I’m guessing that many of you clicked on this post from its title. Good, and thank you!
Yesterday I was out to dinner with my wife and a couple of friends, and the conversation, as is usually does, to the chagrin of my wife, turned to comics. But, this conversation was not the typical “which universe is better”…”what type of bone does Wolverine have now”…type of conversation. We happened to stumble into a comics’ conversation that dealt with the representation of women in comics.
The conversation started with a reference to the “boob cape.” The “boob cape” was the title given to a certain type of dress that the four of us had seen on a hero statue in a comic book store in Austin last summer. I don’t remember the exact statue, but it was an Emma Frost statue, and it looked something like this:
And the point was made that comics can’t ever be taken seriously if this is the way that women are constantly portrayed. I quickly came to the defense of comics stating that there are a bunch of amazing titles featuring awesome, fully-clothed, powerful women…and that the women at the table just didn’t read enough titles to know what I was talking about. Then the argument came up about how the poses of women heroes are ridiculous compared to their male counterparts, with artists forcing absurdly sexy positions onto women characters. Here are a couple of links to support that argument.
Even then I went on the defense, stupidly stating that “Well, women naturally stand differently than men.” I know, I was just aching to sound stupid, right? BUT, I’m sincere in saying that the majority of comics I read with women characters portray the women in ways that (I would assume…although I can’t speak completely on this since I’m not a woman) demean no one. I’m speaking of comics such as Ms. Marvel, Paper Girls, She-Hulk, Captain Marvel, Lumberjanes, etc. I guess I tend to stray away from the books that portray women negatively…I thought.
In the wake of the DC Comics’ Rebirth two weeks ago, I decided to pick up a couple of the new launch titles that came out this past Wednesday: Green Lantern and Batman. I have not opened the Batman yet, but the Green Lantern was good, until I got toward the end of the book and I saw this page:
In the shadows of yesterday’s defense, I was speechless. WTF, DC??? Why does Wonder Woman’s ass have to be hanging out in the middle of the page? I mean, anywhere on the page is unacceptable, but in the middle adds insult to injury and makes it hard for comic fighters to convince society that comics have turned that corner. But wait it gets worse. Check out the last page of the comic:
This image, heavy handed in its innuendo, makes me and my argument look like a bigger idiot! Today, I brought this issue to the two women I argued with last night and apologized, seriously. I was wrong; we have a long way to go.
I guess I just don’t get it on a few levels. DC, if you are trying to build readership, why? Why with the Wonder Woman ass? Why with the cat between the spread-eagle legs? Why not be better? Is THIS how DC wants to portray its women characters? I mean the woman Green Lantern in the issue is cool…fully-clothed and all, but the last few pages ruin it for me. Does DC know what their artists are doing? Do they care?
And I’m sorry to pick on DC like this. I’m guessing with some very slight digging, I can find culprits at Marvel, Image, etc. This just hit me as I was doing my duty as a student of comics, trying to get into something new. Once again, if you’ve read this far…not picking on DC. I’m just using them as an example.
I know that I’m not a saint, but I do know that we need to do better with the construction of our media. I don’t have kids. However, I know that if I did, I would not give them this issue of Green Lantern or any future issue for that mater. And you can be damn sure that I’m going to use this issue as a seed for debate in my AP Language class next year, and I know my kids, and I know they will not be happy with the portrayal of Wonder Woman or the ridiculousness of that last page.
Whether this is a representation issue, a gender issue, a feminist issue, whatever…we need to agree that this is not the way to empower readers of these mass books targeted at a young audience. Argue against me here, but the rating is “TEEN.” And I know that there’s an obvious argument about the appropriateness of PG-13 rated films, and the film Airplane (rated PG) had boobs scurry across the screen, and yes, your argument and voice are valid; I’m just saying that books like this are making it damn hard for me to justify to people that the comics’ medium portrays women characters with the integrity and equality they deserve.
I’ll close with this: vote with your dollar. Let companies know that you will buy books based in a world filled with characters that empower you, and turn away from books that don’t. Believe me, there are plenty of amazing books out there that do not have ass hanging out in the middle of a page. THIS is why many comics still get a bad reputation. THIS is why some parents still fight comics out of classrooms. THIS is why Marvel can get away with having only one major woman role in their films.
If some of this was scattered, sorry, not sorry. It’s a dense, tough issue that I can only begin to scratch the surface of.
Thanks for reading. I hope something here resonates with you in a positive way.