Notes Towards a Gender Analysis of the X-Men

Female X-Men

Power comes from control over their surroundings or other people; beautiful (some would say “stacked”)

  • Dr. Jean Grey: intuitive, empathic, manipulates people and things from a distance
  • Storm: controls natural forces
  • Rogue: consumer, parasite; saps men of their vital powers

Male X-Men

Power comes from ability to physically defeat opponents; some good-looking, some not so much (e.g. Nightcrawler)

  • Psyclops (sp?): creates energy, destroys all in his sight; male gaze destroys opponents
  • Wolverine: stereotypical male hero — a loner, a maverick, a loose cannon, can beat the hell out of anyone, modeled very consciously after Eastwood’s “Man with No Name”
  • Xavier: the exception; physically disabled, shares most powers with Jane Grey, physically and “mutationally” feminized — but he’s the boss. He’s also a real George Washington Carver Booker T. Washington (I confused my Washingtonians!) type, with his politics of appeasement, as opposed to Magneto’s more DuBoisian “Mutant Power” rap. Maybe he’s more the MLK type, with Magneto his Malcom X. He still has his “slave name”, unlike all the other X-men, for what that’s worth.

I wrote about X-2 when it came out, though if I recall more about race than gender. That post is here.

Note: This is really in reference to the movies, not the comics, which I’ve never really read.

3 comments to Notes Towards a Gender Analysis of the X-Men

  • Anonymous

    what is interesting to me, at least the way that you have presented it, is that the three women, and the versions of femininity that they represent are fairly simple, these three sides (both positive and negative) or the feminine as it has been presented over and over… the natural, the intuitive, the manipulative, the parasite. these all seem fairly “standard”. whereas the male characters, particularly Xavier and Psyclops, present much more nuanced ideas of masculinity.. in some ways this isn’t surprising since these movies are made by (and largely for) masculine audiences… on the other hand so many things made for male audiences have NO nuance whatsoever. i wonder what creates that space for nuance. my first guess would be that comics have, since their inception during world war II, been a space where concepts of (american) masculinity are played out.

    good post, great blog.

  • Anonymous

    I think there’s another real-world dualism in Magneto and X: Simon Wiesenthal and Elie Wiesel.

  • Anonymous

    Interesting analysis of the characters. lots and lots of gender, sexuality, race stuff in the x-men series. a lot more issues with x3 now that theyll fully introduce a bunch of other characters. in terms of wolverine, the undoubtably most popular character in x-franchise history…its interesting because at times he’s the typical bad boy character…but in the comic, the cartoon, you get to see especially the emotional side of him which is pretty crazy. actually, in the comic book, how they deal with a lot of the male characters dealing with emotions, loss, heartbreak, isn’t really great now that i think about it.

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