I have always found the way in which women are portrayed in superhero comics frustrating. As someone who has trained in martial arts, I can tell you this is NOT a practical outfit for serious ass-kicking.
You can’t run in high heels. That long flying hair is a convenient handle to be grabbed by–bad idea in a fight. You don’t wear a thong or hot pants that are going to let your labia pop out the second you make a kick. (Honestly, the first thing I think when I look at this costume is that she must have a really uncomfortable wedgie.)
And dear god, the boobs. If you have massive boobage, you need an equally massive support system to deal with said mammaries if you hope to run without injuring yourself. The second this chick punched someone, there would be boobs everywhere, not to mention how those very sensitive areas have no protection.
I suppose if you had (as a hypothetical example) millions of insect minions who could subdue the villain for you, then you could teeter up on your high heels and pose on him like this. But…does’t that kind of negate the whole point of a superpower?
Now, our green dude is also in a tight fitting outfit…but he’s not posed to be a sexual object. His bulge is not the focus of his whole costume. His green lantern isn’t on his crotch.
Given my irritation with comics’ portrayal of women, I was very excited to discover a project called “Dressed to Kill.” The artist is re-drawing men in the same costumes and poses as superhero women are found in. Her version of the photo above is hilarious.
I especially liked this statement:
“This is sexist, and I’ll tell you why. It’s not because it’s slutty, because there’s nothing wrong with being slutty.
This isn’t a woman expressing her own sexuality. This is a male-created image expressing female sexuality without female input. And that’s what most women object to in the portrayal of women in comics. There’s a difference between being sexy and being a sex object, the difference being sexy comes from within, and being sexualized comes from outside you.”
When the only reason you are dressed this way is to be titillating, and it’s completely divorced from the story line, that’s a pain.
Here is the Dressed to Kill version of Mr. America. Accompanying comments from the artist:
“It’s not just the costumes, it’s not just the poses, it’s not just that only women are dressing this way, it’s also how often the women dress this way, and how little it makes sense for them to do so.
This costume looks ridiculous on Mister America, not because he’s a man in women’s clothes, but because these clothes are ridiculous for a superhero to wear.”
Not that long ago, the Head of DC comics said that he was “not sure that young women are as interested in reading about superheroes [as boys].” I think that’s bullshit.
Just look at how well paranormal and fantasy young adult novels sell. I think young women just get tired of having their gender represented in a silly and hightly sexualized way. And that’s why they buy fewer comic books.
What do you think? Has this artwork made you think about women in comics in a different way?