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

Two Reasons Why ISIS Practices Beheading

isis-daily-mailIf there is a top 10 list of the most shocking crimes of the 21st century, the beheading of people by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) should be on that list. There are two primary reasons why ISIS practices such barbaric cruelty: as a means of psychological warfare, and because they believe it is the will of Allah.

The first reason ISIS beheads people is to instill fear and terror in the Iraqi army. According to Shashank Joshi, “the Islamic State’s fighters have used their reputation for terror to dissuade Iraqi forces from ever seeking battle. Which poorly paid soldier wishes to risk decapitation, impalement, or amputation for the sake of a distant, crumbling government? Fear is a uniquely effective weapon.”1 Every soldier who goes to war knows that he may die in battle, but the thought of having your head chopped off is much more terrifying than to die from a bullet to the head or heart.

The second reason ISIS beheads people is because they believe it is the will of Allah. There are two verses in the Qur’an that command Muslims to chop off the heads of “those who disbelieve”:

  • Qur’an 8:12 – When your Lord revealed to the angels: I am with you, therefore make firm those who believe. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them.2
  • Qur’an 47:4 – So when you meet in battle those who disbelieve, then smite the necks until when you have overcome them, then make (them) prisoners, and afterwards either set them free as a favor or let them ransom (themselves) until the war terminates.3

To argue that the Qur’an does not command beheading is disingenuous. There is nothing figurative or symbolic about smiting someone on the neck. As Timothy R. Furnish makes clear, “Mahmud b. Umar az-Zamakhshari (d. 1143 C.E.), in a major commentary studied for centuries by Sunni religious scholars, suggested that any prescription to ‘strike at the necks’ commands to avoid striking elsewhere so as to confirm death and not simply wound.”4 During the 7th century, Muhammad and his followers waged war with the sword. If you “smite” a person’s neck with a sword, the obvious will happen: Their head will come off.

The historical record shows that Muhammad approved of, directly ordered, and possibly participated in numerous beheadings.5 The most horrific example is the Raid on the Banu Qurayza in 627 A.D. Ibn Ishaq, the 8th century Muslim historian, records that after the Jewish tribe “surrendered to the apostle’s judgement”6, Muhammad appointed Sa’d b. Mu’adh “umpire in the matter”7 who ruled that “the men should be killed.”8 Muhammad declared it was “the judgement of Allah”, and “then he sent for them and struck off their heads.”9 The total number of men beheaded was “600 or 700 in all.”10 If the historical record is accurate, then Muhammad has at least one thing in common with ISIS: He had no objections to beheading his enemies.

It must be emphasized that the beheading of people by ISIS does not reflect the views of the vast majority of Muslims today. Moderate Muslims have strongly condemned the actions of ISIS.11 However, to argue that beheading people is un-Islamic is false. This is because there is no such thing as one “true” form of Islam, or any other religion. All religions have doctrines that are based on human argument and interpretation of their sacred texts. Determining the “true” interpretation of Islam will always be a matter of debate.

The leader and founder of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who has a doctorate in Islamic studies12, believes that his version of Islam is the correct interpretation. Further, as the self-proclaimed caliph, he believes he is on a divine mission from Allah, declaring in a 2015 speech, “O Muslims, indeed we fight in obedience to Allah and as a means of coming closer to Him.”13 Baghdadi’s leadership in directing his followers to behead people is not un-Islamic. It is simply the belief and practice of radical Islam.

Notes

  1. Shashank Joshi, “Where does the Islamic State’s fetish with beheading people come from?,” The Telegraph, September 14, 2014, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/11071276/Where-does-the-Islamic-States-fetish-with-beheading-people-come-from.html
  2. Qur’an 8:12 (Shakir). http://quran.com/8
  3. Qur’an 8:12 (Shakir). http://quran.com/47
  4. Timothy R. Furnish, “Beheading in the Name of Islam,” Middle East Quarterly 12, no.2 (Spring 2005), 51-57, http://www.meforum.org/713/beheading-in-the-name-of-islam
  5. “List of Killings Ordered or Supported by Muhammad,” accessed October 9, 2016, https://wikiislam.net/wiki/List_of_Killings_Ordered_or_Supported_by_Muhammad
  6. Ibn Ishaq, The Life of Muhammad, trans. Alfred Guillaume (Pakistan: Oxford University Press, 1955), 463, https://archive.org/details/TheLifeOfMohammedGuillaume
  7. Ibid.
  8. Ishaq, The Life of Muhammad, 464.
  9. Ibid.
  10. Ibid.
  11. Matt Payton, “More than 30,000 Muslims from across the world meet in the UK to reject Isis and Islamic extremism,” Independent, August 15, 2016, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/more-than-30000-ahmadiyya-muslims-from-across-the-world-meet-in-the-uk-to-reject-isis-and-islamic-a7191306.html
  12. William McCants, “Who Exactly is Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the Leader of ISIS?”, Newsweek, September 16, 2015, http://www.newsweek.com/who-exactly-abu-bakr-al-baghdadi-leader-isis-368907
  13. S.J. Prince, “READ: Full English Translation of ISIS ‘Caliph’ Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s New Speech,” Heavy, December 28, 2015, http://heavy.com/news/2015/12/new-isis-islamic-state-news-pictures-videos-so-wait-indeed-we-along-with-you-are-waiting-abu-bakr-al-baghdadi-speech-english-translation/