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  • 1. Representation of Women in Comic Books Miranda, Jared, Meg, Scott, Megan and Jenna
  • 2. A Brief History
    • 1920’s - cheap magazines, known as “pulp fictions” were widely made and sold throughout the United States.
    • The pulps and the magazines were often aimed at older audiences.
      • They were often about crime, mystery, science fiction or horror, and were commonly violently intense or sexually provocative.
    • Modern comic books are widely considered the descendants of pulp fictions.
  • 3.
    • Pulp fictions widely portrayed females as weaker creatures, helpless and needing to be saved, femme fatales, or sexual objects.
  • 4.
    • In 1938, two Jewish boys from Ohio pitched an idea to DC Comics for a hero with superpowers from another planet. Superman marked the beginning of the Golden Age of comic books and the slow end of pulp fictions.
    • Still, Superman brought with him many of the same stereotypes as his pulp predecessors.
    • Lois Lane set the standard for female characters in comics. She was smart, sassy and sexy, but often impulsive and unable to take care of herself.
    • These precedents continued for years in the comic book industry until much later with the introduction of Wonder Woman, women’s lib and the Comic Code Authority.
  • 5. “ Seduction of the Innocent”
    • A popular book written in 1954 by Dr. Frederic Wertham, which warned people that comic books were a bad form of popular literature and a serious cause of juvenile delinquency
    • Wertham instantly became an authority on child psychology
    • He pointed out that a main concern was the objectionable context in which the comics were placed, i.e. weapons, subjective and graphic advertisements.
  • 6. Effects of Seduction of the Innocent
    • Another concern was the female nudity that was hidden in muscles or tree bark and sexual innuendos about Batman and Robin.
    • Encouraged parents to campaign for censorship
    • Subsequent to the publication of Seduction of the Innocent was the start of the Comics Code Authority in 1954.
  • 7. 1954 Comics Code Authority
    • Senate subcommittee hearings concerning comic book effects on children.
    • The comic book industry started this self - regulatory code.
  • 8. Guidelines
    • Nudity or indecent exposure in any form is prohibited.
    • Women must be drawn realistically.
    • Seduction and rape should never be shown.
    • Sexual perversion is strictly forbidden.
  • 9. Evolution of the Code
    • Since its conception the code has changed over the years.
    • The code has become more flexible with showing exaggerated and extreme female body types.
    • Today women in comics are portrayed like…
  • 10. This… !!!!!
  • 11. Women in Comics
    • Have been referred to as “big-boobed softcore porn” figures
    • Unrealistic body images
    • Publications have exaggerated or mocked naïve, clumsy, and overweight female characters
  • 12. Supergirl & Powergirl
    • Note the huge bust, stance, bleach blonde hair, facial expressions, and tiny waists of both women
    • Females in comics are often referred to as “vixens”
  • 13. Catwoman
    • Another example of the prominent characteristics that are seemingly ideal for comic book women
  • 14. Emma Frost
    • Obvious over-the-top sexuality
    • This depiction is not subtle in any way (her stance, sparse clothing, bust, facial expression, and other obvious exaggerated characteristics)
  • 15. Portrayal of Women
      • Predominantly portrayed as the supporting characters or as potential leaders struggling to be accepted as equals:
        • Career-oriented
        • Good girl/bad girl
        • Perky teenager
    • Women are most often seen as weak and in need of rescue.
  • 16. “ Superhero ”
    • The idealized physiques and frequently sexualized costumes of female superheroes have led to accusations of sexism :
      • Wonder Woman
      • Elektra
      • Catwoman
      • Batgirl
    • Note the disparity between her femininity and strength. This is a common contradiction associated with female superheroes in comic books.
  • 17. “ Not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength, and power. Not wanting to be girls, they don't want to be tender, submissive, peace-loving as good women are. Women's strong qualities have become despised because of their weakness. The obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with all the strength of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman." -1943 issue of The American Scholar
  • 18. In Sum
    • Disparity in gender equality displayed in comic books dates back to the 1960’s, where the problem was the marginalization of female figures.
    • Currently, some progress has been made, as more female characters appear in publications.
    • However, marginalization of women in comics has been replaced by objectification.
  • 19. Findings
    • Little empirical data has been found, but a few studies show:
      • gender inequality is a prominent concern, which is detrimental to society
      • numbers of men and women represented in comics are substantially disproportionate compared to the real world population
      • women are more likely to be portrayed as weak, domesticated, and/or provocative
  • 20. Suggestions
    • In an effort to ameliorate the portrayal of gender biases in comics, authors and illustrators can:
      • avoid objectification of women in illustrations and plots
      • highlight a more realistic perception of women, their talents, roles, and personalities
      • convey appropriate and encouraging messages
      • address diverse population and aim for a variety of demographics