Gendered Language: X-Men, X-Women, or X-People?

Jubilee, Kitty Pryde, Storm, Rogue, Rachel Summers, and Psylocke on the cover X-Men Vol 4 #2

This past Wednesday, the female-lead X-Men #1 by Brian Wood and Olivier Coipel hit the stands. The reviews have been overwhelmingly positive and I’m happy to report that it’s well worth a buy.

The series’ all-woman cast has led to a lively Internet discussion with many questioning the appropriateness of the comic’s gendered title. At first, I thought there might be some validity to the criticism, but the more I reflect on Marvel’s decision, the more I think that they made the right call.

When asked about the comic’s title, Wood explained the decision on Twitter stating that the title “is suited to the team. They’re classic X-Men. They’ve never been anything but.” Series editor Jeanine Schaefer offered further explanation as to why they specifically didn’t change the title in an interview with Bitch Magazine:

“I really felt like that would be ostracizing it from the line. These women are X-Men. They have been since they were created, and this book is an X-Men book. No one would think twice about an all-male team, making sure it had the word “men” in the title, so why do that here?”

I agree. I would never advocate retitling a series the “Lady Avengers” or the “Fantastic Four Females” so I can’t get behind the idea of “X-Women.” Adding that “wo” to a preexisting team name would act like a huge disclaimer and undermine what the series is about – a group of A-list X-Men who all happen to be women.

X-Men Vol 4 #2 cover with Jubilee, Kitty Pryde, Storm, Rogue, Rachel Summers, and PsylockeEven the non-gendered “X-People” is problematic. It would diminish the series’ validity by distancing it from the comic’s legacy and the other five ongoing series with “X-Men” in the title. It would scream “hey, those other guys are the real X-Men; we’re the X-People!”

If Marvel were to introduce a non-gendered team name such as “X-People” (which is what the team is called in the MC2 alternate future timeline), it really needs to be in a co-ed book. I want to see Wolverine proudly proclaiming himself an X-Person before the “lady” X-Men are called anything other than X-Men.

7 Responses to “Gendered Language: X-Men, X-Women, or X-People?”

  1. 1 Chelsea June 5, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    Very interesting post. I agree for sure.

  2. 3 The Salty Runback June 5, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    If you want a female team there’s Peter David’s bit with the Lady Liberators when he was writing Sensational She-Hulk (the rest he wrote was baaaaad).

  3. 6 xmenxpert June 5, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    Agreed. “X-Women” would’ve done a disservice to the title and the characters. It would’ve set the book up as a gimmick, and it would’ve been saying that these character aren’t the REAL X-Men, that the males are the real X-Men. Storm has been an X-Man since 1975, and has led the team repeatedly. The others all joined throughout the ’80s. They’ve been X-Men for a long time, and the women have long been arguably the most interesting and compelling part of the X-Men.

    • 7 Daniel Amrhein June 6, 2013 at 4:59 pm

      Absolutely. My favorite X-Men characters have always been women. When I first started reading comics, I didn’t really understand complaints about the representation of women in comics because I mostly read X-Men comics. I experienced quite the culture shock when I started branching out and reading other titles.

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