Next, Lois Lane Scrubbing the Floor in Lingerie

In general, I object to the common stereotype of the average comics reader as a parents'-basement-dwelling, socially inept loser who can't get a date, let alone get laid. It's not really fair, and as often as not holds no truth. Okay, I'll admit I've met some nerds who make Andy Stitzer look like a manslut. Still, for every Catpiss Man out there, there's probably five or ten normal, socially well-adjusted folks who have probably even touched a real live boob before. But the mainstream comics publishers certainly aren't doing themselves or their readers any favors in terms of the image they present to the public by greenlighting merchandise like this.

That's Mary Jane washing Peter Parker's Spider-man costume there, as depicted in a maquette created and sold by Sideshow Collectibles. Yes, Mary Jane apparently rolls June Cleaver-style, doing housework in a pearl necklace. Yes, she arches her back like a Playboy model while she's doing laundry. Yes, she wears low-rise jeans to show off her thong and her most cleavage-baring top while she's doing laundry.

I'm not opposed to cheesecake by any means. But this is just vile. I don't suppose it's all that bad in and of itself, but it's emblematic of the general treatment of women in mainstream (read: superhero) comics. A statue of Mary Jane looking sexy? Okay, I don't see why not. A statue in which one of comics' most prominent female characters is not only overtly sexually objectified, but also depicted doing the hero's goddamn laundry? This is a joke, right?

Geek culture has a definite problem with the way it depicts women. Comics artists draw breasts with compasses and often have very little idea how a woman is actually put together. Comics writers (even the most popular and acclaimed writers in the biz) write things like this. Popular video games (e.g. the Super Mario and Legend of Zelda series) revolve around "rescuing the princess." Genre TV shows struggle when they feature an intelligent and capable female lead character, then take off when the focus of the show switches to the chick with big boobs in a spandex unitard.

Maybe my objection to the stereotype gives your average nerd too much credit. After all, the Mary Jane maquette is sold out. The "comments" section of Sideshow's website is filled with slack-jawed morons saying, "WOW!!! Hot stuff!!! Pink G-string!!!" and "Perhaps the exclusive version could be topless." Maybe comics fanboys really do deserve their reputation as losers who can't relate to women on a real, human level. Maybe the idea that "comics aren't for girls" persists solely because the vast majority of potential comics-reading girls are scared off by shit like this whenever they get within a mile of a comic book store. There's nothing inherent about the superhero genre that makes it unsuitable for girls, but there's a heck of a lot of people in the comics (and comics merchandising) industry who only want to play to the "core" male audience and don't care if they frighten and/or disgust every bearer of a double X chromosome who encounters their work.

And for God's sake, fanboys (and for your own sake, and the sake of your poor, neglected penis), if by some miracle you actually get a real live girl to come over to your house, put your creepy, pervy Mary Jane statue in the deepest, darkest corner of your closet alongside your three-foot-high stack of porn mags before she arrives.

Better, uh, put this one back there, too. And this one. And this one, too. Also, this one. Look, if you actually get a date, you should meet her at the restaurant and if things go well, go back to her place instead of yours, okay?