Robot 6

Quote of the Day | The fate of all female superheroes

… all female characters have a tendency, over time, to graduate to the field of, “tough girl with an air of innocence and also you’d like to get her pants off.” It would be an interesting experiment to establish five female characters between the ages of twelve and sixty, with a broad range of body types and personalities, and see how long it takes mainstream comics to transform them all into the 22-25 year old age group, with short skirts and colorful panties.

Time, you see, moves differently in comics. It takes a fourteen year old girl two years to reach twenty years of age, while a twenty year old girl takes fifty years to reach twenty-one.

Paul Tobin, explaining the frustration that many readers feel about Mary Marvel and — really — most female superheroes. There’s not a lot extra that needs to be said other than I’d love to see that experiment play out.

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30 Comments

Alright! I relent!

I’ll join the anti-boob side! I’ll do anything! Can we please just get a quote of the day that talks about something else?

Here here! Can’t we just go about ignoring the glaring flaws in this industry!?

NO, no talking about the flaws! Everything is perfect, go back to reading your comics now!

Pro-boobs, anti-misogyny

I’d like to point out another argument, that these women have ‘athletic’ bodies.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/jtes/the-strongest-woman-in-america-lives-in-poverty

Because this lady doesn’t fit the acceptable view of female athleticism she is shut out of endorsements like her skinny counterparts and must struggle to make ends meet.

So, what is the ‘athletic’ body shape again?

Shouldn’t ignore the flaws. But a positive, not only pointing out the negatives, happy quote every now and then would be nice.

If anyone remembers it, I think the “B side” cover of Street Angel #1 would( when viewed in context) be an excellent supporting illustration for Tobin’s remarks.

She’s not a athlete. She’s a weight lifter.There’s a difference. Its unfortunate that is in such financial dire straits but lots of ppl that are in the Olympics don’t make any money.The ppl that get the Michael Phelps endorsements are
Far and few between.The athletic body shape is normally found in fitness models not weight lifters.

“Alright! I relent!

I’ll join the anti-boob side! I’ll do anything! Can we please just get a quote of the day that talks about something else?”

The only complaints that matter are women’s complaints Dennis, even if they’re idiotic like the one on slate.com that “Brave reinforces the negative stereotype that redheads are fiery” from a couple of months ago. You’re going to be beaten over the head with this by everyone associated with comic media until you not only agree with everything they say but can’t go a single day without ranting about it. Marvel is doing breast cancer awareness? The wristbands on the characters aren’t pink enough! (an actual complaint recently). Also important to note that all art and writing by the internet’s indy darlings are not only great but some of the best comics ever created, and if the art is bad to you you’re confused – it’s really just “quirky”.

“Because this lady doesn’t fit the acceptable view of female athleticism she is shut out of endorsements like her skinny counterparts and must struggle to make ends meet.”

People like to look at good looking people. She’s unattractive and competing in something nobody cares about. Also that’s not an athletic competition, it’s a strength competition.

Of note: George Clooney is more popular among women than Phillip Seymour-Hoffman. Yet again, constant complaining about something that just isn’t that big of a deal, but by all means start another petition or boycott or something. There aren’t nearly enough things being protested.

Wait, what?

Phillip Seymour-Hoffman is a prime example of the differences in gender. Were he female, he would be asked to lose weight and get another haircut. There’s not even a lick of sense in what you’re going on about, and it’s not even the point Mr. Tobin was making. Except for Meryl Streep and perhaps Kate Winslet, there are very, very few actresses in Hollywood who aren’t 1. young and thin 2. a specific body type, if they aren’t thin and 3. praised mainly for their looks. There are character actresses, to be sure, but I wouldn’t compare their acclaim to Mr. Hoffman’s (well-deserved, imo).

There are basic tropes comics and entertainment fall into. Mr. Tobin mentioned one of them. Another which is often seen as sexist is the “girlfriend is raped or killed and hero must seek vengeance.” Gail Simone got a lot of flack out of giving a name to that one.

You can like seeing pretty ladies and still realize that some aspects of the genre are quite frankly, BS.

“Were he female, he would be asked to lose weight and get another haircut.”

Cathy Bates, Roseanne, Ellen, Meryl Streep, Rosie O’Donnell, Oprah and other female entertainers have had careers without looks/body types.

And again, this is almost EVERY quote of the day, with no counterpoints made to anything in the quotes. At what point is this just a campaign?

“Another which is often seen as sexist”

EVERYTHING is sexist. You know what’s sexist now? Anything where the female character isn’t the owner of a company or President of the United States. It’s all misogynistic. We get it. Are there any other topics in existence?

Er…I already mentioned Meryl Streep. And Oprah has been in perhaps two movies that she produced. Hardly atypical.

All of those other women, despite being household names, do not by and large appeal to the average male. Two of them because, well, they’re lesbians.

Guess what, everyone likes to see young, hot people. That’s normal and healthy. So it’s true of both genders. Nothing wrong with that.

But to pretend that their aren’t some sexist notions in comics is just silly. Comics are produced by basic, flawed humans. And if you grew up reading comics by basic flawed humans, maybe you fall back on some tired cliches that end up being sexist or racist or whatever.

If you think it’s the same quote every week, I also have a question: why do you keep coming back? This isn’t the only site about comics on the internet. I can think of about ten off the top of my head alone that likely *don’t* discuss sexism or gender issues on a regular basis.

(and by the way, I really don’t think every quote every week is about the same thing. I think people on the internet just like to complain and engage in hyperbole.)

their= there. Ugh. I hate that grammar mistake!

Also:

“EVERYTHING is sexist. You know what’s sexist now? Anything where the female character isn’t the owner of a company or President of the United States. It’s all misogynistic. We get it. Are there any other topics in existence?”

Yeah, because if you do something like not have a character in an outfit and poses where you can see her panties and part of her birth canal, next thing you know, women will want respect and you know, character development and plot progression. Who wants that?

Or….wait, maybe no one is trying to change comics to be some sort of Amazon Women on The Moon situation and just want characters who are more than ornamental. There’s nothing wrong with that. You can have a character who is a down on her luck student barely making ends meet who is way more compelling than Female CEO (latte and SUV sold separately) with superpowers. We can have a few Mayday Parkers (Spider-Girl) to go along with the Mary Marvels of the world, right? Surely you’re not opposed to that?

Or are you just opposed to some extra-fictional scenario that no one is advocating for?

How come there are no women involved in this conversation? I always wonder why most of the comments come from men. Although ppl screen name can be misleading but it seems like its mostly men that comment. I only frequent a cpl sites tho: CBR,comics alliance. And sum face book groups.

Hey Nature, stop telling males to prefer procreating with young, healthy females. You should make us want to guarantee the bloodline with great personalities. Sick of this stupid argument. While there are some males and females who are perfectly attracted to ‘non athletic bodytypes’ the majority of the herd isn’t. Blame evolution.

Forget about just not ignoring the flaws–I want to rub those flaws out of the industry for good.

Jake Earlewine

August 1, 2012 at 5:17 am

Great quote from Paul Tobin. Totally right on. And what DC did to Mary Marvel was sickening.

But I’m in agreement with some of the others here that this topic — comics’ crappy treatment of women — is old and boring.

Why use the Countdown storyline,one of the worst ever, as a example? Countdown was pretty bad.

@Steve Broome “People like to look at good looking people. She’s unattractive and competing in something nobody cares about. Also that’s not an athletic competition, it’s a strength competition.”

Pretty harsh, Steve. Maybe you’re just scared of taking her in an arm wrestle? It’s okay, dude.

The razor-edge definition between strength and athleticism which exists only in your mind is amusing, but not in a ha-ha sort of way. :(

Yeah, comics’ crappy treatment of women, that doesn’t drive away potential female or male readers.

Let’s just go back to reading our comics and pretend none of this matters.

I agree with all that, we need better female characters in comics and the ones we do have to be dealt with better.

The “broad range of body types” thing always strikes me as weird though, where superheroes are concerned. How diverse can you get there? Height and proportion, sure, but that’s about it. They still have to be idealized, that’s the point of superheroes. They look like gods and goddesses, unless they’re monstrous.

@Mike T.

It’s because guys like comics more than women do. I tried to make the point in the gender war/marketing Quote of the Day comments that even the most female friendly superhero comic is still going to be purchased by more men than women.

Superhero comics, for the most part, are science fiction. Sci-fi is a genre that, for whatever reason, appeals to males more than females, whether there are big boobs involved or not (it’s been a while since I read any of it, but I don’t recall many passages about sweet juggs and protruding asses in Frank Herbert’s work).

Some women are into superheroes, just like some women are into sci-fi or sports. But they are in the minority and some of them refuse to accept that it’s due to men and women generally having different interests. They believe the difference is something to be fixed. They believe the difference must be explained by institutional hostility toward their gender, and that more women would see just how awesome comics are if it weren’t for Mary Marvel’s revamp. Most of the time their arguments ignore the plethora of great stuff that has nothing to do with boobs, broken backs, and zippers. Over at CSBG, Kelly Thompson had a post that celebrated this good stuff, but titled it “This is why we can’t have nice things”. I applaud her positive approach, but the title clings to the negativity of her flawed ideology.

Comic book fans love to complain. If it wasn’t boobs, I’m sure there would be posts lingering on something else stupid like Spider-Man’s marriage. As a true comic lover this kind of bitching grates on my nerves. In the aforementioned Kelly Thompson post, she says that it was not a representative of either of the big two who made the statements in question, but that didn’t stop the second commenter from posting, “This is why I never do business with the big two…” Some “fans” just love to bash everything: the industry, the companies, the books, the characters, other fans… which I’m kinda doing right now, but the bastards I’m talking about deserve it. :-P

Some of the things being criticized are legitimately lame–Starfire’s “Bone me!” moment and Amanda Waller’s makeover among them–but I read a stack of books from Marvel every month (and a trade or two from Vertigo) and fail to find anything like that. But whenever the anti-boob crusaders get on their keyboards it’s “industry this” and “gatekeeper that” and “patriarchy” and “comic boobs lead to rape”. A poorly drawn Catwoman, once she’s bounced around the echo chamber enough, is suddenly responsible for Republican bills limiting abortion.

I’m just saying this complaining about cartoon boobs thing has gotten a little out of hand. Sure Mary Marvel looks like crap, and the Catwoman cover looked like crap, but they represent a tiny fraction of the work being produced and they’re not the reason more women don’t read comics. (And they definitely don’t lead to workplace discrimination)

…guys, quit feeding him.

He’s using really transparent Internet Argument Techniques: latch onto a controversial subject, point out a few really extreme examples to “support” your “argument” by pretending that they’re representative, change the subject, repeat. Recognize this stuff and ignore it.

I’m not saying this subject isn’t worth debating. I’m just suggesting you save your efforts for someone who actually wants to debate, not just provoke you.

I unfortunately figured that out late. Right about the time I actually typed a variant on “you’re arguing a point no one is actually making.

@Dennis
Then what can be done to turn that minority into not-quite-a-majority, and vice-versa?

Strawmans and false equivalency are the fallacies that this commentator is deploying.

In other words, Tobin’s comments are pretty much spot on and if somebody paid me even minimum wage of my time, I’d embark on a study of female characters and age throughout the years to help prove his point.

@Acer

I don’t know. What can be done to make more men watch Say Yes to the Dress? Why should it be done?

My overall point is that I’m not sure the gender gap is something that can or should be fixed.

Like I said, there are things which men consume more than women that have little or no sexual aspects to them. There are also things that are very sexualized yet still draw more women than men. I just don’t think there’s much evidence to support the assertion that Black Widow’s zipper is the reason more men read comics than women.

Look at True Blood. All the women are in perfect shape, cellulite-free and scantily clad, and all the men look like dehydrated gym rats. Very similar to the physical portrayals of superheroes in comic books. But the viewership is predominantly young females. Now why is that? Shouldn’t the objectification of Sookie, Pam, Jessica, and co. drive away female viewers? I don’t think it should, but many contributers to this site claim that not only does that type of material drive women (and men) away from a product, but from an entire medium. I don’t buy it.

Game of Thrones is violent and kind of sexy too, but far less so than True Blood, and it draws a larger percentage of male viewers. I chalk that up to men’s affinity for dragons and medieval weapons and women’s affinity for vampires, just like I chalk up the difference in comic readership to men’s affinity for superheroes and perhaps even the medium itself. That’s not to say that all women like vampires or all men like dragons and superheroes, but I don’t think it’s inappropriate to use generalizations when we’re talking about reader and viewer demographics.

@Dennis
That is……..utterly depressing.

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