Did You Really Just Call Your Co-star a Slut?

Avengers: Age of Ultron stars Chris Evans and Jeremy Renner called Scarlett Johansson's character a slut — a very un-superhero-like thing to do. (Photos of Evans and Renner by Gage Skidmore. Photo of Johansson by Elen Nivrae. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

OK, men throw the word slut around way too easily. It is unbelievably tiresome to hear that insult used for a joke, like it has no effect on the people who hear it.

Society already puts an unreasonable amount of pressure on women to behave a certain way. This is feminine. That is not feminine. You shouldn’t do this, or that, or the other. Why? Well, if you do people will think you’re a slut.

Apparently, having breasts and being charming is enough reason for people to call you a slut — including your coworkers — as Scarlett Johansson found out following a stop on the press junket for her new Avengers movie “Age of Ultron.”

After an interviewer queried whether they were upset the Black Widow — Johansson’s character in the franchise — had seemingly transferred her attentions to The Hulk, her co-workers Jeremy Renner and Chris Evans, Hawkeye and Captain America respectively, called her a slut, a whore, and — the best one ever — a trick.

Of course, they offered apologies later — By the way, Jeremy? Being tired is not an excuse for being a jerk — but that doesn’t change the fact that their first response was to denigrate a woman they’ve worked with for years. They called her out of her name in a public forum. She’s a wife and a new mother in an industry, in a world, where mud sticks tighter than the Black Widow’s black cat suit when thrown at a woman’s character.

Thanks, guys. I don’t know about Scarlett, but I so appreciate the lovely message you just sent: Flirting — or a hint of femininity when a man doesn’t reap the expected rewards — equals slut.

I mean, come on. Natasha is a Russian spy trained to be manipulative and fulfill her mission by any means necessary — including using her feminine wiles. Yet, she hasn’t slept with any of the Avengers — granted, I haven’t seen the new film yet, so that could change. But I don’t think she’s really flirted that much either. Unless you call her perpetual men-are-so-simple-minded-and-easy-to-control smirk flirting — which, for the record, I don’t.

Yet, her male peers in the superhero realm were quick to call her out of her name. I acknowledge they appeared to be joking, but guys? Not cool. Not even close to superhero behavior. Captain America, in particular, with his old school, apple pie values should totally know better.

Think about what you say before you say it, people. Women have to take enough crap just walking around being female. Shine a spotlight on a fabulous career, and the crap increases exponentially. Co-workers, peers, lovers of superhero movies everywhere, get on the Black Widow’s team.

I seriously should have been born a man. A tall, white man but with my current brain and sensibilities. I’d probably own the world by now, and anyone who called one of my female associates a slut — joke or no joke — would be quickly and summarily smooshed beneath Thor’s hammer.