Matt: No! If it is Blackwing, he’s too dangerous for the Widow to tackle alone. Natasha! Hold it a minute!
Natasha: You’re getting awfully liberal with your hands, Daredevil. Once, it’s horseplay. Twice, it’s developing into a decidedly bad habit.
Matt: I… I’ve got to go to that warehouse alone! I can’t explain why. You’ll just have to trust me!
Natasha: What? Are you forgetting that Nelson got captured saving my life? I’m not about to sit on the sidelines! Not now or ever!
To ruin a funny old panel with context, here’s what was really going on in Daredevil during that arc. Tony Isabella came on the book with the intention of breaking Matt and Natasha up, and to do that he exaggerated the Matt’s well-meaning chauvinism under Conway to in-retrospect hilarious degrees. Isabella felt that the relationship did both characters a disservice, and after Steve Gerber’s run, that was probably true.
The central problem, as Isabella presented it, was that Matt wanted to have a girl he could rescue and take care of. He has a real need to be The Man in the relationship. Natasha, on the other hand, loved Matt deeply but couldn’t stand to be coddled. She knew she had to be the one to save herself, and after a few issues of trying, still, to make it work, she left him.
Over the years Matt has developed into someone who needs to play the protector but is sexually excited by women who won’t let him, leading to a cycle of romantic misery and a billyclub of broody manpain +2. (He’s also developed into one of the most textured and interesting of Marvel’s protagonists, precisely because his comics give him room for his flaws.) But this wasn’t the same as Reed Richards declaring wives should be kissed and not heard— Reed’s casual misogyny was for Sue’s own good, and Sue even agreed with him that “females” were scatter-brained and emotional. It was the sexism of a comic book era that had little idea it was being sexist. A decade later, though, and Isabella wrote Matt Murdock doing hilariously sexist things to point out some of comics’ pre-existing tendencies, and to show Natasha questioning and rejecting them, despite her deep love for Matt. That last bit is important, because “women’s liberation” in this era of comics was often an empty synonym for man-hating. Natasha didn’t hate men, and she loved Matt. But in the end she loved herself, too.
From Daredevil #122, by Tony Isabella and Bob Brown.