Nitpicking 101 – The Unidirectional Sexism of Intergender Choking

I generally try and avoid political commentary on this blog, but this is one of those rare occasions so facepalm-worthy that I feel the need to break that tradition.

A few days ago, Rose McGowan and the political correctness brigade began raising a stink about a billboard advertising the recently released movie X-Men: Apocalypse, where the eponymous villain is seen strangling Mystique.

"Rambling Reporter" indeed.

“Rambling Reporter” indeed.

The inevitable result of this brouhaha, following amplification by an enablist mainstream media whose representatives had nothing better to do that day, was a swift apology by 20th Century Fox and appeasement of the lunatic moralist pounding on their proverbial door.

Maybe Magneto was right about the human race. :/

Maybe Magneto was right about the human race. :/

So, what can we learn from all this? Well, ignoring the fact that choking has a fine tradition of usage by movie villains to illustrate just how gosh darn evil they are…

Don't think of it as "choking"; think of it as "throat hugging".

Don’t think of it as “choking”; think of it as “throat hugging”.

…the take home lesson from all this is whether or not intergender choking is sexist and promotes or normalizes gendered violence is entirely dependent upon the sexes of the choker and the chokee. How did I arrive at this conclusion? Simple.

And this isn't even all of them.

And this isn’t even all of them.

Mystique’s been choking male victims with her hands, feet, and legs in X-Men movies for 16 years now, and no one’s ever complained about that. Hell, the power dynamic’s even the same in both situations, as Mystique’s as far above ordinary humans as Apocalypse is above her.

The critics are right about one thing, though: someone is being sexist here.

It just doesn’t happen to be the people they think.

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2 Responses to “Nitpicking 101 – The Unidirectional Sexism of Intergender Choking”

  1. awritershailmarypass Says:

    I’ve got to disagree. All of these other images are from the movies and there is context provided. This image is a static one on a billboard. It doesn’t change. There is no moment where someone (presumably) stops Apocalypse from choking Mystique and then her being her badass self. There’s just a large man choking a smaller woman. For people who have never seen the movies, just that billboard and the tagline, they don’t even know Mystique will survive this. In which case, that’s a billboard of a man choking a woman *to death.*

    I’m sure the movie’s visuals are cool as hell. Why pick this one image to show how badass and dangerous Apocalypse is? A simple image search for the movie’s title turns up dozen and dozens of promotional images. There’s a pretty cool one ScreenRant uses of Apocalypse crushed a slightly dessiciated human skull. Or there’s one of Apocalypse standing in front of a decimated city.

    There were so many options to pick a scene to show how scary Apocalypse is (and were used on many promotional images) that picking one of him choking of Mystique is at best poorly thought through.

  2. Lunar Archivist Says:

    There were so many options to pick a scene to show how scary Apocalypse is (and were used on many promotional images) that picking one of him choking of Mystique is at best poorly thought through.

    I can definitely agree with the “poorly thought through” part, but that’s about as far as I’m willing to go. The gist of the billboard was, presumably, to show the primary protagonist and antagonist together in a single shot and making the odds appear heavily stacked against the former (as is the case in movies like this). In this case, Mystique, being the X-Men’s field leader in this movie as far as I know, happened to receive the dubious choking honor (to say nothing of the fact that Jennifer Lawrence is probably the franchise’s biggest star right now).

    The reason this particular brouhaha annoys me is because many of the people complaining about this are running in the same circles as people who mock or celebrate real-life intergender violence when it’s aimed at men. I remember one article from “Jezebel” many years ago that had a particularly vile comment section whether the author and other female commenters were laughingly regaling each other with tales of how they’d attacked men or physically abused their boyfriends. So I think that I can be excused when I say that I don’t particularly care about fictional characters, male or female, inflicting fictional physical violence on each other. I’m afraid that this is going to be of those times when we’re going to have to agree to disagree.

    On a side note, I e-mailed you a little while back asking you if you wanted me to get a sketch for you by Mike Grell since he’ll be back in town for a convention this weekend. I think he was charging around 50 bucks Canadian for a head sketch and 100 for a full body sketch the last time he was here a few years ago. Pricey, I know, but I did say I’d tell you if he came by again. If you want me to grab something for you, please let me know before Friday, July 8th. 🙂

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