Tatiana Maslany as Jennifer "Jen" Walters/She-Hulk in Marvel Studios' She-Hulk: Attorney at Law.

She-Hulk Faces Slut-Shaming as Her Enemies Weaponize Female Rage

‘She-Hulk: Attorney at Law’ has spent the past 7 episodes building Jennifer Walters’ zany and very funny world. But it has never shied away from its overtly feminist point of view, as it tackles the various micro and macro aggressions that come with being a woman superhero/celebrity/lawyer, and well, just existing as a woman. From casual workplace sexism to creepy online dates to toxic fandom, Jen is bombarded by the patriarchy at every turn. Even her nomination for the “Female Lawyer of the Year” award is itself a categorization that talks down to women.

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But like most women, Jen is forced to grit her teeth and take these daily indignities with a smile, lest she be labeled “difficult” or “crazy”. Jen’s ability to compartmentalize is what makes her She-Hulk transformation all the more seamless, as she integrates both of her identities into a single mindset. As she explains to her cousin Bruce in the pilot episode, “I’m great at controlling my anger…I do it pretty much every day. If I don’t, I’ll get called ‘emotional,’ or ‘difficult,’ or I might just literally get murdered. So I’m an expert at controlling my anger, because I do it infinitely more than you.”

And Jen has been controlling herself, juggling the dual expectations of being both regular Jen and She-Hulk. But everything comes to a head in the finale of episode 8, “Ribbit and Rip It”. As Jen preps for the awards gala, she wonders directly to the camera, “This is the big twist, isn’t it? But the question is, is it the kind of twist that’s like, ‘Ooh, there’s another Hulk but this one’s red,’ or like, ‘I’m getting fridged.’” And the real twist is that both are true.

As Jen takes the stage to accept the award (with several other women lawyers, including Mallory) the screen behind her begins to play an Intelligencia attack against She-Hulk. The masked figures in the video claim that Jen “doesn’t deserve” to be She-Hulk, calling her a “slut”. We then see footage of Jen and Josh in bed. In addition to stealing her DNA and photographing her sleeping, Josh recorded their sexual encounter and is now broadcasting it for the world to see. The unauthorized release of a sex tape is an egregious and illegal attack and invasion of privacy. We’ve seen it time and time again, from the massive hacking of celebrity videos and photos to the Pamela Anderson-Tommy Lee sex tape scandal that irreparably damaged Anderson’s career. And while Mallory warns her not to flip out, Jen sees red.

Jennifer smashes the screens, hulking out with rage, lost in her completely justified anger. As the warning lights flash, we see her bathed in red lighting, a red Hulk herself. And we see the public’s reaction to Jen’s anger: fear, disgust, and a swarm of SWAT officers. As Jen smashes through walls and grabs one of the perpetrators, she’s forced to drop him as she’s surrounded by officers with guns drawn. And while the incels at Intelligencia escape, all eyes are on She-Hulk. No longer a beloved celebrity or a woman who can do both, she’s now a rage monster. In essence, HulkKing’s attack on She-Hulk is an attack not only on Jen’s privacy, but on the goodwill and popularity of She-Hulk. It’s a reputational fridging that Jen will have to overcome in the season finale. Let’s hope she smashes HulkKing along the way.

(featured image: Marvel)

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Author
Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.