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The idea of female sexuality existing solely as a reactive response to male action is offensive.

Yay! Make that either positive or negative response. So why does society (American, anyway) persist so doggedly in this belief? Can't a woman be proud of her own sexuality for its own sake?

But today's fans face a whole new set of stumbling blocks: objectifying, inappropriately sexualised art styles...

This is just patently ludicrous. I'm not a comic reader, but the few I've seen, both past and present, don't seem to have changed that much to me. If anything, much of today's art is better, but it has always been sensationalized. I can assume by the context of the site that they're decrying female objectification, but step back and take an unbiased view. Are the men not objectified and sexualized just as much in these things? I don't know about anybody else, but I don't run into many perfectly triangular torsoed, rippling six-packed and bulging-tricepped men over the course of my day. I'm firmly of the mind that if you set out looking for sexual (or racial, or what-have-you) objectification and injustice, you're going to find it, whether it's really there or not.

The art sells. They're pushing perfection here. These are superheroes (and supervillians). These are not your garden variety, everyday people. They're supposed to be larger than life. That's what draws us to them. So they're over-endowed, so what. It's fantasy. It's exaggeration. And it's held the interest of fans (like Lisa) for decades.

It amuses me a little, and disturbs me a lot, that every time this argument comes up ("Women are being objectified!"), the response of the aggrieved seems to be that women should instead hide their sexuality, hide their differences, become nondescript and indistinguishable from the men. How is this progress? Is this not also measuring women against the barometer of men, as if they're not capable of standing on their own? Perhaps we should make the men look and behave like the women instead. Would that not solve the problem as well? So why is it never proposed? I say, be proud of what you've got, for its own sake, whether you're female or male. Your sexuality doesn't make you better or worse than someone else - it just makes you you.

So a few concerned readers are disturbed by cartoon gazongas and skimpy outfits. Get over yourselves already. How do you think I feel about Mr. Perfectly Ripped posing next to her in the tights and the monstrous codpiece? Actually, I couldn't care less about either of them. I'm not threatened by a comic. It's not real, no one was harmed, and I understand that humans like to exaggerate for effect.

As for the "gateway" arguments that are undoubtedly lurking under the surface here somewhere...please. No sane person is going to be driven to misogyny by a few sensationalist comics. Look to the real problems in the real world before tearing down our entertainment.

Lisa, of course you understand that I'm ranting with you here, not against you. You might find it interesting that I don't read comics - I have just never been that interested in them - but my GF/SO/DP (or whatever we're supposed to be calling each other these days) has been seriously into them for years. So while you might well be a minority, you're definitely not alone.

Ah....thank you. I love a good rant!


Are the men not objectified and sexualized just as much in these things? I don't know about anybody else, but I don't run into many perfectly triangular torsoed, rippling six-packed and bulging-tricepped men over the course of my day.

Here's the thing, though: those broad chests and insanely bulging arms are meant to show you how powerful the male heroes are. The male figures are idealized, certainly, but they're really not presented as sexual objects. And that power is actually helpful in their heroing, whereas I don't think you could argue that Lady Vixen's chainmail thong and inflatable breasts would help her that much in the field of battle. I'm not saying make them nondescript or unattractive; just that there is a way to present them as attractive, strong women without posing them as pornstars.

I would agree with you that today's art has gotten much, much better in this respect. But there are still a ton of high-profile cases of blatant cheesecake that adds nothing to the story (Supergirl and All-Star Batman, to name a few).

Anyway, I recommend you poke around the site a bit more if you're curious, Roger, as they articulate all this far better than I do. Suffice to say they're not solely concerned with sexualized art.


Interesting rebuttal. To be fair, I was only addressing the issue of the sexualized artwork, not having read enough in depth to know the storylines themselves. (What? I haven't read the things? So what makes me feel qualified to comment?! Well, that has never stopped me before, so here goes nothin'...) So, that said, let's start there and work inward.

It's an interesting point you make about the muscularity of the men. I don't reach the same conclusion as you, though. I go back to my previous argument about exaggerations. As I see it, superheroes are supposed to represent the ideal, or idealized if you will, human forms. They're meant to represent the pinnacle of what society views as "maleness", i.e. bulging pectoral muscles, and "femaleness", i.e. lithe graceful figures and gravity-defying chests. Is this a problem with society's norms? Perhaps. Is it a male-centric view of the "ideal" body? Almost certainly. I don't necessarily see it as sexist, though perhaps misguided.

Now, if all of the women are portrayed as weak-willed, unable to stand on their own, and incomplete without their male counterparts, then I'm with you. That would certainly reflect a problem.

The problem I have with that site is that it suggests, however unintentionally, that the problem is endemic to, and characteristic of, the industry as a whole. I don't want to suggest that I believe there is no sexism in comics - far from it; I'm not that dense - but I do take issue with the idea that the whole industry is at fault. As a counter-example, take a look at (the late lamented) Crossgen comics, which featured several strong, independent female leads.

No, instead I see the problem as stemming from a few bad eggs in the industry - and they're the ones we should be attacking, rather than the industry as a whole. One of the linked blogs in particular takes aim squarely at Frank Miller and Greg Land (and interestingly, Joss Whedon). Now that's an approach I can wholeheartedly condone.

I will agree that the treatment of Stephanie Brown was particularly horrifying. Using her as the poster child for the overall effort just seems a bit misguided to me. It's calling too much attention to the worst of the negatives in the genre, and completely overshadows the ones who get it right. It would be better, in my opinion, to laud those who do a good job of portraying women heroes first, and present the bad examples second. (As ignoring the bad would of course do no good, either.)

I find it interesting that both you and several of the blog entries make comparisons between the portrayals of women in comics and porn. It's been my experience that the women in most porn (again, there are some bad apples) are portrayed in a far more flattering light than the men. Ron Jeremy anyone? To delve perhaps too deeply into my personal life, my girlfriend used to be deadset again porn, because she had bought into the common misconception that all porn was thoroughly misogynistic as well. After finally seeing for herself that that's not the case, she now enjoys the occasional film.

My point here being that, in comics as in porn, the occasional misogynistic entry surely exists, but perhaps we're painting the industry with too broad a brush and sweeping the good away with the bad. I'd focus on those who are creating the objectionable material, rather than on the medium, and be sure to reward those who produce good material. I'd also suggest more women should enter the industry (comics, not porn) and make their influence felt more directly.

Nate Savage

boo fucking hoo


Hey, Nate -- care to clarify that remark?

Or is this some oracular judgment, where we humans are left to ponder what your pronunciation actually meant?


There's one in every crowd...and the internet seems to be full of crowds.

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