Sexy Women, the "Male Gaze," and Feminist Society's Hatred of Femininity

(Jay Maidment/Disney/Marvel via AP)

The #MeToo movement didn’t do society many favors and while the fact that it played a part in outing sexual predators in Hollywood, it became a witch hunt that targeted a lot of innocent people, and it’s still a problem that exists to this day. Moreover, it introduced a way of looking at women in popular culture that looks down on the sexualization of women. Even women who played sexy characters are suddenly expressing regret over it.

The issue is that this not only brings about a false idea about what is and isn’t okay for men and women to do, it wholly ignores massive hypocrisy that few are talking about. To give you a solid example of what I mean, we can look at the recent comments from Black Widow star Scarlett Johansson.

When Johansson first achieved mainstream success when she walked onto the set of Iron Man 2, she had us riveted. Her red hair, sexy outfit, and ability to take care of herself had men everywhere saying exactly what Tony Stark said in her introductory scene; “I want one.”

Romanov’s style was easily recognizable compared to her fellow Avengers. She was fast, agile, clever, and with Hawkeye’s help, was capable of bringing levity to very serious situations, such as having a conversation about house renovations in the midst of a robot-filled warzone on a floating city. Her skill set and drive gave her the respect of people far more powerful than her, and by the time “End Game” rolled around, she was leading the Avengers.

But included with all that was the fact that she was sexy. Her choice of battle outfit was form-fitting and highly attractive. It fit her character’s background as she was raised to be a femme-fatale Russian spy from her days as a teenager. When we first see her in The Avengers, she had been captured doing spy work by a corrupt general after clearly having had a night out with him, complete with a sexy black dress, heels, sheer leggings, and a fair bit of cleavage. It was, of course, all a trap on Romanov’s part.

It was a marvelous scene (pun very much intended) that introduced several aspects of Romanov all at once. Storywise, this is a well-built character and her sexiness made sense because of who she was and where she came from. Regardless, few people showed up in theaters to see Johansson be sexy, they showed up because they wanted to see superheroes do their thing.

With all of that established, let’s fast forward to the release of Johansson’s “Black Widow” solo outing in current year America. Now, the actress is looking back at her time as her most famous character and lamenting the fact that she was “hyper-sexualized” from the very beginning as reported by Bounding Into Comics:

She then addressed the hyper-sexualization of Black Widow in Iron Man 2, “All of that is related to that move away from the kind of hyper-sexualization of this character and, I mean, you look back at Iron Man 2 and while it was really fun and had a lot of great moments in it, the character is so sexualized, you know?”

She continued, “Really talked about like she’s a piece of something, like a possession or a thing or whatever — like a piece of ass, really. And Tony even refers to her as something like that at one point. What does he say?”

After being prompted by Collider’s Ashley Robinson, she continued, “‘I want some.’ Yeah and at one point calls her a piece of meat and maybe at that time that actually felt like a compliment. You know what I mean? Because my thinking was different.”

The line was “I want one,” but I digress.

Outside of the fact that it’s easy for her to say now that she’s used her beauty and sexiness to get to where she is, Johansson’s rambling answer gives off the feeling that she doesn’t fully believe what she’s saying herself. Her word salad even continued into speaking about the direction Hollywood is moving in a direction for women that indicates “progress.”

Is it, though?

Two important points here.

First, it’s been established that Romanov’s sexiness is a part of her training as a spy and that she feels very comfortable in outfits that accentuate her looks. Not to mention that these outfits play to her agile fighting style and choice of weaponry. Romanov isn’t being sexy for sexy’s sake, she’s doing it because sexiness is also a part of her offensive loadout.

But secondly…so what if it was sexiness for the sake of being sexy?

Admittedly, it would’ve been a shallower character if she was sexy to just be sexy, but I’m struggling to understand what’s wrong with being sexy and attractive within reason.

Today’s woke-soaked society has two big issues (among many others) and that’s with masculinity and femininity. They complain that the “male gaze” drives too many decisions in Hollywood, and indeed, quite a few things in our society. To be fair, they’re not wrong, but to be realistic, that’s a stupid thing to complain about. Nature is nature, and men like to see good-looking women. We want to get close to them and have sexual relationships with them. We want to be wanted and loved by them, but first things first, we want to see them.

That’s no more a bad thing than an ape’s desire to climb trees and find food. We’re just programmed with this and we can’t help it. The “male gaze” isn’t a sexist, predatory thing by nature. It’s literally the first step to the process that allows for the propagation of our species.

The flip side of this is, horror of horrors, that women want to be seen. They want to feel attractive and be assured that they’re attractive. They want the attention of men, and to be pursued by them. They want to be in a relationship with a strong, capable man that can assure their safety and comfort. All this is very natural as well.

How do we know that? Because we can take a look at how Hollywood portrays men, including Johansson’s Marvel co-stars. Chris’s Pratt, Hemsworth, and Evans are all in peak physical condition and at some point appear shirtless in scenes where their abs and muscular arms are on full display. At one point, Captain America (Evans) has an entire sub-plot that revolves around his well-toned buttocks with the joke that it’s “America’s ass.”

Oddly, you don’t see a lot of feminists getting upset about the sexualization of these men. Of course, victimizing men doesn’t fit well with the feminist messaging being forced on the populace through Hollywood. It’s okay to gaze at America’s ass, but only if it’s attached to a man.

However, the feminine desire to be desired puts women in a state of subservience to men according to feminists. This means weakness, and thus femininity has to go.

It’s hypocrisy on full display, but it’s hypocrisy brought on by a narrative that makes attraction toward the opposite sex and wanting to see the accentuated beauty and sexually attractive aspects of that sex, something of a societal sin.

It’s not.

Let women be sexy and attractive if they want to be and let men gaze upon them in wonder and admiration. Let the natural order of human sexuality occur. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s not pornography. It’s not actual hyper-sexualization like the kind displayed by Cardi B. It’s definitely not harassment as some feminists claim. It’s just a natural exchange that has been happening since the dawn of man.