Slut-Shaming Black Widow Reveals Society's Huge Double Standard

Jessica Renae Buxbaum
Why can’t a strong woman be promiscuous without being branded as a slut?

Chris Evans and Jeremy Renner make sexist joke about Black Widow

The male cast of Avengers: Age of Ultron has been getting a lot of ugly press lately. Robert Downey Jr. stormed out of his interview with Channel 4 News after being asked about his drug-related past and time in prison, and now Chris Evans and Jeremy Renner are under fire for their slut-shaming comments on Scarlett Johansson’s character, Black Widow.

Both actors issued a formal apology to Entertainment Weekly in light of their sexist words.

Jeremy Renner: “I am sorry that this tasteless joke about a fictional character offended anyone. It was not meant to be serious in any way. Just poking fun during an exhausting and tedious press tour.”

Chris Evans: “Yesterday we were asked about the rumors that Black Widow wanted to be in a relationship with both Hawkeye and Captain America. We answered in a very juvenile and offensive way that rightfully angered some fans. I regret it and sincerely apologize.”

Despite apologies, their comments reflect a huge problem with how Hollywood is treating its explosive superhero movie trend. The comic book world has always been a boy’s club and this theme has, of course, fit right in with the misogynistic movie industry.  Superman, Ironman, Spiderman, the list goes on…but Wonder Woman is just getting filmed? The cartoon heroines are made to be the sexy sidekicks in tight, plunging clothing instead of the main stars. Marvel proves how little it values its comic book ladies by not even having Black Widow merchandise stocked on the shelves.

Evans and Renner were immaturely acting like sorry bros woefully pissed they got rejected, but their outspoken thoughts speak volumes about how our culture treats strong women. Countless male heroes have more than one love (Wolverine was romantically involved with 32 different women), but these men are not thought of in disgusting or negative ways, but seen instead as positive role models and leaders.  Yet a strong, confident and clearly desirable woman like Black Widow is seen as a slut for not choosing one guy to go with. In the U.S. today, the gap in leadership between the sexes still remains shockingly wide for 2015, but when a woman does shatter this glass ceiling what our patriarchal society zooms in on is her sexuality and her body while her intelligence and capability remains on the backburner. A female leader’s sex life, hormones, age and appearance are continuously scrutinized under the magnifier by the media. Black Widow is not identified by her strength, but instead by how many guys she’s dating.

The slut-shaming of Black Widow is the epitome of the double standards women face. The point has been stated thousands of times before, but never seems to hit hard enough to prevent kneejerk responses like Evans' and Renner’s remarks: men can be players and be rewarded for their promiscuous behavior, but when women do the same they are dirty, impure, and not to be trusted. Otherwise known as a slut.

Read more: Mark Ruffalo Answers The Sexist Questions Scarlett Johansson Is Usually Asked