Poll Position: Gender Bender

For this week's poll I'm asking you to think outside the box. If you're a man, think about what it would be like a woman. And if you're a woman already, think about what it would be like to be a man, thinking about being a woman. And if you're a hermaphrodite, imagine what it would be like if you had to choose only one gender. And if you're ... but enough of that. The actual question for this week is:


Discussion and deep thinking after the jump.

In considering this question, I hope you'll think about what makes men comfortable being men, and what makes them uncomfortable about women. Gender roles have always been very interesting to me, and I think our biology gets all mixed together with our culture, and we start to confuse the two. I doubt thinking about what female super-hero you'd want to be will shed a whole ton of light on the issue, but hey, at least we're stretching and growing here, right? Now, on to the heart of the matter! Our choices are:

  1. Elektra: On the plus side, Elektra not only competes at the top of a male-dominated hierarchy, she dominates it. Martial artists are cool, and owning a set of those weapons would be pretty nifty. On the negative side, she's dead.
  2. Invisible Woman: Smart, powerful, and married to one of the most intelligent men in the world. On the other hand, you have to change Franklin's diapers, and if you don't do it right he could turn you into a newt. An invisible newt, but still.
  3. Jean Grey: Jean has a great power set, which would be nice to have. However, you'd have to kiss Scott Summers, and I don't think anyone would be down with that. There's nothing more startling than staring into your lover's eyes only to be blasted into atoms a nanosecond later. Plus you have to deal with maybe sort of blowing up a solar system at some point, which would be bad karma.
  4. Mystique: Lots of power, the ability to become almost anyone or anything, and no morals to get in your way. But I'd rather be the movie Mystique and not the comics Mystique, because skull headdresses look terrible on me.
  5. Rogue: While the ability to siphon off any other super's powers would be appealing, it would be hard to get over the "no human contact" thing. And being played by Anna Paquin in the movie would be a horrendous shame to live with.
  6. Scarlet Witch: On one hand, you can cause crazy nutty cool stuff to happen more or less at random. On the other hand, you have to sleep with a glorified vacuum cleaner.
  7. She-Hulk: Being massively strong and virtually indestructible makes me think this would be a good idea, but nothing is worth the price of having to be a lawyer. Brrrrrrr.
  8. Starfire: I've been a commoner, and I've been royalty, and believe me, royalty's better. Especially when you can blast the other royalty into tiny little bits.
  9. Wonder Woman: I love the idea of Wonder Woman, but I don't think I could live with the reality of how she's been written up till now. And I can't shake the knowledge that she started out as a bondage surrogate for a truly odd creator; all that spanking, lassoing, and sucking up to Steve would wear on me.
  10. Xena: Arguably not really super-powered, but if Batman makes the list then so does Xena. I'd probably choose to be her for three reasons. One, the push-up metal bra. And yes, I know such a thing in the real world would be terribly uncomfortable and chafing but come on, you have to admit it looks cool! Two, the chakra, a totally cool weapon even though it's named after something in acupuncture. And three, I'd get to hang out with Gabrielle. Yummy!

In considering the list, it struck me how many super-heroines are primarily defined through their relationship to men. It's almost impossible to think of Elektra without conjuring up Daredevil, or Sue Richards without Reed, Jean Grey without the Wolverine-Cyclops love triangle, Rogue without unrequitable love, Scarlet Witch without Vision, Starfire without Robin, or Wonder Woman without Steve. You can't say that about too many male supers. Superman and Lois or Spider-Man and Mary Jane are obviously well-known couples, but Superman isn't primarily defined as Lois's sometimes boyfriend.

Only Xena, She-Hulk and Mystique stand out for me as self-contained individuals on this list. I'd be tempted to drop She-Hulk out of consideration on that score because, come on, her very name is dependent on a preceding male figure. And thanks to the movies, Mystique is pretty closely tied with Magneto in my mind.

That leaves Xena, a strong, confident, effective, powerful warrior who exists on her own without a man dominating her life. She's not sexless, but like most male characters she's allowed to be herself first, not a relationship. That's pretty cool. And the fact that my wife dressed up as Xena for my 30th birthday party has nothing to do with my affection for her, no sir. Not at all.

Wow, thinking about that has made me suddenly eager to be away from the computer for some reason. Strange. You guys carry on the discussion in the comments and let me know who you'd pick and why. I need to go find that costume somewhere around here and convince my wife it's my birthday again ...