Thursday, August 07, 2008

Put Brain Into Gear Before Opening Your Mouth

Doing a little late night websurfing, I stumbled across an excerpt from ‘Wizard’s Best of Basic Training’ in a forum.

This is basically a comic-art ‘primer’ style book, with lots of information and tips on how to draw comic book males and females. The excerpt shown focuses mainly on the females.

What surprised me (although it probably shouldn’t) was the absolutely visceral reaction from people on how ‘sexist’ and ‘chauvinist’ the book is. The page is here if you want to check it out, along with the reactions.

What honestly cracks me up is how people can call comic-book females (and by association, ‘best of basic training’) sexist. Sure, the book talks a lot about how to make your female characters look sexy, etc…but I don’t see how that even comes close to ‘sexist’.

Ok, I know that there’s no such thing as an ugly comicbook heroine. They have perfect bodies, tiny waists, gravity defying breasts, thick full lips and tend to wear outfits that are a little revealing, to say the least.

My first reaction to this is that while comicbook females almost exclusively look like Victoria’s Secret models…comic books are also one of the few media where you’re guaranteed to find strong, independent intelligent female characters.

Barbara Gordon, Black Canary, Huntress, Supergirl, Wonderwoman, Spider-Woman…need I go on? All of these are highly intelligent characters and are portrayed as equals to their male counterparts.

The main point I’d like to make here though is if you think comicbook women are sexist…before you decide to comment in a public forum...take a look at the comicbook men.

You see, feminists just love to point at pictures of perfect-bodied comic book women and say “No real women look like that! These women are just hyper-exaggerated male fantasies! This is sexist!”

Keep that in mind and look at the following picture of Superman and Supergirl (drawn by Michael Turner, who took the brunt of the abuse in the above forum):

If you really look at this picture, is the representation of Supergirl any more ‘sexist’ than the representation of Superman?

When was the last time you saw any male with a physique like that? What we have here is a male with zero bodyfat, gigantic muscles, abs you could strike a match on…all wrapped up in an ultra-tight spandex wrapper. Hell, his thigh is probably as big around as my waist! (Oh, and before you latch onto the fact that it’s Superman, but Supergirl…the reason for this is Supergirl is just that…a girl. She’s a teen.)

Anyway, it’s true that the average woman would probably need some major plastic surgery to even come close to her comicbook counterparts…but the average guy could work out 24 hours a day and pump himself full of steroids and still not even come close to looking like Superman.

Basically, you can’t say comicbook females are sexist because comicbook males are represented in exactly the same ‘unattainably perfect’ way…it’s not sexist, it’s just the exaggerated over-the-top style of comic books.

Basically, comicbook women look the way they do because they’re comicbook women. There’s nothing sexist about it. Sure, you can complain at the skimpiness of Supergirl’s skirt…but if I was so inclined, I could complain about Superman’s Spandex.

I mean, those muscles in that ultra-tight outfit? That’s objectifying men, right? No real man could pull off an outfit like that, or even come close to his level of physical perfection. That’s sexist as well, right? I mean, Superman has Super-strength, but I’ve never heard anyone talk about his intelligence or what he’s like as a ‘person’.

In fact, as much as Supergirl is a ‘male fantasy’, but can’t the same be said about Superman? I mean, he’s the most powerful man in the world, but as Clarke Kent he’s a ‘mild mannered’ newspaper reporter who lets Lois Lane take advantage and walk all over him. Powerful, sexy…but completely under the thumb of his girlfriend who he’ll literally fly to the ends of the earth for.

I can imagine the reaction if we swapped Superman and Lois Lane’s sex. A Superheroine who lets her boyfriend walk all over her? Can throw planets out of orbit, but will do anything her boyfriend says on a whim?

What it boils down to is this: Who wants to read a comicbook about a Superhero with a beer-gut, hairy back and pidgeon-chest, who fights crime with his female partner who has the body of a high school lunch lady and fights crime in sweatpants?

No-one, that’s who.

Yes, so comicbook females have gigantic boobs, perfect bodies and fight crime in revealing outfits. What is also true is that comicbook males have gigantic muscles, chiseled bodies and fight crime in spandex. What's the difference?

Sexism only occurs when one sex is treated differently from the other. Both females and males are represented as over-the-top caricatures of their sex in comic books. That's just the way comic books are, and there's nothing sexy about it.

1 comment:

Evanesce In 2008 said...

You go, boy!