On the subject of women’s trousers

When it comes to women’s trousers, the mass usage of them occurred between the nineteenth and 21st centuries with the wearing of women’s trousers made legal in France almost a decade ago. However in nonwestern countries like India, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan and Turkey women’s trousers have been worn for a much longer and earlier time there. These countries aren’t always the most enlightened, but there’s already a precedence for and acceptance of women wearing trousers.

These kinds of trousers are commonly known as shalwar or salvar, often baggy in shape though they can sometimes be fitted. They can be tapered around the ankles or loose around the ankles, but the odd fact that those in South and West Asia (and to some extent, China and Albania if I remember) are the places where women have worn trousers the longest and earliest there should be noted. It can be argued and said that trousers were already unisex garments in those places, so there’s already a nonwestern precedence for that.

Perhaps strangely enough, as these garments were worn by both genders longer and earlier in other countries if women started wearing trousers today they’d be accused of cultural appropriation. That’s by taking something from another culture without respecting that culture, profiting a lot from it without the culture’s permission and not giving them credit in return. Some Christians think it’s unladylike for women to wear trousers, so we got a case of horseshoe theory in here if cultural appropriation were brought up.

(Same goes for yoga and its roots in Hinduism really.)

Well, as I said before, trousers were already unisex garments in parts of South and West Asia so there’s already a good historical and cultural precedence for that. But that would be given fraught implications if it were done today, albeit one that dovetails real well with the horseshoe theory when it comes to some religious groups. Even if there’s already a good precedence for women wearing trousers in other places, it’s going to be fraught with controversy if done today.

So let’s be thankful that the mass introduction of women wearing trousers occurred between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, though that’s one that arose from feminism in that if it’s unfair for women to not wear trousers, then that’s sexist. Not to mention that in Albania, due to Ottoman influence you have cases of Catholic women wearing full trousers. So there’s already a precedent for Christian women wearing trousers in this country alone.

Well, as far as it’s known, though it’s something that’s attributed to Islamic and Ottoman influences but even then there’s already a good precedent for Christian women wearing trousers so there’s that.


Encyclopedia of National Dress: Traditional Clothing Around the World

The whiteness of real person fiction

As I said before in another post, even real person slash tends towards white and white passing celebrities as subjects of fan stories. There’s hardly ever a black celebrity who becomes the subject of fanfiction, well not to the same extent as white celebrities are subjected to. When it comes to vocal groups, KPop bands as well as the Backstreet Boys get the fannish treatment but not their black Motown predecessors like The Temptations and Four Tops.

When it comes to KPop, I get the feeling that whenever white slash writers do orientate themselves to nonwhite people they gravitate towards who they deem as either close to white or perhaps a model minority. I say model minority in the sense of being a minority with desirable traits, even if nobody can ever stand on a pedestal and fit the mold forever and let alone to a T. It’s not that Backstreet Boys lacks non-WASP members, but two of them are half-white (half WASP) and very white-passing so they still get registered as desirable by white slash writers.

It’s not that Four Tops and Marvin Gaye don’t receive any form of fanworks, though both of them have been subjected to fanart but that’s about it. David Bowie gets more fanfiction and fanart than both of them, which makes me think many Western real person fiction writers gravitate and orientate themselves to white celebrities a lot. You might say that Four Tops are mostly dead and one of them lived up to late senility but David Bowie was an old man and is also dead, yet he gets more fanworks than Abdul Fakir does.

It’s not that the use of black musicians, especially as inspiration for fanworks, is entirely nonexistent. I myself have used black musicians such as the Temptations and the Platters as inspiration for fanmade stands (anthropomorphic superpowers appearing in Jojo’s Bizarre Adventures). But their use in real person fiction is at best even more limited, per Archive of Our Own Michael Jackson receives about 189 fanworks while David Bowie receives about 459. Both of them have their own vices, David Bowie had sex with a teenaged lass and Michael Jackson molested preteen lads.

But Bowie’s more prominent in fanfiction than Jackson is, not that I like Michael Jackson (I like his sister more). There are only two works associated with Marvin Gaye on AO3 and 14 works with Janet Jackson, which makes me wonder whether if Michael gets a pass for being so white-passing especially with all that skin bleaching and surgery he’s taken over the years. There are 10345 works associated with Pete Wentz, who has a black relative but very white passing. (Gerard Way gets around 14271 works.)

If it’s true, then he’s one of the very few black musicians to receive a lot of fanworks. But there’s a paucity of fanfiction associated with ‘full’ or ‘pure’ black musicians, there’s not a lot of fanfiction dedicated to The Temptations and The Platters. You might say these folks are old, but The Rolling Stones and Beatles are just as old and receive a lot of fanfiction. Again real person fiction’s very white, orientating those who’re either white or white passing (Pete Wentz, Michael Jackson).

Okay, there are around 4800 stories associated with RuPaul’s Drag Race, which includes black drag queens but The Beatles receives about 5525 fanworks and that’s an all-white band we’re talking about. US Queer as Folk gets 6982 works, which is more than what Drag Race gets and that programme has a lot of white characters. Same with Schitt’s Creek, which has around 8350 works. For One Direction, there are around 62325 works. Zayn Malik gets 30856 works, his colleagues Harry Styles gets around 49415 works, Liam Payne 31750 works and Niall Horan 32598 works.

This isn’t true for all celebrities, but there’s a trend towards whiteness outside of KPop and JPop bands. In Popslash, with the possible exception of Mel C and Michael Jackson, there’s a big tendency towards whiteness. There’s a lot of attention paid to all-white boy bands or mostly white boy bands like One Direction and Backstreet Boys but the equivalent doesn’t exist for Boyz II Men, New Edition and The Temptations, despite being the inspiration for and direct precursor to boy bands.

Real Person Fiction might not be as white as I make it out to be, but there’s a trend towards whiteness whether if it’s live action, real life or not.

Only a minority would tell

There’s this post on Tumblr about the way redheads are portrayed in the media saying that quite provocatively, many redhead characters are really blonds and brunettes with red hair in that many of them don’t undergo sunburns, turn red whenever they feel something or get bullied for their red hair. (Rugrats’s Chucky Finnster might be one of the few redheads who actually get bullied for having red hair, well as far as fiction goes.) More often than not, red hair is a statement rather than something characters live with and go through.

I could say many of the same things about blond characters where it’s like they’re hardly portrayed as irritated with dumb blonde stereotypes (something blonde women have to go through), or for another matter those with albinism where they don’t undergo sunburns and problems with eyesight. It’s in other words an inauthentic portrayal of who they are and what they go through; only a minority would tell that there’s something off about the way they’re portrayed that marks their inauthenticity.

They look the way they do to communicate ideas about them, rather than about who they really are. It’s not enough to subvert stereotypes about them, but to also make them more like real people with that trait to better represent them. This also extends to the way ethnic minorities are portrayed: the way their cultures and individuals are portrayed risk being untrue, even stereotypical, appropriative and racist. It would be like always stereotyping black people as indulging in crime, that’s untrue for many black people.

Another thing that would be untrue for many black people is portraying them with big genitalia, which’s something not all black men have as evidenced by a handful of studies. It’s a stereotype that risks fetishising them since it’s something they get valued for, but it’s only something only a handful of black men have and others might not be that well-endowed. There are gay black men who have issues with this stereotype, you really have to listen to them to know that stereotype’s untrue.

So it’s important to listen to these people, knowing it might be untrue for many of them. One man’s innocent trope is another man’s offensive stereotype. It’s not just a matter of subverting tropes, but also knowing why it hurts some people and why it’s important to listen to those hurt by those cliches. If it goes unchecked, people will always be ticked off by those. When it comes to certain cliches, they hurt people whether if it’s a joke or a stereotypical portrayal. So is cultural appropriation and why we must listen to them.

Who was the real Pocahontas?

To a certain generation, their introduction to Pocahontas was through a Disney film and this is where she is remembered as. More a fictional princess than an actual person, who wasn’t even made into an aristocratic peer when she arrived in England. To my knowledge, while hunter-gatherer communities (such as those in parts of North America) did have leaders there wasn’t much of an idea of a landowning rulership that defines those from agricultural communities.

Rulers as we expect them to be were likelier to be found among Mexican Nahuatls than among Virginian Powhatans, the tribe which Pocahontas belonged to. Admittedly, my knowledge of the various Native American tribes and communities in North America isn’t that deep but some don’t really have a concept of a landowning rulership the way the Chinese, the Mexicans and Cameroonian Bamilekes do. This means Pocahontas wasn’t the daughter of a king, only the daughter of a prominent community leader.

Now with the Bamilekes, they really do have kingdoms and kings so they really do have a concept of a landowning rulership the way the Powhatans didn’t. But for some reason, Disney never went with that even if it’s something that exists among some African communities and countries. Not to mention, there’s the tendency to portray Pocahontas as older when she first met John Smith even though she would’ve been younger, perhaps much younger in reality.

I do think there’s an unfortunate tendency to see and treat black and brown children as older than they really are, even if they’re innocent children they’re seen as the opposite. This likely plays into how Pocahontas is portrayed in fiction, even if she could’ve been an early teenager (at the very least) who simply observed John Smith making his way she’s made into his lover and rescuer in a way she wasn’t in real life. Actually if you believe oral accounts, she was even married to Kocoum and had a child with him.

This means her child with Thomas Rolfe is the second child she had and the first child she had with another man, another man whom she didn’t consent marrying to unlike with Kocoum. That’s if he’s the first person she married to and arguably fell in love with first too. There are also oral accounts of her being raped by English settlers, that if it were true she could’ve been one of the earliest missing indigenous women around. Possibly even the first.

Strangely enough, at some point Disney animators toyed with a Pocahontas who was closer to her historical counterpart. But this was ditched in favour of presented her as older than she really was when she first met John Smith, who was even presented as a lover and a person she rescued from her stern father. Ironically, it was really an innocent ceremony that was distorted into something darker. If true, then it’s a gross distortion of historical fact.

As well as adultifying Pocahontas in a way she wasn’t in real life, which again proves my point that there’s a tendency to treat brown and black children as older than they really are. There’s a tendency to sexualise and objectify Pocahontas, even by other women of colour (as with Nicki Minaj) that unfortunately contributes to the amount of rape indigenous women have been subjected to. In America (and possibly North America in general, though I could be wrong about it), indigenous women are more likely to be raped than other women.

Indigenous women have been dehumanised, whether through cultural appropriation (that’s co-opting aspects of a culture without respecting the people behind it), objectification or stereotypes. This means people are more likely to disregard and disrespect these people, treating them as objects rather than actual people. Pocahontas, to put it this was, has been romanticised and idealised for so long that it not only objectifies her but also her people.

It’s like if Disney put out a movie where Anne Frank is not only older but also falls in love with a Nazi soldier, it would be real bad taste to everybody who’s Jewish so why keep on doing that to Native Americans? Jews don’t make up a big portion of the American population but they’re more likely to be treated respectfully than with Native Americans, so such an argument would be rather flawed.

In fact, Jews are even better represented than Native Americans are. Even if Native Americans came first, they’re often stereotyped, appropriated, demonised and romanticised but never with respect and actual admiration for them as a people. If this is the legacy Pocahontas left via the arts and entertainment, then it ought to be dismantled to pay better homage to her people.

My problem with America

In light of the recent Texas school shooting, while school massacres aren’t unique to America it does happen more often in America enough to warrant a Wikipedia page that makes me think American culture really does have a fascination with guns. Of course, not all Americans like guns and not all Americans own guns themselves. But the fact that a good number of Americans get so defensive about guns makes me think guns do play a role in American masculinity and culture.

My sister even talked to somebody about how America ought to have stricter gun control laws, that’s to restrict people from shooting even more innocent civilians. But this is complicated by that as I said before, some Americans are so defensive about guns that they think if guns get restricted people will use other weapons like knives. But Switzerland has a strict gun control law, it doesn’t have the same amount of school shootings as America does. Switzerland might be the European country closest to America when it comes to having a gun culture, but violent and incompetent people are prohibited from owning guns.

It seems like whenever Americans do talk about Europeans using weapons, either they use them to deflect the problem with gun violence aimed towards innocent citizens or that they’re ignorant about actual gun laws there. It does differ between countries, but it’s doubtful that even if guns were restricted that doesn’t mean every European necessarily resorts to any other weapon. It speaks about their (confirmation) biases than looking at things either objectively or that there are people who don’t resort to weaponry much.

Not all Americans like guns, not all Americans worship guns. But those who don’t make idols out of guns tend to be more religious, maybe because it’s God that makes them secure so there’s no need for weaponry. Though the fact that Americans make idols out of guns makes me think, if we believe psychologists they want to be macho and secure. Not to mention they come off as overly participating in toxic masculinity, no matter how progressive they try to look they come off as stupid and bigoted in other fields.

That’s essentially some of the problems with American gun culture, whilst it’s not necessarily wrong to have firearms I do think gun control laws need to be enacted to keep less mentally fit people from attacking others. Though you won’t see many Americans admit this, but that involves realising not everybody can handle a gun. It’s like handling fire, nobody can handle fire well without risking burns. Only a select few can handle fire well, otherwise they too would be burnt.

I think American culture does have an annoying obsession with guns that gets equated with its brand of machismo that can only be defended by the most avid users, that says a lot about how defensive they are with firearms. I would suggest restricting gun ownership to keep others from shooting people and even themselves, admittedly this is imperfect as they’d kill themselves with other means. But it’s still necessary to reduce the number of victims lost to guns.

Pardon if it sounds harsh, but I’m sure nobody wants to see a loved one kill themselves as well so gun control and stricter monitor of weapons in general is needed to reduce these events and even prevent them from happening.

Steroids, what’s got to do with it?

There are some people who believe that there are Hollywood actors who do take steroids, while there are those who take it for beneficial reasons like dealing with asthma, others take steroids to improve their chances of gaining muscle especially when older (that’s when testosterone levels drop). I think I talked about this before, but if there are Hollywood actors who do take illicit drugs then steroids is one of them. It may be true, it may not be true. It’s pretty much Schrodinger’s drug, either they took it or they didn’t.

If testosterone levels do drop at an older age, then those nearing middle age or are middle-aged themselves are at risk for this. Especially if they stopped exercising for a certain role, that’s when it gets worrisome. Those who keep on exercising from youth to middle age would be exempt from this, unless if one them also takes steroids which’s just as bad. There are those who do get fit without being high on steroids, though that still takes time to get this fit (possibly several or a few years to get really fit).

Still, there might be only a handful of Hollywood actors who admit to using steroids. No doubt, it has become more commonplace for them to take steroids but since steroid use among athletes dates back to the 1950s they have set a precedent for actors to follow. If I’m not mistaken, steroids are used to enhance one’s physical activity. They may not always make muscles grow, maybe not to the same extent as exercising does but it does make it faster and easier to gain muscle.

There are however negative side-effects to this; not just more acne but also gaining breasts for some men as testosterone gets converted to oestrogen. I’m not going to be judgemental, though I do think it’s not that impossible for some actors to take steroids especially when it comes to superhero roles. This doesn’t mean every superhero actor does steroids to play a fictional character, but it does raise the risk for steroid use for some people especially if they’re tempted to do it the fast and easy way.

I wouldn’t really know if they actually did steroids or not, but some of them likely do and one of them would be caught dead for it. This may be true, this may not be true. Though if one of them gets caught dead for steroids, it would have ramifications for the superhero film and television industry. Actors and models would be tested for doping, the same way athletes have been subjected to for years. To be fair, there are certainly athletes and models who don’t do steroids at all.

Some actually do things the hard way, though there are others who dope and cheat. This is probably true for superhero and action actors, there are those who do things the hard way and those who cheat. There are also a few superhero actors who were truly athletic, something like Dave Bautista being an actual wrestler before he did acting. Who knows if he does steroids or not, he could be one of them but he could also be not of them too. Somebody would come out and be caught dead doing steroids.

They could be anybody, Dave Bautista could be one of them. But as I said before, he may not even do steroids at all. However, there’s a strong possibility that one day one of them would be caught dead doping which could have damning effects for the superhero industry. Perhaps even leading to a strong push for more body diversity. That might even be a good thing, especially for those who’re fat or thin. They needn’t to be pressured to look in a certain way, now that they have role models to look up to.

There would be a backlash to people who do campaign for bodily diversity, though I think it’s most likely going to be the same misogynists and racists who complain about more diversity in geek media assuming if a superhero actor were caught dead doing steroids at all. This person would be the Zoe Quinn of superhero television, in that she was the subject of controversy when it came to Gamergate. Gamergate, being a misogynistic and racist gaming movement, created Vivian James to spite people.

Chances are they’ll also create a character to spite him and his cohorts as well. No doubt, there’ll come a time when superhero actors start showing their hands and get caught dead for it. Not all superhero actors necessarily do steroids, but some of them would be caught dead doing it. This would be the start of a big controversy, perhaps bigger than Comicsgate when it comes to the world of superhero film and television.

If the trope fits

The website TV Tropes and its ilk exemplify and take the idiom ‘if the shoe fits’ to a logical conclusion, regardless of how badly handled the example is. It’s like how the hyena girl in the story Killing Bites is considered a heinous hyena and rape is a special kind of evil, despite the fact the people she attacks don’t get traumatised by it. The beagle girl may’ve been molested, but she’s never shown to be traumatised by it. If you abuse a dog, it will react badly and get traumatised as well.

Which means TV Tropers don’t have much critical thinking when it comes to understanding what the trope, well what they call a trope, actually means. If the word fiery means easily provoked, but it’s applied to redheaded characters who are rather bubbly (Barbara Gordon from DC Superhero Girls is rather perky) then it doesn’t fit the foot at all. It’s like TV Tropers have a broad definition of things, so broad even happy characters like Barbara Gordon get shoehorned in it.

No matter how ill-fitting the shoe is, hence misfit. I’m starting to think some of the problems with TV Tropes is that there’s not much critical examination of the stereotype and cliche presented, as well as whether if the character and situation fits or not. I feel as if literary critics and anybody who’s done a proper literary analysis and studied literature before have shown their hands in ways TV Tropers haven’t. There’s more critical thinking about the stereotypes and cliches presented.

To the point where I think TV Tropes and the like have done a bad job at it, mostly because their attempts at analysing stuff is shallow and the idea that tropes are tools, therefore not necessarily bad can be bad when it comes to damaging stereotypes. It’s like stereotyping black people as well-endowed and athletic, when in reality not all black people fit those stereotypes. There are black people who aren’t that well-endowed, there are black people who aren’t that athletic and into any sort of physical activity.

These are damaging when internalised, which can mess with their mental health because of the expectations placed on them. I also get the weird impression that the average TV Troper is probably a white westerner, maybe that’s why what interests them gets prioritised over the things Nigerians, Kenyans and the like have grown up reading (Bogi Benda for instance). That’s why nonwhite voices matter, they know a racist stereotype or cliche when they see one.

In some regards, they’d see it better than a white person does especially in media created by white people. Another problem with TV Tropes is the tendency to assume something attracts women because of the pretty boys or another matter furries when comes to some things, well that’s not always the case. I find rugby interesting, but I’m not sexually attracted to any rugby player. As for Tigra, she’s supposed to be part tiger but there are furries who don’t see as a furry.

(Thundercats is a mixed bag when it comes to character design, but its version of Tigra looks like a tiger and even has an entry on Wikifur.)

A good number of TV Tropes entries are poorly researched, in the sense that they don’t always come with references to verified sources the way Wikipedia does. Wikipedia may get some things wrong, but the users add references and footnotes to the entries they work on. TV Tropes isn’t that website, well when it comes to some things. At the end of the day, what TV Tropes says isn’t always well researched and well-done. I like football and rugby, but I have no sexual attraction to any footballer and rugby player.

Not to mention, TV Tropes does breed a form of anti-intellectualism that involves adding examples to it without further critical examination of it.

No (ugly) girls allowed

The thing with fine arts people’s excuse to keep having female nudes is that they find female bodies more aesthetically pleasing, even though the female bodies they keep churning out adheres to a standard. That’s why Milo Manara doesn’t do pictures of fat women and old(er) women, nor does Paolo Eleuteri Serpieri do pictures of women with flatter buttocks and nearly nonexistent breasts and neither of them do hairy women either.

They may say they like the female form, but they never depict women who anything other than what they find attractive in a woman. This says a lot about their sexism and misogyny, with why their muses are rarely ever anything other than their type. Makes me think they only think women are good for fulfilling their standards, it’s like praising women for being kind and gentle but excluding or even being biased against women who’re the opposite.

Then they’d turn around and say that men are ugly, even though there are straight and bisexual women who sexualise physically mediocre men a lot. Leonardo DiCaprio was physically mediocre then and is physically mediocre now, but he was a pinup ogled by many in the 1990s and early 2000s. It could be that he has a pretty face, but Adam Driver doesn’t have a pretty face and he’s sexualised by other women.

Okay imposing standards on men isn’t any better either, but if there are people who sexualise men a lot wouldn’t that mean they find men attractive? The straight female gaze is present in romance novels, so it’s really not that hard to look. But romance novels don’t get a lot of respect, some of it being sexist. However it does bring up the possibility of women finding male bodies, well certain male bodies, desirable.

The photographer Dianora Niccolini has made a career out of photographing muscular men, no doubt they’re her type but wouldn’t the same be said of many male fine artists since they never depict women who’re fat, old, hairy, flat-chested or flabby? Not to mention there are negative side-effects to objectifying women a lot, among these being inducing body image insecurities among certain women.

I admit to having body insecurities, namely over my hips whether if they’re wide or not. The obsession with the perfect female body has damning ramifications for women who don’t fit the standard, it’s like if you keep on seeing nearly hairless women (who often have a healthy head of scalp hair and sometimes vaginal hair) but you’re hairy yourself you feel underrepresented.

That’s the fundamental problem with the idea that women are more beautiful than men is that if you have women who fall short of the female beauty canon, would it make them any less of a woman? Is a woman who does steroids and bodybuilding any less of a woman than a woman who doesn’t? Physically, maybe to an extent but genetically she’s still a woman.

What about androgen insensitive women? Some of them fit the hairless beauty standard well but most of them are genetically male, despite developing into a female body and being raised as female from the start. Then again beauty standards are almost always impossible to achieve, perhaps always impossible to achieve since people fail in one way or another. They could fail genetically, they could fail phenotypically.

Beauty standards frequently set people for failure, that’s why there’s a lot of harm in prioritising the standard when others don’t fit it.

Jojo’s New Adventures

Assuming if Hirohiko Araki died in the future and there’s a plan to revive the Jojo brand/franchise just in time for its anniversary, here are the characters and stands I suggest coming up with that might pique readers’ interest.

I Can’t Get Next to You

Stand user: Tom Mohapi (South Africa)

It’s a stand that makes him switch places with another person and trade items with, he uses this to make a good escape as well as to trick people around with. He’s one of those stand users in what I’d call Jojo’s New Adventure who are good escape artists.

Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing

Stand user: Sylvia Munene (Kenya)

The stand’s power is to make others tell the truth, which’s befitting for her as she’s a judge.

A World Without Love

Stand user: Alexandra Dipanda (Cameroon)

It has the ability to make items disappear, the better to play tricks on her enemies with. Alexandra is also a police officer, the sort who would deliberately confiscate her enemies’ weapons.

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

Stand user: Patricia Dipanda (Cameroon)

As the name says, it generates smoke. Patricia is the cousin of Alexandra and she uses this stand to annoy her enemies, again she’s one of those stand users who are escape artists.

My Girl

Stand user: Lucinda Majoro (South Africa)

Lucinda Majoro works as an investigative journalist, her stand has the ability to trap people (oftentimes criminals).

A bad allegory

Somebody at Stitch Media Mix pointed out that the oppression mutants face isn’t always rightfully analogous to what actual oppressed minorities go through; no mutant’s ever oppressed for speaking in a minority language (as it is with Irish speakers in Ireland or Breton speakers in France), no mutant’s ever oppressed for being black or nonwhite in general and most of the mutants in the X-Men stories tend to white (and Anglophone in the original language of the stories).

I actually think some mutants would be justifiably feared and hated, if we were to take a page from Jojo’s Bizarre Adventures Boom Boom (who has the power to create explosions) would be one of the more ruthless mutants around as she could easily kill somebody by exploding them. But that involves actually thinking through things, realising that there would be characters that people would actually detest or avoid if they ever existed. You’d have to drop the self-pitying aspect of X-Men to realise that some mutants would be rightfully detested.

Not to mention, as there’s hardly ever a writer of colour doing X-Men stories (that’s different from having an artist of colour unless if they write themselves) there’s a tendency to botch characters of colour. The worst offender would be Betsy Braddock, that until recently, was usually in the body of a Japanese woman. The fact that it went from mere surgery to switching bodies with her also makes me realise how badly thought out her transformation into a ninja is. Both Kitty Pryde and Elektra never had to switch bodies when they got ninja training.

Actually and ironically, Kitty Pryde would do the ruthless ninja thing way better than Betsy would’ve ever done. This is where the mutant as oppressed minority allegory not only gets turned on its head, but also turn out to be a crock as most of the mutants there are white and human-passing. I even said that some mutants would be rightfully hated for the things they do, that’s if they use their powers to kill and abuse people at all. Boom Boom could’ve been a serial killer, Kitty Pryde could’ve been a merciless assassin of a ninja.

A big pitfall of white people writing nonwhite people is the risk of stereotyping and othering as well as getting their cultures wrong, which’s essentially and practically the same if an American were to write a non-American character. As I said before about Italian superheroes, an American would risk getting Italian culture wrong and do a stereotype. If an Italian were to do a story with Italian superheroes, there wouldn’t be any stereotypes but rather authentically Italian characters.

That’s the difference between DC’s Helena Bertinelli and Guardiani Italiani, the latter is conceived and authored by actual Italian citizens so they wouldn’t get Italy wrong. But because they were brought up in and never left Italy, they’d know Italian culture better than any American would unless if they stayed in Italy for a time being. To put it this way in the context of Japanese characters in X-Men, Kwannon (whom Betsy swapped bodies with and which was eventually reversed) should’ve killed herself in shame instead of begging somebody to kill her.

There’s something like the honour suicide in Japanese culture, but it gets glossed over in favour of being killed by somebody in X-Men. I could be misremembering things, but that’s one of the ways X-Men writers have mishandled a nonwestern culture and nonwestern mutants. When it comes to Dust, she’s supposed to be Afghan but has been shown speaking Arabic. She should be speaking Dari, which’s one of the languages spoken in Afghanistan. On top of that, she’s a stereotype of a Muslim woman and rightfully criticised by Muslim readers.

The only times some of the X-Men mutants were ever written by a nonwhite person are in the Marvel Voices comics, no doubt it’s good to have a Native person write a story about an existing Native character. But the fact that there’s hardly ever a recurring X-Men writer of colour makes me think it’s quite easy for many white X-Men writers to miss the point of what it’s like to be an oppressed cultural or ethnic minority. To reiterate, no mutant has ever been shamed for speaking a minority language (which’s the fate of Breton and Sami speakers in France and Sweden).

No mutant ever has their culture questioned and shamed by outsiders, when I mean by culture it’s the cultural background they come from which’s an ethnocultural minority (Berbers in Morocco, Fulani in Nigeria, Baka Pygmy in Cameroon). X-Men mutants may have a subculture, but that’s different from being born into a cultural or ethnic minority. There’s a difference between a run of the mill Swede who became a Goth and a Swedish Sami, not that the latter can’t go Goth.

But the latter has had bad experiences with the majority, made to give up a livelihood important to the entire community or a language held near and dear to them. That’s why X-Men mutants, as they are presented, aren’t a good proxy for what ethnic minorities go through. It’s also telling that there’s not a lot of mutants (as far as I know and recall) who aren’t white, speak minority languages and practise cultural traditions important to their communities.

Maybe not to the same extent, but it’s telling that Kitty Pryde hardly ever speaks Yiddish. There are no mutants who’ve been hounded for speaking Breton, Basque or Occitan and these are legitimate minority languages in France. Mutants who don’t fit ethnic stereotypes do exist, but because most of the X-Men characters are white there’s the risk of falling into stereotypes and misconceptions about their cultures. There are comics that handle multiethnic and multicultural characters better, which helps if they’re written by nonwhites.

X-Men may have popularised multiculturalism in superhero comics but it mishandles both nonwhite characters and what it’s like to be an ethnic minority, as a result the prejudice mutants face isn’t analogous to what ethnic minorities go through. Depending on the ethnicity (and gender), ethnic minorities are either treated as model minorities (put on a pedestal, putting too much pressure on those who internalise those stereotypes), persecuted for transmitting something (COVID for Asian Americans), sexualised, desexualised or treated as more threatening than they really are.

There’s never a model minority moment for some mutants, there’s never a moment where they actually get sexualised or desexualised by the majority. This is what Asians, blacks and brown people go through in the West. There’s a tendency for white people to objectify those of colour, that’s why they stereotype certain ethnicities as good for sex. No mutant has ever been subjected to sexual racism. It’s like if white Australian women head to Indonesia to have sex with Balinese men, they could sexualise and objectify them in ways they’d never do with fellow Australians.

No mutant has ever been subjected to this, even if white women having romantic, marital and sexual relationships with Asian men do exist in the real world. X-Men writers and stories barely ever touched the subject of sexual racism and whenever they address prejudice at all, it’s going to be the tip of the iceberg. Different ethnicities are assigned different stereotypes, though they’re still damaging. Black people are stereotyped as overly athletic, endowed, physical and thuggish. East Asians are seen as feminine, non-athletic and nerdy.

It’s one thing to subvert a stereotype, it’s another to show how damaging these are to those affected by them. X-Men writers don’t examine this facet of racism, but that would go beyond stereotypes of prejudice to realise how bad racist stereotypes can do to people. There’s also the issue of cultural appropriation, that’s appropriating aspects of a certain culture without respect to that culture. X-Men stories tend to co-opt the oppressed minority experience, but they’re hardly written by blacks and Asians. So there’s going to be a lot of stories that miss out what’s like to be an ethnic minority.

There are artists of colour working on the X-Men, but there’s hardly ever a writer of colour. If there ever was a writer of colour working on the X-Men, it would turn the mutants as oppressed minority on its head real badly. Sadly this is only ever attempted outside of the X-Men stories, best exemplified by Kwanza Osajyefo’s Black. Now that’s a superhero comic that examines what it’s really like to be an actual oppressed minority, if given super powers. That’s what X-Men misses out on and why having minority writers matter.