“It’s ok to objectify guys, they’re guys, they don’t care.”
“Guys can’t get raped, they never don’t want sex.”
“Men should be the ones to do the asking.”
“Men should always pay on a date.”
“It’s okay for me to be sexually attracted to watching two gay men have sex, but not for men to be attracted to lesbians.”
“It’s impossible for men to be victims of domestic violence, they’re bigger and stronger than women!”
“Sexual predators are always men.”
So there’s been a lot of debate about whether women are objectified and overtly sexualized in comics.
The answer is yes. The answer is also DUH.
This isn’t to say or call everyone who works in the comic industry sexist or misogynistic, I am saying however their is a clear disparity between the way men and women are drawn in comics that is very sexist. This isn’t meant to be an attack on the industry, it’s meant to showcase the undertones of sexism in this form of media and to educate others who think there’s no problem with the broken zipper epidemic. The important thing is to not get defensive, but to sit down and listen and then discuss the subject so everyone can better understand it and work to address it. Being sexist or misogynistic doesn’t mean you’re a raging bigot who believes women should stay in the kitchen, but there is such a thing as internalized sexism that most aren’t even aware they suffer from. Comics, in my opinion, is one such victim of internalized sexism (well for most artists/writers some are just outright misogynistic *coughmillercough*).Sure you’ll be hard pressed to find a man in the real world who looks like Dick Grayson or Logan/Wolverine
One of the main counter arguments I see a lot in this debate is that men are objectified too. Only they’re, ya know, not.
Okay so Dick Grayson has a hot ass, and we all know it. But for every Dick Grayson there’s about ten female characters suffering from broken zipper syndrome.
I’m not really sure what’s going on with these zippers but they are broken, maybe zippers don’t work on female characters in comics. Maybe living in a world with superheros has busted all their zippers till the end of time. Maybe it’s just the industry continuing to perpetrate the age old sexist standard.
Women are objects first, people second.
Men in comics aren’t presented this way. They aren’t being objectified, they are being idealized. There’s a difference. No dude actually looks like Scott Summers, Captain American, Batman, or Hal Jorden. This is true. It’s also true that their costumes are painted on for full six pack abage. I’ve got no problem with looking at Tim Drake’s abs or Billy ‘I got it from my Mama’ Kalpan’s great bod, just like I don’t have an issue looking at Starfire’s luscious orange skin or Wonder Woman’s wondrous arms.
What I do have a problem with is that Green Lantern can look like this
While Star Sapphire looks like this
But wait, you say, Star Sapphires are the Corps of ~love~ and blahblahblah because that’s another argument some straight guys use when confronted with the notion that comics have sexist undertones and that women are overly sexualized. They use the “well there are ~REASONS~ for her to be dressed/posed that way!”
Ok, well here’s a panel of a male Star Sapphire
Shall we see that again?
See how I outlined them in colors for everyone’s convenience?
Lets take these next two pictures into account
Both panels/covers are a group shot. Men have their abs and bulging muscles, women have their twisted spines, and gravity defying bosoms. In the first picture you have two female characters, one in a revealing costume while all the men are pretty much covered from head to toe, and the other posing in a contorted fashion to show off her breasts and butt at the same time. While the dudes can just stand there looking strong and imposing.
Now in the second picture you have two guys with different body types but the same muscles. You’re probably tempted to go ‘hey the guy in the bottom right has no shirt objectification!’ Only, uh no. He’s not posed in a sexual manner like his female counterparts. The middle one who’s boobs kinda worry me as they look like they might fall off and the pretty blue haired girl next to her who seems to be suffering a spinal injury. But hey that one dude has no shirt so it’s totally equal objectification right?
Look I don’t have a problem with sexy characters and while I believe artists should have some basic idea of how real life anatomy works, I also understand that comic!people just aren’t going to be built that way. I’m cool with that. I’m cool with sexy characters of both the male and female variety. Such as pre-nU!Starfire, Emma Frost, Namor, and Dick Grayson for example.
My issue is that there only seems to be one default body type for a majority of female characters in comics
Male characters don’t suffer this.
Superman looks like this
Spider-Man like this
My issue isn’t that female characters are sexy, I would love more sex positive female characters in mainstream media period. My issue is that ladies are being objectified for the straight male gaze posing women as objects first, people second. Comics are a major visual form of media, the first thing you see when you buy a comic is the cover. If I see these two covers side by side on the shelves in my local comic shop what does that show me?
I can’t even tell if she’s wearing a thong can you? I just see like a little leaf or somethin
Again the issue isn’t that women can’t/shouldn’t be sexy, they most certainly can and I’ll be making another post about sexualized vs sexual soon enough to further explain that. No, the issue is that female characters are posing in thoroughly sexual poses to fully show off their thighs, butts, and bosoms as much as non-humanly possible in one panel. With costumes that make little to no sense and exist for no other reason then to show off how ~sexy~ women are for the straight male gaze
wtf how does that not pinch in areas that would really hurt!? And how does that protect anything on your body? I’d like to sue the person who came up with this armor for damages
Finally for every person who wants to use the previously stated arguement that ‘there are ~reasons~ for why she’s dressed that way!’ Where is Superman’s boob window? Or better yet, him and Starfire both get their powers from out sun (Superman moreso then Starfire) where is my Super!Thong? Superman is THE alien of comics. WHERE’S MY SUPER THONG SUPERMAN!? WHERE’S YOUR BIKINI ARMOR SO YOU CAN ABSORB MORE SUN THROUGH YOUR SKIN!?
There are more. I don’t feel like going through. I also hate how people decide to completely ignore the sensible female costumes. “Because those never exist.”
Two way road. Different strokes. Artists appealing to what they think people like.
Look at Hercules.
You look me in the eyes and say you wouldn’t tap that.
because you cant
no one can in this world
See when I look at Hercules I don’t see objectification because he’s not bending in a way to show off his ass or his pecs. He’s just standing there looking nonchalant doing him. Just because he’s shirtless doesn’t mean he’s being sexualized for the straight female gaze like most of the pictures of female characters I showed were. With their broken backs and lost zippers.
Take this panel for example
I have absolutely no problem with this panel at all. And Starfire is fully naked. But she’s not being objectified. Is she sexy? Hell yes. Damn I could look at this chick all day. But she’s not being sexualized for the straight male gaze and reduced to nothing more then body parts here. She’s showcasing thought, agency, and personality. We read her thoughts on page, we see her joy and feel her relaxation. We see her as a person first. A person with a super hot body, but a person nonetheless.
Sensible female costumes do exist, there just outnumbered by costumes that don’t make any sense for the character at hand. It’s also in the way they are drawn. As I pointed out with the Hercules panel he’s not bent or twisted to showcase his body. He’s just standing there with his shirt off. It’s not big deal and it’s not meant to make him look overtly ~sexy~ He’s an idealized version of a man, as are pretty much all male characters in comics. Comics are full of overly pretty people, but male characters are able to have some variety with their body types. Female characters not too much.
Yes there is the exception, yes it’s not ALL female characters, but it is quite a bit and there is a very long history of it.
If all artist were really trying to appeal to what PEOPLE liked then we’d see less women being overly sexualized and bent in strange shapes (like the new Catwoman cover) just so we get boobs and butt in the same panel. Because that’s what a lot of people I know would like to see.