in a previous scene.
The men capture her easily. Erik uses the metal in the bed frame to bind her arms wide apart, and then wraps another metal coil around her throat. Um, yeah. Meanwhile, the two men are fully clothed and standing over the lingerie-clothed Emma Frost, in complete power over her. Erik proceeds to choke her almost to death while Xavier asks him to stop, but does nothing to help her.
Yeah, I have a problem with this scene. A big problem. This scene makes me feel like the screenwriters hate women. This scene makes me angry and extremely sad.
2. Xavier erased Moira’s memory without her consent, and with a kiss. Because women can’t be trusted, and because he knows Moira won’t object to the kiss? Or because women are just so cute and easy to manipulate because of all those gosh-darned hormones? Oh, and she’s not mad at all, she blushes when she mentions the kiss at her office — in front of an entire contingent of powerful CIA agents who already think they were crazy for letting a woman into their midst.
At the end of the film, the only mutants remaining on the side of “good” are white men. All the women and PoC have either died or gone off to fight with Magneto.
I wish I could have gone with them.