Sunday, September 17, 2006

Feminism in Comics Redux

Tom Foss continues to show he's a thoughtful, intelligent comics blogger. His post
Walkin' on, walkin' on broken gla-a-ass is must reading. And here's my comment, so I can preserve it here.

Well, I've always felt that feminism means making the world a better place for everybody. It's not to make things better for one sex or the other. I can see that the pressures on males is often unfair, too. While there are gender differences, there are also individuals within their gender who don't fit the so-called norms and therefore are under great pressures to conform. Sexuality isn't one thing or another; it's likely a bell curve for each with the 2 bell curves overlapping. Some women will be stronger than some males and some males will be stronger than all women, and so on.

And if a man beats his wife, but also his son, is he a woman hater or simply hateful? And does a wife beater hate women or is he simply a self-hater lashing out at the most convenient target? Misogyny is a tough label to apply, IMO, so we end up with people's impressions of what's presented in the media and since we each have our own definitions, we vary greatly in their application. A bit of Wittgenstein here. Disclaimer: I was a psych major with a minor in Philosophy.

And while we all would probably agree we want well-rounded characters, that does include seemingly two-dimensional ones, ones who are cliches, because cliches exist because people like that do exist. It's hard at times, especially with supporting characters, to flesh them out when they get so few panels per story. Some writers excel at it, others not so much.

And when so many different people get to write/interpret these characters, it muddies the water, so to speak, because they write and develop characters differently, have different foci in their writing (ie story-driven vs character-driven) and sometimes, we get outright contradiction, not just confusion.

I still firmly believe that if more women were writing and drawing mainstream characters for the major publishers, things will improve. But I don't want scantily clad females to disappear, anymore than I want bulging muscled males to disappear from comics. That's part of the superhero genre and I'm not ready to say goodbye to it.

I suppose if so many people weren't so uptight about sexuality, this would be viewed differently. What I want is to see more variety. But it's hard to differentiate a woman who flaunts her sexuality because she's proud of it vs one who does so out of insecurity vs a woman who doesn't flaunt her sexuality because she's insecure vs one who doesn't because she is secure and sees no need. The surface appearance is flaunted sexuality vs not flaunted, yet the reasons are much more varied.


  1. Anonymous2:50 AM EDT

    I apologize for the fact that this is off topic! But a few of the things you mentioned remind me of an experiance I had recently.

    I was in the women's locker room at my gym after I had finished workingout. I had just showered and as is usually the case I was not in a hurry to get dressed. It gets very hot and humid in the locker room, and I hate to put on my clothes and then sweat in them while I'm doing my hair and makeup.

    Anyway, I was standing in front of the mirror blowdrying my hair when a total stranger walked up to me and asked me something along the lines of "must you really be nude while you dry your hair?" Then she said "I don't need to see your naked body to make me feel even worse about my body."

    There was nothing about the way that she said that that made me think that she was joking, and she walked away shaking her head in disgust.

    Another woman overheard what was said and she told me that she thought that the other woman was very rude and that she had no right to criticize me for being nude in the locker room, which I appreciated vey much.

    I do not walk around nude to show-off or anything like that! I have just never had a problem with being nude when it's only other females around (I guess I just got used to it in junior high and high school because of mandatory showers?) and so I never felt any need to rush to get dressed after a shower.

    Again, I apologize for going so far off topic! But some of what you said about how some people can be so uptight about the human body reminded me of that experiance.


  2. Off topic, but not really, Mary. I can't recall the actual thing that happened a few days ago, but when it did, it made me think of all this misogyny in comics or supposedly in comics, because it was something that was coming, in all seriousness, from a woman. There are women as well as men stuck with attitudes like this and to generalize about the reasons or to put a label on it seems silly to me most of the time.

    So, thanks for sharing. :)

  3. Anonymous2:23 AM EDT

    Interesting topic.
    Thanks for posting it.

    Oh, and I agree, I don't get why some people are so uptight about same-gendered nudity in a locker room? In my day you showered with other females in school and were in no way embarrassed about it, it was just something you had to do, and since we all had the same parts no one was bothered by it.

  4. Thanks for your comment, Michelle. I had to reread the post, it's been so long since I've seen it, so that was nice. :)

    When I was growing up, the school locker room was when we checked each other out to see who had the biggest breasts and those of us who had small ones felt inadequate. It wasn't exactly a confidence builder, but it was part of life.

  5. Anonymous6:55 PM EDT


    Oh yeah, I remember the comparisons alright. Our locker room had those communal group showers, and some of the girls would openly compare everyone's body and comment. Fortunately no one was ever mean about it! Lot's of times it was more a matter of one of the girls telling one of the other girls how lucky she was to have the breasts that she did have. But the gym teacher was always keeping an eye on everyone, so I'm sure they would not have allowed any of the girls to be mean to each other.

    My daughter's in High School right now and she says that they are not required to shower after their gym classes. But she said most of the girls still choose to shower anyway. When I was in school there was no way around it, you HAD to shower. Fortunately for me I was never shy in the company of other females.

  6. Michelle, the thought of unshowered, sweaty girls in class after gym made me glad I'm not in school these days. ;)

    And I remember the locker rooms for the pool in camp were more competitive than the locker rooms in school. But I was never uncomfortable changing in the presence of other girls, either, though I was envious that their "assets" were larger than mine. ;)

  7. Anonymous9:14 PM EDT


    I went to summer camp every summer from the age of 8 through age 17. It was a very diverse summer camp as far as having children of many different ages. We always shared cabins based on our age range. Therefore no one was ever more than a year or so older or younger than anyone else in our cabins. But we did share the same shower room with all of the other girls of all ages. I remember when I was in the 8 through 11 age range looking at the older girls and being envious of their "assets," and I remember when I was in the 12 through 17 age range noticing the younger girls taking notice of us older girls and our "assets." I can't really recall if we did much comparing to the girls our own age in Summer camp.In my case that was more in the showers at Junior High and High School.

    I enjoyed your blog post. and this has been an interesting discussion too. I've enjoyed thinking back to my summer camp days. Things were a lot simpler back then. For me anyway.

  8. Life definitely seemed simpler in retrospect when I was growing up. I don't know if I could handle growing up with today's pressures. ;)

    Thanks for reading, and commenting, and I hope you find other posts here that interest you, Michelle.