Valkyrie and feminism
Feminist blogger Amanda Marcotte addresses the issue
of feminists and sexuality by looking at the claim made about the noted
anti-feminist Katie Roiphe and an upcoming appearance by her: "The sexy
(sorry, feminists), smart, sassy Katie Roiphe live on stage @nypl on
Wednesday night.” Marcotte irritably asks: "Why do stereotypes
of feminists as anti-fun, unsexy, and humorless persist?" and
that "Roiphe’s feminist critics don’t have an opinion on her sexiness
one way or another." Personally, I read a Defenders comic in 1972 and
feminists were presented to me as being represented by the character
I didn't see her as particularly sexy, but considering that I was only
12 when I read this particular comic, there probably wasn't anything
unusual about that.
Her attitude here is not at all anti-male, men clearly are not her
enemies, but she can see and size up the situation in a moment and it's
clear to her that the males are unable to free themselves, so it's up
to her. Naturally, she can't resist getting in a dig at the men who
need her particular talents and capabilities at that time. Granted,
there's long been the old dating wisdom:
"a scary movie is the perfect excuse to cuddle a little closer to your
partner. Who else is going to protect you from the movie monsters?" The
particular piece I quoted from shows a picture of a strong female
comforting a scared male, but the image has long been that, in response
to a scary movie, the frightened female will cuddle closer to the
protective male. Clearly, Val doesn't need much protection from scary
things that go bump in the night.
I do really like Valkyrie's reaction to the group's success here.
Val also shows that she's fully capable of being sweet and emotional,
though she's clearly acting as the protector as opposed to being the
one who needs protecting.
In Victorian times, they called this "being forward." I think I pretty
much dropped the Defenders until I was in college. Valkyrie was still a
member when I picked it up again, but she tended to be just one of the
group with only a little bit of narrative attention paid to her
From Fear Itself in 2011. Valkyrie demonstrates her strong sense of
duty, responsiblity and honor as contrasted with the Enchantress's
vanity and irresponsiblity. Their relationship is detailed in Marvel's Wikia.
Valkyrie's essence and spirit are moved from human body to human body
with the human usually having just died or gone mad, meaning Valkyrie
doesn't have to worry about the human taking over. The acquired body
takes on her strengths and appearance.
In the early 80s, Marvel decided that Valkyrie was the same character as Brunnhilde, the valkyrie in the Ring of the Nibelung.
Siegmund takes on the appearance of Thor (This storyline was over the
Thor issues 293-300) and Valkyrie/Brunnhilde appears as her usual self.
And yes, her superhero buddies continued to call her "Val" for her
nickname as there is no short name for Brunnhilde (At least not as far
as Americans generally know).
Valkyrie is placed within a ring of fire by Odin/Wotan and Seigfried/Thor climbs to her rescue.
Seigfried wakes her up with a kiss. Does she smile lovingly and melt
into his arms? Ha, ha, ha! This is a warrior woman we're talking about!
She of course wakes up fighting. The latest issue
of Ms. has this as a description of one of their stories: "Ms. has
chronicled how women have gone from second-class citizens to fierce
feminist warriors—and we continue to sound the alarms, rally the troops
and celebrate progress." So I kinda suspect that Valkyrie's reaction is
right in line with what would be expected of a feminist woman these
Valkyrie falls prey to an ambush.
Her funeral demonstrated the respect and good will that her superhero buddies had for her.
Later, after she's recovered (Via a complicated explanation, but yeah, superheroes recover from death all the time), she also recovers her memory of being Brunnhilde, so she's now one and the same character.
After a cheerful issue where she and other Defenders deal with Dr.
Seuss-style characters, Valkyrie pretty much disappeared from Marvel
comics for a little under 30 years, at least as far as I was aware.
She came back in 2010 with a self-titled one-shot. She doesn't call
herself a feminist, but deals with women's issues. Here she's
clobbering the fellow who attempted to rape the woman whose body she
In the 2011 Fear Itself, Valkyrie again shows that she's on very good
terms with other superheroes. In this storyline, she has to collect a
set of hammers and sometimes the heroes cooperate with her and
well...sometimes they don't. She collects them all anyway. She goes to
Valhalla for a bit and meets her old lover Seigfried, decides that
she's grown more than he has, and so comes back and finishes the job on
the villain of the story.
So, is Valkyrie sexy? I certainly think so, but I also recognize that
she's not a toy that a man can discard as soon as he's tired of her.
Not much there in terms of silliness or childishness, which are
qualties that some guys like. She's certainly not a woman to be
dishonest to or to play head games with. I can certainly understand why
some guys wouldn't be attracted to her. I can also see why women would
want to adopt her as their role model and why other fellows would agree
with me that Val's pretty hot.