A traditional girl comic book pose, redrawn to make a point


Via Escher Girls, a fantastic illustration of what, exactly, is wrong with “male gaze” in comics when depicting women.

Don’t see anything wrong with it? Robinade will help you with that.

Far as I know, Iron Man doesn’t have any repulsors on his can, but at least he’s got armor. What’s Black Widow’s excuse?

It’s gotten to the point where the poses alone are enough to convey sexuality — a commenter on that thread expressed disbelief that it wasn’t Iron Woman. You need to read Escher Girls to see how rampant this ridiculous torquing-up of female anatomy is on such a regular basis.

Comments

  1. ischemgeek says

    While we’re on the topic: Why the hell do so many female superheroes wear high-heels? I mean, okay, So-and-so has superstrength and can shoot lasers or whatever, but does she have super ankles that are immune to sprains, too?

    Have you ever tried to move at anything faster than an unsteady totter in heels? Not easy, I assure you. Fighting in them would be a recipe for pain and injury.

    Situations where I would wear high heels: at a presentation where I’m the speaker if none of my flats work with the outfit, at a job interview, at a fancy dinner shindig. In all cases, when the obligation to look fancy ends, the heels come off and are replaced with comfy non-ankle-straining sneakers or flats because I find heels highly uncomfortable and don’t see the point in prolonging unneccessary discomfort.

    Situations where I would not wear heels: When I’m intending to fight a battle where the fate of the world rests in the balance.

  2. raymoscow says

    You have to remember that for many young men, comic books are about as close to a dating life as they can get. And a shapely costumed woman there is not going to turn you down for a date, or laugh at you for asking, is she?

    It’s not that the objectification is incidental — it’s part of the fantasy life for guys who haven’t yet realised that they have a real life that needs to be lived.

    Yes, it’s sad, but that life for lots of guys. Most grow out of it eventually.

    Would they ‘grow up’ faster without comic books (and video games, DVD’s, internet, etc.)? I kind of doubt it.

  3. says

    You have to remember that for many young men, comic books are about as close to a dating life as they can get

    You need to check the buying numbers again. BIIIIIIIIIIIIIG chunk of readers are adult men.

    You’re just wrong.

  4. Pierce R. Butler says

    Which raises the question: why are all the characters whose superpowers include stretching and twisting their bodies (Plastic Man, Elongated Man, Mr. Fantastic) male?

  5. raymoscow says

    BIIIIIIIIIIIIIG chunk of readers are adult men.

    You’re just wrong.

    OK, scratch the ‘young’ from my statement above. Lots of adult men can’t relate to actual women, either.

  6. sambarge says

    @raymoscow

    Your post is so full of fail, I hardly know where to begin. Perhaps you want a comment war? I can’t imagine why else you would post an argument that has been repeatedly shown to be false over and over again.

  7. julian says

    What’s Black Widow’s excuse?

    Hmph!

    Obviously, Black Widow is a blue mage and is making use of the Hypnotic Rump spell as detailed in Encycopledia Arcane: Nymphology, the D20 supplement book.

    The woman knows what she is doing!

  8. says

    OK, scratch the ‘young’ from my statement above. Lots of adult men can’t relate to actual women, either.

    Still a comment of fail.

    Enterprise tried that strategy and it basically killed the Trek franchise until the JJ Abrams reboot.

    Porn is free on the net…don’t try to compete with it.

  9. says

    Which raises the question: why are all the characters whose superpowers include stretching and twisting their bodies (Plastic Man, Elongated Man, Mr. Fantastic) male?

    Elastic Girl, Elastic Girl (Mrs Incredible), Madame Rouge, Inq?

  10. Pierce R. Butler says

    Julian @ # 12: The woman knows what she is doing!

    Consider the foreground/framing graphic: she’s wasting her, um, spell on a blind man, immune to such charms.

  11. Pierce R. Butler says

    We Are Ing @ # 14 – Oops, yr knowledge of the classics clearly exceeds mine.

    *hustles off to search engines & Wikipffft*

  12. raymoscow says

    Perhaps you want a comment war?

    Yes, that exactly what I want. Please start a comment salvo, investing at least a hour of composition time on each of your points, complete with detailed references to comic literature.

    I need that on my desktop by tomorrow morning.

    Your valuable warlike comments will be rebutted in detail.

  13. raymoscow says

    Ing, perhaps instead of labeling my post ‘fail’ yet again, you could enlighten the rest of us with your vast comic, Trek, and porn wisdom?

  14. The Lorax says

    Great post, but it’s missing something…

    … Oh! I know what it needs! Robert Downey Jr. in that very same pose.

    I DEMAND THIS BE DONE.

  15. says

    Ing, perhaps instead of labeling my post ‘fail’ yet again, you could enlighten the rest of us with your vast comic, Trek, and porn wisdom?

    My not being a mouthbreathing toad hardly makes me an expert.

  16. Patrick says

    The interesting issue to me is the degree to which male privilege allows comic books to operate as lite-erotica-for-men without men having to admit it.

    If that were just admitted freely, the whole debate about depictions of female characters would have to completely change. But its not admitted openly, so in a sort of weird judo reversal, the operations of privilege can be used against the privileged by holding comic books to the standard that society pretends comic books uphold.

  17. julian says

    If that were just admitted freely, the whole debate about depictions of female characters would have to completely change.

    Probably. I doubt most of the heaviest critics would care if we were honest about why the women in comics look like they do. It would make for a great chance to talk about our fantasies and about a healthy view of sex and relationships instead of broken backs, oversized tits and outrageous costumes.

  18. Buffy says

    “While we’re on the topic: Why the hell do so many female superheroes wear high-heels?”

    Good question. I don’t follow comics but I do watch crime dramas and I’ve noticed the same trend. Most of the female detectives/CSIs wear high heels. Then they’re shown chasing down suspects in them. I know TV isn’t the real world but are we to believe detectives really work in heels? This would not only be impractical but dangerous.

  19. SallyStrange: bottom-feeding, work-shy peasant says

    Most of the female detectives/CSIs wear high heels. Then they’re shown chasing down suspects in them. I know TV isn’t the real world but are we to believe detectives really work in heels? This would not only be impractical but dangerous.

    Totally! I’m a big fan of “Castle,” precisely because it features a strong female lead, Det. Kate Beckett. She ALWAYS wears high heels. I remember even there was a moment when her colleague asked why she always wore high heels, and she dismissed it with some offhand remark. I don’t recall what she said, but I’m guessing the writers must have been getting some comments about it. It takes me right out of the story when I see her chasing after some criminal in those ridiculous shoes. I’m like, oh god, you’re going to hurt yourself, eeek… wait a second, how the FUCK did you catch up with that guy who’s wearing sneakers??

    It’s so annoying because it’s such a good show otherwise.

  20. says

    Not to get involved in any oncoming flamewars, but, despite what Dan DiDio (may he be infested with the fleas of a million camels) and other senior comic editors think, there are a substantial number of comic readers who are…dare I say it?…women!

    I know, it’s a crazy idea, but it’s true. My three longboxes and nine shortboxes of comics, plus the two packed shelves of trades, aren’t that unusual among the women of my acquaintance.

    But the constant mistreatment of female characters as nothing more than an excuse for really bad human anatomy drawing finally drove me away. I can only take so many of my favorite characters being shoved in the fridge before I give up.

    I give my money to authors who actually *like* women instead.

  21. Timberwoof says

    I’m reminded of something that happened at MileHiCon in Denver in the late 1980s or early ’90s.

    One year at the masquerade a woman presented a very accurate rendition of a Minoan woman’s costume (albeit with her breasts covered; she went historically accurate to a party later that evening). It was the best costume that year … except, apparently, for something thrown together by some chicks and their boys who had bought collars and leashes and stuff in the dealers’ room earlier that day. They called themselves the “Denebian Free Harem” or some such, and somehow won Best of Show.

    The woman who had presented the Minoan costume was a bit miffed, and people knowledgeable about costuming agreed that the judges had done a bad job that year. Apparently they voted for the Free Harem because it had more breasts. (Blue jeans on space harem boys? Really?)

    The following year the same woman entered again. This time she carried a huge ungainly space-rifle and wore high-heeled space boots, a skimpy space bikini, and space breast armor that got even my attention. Sounding like a Valley Girl, she introduced herself as Deedee Cups, Rocket Ranger. In the middle of her spiel, she dropped her ginormous space rifle. As she bent down to pick it up, one of her breasts popped. She stood up, revealing her asymmetry. She squealed, “Oh! No! Does this mean I won’t win first prize?!” and ran off the stage.

    The point was made.

    After perusing the art for sale at si-fi conventions over the years, I came to the conclusion that one can fairly easily tell the sexual preference (if not the sex) of the artist. Men who like women tend to draw their women with stereotypical features discussed here and their men, although well-muscled, with small packages. Men and women who like men tend to draw their women realistically and their men with large packages. (I haven’t seen enough art by Lesbians to have any kind of sample.) (I have no data to support this; only personal browsing that amounts to anecdotes.)

    There was a discussion at Further Confusion last January about how to get one’s writing published. One of the panels showed some awful cover art. A book cover was shown that featured a busty chick with a dragon, and no one can quite figure out which characters in the book they are supposed to be. They are there to sell the book to teenaged boys.

  22. StevoR says

    Is it just me or is that one sulphurous hued fart* our broken backed, improbably proportioned heroine is doing?

    * I can say that here right?

  23. StevoR says

    Also immaturely enough, is there supposed to be some sort of message in having a Wolverine between / beneath one’s legs?

    @13. We Are Ing :

    Enterprise tried that strategy and it basically killed the Trek franchise until the JJ Abrams reboot.

    I could be mistaken but I think I’ve heard / read somewhere that neither Seven of Nine from Voyager nor T’pol* could actually sit down wearing their respective costumes? That to avoid rippage and wardrobe malfunction they were compelled to stand, walk, jump or lie down very carefully?

    Incidentally, doens’t vanity and focusing on looking “attractive” seem like an odd match for the logical Vulcans or collective Borgs? Makes you wonder why, how and from where each of those characters got their tight outfits although adding slight credence to Janeway / Seven** Slash fiction if you’re that way inclined ..

    * That was her name right? Vulcan lady from Enterprise the Trek not Space Shuutle / warships)

    ** Why did everyone prefer to use Seven not Nine as the usual familiar name usage too btw?

  24. Emburii says

    I’m running a game where one of the female characters wears very high heels, but in her defense she’s not human and she’s the Sailor Soldier of Victory. It’s all the more humiliating for her enemies to go down under heels that bipeds shouldn’t even be able to run in, much less jump across buildings.

  25. says

    Katherine
    If you browse on Escher Girls a bit, there are attempts to put a skeleton into some of those figure.

    They are there to sell the book to teenaged boys.

    I have now come to the conclusion that teenage boys are the wealthiest people on this planet.
    Practically everything is made for them, marketed towards them and sold to them.
    Be it the multi-billion dollar comics industry, the multi-billion dollar gaming with all its segments, most movies and don’t forget sports cars where almost naked women frollick on the hood of the car.

  26. says

    I could be mistaken but I think I’ve heard / read somewhere that neither Seven of Nine from Voyager nor T’pol* could actually sit down wearing their respective costumes? That to avoid rippage and wardrobe malfunction they were compelled to stand, walk, jump or lie down very carefully?

    Incidentally, doens’t vanity and focusing on looking “attractive” seem like an odd match for the logical Vulcans or collective Borgs? Makes you wonder why, how and from where each of those characters got their tight outfits although adding slight credence to Janeway / Seven** Slash fiction if you’re that way inclined ..

    I believe you are correct. with 7 at least the costume was absurdly padded in the chestularcular region to the point of being like cloth body armor.

    Vulcan’s idea of what is logical is often not consistent :-p. But creepier is that the fan service tight costume 7 wears is NOT from the Borg…the borg are always ugly to humans with hardware jammed or welded to any available surface unit. Her uniform was supplied by the Voyager crew…So Janeway rescues a borg, forces her to deconect against her will from the collective…then gives her a shiny skin tight uniform to wear.

    I’m sure the fic has been fanned already.

  27. Desert Son, OM says

    Giliell, not to be confused with The Borg at #36:

    I have now come to the conclusion that teenage boys are the wealthiest people on this planet.
    Practically everything is made for them, marketed towards them and sold to them.
    Be it the multi-billion dollar comics industry, the multi-billion dollar gaming with all its segments, most movies and don’t forget sports cars where almost naked women frollick on the hood of the car.

    I love your comment, and I wonder if it’s not so much marketed to the teenage boys, as it’s marketed to the adult cis males more likely to have some disposable income who still imagine they have the same quality of youth they had when they were teenagers.

    A few years ago I joined a pick-up soccer league to get back into playing a game I had enjoyed playing many years previously as a child and teenager.

    I went right onto the field and promptly started playing like I was still 17, no warm up, no stretching, vigorous and sudden direction changes without regard to morphological weight and lifestyle differences, etc. I then promptly acquired the severe knee injury I was due as a 35-year-old who’s body was no longer in quite the same state it had been at 17. I was in a weird psychological place that still thought of my body as 17 years old, comprised largely of high-tensile titanium, steel, and carbon-fiber parts held together by strands of adamantium-infused coherent light and powered by alchemically-distilled titan’s blood!

    Since then I’ve rehabbed and recovered, and now enjoy jogging for exercise, and my diet’s changed, and I seem to be knee-injury free, but I’m done with soccer (as a player. I still enjoy watching the game, and I hope no one will hold that against me ;) ).

    I just wonder if much of marketing in many of the examples you mentioned is based on psychologically suggesting (or reinforcing) the idea that, “Hey, all the 30, 40, 50+ers out there: you’ve still got it, dude! And that means that even at 30, 40, 50+ every time you (cis, het) dudes show up at a sporting event, you’ll be ready to throw on the jersey to step in completely out of the stands if one of the team members suddenly goes down with an injury, and even at 30, 40, 50+, every time you (cis, het) dudes walk by a beautiful (cis, het) woman aged 18-24, she’ll practically swoon over how much she wants you!”

    Which brings us back to how deeply it’s ingrained in the culture as male privilege, and identity role-specificity reinforcement.

    Still learning,

    Robert

  28. Timberwoof says

    Hey, Robert! Welcome to the world of adult amateur sports! Good for you. (In my case, I didn’t discover what I had been missing until I was in my 30s!)

    We Are Ing, because I’m a total nerd I Googled “chestularcular”. That is the first time I got exactly one result from Google! Congratulations.

    (I think I’ve overspent my weekly allotment of exclamation points in this post.)

    I don’t think that teenaged boys have more money to spend than anyone else. I think that publishers put fantastically endowed females on the covers of books in their price range to complete for their allowances.

    Those covers never worked on me, though. It didn’t dawn on me until I was safely in college why those covers didn’t attract my attention. Had the publishers only known, and made their male heroes more attractive…

  29. says

    About the Wolverine, sometimes when comics are obtained in methods other than point of sale, the UPC is replaced with a logo or one of the franchise’s characters. What Logan’s doing on Black Widow’s comic, I’m not sure. Meh.

  30. says

    It is funny how my comment got somehow missinterpreted in two different ways in two different places.
    I think I must work on my snark.
    Although I find the other points made valid, the one I was trying to make is this:
    In every single case of blatant misogyny and sexism we had in the last times, from the reddit threads to those comics, you can usually hold your breath until somebody comes along and says “oh that’s just 15 year old boys”.
    Well, I think most of us have more patience for 15 y olds who are getting all freaked out with themselves than we have with 35 yo.
    35 yo have no fucking excuse to regard women as meat that exists solely for their pleasure.
    It’s not the 15 yo who make rape threats.
    It’s 15 yo who learn from grown men that it’s OK to make them.
    It’s not 15 yo who objectify women in such ways and set an always more impossible standard they have to meet.
    It’s grown men who do this, who create this culture (women do, too), who again tell the 15yo that this is good and OK.
    And it’s grown (mostly) men who need to end every discussion of blatant misogyny by saying “oh but it’s just 15 yo”, lest they should have to examine some of their own biases.

  31. Desert Son, OM says

    Giliel, not to be confused with The Borg at 42:

    Although I find the other points made valid, the one I was trying to make is this:
    In every single case of blatant misogyny and sexism we had in the last times, from the reddit threads to those comics, you can usually hold your breath until somebody comes along and says “oh that’s just 15 year old boys”.

    Ah, I see. I apologize for my misunderstanding.

    I think I must work on my snark.

    I am often not very skilled at detecting sarcasm in writing. If anything, I need to work on my discernment.

    Thank you for the clarification and help!

    Still learning,

    Robert

  32. says

    I feel about Liefeld pictures about the same as some people feel about Comic Sans. Absurdly long legs, S-shaped spines, strange alien faces with wrinkles everywhere, and pouches on top of pouches. I think he’s almost gotten over his fear of feet, stopped drawing them as points or hiding them behind lumps of ground, but I haven’t really kept up.

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