(I have Monday’s strip already planned out, for posterity.)
I am oddly enough aroused. Is Bats wearing lipstick?
That art makes EVERYONE feel uncomfortable =|
And this was drawn by a man. Female attraction 101: confidence and mystery. Regular Batman has both, ergo attractive. But then he doesn’t represent the “muscled hulks” Amber is talking about – that’s more He-Man, if you ask me.
Also, who says super boobs and hourglass figure isn’t a power fantasy for women? Many women who get too much attention for their looks enjoy the attention so much they’ll actually keep guys around to drool over them but never date them. That’s power.
Wow. Just wow.
“Many women who get too much attention for their looks enjoy the attention so much they’ll actually keep guys around to drool over them but never date them. That’s power.”
I see you’re basing this from your field research with actual women. As such, I have some questions.
Please clarify “too much attention” – at which point a woman is considered to have been given the adequate quantity of attention – and “many women” (I should be interested to see your sampling methods) and finally your definition of “power” – I think it differs from mine somewhat, but as I’m a girl you probably shouldn’t give me the attention. Might get uppity.
OK, my guess is both of you read way more into that than I intended. So let me break it down a little more. Clearly the judgment I have leveled at “many women” (note I used a quantitatively ambiguous word, not something like “most”) does not fit you two, probably also not most of your friends. That’s fine, people tend to associate with people like themselves. I’d bet money you two are decent sorts. I’d also bet money the number of women who use their physical attractiveness as a power trip is about the same as the number of men who see hyper-musculature as a power fantasy. Marginal, yet many (probably numbers somewhere in the hundred thousands or something? I haven’t got thousands of women to go on here, but I bet you haven’t sampled thousands of guys’ perspectives either.
“Too much attention” was defined in my post as that amount of attention which can influence a woman (not necessarily any woman) to become drunk on the power over men it brings. It is not some arbitrary number, nor should it be. “Too much” is exactly that quantity which is excessive, to quote Fry and Laurie. I would equate this with the out-of-control male ego which turns men into thugs.
When this happens, women (not you or those you associate with, necessarily) may use their attractiveness as a way to get things from men. Soliciting drinks at a bar, simple stuff usually, though occasionally someone might string a guy along in a false relationship as a small-time “gold digger.”
I’d rather take a look at something else right now, though. I didn’t aim my comment at all women, you specifically, or even “most” women. “Many” can mean a lot of things – and as you rightly judged, I was speaking from personal experience, not a nationwide survey. So let’s drop the “us/them,” I wasn’t attacking you. You could make a jab at “many men” and I wouldn’t feel threatened. But when I made a jab at “many women,” trying to counterbalance the commentary the comic makes about some men, all of a sudden I’m the bad guy.
Many women (there, I used “many” again) have a lot of negative ideas about men. The reverse is true, of course, but I personally don’t have any glaring negative ideas about women. I’ve known some true princesses in my time, women who are a credit to their gender. Frankly, men are colored by the bad apples just like women often are – the couch potatoes, the philanderers, the thugs. Then there are men like me, who have a high sense of honor, respect, self-worth, and appreciation for beauty that isn’t skin deep. I look at sexually objectified women in comic books and I want to vomit right with you.
Does that make more sense?
An addendum, in case I’ve been misunderstood on a point: as I wasn’t intending to attack any woman in particular, it seems to me that you’re rushing to the defense of women you have no experience with. If you were to say, “many men are only about sex,” then I’d have to agree with you, many men are. Doesn’t say anything about me or mine. We don’t have to rally to the defense of our gender at all.
YOU don’t have to rally to the defense of your gender. Forgive us if women feel the need to do so–society is just a wee bit skewed in your favor.
You were talking about “boobs and an hourglass” being a potential power fantasy for women. Since we’re talking about the oversexualized portrayal of women in the average superhero comic, let’s examine why that just doesn’t work.
The word we’re looking for here is “empowering.” A female character is empowering when she’s written as a real person, a fully-rounded character who is defined first by her personality and motivations, not her gender, and not her cup-size. She can be sexy–the Palmiotti/Conner Power Girl was hella empowering, and part of that was her sex appeal, because she, as Tim Gunn himself said, owned it. It wasn’t the first thing that popped off the page–as sexy as Conner drew her, there was never a pose that was pointlessly sexual. There was never a feeling of pandering.
And that…well, that is rare. Really freaking rare.
There are a handful of artists out there who draw women as characters and not as “that sexy thing in the tight costume.” There are essays all over the internet on the difference between sexy and sexual, but it more or less boils down to this:
Starfire and Catwoman and all the other sexdoll, focus-on-the-T&A-before-anything-else portrayals of characters that have been drawing so much flak aren’t drawn as powerful. They don’t come off as owning it. They come off as being forced into poses and roles for the sake of appeasing male viewers, which is probably almost as insulting to the men who read comics as the women: “You will read this if we put Starfire in a see-through bikini and have her contort herself while splashing around in the ocean, yes? Excellent.”
There’s no power behind those roles. There’s a semblance of power, something that comes across as the STRONG FEMALE CHARACTERS from Hark a Vagrant. Mostly, though, for a lot of women, for those of us who complained about it, it feels a little like standing next to a mouth-breathing jerk with no social skills who makes wildly inappropriate sexual comments about the women who pass. I’m not saying that’s what it is, but that’s the sort of feeling you get from reading this–that you can be seen primarily as an object.
There are some women who are okay with that, and I won’t slut-shame them or toss around terms like “gold digger.” You could say “many” because “many” is a relative term. Like “many white people are massively racist.” It’s true, but it’s misleading and wrongheaded. Be that as it may, the hue and cry of the past several months should be enough to show that there are also many women who are just so tired of what Willis so accurately calls “the background radiation of our lives”–the constant image of women as sexual objects first, people second. It’s often small, insidiously so, but so very prevalent in everyday life, so completely accepted as The Way Things Are, that it’s…well, it’s exhausting. It’s disheartening.
Anyway. My point is, calling the over-sexed portrayals of female characters a “power fantasy” is just plain wrong because the only power being exhibited by them is the power of the male creators to pander to the male audience.
I find it disturbing that you add “Now that’s power” at the end.
Boobs aren’t power. Not really. There’s a phrase I’ve heard a few times: “When a man goes out, the worst he fears is rejection. When a woman goes out, the worst she fears is rape.” Men like boobs, sure. But they don’t give us power. We’re taught pretty early on that boobs do not protect us from men who want to hurt us. Heck, in a culture that demands women be sexy while simultaneously slut-shaming the ones who are, we’re also taught that if you flaunt it, you run the risk of “bringing it on yourself.”
The power to “control men through our sexual wiles” isn’t really power, because only exists if men give it to us, and it still relies first on the men being pleased.
You were talking about “boobs and an hourglass” being a potential power fantasy for women.
Look again – I was talking about it being a power trip for women who already have such, and get “too much attention” for it. Women who don’t have the physical going for them wouldn’t get too much attention, would they? So your next four paragraphs don’t even address my post except by association to the comic.
I was using the word “power” to mean control over others, which you’d expect considering I was already talking about women who used their figure to get things. I never went near your definition of the word, so I’m not sure why you’re disturbed. Your definition of “power” I would call “personal strength” – partly because for me, as for many people, “power” can have some strong negative connotations.
So you did understand what I meant by “power” after all! Why did you spend so long explaining your definition if you knew it wasn’t the one I was using?
Also, the men aren’t really “giving” it to controlling women, which makes it sound like the men are in control of themselves. Therein lies the paradox – men who aren’t in control of themselves will fall all over physically attractive women, and this tells the women they aren’t in control of themselves, which makes the women run for the hills (or stick around and use these men somehow, if they’re drunk on this kind of power). It isn’t a question of giving women control at all – because they never had it in the first place. Now take a man who is in control of himself, and he’ll sniff out a woman on a power-trip a mile away.
Look again – I was talking about it being a power trip for women who already have such, and get “too much attention” for it. Women who don’t have the physical going for them wouldn’t get too much attention, would they? So your next four paragraphs don’t even address my post except by association to the comic.
Or, to put it another way, your post doesn’t address the point made in the comic.
johann, i think the issue here is that you assume you get to be an authority on the struggles women face. unfortunately, males (white males in particular) in our society are given the benefit of knowing their opinion matters. Nobody might have ever told you, but when it comes to women’s issues, men have second-class opinions. There is no way you could understand the subtleties of what a woman’s world consists of (unless you are a man that was raised as female – yes it exists, people call them “trans”) and therefore your opinion is by nature unfounded in real experience.
Your job, as a male interested in the world of power dynamics women live with every day, is to listen. I know it is hard to shut up and listen; I’m white. There is a lot of privilege associated with the color of my skin and, despite being “female,” I know what it is like to be listened to when I speak out. It takes some humility to recognize one’s own privilege and check it in the appropriate situations, but it is the only way to really show respect for the non-dominant class of people in the power dynamics of our society.
P.S. don’t expect a medal for being respectful – it is not a position that will bring you accolades. It should be taken for granted.
Also, the men aren’t really “giving” it to controlling women, which makes it sound like the men are in control of themselves.
Ah, so your issue is not so much that you think poorly of some women, but that you think poorly of some men!
No, look: people are people. They are strong, they are wonderful. People are in control of themselves. There is this myth that some people are so (what – horny? weak? biologically driven?) that they completely lose it around someone they find attractive. They lose control so completely, the tale goes, that they just cannot help themselves.
THIS TYPE OF PERSON DOES NOT EXIST. No one is so weak-willed that a wink and a nice derriere will cause them to do things entirely outside their own character. And on the other side, no one is so attractive they can bend others to their will simply by swishing their hips and wishing it so. Sure, people sometimes get really flustered and awkward, they “lose it” in the sense that they lose their cool around someone they’ve got the hots for. And many times people will do things for someone they’re physically/romantically interested in – but not just anything this person requests of them.
We hold up this myth because it’s a nice way to excuse the ugly parts of humanity. Bill would never force someone to have sex if they weren’t dressed so provocatively – he lost control! My mother never would have cut me out of her will she weren’t under the spell of her sexy new husband! I’d never cheat on my wife if I were in control of myself… I’m still a good person, they’re still good people. We want to tell ourselves these ugly things aren’t the “true” self – that the people we know and love are good and pure, through and through. And it’s just false.
And by holding ourselves up on this pedestal, blaming others’ beauty for our own bad choices, we’re not just hurting those people we find attractive. We hurt ourselves by not being willing to see, and try to fix, these flaws. We hurt our loved ones by protecting them from the evils they do. We hurt society by painting everything so black-and-white, good-and-bad. It would be so much better if we could just admit – Bill is a good guy most of the time, but he also is a rapist and that’s not cool, and he’s got to be told that. Mom may be great, but she did abandon her children to go run off with her hot new younger man. *I* was the one who chose to break my marriage vows, and no matter how wholesome I am in other regards, this is not the fault of that other woman I slept with; that I cheated means that I am the sort of person who would break marriage vows. That you embezzled to pay for your son’s last semester of college means that you are the sort of person who would embezzle. That doesn’t negate the good you’re doing by helping your kid out! But even if you embezzled to cure AIDS, you are still the sort of person who would embezzle if the stakes were right. And that’s hard for people to deal with, but by ignoring it, blaming it on other things, other people… we’re just making it more likely we’ll do these same bad things again.
Interesting, you can’t reply to a replay. Anyway…
“There is no way you could understand the subtleties of what a woman’s world consists of and therefore your opinion is by nature unfounded in real experience.”
I’ve always been bugged by this argument. Your second half makes is true, I won’t argue that, but I think you do yourself and other intelligent and articulate women a disservice (not to mention the one you do to men) to suggest there can be “no understanding.” It won’t be a first hand experience, but I don’t think that means there can’t be a meaningful understanding. When you say, “Your job, as a male … is to listen,” this implies there will be some sort of comprehension (I had trouble reading Johann’s replies — I just had this gut feeling there would be none evident), and if the default stance of the woman being listened to is “men won’t ever understand” it’s hard to know why we *ought* to listen. This is no excuse, but I think attitude is important for how you present your arguments. For instance, your arguments are much better than Johann’s (to me, anyway) because I feel they’re more respectful.
Urgh, this really needs a “review post” feature. My final comment about respect could be misconstrued, I suppose since it might appear I’m arguing “women must respect men to take part in conversation.” God I hope that’s not what I’m saying, because it’s not true — at least, not beyond the degree to which any two people, regardless of gender, must respect each other to have a decent conversation, which I suppose was my real point — jerks are jerks, regardless of gender; don’t be one.
My point was that a male raised as a male in the society we live in, despite as hard as one might try, said male will never get the FULL impact of what the world is like growing up and living as a woman. I did not mean to insult – as a woman I will never know the full impact of being a male raised as a male in our society. My specific words were that one could not know or fully understand the subtleties. I have many male friends that are as understanding as one could be (and, frankly, more sensitive about the issues than I happen to be)_but they still have never experienced it themselves. That’s my point there.
When you say, “Your job, as a male … is to listen,” this implies there will be some sort of comprehension [...], and if the default stance of the woman being listened to is “men won’t ever understand” it’s hard to know why we *ought* to listen. This is no excuse, but I think attitude is important for how you present your arguments.
My job as a white person, in discussions of inequality of ‘race’ and what people think about how people of color are treated in society, is to respectfully listen. One thing people of color don’t need is another privileged white person telling them how to think, act, feel, etc. In the society many of us live in, white people have the arrogance and authority to step up and say what is on their mind in any situation and be listened to.
This is a discussion of the “background radiation” women live their lives with. Rather than listen to what women have to say on the matter, this person has been arguing over it. Theoretical understanding does not trump actual experience. If Johann has an opinion, great! But nobody really needs to hear it – it is unfounded by actual experience and thereby disrespectful to a person that is saying “this happens to me.” And it is rather disrespectful for the person arguing from theory to totally disregard everything in this woman’s life as equal to (or less than) his theories (and, really, to be perfectly specific, theories have evidence backing them up – these ‘arguments’ are hypotheses). Johann strikes me as a person that has not been approached with this line of thought and so, yes, I boiled it down to something quick and pointed.
jerks are jerks, regardless of gender; don’t be one.
I honestly believe, looking back at the words I used, I was not being a “jerk.” Perhaps I could have reworded things to avoid miscommunication, but …well, this isn’t exactly a Thesis now is it?
I am SO looking forward to Lauren Faust’s Super BFFs. What you described is exactly what I want to see.
Lauren is doing a new show?? *keeps eyes peeled*
Laura, I’ve had fun talking with you, and I want to offer up a point upon which we can relate – the aforementioned “background radiation.” Women get this about being objectified, I understand that as much as any man can. Men face a similar source of “radiation” with regard to the opinions women hold about us, so you’ll pardon if I sometimes feel like I need to defend myself as a member of my gender. Insecurity I need to stamp out, I suppose.
Women tend to be vocal about how men are some kind of primal, disgusting, almost Neanderthal hulk who has sex on the brain constantly and can’t be expected to act intelligently or honorably. Enter the icon of the sitcom dad. So when we interact with women, we get this sense we’re not being taken seriously, or that women feel women are cleaner, smarter, harder workers, all around better. I’ve done everything I can think of to avoid letting it bother me, but “background radiation” seems to get in all the cracks.
In my own way, I can understand what you deal with.
I suspect you’re playing the Devil’s Advocate game, but I’ll humor you.
Can you name three cases where women’s demeaning opinions of men tangibly held you back, rather than you choosing to feel slighted? Because the kinds of stereotypes to which you’re trying to equate yourself have been wielded against women systematically over the years to disenfranchise them. With the possible exception of custody hearings, I can’t think of ways male stereotypes have been used by women to strip actual power from men. I’m a man, and when I see the kind of arguments you’re making, they’re invariably from comfortably privileged men aggressively (and frequently obliviously) defending their own entitlements.
I want to fight crime with you. You’ve basically said everything I wanted to, much better than I could have.
thanks for saying something. looks like a lot of people ignored the first panel about google…
‘We may define false equivalence as when when someone falsely equates an act or idea of one as being equally egregious to that of another without also considering the underlying differences which may make the comparison invalid or unfair.’
That was one of the most empowering, accurate comments I have ever seen. As a writer and gamer, I doubt I could explain my own feelings on this topic better.
I hope you don’t mind that I am sharing your words and linking to this page.
Bravo and thank you for inspiring me to keep fighting these negative misunderstandings about our gender.
Laura, I wish I could put in a gif of me slow clapping your comments right now. You nailed it right on the head.
Dude, quit while you’re ahead. You’re just digging yourself into a deeper and more offensive hole, here.
Let me speak for a second as a woman who does get “too much attention” for some of my physical aspects. It has never given me a sense of power. It has made me feel like shite, and it’s made me fear for my safety. Now, I know you didn’t mean to offend. And I’m sure there are women in the world who do manipulate men the way you’re talking about. But unless you’re one of them, please, please don’t presume to speak for them. For people like me, it feels like you’re justifying that objectification.
I think both sides here are taking things said in the worst way.
He said this:
“I’d also bet money the number of women who use their physical attractiveness as a power trip is about the same as the number of men who see hyper-musculature as a power fantasy. Marginal, yet many”
He isnt saying people that are attractive use it as a power trip, he is saying its a marginal number for both sex’s.
He isnt remotely saying that comics portral of women is correct because of this minority, but he is saying that men also dont (in general) get “power trip” from looking all muscled ect.
Id be interested to see a poll if this is true, but I suspect it is.
As I man, I certainly dont remotely imagined being highly muscled in any way as something I want. If anything, the “James Bond” style male fantasy makes more sense. Being “cool”, being able to outthink dangerious situations with a gadget and a chessy line? sure! Hulking out and smashing things? not so much.
Wanting to be ultra muscled as a male fantasy I think is mostly fictional.
I don’t think it’s a fiction. I think it’s a younger thing. And the fantasy isn’t so much about what one is (that is, a huge hulk) as it is about what one can do (throw a bus, etc). This to me explains the popularity of the Japanese hero ideal, where smaller, cuter characters have ridiculous physical power. Sakura from Naruto, or Cloud from FFVII are examples of this ideal.
Actually, if we’re going psychology I think the hulking strong-man character is more a sort of “jock envy” seeping through the cracks of repressed nerd culture back then, which has now become an archetype. But that’s a whole ‘nother discussion, and not related to the comic.
YES. This. I’ve had a few weight fluctuations in the last few years, and the only difference I noticed when I was at my socially-acknowledged “best” was that more men seemed to think it was their right to, say, come up behind me in a club and grind their junk on my ass. I did NOT feel empowered; I felt like an asshole-magnet.
When the people around you can’t stop pointing out every aspect of your body they find alluring, and what they would do with it, it’s not empowering. It makes you feel like what you have to say is much less important than how much people want to look at you.
Translation: “I spent a lot of money on physically attractive women (and I deserve a hottie, ’cause I’m all respectable and stuff), but they never gave me what I wanted in return. Since I’m totally honorable and shit, they obviously just like to take advantage of the good guys. That’s a women problem, not a me problem (duh, respectable and honorable). It’s only many of them, though.”
Considering that physical attractiveness is one of the few bargaining chips a woman in this society can use to effectively navigate social situations with privileged men, it’s really really really understandable that women do use their physical attractiveness to get what they want. It’s not being drunk on power, it’s a fucking survival mechanism.
I do this to douche-y misogynists who misgender me constantly, and refuse to acknowledge the fact that there’s more to me as a human being beyond having boobs and a face they find attractive. When I don’t date/sleep with/otherwise fail to instantly kowtow to their desires, it’s their own damned fault for failing to see me as a three dimensional person instead of a hole they want to stick their dick in.
Guys who whine about getting “friend zoned” and what not, are shallow, whiny, and narcissistic and certainly don’t deserve friends, let alone lovers.
Female attraction 101: confidence and mystery.
Female attraction 100: Female attraction is not reducible to two words.
Female attraction 100.5: If it were, it probably wouldn’t be two words that track quite so closely with male self-idealization fantasies.
Should I write a novel about what I really meant for you too? Surely you must not think I meant confidence and mystery sum up female attraction, or you wouldn’t have used numbers before 101 – exposing the fact that I could very well have used numbers AFTER 101.
I went into this in more detail well down the page, but I’ll give you the Spark Notes version: confidence and mystery are both manifestations of certain kinds of strength, and strength (in all its myriad forms) is what women look for in a man, consciously or not. Likewise, beauty (physical, personality, etc.) is what men look for in women.
It does not cheapen women or make them less individual that there is a common thread, so don’t play the “we’re more complex than that” card with me – I wasn’t attacking that point at all.
strength (in all its myriad forms) is what women look for in a man
Female Attraction 099: women look for lots of different things in men
Female Attraction 098: the things women look for in men actually vary from woman to woman, because – get this – different women want different things
Female Attraction 097: theories of female attraction that can be disproved solely by the existence of Justin Bieber aren’t very useful ones
Oh shortpacked comments thread, you never fail to deliver
Female Attraction 099: women look for lots of different things in men
Okay, list some for me. This should be a fun exercise.
Female Attraction 097: theories of female attraction that can be disproved solely by the existence of Justin Bieber aren’t very useful ones
Very clever – except the things young women (such as my cousin) find alluring about Justin are his ability to dance and sing well and confidently (a kind of strength, out there on the dance floor), his control over his physical appearance and hygiene (oh look, another kind of strength!), his confident, almost aggressive moves toward the women in his videos (men who have a weak personality cannot bring themselves to do this).
The word “strength” doesn’t water down female attraction, it creates a structure. What you call “different interests” are just different manifestations of that common root. I’ve been listening closely to what women say about men they like for many years, and unless their comments have been overtly sexual, strength is the one common thread I have found. I am taking this straight from the mouths of women – many have told me this in as many words.
I bet myself a dollar that you would support that view that women are attracted to ‘strength’ by redefining ‘strength’ to mean basically anything.
Including, apparently, hygiene
Oh man, just fantastic
find alluring about Justin are his ability to dance and sing well
hahahahahaha oh man, 97.5: You really especially shouldn’t be basing any theories of female attraction on the premise that Justin Bieber can sing well
Um, not hygiene itself. Part of personal strength is ability to control yourself – hygiene is one aspect of controlling yourself. So when a woman sees a man with good hygiene, part of her might respond sexually if he’s attractive that way and the barrier of poor hygiene has been removed, but she will also probably respond subconsciously with, “this man is able to control his habits to the point he actually brushes his teeth and puts on clean shirts every day.”
So no, I did not mean hygiene is [i]itself[/i] strength. But it can be indicative of a certain kind of underlying strength. I glossed over all this because I assumed you’d make the connection, my bad.
A “rebel” look can also be alluring to a woman, and that can involve poor hygiene in some ways, but based on context, the woman would be subconsciously interpreting this with, “he knows what he’s after and the world doesn’t fit that image.” Control of oneself, a kind of strength. The “rebel” and purely good hygiene are two excellent examples of differing tastes which both have their root in the same idea, the same [i]fundamental[/i] attractor.
Counterexample: the slob who is neither purposefully a rebel nor hygienic. Based on context, a woman would see him and apart from being repulsed by his odor and appearance, might also think to herself, “can’t he even dress himself properly?” (“Isn’t he even strong enough to control this basic part of himself?”) Context informs upon hygiene to allow a woman to make a conclusion about a man’s relative inner strength.
But at this point you’re railroading me into the idea that I’m trying to pigeonhole women as all the same, and by saying “you’ll take the definition of strength anywhere you like,” you’re poisoning my well (read up on that fallacy, if you like). The above illustration of “rebel vs. cleancut) should serve to show that the idea that strength is at the root of female attraction does not diminish said attraction’s variety of sources.
Oh man of course women like hygiene because of strength
and not because like
They like men who are clean and don’t smell like funky butt
In much the same way that women like teenage pop stars for their ‘strength’
and not cause like
they are way super cute hotties to the max
IT’S ALL SO CLEAR TO ME NOW
hahahahahaha oh man, 97.5: You really especially shouldn’t be basing any theories of female attraction on the premise that Justin Bieber can sing well
Um, to my cousin, he can. Context, remember? Read my whole post, not the words you want to pick on.
IT’S ALL SO CLEAR TO ME NOW
Now we’re talking about sexual attraction in pubescent girls, an age when hormones are overpowering. I have been talking about romantic attraction, or limerence.
Hygiene is indicative of underlying strength? LOLwut? Are you trying to make the word “strength” completely meaningless?
Because when I think of a strong person, I don’t think of a person can manage a shower every couple days and manages to wash a load of clothes once in awhile. That’s the baseline. It’s literally the least you can do if you want to be socially accepted by most people. You call that strength?
You may as well say that women like a man who’s capable of walking 20 yards without suffering a heart attack because by golly that shows how strong he is. Women like a strong man who remembers to shove some food down his gullet when he’s hungry. Women like a strong man who uses the toilet rather than shitting himself. Women like a strong man who remembers that pants go on the bottom and shirts on the top.
“Women like a strong man who uses the toilet rather than shitting himself.”
I laughed so hard at this that I peed a little. That is certainly a quality I look for in a man!
Dude, just stop digging.
But he keeps turning up all these nuggets of solid gold!
If I keep being misunderstood, of course I will. Misunderstanding is the enemy of communication.
This is actually getting to the point of being hilarious to me.
She’s devolved from inferring an insult where there was none, all the way down to giggling over half-sentences and stopping her reading just so she can post! I’m still posting at this point because I’m cracking up just watching her fly all over the place. Women are funny when you get them past insulted into slap-happy.
This whole exchange made me cringe.
“Misunderstanding is the enemy of communication.”
I think overcoming misunderstanding is the art of communication.
But then where would he go to feign erudition, wisdom, and superiority over all the silly women who need to “read up” on simple concepts?
JONATHAN! Are you on the internet AGAIN?!? Who let you out of your room!?
I swear, I can’t look away for one minute.
I’m sorry, everyone, he thinks he knows everything and likes to stir up arguments.
Come, Howie. *pulls johann away by his ear*
- Female Attraction 099: women look for lots of different things in men
- Okay, list some for me. This should be a fun exercise.
If you need her to list them for you, you aren’t 1% as knowledgeable as you claim. Which you prove again & again with every ill-informed retort, & that you’re male.
strength (in all its myriad forms) is what women look for in a man, consciously or not
What a load of horse manure. Please don’t presume to tell women what we think. The fact that you feel comfortable telling what we like (‘consciously or not’) speaks VOLUMES about you.
FYI, what attracted me to my husband was not ‘strength’. In fact, in my family, it’s the women who are strong. I was attracted to his compassion, his gentle nature, and his nerdiness (intelligence was also a key factor.)
In images of men, what I find attractive tends toward the slender build, guyliner, and vulnerable air. Overmuscled, no-necked ‘heroes’ (He-Man, I’m looking at you) are just as unattractive as patronizing jerks who condescendingly explain what we silly women think and want.
Female Attraction from My Perspective 101: Good hygeine and competence.
Confidence without ability means nothing. Mystery? Sure, it can be fun while reading. But in reality, what will make me find you attractive is being clean and nice-smelling, and being competent. As in, you can actually do what you say you can do, and you do it, quietly and with a minimum of fuss. I suppose another term might be “reliability”, but someone can reliably be a dick, too.
Be the guy I can depend on, the guy I can rely on to take care of things and to get things done/fixed/whatever, and smell nice, and I will be all over you.
I realized that with the first “Transporter” movie. Sure, Jason Stratham is pretty damned hot. But know what really attracted me to his character there? His sheer competence. At everything.
But that’s just my two cents.
“Be the guy I can depend on, the guy I can rely on to take care of things and to get things done/fixed/whatever, and smell nice, and I will be all over you.”
How about if I just stay here, taking care of my things, getting my stuff done/fixed/whatever, and smelling nice the whole time…. and you stay over there, hiring mechanics, painters, plumbers, whoever you need to hire to do the things you’re looking to obtain for free from your potential boyfriends. Or visit the library and find some how-to books…
I’m tired of being objectified and exploited, by the women I’ve met, for my capability and mechanical skill. Ability is power. Independence is power. I have both in abundance, and I’m keeping mine.
This whole exchange is both hilarious and tiring. Anyway, I’m surprised that anyone let this comment stand. Where is the outrage?!?
That Guest’s comment actually seems to be thought out and composed, not to mention that he encourages a kind of equality through the acquisition of ability and independence. His basic message is, “Don’t use me like some crutch, find your own strength.” and that is fairly inspiring, or even attractive
Having met and known many power-fantasy women, I’ll have to disagree with the hourglass and boobs thing. They’re more of the bodybuilder muscular body, with that almost flat chest and powerful waist that men would crave for themselves.
Sex appeal and power fantasy are two different things. The equivalent for inherent sex appeal in men would be elves, really. Zero waist, medium shoulders, basically what Amber is drawing, but whether the lips should be puffy is a matter of opinion.
So I see you’re totally ignoring the reality of how popular comics that do feature feminized males are with women? Google manga, you’re going to find some interesting results. Hell, google yaoi, let’s go all the way.
We’re talking about Western cartoons and comics. I don’t know how up you are on geography, but anime and manga aren’t from the west.
Erm, considering how manga has a significant market in the West now? And how upcoming Western artists like Bryan Lee O’Malley of Scott Pilgrim fame show definite manga influences? And whether of western or eastern origin they’re all, like, comics that people are reading? So your protest seems founded on arbitrary divisions? Question marks are addictive?
I think the comparison’s valid.
But the comics these complaints are about are western depictions of men. Lord knows eastern depictions of women are sometimes worse than the western, but at least the east is capable of diversifying a bit more. Kind of.
To be fair… it is true that it’s not stated what area the comics come from that this person’s complaining about.
My comments aren’t showing up anymore. :/
I think another reason manga is an important part of this discussion is because manga introduced girls to comics in a way nothing else I know of has in the last decade.
Thank you! I’ve been reading comics for more decades than many people here have probably been alive and my favorite comics, back when I chose them for my attraction to the characters, were Elfquest.
I thought Cutter and Skywise were dreamy, and they look a heck of a lot like Batman above.
So one example? I don’t mean to come off as petty but the point of the comic is about the amount of it happening in society or more specifically, in the comic book world.
after reading this whole thread I just felt I had to post. Not a single response here has been able to see the calm and reasonable intelligence of what this man is saying. It may not be the definitive work on the subject, but it a very well thought out and detailed evaluation. On both the topics of power and of attraction.
Basically what I see here is interesting well thought out and respectful post made by Johannhowitzer followed by many responses of BLAHRRGH SEXISM!!!
I just read all this too, and basically what I see here is, “Hang on, as a man, I know exactly what women want. Ladies, stop talking for a moment so I can explain it to you. If you don’t think I have it right, it’s probably because I didn’t explain my complete understanding of women sexuality clearly enough.”
Noooooo, no no. What you’re seeing is that not a single person here is wasting their breath on responding to topics that have already been so well-covered by every feminist book / class / *anything* ever. He’s not saying things that are well-reasoned and thoughtful, he’s repeating lines that are older than dirt and no one here wants to revisit the preschool of their feminist educations to repeat the appropriate things back at him.
Rest assured: his arguments have zero merit.
Because all feminists agree on everything and all feminists are necessarily right about everything? Talking about feminists collectively is like talking about Republicans or Democrats collectively. I hate to break it to you, but feminism is hardly science. Not that what he’s saying is, but saying that he’s just plain wrong seems a little arrogant. Get 20 social scientists in a room together and you’ll get at least 20 different explanations for any single problem. If I get sick of anything from feminists (I actually consider myself one, if not a particularly good or experienced one) it’s the constant insistence that they and only they, are right.
Geez, you people just love to argue for the sake of arguing don’t you? Every single post in this thread is someone arguing over something someone else said that isn’t even relevant to the topic.
I can understand what the man is trying to say. He’s speaking in a calm rational manner. What he’s saying is irrelevant…it’s sad that the responses to what he’s saying can’t be calm and rational as well.
He’s not trying to be sexist or demeaning in anything he’s saying.
It all comes down to evolution. Evolutionarily speaking, women seek strong men, usually subconsciously.
Men seek nurturing women. The whole “wide hips” and “big boobs” thing isn’t just because several men might find it sexy. It’s an instinct thing. Wide hips means they’re perfect for bearing children and big boobs means they have the means to care for said children.
Whether anyone here wants to admit it or not, we’re still slaves to our subconscious instinct that drive the propagation of our species.
Just wanted to point out:
If we’re talking about the animal drive towards selection of a mate, we’re talking about choosing someone who is best suited to survive in their environment. That selection is not rooted solely in past implications of success. Strength can be a plus, but then why would anyone have married Jobs or Gates?
This is a gross oversimplification, especially for topics like evolution and attraction.
You are not a biologist. Please stop talking about things you do not understand.
While the evolutionary theory of attractiveness has merit, there is also the nurture argument that has attraction affected buy the images people absorb in such things as comics, magazines and film, both pornographic and not). These images send out messages that such and such a look is sexy or hot and may help form a young persons sexual ideal.
Oh wow. Just so you know, there are many cultures out there that DON’T value “big boobs” or “wide hips”. Western standards of female attractiveness are NOT universal, and are NOT “evolutionarily dictated”. So what about those cultures that don’t value “big boobs”/”wide hips”? Are their “instincts” wrong? Do you even realize how ridiculous (not to mention REALLY DAMN OLD, like Imperial Europe OLD) it is to say that Western culture is right because it is genetically/instinctively dictated?
Stop being so ethnocentric.
Yeah, no. Sexuality is much more complex than that, and as many many many cited examples have confirmed, what we find attractive isn’t biologically determined. It’s cultural.
Stop citing your own opinion as fact. You’re just wrong.
Nope, not what I was saying at all. What I was saying is, his arguments are extremely basic forms of apologeticism with which ever literate feminist is *familiar* because the arguments have been picked apart by greater minds than ours since time immemorial. (Hopefully you’ll understand that that last bit was exaggeration for comedic effect, and not intended to be a literal statement about the history of modern feminist critique.)
You and I seem to be talking about different things when we say “feminism”. You believe that when I said “feminist” above (and probably again in this comment), I meant it in the causal sense of “women and men who are into women having equal rights”; that is not the case. I was referring to the body of work and tenets known as feminist theory. There are agreed-upon truisms in feminist critique. It’s a literary critique style like any other — which has jack shit to do with the opinions of any individual who might choose to label him- or herself as feminist.
The arguments he’s making are trite and are covered and thoroughly dissected in even the most entry-level discussion of feminist theory. While feminists are not ‘right about everything’, there’s only so many times you can beat an obviously dead horse.
Hate to break it to you, but feminism /is/ a science. It’s called Gender Studies, and it’s a common major at any university of note.
As I understand the meaning of “science” – it is an academic discipline characterized by the study of quantifiable, objective data for the purpose of evaluating theories and advancing knowledge about the physical universe.
“Feminism” is more of a philosophy than a science. It might be possible to quantify the number of different opinions about feminism that have been published, but that would make “Gender Studies” into a science of the study OF the debate, not the debate itself. The difference is analogous to the difference between sitting at a microphone giving a real-time report of a NASCAR race, versus sitting behind the wheel of a car competing in the race. One significant contrast between feminism and science is that science is not invested in the outcome, a scientist runs an experiment without caring whether it produces “A” or “B” as an answer – either outcome advances knowledge – but feminist theorists are notoriously hostile to contrary arguments.
Which is not to say that the philosophy of feminism is without merit. In fact, as a man who wears nail polish, I have experienced a significant amount of societal prejudice and intolerance, basically following the pattern of “(A) men should not wear nail color… because (B) nail color is feminine… and (C) feminine is bad”. In this example, men are oppressed by an arbitrary, gender based societal expectation which denies us a measure of free expression (my body, my choice, right?)… AND women are oppressed by the artificial (but almost universal) presumption that nail color is feminine and it would be demeaning to a man for him to participate in a feminine activity. ((In MY subjective reality, the stuff on my nails is JUST PAINT, with no connection to my identity, masculinity or sexuality and with no power to define me, change me or “make” me anything (except, well, better looking, and to some, more interesting..))) My point here (finally…) is that I remember my gender studies classes, and none of them – not one – discussed any scenario, from family courts down to my toenails, in which men might experience any kind of prejudice, intolerance, discrimination, marginalization or exploitation. That failure makes Gender Studies a negligently incomplete science. (No “science” can be considered “complete”…)
It depends. When and where did you take these courses, because there has been a vast amount of work done on the subject of men within women’s studies, especially in the past couple of decades. Take, for example, “Dude, Your a Fag,” a book which explores the usage of “faggot” jokes as a means of men self-policing the gender presentation of male high school students. Women’s studies and feminist theory has a vast array of fields and interests that go beyond the sort of limiting portrayal you give of it.
So, is there a problem calling a sexist a sexist?
People just don’t know how to argue properly, that’s all. You need to quote sources; the more sources you quote, the stronger your argument. Like this:
“Although she may not know it or openly acknowledge it, watching you use your powerful muscles to slay a living thing stimulates an ancient part of her brain associated with admiration and affection. She may appear to be horrified by your actions, but underneath that, there’s a deep and growing respect for you. After all, it takes a lot more effort to kill an animal than it does to kill a stupid flower; Flowers don’t run away and bleed all over the place while you’re trying to kill them.”
No. Attracting male attention is a poor substitute for actual power. I would trade all the ogling eyes and catcalls and getting hit on for 50% representation in Congress and the Fortune 500 in a nanosecond. You are stupid and also sexist; you’re embarrassing yourself but you’re too dumb to realize that you should be embarrassed. It’s a pity, really.
I’d like to ask those that opose this man’s statements to at least try to submit their responses in a similar form. His calm and clean writing style makes him instantly more relatable to the academically inclined impartial observer than any petty insults or (practically) baseless accusations of sexism and being “one of those ‘nice’ guys”
Soooo many tone arguments
pardon me while I vomit
“oh if you ladies were just calm like this guy, and not so emotional!”
What’s wrong with asking for a less emotive response? I’m not saying he’s right or that he’s somehow superior, I just think he’s presented his points more clearly than many of his opponents. Part of that is the relative lack of namecalling.
The two sides to this:
Yes, an arguer who can put the argument in terms which are clear and easy to comprehend stands a better chance of getting through to the audience. One who doesn’t include a bunch of name-calling is (at least in academic circles) slightly more likely to succeed in convincing people with the argument.
The fact that Johann’s posts are calmly put don’t make them more right, less offensive, or even more convincing. Also, we’re not having an academic argument. Dude’s posting on a forum under a comic that’s in the process of making a point about how women have to deal with gender portrayals that consistently make them feel uncomfortable. If he posts statements like “women like (thing)” or “It’s so funny when girls (verb)” to this space he is offensive, bigoted, oblivious, and/or trolling (choose two). He corrects people for not paying close enough attention to the context of his arguments, but the context of his argument is this: He’s making arguments that have been shot down many times in a space where they have been shot down before under a comic that renders the shooters likely to be in the vicinity.
He is, to reverse a misogynist term, asking for it. He is asking for it up the butt.
“The tone argument is where you object to someone else’s argument based on its tone: it is too angry, too hateful, not calm enough, not nice enough, etc. It is a logical fallacy because none of those things has anything to do with whether the truth was spoken. It is used to derail and silence.
The privileged use it against the marginalized. “
I’m really not objecting to others argument because of their tone, I’m just pointing out that I tend to have a hard time understanding someone who doesn’t use proper form when stating his/her argument.
Form affects content. Improper form gives an insufficient presentation of content.
Actually, there were also plenty of arguments that did use adequately ordered form, and Howitzer’s replies to those were merely to say, “I didn’t mean that, so your argument is invalid.” Even if the majority were reactive one-liners or impassioned rants, he did not properly acknowledge or respond to those points which most undermined his arguments. Not only did he fail to do this, but he then continued to shift his arguments to whatever topic was most defensible. Essentially, he is an example of the not-so-rare, well-spoken troll. By the end he had nearly overtly revealed himself as he started to claim how humorous it all was.
Really? Because the horrible fallacies, general ignorance, and steeped privilege make his comments totally unreadable to me. I literally physically am unable to read them past the first paragraph.
I won’t bother linking to the definition of misogyny.
Thank you for mansplaining that to us! I had no idea that big boobs and an hourglass figure was a power fantasy of mine! Here I just thought they pissed me off for giving neckbeards a false idea of what real women looked like!
He thinks he’s right because he’s a man or he thinks he’s right because a) that’s an extremely popular theory and b) because it makes sense to him.
You’re right because…? You’re a woman? Is womansplaining better than mansplaining?
Problem being that it’s not a popular “theory”? It’s a popular excuse for why it’s okay to have every supposed female superhero dress and act and look like she’s in a porno, and why women should be cool with that.
Huh? No. Women being attracted to power because it means that their mate would pass on good genes to their children as well as meaning that he’ll be able to protect her while she’s in the vulnerable state of pregnancy and child-rearing is a theory.
Yes, /being/ a woman would give a person more credibility in arguing the veracity of what a woman is attracted to better than a man who has /heard/ of a theory.
A sociologist or a biologist might be better informed than both. Either way, Johann is still the least informed person on this subject, and shouldn’t be speaking from a position of absolute certainty.
Look, I get where you’re coming from, but at the point where every person who replies to you is taking you to pieces, it might be time to look at what YOU said rather than try to pin it all on people reading what you said wrong.
Think about that for a moment. EVERY PERSON who has replied to you disagrees with you. EVERY PERSON. You and what you said are the only common thread here.
You are the common thread here and you have control over yourself and what you say. You do not have control over how the reader reacts to your comments and you will never have that control. If you don’t like the way someone interpreted something you said, the solution is not to say, “You’re reading it wrong.” It’s to figure out how to write it so that they read it right. Or–as I suspect–examine the fundamental views you started with and figure out why people are reacting to them in a way you didn’t intend. You might learn something in the process.
I actually read everything he wrote, and from the reactions, it looks like everyone else just skimmed it.
Not everyone disagrees with him anyway. If you’re talking about the female power fantasy it is A female power fantasy just as the superhero is A male power fantasy. Maybe you don’t share it, maybe you don’t like it, but the fact is, it’s there. You can have power over people through beauty, therefore somebody, male or female, is going to fantasize about having it. Hell, look at the way society tries to brainwash everyone into seeking a single ideal. Any woman who looks at a model in a magazine and says “I want to look like that” is sharing in that power fantasy. Maybe it’s not feminist, but not everyone is.
If you’ve got a problem with the rest of what he’s saying, you’ve got a problem with evolutionary psychology, ’cause thats what his argument rests on.
“A poor understanding of evolutionary psychology”. Fixed that for you. What he’s actually doing is using a logical fallacy known as an “argument from nature”. Google it, it’s interesting.
I missed the part where he said it was right. You’re saying that the argument that something exists because it’s found in nature is a fallacy?
And I’d like to add that I do disagree on one thing: The idea that a woman accepting a drink from a man somehow creates a social contract to sleep with him or that a woman in a bar is necessarily seeking a sexual experience is preposterous.
No, it’s a fallacy, in this context, to make an appeal to nature because such an appeal is essentially meaningless. It’s not that nothing in nature is true, but that something existing in nature is completely insufficient grounds to prove appropriateness in behavior. You cannot use it as an argument and be taken seriously.
Even if the specific appeals to evolutionary biology here weren’t at odds with how people actually behave and properly supported by actual science (they’re not), they’d still be completely irrelevant, because humans are *not* beholden to biology to the extent that you can say that something is good or bad or right or wrong on the basis that we evolved that way. Human behavior is way too complex and just as heavily dependent on cultural norms as it is on biological evolution. Evolutionary adaptive behaviors can be come burdens, and cultural changes *can* shape us past them. So even if everything he said *were* true, and it’s not, it still manages to avoid addressing whether it *should be acceptable*. And that’s the fallacy.
In case that wasn’t clear enough here’s a reductio ad absurdum: murder war and rape are consequences of the evolutionary needs of early humans so we shouldn’t be so concerned when these things happen.
Y’know, I knew this argument was going to happen, but I figured it would be preceded by a few penis jokes first.
Why didn’t you let the penis jokes happen first?
Recent trends in both feminism and pop culture have encouraged young women to equate beauty and sexuality with power (Drake, 2002; Kilbourne, 1999; Wolf, 1992). Young women view sexualized images as role models and their own sexuality as their primary tool for self-efficacy (Baldwin, 1999).
if given the choice women tend to prefer sexy and attractive avatars in things like WoW. Batman= Powerfantasy. Wonderwoman = powerfantasy. both = wank fodder =D
I will use something from your own sources.
“The main goal [of sex in advertising], as in pornography, is usually power over another, either by the physical dominance or preferred status of men or what is seen as the exploitative power of female beauty and female sexuality. Men conquer and women ensnare… the woman is rewarded for her sexuality by the men’s wealth.” (Acting “Naturally”: The Practices of Gender, Pg. 594)
She is not saying this is a good thing. She is saying this is a bad thing. And notice she ALSO not saying that the women who view these ads actually see this as a power fantasy. In fact, this is NOT a power fantasy for women. It part of a male-dominated culture that wants to demonize and shame female sexuality, by making it exploitative.
These supposed power fantasies do not encourage women to use their sexuality as power. They teach women that sexuality is a form of power that they should not have. This idea is about as empowering as any other representation of a women in a submissive sexualized position. It’s just repackaged, but the idea is still there.
Representations of women in ads constantly show women being “weak”, submissive, objectified, and sexualized. And then you have the “power fantasies” that say women can escape this objectification by embodying the same beauty standards that objectify them in the first place!
Come on, I can’t believe somebody could misunderstand Kilbourne.
Why it is a form of power is interesting but it is very much still a power fantasy. If given the choice of avatar women tend to prefer sexy, they find it powerful.
Well, I certainly can’t think of a reason women would choose “sexy” over “unsexy” other than “sexy = powerful.” There are CERTAINLY NO messages in society whatsoever about how sexiness is the only attribute that defines a woman’s worth and unsexy women don’t even qualify as women and consequently don’t even qualify as human.
Late to the party, I know, but I just wanted to share this anecdote:
Years ago my uncle was in a car accident (he was legally at fault) in which he hit a pedestrian, a young woman out for a hike. She had stopped to rest on a cement barrier erected across a road while a bridge was being repaired. The bridge was around a blind corner and there were no warning signs… The poor woman broke her leg badly enough that she ended up with one leg about an inch shorter than the other. It apparently couldn’t be corrected (at the time, at least), and she would have to wear special shoes, one an inch higher than the other, to make up for the difference in length in her legs, for the rest of her life.
The case went to court. She sought damages (quite correctly, IMO; true, it was an accident, but that’s a damned hard thing to have to live with. Put on one shoe with a one-inch heel and try walking around your house like that for an hour!).
The defense lawyer argued it didn’t actually matter though because, get this, she wasn’t particularly attractive to begin with, so it wouldn’t actually have any negative impact on her already-existing inability to get a man.
And the fucking judge bought it. ><
…sexiness is the only attribute that defines a woman’s worth and unsexy women don’t even qualify as women and consequently don’t even qualify as human.
Yah it is kinda messed up but sexy is defiantly part of many power fantasy’s for a lot of woman. However it is also part of the power fantasy for men. James Bonds superpower is not having any STD’s. Wolverine has slept with pretty much everyone. The Movie 300 had more then a few girls fanning themselves and is anyone here really going to tell me 300 was not a male fantasy movie? Being wanted by the opposite sex is power. I have no idea where anyone got the idea that having an alpha personality, confident, and maybe a little to sure of yourself might have been attractive to a lot of women, but we should all go tell them they are wrong.
I am not saying Comics are fine, I am just saying female comic fans making and writing comics will probably look much the same as it looks now with only a few differences. And for anyone pointing to Twilight as a example of what most woman want… well yes many woman do want that. However take a second and remember they airbrushed abbs on the skinny vampire and then you have team Jacob.
You’re so right. It turns out that all this time, when us womenfolk have been wanting strong female characters whose defining trait ISN’T how attractive they are, we REALLY wanted female characters who are docile, sexualized extensions of the male cast because we, as women, would never read superhero comics for powerful, dynamic heroes. We were clearly just hoping to pretend we could be even greater sex objects than we are in real life, for women in general would rather have boobs than being able to save the world, and in fact should be ENCOURAGED to hinge their self-worth on how fuckable a guy would consider them.
“Heroine” should not be a word that implies strength of will or spirit, it should instead apply to women with the gigantic breasts and prominent rear ends that we all aspire to! It’s for this same reason that heterosexual women frequently read Playboy and Hustler – Kendra Wilkinson is who we REALLY want to be, not Wonder Woman! It makes us feel a tremendous sense of self-worth to know that we could be better, more powerful than what we are now – no, silly, not someone who could defend themself, or has strong values of justice, or even just is free of the vulnerability women naturally feel in a culture where we have to fear for our lives and worse when we walk alone at night, THE GREATEST OF HOTNESS is what us lady comic-readers generally seek, for it is the greatest and most admirable quality a woman can have.
Thank goodness a man was here to explain that to all of us.
Bringing it back to reality for a moment though, have you ever spoken to a woman before? Nervous glances at their cleavage or asking them to bring you drinks does not count.
No, it really, really isn’t. I don’t even know where to start with this.
“That’s power.” Yeah, the power to be seen as a slut. NO power there, sorry.
Because muscle mass is directly tied to strength. A tiny waist is directly tied to fuckability. And power fantasies usually involve one’s own gender. When you’re sexualizing and objectifying the OTHER gender, it’s, well, sexual objectification.
Sorry to have to break it to you, but women are autonomous, fully realized people. Male superheroes run the gamut of body types from the Hulk to Reed Richards. We are simply asking for some equal representation, and for comics and fantasy artists to stop telling us the only acceptable body type is curvy. Yes, some women enjoy the sexual attention they get. That doesn’t make it a point of empowerment for all women. Some of us would like to be recognized for more.
This guy looks more attractive to me than the traditional Batman, and I’m a woman. I never understood why I was told I should find Batman sexy.
If you look at how men are portrayed in anime series that have a primarily female audience, and how they are portrayed in series that have a primarily male audience. Heck–look at how the women are portrayed in those two settings too! Sure, there’s variance in what each person finds attractive, but there’s definitely a gender difference, and the traditional American comics reflect the traditional American emphasis on giving men and boys the fantasies they want.
Sure, a comic like this can only use one image as a lampoon for the stereotype, and that image won’t be to every woman’s taste. But that doesn’t make the point less valid.
Yay Amber! Send the Dark Knight to the other Dark Side!
Oh, and he should SPARKLE too!
It is broken
He is the hero Gotham doesn’t need or deserve.
I wish I could “like” this comment.
He’s not the hero Gotham deserves, but the one it desires.
Well, 50% of Gotham.
I’m just not feeling it. Can we get a bishounen version? The Shonen King stuff doesn’t count.
So… Women would be cool with it if the male superheroes all looked basically female? And then we can keep the overly sexualised female superheroes?
I think I’m cool with that. Wait, no, wait… Yeah, totally cool with it.
well I can’t speak for the Women of the world but as a strait man that doesn’t look particularly feminine. I mean look at those washboard abs. Its masculine in a more understated way. Mostly its been sexualized.
You make a fine point.
Perhaps they would be better characterised as ‘less intimidating’ to my pathetic masculinity; obviously they are still desirable, but as they lack the shoulders and other features that could be used to score a part-time job as a wall, they don’t make me feel so self-conscious about my horrific flabby form.
And as an attainable model of health, bishie Batman is a better role-model for men than Hulk!
Yeah well, no matter how bishie it looks, poor impulse control and limited speech patterns make for poor role models.
You realize that most bodybuilders build for appearance, not strength, yes? If we really wanted to show Batman as an efficient strong man, he would need a thick layer of fat as well.
What’s interesting is that because he’s been sexualised, you think he looks like a woman Makes me wonder how common a thought that would be, and what that says about women always drawn like that in comics/ made up like that in media.
It’s not because he has been sexualized that he looks like a woman. It’s because he has been feminized, like a god awful yaoi character.
Look at gay porn to see that you can sexualize a male without making him feminine.
Interestingly, however, this is a case in point: gay porn is for gay men. “Godawful” yaoi is for straight women. Which do you think would be more appropriate in a comic attempting to pander to straight women…….?
Side note: Please observe Robert Pattinson. Twilight, awful as it is, is another rare thing created expressly to appeal to the female libido. I’ve heard there were plans to rewrite the entire thing as a more masculine series about a bad-ass vampire hunter who slays vampires and macks on Bela in his spare time. It’s a good thing for the shareholders that someone vetoed that very typical approach to stick with the books, because boy have these movies — starring a PRETTY man with slender shoulders — made a ton of money.
Well, Jane Ëyre IS pretty good.
Twilight would be a thousand times more awesome if Bella was a vampire hunter and had a personality.
You mean Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter?
Anita Blake’s personality is essentially a metaphysical rapist. I don’t know which is worse, Anita pretending that using the ardeur to have sex with men (sometimes against their wishes until her SPARKLY AWESOME VAGINA makes them fall in love with her) is RIGHT AND GOOD, or Bella with the clod of dirt as a brain.
No, Edward was the vampire hunter. But I agree. It might be a worn cliche, but it’s a good one.
Personally, I’d prefer media not to pander at all.
The problem with your argument is that you’re also supporting the passive relationship that Bella has with Edward. It’s weak, dependent, and sets a dangerous image of relationships. Couple that with the constant background yammering of how Bella is NOT any of those things, and what you end up with is the image of a slim, effeminate male who is domineering, emotionally abusive, and displays strong sociopathic tendencies as the ideal male as chosen by women.
It’s sort of a cake and eat it thing. We can have sexualized women as seen by men and “manly mena” as seen by men in comics, then we turn around and see two differing ideals of men. On one hand, if you look at all the corset ripper covers, you see the same idealized male as in the comics, who actually tends to act similarly, if with more tenderness and emotion, and what we get in Twilight. Interestingly, Jacob in Twilight fits more comfortably into the standard comic style portrayal of sexualized men, further compounding the issue. And judging by the support Jacob has, it’s safe to say that for a not inconsiderable number of women that ideal is perfectly valid.
Further, the thing about yaoi and shojo is that is highly specialized. Bishonen characters do show up in sienen and shonen anime and manga, but they don’t have the same kind of wide appeal. Shonen and sienen have considerable cross gender success, while shojo moves very little content in male demographics. Effeminate characters don’t sell well in mainstream Japanese content, the same way they don’t here in the US.
I got to “supporting the relationship” and had to reply:
NO, oh god no, I am not. Everything about Twilight is horrible, Bella is the worst “feminist” character in the world, etc etc etc. But the depiction of a male as in Amber’s drawing — “built for dexterity”, pouty lips, large expressive eyes — is exemplified by Robert Pattinson himself, and also Elvis, Leonardo DiCaprio, etc. Some, but by no means all, of the heartthrobs that have always been popular with women exclusively. (Not a lot of crossover appeal, although you’re certainly allowed to like Elvis now.) See also: Zac Effron, Orlando Bloom… Justin Timberlake… Johnathan Taylor Thomas… The boys in any boy band…
I don’t think it’s as much a case of “little GIRLS like feminine boys, real WOMEN like muscular men” either, so much as a situation of age-appropriateness. As straight women get older, they tend to start appreciating beards more, but I really think chances are good that’s because a beard is a sign of physical maturity and our tastes are shifting appropriately as we age. But the beard doesn’t make Robert Downey Junior any less “lithely muscular with nice lips”.
For both you and the lady below you: arguing that this is any closer to Batman than this seems like not really paying attention, to me. They’re muscular in almost exactly the same way, Bella’s constant comments on Jacob’s abs notwithstanding. One is smiling, the other is not, and admittedly the healthier hue to Jacob’s skin is more attractive, but that’s neither here nor there for an argument of build and facial features.
Super late to the party, but psych research shows that women’s attraction to “masculine” versus “feminine” men depends at least partially on hormonal variance. When women are ovulating, they’re more into hairy, muscular dudes with more masculine facial features. THE REST OF THE TIME, they basically want girly men. It has also been observed that the builds that men prefer on women (proportionately longer legs, etc.) are more commonly found on men. So, essentially, men are attracted to drag queens, and women are attracted to other women. As a bisexual, I find this really satisfying.
Well, that explains why my cousin keeps finding images of “Hot Chicks” (his words) who just so happen to have been born male… It kind of happens too often to not mean anything…
I don’t know what you mean about Jacob fitting into the comic portrayal of sexualized men, but I’ll tell you something right now. The reason I liked Jacob was because the kid was the kind of guy I would like to hang out with. He was cool. He was also hot, but that was secondary to his personality for me.
Of course, I’m talking about the way he was in the story, because almost everyone in the film was just a tiny bit off from the original characters. (all except Bella, who just, god, they can not keep hiring Kristen Stewart if she’s going to portray every freaking character the same freaking expressionless boring way.)
Considering the amount of women who watch gay porn, I think it is hardly a simple choice between the deceptions. In fact, let’s look at your Twilight example. Note that the more popular sexual fantasy in it is not Edward, but rather Jacob, the broad shouldered, muscular werewolf.
Also note that the original claim that this was responding stated that he wasn’t feminized, merely sexualized and because he was sexualized people perceived it as feminized. I was pointing out that this is clearly not the case, as there are plenty of examples of sexualized men that are not feminized. They don’t all have to look like yaoi, and my hatred of yaoi knows no bounds.
I understood your point, actually, and I approved of it. But my retort stands: the “feminine” features, e.g. the larger lips larger eyes more slender shoulders more subtle musculature, do in fact seem to appeal to straight women at large. Not every woman, not all women; but straight women in general do in fact tend to eat this stuff up. I know it’s what I like personally, but hey; I’m a little skewed, since I’m not generally into men.
And my argument wasn’t that no women would ever watch gay porn, but that gay porn is still produced for and targeted at gay men. If there’s starting to be a market in this country for gay porn marketed at women, I’d be interested to know what the differences were. Yaoi is still the medium targeted at, and created to appeal primarily to, straight women; so it’s still the better yardstick in terms of a general marketing approach, whether or not it would appeal to you personally.
And there’s also plenty of yaoi where the guys don’t look like girls, but it’s more modern and you have to go digging. The representation over here of what gets scanned, let alone translated, is pretty skewed. (Also, see my comment above about Jason, I link comparison pics. Because in terms of build, I don’t think there’s a big difference between Jason Black and Edward Cullen, at least not in the movie where we can see them.)
So… continue to loathe but in a slightly more informed fashion, I suppose.
As a straight woman who watches gay porn, I do it mostly because of the serious lack of decent porn made for straight women. The stuff that does exist is, with a few exceptions, gay porn with the overtly gay stuff taken out and straight dude porn with the most offensive/violent stuff taken out, rather than anything actually designed to appeal to women. The stuff that actually is (or claims to be) specifically made for women often makes a lot of aesthetic choices that I think are based more on preconceptions about what women “should” like instead of actual observation of what we do like.
In fact one of the things I find most frustrating about (gay or straight) visual porn is trying to find men with body types that actually appeal to me. Twilight is a shitty story and Robert Pattinson seems like he’s kind of a dick IRL but I won’t deny he’s very good-looking. If you’re a dude with a fetish for being tag-teamed by granny dominatrices, there are entire sites out there ready to cater to your whims, but if you’re a woman who wants to look at, say, attractive, non-beefy male nerds, good luck. I personally believe that this is one of the big reasons why women make up the majority of the erotic fiction market, since we’re largely free to put our own mental spin on what the male characters look like. Even if the cover shows an unattractive man, that’s easy enough to forget once you’re 50 pages in.
Tl;dr: some women look at gay porn not because it’s the ideal, but because sometimes it’s better than nothing.
This reminds me of a comment I saw made on SA a while back:
“It’s like watching a dude getting the most ham-fisted blowjob in the world(teeth scraping, pulling the foreskin back too far, everything) while occasionally getting punched in the dick by a fat, unshaven lady who grunts “Ohh yeah, you like that baby?” at regular intervals. Gayporn isn’t much better but for lots of women it has the advantage that it doesn’t make them want to cringe and cross their legs as much.”
I’ve seen female comic book readers in one particular community complain about objectification of women, and then promptly turn around and drool over men.
So, I think they would. Objectifying men is okay, though.
Admittedly, that wouldn’t be sexist. I would, however, remain ridiculous.
If you want porn, read porn.
I’d like to read my superhero comics without wondering how that warrior refers to magic suspenders as “armor” and expects to be taken seriously.
I think this argument (and I can’t speak for Willis specifically, but my view the issue at least) is less about “we should sexualize male characters in a very specific way so everyone is uncomfortable and off-put” and more about disproving, “guys are okay with all men being buff, so women should be okay with all comic ladies being sexy and underdressed, those are the exact same thing”
If anything, I’d like (as a straight guy!) to see more variety of women in comics than less variety in men (of which there’s already a lot) – there’s more kinds of sexy than the one comic book female body type!
Amen to that. Sexy does not mean “exact clone of a weird supermodel ideal”.
I honestly think that, with this comic today, everyone has learned something as stated by everyone above I know I did
your post reminded me of this:
I have a great dislike for nerfnow. In my opinion, it is pretty bad, unfunny and way to focused on making “kawaii” female versions of the TF2 characters. You may disagree.
That looks an awful lot like Jacob.
Yup I thought so too.
My thoughts exactly.
White Knights are passe.
She wants a Dark Knight to sweep her off her feet.
That totally looks like Jacob. It’s the black lips.
guess i’m the only one that thinks he looks like superstar pat “the transman” lee.
Pat Lee’s awful art was just his way of fighting the objectification that had already taken over his own life?
No, they definitely have the same eyes and body type, at least as David draws him.
That was my first thought. That so looks like Jacob dressed as the Dark Knight.
Wow, that drawing looks just like me! ;D
She can actually draw very well, can’t she?
In fact, within the context of the world she’s in, she can draw… SCARILY REALISTICALLY!
Now I’m trying to imagine the Uncanny Valley within the context of the Shortpacked! Universe.
“My art teacher told me to stop making up anatomy.”
‘Were you drawing lips again?’
Oddly enough, if you go by her description, I think it’s far more likely that you’d end up with a Dick “Nightwing” Grayson like figure.
Probably the main reason why most of the DC babes rather have the hots for him. About the only female Titan that I recall, who didn’t, was Donna Troy, and their relationship was more sibling like apparently.
The man’s bottom is actually a minor meme. His hotness is such that it transcends species; a sentient female gorilla wanted him. This is pretty much the definition of objectifying, but no one I can see is complaining.
There’s a reason for that difference. People aren’t complaining because a female superhero is objectified. People are complaining because basically every female superhero is objectified.
On the other hand, how many female heroes do you know of, who get raped by a male anti-hero, and then have the writer hand wave it away by saying that it was merely non-consensual.
And that it’s kinda ok, because the guy in question has a crush on her. And wants to be her partner/sidekick.
Heck, the entire Rape is Ok, when it’s female on male trope essentially.
And Vril Dox from Legion probably takes the cake. Assaulted, raped and murdered by a teammate. He gets rezzed by way of cloning and they hook up as a couple. Oh and the whole incident gets hand waved away by saying it was because of her alien physiology.
I do believe the What the hell, Hero trope is appropriate there.
Also, people thinking he’s hot in-universe (and/or out) =/= he is designed to appeal sexually to readers in a way that doesn’t make any in-universe sense.
Also, his armor actually covers his body.
Doesn’t mean he hasn’t lived down the…. shorts… though.
Or the usual cat calls on… So THAT’s why they called you the Boy WONDER.
I was gonna say. Given the leanness and the facial expression (dat smirk) she gave him, that’s basically Dick as Batman, just with poutier lips.
I predict comment drama! Is there a term for that? Commadrama?
I don’t think there’s a term, but yeah, there’s about to be drama like crazy. Willis (and his characters) feed from drama.
BECAUSE ROBIN PULLED THE DRAMA TAG
Dames, huh, fellas? Am I right or what? *pause for applause*
“I pulled the drama tag so now Amber has an abusive father, Ethan is gay, I got elected to congress, and Batman has rosy cheeks and kissable lips…wait…”
Damn women, always making things worse. From making us eat fruit, pulling drama tags, or talking us into exposing our secret identity then can’t coup with the convinces, then tricking us into a deal with an interdenominational being that pretends to be the devil.
“Shitstorm” is the word I usually see used to describe that sort of thing.
It’s your icon that makes this comment for me.
The word you’re looking for is “wank.”
I actually love that Batman.
lets get him some happy pills and he’s perfect!
I think the world is ready for Bishounen Batman. Make it happen, DC.
They already did.
He’s called Terry McGinnis.
One of the first fan pics you can find of him:
My dear Batman: Physical attraction is Magic
No, Friendship is Magic~
I swear they just did that as an episode. The characters dressed up like Darkwing Duck and became dark, mysterious avengers of pony-kind…in order to teach a lesson about friendship.
Yeah, this show…
I still thing Mare Do Well looked more like Spoiler. Well, if Spoiler were a pony.
Next Batman will squabble with his family!
For her next act, she should draw Batman and Superman making out in a way that is obviously for the benefit of the reader.
Maybe it’s just me that wants to see that.
No, no. Me too. I want to see it. Slowly.
This comment made 110% more amazing due to the avatar.
you and like 90% of Scans Daily
Not a bad idea.
I highly endorse this plan.
Did you-all hear about Superman? Flying around, looking for trouble, finding none – he spies Wonder Woman lying on a remote each… totally naked! Supe is thinking “DAMN! I ave ALWAYS wanted to tap that! But she wouldn’t give me the time of day. This is my chance… I’m faster than a speeding bullet… I could swoop down there, pop her real quick, and fly off before she knew what happened!” .. but then he thought “NO!! I’m SUPERMAN! Defender of ‘Truth, Justice etc..’.. that would be RAPE, it wold be WRONG, I can’t do it!”
Superman wrestles with his conscience for about half an hour, while WW just lays there… finally, he checks his tights, and his “Man of Steel” convinces him that he’s really JUST a man after all. So, he swoops down… bam,bam,bam,whoosh… and he flies off grinning ear to ear.
Wonder Woman opens her eyes and says “What in the hell was THAT??”… and the Invisible Man cries “I don’t know… but I’m not gonna sit down for a MONTH!!”
Abed is Batman now.
OH MY LORD.
You know it’s true Willis. He solved the case of the missing Dark Knight DVD and everything.
Plus, Christian Bale totally confirmed it. It’s official.
AH HAH! We have now figured out who Willis’ gay crush is!
It’s okay, I’d do Abed if I was gay too.
The real test is whether you’d let him do you. Your gay crush bona fides are only worthwhile if you’re willing to lean over the back of that velvet couch and wave your willing and ready rear end at the crush in question.
(hehehe, I said boner…)
You only said the word “boner” at the very end of your post…”bona fide” does not equal “boner”.
Actually with how “bone fide” is pronounced someone could have easily said boner.
This is true. I always say “boner fide.”
It’s hilarious if anyone catches it.
Now draw him stripping!
This is fab.
Isn’t that Dick Grayson?
This comic has been up for more than half an hour and noone is whining yet. Where’s the drama? I thought at least one chauvinist would’ve tried to defent the objectification of women by now.
Oh, and the comic is pure win.
Yeah, I may have to rethink my Monday.
Every time you think you have it figured out it up and surprises you.
Oh… yeah… Women -shakes fist slowly-
Blah blah, whine whine.
I’m actually surprised somebody hasn’t shown up and trollolololololed Batman inaccuracies. Then again, if dextrous Batman can breathe in space…
I think that painting anyone that doesn’t lock steps with your beliefs as a ‘chauvinist’ is a mistake. It prevents reasonable discourse and ends with you talking past other people and not with other people. Not that I’m defending anything coming out of the New 52 (or its associated stuff, I hate what they did to Starfire), but yeah… fanaticism is bad, regardless of the cause you fight for.
A CLEVER TROLL has appeared!
CLEVER TROLL used PHILOSOPHICAL LOGIC — (to disarm a claim that people who objectify women are somehow not chauvinistic)
It’s not very effective.
Wow, and here I thought putting words in other people’s mouths was the exclusive property of the far right.
Nah. We’ll share the power to do so with The Left from time to time. For a big fee.
I am of the “far-right” you speak of and I take offense to this sir, how dare you call me a chauvinist!
Does that put you on the far right, Mr. “Expecting a chauvinist to appear? that means you think that word describes everyone who has ever disagreed with you!”?
It was a reasonable, well thought out comment encouraging intelligent discourse. That’s *literally* the opposite of what trolling is.
Definition of a Chauvinist: a person who believes one gender is superior to the other, as a male chauvinist or a female chauvinist .
The point was that the comment was directing directly the thesis of objectification of women at chauvinism. Laura did say “I thought at least one chauvinist would’ve tried to defent the objectification of women by now.”
I just don’t see how that’s inaccurate.
Beyond defending that point, trying to open up a broader discussion on the topic of comics and Chauvinism probably wasn’t appropriate in the wake of Laura’s fair comment. When you use Chauvinist and “objectification of women” in the same sentence, you have an established word and definition.
You know, if you prefer discourse.
Me, I just prefer a little funny to shut down what is obviously a hugely philosophical discussion — not to mention one I would engage in on a different medium (if you wish to class me as ignorant and what-not).
The new 52 has been perfect but their has been a lot of good stuff. The Justice League books, Batman, Batman and Robin, Action Comic and Wonder-woman have all been good(as have others) further DC has shown an unprecedented willingness to change direction when a title has clearly mis-stepped. Starfire was a sad failure and its not the only one but don’t act like its close to universally terrible.
Judging by the rest of your post, I think you meant to write “The new 52 has not been perfect”.
Also, “there” instead of “their”.
Well, I thought your comment was good. I agree. No need to go jumping down people’s throats.
This exactly, and she went light with the guy.
For example, he still has his entire shirt and an actual mask.
And she still hasn’t gone into buttshots territory.
Hmmm, if Jacob lost the weight and put on Batman’s cowl, Amber would go ME WANT!
Am I the only one who sees this? Probably…
You and at least three other people, several threads up.
Well, we know her mom already has…
Whenever I run in to this argument (that the men are sexually objectified too), I find I have to agree. But not for the reasons the arguer usually means. The guys are treated as sexual objects, yeah. But for the straight male fantasy, not the female one. It’s not just a power fantasy, but a narcissistic sexual fantasy as well. Either way though, it targets the straight male viewer.
I can find you several hundred slashfics and Livejournal communities that say lots of women find the musclemen very attractive. Especially when they’re making out with each other.
The argument is not “no male superheros are attractive to women.” It has never been. It never will be. If you think it is then you have fundamentally misunderstood the entire issue.
But there’s already a not-overmuscled, dexterous Batman! He’s called New Frontier Batman. He doesn’t have eyes, blush, or luscious lips though, so I guess Amber wins.
Oddly enough, this ties in nicely with a project I’m working on…
(Also love the “Th..that art makes me feel uncomfortable.” That is often what runs through my mind when certain artists ply their trade. Background radiation indeed.)
“The background radiation of my life.” Love it!
Me too, that choice of words made me giggle so much
Years and years of anime have desensitized me to such art. You really want to incite a fan-comment war all you need to do draw the attention of one thing…
I always thought that Batman’s style lent itself more towards a dextrous style of musculature. Having all those muscles really slows you down.
AHHHHH!! GET IT AWAY FROM ME!!
I remember when my (female) friend made me watch Ouran High School, and for the first time I really understood how women must feel about this kind of stuff.
What are you talking about? Ouran is one of the most badass manly anime for manly badasses out there:
Buddy, there’s a couple of badass manly anime. Ever heard of Hokuto no Ken?
Seriously? No one’s gonna say it? I have to?
Raw raw fight the power? Anyone?
That’s “Row Row, Fight the Powah,” son! Get your nerd right!
Only on the internet, my friend! “Row, row” is the meme, “Raw, raw,” is the actual wording.
Yes, I know the original song is “Rap is a Man’s Soul,” but “Libera Me from Hell” is so much better.
Then that singer’s diction sucked. A lot.
You want incredibly manly manly anime? Try Gurren Lagann.
That’s kind of amazing. Now I really want to read more of these, ’cause I’m betting he’s got all KINDS of manly bad-ass shit to say about someone who captures magic cards and crap.
Wow, if that show makes men feel that way then I really DON’T give a shit, ‘cuz Ouran’s one of my favorite shows. Art there doesn’t bother me at all.
Good to know my “I don’t give a damn” opinion on this subject is backed up by my REALLY not giving a damn
So what DOES a female character written as a female power fantasy look like, anyway?
I haven’t payed much attention to comics in years outside of stuff people link to, so my opinion may or may not be worth much to you, but I have a deep and persistent love for Alex Ross‘s version of Power Girl. Especially given my (admittedly foggy) memories of how easily she can be mishandled.
Going by a crapload of (Jane Ëyre-copying) romance novels, Twilight and many of the Shoujo manga I’ve read over the years?
Bland, but somehow having guys falling for her all over the place. I guess you could add in “princess without knowing it” (figuratively, mostly) for a lot of Shoujo – start out normal, turn out to be last member of, for example, four-winged angel race around whom the universe ends up revolving.
I’m not sure it makes a lot of sense, but it seems really easy to write (as opposed to Jane Austen-style stuff).
Lolno. Using Twilight as an example of female power? Your idea of a “female power fantasy” is still defined by men.
I’d say mine would be pretty much any of Tamora Pierce’s heroines. Intelligent, capable, creative, and in control of their own lives and destinies. Frankly, not a lot of female characters are like that.
Tamora Pierce’s characters are a very, very good example. Alana in particular is independent, strong, determined, her story is self-motivated, and she herself is attractive.
I would also say certain characters in Firefly– particularly Zoe is a fantastic example of the feminine power fantasy. I think Jadzia Dax from DS9 might be a good one, too. (But not Ezri. >_>)
You’re right; these characters are rare, but I bet I could think of even more if I put my mind to it.
Actually, I was referring to appearance, especially stylised appearance. But thanks.
Honestly, from what I’ve seen, a small figure (small breasts, small waist, small hips); long legs; long, thick, wavy hair (color varies); and gorgeous, intricate attire. When you look at these women, you see their clothing.
In other words, aside from the clothing, they’re the same as the archetypical any female superhero.
Did you miss “small breasts,” rather than “lamp pole with two attached beach balls?”
Actually the figure suits the clothing, not the other way around. Smaller proportions are easier to draw and detail. My experience is mainly with female art majors, who are just simply doodling. I myself, an untrained straight female who just doodles in the margins of her notes, enjoy drawing a variety of faces. Most of the time my characters are in sweatshirts and jeans so I don’t have to bother with body-shape.
I would not expect “a mannequin / dress form” to be anyone’s fantasy, but… *shrug*
Depends, but honestly “bland” sort of applies a lot there too. Clothing can occasionally be gorgeous, particularly for Cinderella moments.
Feel free to correct me. I’ve read some stuff, but I’m by no means the authority on this.
As a female, my power fantasy definitely involves having an appearance that no one ever feels the need to make inappropriate comments about. So, yes, “bland,” or pretty enough that I don’t have to hear about how ugly I am, without being “hot” and having to hear about how much of a filthy slut or idiot I must be.
Actually, yes, bland is also pretty common too. I just wasn’t sure if I should say it or not, for fear of backlash. But bland as in…everyday? A comfortable sort of bland. Not bland as in boring.
” I was referring to appearance, especially stylised appearance. But thanks.”
That leads to a dilemma. Because if it’s visual examples you want, then you’re limited to movies and comic books, both of which are heavily, /heavily/ male dominated.
Personally? Fatima, from Friendly Hostility, is one of my all-time favorites.
In other words, an average harem anime protagonist, except female.
You’re confusing female power fantasy with “self-insertion” fantasy. The explicit idea behind Bella was to make her *so bland* and *so average* that any girl could basically pretend Bella didn’t exist and imagine herself there instead.
A female power fantasy would involve a woman who was awesome, a woman we WANTED TO BE, as opposed to a woman in whose SHOES we would want to be. There’s a big difference between those two.
Additionally, with shoujo manga there, you’re forgetting that there’s plenty of male equivalents. (Tenchi or Kenichi from Tenchi Muyo! and Ah! Megami-sama being particularly well-known examples from the ‘harem’ sub-genre.) In fact, in these situations, I’d argue that we’re almost always dealing with a ‘harem’ situation, where there’s at LEAST two guys or two girls vying for the affections of the bland main character.
These aren’t power fantasies at all but romantic fantasies. Try again? a
Yeah, you’re right. I mixed the two up.
But beyond “special snowflake background”, “‘everyone’ loves her” and “super pretty”(mind, this is different from ‘sexy’ – compare ‘princess’ to ‘dominatrix’ and you’ll get an idea)… Well, I’m drawing a blank here, and those aren’t all that good for this I suspect. Hm, though those are pretty big I guess.
You could probably gather the appearance thing from any fanfic with a Mary Sue in it. Or from this:
The problem is both “princess” and “dominatrix” are roles initially brought out by men for one reason or other. It’s possible for someone, not just a female, to write a strong and powerful female character in either of these roles that’s not simply a sexual objectification.
A big problem is we’re still in a male-centric society. In order for women to break out of the norms presented for them and what they’re *supposed* to think is a power fantasy for them, they have to look elsewhere. This is a case of nurture preventing female evolution in stories regardless of the medium.
A big problem with the power fantasy for women is that we’re supposed to feel like being sexy will inhibit it. Powerful women aren’t attractive because attractive women have no need to be powerful. It’s very cyclical so it takes encouragement to break out of that role. It also takes a finesse to be able to create a powerful female character that’s still sexy without it focusing on it. I shouldn’t have to make a female character “ugly” in order for her to not be a sex toy.
Well, thanks for trying. Sob. I wish it weren’t so difficult, for a lot of reasons.
Way late to the party, but I’ll give you my own (once-realized) power fantasy: I tend to dress down but I clean up well. I don’t need to be prettier for my tastes (although there’s some flab I could do without). My personal power fantasy is to once again be where I was about ten years ago when I was shovelling grain for a (really decent) living: To once again not only be making $60k+ a year, but also to be strong enough that, walking down the street and looking around, if it came down to it, I could pretty much take any guy there.
It is SO HORRIBLE to live your life with the knowledge that the only reason that ANY of the guys around you aren’t raping you AT THAT MOMENT is because they just don’t feel like it. That the only thing stopping them from doing whatever the hell they wanted to and with you is THEM, that if it came down to it, you couldn’t stop them. And the only way you’d get away is if someone else decided to stop and help.
Think about how very powerless that would make anyone feel.
Then think about feeling like that in a culture that seems to think that all women are actually for is sex.
Yeah. It’s like that.
Now, imagine that you had enough physical strength that you had the freedom that pretty much any man out there has: the freedom to just walk down the street. To just be out in public without having to keep an eye on every person who gets too close, or who is acting at all off, or who in some way triggers that “something isn’t right” instinct. Well, I mean, okay, you do anyways, but it’s from the perspective of being alert and being ready to beat them off if need be, not from one of cowering terror and having to decide, moment-to-moment, which is the safest direction in which to run. And wondering if you can run fast enough for long enough.
You want a female power fantasy? For me, at least, it isn’t “Gee, wouldn’t it be awesome to be so sexy that guys would just fall at my feet and do whatever I wanted!” For me, at least, it’s “I want to be strong enough that I can go toe-to-toe in a fight with anyone who comes against me and win.” And I speak from experience. I had that (my health is interfering with that right now).
You show me a woman who is pulling down good money, and who can beat the crap out of any guy who tries any shit with her, and I will show you an empowered woman.
You wanna know my female power fantasy? It’s Ripley. Ripley, and Sarah Conner from T2. Kick ass, you wonderful women!
I gotta go with Ripley from Alien or Alien 4. Both are awesome!
Katniss from The Hunger Games is an excellent example.
“So what DOES a female character written as a female power fantasy look like, anyway?”
Wait, she was written by a man. Um, Izumi Curtis. Cordelia Naismith.
You mention Izumi and not Olivier Armstrong? Blasphemy! Heck, just about any female from FMA could be a female power fantasy depending on what sort of power you fantasize about. Even May Chang is pretty badass, and Winry’s genius automail tech could easily be a power fantasy for some.
But Olivier and Izumi are probably the best fits.
Maybe Ayn Rand’s “Dagny Taggart”? Attractive, yes, but intelligent, competent, independent, credible…
That actually looks pretty similar to Paul Pope’s take on Bats in Batman: Year 100. His version was leaner and more realistically built too.
Hmmm… with the lack of dumbasses attempting to defend the idiot, I’m willing to play strawman so people can have their needed drama release.
Nah, there’s one dude up top. He’s kind of doing the converse (“Being sexy is like a superpower”), but it’s distasteful enough to get my goat.
bah, this is all fleshy nonsense anyway.
The REAL discrimination is against Robosexuals. When was the last time you saw a nice, attractively square robot in comics? REAL robot shapes like Pollo barely exist in comics. Awesome Andy has a pretty attractivce head I guess…..but thats about it.
We need REALISTIC robot shapes in comics, its the only way to get more of them interested in reading.
Slimmer and pouty lips? Isn’t that just Batman beyond?
OH NO YOU DI’INT!
That is what I was thinking.
Anyways, isn’t this just female fantasy from an otaku’s perspective? Unless you’re into that style not all chicks are gonna go for disproportionally-big eyes over more normal-looking ones. And there are plenty of girls not into the feminine, “bishonen” look. Just ask the chick who draws Manly Men Doing Manly Things. Plenty of women like their fantasy men gruff and muscly, and probably moreso back when these comic characters were created, before the androgynous look was as popular as today.
Mind you, I don’t claim to know too much about what women like (foreveralone.jpg). Still, just sayin’.
This calls for Science!
Given that, historically, actual interest and attention to what women find attractive has always been pretty low for centuries, it’s hard to say when the ‘androgynous’ thing started appealing — but research seems to suggest that men who look like Amber’s drawing have been popular looong before that. (Google Elvis Presley, hon.)
There’s actually a theory out there that explains the attraction to either manly or effeminate men. Before pregnancy, a woman’s survival instincts are going to encourage her to go for a strong, alpha male who will both be able to provide for her while pregnant and sire a strong child.
After birth, the woman tires of the man and wants someone able to empathize and help care for the child. Someone… more feminine.
Birth control uses hormones to trick the body into thinking it’s pregnant in order to prevent eggs from being released. This changes the natural order of things and influences the mind’s interpretation of what’s needed for survival.
This doesn’t explain women who aren’t on it or anything else but it’s a theory. *shrug*
Yeah, a lot of the women I know who feel this way aren’t on birth control or pregnant or married. a It’s an interesting thought, but DAMN evolutionary psychology is complicated. We’ve been studying it for ages and we still don’t really have more than vague theories. (True of all psychology branches, really, which makes sense given that it’s a science entirely devoted to taking results and then using deduction to try and figure out the causes. Like if all of math rested upon people going “25!” or “2 billion!” and all mathematicians had to spend their time theorizing about the literally infinite ways that those numbers could have come into existence.)
Or it could just be that women and men mistakenly think you can only be stereotypically masculine or feminine as well as women and men shortsightedly choosing mates they don’t actually want to keep. Women around the globe, stop using your uterus to think and use your brains! Men around the globe, stop using your testicles to think and use your brains! We will all be much happier if that brain thing happened.
Heck, you know what would be great? If we were like Terry Pratchett’s dwarves and just didn’t give a shit about what you were under your clothes until it was time for the mating and child-rearing. Until the opposite gender stops being “other” nothing’s ever going to change. As long as boys are raised and taught different values than girls, nothing’s going to change.
That actually sounds like a really good way to do things.
That’s an interesting theory. It’s almost as if, in ages past, nature had guided females with young children to seek the safety of the group by staying close to and interacting with other females in the tribe, while all their mates went out as lone, silent hunter-gatherers. This theory might even provide a clue as to why researchers frequently report that women typically use more words in everyday conversation than men, almost as if women were wired by evolution to be more socially interactive, more communicative than men.
Pfft! I don’t know what Amber is going on about. Muscled men are a great show of what I find attractive.
Of course I like a lean guy too but that? That is ick.
Short answer is, you and Amber obviously don’t belong to the same collective.
Longer answer: Amber has reason to believe that her preferences are typical of most women, or at least most women who potentially read comics. It’s not universal; some straight women and some gay men like muscles. I personally don’t know what types of men are found more attractive on the whole, but I’ve got a feeling she’s right.
Regarding muscles as a power fantasy, that’s certainly not universal. I’m not into superhero comics, as I don’t share that fantasy. (The animated DCU shows are pretty cool, but I like the designs of those shows.)
I have been lured into buying superhero comics with pretty girls on the cover! I’ll admit that much. Just curious, but have you ever been swayed to buy something with great muscle art on the cover?
Amber has reason to believe that her preferences are typical of most women
She actually doesn’t say at any point that what she’s drawing is any kind of universal notion of what women find attractive.
She says that the portrayal of men in comics has nothing to do with what women find attractive, which is correct. Certainly some women do find that portrayal of men attractive, but that has nothing to do with why they’re portrayed that way.
Amber lays out her idea of a sexualized fantasy male produced for the female gaze. Her statements make it clear she’s speaking to what she personally finds attractive. It’s in no way stated to be what all women everywhere will find attractive, but the point is that it’s something produced to cater to women.
That it also – per some comparisons above – tracks with a version of male sexualization that’s sold like, a trillion movie tickets to women, indicates that she’s certainly not the only woman who might find this sort of fantasy appealing.
You’re absolutely right. I realize too late at this point that Amber’s arguing from her own perspective, same as in the previous Tokenism Guy comic. But Willis is making a much broader appeal, otherwise why make this comic?
Aside from the laughs, I mean. (I like Sexy Batman! But just not that way. Y’know?)
You caught me making a false assumption, that Amber was playing a “tribal feminist.” I was trying to support DiDi in her perspective with my smart-alec remark, but I went too far the other way, assuming our heroine was speaking for all women, when nothing I’ve ever seen her do would suggest that she’s ever done that. (I came over here from DoA around mid-year, around when Mike proposed to Amber. I’m slowly reading the archives from the beginning to catch up.)
I indirectly did point out a way that the double standard makes sense, which only highlights the fact that comics are only being sold to straight men. If they’re not into comics for the Power, they’re into them for the Sex. (And maybe for the Story, but only maybe.) Women could get into them for the Power, but if they’re like Amber, the sex appeal has no draw, and it’s just “background radiation.”
That’s not a problem with the movies. It’s hard to design a male costume that’s muscular without appearing campy. So the male characters and their actors can be visually appealing to most women in a way that alludes the male audience, and the power dynamics are picked up by the story. (Plus, more explosions!)
I think you got caught in the intellectual pitfall that a man in a work speaks for one man, but a woman in a work speaks for all women.
Common in our culture, that one.
In simple (perhaps too simplistic) terms, men like beauty, women like strength. Sometimes the symbol of strength is a strong body, sometimes it’s a strong leader-like personality, but it’s always there (I use the word “always” in fear of someone who’ll jump in and say “not for me it isn’t!”). Part of strength is ability to create tension, because that speaks of confidence, a kind of strength. Mystery is tension, in a way.
Batman’s nearly-always-closed eyes will be alluring to some women, because the mystery is there – they can’t help wondering what his eyes look like open, and find themselves fixated on the idea of staring into those eyes they can’t see.
Lean physique is a different kind of strength than raw muscle power, too – it betrays agility and skill at challenging or tricky physical movement. As Napoleon would have it, “girls like guys with skills,” because skills are strength in a way.
Men look for beauty, strength can be present but not nearly always. Men are often attracted to weak, vulnerable women – not to devour them, but to protect, as one would a delicate flower, a symbol of beauty. Physical beauty is the most obvious source of beauty to the eye, so beyond even our sexual wiring, many men mistake physical beauty for what they’re actually looking for: a kind heart. Men often have an illusion in which a woman’s personality matches her looks, and this crashes down when they find out she’s got some flaw that’s a dealbreaker for them.
Counterpart to our basic interests in the opposite sex are our needs from that opposite sex. Women exemplify beauty (or they should), thus they seek to be loved, as beauty should be. Men exemplify strength (or they should), thus they seek to be respected, as strength should be.
Please refrain from saying women like X and men like Y. I can tell you from a strictly biology standpoint that that’s a load of hooey and honestly it makes your argument seem weak at best, completely vapid and incorrect at worst. Any person who makes an argument that all things of a group like something is going to be proven wrong.
I’m sure you have a good argument… somewhere. You’re just not presenting it now.
Every man and woman is different. Some women love weaker men. Some women love beautiful mean. Some women love sensual men. Some women love strong men. Some women love smart men. Some women love not so smart men. Some men love stronger women. Some men love beautiful women. Some men love sensual women. Some men like ballbusters so to speak. Some men love smarter women. Some men love not so smart women.
There is no one ‘men like this and women like this’. YES there are evolutionary remnants like that hip to waist ratio that is useful for childbearing, however our culture and society has pretty much overridden that by the fact that we think for more than a split second before attempting to court with something and thus take in to consideration so many more things.
Heck, within single people, you can like strong men, smart men, weak men, dumb men. How do I know this?
I have a thing for short guys. And talls guys. And chubby guys. And muscular guys. And outgoing guys. And shy guys. And smart guys. And dumb guys. And loving guys. And jerky guys. They all push my buttons in JUST the right ways… but in different ways, at different times, etc.
Oversimplifying it down to “There is one magic button that makes men or women’s hearts go aflutter” is far too simple. Humans aren’t that simple. If they were, it would be MUCH easier for people to get in to relationships.
There hasn’t been a single ‘type’ since the advent of higher intelligence. Cultural and societal influences as well as the fact that we have developed distinct personalities outside of our breeding ideals have led to a wide array of what is found attractive. Again, why some women find narrow shouldered men to be the bees knees.
The only somewhat decent part of your argument is “Our basic interests in the opposite sex are our needs from that opposite sex.”
Well. Not really. It’s still pretty bad. Here, lemme edit it to “Our basic interests in potential partners are our needs from that partner.”
There we go. Much less full of false, fail and not so correct. End point?
People are different, don’t lump everyone as the same. It’s really. really. really. stupid.
I agree with most of your argument but I am staunchly anti-abstract-thought and I take offense at your implication that there was just one single ‘type’ before the advent of higher intelligence.
Well, biologically speaking, species do tend to go towards features that express the highest biological fitness. There tends to be one or two ideals for most animals who’s mating processes are completely controlled by instinct. Long tails in peacocks, bright carotenoids in other birds, certain pheromones, longer tails in some rats, etc. I was just going towards the ‘ideal’ of who they would choose to mate with in a group.
You’re right though, that might be simplifying it too much. There are probably a lot of factors I’m not thinking of.
“Women exemplify beauty (or they should)”
Perhaps the reason you have to keep going back to explain what you REALLY meant is because your way of expressing things is so incredibly awkward?
How do women who like other women fit into those “simplistic” terms?
We’re nonexistent in the world of heterosexual male trolls, of course.
No, no, no. In the world of the heterosexual man troll, women that like other women are around because, a) they know that guys like to watch them, thus it is because they, deep down, want to please the man and b) every girl is a little gay until the right big strong guy can come along and give her what she really needs.
Verbose troll is verbose.
And sometimes the opposite of everything you said is true. Almost as though people are individuals with varying tastes. Even women! I hope I’m not blowing your mind too hard with that concept.
For example, I love strong women! Particularly when strong is defined as “has good hygiene.” But also when strong is defined as “can take care of herself and doesn’t need my big strong man-arms to protect her.” Call me crazy, but I like women who are fully-formed human beings, rather than accessories to accentuate my uber-manliness.
That’s using the same logic as the argument that “women should be flattered to be raped because their attractiveness overwhelmed the poor guy! It’s a compliment! He couldn’t control himself!” and it stinks just as badly.
You already have a thread for making yourself look like an Armada Sideswipe among Generations Wheeljacks. You don’t need this one.
From here on out, all colorful metaphors, no matter what the subject, must be in the form of Transformers toy observations.
It has been decreed.
Everyone likes beauty. Everyone likes strength.
Except, perhaps, those who feel inadequate because they compare themselves to the exemplars of either or both and find themselves lacking.
Mostly they still like strength, just not being shown up.
Being good at something different, for example.
men like beauty, women like strength
Your theory is wrong. So wrong that the most interesting question is not, “How is it wrong?” but rather “what is going on in the mind of the person who proposes such a stupid theory that he could be so very very wrong?”
My theory: you’re an idiot.
Basically, you’re super-invested in defending the sexist status quo. You’ve been taught a bunch of stupid sexist myths about How Men Are vs. How Women Are. You not only believe them, you seem to be quite disconcerted by the fact that there are many people out there who correctly see them as horse puckey.
Having read both your arguments, I think the word you’re looking for re: “what women want in men”, is confidence — specifically, self-confidence — not strength.
Any human being looking for an equal partner wants confidence, because a confident person is someone who knows how to take care of themselves emotionally, is able to clearly say what they want and need, and can make shit happen when shit needs to be happening. Sure, they’re still going to have weak, hurting, self-hating moments and need comforting, but that’s not all the time. They can be there for you when you’re weak and you have a chance to recover so you can been there for them when they are weak.
The majority of tough, muscle-bound superhero dudes are ALSO highly self-confident go-getters who generally know what they want out of life, but that’s part of the fallacy. Just like women are encouraged to go “if only I had big tits and a flat stomach, I’d become successful and confident!”, men are encouraged to go “if only I was built like He-Man, I could take charge of my life and women would want me!”
Now, the thing about “men want beautiful women”…. well. Everyone wants a partner who’s ‘beautiful’ to them, which, given individual taste, can cover everything from Halle Berry to Rosanne Barr. But the certain types of guys who’re going to favor “beauty” over all that “strength, self-assurance, complex inner world, ability” business generally tend toward the insecure and self-hating. Sure, a “strong” woman could support, comfort, and bolster them emotionally without ever requiring the same in return, but she also wouldn’t need him. That can be pretty scary.
Confidence = strength. Strength is very abstract like that.
“abstract like that”….not particularly, no.
You know, when I say ‘confidence’, no one is going to mistake it as meaning or including the definition of ‘physical prowess’. That’s really what the problem comes down to, with me. Few people imagine a PHYSICALLY strong male hero as being insecure, self-doubting, and/or incompetent, just like few people would imagine an EMOTIONALLY strong and self-confident male hero as being physically weak, unattractive, overweight, and/or poor. Even though both cases are entirely possible and have plenty of real-world examples.
I’m not trying to be picky here. I’m not saying that ‘strong’ can’t also mean confident, because it can, or that ‘strong’ can’t have many meanings. I know that no one being told that a man who had the “strength” to endure cancer is automatically going to start wondering how much he can bench-press or how firm his abs are.
But when it’s used in the context of comic book heroes or tired discussions of “what women want” (aka: “what certain men think women want, despite actual women actively disagreeing”), the physical aspect is a huge part. Again, guys are encouraged to believe that physical perfection will bring them confidence and therefore, tail.
Please never stop posting, you wonderful self-caricature, you.
Women need to GTFO and go back to the kitchen and make me a sammich
This is so incredibly unfunny that I can’t even come up with a sarcastic response along the lines of ‘Hah! It’s funny because *insert reason it’s not funny at all*’.
It’s one of those phrases that the speaker pretends to be joking, but there really is no way that anyone who doesn’t share that view point would make that joke. (At least without apologizing profusely and hiding in shame right after)
I like this comic.
Is it weird that I find Superman actually being a dick less offensive then someone pretending to be a dick? xD
It’s a little funny, but at least we know it’s out of character for Superman so that’s comedy right there.
Is that so? Irony doesn’t exist? I can’t say the exact opposite of what I mean and believe? Everything I say is exactly what I believe in the core of my existence?
Butter is better than eggs. Eggs are better than butter. I’M SO CONFUSED! HOW CAN I BELIEVE IN TWO MUTUALLY CONTRADICTORY STATEMENTS!?!?
Or is it funny because it’s so completely and patently untrue that I couldn’t believe that there was a single person (specifically in this company, we all know the world is filled with assholes) who would actually take it seriously and therefore they would know I was being ironic.
I did think it was funny, by the way.
Yeah, its a lot funnier when Willis does it anyway.
Well, sure, he took the time to draw the whirly lines around the planet and everything.
Youtube is that way.
To be fair, not all guys who read comic books are into the women in those comics. I’m kinda tired of supermodels in tights. Also, Amber has her points all mixed up. She says that characters being hulks shouldn’t make men feel bad because women aren’t attracted to hulks… So what? Being ripped is perceived by most young men to be the pinnacle of attractiveness and status (ie why there are so many abs pics on dating sites). Unfortunately this leads a lot of guys to take steroids or to kill their bodies with damaging workout regimes.
Point being, women perceive Giant boobs and no waist to be what men want and men perceive huge muscles to be what women want. BOTH GENDERS ARE AFFECTED. The women vs men fight is stupid.
Oh and btw, I do superhero cosplay and feel really shitty when I don’t quite fill out the role because I cannot build muscle mass. It really does go both ways.
Try googling false equivalence. I understand your point. However, men are all over the place in media. Men get to be powerful and strong and confident.
Women on a whole are there to be a token love interest or family. I’m definitely making an oversimplified generalization but look at the genders in any medium as a whole. And then look at comics.
Certain DC artists and writers have a long way to go to reach gender equality. Women are drawn in ridiculous poses that cannot possibly let them accomplish anything simply to highlight their curves.
I understand that men are under pressure to look like the men in comic books. I understand that it results in a lot of insecurities just like the insecurities women go through. Let me know when they start making sexy statues of male comic book heroes opening a jar of pickles.
Oh I don’t disagree that women in comics are pretty bad, I grimaced when I red the Ultron initiative, but men get the short stick in other areas. In other forms of media, tv shows for instance men are pretty much portrayed as either alpha or beta males, and in commercials men are almost always portrayed as idiots (“without us some guys would starve”). Outside of dramas there is very little middle ground.
My point is that men and women kinda get screwed over. Hell I’ve met people so indoctrinated by the “Alpha” representation of males that they are shocked by any show of emotion from a guy…
I agree that men definitely get screwed over too… just in different ways, like you said. I’m all for bending gender roles on either side and getting rid of double standards regardless of the gender.
I consider myself a gender equalist as opposed to a feminist. Too many loud idiots have given it such a negative stigma. I also feel that some of the negative roles males have placed on themselves is to distance males from females… based on stereotypes males have made up about females and kind of perpetuated themselves. It’s all one big happy cycle.
Did anyone else think of Jacob in a batsuit when you saw the drawing???
If your argument were true then that is what we would see on the covers of products that are marketed almost entirely to women…but what you described does not sound like most of the men on the covers of romance novels (which are marketed to women) the men on those covers are rippling muscled hulks. Now that may not be what every woman wants, but it is certainly shows that this is what some women want. Now, I agree that women are sexually objectified in comic books, but this is not the best way to prove it.
As someone who works in a library and thus sees far too many of those covers:
Those men may be rippling hunks, but a) They are, on average, nowhere near as overmuscled as the average superhero and b) usually posed in a very sensual/seductive manner, not unlike the “sexy ladies” of the comic book world. Heck, and least half the covers just feature a shirtless torso and enough leg to see that his pants are almost about to come off, without even bothering to show the face. But overall, they’re muscled, but in softer, come-hither poses.
Don’t forget the flowing, luxurious locks.
Or being set in the old west or scotland or London in the Edwardian era because the reader can usually visualize that with little effort.
They only have that if they have a face.
That’s why the hair is long, so it can be visible even if the face isn’t.
‘False equivalence’ in comic book idealization is a profoundly stupid and naive argument. Look at the success of Twilight to see why it’s so preposterously STUPID and false.
…I disagree with this, but it’s communicated so badly I’m not quite sure what I disagree with. Is your intent to argue that, because Twilight is a sexual fantasy for girls, Superman is also a sexual fantasy for girls?
Twilight is big hunky powerful sexy guys who don’t act much like guys who can smash cars the way that most real guys can’t serving as idealized romatic interests for a girl who doesn’t act much like a real girl. It’s trashy popular fiction aimed at women and it does everything the superhero comics do while pretty much ignoring Amber’s “I speak for all women on matters of taste” rules for why idealization and objectification are supposedly different.
So disagree and snark at communication skills all you want while not being able to articulate why you disagree or even what you are actually disagreeing with. Whatevs.
Superhero comics generally aren’t marketed at women (I’d say they are marketed mostly at 40+ year old males who for some reason didn’t graduate to reading horror and crime thrillers but still want horror and crime thriller elements in their comics, sort of messing things up. )
Cheese aimed at women does pretty much the same crap about the same way. And it does mix sexy and powerful up without much thought for adherence to awkward value theories of pop-culture and subculture humanities analysis focusing on women’s studies.
Comics tend to focus on idealization more than they do aspects of real character development because Bruce Wayne is barely a real character and neither is Batman or the Joker. Neither are the cyphers in Twilight. It’s all very simplified stuff because the whole point is to titillate some backward little chunk of the id that needs scratching without blocking off the potential to titillate other bits of the id that might conflict with the first. Thus Batman yo-yos from being relatable to being crazy in the comics and Twilight follows strange soap opera like swings from who ‘what’s her face’ likes best. It’s a form of mild porn. Always has been.
You’re saying that the hunks in Twilight are equivalent to superheroes in comic books. In other words, men read/watch Twilight and fantasise about being those guys. Really? That seems pretty suspect to me. Draw an equivalence to superheroines and you’ll be closer to the nub of the issue.
True, guys don’t generally fantasize about being Edward… but that has more to do with the “story” than what the Twilight boys are like. If the stories were *about* the dudes being strong and smashing shit up, guys like me would be all about it–apart from the glitter, anyway. Instead, the stories are about which hunky boy is more creamworthy, so men scoff and take no interest. I wonder what the perception of sexual objectification in hero comics would be if the stories were more akin to Twilight, while retaining the same bodies and costumes they have currently. Picture it and see what you think.
You’re saying that the hunks in Twilight are equivalent to superheroes in comic books. In other words, men read/watch Twilight and fantasise about being those guys. Really?
The equivalence is that they are designed to appeal to the target audience (young women), just as comic book women are designed to appeal to the target audience (young men). And both have been criticized for being sexist.
Yes, that’s what I just heavily implied in the part of my comment you inexplicably cut out of your reply.
“while pretty much ignoring Amber’s “I speak for all women on matters of taste” rules for why idealization and objectification are supposedly different.”
Except Amber doesn’t say that. She talks about her own personal preferences. She is providing an example of an exception to the overall belief of what women want, proving that “All women want powerful manly men” is not true.
Comparing how men are represented in things aimed at women who dig men with how women are represented in, well anything, isn’t going to work. How the men are in Twilight, has not affected how men are represented everywhere else, you still get a lot of male characters who fall in to the super manly man type the guy in today’s comic complains about. Women being represented as T&A is pretty much everywhere, even outside of things aimed at men who dig women.
Superhero comics are mostly about a cruel and idealized world where ordinary people and realistic details just aren’t good enough and so they aren’t allowed as anything but secondary complications between the heroes and villains blowing crap up. Sexual appeal, even with twisted forms of it, IS portrayed as a form of power that can be wielded over others and used to establish hierarchy or membership in an elite group of “important” if 2d characters in a superhero comic. Physically powerful people are also portrayed as much sexier than boring normal people in these comics. Trying to separate the two forms of idealization into different phenomena is total BS.
Sexual appeal is only a weapon in comics if the wielder is female.
I’ve got to say, that Batman would have a hard time throwing fear into that cowardly superstitious lot. He’d be far more likely to get confused looks and laughter.
My wife would probably get the hots for that batman… though she’d also probably wind up cheating on him with someone she thought seemed less of a puss… ’cause she’s kinda chauvinistic like that. And apparently so am I. Huh.
Weird how none of the criminals get confused and laugh at all the female superheroes who look ridiculous and sexualized when they’re suppose to be intimidating.
I wasn’t aware that those hyper-sexualized female superheroes were specifically designed to strike fear in their enemies. If anything, they seem designed to distract their enemies with the sexy.
Huntress is suppose to be a stalks-the-night, Batman-esque superhero, only even more scary violent. Her costume rarely reflects this.
I don’t know much about her, but reading her Wikipedia entry (so shoot me, I don’t have the time or the access to read through years of comics to get a real good answer) doesn’t give me the impression that she geared herself specifically to strike fear into the criminal element any more than Superman does.
She shoots people with a crossbow. Her approach is not at all similar to Superman’s…
she hunts crime primarily at night, was originally connected to the batman mythos, uses a deadly weapon and has no problem roughing the baddies up too much.
what part of this doesn’t sound like a “win-through-fear” persona?
what really annoys me with that sort of thing is how often comic women, and also action film women wear high heels while fighting. “I am about to go out run over roof tops, fling myself around, kick serious butt…and I just got these great heels to die for.” I actually feel insulted when it happens, esp. in films where they wear hells, but the stunt double doesn’t. (I’m looking at you Watchmen and Suckerpunch.)
Hey, high heels are perfectly appropriate for those situations, so long as they go with the outfit.
leather corsets, thongs, bikinis, and various other skimpy clothing that wouldn’t protect anybody in a real fight.
criminals would still fear him, but it would be a different kind of fear.
Considering how intimidated manly, manly men seem to be of Teh Ghey, that Batman really should have them shitting themselves with fear.
Sure does make me feel uncomfortable. But great drawing. Would make a great wallpaper.
I could be talking out my back side but does anyone every keep the thought on the artists and writers?? They created something in there ideal fantasy, view or whatever. who is really entitled to really say anything, other than i don’t like the work I’ll try something else, if you can’t find something go created, if your too lazy to create the ideal work of your own imagination then shut up it must not be that important to you in the first place if you have yet to solve your small pointless problem or what you think is a problem. God forbid people found a real reason to be critical about something? But that’s just my opinion anyway.
I don’t understand your point. Are you saying that people aren’t allowed to form an opinion on something and discuss it unless they’ve gone out and made their own creations?
Do you realize how stupid that is? Probably not…
Normally, I’d agree with you…I do get very angry sometimes when I see people with no understanding of how a process works making un-informed “suggestions” on how to improve it. However, I AM a creator. (A writer.) And as one, I feel, strongly, that I have to think about what underlying thoughts and assumptions go into my work. The act of creation, for someone who does it regularly, is NOT some magical “this comes from deep within and I have no control of what takes shape” process…you’re still a newb at your craft if you really believe you can’t control what you produce; you consciously CHOOSE to write THIS book, or draw THAT comic. It is a choice. In the comics world, artists (and writers) consciously promote certain themes, because they believe it will make them money. And showing characters in the manner that they do MAY make them a lot of money…I don’t know, I don’t have the data or means to do a test of how differing art styles and differing themes affect revenue. So the question becomes…money or morals? I do believe a business has a right to make money. I believe an artist or writer has the right to produce works that will earn them a living. Those aren’t bad things. But do they have a right to continue polluting the cultural pool on a large scale? I realize that’s a charged statement; an individual can choose not to patronize some creator’s work. And an artist or writer can’t completely control what a reader takes away. You can’t blame the actions of a kid toting a gun to school on the type of music he or she listens to. But it’s also a fallacy that an artist is *entirely* unable to control what a reader takes away…communication, and an exchange of ideas, is still happening. It’s a complex continuum, a complex balance. The problem with the way women are portrayed is that even though this HUGE continuum of expression is AVAILABLE, very, VERY few commercial artists and writers take advantage of it to portray women as strong and capable and beautiful without needing size DD boobs or feeling as if they’re catering to the chick-lit market. And when a woman is raised from birth to adulthood in that “background radiation” like the comic calls it, it’s really hard to begin to change your own thinking to believe otherwise, to empower yourself, particularly if you’re a woman that is not from a strong family with helpful, personal role models. (Lower class women from broken families get shit from both ends…from the crap home life, AND from the media. And media makes a difference…the ONLY reason I am who I am is because I had some very good authors’ books to escape into. I learned morals from them, NOT from my family. But what if I hadn’t liked reading? What if I had been more into comics, or video games, or something else? Would I have found anything that is both interesting AND morally thoughtful? Or rather, would I have found *enough*?)
Essentially, it’s a systematic problem that needs a few thoughtful creators to start turning the boat, because when THAT many creators are all telling women very similar things…well, it becomes really hard to say, as a woman who’s exposed to it, “You’re wrong, I can be a success without these things.” Doesn’t it seem a little like insanity to ignore a message when so many venues are directing it at you? How many people, male or female, have the steel and backbone to stand up to that many voices raised in opposition?
I’m a fan of the Dragon Age games because of the way women are portrayed. Wonderful art and writing there. Yeah, in DA2 there’s a companion character with big boobs. But she’s only one. There is ALSO an equal number of male characters to female, and both male and female span the range of personalities, ranks, ages, power levels, and alignments (both good and evil, gay and straight.) The consumer, in such a situation, has a huge variation in potential role models, no matter if they’re male or female. Bioware’s gotten flack from some portion of the male gamer playerbase, I think about the gay love stories, but they’ve also gotten a devoted female playerbase as well because their game doesn’t ignore that we exist in this world in all our own variation. Perhaps this is an indication for the comics industry that more equal-handed treatment isn’t necessarily a detriment to company revenue?
Ah, sorry. My wall-of-text tendencies strike again.
But yeah. I’ve strong feelings on this.
It’s happened. Gotham Knight.
This kind of debate is irritating.
The comics in question (Catwoman, Red Hood) are crap. The writing is crap. The art is crap. The women aren’t appealing because they are straight out of bad 80s porn with cheesy dialogue (I know, cheesy dialogue in comics, what? Never.) In the case of Starfire, it would be better if she wasn’t in the damn comic. Don’t buy it and they won’t make it, vote with your dollar.
Those two comics are the most recent and glaring example of this. This debate is not specifically about those two comics but the general treatment of women in comics as a whole. Yes, there are exceptions to them but for girls/women trying to get into comics it’s incredibly hard to find them unless you luck across them. This is part of a cycle… it scares women away so only men buy comics so they’re marketed towards men and made for men.
Again, yes. There are exceptions. But this kind of thinking is what caused Catwoman and Red Hood to get made in the first place. Because it’s theoretically the most profitable. This is the problem comics have. They can’t recognize self-defeating cycles and it gets really hard to vote with our dollars if there aren’t a lot of good examples to spend it on. This goes for more than just the sexism issue, too.
Being an impossibly muscled hulk as a male power fantasy…? I’m bothered by that notion. Hyper competence I can see, it’s a generally true power fantasy to be the absolute best at something, regardless of gender. However typifying the comic book visual stereotype of hyper-masculinity as empowering strikes me personally as just as broken and patently offensive a concept as typifying it’s female equivalent that way.
That said, this opinion arises as much as anything because of my feelings on the use of stereotypes in all media as acceptable archetypical material.
It’s not so much the specifics of hyper-musculature that are the empowerment fantasy as much as the notion of “physical perfection” that that hyper-muscled portrayal supposedly represents. Plus it’s all wrapped together with the hyper-competence you mention, plus fantastic superpowers, usually multiple beautiful women falling all over themselves trying to get his attention, etc…
What I guess I’m trying to say is that the “hyper-muscly” build is just one aspect of the overall “empowerment fantasy package” when it comes to male superheroes.
But the overall (and to my mind key) point was made much further up, in that the false equivalency argument falls apart primarily because of the reasons behind the artistic portrayal of male superheroes: It’s not (normally) designed to appeal to females, it’s generally designed to appeal to straight white males, which are considered the primary market for comic books.
I think another interesting area to make the comparison would be on comic-covers: Compare the posing and “tone” of a cover featuring a solo male character vs. one featuring a solo female. I’d bet about 99 times out of 100 if it’s a “solo male” cover he’s posed in a way that’s designed to make him look powerful and/or “badass.” That same 99 times out of 100, the woman is likely posed and/or dressed to look “sexy” above all else. That women might happen to find the “badass” male sexy is tangential…it’s not the main point of how the cover was designed.
I think a huge part of the problem, though, is that these techniques used to market superhero comics to guys are actually uncomfortable for women. I’ve read Twilight to see what the deal was, and though it was offensive and stupid, Edward was not the problem (He’s actually a pretty good character when Bella isn’t weighing around his neck like an anchor, which is 99% of the time, to the book’s detriment)
A target audience does not give you an excuse to make things uncomfortable for those outside it. Imagine if we had a superhero comic called White Superman’s Burden where every time a minority was portrayed it was in the context of them being unable to fend for themselves and needing to be rescued. There is nothing actually racist in the comic; at no time is it expressed that non-whites are inferior, and it in fact contains an Aesop every few issues about how in this modern age race is no issue! But every issue is just White Superman rescuing non-whites from themselves. When complaints are issued, it’s written off as “Well, it’s a Caucasian power fantasy. Our target audience isn’t non-whites”.
The way women are treated in comics is almost exactly the same. We are told they are great awesome heroes with super awesome powers, and they are SO EMPOWERED and STRONG, and FEMINIST ICONS, and then they spend every issue twisting their bodies to get their boobs and butt in the frame, reduced to cardboard cutouts for male gratification. When it’s pointed out how fucked up this is, the response is, well, women don’t read comics.
GEE, I WONDER WHY.
Well yeah, I was agreeing with pretty much everything you’ve said.
Saying that (superhero) comics are targeted at straight white males wasn’t meant to be an excuse, more a further description of the problem. Most publishers only make token (yeah, another loaded word) efforts to appeal to other demographics, and then they aren’t immediate ZOMG SMASH SUCCESSES (even if they often garner critical acclaim) they get canceled and the publisher points back to it and says, “See? No point in targeting anyone but straight white males ’cause no one else buys the books!” Circular logic at its’ finest. Every so often they’ll let a marginal-but-critically acclaimed title linger on a little longer than they otherwise might so they can point at their “diversity and open-mindedness” but it still tends to get canceled in the end (or continually “relaunched”) if it stars anything other than a straight white male.
It is probably worth noting that once you get outside of superhero comics the problem doesn’t seem to be nearly as pronounced, but we all know that superheroes are pretty much synonymous with “comics” in the minds of most people.
And the typical comic-book woman isn’t supposed to be physically perfect?
Perfect for fucking, not perfect for being. In the same way that male superheroes and action stars don’t have fighting styles that consist entirely of sexual positions.
Define “physically perfect”.
Being 5’9″ and 100 lbs. with DDD tits isn’t “physically perfect” for anyone but a porn star. For people whose job is fighting bad guys, it’s completely ludicrous.
5’9″ and 100 pounds isn’t “physically perfect” for *anyone*, no matter her occupation. Try “severely, dangerously underweight.”
I dont think many males fantasy about having lots of muscles at all. I know I sure dont.
The “James Bond” type fantasy is probably a heck of a lot more common.
Even in terms of superpowers, strength is “meh”/vanilla compared to most others.
Thank you. Thank you for being a man who was calm enough to actually sit down, think about it and actually get it.
He forgot to mention the diamond-shaped feet. Do you know how hard it is to get manly feet into such tiny, diamond-shaped boots?
For comparison, did many folks here see the bit on BleedingCool (and reposted on Scans Daily) on “What if the male Avengers posed like the female one?”
Certainly relevant to the discussion here, I’d say.
I saw it. It’s nonsense. Even posed like she was, Widow was still in an “action” pose. Putting the dudes in poses that can only show off their butts is, well, false equivalence.
That is not an action pose, that is a pin-up pose. There is no reason to be in that position, other than showing off her ass and her breasts at the same time.
All the males in the parody picture are still in “action poses” by your definition, except Hulk (In fact, except for Hulk they’re all in variants of the exact same pose they’re in in the original poster). So that picture should be perfectly OK by your own standards.
And oh hey! Look, it’s Black Widow in an “action pose” that doesn’t show off her ass and tits at the same time. Was that so hard?
Got a link?
Take that! Show ‘em how it’s done, Amber!
And the fact that the male power fantasy also happens to make men traditionally “sexy” is totally irrelevant, right?
The argument isn’t that neither is objectified, it’s that both are objectified, and any complaints of objectification should be applied to both genders. And every time someone makes that argument, the retort is that they’re claiming men are as objectified as women, by volume, and/or that women being discriminated against is inherently worse in any given situation because other women have been discriminated against.
For example, that Catwoman post a while back; several people pointed out that the thugs called Bruce Wayne their soon-to-be “bitch”, meaning they were just all-round horrible people, only to be responded to with what I just described. It’s pretty easy to say a game is only misogynist if you ignore any misandry present as well.
Lois Lane spent much of the silver age trying to get Superman to love her by hook or crook, or to find out his secret identity. Talia al Ghul and her father are both interested in Batman mainly because he’s a worthy opponent, and they want him to be his successor. In both cases, the male hero is objectified; not seen as a person, only an object of desire and/or an obstruction. And no one really cares.
How is there not a difference between making one character look attractive so the reader can imagine BEING them and making another character look attractive so the reader can imagine SCREWING them?
Anyway, I can’t believe you’re trying to argue that calling a male character a “bitch” is somehow misandrist. This implies that you have no idea whatsoever that misandry is, and thus probably not what misogyny is either. “Bitch” is a term peojorative to women. When it’s applied to men, it’s done so specifically to compare them to women, to subordinate them. The implication of making someone your bitch is “pussifying” them.
Your point about Superman and Batman is equally devoid of logic. Neither Superman nor Batman has ever been “only an object of desire.”
How is there not a difference between making one character look attractive so the reader can imagine BEING them and making another character look attractive so the reader can imagine SCREWING them?
Oh, so the problem is not solely in the objectification itself, but also in the motive behind it. Why didn’t you say so? That makes sense. So, is the objectification in female-pandering products such as romance novels and Twilight somehow less wrong than that done in products which pander to males? Because your explanation said nothing about gender.
Anyway, I can’t believe you’re trying to argue that calling a male character a “bitch” is somehow misandrist. This implies that you have no idea whatsoever that misandry is, and thus probably not what misogyny is either. “Bitch” is a term peojorative to women. When it’s applied to men, it’s done so specifically to compare them to women, to subordinate them. The implication of making someone your bitch is “pussifying” them.
Given that they were in a prison with a conspicuous absence of women, the implication is that Wayne is going to be raped, and that others have been raped in said prison. Saying they’re going to rape a man with the implication that he wouldn’t be the first, trying to denigrate Catwoman using a sexist term. The implication is that the thugs are just all around horrible people, not just misogynists. And yes, saying you rape men is misandrist.
Is that why Talia addresses him usually as “beloved”? Bruce and Selina have dated, in a conventional fashion, meaning they see each other as people, as totalities. Talia almost inevitably refers to Batman as “Beloved” or “Detective”. Almost never “Bruce”.
By the way, Nightwing was raped. Tarantula killed a guy in front of him, and when he staggered away, traumatized, she had sex with him against his wishes. The writer, Devin Grayson, has been accused of being a Dick Grayson, and some have called Tarantula her Mary Sue. What would you call writing yourself into the story just so you can “save” one of the canon characters, have sex with him, and then drag his copacetic self around town? Oh, right, objectification.
So, is the objectification in female-pandering products such as romance novels and Twilight somehow less wrong than that done in products which pander to males?
No. What ever gave you that idea?
The implication is that the thugs are just all around horrible people, not just misogynists. And yes, saying you rape men is misandrist.
The issue isn’t or ever has been about about the implicit personality traits of some nameless thugs in a video game. The reason people have with Arkham City’s bitchbitchbitchbitch dialogue is because of the irreverence of the writers in throwing around terms like that to SUCH a noticeable extent.
Also, “saying you rape men” is misandrist how?
Yeah, this is pretty much completely irrelevant. The point is, even when he’s the target of a women’s lust, Batman’s greater identity is never compromised. He’s still a fully formed character whose role in the story isn’t centered around another’s obsession with him. Female characters, by comparison, are much more often treated as nothing BUT love interests. Again, it’s not about how characters treat each other, but how the narrative treats its characters. Any single character being in love with another doesn’t automatically objectify the latter; that’s ridiculous.
Also, it must be said that your definition of objectification is incredibly, ridiculously loose if you consider Ra’s al Ghul’s desire for Batman to succeed him as “objectifying.” It’s quite possible that this accounts for how little you understand the problem.
What would you call writing yourself into the story just so you can “save” one of the canon characters, have sex with him, and then drag his copacetic self around town? Oh, right, objectification.
Um, no, sorry, this has little to do with objectification. You throw that term around like candy. The whole Dick Grayson rape thing had a whole host of problems, and Devin Greyson’s input on the matter was idiotic – especially her claim that what happened to Nightwing wasn’t rape. That still does nothing to excuse the more widespread and endemic problems with the presentation of female characters.
I’m sorry, you lost any justification for acting like you knew what you were talking about when you said the fact that being compared to a woman is used as a threat is more important than the threat of rape.
Just because someone has concerns about social justice issues that are on the “side” of the oppressed does not automatically make the concerns valid. I was uncomfortable about the amount of times they called her “bitch”, but I figured Rocksteady got a bit heavy handed trying to convey that these were bad guys. I did not assume they were misogynists, as many seemed to. Most of the logic of those who came to that conclusion seemed to be “they called her ‘bitch’ a lot -> developers are misogynists” with no stops or transfers. Incidentally, the game shows what happens when a force that is not thugs engages Catwoman; the Tyger security guards. They are entirely professional and impersonal, barring their tendency to wander off on their own when they know that’s exactly how Batman likes to pick people off. Their behavior is a marked contrast to that of the thugs.
Being derogatory toward Catwoman is specifically a trait of the characters who are sociopathic. Calling Rocksteady misogynists based on that is like saying a show where a bunch of bad guys kill innocent endangered birds while smuggling them across the border (cf. Captain Planet, Birds of a Feather) is endorsing animal abuse.
Also, once again, I am not saying that women are not objectified. They are, and it seems to happen disproportionately to them in comics compared to men. I am complaining about how objectifying men, which happens more than most people like to discuss, is inherently considered less “bad” than objectifying women.
In fact, Jezebel had an article on why objectification [of men] can be a good thing. I’m not paraphrasing it, that was the title of the article. (They even have a Tag.) Many of the comments criticizing it make some of the same points these comments have.
If objectification is so bad, period, then we should be concerned with wiping it out completely, not just for one gender.
“Also, once again, I am not saying that women are not objectified. They are, and it seems to happen disproportionately to them in comics compared to men. I am complaining about how objectifying men, which happens more than most people like to discuss, is inherently considered less “bad” than objectifying women.”
There are two big problems with this, and along with everyone else, I’m tired of explaining them across the Internet to people who, I suspect, are absolutely determined to resist reason and common sense. But onwards we go:
Firstly, you do not seem to understand what ‘objectification’ is. It doesn’t mean a character is sexualised or given a hot body. It means that being sexualised or having a hot body is the *predomininant trait* that defines them in the reader’s mind, that marks them out, either visually or in terms of their character development.
When you see Cyclops or Wolverine, the first thing you notice is not that they have hulky bodies – it’s the distinctive features of their costumes and stance, things that speak to who they are. Cyclops’ has a huge visor and walks, talks and acts like a leader. Wolverine has claws and a generally feral demeanour.
The vast, vast majority of female characters in comics, however, are designed and drawn so that the first thing to hit the reader is that they’re curvaceous and desirable, and in many (but not all) cases, that goes on to be a main, if not *the* main attribute of the character. THAT is objectifying someone.
Secondly, no one is saying that the objectification of women is WORSE than the objectification of men – they are saying that it continues to have a more harmful impact because the culture of it is more pervasive. Therefore any truly responsible creator will be more sensitive to what they’re colluding in when they objectify women than when they objectify man.
Can you not understand the difference there? It’s like the difference between picking a fight with someone your own size, and joining in beating up someone who is already outnumbered and being picked on. You probably shouldn’t be doing it either way, but the latter is just a helluva lot more shitty.
And this isn’t directed by you in particular, but I really am exhausted by the kind of person who comes to these threads and tries to play the ‘men have it rough too’ card. I know men have it rough too. I’m a man. I’m well aware that we’re the ones who’re more likely to commit suicide, and that there’s a lot of societal pressure on us to be more perfect than we are. But I recogniser that this is a fairly distinct issue to the problem of how women are depicted and treated in male-dominated industries, and it’s a totally inappropriate answer to the topic.
But it doesn’t! That’s like the entire point of the comic you ostensibly just read. Statistically, huge super-muscular men AREN’T what women find sexy. Most prefer the svelte, “pretty boy” type with sensitive eyes, etc.
Women are drawn to be what most men think is sexy. Men are drawn to be what MEN think most women think is sexy. Men and women are both objectified, but the objectification appeals to men both ways.
Wow. Those Harlequin covers lied to me.
Funny thing, though; when works made by women objectify men, it’s not called misandry. Edward from Twilight is an abusive, bipolar, overcontrolling stalker, and most of the concern about his portrayal seems to be how it’s going to harm the girls who read the series.
So when a woman is objectified, the worry is that it’ll harm women (by promoting stereotypical thinking), and when men are objectified, the worry is that men are going to use women’s misconceptions to take advantage of them.
Twilight is sexist. People do complain about it.
But it’s also about romance and sexuality, so the context is different. The protagonist’s love interests being sexy and such is very relevant.
Superhero comics are about powerful heroes fighting equally powerful villains and saving the day. Sexuality might be relevant to part of particular stories, but never to the entire story and never to the genre.
Most people don’t object to a sexy pose or costume. They object to those showing up where they have no business being, where they don’t make any sense.
And a character can be attractive without it being exaggerated, or the focus.
The vast majority of men will never look like Superman. Even the actors who played Superman rarely looked like Superman. Dean Cain, who was no slouch, spent most of his time on the ground with his arms crossed, to make his biceps look bigger.
Most of the complaints I’ve heard about sexism in Twilight are about how it gives impressionable girls distorted ideas about romance with men. Most of the complaints about sexism in comics is that it gives males distorted ideas about women. However, the tone of the latter seems “worse” than that of the former.
Wait, I didn’t say “what women find attractive”, I said “traditionally “sexy”". That is, according to societal archetypes as to what is attractive in men. There are plenty of woman who do find the usual streetwise Hercules on your local comic rack to be attractive. At least, I assume they do, or they wouldn’t be writing slashfics.
And even in Twilight, Jacob. More specifically, Jacob’s muscly, waxed shirtlessness that has girls and women swooning in job lots. You could argue that the standard superhero physique is impossible in real life, but given that’s used as a complaint about the standard superheroine physique, I’m not sure how it could be used as a defense.
Know what? I’d like to revise my statement. The argument that men are also objectified in comics is not always used in the manner I said it was. Many individuals use it to silence criticism of sexism toward women vis-a-vis unrealistic anatomy, as depicted in the comic. However, some use it to point out that the person making the original complaint is only complaining about the objectification of one gender, not both, like I said.
I’m not sure what the two proportions are, and I apologize for any confusion. I would also like to reassert that I think both genders are objectified, though I make no claims as to the relative amounts, and we all could do with a little less of that. There’s a reason the “fat guy in a standard tights n’ briefs superhero costume” has been a joke for decades. (cf. Fawcett/DC’s “Uncle Marvel”)
Your first two paragraphs started out strong. I agree that men are also objectified and that simply because it happens to women doesn’t make it okay. Neither gender should be objectified, and it has to be really irritating to get “well women are objectified way more than men are!” as a response every time someone tries to bring up an argument about men being objectified.
However, this comic book started out with someone, a, telling someone else, b, that their complaints about b’s gender being objectified are stupid because a’s gender is also objectified. So essentially… this is exactly what you were writing about. Because it happens to b doesn’t mean it’s okay for it to happen to a but it’s still bad for b. So on and so forth.
Jesus Dick! It’s like an essay in here!
This comic raises a valid point about gender inequality, and I feel like I should do my part to level the playing field.
So I hereby invite any women present to sexually objectify me to their heart’s content. Go ahead, I won’t get mad. Drool over my obvious physical perfection and potential as a mate. Think thoughts as dirty as you are capable of, I deserve it.
Okay, that one’s a little weird, but I’m willing to look past…alright, a trombone, really? Let’s try to keep a certain base level of maturity, in the spirit of…wait, what’s Bishie Batman doing here dressed in lederhosen? And is that a vat of chocolate cake frosting?! Abort fantasy! Abort!
Not cool. You guys are twisted.
Unless you’re completely hideous or simply never go out in public, you’re probably being sexually objectified on a regular basis.
All I’m saying is you should be wary when you’re out and about in your lederhosen.
Phew. I’m safe.
If you were Tennant, I don’t think you would have trouble getting girls to drool over you.
I see you did not, in fact, google “false equivalence.”
I know what it means. I was being sarcastic.
For example, I’m totally up for vats of chocolate cake frosting. The lederhosen is still a deal breaker, however.
I see you can’t take a joke. The entire tone of his post was full of smartassery.
So…..comic jokes..hey? Am I right?
Eww… As a gay man I find neither the overly muscled look, nor the bishonen look to be sexy. I find a man that looks like he is sexually mature (body hair, triangular torso shape, possibly a shaven head) to be far more sexy, but brains are the most important feature. Unfortunate that it seems immature girls and twinks seem to be controlling mainstream culture and (lack of) taste
Fair enough! As a lesbian, I find the women drawn in comics to be more disturbing than anything… poor woman’s back must be killing her, that waist means she has about 3 inches of small intestine, etc. Then again, I can’t flip through any magazine and not want to buy about a hundred women sandwiches (because they’re airbrushed away to nothing and look hungry, not because I want to take them on the crappiest date ever).
But I cannot say I’ve never found a drawing attractive… I mean, did you see Batgirl Year One? Homina homina!
Mmmmm… Women Sandwiches…
Really, I think “One body type” is another problem with female comic book characters that gets overlooked when people claim “equality.”
There are all kinds of male body types, and a great variety of good-looking men, but only one type of good-looking women. With a few exceptions, the women in comics are all narrow-waisted and big-boobed, with a small amount of variation within those parameters.
Frankly, I’d rather see a greater variety of women, both in those that are powerful and important without having to be sexy above all else, and those that are other kinds of attractive and sexy.
For example, we need more women like (pre-reboot) Amanda Waller.
I’m not even going to specify which of those categories I put her in
I hate the one-body-type look! I don’t read superhero comics, but when I was reading Conan the Barbarian comic adaptations, all the girls had exactly the same face and body! It got to the point that I was thinking, “Oh thank god she has a mole on her face, otherwise I wouldn’t know who she is! She’s mole-lady.”
This is actually similar to what happens in modern shonen manga (basically the Japanese counterpart to American superheroes). They used to be all big and muscular, but, to bring in the female demographic, they now tend to be skinny prettyboys.
In short, I have read too much Katekyo Hitman Reborn for that pic to make me uncomfortable.
KHR is written by a woman; so is D.Gray-Man. I’d be interested to know how many shounen titles featuring this type of male character are actually written by men. I feel like there’s at least one, but I can’t quite think of it…
Actually, most modern shounen titles have abandoned the Hokuto no Ken super hulk look. Toriko is the only currently running title I can think of that still does everyone big and muscular.
Gintama has what’s probably the largest female fanbase for a teen-male-targeted comic in Japan, and it’s written/drawn by a dude. It’s boys are drawn fairly skinny and pretty.
While they aren’t bishounen per se, Naruto is chok full of skinny guys with big eyes who talk about their feelings. Berserk stars a hyper-masculine “Hokuto no Ken” type, but the characters range from that all the way to superfabulous “is that really a guy” bishounen. Rurouni Kenshin also comes to mind. All of the above are written and drawn by men, and aimed at a primarily male audience. Naruto and Kenshin have huge followings of fangirls, however.
“big, impossibly-muscled hulks!”
what is “rob liefeld art”? i’ll take “comic books” for $200, alex.
Totally Random Personal Story Time:
I hold that “background radiation” Amber refers to partly to blame for why it took me so long to realize I was a lesbian, because I wrote off my attraction to women as a side effect of consuming so much entertainment that focused on sexualized women. Of *course* I associated boobies with sex, I’d been spoon-fed that association since childhood!
But no, actually I just like boobies.
A+! I came from a catholic, rush-limbaugh-loving house. I didn’t even acknowledge I was gay until I was 24 (and I lived on my own since 18). Hearing stuff like “homosexuals are evil” and “gay = pedophile” my whole life really biased my self-identity; I didn’t feel evil and children have never been my interest, thus I couldn’t be gay.
I was so, so lucky to not have a conservative family. That’s got to make it a million times harder. My family was okay with it, but I had to get through the fact that I barely knew that lesbians actually existed when I was a teenager. There were, like, the Indigo Girls, and that was it. If I knew any, I didn’t realize it. So I grew up believing that thinking you were a lesbian was like thinking you were a changeling born to human parents. It was a mythical thing, and by the time I got over that and understood it was something perfectly normal people who are not in any way magical can be I was already dating men. Inertia is a powerful force.
Well that sounds like it sucked.
On a related but stupid note, I now had an idea for a three-panel joke on the subject. I am a horrible human being.
And here I thought Indigo girls were changelings born to human parents. Or… something like that. I don’t know what that bullshit is.
Yeah, my gal grew up thinking she was the only person in the world that was a girl that “really liked” other girls. Sad. :/
I wish all stories ended like that. Or with ‘No, turns out I just like willies.’
Tomorrow: Mike starts wearing guyliner, concealer, and tinted lip balm. No one is entirely sure why.
This needs to be posted in every video game company on the planet. Thank you.
I don’t think the Final Fantasy devs need it.
I’m actually playing FFX right now.
Lulu’s outfit wasn’t too bad, I think. If only they hadn’t panned up from her knees so many times.
And then there was that half-minute cutscene where Rikku wriggled out of her wetsuit, which I think was the most overtly sexualized depiction of an FF character in the history of the franchise.
FFX-2 was a bit insulting for totally different reasons.
But otherwise, I think the FF series is relatively good about this sort of thing.
Nomura is actually fastenersexual. (Belts and zippers and zippers ON belts and…)
Are the spandex outfits and variations on the codpiece that male comic characters wear also part of a “male power fantasy?” I think the general rule for comics is to show idealized bodies. The fact that the idealized body for men centers on power whereas the idealized body for women centers on sexuality is probably a fertile ground for discussion, but I think that the root of that topic is external to the comic industry. I also don’t think that men are the sole architects/participants in determining the ideal. Could comics act as an agent of cultural change, challenging the criteria for the ideal body (for both men and women)? Maybe. But I don’t know if the superhero genre, founded on escapist fantasy, is gonna be the place for it. Escapist fantasy kinda relies on some sort of ideal to function, and any ideal, by definition, is gonna exclude somebody. If everyone is special, then no one is. (Devil’s Advocate)
When it comes to superheroes, the “idealized male body” is a Ken doll. Smooth in the crotch. It’s still a somewhat rare artist who is willing to draw the bulge that is the natural consequence of putting a man in a banana hammock.
Remember this kerfluffle? Alex Ross had the gall, the sheer audacity, to paint Citizen Steel as though he had actual gonads, and some people freaked out about it.
There’s a very vocal contingent of comic fans/manchildren who require their women to be sex kittens and their men to be muscle-bound eunuchs. Those people make me embarrassed to call myself a comic reader.
…those underwear models, though, are trying to emphasize their crotches, aren’t they? They’re kind of “pushing them up,” I think, and I think the spandex would fight that; with the level of resistance he seems to be giving, I’d say it just looks like he has an erection.
If you think that looks like an erection… that dude must have a tiny penis.
I was going to make a crude joke about the size of your junk, but decided I’d sound too much like a troll. Put on some briefs, look in a mirror. Then, if possible, get an erection.
You will see the difference.
Seriously, where on earth is this “ideal body” thing coming from? A real person who weighs 100 pounds at 5’9″ is dangerously (like, requiring hospitalization) underweight. Large breasts on real people cause neck and back pain and chronic headaches. And a lot of it is not even humanly possible, even for supermodels. No human woman is eight heads tall or has a waist circumference smaller than her head.
She drew Dick Grayson dressed as Batman?
We had a whole story arc about that. Why would it be uncomfortable?
I look at that drawing for batman and my only thought is, “Eww.”
As a female, I think this comic is spot on. It’s not what women want in reality, it’s called fantasy. Men fantasize about women as sexual objects with big boobs, and some females (myself included) fantasize about men with cute butts and slender shaped. Also, I’d say a rather large segment of female population thinks cute guys kissing is hawt. Possibly more than would even admit to it.
I think the root issue here is that fiction as a whole tends to make boys grow up fantasizing about being a manly badass who saves the day and fucks hot women while it makes girls grow up fantasizing about being a beautiful princess who is saved by the handsome prince charming and lives happily ever being taken care of by him, so the easy way to make money is to appeal to one (or both) of those fantasies. Feminism has come around and shaken a lot of girls out of the latter fantasy, of course, but I think the success of shit like Twilight shows that it hasn’t shaken them out of it completely yet.
Essentially, writers haven’t quite figured out what sort of cheap generic fantasy they can use to appeal to women in a post-feminism world.
I don’t think most writers care.
You are probably correct in that a lot of writers just don’t give a shit.
But I do think that a lot of the STRONG FEMALE CHARACTERS (in the Beaton sense) that you see come out of misguided attempts to appeal to women via the inversion of the aforementioned male fantasy.
Case in point: the ’90s Bad Girl fad.
Well… Revolutionary Girl Utena was good. http://etrangere.livejournal.com/329241.html
Though it might’ve been pandering a bit, I’m a bit unsure myself.
And of course there’s good old Jane Austen, who not enough writers apparently can be bothered to emulate. Probably because writing good characters is hard.
You lost me at the first sentence. Fiction doesn’t make anybody do anything.
It makes you think. Which is what he said it did. Get over it man.
I know plenty of people who enjoy fiction, but do not think.
More specifically, if the fiction was the cause of the fantasy, the fiction could be anything. I would suggest that these types of fiction do so well because they exploit vague fantasies of grandeur that already exist in young psyches. Where gender is concerned, they play to gender roles that have already been established by parents prior to children’s exposure to such shows. I grew up enjoying both Jem and the Holograms, and Josie and the Pussycats, but it didn’t foster any fantasies in me of wanting to be the next David Bowie or Boy George.
Did Josie probably influence the ideas you had about bands until you had a more direct or credible source? Probably. This is what I mean. If I read a fictional book about professional tennis (without ever watching it), I’ll almost certainly take some of what it says to heart. Doesn’t mean I’ll become a tennis player or tennis will be my favorite sport or even that I’ll agree with everything the book says. However, it seems very unlikely that nothing will rub off on me unless the book is just awful and I don’t pay attention in the slightest.
The statement suggested that fiction MAKES people grow up FANTASIZING about specific things, which is nothing at all like you’re talking about here. Receiving prepackaged information is relatively passive. Once I have the information, I may or may not do anything with it. Fantasizing is active. I do it only if I choose to.
Ahhhahahahaha! Spot on! Completely SPOT ON!
I remember being a young man who liked to draw comics. I liked drawing females in a way that I found sexually interesting (I was curious)… I drew ridiculously muscled men because they were fun to draw and the exaggeration helped understand how the forms fit together. I could easily believe that a lot of comic book illustrators do the same thing. I don’t think I have seen any comic from a female comic book artist draws something they find sexually attractive (that certainly would be interesting).
Well, if you feel like checking out porn comics drawn by women, Filthy Figments comes to mind. But I couldn’t tell you definitively if that’s what they personally find attractive, or if that’s what they expect readers to.
Porny/sexy comics drawn by women? Filthy Figments is straight up porn (!<3!), Oglaf is porn + comedy gold, Curvy is adventure times + yay lesbian sex, DAR is autobiographical with comedy and sex…
There's some good stuff out there, if you're willing to look and filter out the crap.
Oglaf is fucking hilarious.
Is Oglaf done by a man or a woman? They’re pretty quiet about themselves, either way.
Woman. I read an interview of her awhile; dunno where it is. But yeah, female.
I guess you never read any Nicola Scott stuff? She did her part to make sure the fanservice in Secret Six was pretty equal-opportunity.
It was, and I was much impressed thereby.
Not agreeing or disagreeing, but could you stop putting whatever argument you want to make look silly in the mouths of fat, unattractive people? You know, the way you do just to make what they say less appealing?
Either that or go whole hog and dress them as clowns. Or give them devil horns so we don’t have to pretend anymore.
Interesting you should bring that up, because making sure the folks Ethan spars with are not all fat dudes is something I’m consciously aware of when I create these extras. In fact, one of Ethan’s greatest, recurring nemeses is a dude who looks like he’s straight out of a Gap catalog.
But, yes, this one dude today is fat. He’s a recurring guy with whom Amber spars on this topic.
Only once, to my recollection, but I do appreciate that it’s something you’ve thought about. Still, fat aside, and while I know your art style lends itself to caricature as much as characterization, I remember Bart O’Ryan and his stylish ways and I pause. That character would list talking points that the audience generally disagreed with, but they were at least thought out and he was made to look semi-competent before he got shown up. It made for a more interesting strip, and while I know Shortpacked is much more gag-based I wonder if you don’t ever think you’re doing what so many dailies do and falling into a poor formula.
A lot of the antagonists of these strips come on, pull some faces, list the opposing viewpoint from yours and then we’re supposed to get disarmed by the wit of the main cast members in response to them. And often it works because you’re a clever guy and typically there’s a fair joke in there. But that doesn’t change that it’s the same joke a lot of the time; a ridiculous exaggeration walks in, states their case poorly, then snark ensues. I even generally side with the ‘protagonist’ (and you) in these cases, I just mean I think it’s a weak, predictable format, and one that everybody does.
Only once to your recollection? I just gave you a flood of links! Did the flood of links not show up on your screen? I could make a screengrab of it, if that would be visible to you.
I was talking about the recurring guy. He’s come up once before on this topic for sure, is what I mean, when Amber was concocting her superheroic identity.
As for the rest, in the case of today’s strip, I don’t think it requires a “counterpoint” on the behalf of the Guy Who’s Wrong Today. It’s a six-panel comic in favor of one idea. The presentation would only be faulty, I maintain, if what’s being mocked wasn’t something real people actually say all the time. If what the characters say in response to Guy Who’s Wrong Today is erroneous, everyone else in the world is free to say so.
I’ll say you have a good point, but at the same time why bother to present that silly concept is in this particular way? You’re right, it’s six panels in favor of one idea, so there isn’t really any discourse. Why not just have Amber draw her preferred sexy Batman instead of having the guy yell something nutty like happens in almost all these comics? Why frame it as an argument at all if you’re just going to show how one side is obviously, overwhelmingly right?
Personally I guess I’d like to see you do this kind of thing with more complicated arguments. Like, if someone asked why it was okay for Amber to have her books about romantically idealized mummies but not okay for fanboys to have comics about physically idealized heroines. That’s not my position, but I’d be more interested to see how she reacted to THAT equivalence than this transparently problematic one.
I think this issue is more important than you claim, and even though the issue itself is “transparently problematic,” what the guy says in the first panel is SO prevalent in discourse, what with it being the mantra of a whole lot of dudes, that response to it from those who feel maligned by it is drowned out or ignored. The comic presents a plain-language response to that very popular fallacy. That today’s comic has already racked up more than two thousand notes on Tumblr confirms this to me.
It’s an important issue. It may not be to you, but it is very important to a lot of people. And I don’t see the courage in sticking up for Straight White Males Who Read Comics. Let some other crank do that. I’m not interested.
Just as a point against the initial one…
Wouldn’t it make sense that an overweight and generally accepted to be unattractive male would feel an inadequacy compared to male comic book heroes? Someone who’s already attractive or at least not overweight is less likely to feel the pressure to be muscular and bulky because they’re *generally* not as insecure.
As a disclaimer: attractive people can be insecure and unattractive people can be confident. Weight can influence someone’s perception of attractiveness but unless it’s extreme will not cancel out other forms of physical appearance that are appealing.
Second disclaimer: The point here is the false equivalency. The fact that men are objectified is true. It is not the same objectification or quantity that women face.
Gunwild – it’s a comic, not Plato’s Republic. Not everything needs to be a full Socratic dialogue.
“That character would list talking points that the audience generally disagreed with, but they were at least thought out and he was made to look semi-competent before he got shown up.”
If you can find a version of the “but male comic-book characters are sexualized toooooo” argument that isn’t completely ridiculous, I will draw a sexy-bishie version of Tokenism guy.
Have a woman do it.
You know, that could actually be a pretty interesting situation, but it would take the bite out of Amber’s rebuttal about what females find attractive. Which itself is a blanket statement. It dismisses the other argument with an assertion that all men have a certain power fantasy and all women have a specific ideal male.
But mainly doing it would require a deviation from the standard of making the nutjob of the week get shown up right quick, so no go I guess.
I never said there was an incisive, clever way to make this particular weak argument, I just said that a lot of these comics are ABOUT finding dumb things for people to say (as you just pointed out). The outlook being presented by the newcomer is silly on its face, they act and look silly, and are then dismissed as silly. These steps, nothing else.
Sometimes we get more complicated ideas dealt with in the form of a strip that parodies them outright, and those are the strips I read Shortpacked for. But when it’s a strip like today’s I just see the funny-looking weirdo come in yelling about something and already know where it’s going to go. He’ll do something crazy, Amber will be more logical, the world will turn.
Look, I’m not clever enough to encapsulate what I’m talking about, somebody who knows their stuff can get it across better:
I’m no straight white male, actually, nor do I think you should stick up for them, but I do think all these jokes where a crazy person wanders on-panel and then pitches you as a writer a slow one right over home are pretty boring.
Still a fan overall though.
The website ate my first attempt at responding to this so I’ll try again.
I think a fat and/or unattractive in the eyes of society person is more likely to complain about this issue than someone who is neither of those.
That’s not to say fat and/or unattractive people should be insecure and that attractive people are never insecure. Just that it’s more likely to come from someone who is made to feel less of a valid person because of his looks than someone who society applauds for their physical appearance.
I gotta agree with that. There’s this format I have come to really loathe in your Shortpacked! strips:
- fat, bearded idiot strawman starts talking to one of your characters.
- character destorys guy with an argument.
- strawman refuses to process said information.
- character facepalms.
It is a really, really bad format that makes it look like you’re just soapboxing and trying to win an internet argument by writing a comic about it. The Willis stand-ins are always condescending and have an answer ready, the other guy is unattractive and has no skill at arguing logically. And more often than not the whole issue is about something really idiotic, like the color of a toy or something. It makes it looks like David Willis is trying to win an internet argument using his strip.
It’s even worse when you’re trying to address something that has at least SOME connection to an issue that matters like this one.
I think a list of links I posted elsewhere demonstrates that my People Who Are Wrong are rarely depicted as physically ugly. This is intentional.
And finally, I AM trying to win an Internet argument with these strips, and I don’t see a problem with that. Usually I prefer to couch my ideas in a less transparent framework, but sometimes that loses the potency of the message I want to convey. Sometimes it’s way more powerful to just say what you want to say, in panel form, and not weaken the impact through smoke and mirrors. This was one of those times.
And considering the comic’s at 4000 notes on Tumblr and climbing, and yesterday was one of my better traffic days of all time (just behind the Starfire strip), I am reeeeeeeeeeeally not too strung up about it! If I’ve given a weapon-in-PNG form to those I sympathize with, then I consider that a win. Was the strip’s setup transparent? Yes, and I don’t care.
Or rather, you do care and it’s in a “two thumbs up!” kind of way.
this just proves that Abmer could be a total Fag Hag if she got the chans- wait….(O.O)
lol, still. I love anime and bishounen but THIS Batsy…. I don’t think so… XD
Nah, that’s clearly Lance. Amber drew Lance the Mummy in a Batmann costume. Don’t forget, she’s the Stephanie Meyer of the Walkyverse.
I’mma just leave that here because it seems like a good thing to post. Pictures of actual athletes in their skivvies. That’s what actually physically kick ass women look like
Sweet mother of God, I can’t wrap one hand around their waists and have my fingers touch one another?! LUDICROUS! PREPOSTEROUS! HORIBIBLE! THESE AREN’T SEXY WOMEN! /sarcasm.
Thanks for posting that. It’s nice to see some phsyically fit athletic people without being subjected to Hollywood’s and the world’s idea of tits mcgee being that way. :3
This is a good link and you should feel good.
One thing I’d really like to draw attention to, though, is that most of these women (aside from the big weightlifter lady) have pretty small boobs. That’s the way it goes. You can’t have big boobs without the body fat to support it (unless they’ve got implants, of course.)
A fact that should be obvious but bears repeating.
As somebody who draws regularly as a hobby, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS LINK. *bookmarks*
If you want superhero comics to stop objectifying women, first you need to stop it from being a ludicrously over-amped male fantasy. And, uh, good luck with that. Apparently enough men like ludicrously over-amped male fantasies to keep it profitable.
Incidentally, I really hate the term “Male Fantasy” and “Female Fantasy” because it implies that these fantasies are somehow inborn, when in fact, they’re the result of gender roles which are carefully taught and reinforced by society. They would be more properly identified as “Masculine Fantasies” and “Feminine Fantasies”
You’d be surprised how many read comics because they think it’s possible.
Then I’d be surprised at how many people are dumb enough to think that supporting something they don’t like will turn it into something they do.
I don’t agree. I think we come into this world wired certain ways. Then life experience and upbringing can effect what a person finds desirable. Besides, fantasy isn’t reality. Most women spend their lives with clueless males that they love despite their flaws. Doesn’t mean they won’t fantasize about “cute guys”. Just like guys like to oggle pretty women even when in relationships.
If you are actually saying that you don’t like the idea of all people having the same fantasy, then with that I’d agree. We each have our own things that we like to see, but at the same time there groups of people who have similar fantasies.
Certainly we begin life wired in a certain way, but only in the most general way. It’s what happens as we’re formed as sentient beings that fills in the specifics.
My experience has been that it’s pretty common for people who are interested in and pretty serious about the intersections of gender and society to use “male” and “female” in reference to the constructed gender roles you identify so from that perspective I don’t think the use of “male fantasy” and “female fantasy” are inappropriate.
People often think that straight/bi women or gay/bi men are attracted to the same thing because they both like dudes, but this comic proves that often dudes that like dudes are more like straight dudes in the way they objectify.
(read: I like my male superheroes looking ridiculous in the body too.)
That doesn’t mean that I don’t understand the frustration (fuck that) straight up anger women feel about how women are presented in comics and feel its justified. I just find it weird when I get where it comes from since usually when it comes to questions of attraction outside the mainstream.
I don’t even think this comic is about defining what an attractive male looks like so much as just that “drawing dudes how dudes want to look” is not automatically the same thing as “drawing dudes how chicks want them to look”, and certainly not the moral equivalent of “drawing chicks how dudes want them to look.”
But, uh, to put that in a hopefully more readable way, Amber’s just saying that this is what she finds attractive, not what this guy thinks she would find attractive. As far as I can tell, just within the realm of “straight women” you will find a wide variety of opinions on what is attractive (or any other group).
Personally, as a straight male, I’ll admit the hourglass female in all the comic books is something I find physically attractive. But it’s not the only body type I do, and I wish there were more variety.
(For the record, I’m also very interested in reading stories that do more than try to pander to me based on physical attractiveness, and stories that are not designed to pander to me as a straight, white male at all – but the topic here is physical attractiveness)
Waiiiit… laying aside all the essay-writing above, I think Amber is arguing in bad faith. Amber’s turn-ons include “built for dexterity, not power”, “large and intense” eyes, “rosy cheeks”, and “kissable lips”?
She is in a long-term sexual relationship with Mike. Mike isn’t really remarkable in build either way, but he’s super-strong. He has black dots for eyes. He has no lips. Drunk Mike has rosy cheeks and visible eyes, but Amber expressly prefers sober Mike.
Revealed preference indicates that, at least as far as her example, Amber is just messing with this guy.
I have to wonder, though. One thing. I know that comic books can often be discouraging for women to read, but what about novels like Twilght and women romance books. I’ve taken a few ganders at them and they’re pretty insulting to men sometimes.
I’ve never understood the tendency for people to take specifics and turn them into generalizations. I’ve met many, many stupid people. I don’t look at each new person I meet and assume they’re going to be stupid, just as I don’t expect black men to be thugs, people with glasses to be nerdy and weak, or dogs to be rabid killers.
Why should a character in a novel be insulting to a gender? I mean, unless the author comes right and out just insults the whole gender in narration, what’s the big deal?
This is a fair point… except that Twilight is ONE set of books, and even the entire romance genre is only one fringe genre that is widely considered to be escapist and unrealistic trash.
Comic books aren’t really a genre, they’re a medium. I suppose you could argue that super hero comics are a genre, but it’s a genre that women WANT to read, whereas I don’t know any men who complain that they wish they had romance novels geared toward them.
I wouldn’t mind more dude-orientated romance novels.
So long as it didn’t turn into Peterotica.
Yes, Twilight is only one set of books, just like the new 52 is only one line of comics, or batman arkham city is one game. The problem, of course, is that it’s not just limited to one line, game, or set. The problem is that this ends up forming societal expectations and gender roles in ways that are intrusive and restricting to all. I mean, how many times have I seen Oprah or Dr. Phil tell us that men need to act THIS way or women should dump them? How many articles have I seen that imply or hell, straight up declare that men who aren’t rich or tall or muscular aren’t worth a woman’s time?
The issue here isn’t with one set of books, one game, or one line of comics, it’s about the pendulum of social inequality that swings towards both sides of the gender line. If you want to make a commentary about social inequality on one side, know that you’ll also eventually have to deal with the social inequality on the other as well, such is the inherent difficulty of the cause; many people fight for their own equality only to unknowingly furer inequality of another sort.
Not that I’m accusing anyone here, it’s just something I wanted to note.
Or it’s about people being sheep.
Is this the argument that goes “if people weren’t such sheep who did whatever they saw/were told, these things wouldn’t be a problem”?
I like that argument. I usually see it directed at people who are complaining because they don’t want to have to see the same shit being done and re-done, over and over again. Which doesn’t seem like very sheep-like behavior, for some reason.
Wait, people use the sheep argument to support sameness? That doesn’t make a lick of sense. All I was saying is that if people, you know, used their own ideas instead of what they soaked up from their surroundings (such as an idea of what men and women SHOULD be) they world would be a nicer place. In short, my idea of a perfect man is how that man happens to be and my idea of a perfect woman is just how that woman just happens to be.
The very idea of a single ideal is preposterous and anyone who buys into it is a moron. Yes, I am calling an awful lot of people morons.
If people didn’t buy the same shit over and over and over again, we’d see some change. People buy the same shit over and over and over again so everything’s always the same. Is that idea offensive somehow?
You must be new to the internet if you haven’t seen the sheep argument be used to defend the status quo/popular thing from criticism. Examples:
“All you Call of Duty haters are sheep! If you had an original bone in your body, you’d give it a try and realize that it’s great! But no, you’ve gotta be hipster sheeples.”
“Ha Apple hating sheep. We all know that Apple is the best, so you guys just keep going along without thinking about it.”
See? Kind of infuriating isn’t it?
“In short, my idea of a perfect man is how that man happens to be and my idea of a perfect woman is just how that woman just happens to be.”
That’s a nice idea in principle, but in practice, it has serious problems. As an extreme example, sometimes there are *bad* people. “Sure, Jimmy is puppy-kicking, wife-beating, child-raping serial killer, but that’s just how he happens to be!” We have real world examples that also relate to body shape. “Anorexia is a part of who I am! Don’t try to change me!”
Here’s how it plays out in the comic book world: “Hey, this version of Starfire just happens to be an emotionless sex maniac who has huge tits and dresses like a slut! Don’t judge her! Just be tolerant and accept the way she is!” Not the desired outcome, I think.
What the other people said.
But also. I got issues with the “if people had their own ideas and stopped absorbing” concept in the first place. This is… pretty much the way all humans are born and how we learn to function is society. We adsorb knowledge and understanding of our surrounding and take cues from fellow humans on what to think and feel.
Breaking out of that and actually questioning and understanding WHY you think a certain way and where your “original” ideas come from, can take some serious critical thinking. Not so many people are good at this one — which is why so many DC and Marvel comic stories are the same things over and over again. I don’t adhere to the idea that the big two are purposefully creating a gender disparity, or purposefully leaving out/mishandling characters of color and lgbtq characters. It’s just a bunch of people regurgitating the stories they were told, the knowledge they absorbed, without ever examining it’s source or legitimacy, and getting annoyed and hurt when other people DO.
I think you maybe don’t realize that almost EVERY aspect of media is male-dominated and that has a profound difference in male-oriented vs. female-oriented media. You can critique female-oriented media for its gender portrayals, but you cannot pretend that it is EQUAL by any stretch of the imagination.
Female-oriented media, even in the rare occasions that it even EXISTS, often supports patriarchal ideals. I didn’t watch Oprah regularly, but I have never seen her talk about reasons to dump a man. I have, however, in every episode I have ever seen, watch her talk about reasons that WOMEN should change themselves to be more attractive–see her constant talk about “health,” weightloss, beauty products, and makeovers. Twilight is as damaging in its portrayal of women as men–if not moreso. Oprah was considered revolutionary at one time because she was one of the only female stars of her own show. That sort of thing is still very new. Twilight is mostly unusual in its popularity–most books geared toward young females never get any sort of attention, let alone get a movie made about them.
On the other hand, the new 52 just upheld exactly what comics have been portraying from the very beginning–it’s just like MOST other comic books that exist in its portrayal of women. Arkham City just did what almost every OTHER video game has done, which is unnecessarily sexualize the few female characters that you are allowed to play as. So yes, while these have been a big focus lately, the reason that people are getting so frustrated over their portrayal of women is the fact that it’s what we see EVERYWHERE ELSE in the media. It’s exactly like Amber says in the last panel–sexualization of women is the background radiation of our lives. If you’re uncomfortable with how men are portrayed in romance novels, then try to imagine if romance novels were the norm.
Wasn’t that sort of the point of second wave feminism? Or am I misremembering something.
As opposed to comics not being seen as escapist and unrealistic trash?
To be honest, I think the actual proportional looks arnt the issue so bad as the pose’s and the actions taken by female characters. Normally those last two are far more objectifying then the design preportions.
As male chacters, I wouldn’t be surprised if typical comic book drawers actually think the muscle-bound hunks are what all woman find attractive.
Amber’s Batman scares me too…. But I am so hot for Batman as he is I guess she and I just have different tastes.
But I would date Mike…. Damn it!
I just have to point this out: I am a bisexual woman that has the same kind of tastes most men do. I am just as sex-obsessed, as well. Even *I* think DC has seriously overdone it in this reboot. To the point where I can’t find the “sexy” characters/poses/scenes sexy— They’re just creepy and desperate.
Sans the eyes and mouth bit, wasn’t that largely the illustration of Bats pre”Image” influence ( on most everything?
My formative years were on Wolfman and Perez Titans and the DC House style of old, so my memory may be fuzzy but I’m fairly confident that the muscular ( vs toned ) Batman (and similar heroes like Cap ) is a recentish event – in comics history. Sadly that’s also a full generation deep now.
Can I still blame Liefield?
You can always blame Liefield.
Dear David Willis, thank you for summarizing exactly how I feel about the attractiveness of male superheroes. I’m not a fan of rosy cheeks and kissable lips, but give me a slender, wiry gentleman with soulful eyes and I will stop whining about all the eyecandy that men get.
I dunno, Deadman’s usually drawn as a slender acrobat… and who’s got more soulful eyes than a disembodied spirit?
I kid, I kid, but are there really no comic book characters you think are attractive? I’m just curious.
I like Batman, although I find him more badass than hot, and I sometimes have a thing for Spiderman for his lighter build. I don’t find male superheroes unattractive, exactly, but they just don’t really get my pulse racing. I might just also find the comic book style to be overall less appealing than the more delicate look of manga art.
Well, that’s fine with me. So I guess what I should ask is how you would feel if someone took a shoujo manga you liked (assuming you liked any), and said the men were impractically pretty and their looks were used as a cheap trick to attract female readers for base reasons, and that it had to stop forthwith.
Incidentally, thank you for responding to me, David disabled my ability to comment on his last post to me so I couldn’t continue that end of the discussion.
Well, I’d probably point out the fact that there are many other manga out there for many different target audiences that would probably appeal to them, whereas comic books appear to have only one target audience. That’s kind of what people have a problem with, here, is that there is a lack of diversity in the portrayal of women in the superhero genre. You can have your sexy women if I’m allowed to have a few as well.
And actually, that is exactly what happened when I used to attend the local university’s anime club when I was in high school. We’d watch 1 episode of about 8 different shows on each club night. The male members complained constantly about the inclusion of Weiss Kreuz and Sailor Moon, yet the other 6 shows we watched were all geared towards men, and were full of fan service. We never heard the end of complaints about how Weiss Kreuz only existed for the pretty men, yet nobody said a word against say, Love Hina, and its endless cleavage shots.
That’s as may be, but what was the makeup of your club like? Who determined what you watched? Was it the majority? Maybe the people with the most money, who could afford to get the DVDs and thus determined what was available?
Whether or not you decided to complain is your business, I don’t think it has much to do with your having girly parts or not. The situations are similar in that comics are going to continue to be male fantasy pieces at least some of the time until women start buying them in equal or greater numbers. Now, maybe they should change to accomodate that – hell, CERTAINLY they should change to accomodate that – but I feel like this comic suggests that it’s all because the women are drawn too sexy, and I think that’s foolish. It’s not like that seems to apply in TV or movies where pretty actresses draw the biggest ratings accross the board.
I think this comic is more about the guy’s dismissing of all women complaining everywhere with a false equivalence than about how women should be less sexy. It’s not that they’re too sexy, it’s that they’re written by men for men as male fantasies, and drawing men that men want to see is not equivalent, especially compared to women that are bombarded with male fantasies their entire lives.
It’s not like that seems to apply in TV or movies where pretty actresses draw the biggest ratings accross the board.
It’s not as extreme as it is in comics, but “pretty equals success” would still be part of the “background radiation” she’s referring to.
I dunno, Gunwild, it rather seems like Spirit is telling you straight up that they noticed the guys in their club being more annoyed by the women-oriented fanservice in things like Weiss, than anyone in the entire club was by the men-oriented fanservice in things Love Hina, and you’re trying to find any other kind of explanation for it that doesn’t involve “men are more comfortable seeing woman sexualized than they are seeing men sexualized”.
I mean, why is it so important to you that this not be the reason?
That’s exactly what I was saying Sadie, thank you. To answer Gunwild’s question, the club was split fairly evenly between male and female members. Material was bought using the revenue from membership fees and late fees from anyone who returned library material late. There were both males and females on the leadership board. So yes, there was every reason to present anime that appealed to both genders. But the fact is, women can put up with almost an entire lineup of for-men fanservice, and even enjoy it, but allowing women to have even just one title like Weiss is considered too much.
And I won’t even get started on the fact that, as terrible and worthy of ridicule as Twilight is, I don’t think it would be viewed as nearly as much of a joke if it were not a story for women. Unrealistic portrayals of women show up in Hollywood all the time, but make just one series of movies about a perfect sparkly vampire guy, and suddenly it’s the worst thing ever.
Wanna know something terrible? It took me months to make the connection between my sister’s love of Twilight and my own love of absolutely terrible vampire/werewolf/demonic romance novels geared towards young men when I was her age. In retrospect it seems absurd that I could possibly have felt entitled to get judgmental about Twilight after spending multiple years eating up just about everything the library had to offer in that department.
I’m someone who loves the Underworld film series, who had read Blood and Chocolate before the movie was announced, who at one point did a book report on a trilogy that starts with lesbian priestesses in wet garments and then proceeds to go on for three books about the love-problems of a dragon-human hybrid. I read a lot of the stuff, and yet somehow Edward Cullen got a reaction out of me. Me, the same person who had recently watched Karin with minimal complaints, felt that sparkling vampires was “Just wrong”.
Still baffles me that I could have ever felt I had a leg to stand on in my criticisms. Anyway, just seemed kind of a little bit in line with what you were talking about. That ability to watch heaping tons of male-targeted smut but suddenly find myself aghast when I’m not the target audience for a moment.
I can understand hating on W. K. but not so much because of the pretty guys. I can handle pretty guys. My college anime club was democratic, and at least half female, but we voted against that series after relatively few episodes because not only was the writing weak, but the level of animation was also very poor. The pretty boys literally *are* the only reason for the show. The same group of guys that booed W.K. were crazy about Fushigi Yuugi, so a negative reaction here definitely doesn’t imply sexism or aversion to bishounen fantasy fulfillment.
I hated Love Hina just as much. I get tired of harem anime very quickly. However, you might be surprised that the *girls* in the club voted to watch it more than the guys (and they won). It was popular with these particular girls because it was funny, and because they preferred any form of romance (even a male fantasy harem romance) over the action shows that I would rather have watched. Also, the animation didn’t stink, even if the show itself did.
That’s not to say that I completely disagree with you here. I just think these are rather poor examples. I’d be interested to hear better ones.
You’re right, Weiss was terrible. I remember a few equally terrible harem anime that we watched as well, though, although I cannot recall what they were because this was about 10 years ago and I started leaving early when those shows were on.
I don’t blame you for leaving early either. I think, though, that my experience still illustrates that gender bias is not the only, or automatically the best explanation for watching or avoiding these types of shows.
Sailor Moon, to look at your other example, takes a lot of the same flack for being boring, shallow, and repetitive (and perhaps secretly for being too popular with non-anime-fans) that Dragon Ball Z does. It also has a lot of male fans, and a lot of female critics–including the female author of the original Sailor Moon manga, who felt that the anime adaptation was changed to be much too male-oriented.
I’m not saying that your perception of the motives in your particular club is wrong. I’d have no way to know that. It’s just that these specific shows don’t make a very strong case to make that bias evident to those of us who weren’t there.
It also doesn’t help that male anime otaku are especially notorious for their capacity to enjoy extremely girly shows
But is there really a total lack of diversity in how women work in comics? Even within the appearances of Wonder Woman in this new DCU, we have two distinct portrayals. That’s in the space of just one character – her design and personality are different in Justice League and Wonder Woman.
Even if we’re ignoring the varied types of attractive men drawn by top-of-the-line artists like To and Asrar and Manapul, aren’t there comics you can name where the women aren’t objectified to an uncomfortable degree to you? I’ll bet there are. I bet you even buy them.
I think there is sexism at play in comics, and it’s exemplified in the storytelling, not the art – tired tropes and female stereotypes, awful ones. Superhero comic art is always exaggerated and big and flashy, everyone has big muscles and big cleavage and there are big monsters and big explosions. I accept it, I even like it, it makes the 2D pages come alive better for me. I don’t take it as some kind of reflection on what reality is supposed to be like or think the heroes and heroines are real people who need to be defended from objectification.
They’re objects. Comic books. They’re supposed to be objectified a little.
I actually own a reasonable amount of comics featuring complex, well-rounded characters that aren’t uncomfortable objectified. So yeah, of course they exist.
It’s just that, when I go into the local comic-book store, those comics aren’t going to be what I see prominently displayed or taking up most or even much of the shelf space. It’s the other kind.
Speaking of, you know Terry Moore? Independent comic book artist? He draws some of the best, non-objectified women out there and tells awesome stories about them besides. But look at the cover of his “How to Draw Women“book; one slender, understated character being masculine and clothed, the other, more feminine and all cleavage and thighs and revealing clothes. Said character normally looks like this – saggy tits, double chin, wide face – or like this – thick arms, fat rolls on the back and stomach.
Terry Moore obviously has no fear of drawing women that don’t fit into Marvel and DC concepts of beautiful, yet a cover for a book intending to teach the same skill to future comic artists, makes his chubby lady look as sexy, slender, and revealing as possible. Why, you’d almost think that the publishers — maybe even Moore himself — thought the only people who’d want to learn to draw women in comics would be turned off at the sight of a lady who wasn’t slender, alluring, and scantily clad. Isn’t that funny?
The reason I won’t accept that is because I’m not going to come in here and make a generalization about what men or women are comfortable with. I don’t think I have any right to do that, I haven’t met or studied all of the men or women out there, have I?
Well, I’d also point out that the character you’re talking about isn’t from a superhero comic, and that Terry Moore does in fact do superhero images where the women are a bit more idealized, sexed-up types. Because they’re superhero comics. Everyone’s drawn with an eye to aesthetic appeal to a rather particular audience.
I really shouldn’t have gotten drawn into this conversation too much because I guess I don’t grasp it. It all seems a bit silly to me. Superhero comics will change when there’s any kind of financial incentive to do so no matter how much you or I would like them to tone it down (and Iwould), and as every other form of media’s proved, that incentive’s not going to appear.
Well Gundwild, as pointed out with the “D.C.: bad at math” strip, there actually IS financial incentive for a company whose sales have been steadily declining to try reaching a female audience. Women statistically consume more books and more television than men do. The webcomic industry is flooded with female creators and consumers. It’s actually somewhat counter-intuitive for the comic industry to actively alienate female consumers at every turn. Which means the reason for it isn’t really money. It’s some kind of assumption that men are the only worthwhile audience, or that stories for women are less worthwhile, or that men will not read anything that is not created specifically for them.
I dunno, looking at that cover, it still looks like Francine. She still has the double-chin, she’s still a slightly bigger girl (her clothing bulges in places where it bulges on curvy women in real life, as opposed to lying smooth like it does in comics). Francine can and does dress herself up and look sexy from time to time–in fact, remember the job in sales she had where her (female) boss used her boobs to make men pay attention to the charts?
Her weight fluxuates too, which is something else I always liked about Terry Moore’s artwork. It wasn’t a random thing, but when Francine was in a downswing and having a rough time, she ate more and would look chubbier than when things were going well.
@Gunwild I sympathize with not wanting to make generalizations about individuals. It’s the reason I give most everyone I meet, in daily life, the benefit of the doubt.
That said, as a women who’s noticed certain unfortunate social trends, it’s frustrating to point them out or seen them pointed out, only to get told “well, you can’t say that about EVERYONE because you don’t know everyone in the world and the way they feel”. I also notice that while you don’t feel right generalizing that the men in Spirit’s anime were uncomfortable with men being sexualized, you were presenting alternative arguments that were also generalizations, such as the possibility that they were all complaining because they didn’t get a fair say in which shows were chosen. The only difference is that one explanation is “because sexism” and the other is “because not sexism”. I feel frustrated and suspicious of that.
Then, your follow-up statement is that super hero comics are drawn to the aesthetic appeal of super hero comics. That’s… a little circular?
You know, the people who sell super hero comics have actively admitted to marketing and attempting to retain male readers of a certain demographic. They’re actively assuming, making the generalization, that all men who read comic books are looking for that certain “aesthetic appeal”, with the assumption that they won’t give over their money otherwise. How could they possibly know that every single male comic reader likes that look? So you’re agreeing with that, albeit in a gender neutral way not shared by the industry, while disagreeing with a woman who’s pointing out the exact same thing. The only difference is that I’m saying it’s a problem (in so many words) that super hero comics have that particular style, intended to cater to a particular (male) readership, and with the goal of bringing-up future artists to adhere to that same style. And since the intended readership is male, it’s not a leap to guess that the intended future artists are also male.
Again, “because sexism” vs. “because any reason that isn’t sexism”. So, I hope you can understand why I’m thinking you’ve got more reasons to establish that sexism has absolutely nothing to do with this discussion in any way, shape, or form, than just “I’m not comfortable making generalizations”.
Wait, no, that’s the wordpress cutoff, my fault.
…you say that like people don’t actually say that.
Honestly, to each there own. No two people will find the same things attractive. I actually like the hulking guys in comic books, but I know not everyone does. Either way, the comic has a very good point despite my enjoyment of guys in skin-tight, well, tights.
I think that women’s “fantasies” tend to be a bit more varied than men’s. You have leg and breast men obviously, but women like different body shapes and stuff. So I find Joseph Gordan Levitt attractive and all, but I also enjoy looking at guy who played Khal Drogo on Game of Thrones and Ryan Renolds doing sit-ups. Most of the good artists make guys attractive too, but there’s just more variety in men’s shapes and they’re costumes are more practical.
I’m fine with Powergirl showing some skin as long as she has muscle- girl’s invulnerable. But Huntress’s stomach window is soooooo stupid. And girl’s can totally be attractive if they fight in outfits without heels, guys. And as said before, it’s more visually interesting to have women that look different. And maybe a few plain superheroines every once in a while. I feel like every woman is “incredibly beautiful”. And if you’re going to do fan-service with the ladies, make it make sense and give us ladies a butt shot or a shirtless scene.
Marvel thought the same thing in the early 90′s. Here you go:
I feel a lot less straight after seeing that.
As I am a woman, I’m not sure what to make of this.
What’s wrong with Nick Fury and Tony Stark just hanging out in their Speedos? Not only that, but Nick Fury still has his gun strapped to his shoulder. That guy…all business.
I see nothing objectionable about this.
Well, the art. But it was the 90′s. The sheer, hilarious concept of a comic beach issue is worth it.
I object to the terrible hairstyles.
Am I the only one who thinks that her drawing of Batman looks like Dan?
I think people are forgetting that anyone with super strength and super powers in general, would most likely be very well built, male or female.
I think the superheros’ builds are very appropriate given their powers. Superman is really buff, because…well, because he’s Superman.
Batman is very muscular, because he’s been training for most of his life. He is the perfect physical specimen and has perfect discipline in anything he tries.
The Flash is more lean, as you would expect from someone with super speed. He has a super fast metabolism as well, which would explain how he stays so lean.
The same argument for Superman goes for Power Girl as well. Yes she has wide hips and large breasts, but she also practically has a female body builder’s build.
Overall though, I’ve never been offended by anything I’ve ever read in comics, or any of the physical portrayals by any character. I’ve seen muscular heroes, fat ones, skinny ones, short ones, tall ones…I don’t know, it just never bothered me.
Then again, I’ve never once read a comic simply because I thought any of the characters were sexy, and likewise I’ve never NOT read a comic because I thought any of the characters were ugly.
It actually surprises me how many people are concerned about the physical attractiveness or lack thereof of fictional characters drawn on pieces of paper.
I think the point of the comic, or at least what I’m reading from it, is less about what body types are appropriate for superheroes and more that because dudes don’t find dudes drawing dudes offensive, it doesn’t mean ladies can’t find dudes drawing ladies offensive.
Also, personally, I also like seeing muscular heroes, fat ones, skinny ones, short ones, tall ones… but it seems like most of that variety is for the males. The ladies are all pretty skinny and big-boobed, and the exceptions are much further between than the male exceptions to being buff and barrel-chested.
To be honest, sometimes I wonder about Superman being so muscular. Now, I will admit that I have read comparitively very few DC comics in my life, and I don’t recall any of them dealing explicitly with the nature of his powers. That said, he’s an icon, so everyone knows he’s super strong, can fly, invulnerable, etc…
But, as I understand it, his strength comes from the interaction between his Kryptonian physique and our yellow sun. He can pick up an airplane because he’s Superman and Superman is just that strong, not because he’s super-duper muscular. (Hulk can pick up an airplane because he IS super-duper muscular, the trick is getting him to put it down in one piece.)
Muscles are something you have to work at, and they need a constant level of work to maintain and build. Has DC ever had a comic where Superman is bench-pressing an oil tanker or a battleship to keep fit? Cuz that’s about the only way I can think of to justify his muscularity, really…
Unless Kryptonians just spontaneously develop muscles under a yellow sun…
As Captain Hammer said,
“Have I seen you at the gym? …no, I don’t go to the gym, I’m just naturally like this. Oh, well.”
“It’s not my fault I’m bigger and stronger than everyone else. I don’t even exercise.”
Hah! Yes, there’s always Fezzik… although let’s be honest, Andre the Giant was not exactly ‘toned’.
Yeah, that’s very true. But I always assumed that since Clark had been absorbing the yellow radiation from our Sun since he was an infant that perhaps that influenced his muscle growth and gave him that advantage early on. Plus, it didn’t help that he was raised on a farm and was working with his hands and doing manual labor for most of his life.
Hmm, good point. And now that I think about it, don’t they usually have the powers develop around puberty anyways?
Depends on whether they’re going with the “Clark had powers as an infant” or “got them at puberty” explanation this week.
Idealized bodies are one thing. No one’s complaining that Power Girl has curves.
But there aren’t many superheroes who fight crime in thongs, or even who show much skin (most well-known superheroes are pretty covered up), and with the exception of Nightwing, they’re rarely posed “sexily.” Just powerfully.
Like that redrawn image of the Justice League cover–Wonder Woman might straddle her lasso, but you probably won’t find Aquaman straddling his trident.
This is very true. But I’d like to point out that it’s always much easier for women to pose sexy than men.
Also, sexy poses for men would be a lot different than sexy poses for women. I’m assuming anyway. Being a straight man, I suppose it’s hard for me to be objective on that, but even I can recognize an attractive male.
Wouldn’t posing sexy as a male would be very much the same as posing sexy for a woman: looking sexually available and ready to please the viewer? If you find that difficult to conceive, I think it says more about you than about the possibility of the pose.
” it’s always much easier for women to pose sexy than men.”
Anyone else want to field this one? I don’t really know where to start. Possibly with the assumption that what he finds sexy is universally sexy? Or with the implication that women are inherently more sexualized than men?
You are correct John you aren’t objective. You are a straight guy, so you will find women more attractive. As a result of your bias you will reach the conclusion that it’s easier for women to pose sexy, because you see sexy women poses more blatantly then the reverse. Recognising someone as attractive isn’t the same as finding something sexy, so you will miss more lowkey poses.
As a gay guy I can tell you guys can pose sexy pretty easily, again because of my bias I can see those poses more blatantly then you can. Conversly I’m sure there’s subtle sexy female poses I don’t pick up on.
So I’d probably say it’s just as easy. But you’ll rarely see it in comics, where as with female characters it’s obvious even to me, they aren’t even subtle about it. The female characters also tend to be rather more lacking in character too, sad because I like strong female characters.
Nice comic as always Willis.
And as always, a knee-jerk reaction from the dudebro crowd. The things you like have flaws, gentlemen. Deal with it.
And then a knee-jerk reaction from the other side. Also, lumping in everyone who disagrees with you as a dudebro.
You’re right; being a butthurt male is not the exclusive domain of dudebros.
The problem with it being a power fantasy is how often the creators feel the need to have a (purportedly) “brainy” male character with no muscles and a subtle power, for the sake of allegedly being an idealized reader. And yes, this character typically ends up having sex with a major heroine. And also as the sidekick to the worst of the Liefeldesque musclemen… in other words…
I kind of think that this is part of the quasi-straight male fantasy of having symbolic sex with a demigod to gain supernatural vitality from his nectarine semen.
I’m just going to leave this here:
(No, it’s not the Strong Female Characters.)
Kate Beaton for the win.
I actually thought of this, but I am late to the thread.
I understand where she’s coming from- I’ve always been more attracted to the Robins and Flashes of the world. Leaner, maybe taller, pretty eyes.
But, uh… I’m not sure about the bishiness, though. Hmm… maybe this version would look more like, say, Fai D. Fluorite (a manga character known for his girliness early on in the series) in our world?
I think I could get behind that. Then again, I like ‘em both, so I don’t even know.
The pouty lips are what let him breathe in space, and the rosy cheeks are the side effect of straining for oxygen.
So an unrealistic expectation of male physiology is good, where as unrealistic expectations of female physiology is bad?
I’ll go back in time and tell my 12 year old, He-Man toy collecting superhero comic reading self-hating, bulimic self that hey… it was all just a power fantasy.
In short: Bullshit.
So it’s a role you nearly destroyed your body to fill, and you deny it’s an idealized self rather than an idealized partner? Yeah, that’s some bullshit all right.
It’s a role I felt I needed to fill to be sexually attractive. An impossibly high standard that – despite what is alleged in the strip – is considered highly desirable by most women. It’s the same unrealistic expectation of self that leads to women seeking fake tits. Trying to separate these and imply that one is somehow positive while the other is negative is bullshit. And it’s deeply unfortunate that this needs to be pointed out.
So primarily-male comics creators tricked you through female characters who exist solely as extensions of the demigod archetype into taking up unhealthy behaviors just so you could spew into more women for the sole purpose of defiling women qua women. “Sorry.”
Who designed the characters you were trying to emulate? Who designed the characters that you were torturing yourself for in order to be appealing to?
Women aren’t the ones drawing males as super huge muscular guys. Men are. This doesn’t really address your point so much as explain something. Men draw themselves as both what they want to be and what they think women want out of men. Men draw women as what they want out of women, not what they think women want to be. Well, maybe sometimes they’re deluded enough into thinking women want that.
Hyper-idealized standards can be shitty for children and adults all over that try to live up to them.
But this comic is specifically addressing guys that claim that because they’re okay with the way men are portrayed, all women should be okay with the way women are portrayed. Which is not a valid argument at all. Part of the problem is that the media is, and has been for a long time, saturated with sexualized female imagery. There are male role models of all shapes and sizes, but much less variety for women – even now, it’s that women can be “tough and sexy” or “smart and sexy”.
Personally, I’d prefer that standards all be raised up across gender lines, as opposed to what this (straw figure) guy is suggesting – that lowering standards for both sexes would somehow make it okay.
But the argument is being made by a caricature without the ability to defend itself. The substance of the “men are portrayed badly too” argument isn’t necessarily that “it’s therefore okay” just that as much as “this is what it is”.
And let’s be clear: It’s not typically men (in this generic scenario) that are highlighting the plight of one gender – they’re usually acting in response to complaints about how woman (and only women) are portrayed.
If more people attacked this subject addressing the mutual concerns of women AND men, there would likely be less objections.
In other words, “false equivalence,” meet “straw man.”
It’s unrealistic because noone who reads comics will ever go to a gym. XD
I don’t think anyone is claiming that it’s ok for women to objectify men and not ok for men to objectify women in comics. And if anyone is actually saying that, then I weep for humanity.
I think what David was trying to say is that women should get an equal chance to portray their perfect physical fantasies on the comic page. Specifically in DC and Marvel, which are very much dominated by men. In fact, off the top of my head I can’t think of a single female writer or artist from either company.
So again, I think what the comic was saying is that women should just get their fair share of the objectification. Which I completely agree on.
Hm… Gail Simone?
Even if there could be a way to empirically ensure equal opportunity objectification, confirmation bias would still blind the people on both sides of the argument. Already, both sides only see the examples that support their argument. Why would that change?
One thing I found interesting, is what amber describes (and draws) contains some (SOME) elements of the ‘bishonen’ style of drawing male characters from some Japanese girls comics, and the ‘boys love’ genre. I’ve encountered a number of male western comic fans who react negatively to that style, and the character writing therein, usually ranging from hostility, outright hatred and even homophobic terminology to express thier dislike or disgust at such art or characters.
On similar note over depictions, I’d like to link this following fanart of the Master Chief, the male power armoured protagonist from Halo, rendered in clothing and posing applied in official art to Samus Aran, the female power armoured protagonist of the metroid Games.
Take a look at how many commenters responding to the picture respond highly negatively to the art, simply because its a male character instead of a female one.
Soooo Amber has the hots for adem west’s batman?
Real Batmen have curves.
wow what a shock women’s ideal batman is edward cullen in a leotard
So nobody finds masculinity attractive? Men what effeminate women, women want effeminate men?
Some gay guys do. Da Bears and such.
…and let’s not forget saying 3.5 Billion people all like anything is pretty silly.
Well, you see, what nearly everyone here is getting wrong is the notion that there is any one “right” answer to a question like that. No matter WHAT your viewpoint someone, somewhere is going to say “I don’t agree with that! My experience is different.” And that’s because everyone is different. There are PLENTY of women attracted to masculinity, and big beefy dudes. There are also plenty of MEN who are attracted to masculine, beefy women.
In essence this all comes down to opinion. Regardless of how loud the arguments in the above portion of the thread get, nobody is really “right” or “wrong” in this instance. Opinions are kind of like assholes. Everyone has them and they all stink.
No, Amber stated her opinion and strawmanguy finds it disquieting.
And that gives him a taste of the discomfort Amber has when encountering male fantasy art in an overwhelming majority of the comic world.
WOO! Simple summary!
One cent: someone should summarise this discussion (impartially); it is WAY too long but also looks like an interesting discussion into gender roles and attraction (covered in the consistent internet feel that every opinion is self-important and every response is a personal attack, unless stuffed with smileys)
Second cent: I thought women looked for weaknesses in men. The ‘wounded eagle’ thing, or the ‘fixer-upper’/'project’ partner. Or even the ‘he can’t say no to me when…’, or the guy wrapped around her little finger.
… I like the dexterous batman. the eyes are a bit creepy though, but that could just be his expression.
It’s impossible. It’s about 1000 discussions going on at once, utter chaos, and they double back on each other a lot. Sorry. You’re going to have to print out the whole page, cut it all out and then try to piece together a coherent whole.
Is it weird that while I’m a hetrosexual white male, I find Amber’s ‘idealized’ Batman more silly then disturbing?
Sooooo… That’s basically just Ben from Parks & Rec when he wore the Batman suit.
Willis ain’t wrong, I’ll say that.
Be honest with me here… You do this shit just to see how much bile you can get in your comment section, don’t you? You titter with glee when you get 500-700 post comments threads full of people bitching at each other, right?
The funny thing is, in Batman’s brain, the fact that he’s in great shape and wearing tights being sexual doesn’t even enter into his mind. The suit is suppose to scare the crap out of people.
I like the hyper competence argument that some one made earlier. Batman is hot not because he’s overly muscled but because he’s BATMAN and can basically do anything (except get over his issues) without superpowers. Actually the muscles are kind of a turn off for myself.
I’m not new in here, nor an all-timer either. But hell, this is one of the biggest comments thread I’ve seen. Simply ran out of thoughts. Since I’m more like an equivalent to a “junior” here, I guess I’ll just attain myself to the recurring phrase “Damn you, Willis!” or something. My brain couldn’t handle it, guess I need more practice on the subject. Awesome comic, btw.
The confirmation bias on both sides of this discussion is fascinating.
And also fun. Arguments where the other side immediately sees the other’s point and either agrees or agrees to disagree are boring. It’s only fun to have a long knock-down drag-out fight that everyone knows no one will win because in the end, everyone’s already made up their own mind about everything and don’t actually care about your opinion or your experiences and how they might differ from yours.
Also. White men aren’t allowed to have opinions anymore, ’cause we’ve been allowed to have one for too long already.
Whities (myself included) a certainly allowed to have opinions. What you’re not supposed to do is be like “well let me tell you what Latinos think about this issue… no no it’s okay I’ve been friends with a dude from Mexico since middle school, I GOT THIS.” And people LOVE to do this. Sometimes it’s disguised, but it’s there. Another oldie but baddy: “I didn’t mean to offend you, and that means I didn’t… also I’m offended that I was accused.”
Actually, this is an area where straight white males are pretty much fucked, and something I’m not looking forward to when I eventually try to publish comics of my own.
See, a straight while male has a few options when it comes writing/drawing characters of other genders, ethnicities, or sexual orientations. He can avoid including them altogether for fear of accidentally doing it wrong and offending someone, but exclusion is offensive in itself, so that’s the wrong way. He can include black, latino, gay, and others in his cast of characters and write them according to his perception of what they’re like or what they think, but you’ve just pointed out that this is a no-no too, so that’s the wrong way. Lastly, he can include characters that are gay, female, or black, but that are written identically to the straight white male characters. This is the wrong way too, since we already have women in these discussions complaining about female characters written, and we have Aaron McGruder complaining about straight-haired, flat-assed, black-in-skin-color-only characters like Storm of the X-Men. Overdoing attempts at diversity can also lead to toy stores inexplicably crammed full of gay.
Alright, so I understand and accept the reasons that all of these are the Wrong Way (TM). So what the fuck is the right way? That’s a serious question.
The best I can come up with is to just try to be fair, but to relax and not worry about working off some kind of straight white male guilt complex, or about who you’ll accidentally offend, because there will be someone no matter what you do.
That one sentence should have read “..complaining about female characters that are written as men, but with breasts…”
Write the story well. Make the characters believable. Construct a world people can get into. If you’re using the real world, consult real people to make sure the opinions someone touts are actually an opinion a real person would have.
You can read two books from the ’30s and tell which one came from a person who did or did not actually talk to black people before writing the black people in his book.
The right way is to be as informed as possible. Then, write what you like. I’ve never heard one complaint about the representation of African Americans in Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys. White guy writes about black dudes. Nobody complains. Because he researched the hell out of the culture he presented and treated it with worshipful respect. And because he wrote characters who were bigger than “products of their culture.” You forget “what” they are almost immediately, because “who” is so much more fascinating.
I think you’ve already got it.
I struggle with the exact same issue, as a white, cis lady. I’ve talked over this issue a lot with POCs and queer writers, and there is no precise answer. But the best thing you can do is write your characters as people. Do research, avoid the biggest stereotypes, avoid tokenism. Listen to what people of these backgrounds have to say. The fact is, most non-white, non-cis male, non-straight people will be happy that you even tried, because that’s more than can be said for many, many published writers.
Just make sure that your opinion is your own opinion, and not speaking for someone else. For example, if someone is offended and your opinion as a white male is “that’s not sexist/racist/objectionable in any way!” – not a great way to win people over.
Amber is, of course, lying to prove a point. What she really likes are narrow-eyed, scowling men with thin lips.
Although… it wouldn’t be a shocking turn of events for *this* comic if it turned out she was gay, thus explaining her attraction to the Bat-dude-looks-like-a-lady.
I was going to say… that batman drawing stopped looking like a man and started looking like a very flatchested, square-chinned lady. Maybe Amber is secretly bi? =P
Amber who is against oversexualization of women in comics, wants the same thing but in a man. So basically amber wants a man with big boobs, flexible like a gymnast and pouty lips. Interesting.
Er, hah, no. She’s demonstrating what that would hypothetically be LIKE if Batman was designed to suit her sexual interests. That’s not necessarily the Batman she wants to read, if she reads Batman at all.
I’m likin’ it. At least, the explanation.
So… does this comic have the most comments, or the most awesome comments?
What have I been reading here? goddamn, I thought we all agreed when we went online to a few basic principles. 1) You will not feed the trolls. If you think he’s a troll, DON’T RESPOND. 2) Accept you might be wrong. This goes to both sides. You both made good and stupid points, but seem incapable of differentiating between the two.
And honestly, what is a power fantassy for some is unfair societal pressure for others. I’m made to feel less because I don’t strive for unrealistic ideals, same as women. Problem is, men don’t have as many issues societaly(blarg not a word), so those we do tend to be overlooked, and when they are mentioned we’re made to feel bad for trying to equate 2 almosst identical issues. Men are almost as likely to have eating disorders as women, and have other problems too- steroid abuse(far more prevelant in men) is the equivilant for men, nevermind the question of male victimization. “squeel like a pig” versus “wanna play some pinball?”
Nobody is saying you can’t bring up those issues. The problem arises when you demand attention taken away from women’s issue for men’s issues (i.e. bringing up “men get raped too!” whenever people talk about how rape is a component of cultural misogyny, or bringing up male body issues in a conversation specifically about female body issues) or compare the two as if women had the same amount of power as men. For instance, it is more socially accepted for men to have varying body shapes than women; women have more pressure to be desirable to men than vice versa.
It’s also another irritating tendency in privileged groups: the negative effects apparently only matter if it affects them. It should be enough that the marginalized are hurt; it shouldn’t be necessary to bring up the pain of the privileged unless you only cared about how it affects the privileged. It should also be realized that telling the marginalized of your harm also accomplishes nothing. They’re not the ones with power to enforce social expectations, nor are they the ones who created them. Your privileged group is.
Oh I absolutely agree with you. However, there has been a fair bit of one person posting that some things are bad for guys and everyone piling on top.
and the thing about men getting raped isn’t necessarily how often it happens, it’s the way society views it. If a women gets raped there are organizations to help them and a general feel that they are a victim. If a guy gets raped their made to feel less by society, hence how “squeal like a pig” is used as a joke, as opposed to any of the movie lines from the few dozen movies out there on the subject of a girl getting raped. There’s a perspective that men are big and tough and should be able to look after themselves, and anyone who can’t is less for it. that’s why most male-on-male or female-on-male rape goes unreported. (I took a criminology course once, they estimated somewhere around 75% of men that get raped don’t report it)
Okay, here’s what I’m honestly confused about. Are the “male power fantasies” actually [i]male[/i] power fantasies, or just power fantasies?
In my mind, when I’m reading about a character who serves as a power fantasy for me, their gender doesn’t really factor into it. Hell, my personal “power daydream” is about becoming a gigantic spider-bot (who would be genderless, obviously). If a powerful character happens to be male or female in the story, I still read it as a gender neutral power fantasy. I’m honestly having trouble imagining how to have a “specifically male” or “specifically female” power fantasy without it just being “power fantasy + sexual fantasy”. Anyway, sorry for the rambling. My question is: can someone please explain to me how to have a gender-specific identity (male OR female) that is neither offensive nor inconsequential?
…but they’re male. That is why he brought them up.
I [i]get[/i] that, in the case demonstrated in the comic, he’s talking about males. I’m not quibbling about whether the characters are male or not.
In my own experience, in my own head, I don’t really distinguish between male or female characters too well, unless the character is literally gender-specific to the point of being a sexual-based character, rather than simply masculine or feminine. I’m asking for help on what I should look for, or whether mature gender identity beyond sexuality is really a noticeable thing.
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is considered a “girls show.” Not because there’s magic, not because they’re ponies, but because most of the cast is female.
Conversely, many shows that are considered “gender neutral” will primarily feature males. The protagonist will almost always be male. The rule of thumb is if the main protagonist is a girl, the show is for girls, but if the protagonist is a guy, the show is for everybody.
The default is male. (Also straight and white.)
That’s really neither here nor there, in terms of the point the comic was making. I’m just saying that it’s easy to ignore the gender of a given character (personally, I relate to Booster Gold better than I relate to any female character, however much I may love them), but it doesn’t change the fact that while women and girls are generally expected to identify with, or at least follow a male lead, the same is not expected of men and boys.
In the context of the comic, the point is more that there has always been a trend in comics (and most entertainment) to portray women in terms of sexiness as well as power, intentionally. Folks may find Batman sexy, but it’s rare that you’ll have a scriptwriter tell the artist to make sure Bruce is in a sexy pose. They will specify that about the women though. You won’t usually get a comic that has a page or two of one of the men striking seductive poses in swimwear, whether or not they’re attractive, but, well…Red Hood happened and Starfire just barely got a bikini that wasn’t see-through. For the most part, if readers happen to find a male hero sexy, it’s a bonus but it probably wasn’t planned, whereas heroines are usually drawn and written with the sexiness in mind. For some characters, it wouldn’t be a problem. The problem is that it’s almost every single woman.
“The rule of thumb is if the main protagonist is a girl, the show is for girls, but if the protagonist is a guy, the show is for everybody.”
That’s mostly true in cartoons and sitcoms, but I don’t think it holds true for grown up night time TV drama and adventure shows. Buffy the Vampire Slayer wasn’t “for girls,” nor were Alias, Xena, Threshold, The Closer, The Medium, The Sarah Connor Chronicles, or several others in this vein (arguably even Star Trek: Voyager). These types of shows only seem to be perceived as specifically for women when the cast is *predominantly* female, such as with Charmed. Shows of this type also tend to have strong female characters even when the “main character” (if there is one) is male.
Normally, this might lead me to suspect that these related genres appeal to a more liberal, enlightened, egalitarian audience. However, they seem to appeal largely to the audience that reads superhero comics. I’m not sure what to make if that, but it’s interesting.
I can tell you that of the very large group that DIDN’T ever watch Buffy, many many many of them DID consider it for girls. I know this because they say so whenever it is mentioned. Like “Oh yeah Firefly was cool, but Buffy never interested me. Too girly, I don’t really watch stuff like that.” So I don’t think people are is fair as you think they are.
Most of the Buffy fans I’ve known are male. I didn’t care for the show for entirely other reasons (too cheesy to take the drama seriously, too much focus on the drama to enjoy the cheese, and just generally felt too “theater major” for me). Maybe we just spend time around different types of people.
That still leaves several other shows on my (inexhaustive) list, too.
I think a gender neutral power fantasy tends to be more reasonable then a specifically male power fantasy. You’re not gonna see nearly as many girls aiming to become impossibly muscled freaks as men, so that is seen as a male power fantasy.
Whenever I click the random comic button, it takes me here. Huh?
It seems to work for me. Clearly, you are just destined to read this comic time and time again, forever.
Don’t fight it. It’s your fate.
Well if the random button is producing a TRULY random result (unlikely), getting the same comic every time has the same likelihood as getting any other comic from the archive…
I LOVE this! Gonna buy your comic book for sure now.
I feel like a jerk posting this on the comic’s own thread, but the strip has made it’s way around the web now and I can’t help but feel that a lot of the dissent it’s caused would have been avoided if it had made its point better.
The guy starts in with “men are objectified too because they’re hyper-muscled,” and Amber rightly points out the false equivalency.
The trouble is she then goes on to state that muscles are a power fantasy and that she doesn’t find male comic characters attractive. However, for most modern men muscles aren’t a power fantasy, they only want them to look good, and Amber’s non-attraction isn’t a factor 1) because obviously not all women like the same things and 2) not all men like the female comic ideal.
She’s buying into his premise that it’s the character’s body-types that chiefly objectify women, rather than the other ways they’re treated;
The costumes female characters are given, the poses they’re made to stand in, the angle or composition of the panel and their role in the story are far more weighted against them.
If Amber’s “sexy batman” had been wearing an abbreviated costume and adopting a provocative pose, the denouncement would have been far more effective (provided she’d called out those problems beforehand). It’s why I feel the “no-pants JLA posing like Wonder Woman” and “The avengers assemble like Black Widow” are better examples to give when the ‘men are objectified too’ comment is made.
Here is my personal critique of the strip’s argument. Mind you, I agree with the premise that there is excessive sexism in superhero comics (especially DC superhero comics). It’s just that I don’t think this strip has any chance of conveying that to the people who need to hear it. I’ll comply with Willis’ decree about Transformers toy observations here. The argument has “cave back” and “hollow leg” syndomes. It looks perfect when seen under exactly the intended circumstances, but from any inconvenient angle we get a hollow shell.
First, Amber’s illustration relies on Amber just happening to *not* be one of the many women who find muscled hulks attractive. It also relies on fat guy to just happen to be the sort who is uncomfortable with Amber’s illustration. Without these two coincidental facts of happenstance, the entire point Amber is making falls apart–or at least she doesn’t get to make the “background radiation” remark.
Even when Amber does happen to have exactly the idealized vision of Batman that makes fat guy uncomfortable, if he is intelligent enough to understand Amber’s point, he is also presumably intelligent enough to know that:
-There have already been *multiple* versions of Batman that resemble Amber’s illustration, undermining her point.
-There are *straight women* who would be just as uncomfortable with Amber’s drawing.
-”Male power fantasies” do not require huge muscles and tight clothes.
-Some male artists may (mistakenly or not) think they are doing women a favor by drawing male characters a certain way. Even if they are grossly mistaken, they could still be sexually objectifying the male characters if that is their intention. While it may not be common, I have little doubt that at least some artists think this way.
-”Objectification” as such does not even have to be sexual. As long as a male character is a vehicle for power fantasies, a showcase for a cool super power, or an excuse to draw muscles more so than he is a humanized, relatable character, then that male character is objectified, whether or not there is any sexual intent.
-In addition to “false equivalence” he can also Google “straw man.”
Pretty much all of the above came up a few times in the discussion here already. As long as the real-life counterparts to fat guy are aware of ANY of these things, they can happily go on being “right” in their own minds, completely unscathed by Amber’s argument. He will believe he won. Maybe that’s inevitable, but it means the strip makes NO progress toward fixing the problem. All the attention the strip receives is great, I suppose, but it’s preaching to the choir. A big hoorah from the women who feel alienated by hero comics and the men to are sympathetic feels good, but doesn’t win an argument against the guy-who-is-wrong-today that Willis is confronting. When that’s so obviously the case, it feels a lot like back-patting to me. Attempting to make an effective argument would do a lot more good than the artist merely saying “I’m on your side.”
As a side note: If Willis had simply been attempting to draw attention to how superhero comics make a lot of women feel, then great. Excellent job. However, he stated specifically in these comments that he is in fact trying to win an argument. In that case, I commend the attempt, but I think it simply isn’t an argument you can win through a comic strip.
Ack! I forgot two bullet points I had meant to include:
-There are straight men who are NOT uncomfortable with art similar to Amber’s, even if he happens to be.
-Amber’s romance stories make her a very poor spokesperson for equalizing or eliminating sexual objectification in fantasy fiction of any kind.
f.p. above me said pretty much what I was going to say. Amber’s point is completely baseless, nothing more than based on her personal opinion that she personally finds attractive. Hardly worth an argument.
It’s also assuming that everyone would agree that the way men are represented in comics is a power trip and not sexualized, I would highly disagree.
“It’s also assuming that everyone would agree that the way men are represented in comics is a power trip and not sexualized, I would highly disagree.”
So would Fredric Wertham.
I do think that objectification of women in comics is much worse (as in more abundant and crass, not as in worse to do it to women than to men) than of men. At the same time, when I see comments from some that this is corrupting society and causing danger to women, I am always reminded of Seduction of The Innocent, and that’s not a good thing. I find the excessive exploitation tacky and unworthy of the medium, but little else.
It’s definitely a certain level of exploitation.
I’m a filmmaker and when I’m casting my movie, I’m definitely casting attractive and sexy women into the lead roles. But I’m also specifically casting attractive and sexy men in lead roles. Because audiences like to look at pretty people.
I am certainly sexualizing (to a degree) and exploiting what the public finds better and more attractive to look at, but for men and women.
The fact that Hollywood casts pretty people in roles doesn’t excuse the fact that male and female roles are treated differently, and that men often get a much broader range of role then women do. Otherwise Vasquez Wouldn’t Always Die. See also #4 on this list, “Only the Pretty Girls are Allowed to Live”.
Those rules are unfair to quote. Because usually when there’s a lead male and a better equipped male, the better equipped male will also die in place of the lead (Vasquez’s rule but with a man). Why else would random-cop John McClane do better than all the specially trained SWAT in the Die Hard movies?
And often in movies, the “Pretty Men” will also outlive the ugly/nerdy ones as often as the pretty girls do.
I mean I’m speaking as someone who knows exactly how the movie formula works and who employs it himself a fair amount. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve killed the pretty girl and had the well equipped character outlive to go against the grain a bit, but it’s not based on gender as MUCH as some people like to pretend. They just don’t notice it when it happens to men.
(disclaimer: I fully am aware that in media women through the history of film have been given MORE of a crap end than man; and my argument is not “since it happens to guys it’s okay”, it’s “that’s how movies work, regardless of gender.”)
I guess what I’d really like is the Female Indiana Jones. A competent, swashbuckling woman who wears rugged clothes (and not teeny tiny shorts and barely-there tops), who gets the job done and gets to live to the end. I’ve thought about writing a female Indiana Jones myself, because I think it would be widely popular. But I’m probably not a good enough writer.
So yeah, ok, it happens to both genders. But if Michelle Rodriguez were a dude, do you think she would have maybe had a few action blockbuster movies where she was the star by now, instead of always dying for being an action girl? Like at least as many as Jason Statham? She’d have her own Die Hard or Transporter or something by now. I’m saddened that she doesn’t and probably never will.
Now THAT I can completely agree with. I’d love to see something like that.
You pretty much just described River Song–except that River Song is all of that and also travels through time.
I didn’t know who River Song was, so I got excited for a second thinking there was a novel or TV show where I could watch a kickass fem hero who wasn’t all about sex. But she’s a companion, she’s not the hero of the show. The Doctor is not female, and probably never will be.
One side character in a show is nice, don’t get me wrong. I can name others, too – Zoe Washburne is one of my favorite characters, I love her so much. But what I’m hoping for is that the hero of the story be the swashbuckling woman that is not a sex caricature and dresses to fit her lifestyle instead of going boobs-out all the time. Not just some side character.
I agree with you. I think River deserves her own series, and that there should be more characters like her. And yeah, Zoe is awesome too.
I was simply noting that she seems to fit your description of a female power fantasy, nothing else related to the larger discussion.
What about the pretty girl in Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem?
I don’t think that’s really the level of exploitation people are worried about here. If the pretty girls always wind up in a gratuitous shower scene and the guys never do, then you’d be a lot closer to the complaints here.
You’re missing the point. I know I shouldn’t keep up this discussion, because it’s clear that you don’t want to see the point and that having it brought up makes you uncomfortable so you’re going to argue with all your might that obvious differences in the way genders are treated in media don’t exist. Nevertheless, I am going to rebutt.
The fact that both genders, in media, get played up for sexual reasons is misunderstanding the fundamental difference here. Take a cursory glance at the types of roles men get to have in film: You can be a nerdy linguist with no obvious sexiness, who wins the day through your intellect (Atlantis: The Lost Empire). You can be the world’s greatest detective (Sherlock Holmes, The Dark Knight). You can mastermind a heist of incredible proportions (The Italian Job, Oceans Eleven, any heist movie ever). You can have crazy and weird adventures while on drugs (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Big Lebowski). You can have action adventures while wearing khakis and rugged button-down shirts (Indiana Jones).
If you’re a lady, what can you be? You can be: The girlfriend, the mother, the girl who gets captured and becomes the girlfriend at the end, the woman who finally finds the man of her dreams, the only survivor (in a horror movie). Very, very rarely you get to be the main lead in something action oriented, like Aliens or Terminator. This however is the exception, not the rule.
But note especially that the male roles have the possibility that, while actors of course are always genetically blessed, the roles themselves may be grungy or ugly. There’s nothing sexy about Jeff Bridges as The Dude. Try to imagine a woman being given a role like that, where the movie is a comedy, and the point of the comedy is NOT about how she needs to fix herself up. There are a few movies where female actors were made more plain in order to play the role of an actual person – and that is pretty cool – but has there ever been any fictional depiction of a woman, where the woman is allowed to be less than picture-perfect beautiful, and allowed to stay that way through the entire film?
And what about the Bechdel test? The amount of films that fail it is staggering. It’s not even a very hard test to pass – as Willis pointed out in his other strip, Twilight passes.
Saying that because men also take their shirts off in movies, so there’s the same level of objectifying for both men and women… makes you look like an ignorant jackass. And I’m sure you’re not that. You’re just blinded by privilege. Think things over a little, objectively and from a distance. No one is attacking you personally. You maybe feel like we’re attacking that thing you like (comics, or film, or whatever) so we’re casting aspersions on what you like, but try not to take it personally. The blatant amount of sexism in media is a quantifiable thing. This is coming from a woman (me) who absolutely does not self-identify as a feminist.
“You’re missing the point. I know I shouldn’t keep up this discussion, because it’s clear that you don’t want to see the point and that having it brought up makes you uncomfortable so you’re going to argue with all your might that obvious differences in the way genders are treated in media don’t exist. Nevertheless, I am going to rebutt.”
Were you perhaps responding to Steve Rudzinski above me? ‘Cause I am absolutely not going to argue that at all, and your full post does not seem like a rebuttal to the content of mine.
Just in case though, all I was saying to Steve was that casting pretty people is not the major complaint–treating male and female characters differently is. Unless I’m grossly misunderstanding you, we’re in absolute agreement. Sorry for any miscommunication I may have made, though.
heh, oh Willis once again you elicit a chuckle, I am pleased.
I am going to the comments to see what zany irreverant shennanigans my compatriats are engaging in.
What the duece is this? Is this an essay?
Oh God there’s more.
And its serious. There’s…. there’s no funny at all!!!!
Oh…..it keeps GOING!!! Somebody… anybody make it stop. Fart jokes fornification with parental figures in exchange for extremely small monetary deposits… anything JUST MAKE IT STOP!!!!
I am so, so sorry.
No you’re not. You’re not even a LITTLE sorry. I FELT you snicker, typing that.
I don’t BELIEVE you.
I told yer mom a fart joke for a nickel?
This is why I prefer the Marvel Adventures and Tiny Titans.
Hi, I just read the entirety of your comic in about 12 hours (probably less…). It’s so much fun! Thank you