Hugh Jackman for Men vs Hugh Jackman for Women


The Mary Sue points out this probably entirely unintentional juxtaposition of Hugh Jackman magazine covers, illustrating beautifully the fact that idealized comic book males are actually male power fantasies, not designed to be beefcake for women the same way that the comic book ladies are cheesecake for men.

Hugh Jackman as marketed to men:

Hugh Jackman on the cover of Muscle and Fitness, scowling, bare-chested, with Wolverine claws and ridiculously ripped musculature

Hugh Jackman as marketed to women:

Hugh Jackman on the cover of Good Housekeeping, smiling, clean-shaven, in a sweater that hides his figure, looking like an average, though handsome, guy

Women don’t think super-muscley idealized men are actually ideal for them. So how are they idealized exactly, unless they are idealized in the eyes of other men?

Power fantasies for men involve characters that are powerful and self-directing, who can shape their worlds and scatter their enemies before them like little gods. The women in these same works of fiction are sexualized objects, who exist to be ideal fantasies that men have about women. Those uber-entitled folks complaining “but men are unattainable fantasy figures in comics too” any time we complain that women in comics are twisted into impossible positions just so you can glimpse their boobs and butts at the same time, are completely missing the point. The men exist so you can want to BE them, the women exist so you can want to FUCK them.

I’d like to see some idealized asexual or genderqueer folks in comics. That would be an interesting and novel twist.

Comments

  1. Kevin Schelley says

    Maybe, just maybe women don’t like a guy with 18 inch knives coming out of hands and a facial expression that says he’s been constipated for the last week… but yeah, I can definitely see your point. I’m sorry, that facial expression does nothing to make me want to buy the first magazine.

  2. resident_alien says

    This article is sooo true thank you!
    Remember Wolverine’s first scene in the first X-men movie? The cage fight? We see him from Rogue’s perspective, his face obscured. When he is leaning against the cage,his back to the camera and the viewer taking in his impressive physique, there IS an erotic element in it,but it is secondary to the Rogue’s instinct that there is someone here who is different like she is. Someone who is powerful.She is lost, she is alone and most importantly, she is an adolescent girl.When she is looking at him, she is feeling what most every adolescent girl feels towards her first (male) idol: A feeling that doesn’t know if it is “I want to screw him” or “I want to BE him”. Lena Headey,who plays Queen Cercei in “Game of Thrones” ,when asked about Cersei’s true feelings toward her twin brother Jaime (kingslayer and sisterfucker) replied: “I think she’d like to be him.” She screws him because that’s the closest she can get to this.
    That fist glimpse of Jackman’s Wolverine is Rogue’s power fantasy rather than “bathe him and have im brought to my chambers”, those two are initially confused only because of her youth and not fully developed identity.

  3. Ysanne says

    So maybe I’m an immature woman who likes the power fantasy thing too (I’ve always identified with the/a hero of the story regardless of gender, not the girl), but I find the first cover appealing (muscles! knife-claws! chest-hair! Wolverine!) and the second one is boring and meh.
    That’s one of the reasons I dislike women’s magazines: All sickly sweet and caring and fuzzy, no power to be seen anywhere, not even in their cheesy “strong women” articles.
    I don’t think that this is such an extreme minority view among women: However, it’s also clearly not what women are supposed to be interested in, just like technology and non-beautifying sports, judging from the tropes I see in the media aimed at women.

  4. Sassafras says

    I actually find big muscles attractive, but I’ve always thought it obvious that the men in comics weren’t designed for my benefit. You can tell from the way they pose, from the way the panel frames them, and even the way many comic artists draw flat crotches for all the men even though they are willing to draw every detail of women’s breasts and butts. I was actually surprised to hear guys claiming that comic book/video game men represent equal sexualization because it seems so laughably ridiculous.

  5. says

    The men exist so you can want to BE them, the women exist so you can want to FUCK them.

    This, exactly. I think this is the main thing. Sure, plenty of women (and men and genderqueer people) are attracted to Hugh Jackman and also Wolverine. But the thing is, I’ve often found myself relating more often to male characters, just because they’re the ones who are often the main characters and get more character development, whereas female characters are there to be the guy’s girlfriend. The male characters more frequently get to have powers, do influential things, feel like they matter, and grow during the story. The female characters seem to be there soley for the purpose of catering to straight male readers, based on a stereotype of what they’ll be sexually attracted to, which is apparently girls and women defined almost entirely by their appearance and relationship with the guy. I’d want to be the guy because he gets to do stuff and make decisions. How can I relate to the female characters who I don’t even get to know anything about? On those occasions when I find stories with female characters that also get character development, I get so happy.

  6. says

    As a lifelong comic book fan (largely the Big 2), I have rarely identified with males in comics, and being gay, I have not viewed women in comics in a sexual manner. I recall being a kid and pretending to be Spider-Man (not superior though), but that did not last long.

    As fir Wolverine, he’s ok. I find him more interesting when he is struggling between civilized man of honor vs uncontrolled animalistic fury.

    Neither Hugh Jackman cover appeals to me.

  7. blondeintokyo says

    I have to say it: I like the first picture better! In the movie, that scene where he was chopping wood nearly made me cream my jeans. Seriously speaking, I think these pictures are just as much for women as for men- that is, unless you think women aren’t visually stimulated by bare chest and muscles? Hmmm…?

  8. A. Noyd says

    I think it was Jim Sterling in this video who points out that men are subjectified, not objectified.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    Ani J. Sharmin (#5)

    The female characters seem to be there soley for the purpose of catering to straight male readers, based on a stereotype of what they’ll be sexually attracted to […].

    And even when women characters are written to have depth and agency, they still have to cater sufficiently to a male audience.

  9. says

    Blondeintokyo:
    Not quite.
    The marketing of Hugh Jackman is the issue here. His strength, masculinity, power and sex appeal are aimed at men. Not as an object of desire, but as someone to aspire to.
    With women, the marketing is different. Almost as if they think women are not interested in strength, power, and sexuality. As you say, women are attracted to the first cover. So why are such covers not to be found on womens magazines?
    Although, now that I think of it, one is a fitness magazine, the other is a housekeeping mag (the latter of course is marketed to women, as if no men take care of the home)

  10. Psychopomp Gecko says

    That reminds me a bit about Jim Cornette speaking about pro wrestling. He was amazed that you could have a sport with some many half-dressed guys that was so poorly marketed to women.

    Interesting juxtaposition here, but perhaps not entirely at odds with one another. After all, the stuff on TV has tended towards increasingly large, muscular men because that’s just what McMahon likes.

    I’m more a fan of Chikara, which isn’t so big on having guys be out of proportion. It also doesn’t have a women’s division, so the women wrestlers get to knock the snot out of men too. A small step, maybe, but more of a step than most others have taken.

  11. ischemgeek says

    Know what pisses me off?

    How they market that shit in a way that makes it damn obvious it’s not for you, dear, and then turn around and scratch their heads and wonder why so few women are into it.

    Gee, maybe it’s because the damn marketing has, “MEN’S CLUB NO WOMEN ALLOWED” practically written all over it?

    Because look at what they market to men: Muscles! Power! Violence! Manliness! Constipation faces! Half-naked women!

    Then look at what they market to women: Pastels! Housekeeping! Children! Marriage! Make yourself look good for men!

    Pretty obvious that culture’s telling us men are supposed to be the one’s doing stuff, and women are supposed to just keep their socks clean and do their chores and have their babies.

    It extends to how books are marketed: I’ve never seen a women- or teen-girl aimed book that didn’t have a romance subplot, or in which they don’t all live happily ever after and then have babies, and the marketing makes a big deal of the romance, even when in story, there’s bigger things to worry about, like I dunno, the fate of the world?

    By contrast, books aimed at men and teen boys don’t mention women at all in the marketing blurbs. We’re non-entities.

    Hell, marketing shit is why, as a little girl, I never got into comics despite being a huge SFF geek. At least when I was reading a book I could pretend that Lead Heroine was dressed in armor/clothing that made sense.

  12. Xuuths says

    Ummm… since the first magazine is “Muscle & Fitness” it only makes sense to show someone’s muscles and how fit they are. (The women who appear on the covers are also scantily clad, flexing their muscles.) Equally, since the second magazine is “Good Housekeeping” it would be inappropriate for the topless Wolverine to be on the cover.

    If the magazine were “Women Bodybuilders”, you’d also probably see him flexing his muscles.

    My guess is that if the magazine were “Philately Quarterly” you’d see him looking at stamps or holding a stamp. If the magazine were “Cigar Afficianado” he’d probably have a cigar either in his hands or mouth.

    This isn’t difficult to understand.

  13. says

    This isn’t a comment on the magazines. It is a comment on comic book depictions of people, and how the apologetics about the impossibly sexualized women generally involve how the men are also impossible standards.

    The difference is in how they’re marketed. Comics are marketed to men, just like Muscle and Fitness.

    The point, Xuuths. You missed it.

  14. spartan says

    Perhaps the point was missed because it wasn’t as clear as you seem to presume; it doesn’t help that you are commenting on comic book depictions by showing magazine covers with actual depictions of real people without, unless I’m missing something, saying whether you have an issue with how these two magazines are marketed. In a way you seem to address your own point; comics and M&F and Good Housekeeping are, to be more precise, marketed to the people who buy those publications and provide them what they are seeking in those products, no? Marketing people are not dummies, I’m sure they would be happy to market to any customer base that is willing to buy enough of any product.

    “Women don’t think super-muscley idealized men are actually ideal for them.”

    That reference to ‘women’ seems incredibly general; are you talking about all, some, many, most, few, ones you’ve met? Because I don’t seem to have trouble finding women friends who do think Jackman is ideal for some things that have nothing to do with his Recipe for Romance. What exactly does ‘Hugh Jackman is hot’ mean to you, or haven’t you heard that? I don’t really agree with your idea that women in comics ‘exist’ so you can want to fuck them, again, that seems very general and over-reaching; I agree they are many times given impossible bodies sometimes contorted to impossible revealing angles, but it doesn’t then follow that is the sole or primary reason for their inclusion in comics.

    “I’d like to see some idealized asexual or genderqueer folks in comics. That would be an interesting and novel twist.”

    Indeed that would be cool, and it would be even better if they had a broad market for those comics with people who enjoy them who are not specifically of those groups (had never really thought that there really aren’t many ‘asexual’ comic characters, the only ones I can think of off the top of my head are pretty much god-like, such as Galactus). I’m very out of touch with current comics, but thought your recent post on the Deadpool trans character was a hopeful sign.

  15. says

    spartan: So… what do you think, should I make this part of the original post larger, bolder, a different color…?

    illustrating beautifully the fact that idealized comic book males are actually male power fantasies, not designed to be beefcake for women the same way that the comic book ladies are cheesecake for men.

  16. Psychopomp Gecko says

    Sometimes I don’t even know who comics are supposed to appeal to. Writers, maybe? That seems to be the only type of person who likes Spider-man these days with all they’ve done to the poor fellow.

    I know someone, possibly Linkara, suggested a problem with the character was also that his wife (at the time)was only used as a pretty face, as a model. That was her job. It was less inspiring than Lois Lane taking part in her own adventures by investigating crimes.

    And it doesn’t help that the much-maligned One More Day mess wasn’t too good a perspective on women either. Spidey traded away his marriage to protect his dying old aunt who was ready to move on. Disturbing implications of the guy knowing better than his wife and aunt aside, Quesada did all this to help bring Spider-man back to his roots and make him more relatable. So at the very least, he didn’t feel readers could relate to an adult Spider-man in a marriage having to actually tackle marriage-related problems. They felt that ages the character too much. No, instead they wanted him to be single and young and living with his aunt again, because more of their readers can relate to that.

    So in the end they wanted their own fantasy of a guy in superpowers not being dragged down by a wife who contributed and had her own adventures, or even a marriage. They just want to fantasize about being superpowered teen boys.

    That sucks.

  17. says

    @ischemgeek –

    Are you familiar with the Dragon Age and Mass Effect series of video games? Female characters wear armor that is coded for more for physiological differences between species (human, dwarf, Turian, Quarian, etc.) than for gender.

  18. spartan says

    No Jason, I just don’t think your point is really illustrated that clearly by these magazine covers. Let me try flipping it around, maybe that will help make it clearer for me: if idealized comic males were designed to be beefcake for women, would we then expect to see a shirtless flexing Jackman on the cover of Good Housekeeping? If Jackman posed all sultry-like on the cover of Playgirl, is that going to be an argument against your point? I wouldn’t think so, they are different periodicals with different purposes and customers. I’m not positive, but I’m assuming your point is, “here take a look at the cover of Good Housekeeping, this is how women are marketed to thus the idea that comic males are beefcake for women is countered by this”.

    I just think your point is being confounded by comparing different publications with each other, which is what I read Xuuths as noting also. I really don’t know how much the demographic for comics overlaps that of body building mags, and if stereotypes are anything to go on, I’d say that it’s not very large at all, so I don’t know that designating M&F as ‘marketing to men’ is specific enough. And I don’t really disagree that much with your overall point regarding depictions of women in comics, although I have less of a problem with it than you do, I’m just not seeing this as a beautiful or clear illustration of your point.

  19. smhll says

    My data points: Hugh Jackman as shirtless Wolverine in the movie is high up on my top 10 list of guys that I enjoy fantasizing about. However, I thought he looked unattractive on the cover of the body building magazine. I did not know it was possible to make shirtless Hugh Jackman as Wolverine look unappealing to me, but they succeeded! I didn’t find the sweater cover alluring, either.

    (I just came back from the store and Drew Barrymore on the cover of In Style looks like her waist has been photoshopped. I could be wrong.)
    http://www.tomandlorenzo.com/2013/08/cover-girl-drew-barrymore-for-instyle-magazine.html

  20. says

    There’s been speculation that One More Day had as much to do with Joe Quesada having a midlife crisis as anything else. Certainly the “aging the character” argument doesn’t quite ring true when the average age of superhero comic book readers is in the mid 30s or older. The era of kids being the primary market for Marvel and DC has passed.

  21. says

    Nope. Not gonna say a word. Gonna resist all urge to go Hulk Smash on OMD.
    (Yeah, still bitter about that, even though I like many of the subsequent stories. I boycotted Spidey titles for several years after OMD. When Slott came onboard, I came back. I foresee no end to my boycott of DC for the fucked up New 52 reboot).

  22. Drolfe says

    A wide survey like this would help…

    Ladies, who would you rather be:
    (Movie-verse) Ironman, or
    (New 52) Starfire?

    Gents, who would you rather be:
    (Movie-verse) Ironman, or
    (New 52) Starfire?

    Even if the question is broader, if you polled all super-hero comics readers, “which super-hero character do you most identify with” it would be a problem if female portrayals weren’t equally representative.

  23. Tony! The Immorally Inferior Queer Shoop! says

    Drolfe:
    If you had said “Pre Flashpoint” Kory, I would have picked her.

  24. John Horstman says

    I’d like to see some idealized asexual or genderqueer folks in comics. That would be an interesting and novel twist.

    Well, since all of these nominal ‘ideals’ are gendered and presented for the male gaze, I’m gonna go ahead and say that’s impossible. Maybe someone going all-out with some brilliant genderfuck could be a genderqueer ideal?

  25. says

    With women, the marketing is different. Almost as if they think women are not interested in strength, power, and sexuality. As you say, women are attracted to the first cover. So why are such covers not to be found on womens magazines?

    ….Wait, women, as an aggregate? To the extent either of these is attrative, it’s Hugh’s second pic.

    I’m sure they would be happy to market to any customer base that is willing to buy enough of any product.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    *Gasp*
    Oh HO HO HO HO HO HO HO HO

    I don’t really agree with your idea that women in comics ‘exist’ so you can want to fuck them, again, that seems very general and over-reaching

    Okay. You can put your head in the sand, if you want. There’s certainly exceptions, but it’s generally true that they’re made to be hot so the reader can want to fuck them.

  26. Yohann Paris says

    After it’s easy to say things like that when you compare two extreme Magazine.

    Here one magazine for more intelligent men:
    http://www.thefashionisto.com/hugh-jackman-covers-german-gq/

    And another:
    http://m.famousfix.com/p1009/hugh-jackman/magazine-covers_4

    So it’s easy to take the picture of “muscle magazine” to talk about image and bring an easy arguments about objectification of women. Please do more research and add more sources if you want to be taken more seriously. Because right now you don’t help the cause of women objectification, you just try to put men and women against each other.

    So you are a troll.

  27. says

    I don’t think that proves what you think it proves, Yohann. In fact, it proves that you could take a single person and market that person in a dozen different ways to reach a dozen different demographics. But the ways that men THINK they’re reaching women by “oversexualizing” men isn’t actually oversexualizing men, it’s making them power fantasies.

    So in fact, GQ might appeal to men looking for “gentlemanly fashion” advice, or women looking for “gentlemen”-looking men. Showing super-strong super-muscley men in movies and video games and comics actually appeals to MEN looking for power-fantasies, moreso than it does to women. So the argument that in these media, when men are shown as big ripped muscley dudes and women are shown as buxom, skinny snake-like creatures, they are not both being “oversexualized”.

    My point — you missed it completely. And went on to prove that point using a side-concern.

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