Hello comic book geeks of America! My name is TimeWarp, future crime-fighting heroine and it’s time to play “One of these Things is not like the other”!
Gee, I wonder who really stands out on this cover. And no, I am not talking about Aquaman.
Two male and two female superheroes…but something’s not quit right.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m going to give you hint. Look at what’s circled. See folks, Female superheroes are continuously subjected to wearing clothes more appropriate for strippers rather than crime fighters. Not to mention the fact that they are drawn with proportions that even a Barbie doll would be envious of. But let’s pick our battles one issue at a time. As a superheroine in training, I am deeply disturbed by the current media representation of what are supposed to be strong female role models in DC and Marvel Comics. In fact, you could say that is a deeply personal issue for me.
Here’s a picture of my original costume as conceived by my creators. The only item even remotely relevant to my powers is my watch, otherwise I could be mistaken for an aspiring stripper instead of a soon to be superheroine. How I’m a supposed to fight crime in a swimsuit? My top might come undone during an interrogation or battle. And what about those heels? How am I supposed to chase down villains in four inch heel?
After some deliberation, my creators went back to the drawing board and came back with this. Okay, at least I’m not in a swimsuit, but the dress is strapless. Why are my creators obsessed with putting me in dresses that have a high chance of me giving and accidental peep show.
Finally we are in a step in the right direction! A dress that won’t slide off while I’m roundhouse kicking a genetically modified creature! But why is the top unbuttoned to flash my bra? And why am I still wearing heels? An even better question: how am I supposed to kick and do backflips in a battle situations when my skirt will fly up? As of right now, this is the most recent design for my costume. Currently my creator and my Lawyer are trying to settle a compromise outside of court. Trust me, I don’t want to sue them for liable and inaccurate representation of character, just as much as they don’t want to shell out thousands of dollars to appease the court.
Now that’s what I’m talking about! This is the costume I originally proposed to my creator. Notice how My top is buttoned all the way without the threat of them coming undone while a villain is monologing, although that would provide a well-timed, yet exploitive distraction. Oh and look what else! I have boots! Notice the flat sole that will provide traction when leaping from tall buildings and the weighted toe that will crush any foes teeth into his throat. And oh my goodness tights! The ultimate accesory for any superhero, male or female. You know what I can do with opaque black tights?
I can kick with opaque black tights, without the anxiety of flashing my opponents when kicking them in the gut. Overall, I think it’s pretty obvious why this a superior costume to what my creators are suggesting I use.
Now don’t let the top hat and full skirt fool you. I’m not advocating for superheroines to wear Victorian clothing. Corsets and petticoats are just as a mucha male constuct to restrict and objectify women as itty bitty little costumes and thongs.
What I am asking from my creators, DC, Marvel and other companies is that there is an equal treatment and representation of male and female superheroes in comics. In this cover of the Justie League all the males members are standing in strong and intimidating poses, while wonderwoman is posed like a supermodel with her lasso flowing provactively around her.
You wouldn’t expect green lantern, batman or superman to dress in skin tight revelaing armor and string a rope between their legs, so why should wonderwoman? I will acknowledge that there are distinct phsyical differences between males and females, and I’m not implying that wonder woman should not be feminite or sexy. But I would like to know how posing like a supermodel and giving a comehither look is supposed to intimidate the bad guys?
Now dear fans, I would like to clarify that I am not attacking those of you who enjoy these comics. Aside from the impractical and revealing costumes, impossible and highly sexualized poses, female superheroes are generally given storylines that show that they are just as strong, smart, and skilled as their male counterpart. I am also not on a crusade to burn down DC and Marvel comics and all that they stand for. Considering that from when DC and Marvel were established in the 1930s until the 1980s, the production, distribution, and consumption of comics was a completely male dominated. That’s 50 years of comics being created and viewed from a completely male perspective. With a target audience of 13-30 year old males, it is envitable that the females in comics would be represented according to the young man’s fantasy. Who else would come up with a drawing like the one above, with wonder women in what is more commonly known as the “brokeback” pose, because that’s the only way that she would be able to hold this position.
It’s somewhat comparable to how women developed the brooding, yet sensitive, heroe of romantic novels. Darcy is just a much an objetified representation of the ideal man as Wonder woman is the objectified representation of the male fantasy. Of course, the main difference lies in the fact that Darcy is clothed from head to toe, even when he goes swimming.
Luck for me and other aspireing female superheroes, the comic book industry and fandom is no longer solely male. IN the 1980’s a couple of female graphic designers entered into the comic book field and in the 90’s a slowly increasing number of girls became intersted in comics. Although trying to find a girl at a 90s Comic-Con was as rare as finding a unicorn in a pack of horses. During the 2000s, around the same time that DC and Marvel began producing blockbuster hits such as Superman Returns, Batman Begins, X Men and Spiderman, the number of female comic book geeks began to grow exponentially!
Thankfully, male comic book geeks have been very accepting of the new female fans. In fact the influx of women into the geek community has given the male fans a reality check. Now both male and female fans are making their opinions known, through blog posts, youtube videos and most importantly paradoy fan art.
Drawings such as this one directly call into question the over-sexualized poses that female comic book characters are usually drawn in. This highlights not only the double standard in action shots between male and female characters, but also the impracticality of the female poses in a battle scene.
Fan comics have also addressed the impracticallity of the revealing costumes and the double standards in clothing. Hopefully with this increased awareness within the fandom about the double standards in comics, a more accurate and unobjectifiedrepresenation of female superheroes will become the norm in the comic book industry. Thanks to fans like you, we can make our message to DC and Marvel loud and clear. Who knows? maybe one day Wonder woman and I will get pants. I’m Timewarp and please don’t objectify me.
Thoughts of an Aspiring Superheroine
One of These Things is Not Like the Other
CreditsSlide 2: New 52: Justice League #1, DC Comics, 2011Slide 3: Mighty Avengers #3, Marvel Comics, 2007Slide 4: Avengers: The Childrens Crusade #7, Marvel, 2010Slide 10: Image courtesy of WikipediaSlide 11: Justice League Variant #1, DC Comics, 2011Slide 12: Fanart by Kelly TurnballSlide 13: DC Universe Online Legends #4, DC Comics, 2011Slide 14: Pride and Prejudice, BBC, 1995Slide 15: Image courtesy of Her Universe.comSlide 16: Image courtesy of Comic-Con fansSlide 17: “Gender Swap” Fan Art by Kevin BolkSlide 18: “If I don’t get pants, nobody gets pants”, Fan Art by Cynthia Sousa*Disclaimer: I do not own any of the superheroes shown or spoken of in thispresentation aside from TimeWarp. They belong to DC and Marvel Comicsrespectively. All fan art was used according to Creative Commons fair use license.