Gender, Comics And That Spider-Woman Cover

By now we’ve all seen it. We’ve heard the outcry  and outrage of overtly over sexualizing female superheroes and/or just females in the comic book genera.  Now I too have something say about the opinion it sparked in me.

You see my stance has always been pretty, well, understanding…to a point. I understand wanting to see hot girls, I want to see hot guys! Shirtless at times, sweaty and battlefield hotness, with great muscles and a precision jaw line…but, ahem, I digress.

I have nothing against woman of the same. I’m all for equality when it comes to sexy time. However, Marvel finally gives another Top female superhero her own solo series and they chose, not only an erotic illustrator to draw the cover, no, but this image (See above) to represent her #1 issue. Bringing to mind Kelly Sue DeConnick’s ECCC’s From Victim to Hero panel comment

I’ve got another test that works just as well. The Sexy Lamp test. If you can take out a female character and replace her with a sexy lamp, YOU’RE A FUCKING HACK.”

I, being a female writer tend to go many different ways about sexuilzation in comic book art and writing. My stance is very pro-feminism. And I would be willing to jump the soap box and proudly say I am a feminist. For I believe in the equality of all human beings. That gender, race, religion and sexual identification do not define us. It is upon merit, character and action we are to be judged and respected. For I respect all human beings – as well as most abstract creatures and things – until they give me a reason not to.

However I do not believe in “females for girls” and “males for boys”. I believe in an across the board character strength. We, each one of us man, woman and child have our differences, our weaknesses and our strengths. A Yin and Yang perspective. We all have lacking in selves that someone else completes and brings a missing strength or even provides the key to unleashing it within yourself. It could be male/female, female/female, male/male.

It’s about people. Human nature is not inclined to survive alone. Who wants to read from one characters perspective and self interaction. It is the inter personal that makes the story. It is the characters. You need female perspective and male perspective. You need a demographic of differentiating perspectives.

I do not buy into the stereotype of anything. In fact I get more bored then insulted as a reader when writers seem to lack imagination enough to write a better character and/or new perspective. Sometimes a woman is just a bitch. Sometimes a man is just a bitch too. But in a genera where it is hard to find leading ladies anyway, it starts sucking after a while when the only way it seems to give them depth and interesting traits is to make them angry at the world. Aka bitch = strong woman. I don’t have to respect that. That because she is a scary human being she managed to rise to the top and stand with the boys? Uh-uh. I have no respect for that. That in order to be considered an equal to their male counter parts they have to be “one of the guys”,  “scary beyond all reason” or even “intimidatingly powerful.”

Why do you think Wonder Woman is so looked up to. Because her sexuality isn’t an issue. She is innately feminine in an unapologetic way. Yet she is strong in character, confidence and ability. She has proven her worth as individual, not as man or woman but as hero. Kick ass hero.

We should not still be in a place where girls reading comics is a big deal. Nor should it be a big deal for a female superhero to be given a solo series. Nor should it be assumed that just because she is a girl reading comics she only wants to read comics about girls. Instead it should be less about sex and more about characters. In every title, across the board.

By Brett Booth

Now this pose, although much like the one above, I find not in the least offensive because it’s a pose with purpose. It’s action. We are dealing in a visual genera, they strike unbelievable poses (though ones that are physically possible) in extraordinary situations. This pose says “kicks ass” in an almost disarming way. Her posture is defiant yet fluid, her expression speaks depths, it’s teasing and coy, almost daring you to just try it.

Your mind is more inclined to start wondering what the kick ass superhero situation she’s in. What’s the story? What’s going on? etc.  The #1 says “takes it”. I mean just look up Milo Manara and you will see that pose exactly on a woman before a large group only she doesn’t have the body paint. It becomes about one thing. Demeaning.

A comic book cover is supposed to excite you with the anticipation of what’s going on inside. That’s what sells books. Nine times out of ten the cover has nothing to do with what is actually going on in the book, but it sure makes you pick it up.

I think of the hundreds of comic books I have seen, read, devoured because the cover set the standard for what was to come when I got my hands on it. That instantaneous thrill. How the imagination runs wild trying to piece it together even before it’s in your hands.

Sure I am particularly passionate with and overly active and detailed imagination when it comes to what ifs pertaining to character, story, and psychosis, but I don’t think it’s too far a stretch to say that those of you who are comic book nerds, geeks, aficionados, devours of awesome know exactly what I’m talking about.

A comic book that’s poorly written but has stellar artwork and detailing, can almost be forgiven, it’s still enjoyable, but a well written piece whose arts just not up to par, I’m sorry to say it can ruin a book.

And that kills me to say being a writer an all, but it’s true. Comic books are a visual medium first and foremost.

One just has to ask themselves in all this what standard does this kind of cover set? To understand why people are so very pissed off.









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