ALRIGHT ONCE AGAIN let’s talk about the difference between the sexualization in other movies and Lois Lane’s bathtub scene in batman v superman. Lots of people have done this already and I thank you all for that. But some people are still not getting it.
For those of you who have seen Iron Man 2, you know very well there is a scene where Black Widow strips down in the back of Happy’s car. Note that Natasha makes it very clear that she does not want to be watched or seen when she does this, but you have Happy spying on her anyway against her wishes, thus objectifying her. She clearly didn’t want him to look and he did anyway, and there is the further perverse impression that the viewer is spying on her body in the same way that Happy is. Or how about in Star Trek: Into Darkness, when Dr. Carol Marcus tells Kirk to turn around while she changes? Then, of course, he doesn’t listen and he turns around anyway, thus causing her to demand that he turn around again. Once again, this is a woman being objectified for her body – the character explicitly asks not to be viewed in a such a way, and yet she is anyway. Like with Natasha, her wishes as a person – a human being – are directly ignored. Arguments can even be made that they needed to change for whatever reason, because hey – women have a right to change clothes as they please.
A scene is not automatically sexualizing because a woman is naked, or has consensual sex. Women have a right to be/do those things if they choose. But in both of these examples, you have the women’s bodies portrayed as more important than their characters/personalities/wants/needs. That is sexualization, without a doubt.
Now let’s look at the bathtub scene. You have Lois Lane, understandably taking a bath because she had a traumatic and confusing/mysterious experience that she wants to piece together (lots of people use bathing/shower times to think. No, she is not clothed because obviously people generally don’t wear clothes in the bath. But it is still noticeable that the camera is almost entirely focused on her face the whole time. The amount of skin that is shown is really quite minimal (though skin is never the issue – it’s the way the skin is depicted).
Nonetheless, when Clark enters the room, a big factor is that he is making DIRECT EYE CONTACT with her the whole time. He is looking at her, not at her body. This helps establish that he values her for more than her body. In fact, what does he come in to do? He enters to simply inform her that he is cooking dinner and making other gestures to suggest that he cares for her. Further, it is Lois that continues the conversation, indicating that she wants him to stay there with her (which is quite the opposite of what happened in the other two movies I mentioned, in which the women demanded that the men look away or leave).
In this scene, Lois and Clark have a legitimate, necessary discussion that moves the plot along and lays out Lois’s motivations as a CHARACTER quite clearly. You learn that she is suspicious of what happened, and that she has a thirst for knowledge. You learn that she cares deeply about Clark and the world’s reactions to him. This scene serves as character development for her (something that many female characters are unfairly denied). She exists in this scene as more than just an attractive body – she is a breathing, thinking person.
At no point does Lois suggest that she does not want Clark there. When he tentatively makes physical contact with her, she grabs onto him. And when he climbs into the bathtub to disprove her concerns that “he can’t love her and still be him,” he pauses to see if she is okay with it. And it is clear as day that she is – she smiles, laughs, and leans backwards to make room for him. Is it sexualization if two consenting adults in love engage in this sort of behavior? No. That’s pretty much human nature.
And why a bathtub scene, many of you ask? I’m sure many of you think it was unnecessary and pointedly included to sexualize Lois. But this scene is straight up foreshadowing. Lois essentially asks Clark if he can be Superman and love her at the same time. He responds in a silly though meaningful way by jumping fully clothed into the bathtub so that he can kiss her. This implies that he would do anything for her.
And what happens later in the movie? Oh yeah. He jumps into the water to save her from drowning, meanwhile abandoning the fight against Doomsday. He stops being Superman and becomes a mere man in love…for her. And then to further prove this foreshadowed point, he implies that he is going to sacrifice himself for Lois in particular.
And last but not least, it is meant to disprove the idea that Lois and Clark’s biological differences stand in the way of this sort of thing. We learn quickly that they don’t, and that they’re in love, and that they’d do anything for each other. Case closed. Characters developed. Relationship established. Sexualization not achieved.