What It Feels Like For a Girl

It was a tumultuous week in the world of comic books and sexism.  But as a long time comics reader, it’s not…really news anymore, as sad as that may seem.

This past week DC released the first issues of Red Hood and the Outlaws and Catwoman which generated a lot of attention due to the actions and attire of two characters.  Like I said, as a long time reader of comics, this didn’t really strike me as unusual, which is sad, really, in mainstream comics this is the norm, more often that not.  When stuff like this happens, people get upset, the internet goes crazy, pages of the comic starts popping up on various news sites…and then nothing.  The furor dies down, people get bored with it and the next month the publishers keep on doing the same thing over and over.  DC doesn’t real care if people get mad.  They know the anger will die down and we will move on.

This has been happening since comics were in their infancy, and will continue to happen.  Which is too bad.  I would love to hand my 12 year son a copy of the latest Batman but thanks to stuff in the link above, that ain’t going to happen.  Call me a prude, but I don’t really want Ryan watching Batman and Catwoman in…uh, a compromising position.

And publishers wonder why younger audiences are harder to find?

But I digress.  Grant Morrison said that he wished comics had the guts to be all ages.  I love that idea.  That’s not to say that all comics have to be watered down to Richie Rich levels of decency, but there’s plenty of comics that are awesome that don’t have to include scenes of Starfire wearing a transparent bikini.

But on the other hand, I like that comics are versatile enough to have everything from Bone to Sandman.  I enjoy both titles quite a lot, and I don’t think you can really do a G-Rated Morpheus.  I think a ratings system is very fitting.  I don’t believe in censorship so a ratings system is a nice compromise.  It works for movies, TV, video games and it should and can work for comics.

Comics meant for adults, teenagers and kids should be rated accordingly.  The comics I linked to above are both rated T, and according to DC’s website that makes them appropriate for ages 12 and up.  Really.  Ryan is 12, and I don’t those comics are appropriate for him.  If you are going to have Catwoman screw Batman on the rooftop you might want to bump that rating up a bit on that book.

But like I said, DC doesn’t care what I think.  All they really care about is if I keep giving them money.  And I don’t want to make DC sound like the only bad guy on the block, Marvel isn’t doing many favors to women, either.  The only thing these guys understand is money.  This sounds cynical but it’s true.  If I don’t like the way women are portrayed in, say, X-Men, I can stop buying that comic.  So Marvel is out $3 a month or whatever.  Readers in the past have also called for boycotts of a publisher, but that doesn’t work for very long.  Comic readers will eventually come back to a title they swore off.  Years ago I worked at a comic store when Marvel decided to erase Spider-Man’s marriage to Mary Jane.  It was the hot topic at the store for months.  Readers were ticked off, many swore to never buy a Spider-Man comic every again.  But months after it happened, sales of the comic almost doubled.

If you don’t like the way publishers portray women in comics, then stop buying comics.  Period.  DC doesn’t do anything different than Marvel, so giving your money to one instead of the other doesn’t really change anything.  And stop going to comic book movies.  And watching comic book shows.  And buying comic book toys.  And buying comic book t-shirts.  The money a publisher “loses” from a $3 Batman comic they more than make up for it the next time you see a Batman movie.  Sexism in comics has been happening for almost 100 years.  NOTHING has changed.  NOTHING will ever change.  Unless something drastic were to happen.

I’m not calling for a boycott by any means, I’ll be first in line for the next Batman movie, I look forward to the next issue of Amazing Spider-Man, but blogging about sexism in comics won’t change a single thing.  I’m sorry, but it won’t (which makes this post kinda pointless…).  But if you want to change this kind of stuff, then let them know with your money.  In all aspects of what they do.

Gee, I hope I don’t get hurt when I fall off of this high horse…

Anyway, I can only imagine how a girl might feel being inundated constantly with images of how they are “supposed” to look.  It’s something that as a dad to a three year girl I think about a lot, and I wonder when she’ll start to feel self conscious about her looks.

Okay, I’ve rambled about this long enough.  Here’s a comic I did as I thought about all this stuff over the past few days.



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5 responses to “What It Feels Like For a Girl

  1. I agree with most everything here, but the point about Spider-Man’s sales doubling just isn’t true. Spidey is down, just like every other comic. It did sell better under JMS, but it’s a much better comic for reading then it was under him…but sales are nowhere near double what they were.

    • Well, the sales doubled at our store at any rate.
      I thought JMS’ run was pretty good…but kinda got worse as his run was wrapping up. I actually dig Slott’s current run.

  2. Ben Mudek

    I swore off Marvel and DC long ago for that and other reasons, but that doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally like a mindless comic with tons of scantily clad heroines. I recently started reading Warlord of Mars from Dynamite Comics. Every issue was full of images of the heroine Dejah Thoris wearing barely anything. But, oddly enough, that was the very reason it took me so long (I started with issue 9) to actually buy the book. I wanted to be sure there was actually a story I would be interested in addition to the eye candy before I was going to plop down money on it. And honestly, the Fantasy/Sci-fi Mars story appealed to me regardless of how people dressed. But I can’t lie, it did draw me in in the first place. Moreover, I realized that the main male character, John Carter, as well as most other male characters, are just as almost-nude and just as unrealistically “ideal” as any of the female characters. For realistic women, one should read Strangers In Paradise, or anything by Terry Moore, also, Frank Cho, though often scantily clad, draws women more real looking. I honestly wish more comics featured realistically drawn women like that.

  3. i think it’s possible to have attractive women in comics without resorting to Maxim-type visuals. Terry Moore does draw nice women, as does Jeff Smith, and everything Darwyn Cooke draws is beautiful.

  4. Jon

    Like was previously mentioned…I don’t follow a lot of Marvel or DC nowadays. I really haven’t seen/read a lot that makes me want to follow it. You definitely have a valid point, and I’d think twice about giving Ryan an issue like that to read as well. I had a tough time as it was convincing my folks as it was that comics weren’t rotting my brain in the 80’s! 🙂

    As far as the sexism spectacle goes…I agree that artists need to grab readers attention, but I would challenge those artists/writers to do it in a more clever way than some woman bursting out of her spandex, or putting them in compromising positions. Too much of this eventually numbs the public, as you mentioned, and they keep getting more and more jaded.

    Great post, Bob! Always look forward to reading more of your thoughts on these topics, and the page was awesome as usual!

    Take ‘er easy!

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