Monica Chang / Black Widow ♠ ❛ SHIELD trained us to be experts at hurting people, and you and I are living proof that this extends into our private lives. But these moments of kindness we seem to be capable of from time to time hopefully mean we haven’t been entirely messed up by this silly profession we seem to be so good at. ❜
Yeah….. read up on her background story (and her family). Again seems like one of those hyper sexualize dragon ladies. I wasn’t all too pleased when I read that issue (IIRC it was the one with Ghost Rider’s origin):
” It is revealed that Monica is Asian-American and was the ex-wife of Nick Fury but the marriage fell apart after she discovered that he had been sleeping with various female members of her family (sister and cousin) and limited social circle, including her own mother.”
You know, sometimes assuming everything falls into a problematic stereotype is just as bad as that stereotype existing in and of itself.
Monica’s first few appearances aren’t the deepest or the most flattering, I’ll grant you that. The entire New Ultimates/Ultimate Avengers era is problematic for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the way the many women characters are treated in it, but one of the best things to come out of it, in my opinion, is Monica’s character. Because from the first, even though she’s introduced as Nick’s ex, she’s a woman with her own agenda. She exists on both the New Ultimates and Ultimate Avengers, and she does so for her own sake—whether or not Nick or Carol Danvers think otherwise.
As for her being sexualized, let’s look at the facts: one of the first things we find out about her is that, yes, she was married to Nick Fury. But in her panel time, her entire existence in comics, she’s never been romantically attached to anyone, never hit on anyone, never even seemed interested in romance in the slightest. Because her history, as you’ve so kindly quoted for us, is true—Nick cheated on her with her sisters and her mother. That’s so many levels of gross I can’t even begin to explain it, but I don’t have to. It’s a fact of the story, which tells us a lot more about Nick than it does about Monica. For her part, she divorces him, raises her son on her own, and goes back to work at the organization he controls because she knows that’s what she’s good at and where she can do the most good. What about that makes her hyper-sexualized? What about that sexualizes her at all?
Sure, sometimes I wish she’d be drawn with less attention on her breasts and with a costume with a higher collar—but those are the problems I think everyone who respects women faces when they read a great deal of comics. Monica is never sexualized more than the next woman, and she’s never sexualized simply because she is Asian. In fact, she’s one of the few women of color I’ve come across who is drawn consistently with an eye to her ethnicity—her skin’s even a different tone than her Caucasian costars’.
As for the “dragon lady” comment—yeah, Monica Chang is one tough cookie. She doesn’t really stand for nonsense and a lot of her panel time involves her giving orders, talking back, or telling people to shut up. But I don’t know what’s wrong with that. She’s a hard woman who’s had a hard life, and deals with the world in a way that says she’s in charge, not anyone else. But despite that, despite the hardness of her life or her caustic personality, that’s not all she is. She’s a mother who was happy to head up a hit squad because it meant she could afford a bigger apartment for her son to grow up in. She’s a woman who was wronged by the man she loved, but still managed to work with him and trust in his plans for the greater good. She’s an Ultimate who may call her teammates stupid, but still manages to work with them and ultimately bring them together under her own leadership. But none of that really plays into the dragon lady trope.
She’s Monica Chang, and she’s the Director of SHIELD, the Black Widow, and she saved the president of the United States and the whole country. And she did it without being defined by any kind of sexist or racist trope, which is amazingly refreshing.
I realize that we walk a fine line, being fans of this medium. We want representation, we want amazing female characters who are respected, we want every ethnicity and race and creed and sexual orientation to be given its due. I want these things, too. And I want them badly. Monica Chang, she gives me a lot of them. She’s an unforgiving, unapologetic, amazing woman. She’s a mother and an secret agent. And if you think you have her down pat based on one paragraph from a wiki article—well, you’re just wrong.
Really, though, pick up appearances beyond Ultimate Avengers if you really want to see what she’s made of. Because she’s amazing, and more people should appreciate her.