Calling a Woman a “Skank”: The Spectacular Spider-Man

The_Spectacular_Spider-Man_Vol_2_16Although never directly stated, an important subject in The Spectacular Spider-Man Vol. 2 No. 16 is whether or not a woman should dress modestly in public.1 The Insect Queen wears revealing clothing: a low-cut black dress that exposes more than half of her breasts.2 In response, Spider-Man calls her a “skank.”3 One theme in the story is that if a woman wears clothing that violates public standards of modesty, people have the right to call her a stigmatizing name.

For Christians, dressing modesty in public is a virtue. 1 Timothy 2:9 says, “I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety…”4 It is also a virtue for Muslims. The Quran 24:31 says, “And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms…”5

For Christians and Muslims, dressing immodestly in public is a sin because whether the woman intended it or not, it can cause men to experience greater sexual temptation, e.g., to commit adultery or have pre-marital sex. Men, having free will, are responsible for how they choose to respond to their sexual desires. Nonetheless, a woman who wears revealing clothing is responsible for increasing men’s sexual attraction to her.

One reason women (and men) wear revealing clothing in public is it increases their self-esteem. If you have a beautiful body, and people look at you and respond positively, you will naturally feel good about yourself. However, when deciding what clothes to wear, it is important to consider how your clothes might affect other people.

Throughout history, women who dress immodestly have been called stigmatizing names, e.g., a slut or whore. Calling someone a stigmatizing name is a form of social pressure, so they will conform to a certain standard of right and wrong. The resulting feelings of guilt and/or shame become a deterrent against committing the stigmatized behavior again. Thus, for good or ill, the stigmatization of women who wear immodest clothing is a means of social control, reinforcing traditional values on modesty.

In The Spectacular Spider-Man Vol. 2 No. 16, the Insect Queen does not dress modestly. Spider-Man stigmatizes her for how she dresses, and also for kissing him against his will. He says, “You have the right to remain skanky. Anything skanky you do will be held against you by the court of public opinion.”6 Urban Dictionary defines skanky as “looking cheap, dirty and nasty. Also acting slutty.”7 Spider-Man is saying that when a woman dresses or behaves like the Insect Queen, she has the right to do so, but people also have the right to follow his example, and form a negative judgment of her. However, the comic was published in 2004; it is now 2017, and times have changed.

In making fun of the Insect Queen for her clothing and behavior, Spider-Man is politically incorrect. In the “court of public opinion”, he would be accused of slut shaming.8 In America today, it is considered offensive to call a woman a skank, even if in reality, she dresses like one. Furthermore, with decreased public shaming of women for what they wear, it has become more common for women to wear extremely risqué clothing, especially among celebrities.9 Whether this is a good or bad thing depends on your moral viewpoint on modesty.

Notes

  1. Marie Jackson, “Modest dressing: Why the cover-up?”, BBC News, June 29, 2017, http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-40442478
  2. Paul Jenkins, The Spectacular Spider-Man No. 16 (Marvel Comics: August, 2004), 2, 4, 18.
  3. Jenkins, Spectacular Spider-Man, 5.
  4. 1 Timothy 2:9 (New International Version).
  5. Quran 24:31 (Yusuf Ali). https://quran.com/24/31
  6. Jenkins, Spectacular Spider-Man, 15.
  7. Urban Dictionary, s.v. “skanky,” accessed June 23, 2017, http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=skanky
  8. JR Thorpe, “The Long-Term Effects Of Slut-Shaming,” Bustle, June 22, 2017, https://www.bustle.com/p/the-long-term-effects-of-slut-shaming-64302
  9. Natalie Matthews, “See the Evolution of the Naked Dress in 36 Photos,” Elle, July 26, 2015, http://www.elle.com/fashion/celebrity-style/news/g26/naked-dress-celebs-red-carpet
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10 thoughts on “Calling a Woman a “Skank”: The Spectacular Spider-Man

  1. Thanks for sharing! As a young girl, it’s clear to see how much celebrities influence people (specifically in my generation), for better or for worse. I do my best to only look up to women who are after God’s own heart, but of course even they stumble in their walk. Overall, I believe that any place on the body that is “private” (basically anything Adam and Eve covered with fig leaves after The Fall) is to be saved for one’s spouse, and that helps give me guidelines for my view on modesty.
    Have a great day! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hi Chris, I really enjoyed this article. Very well written & organized. It’s interesting how you talk about “social control”–I never considered that aspect of so-called “slut shaming.” It made me think! I’ll definitely be following your blog in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for following my blog, Woody! I try to post every 2 weeks, either a short story, short essay, or analysis of a film. I try to address topics that the average person doesn’t dare write about.

    I don’t post a lot of comments myself, but hopefully you can stir debate with other readers. I absolutely welcome that. From your photo, I can tell you are a free-thinker.

    Like

  4. I’ve heard that Marvel has become very liberal progressive in many of its comics. I’m not sure how it has affected readership. But Spider-Man 2004 would definitely offend SJWs.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Good post Chris.
    I have recently checked out your blog, liked it and decided to follow.
    My blog following and commenting history is mostly skeptical sites, being those about science, psuedo-medicines, ufos, cryto-zoology, faith-healing, atheist concerns, cults, scams, hoaxes and other subjects where what is already known (including what has already been shown in well designed and controlled testing is ignored in favour of popular but ineffective and illogical shit.)
    Many of my favoured blogs have slowed or died and as time passes I am taking on new memberships, expanding my horizons somewhat. I have included some rather liberal and progressive blog-hosts, some more conservative and some that only express views with little if any political entanglements.
    So far, I sense in you a thinker who has ideas to share but is not scared to look at the differing ideas of others. I like this and look forward to exchanging with people here.

    All the best,
    Woody

    Liked by 1 person

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