I’ve been reading comicbooks since I learned to read. Spider-Man, X-men, that sort of thing. And maybe it’s because of that, and perhaps simply because I’m a guy, that I never really noticed any big problem with the way women are presented in these comics.
And then, in the last few years, I began to see more and more blog posts talking about the problems with these depictions, from a feminist point of view. And I said I agreed, and I tried to be supportive… But I still never really saw it. I mean, it’s there for all to see, it’s pretty obvious.
But there’s a difference between knowing, intellectually, that something is inappropriate, and having an emotional or gut reaction to it. For whatever reason, I really don’t know why, all of a sudden, yesterday, I had that gut reaction for the first time. Maybe it’s my new glasses. j/k.
Reading a new comic that just came out in the last week or so, I found myself thinking “how gratuitous and unnecessary. There’s no plot reason whatsoever for this character, every time she appears, to be kneeling over, or sprawled across the couch in that particularly sexy way…” And then, in the next issue, she gets captured, and, as if her costume wasn’t skintight and curves-revealing enough, suddenly, for no apparent reason, they have her stripped down to her undies, and her arms and ankles restrained in, frankly, a fairly titillating position. Meanwhile, Rogue’s breasts seems to get bigger with every panel, and her costume – unzipped further than there’s any real reason for it to be – is barely containing them. And she’s supposed to be a teacher?
This, of course, is no different at all from the vast majority of comics out there. Comics I’ve been reading my entire life. But, for some reason, I honestly don’t know why, I suddenly noticed it, really felt it, really appreciated the gratuitousness of it, for the first time. For a good little while there, I was truly disgusted.
Fortunately, some comics, some illustrators, some issues, and/or some individual panels at least do serve as exceptions. Now that some of the X-men are back in Westchester, running a school, we get to see lots of scenes of them in plainclothes, acting like, well, teachers, and adults, and sometimes just sort of moping around like real people do, rather than constantly being depicted as paragons of sexual fitness in absurdly sexualized costumes.
Images from “Magneto: Not A Hero” issues 2 & 3, “X-men: Legacy” issue 260.1, and “Wolverine & the X-men” issue 4, all published by Marvel Comics with 2012 cover dates. Very small percentage of the total work reproduced, so as to fall within Fair Use. Besides, does blogging count as journalism/review? Maybe?
(1) That is, superhero comics. Obviously, when you get into the realms of indie comics, things are different. Though, not necessarily always.