Robot 6

How to draw sexy without being sexist

Psylocke-Final-620x374Last month on our sister blog Comics Should Be Good, columnist Kelly Thompson wrote a piece titled “6 Sublime Superheroine Redesigns” that profiled several recent costume makeovers she thought effective and true to the characters. In the post and the ensuing comments, talk abounded about the subject of superheroines often being saddled with revealing costumes that lean more toward fan service than suitable crime-fighting gear. Some posters argued there’s a current trend toward female characters having less-revealing costumes than in the past — Psylocke’s recent wardrobe redesign by Kris Anka was cited as an example — and that it’s an overreaction by publishers and designers that panders to feminists.

Anka took umbrage with some of the comments, and it opened the floor to an interesting debate about the look of superheroes. On the surface it questions the near-universal portrayal of female superheroes in more sexualized garb, but also attempts to draw a line between drawing a superhero as sexy without necessarily being sexist.

“A character can still be considered “sexy” even if it doesn’t fit with your tastes,” Anka posted on his blog. ” To say that by giving a female character a piece of fabric to cover her ass cheeks up is ruining her sexiness, ALL that means is that YOU think that an exposed ass is sexy. There is absolutely no way to make a blanket statement about that. Some people think a baggy shirt on a girl is equally as attractive as an uber skin tight shirt.”

From Anka’s perspective, his approach to designing a new costume for a superhero never has sexiness as a factor.

“Sex appeal ONLY comes into play when the characters PERSONALITY dictates that as a factor,” says Anka. “The CHARACTER must be first and foremost the inspiration and guideline for all the decisions made when trying to design the clothing.”

Anka’s redesign of Psylocke in X-Force dispenses with the revealing swimsuit garb the character has worn since 1989 in favor of a more practical suit that, while still skintight, is less a bikini and more a form-fitting catsuit. Although Psylocke’s pre-1989 look was more demure than the Lee design, some commenters took issue with the change and how it is out of nature for the character. But Anka disagrees, saying his decision was character-specific and offers a counter-point where showing skin is part of a character’s personality.

“My go-to example of a character that should be showing skin is, of course, Emma Frost,” Anka points out. “Here is a character who prides herself on her looks. She is an incredibly confident character mentally, and likes to show off herself physically. Emma Frost flaunting it works because it works for HER. She likes control, she likes power, and one of the best tools for that is her body. She can turn heads with her body, she can command attention with it. She wouldn’t even need to use her telepathy to have someone lose focus. Emma Frost is incredibly intelligent, she knows what she is doing. There has to be a REASON for the skin.”

Anka goes on to reference male superheroes like Colossus and Namor, whose costumes are relatively skimpy, and how that works for the characters and their personalities. Anka’s complete essay is a great read, and well worth checking out on its own.

What do you think?

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Comments

194 Comments

Why the fuck does the one character that doesnt get crap for being sexy (emma frost) have to be a god damn sadist monster, who fills us with dread even thinking about her, sense she could mind rape us if we even slightly fucking displease her.

THAT SHIT IS FUCKED UP!

Not sure I understand the article’s point (or if it has one). What is “sexist”? Revealing clothing? Or revealing clothing simply for the sake of revealing clothing? I guess the fashion designers and models on Paris runways would be surprised to find out they are engaged in such a sexist enterprise as would the editors of Vogue. Or is it only sexist if a majority of men find it appealing? Please define your terms.

@ JERZY

at this point in time, having any sexual related desire in the opposite sex, especially from a physical or visual level is offensive and demeaning.

What in the bluest of hells are you talking about?

exploitative unnecessary ass shots. Sexist. gravity defying breasts the size of beach balls that a human spine could never support. sexist. “erotically” contorted female poses in supposedly heroic cover art. sexist. skimpy attire designed to titillate unlike, say, the costumes of every male superhero except hercules, the hulk and namer. sexist. etc.

there is a difference between appreciation of the female form and perving. too often comics fall into the latter category. when they do it’s offensive, inherently off-putting for many, if not most women and not girl-friendly at all. and unnecessary.

nothing to be coy or cutesy about. we all know what’s being pointed out here.

ABOVE ALL ELSE WHY THE FUCKING HELL DOES
Wanting a female character to look physicaly fit, Beautiful, and Desirable MEAN THAT WE DONT RESPECT THEM!

PLEASE EXPLAIN THIS???

Man, dudes get really emotional about this stuff. It’s like they can’t even have a rational discussion without letting their hormones get in the way of their thinking. What a shame.

Justin, weren’t you commenting on Kelly’s post? Yeesh. You make it sound like you’re being persecuted personally. Let it go, man. The world will continue turning even though Psylocke put pants on. This is kinda why I stopped reading the comments in that post after a while.

@ P.BOZ

im Pissed, dew to the fact that they are saying that wanting in comics or drawing (im a artist) women in sexually desirable ways means that i dont respect women…… WOULD THAT NOT PISS YOU OFF?

i have more female friends than male ones and i never been rude to them, never been letcherous towards them and never disrepected them in any way. This is fucking horse shit.

Man, that Psylocke redesign is awful. Totally generic, compared to her unique original outfit.

Methinks justin doth protest too much.

it’s pretty clear you don’t respect women when you can’t handle women (and others) asking to not be sexually objectified constantly.

I mean, the math ain’t hard, justin.

Pixie_Solanas

May 8, 2013 at 12:02 pm

Obviously exposed ass cheek as part of a costume is tacky to the nth degree, but we can certainly do sexy that’s not just a cover-up unitard.

Anka’s redesign, while perfectly serviceable, is also perfectly boring.

@ JTWONDERDOG

but then they arent respecting me by claiming my natural male desires are offensive and wrong? and they arent respecting the viewers that want sexuality in comics by just bashing them as all just being perverts that dont matter. and they are not respecting me by saying that what they want is more important than what i do.

and sexually objectification is bullshit, i freaking love sexy women in comics, THAT DOES NOT MEAN I SEE THEM AS OBJECTS AND DONT CARE WHAT HAPPENS TO THERE CHARACTERS.
(example of this _ batwoman / kate kane and her ongoing story is among my all time favorites in comics)

Your desires aren’t “natural” — you aren’t an uncontrollable wilderbeast on the wild planes. You’re a person who should be able to treat other people as people without worrying about your boner first.

Some of the comments are confusing me. Especially YOU Justin…so I’ll do my best to stay on point.

I would like you all to look at the image attached to this article and tell me what is wrong with the first one.

…I’ll give you a minute…

If you said “It’s anatomically incorrect.” You would be right! HAVE A GOLD STAR! The PROBLEM is that particular posing style, aka “brokeback” pose is 1) anatomically incorrect 2) really awkward and embarrassing for women to look at 3) Alienating to female fans.

The bulk of our argument is that these portrayals make NO SENSE for the character or its personality. They do it to males too, don’t get me wrong and it should be seriously addressed and it IS being addressed. But, the female figure is the one with the most distortion in order to sell men on a fantasy. I can only think of, really, a handful of characters who can pull off the sultry/sexy thing with their personalities anyway: Emma Frost, Witchblade comics, Catwoman, Poison Ivy.

It’s probably hard to be taken seriously as a powerful woman when you show up in a bathing suit. Like those artists who do the skimpy armor and then try and tell me that she’s a knight or a tank-character. I just laugh.

Justin: Nobody said being physically fit or beautiful was a bad thing. But having a female character looking like Gumby instead of a human being is stupid and ridiculous. Women can be physically fit and beautiful with clothes on and their spines intact.

I also don’t believe you when you said that you prefer the art over the story. Comics are a visual form of STORYTELLING. That is the very definition of sequential art. Why read a book if you don’t like it? If you want JUST art, there are plenty of other ways to get that. Sure, I picked up a Superman comic a few years ago because I thought one of the images was badass but I didn’t buy it. Why? I don’t like Superman. I don’t invest in media that I don’t like. Sequential is a blend of both art AND stories. A balance. Someone who purports to like it should understand that.

Oh. And calling someone a presumptuous bitch for stating an opinion is also another problem. Here you have a guy trying to come at this situation professionally and with a “light at the end of the tunnel” attitude and you’re being a lowly man-child with a stick up his ass because we are among those who don’t appreciate the unrealistic vision of the female form. I bet you’re one of those who yells at a female cosplayers who dresses up like Wonderwoman or Catwoman, screaming at them about how they got her portrayal wrong.

Yes. Degrading and alienating half your market is always a good idea in a struggling industry. Way to support what you love.

Derek Metaltron

May 8, 2013 at 12:17 pm

I do like to hope that people with Justin’s rationale are in the minority. Do I like sexy heroines? Yes, but I like well written and interesting heroines more, and I can fully get behind the idea of super heroines who are as much awesomely kick ass and has fun personalities as they are attractive.

There two characters I’d like to use for my example. First is Jennifer Walter’s She Hulk. I love this character, yet the fact that she’s a very attractive and well endowed lady in a swimsuit is secondary to the fact that her past comics have general reflected her personality, which is being fun, intelligent and more than a match for any of her fellow boys. Sexy, yes, but a great read on the whole too.

Then there’s Kitty Pryde. Now I know this character has matured over the years but I still often think of her as young. She’s easily my favourite lady X-Man, and I love it whenever she’s in a comic, whether it’s by herself, with Lockheed, Logan, Pitor, Bobby or the like. Now do I find her ‘sexy’? No, not especially. I think she’s attractive, but what has driven me to the character ever seen I first watched her in X-Men: Evolution is the fact she’s got a great back story and even though she’s often been the youngest member, she speaks her mind and never gives up, and over the years writers have worked on that to make her a strong confident young woman who is easily in my top five female characters in comics. So sexy, no, but awesome, yes.

I’ll be all as a guy for female solo flicks and comics where heroines can be attractive, but I’ll want them to be well written and fun to see on page too. :)

@ JTWONDERDOG

1.) comic characters are not real people
2.) did you not read my statment about how i treat my female freinds?
3.) by boner has nothing to do with my interest in this.

@ DJWAGLMUFFIN
1.) I DO NOT LIKE BACK BROKE POSES, wanting sexy women in comics does not mean where asking for that crap

2.) example frank cho draws extremly fit, powerful looking women, that never have back broke poses, almost never are too skinny, but then he gets bashed to hell just cus he adds cleavage!

3.) yes i do hold art over story, i hate ultimatum storywise, but david finch art wise blew it out of the park (was BEFORE all his women where as thin as sticks and looked like teen barbie dolls)

4.) i called her a presumptuous bitch as she was calling us perverts in a VERY generalized manner

5.) i have never been to a con, have 0 interest in cosplayers or there outfits, and again i would never harass or disrespect real women.

To quote Barry White in that episode of The Simpsons titled “Whacking Day” (and this is directed at BOTH sides in this argument over costumes and sexy vs. sexist):

YOU PEOPLE MAKE ME SICK.

justin, buddy, you’re talking about your “natural urges” — like, you know what boners are, right?

I think the main thing we should take away from all of this is that when we’re talking about a British telepath inhabiting the body of a Japanese ninja, it’s important that we don’t let it devolve into some kind of fantasy.

@ DEREK METALTRON

here is one of my other problems, the asumption that a sexy character cant be written well at the exact same time, even when the sexuality isnt apart of the characters personality.

example ___ sara pezzini the weilder of the witchblade. particuarlly during ron marz’s run onward

he brought balance to the book while before it was mostly just a T&A book, he made it a hard mystery cop thriller with x-files like supernatural elements to it, but also kept her sexuality intact.

ITS ABOUT BALANCE
im not asking for every damn character to be super hot, im just asking not to eleminate it completely, like most here and the op are suggesting and i also would ask for them to stop demanding a REASON for ever second of sexuality in comics.

@jtwonderdog you do understand these are not real human beings but fictional characters right? im so sick of how people say that something like psylocke’s original uniform at the top is somehow sexist….what???? excuse me??? is psylocke a real person walking around that can be offended? no she isnt…i mean have you seen the way woman and girls dress in society today….what psylocke is wearing is mild compared to what real actual girl dress themselves in each and everyday (especially in the summer and unbelievably underage girls)….this boggles the mind some of the arguments people make on here….you would think our woman all dress buttoned up head to toe whenever they leave the house the way some of you are arguing but we all know that isnt even close to being true…there’s more revealing outfits and fan service in movies and tv shows than comics nowa days but somehow thats ok for some reason but god forbid you put that in a comic book…also whos to say whats offensive….what could be offensive to you doesnt offend me and vice versa….maybe i dont like to see extreme violence and gore with peoples brains blown out but im ok seeing a well endowed woman in revealing clothes…you might be perfectly fine with extreme violence and gore but get your panties in a bunch over seeing a sexy woman with not alot of clothes on…whos to say whos right?…you cant please everyone…i think it goes more to the fact that woman and feminists are complaining and these company’s want to be politically correct even though woman make up a minute number of comic readers….i mean i cant wrap my mind around how any red blooded straight male could be offended over having a superheroine in a costume like psylocke’s original but thats me…im finding out comic fans sure are a weird lot…you can do alot of things in other forms of entertainment/media but dont mess with their comics…..

Bwahahaha.

“Justin” just said BALANCE. All caps BALANCE.

This after telling me i should all caps BURN IN HELL for writing about some awesome superhero costume redesigns I liked. Yup, context she is king, kids.

@kelly:

And after he told ME that he prefers art over stories.

OH JUSTIN. You’re funny.

“even though woman make up a minute number of comic readers”

Assuming that’s true: just _why_ do you think that might be? And also why women aren’t worth pursuing as an audience?

“i mean i cant wrap my mind around how any red blooded straight male could be offended over having a superheroine in a costume like psylocke’s original but thats me”

Because it’s unbelievable, and breaks the fantasy. Fiction often depends on building up enough realism that you can accept the wildly unrealistic bits, like psychic powers.

@ KELLY THOMPSON

im sorry i really cant find the comment where i said burn in hell, if i did
Fine yes that was out of line, im sorry

however i said such, not for you liking the redesigns or showing them off thats fine, but for saying that its sexist if you like the more revealing outfits.

@ DJWAGLMUFFIN

still not clear on why thats a bad thing and not believable?
Im a artist i LIKE ART

alex that last staetment is so unbelievable and contradictory….”its unbelievable and breaks the fantasy” in a sci-fi/fantasyy/superhero comic??? really it does? you dont think with the way females dress today that ANY superheroines wouldnt dress like if they did in fact existed??? dressing up as bat to fight criminals with semi automatic guns, monsters, aliens, and super villains you can accpet without breaking the realism but not a skimpy outfit on a superheroine?

Psylocke’s old bikini costume was totally fan-service and embarrassing. Glad it changed.

The redesign of her costume is super boring. Wish it had changed to something else.

I just found out that women have agreed to start reading comic books, as long as we cover all female characters with a burqa. Great news, right? Next thing you know, all those female comic fans are going to want to date you because of your encyclopedic knowledge of X-men back issues.

SarahDarkmagic

May 8, 2013 at 1:13 pm

Sounds to me that a number of people, such as Justin, are making the physical attractiveness of the female characters the most important aspect, thereby reducing them to objects to look at rather than characters. I don’t think they realize that they are doing this, but they are.

Jerzy — yes, that is exactly what everyone is saying. You got it, A+, you should write cliff notes, your observations are so astute.

great news Jersey…also they cant be drawn with their boobs or butts being too big because every single person in real life has the exact same body type….contrary to popular opinion there arent flat chested woman, voluptious woman, etc. theres just the average non offending politically correct female body type…awesome lets all go pat oursleves on the back and watch the new transfromers movie sexaulize a new young starlet, say nothing about it, but blow a fuse if its put inot a comic book…..very good guys….

The real truth is that sexy isn’t the same for everyone. I can think that the picture on the left is over the top without necessarily being sexist, and I can think that the one on the right can be boring. From my POV, both statements are true. And it cuts across gender. You make your own determination. While comics has a problem with sexism, sure, it also has a problem with people constantly screaming “SEXISM!” without engaging in conversation about why they feel that way.

@fact man:

Let me give you some examples:

I am a female character; My specialty is taking damage (let’s go into gamer speak, it’s easy for me). So, I’m a tank. I’m going to be in the front, people are going to be hitting me, shooting things at me, stepping on my foot, trying to rip my head off, etc.

I am also attractive. I have a good, strong physique and I look good in a bathing suit.

Does this mean I wear armor into battle that covers just my tits and vag just because some guy looking at me can get his rocks off? Or should I dress in a manner that will keep me alive and, by extension, the rest of my party? Should my chest be covered so I can avoid arrows to the heart? Should my midriff be covered so when someone takes a swipe at me with a sword my guts don’t come spilling out? Should my legs be covered so I don’t get clipped and end up on my knees?

Another example:

I am a female character. I am some sort of rogue or thief (I am Catwoman). I rely heavily on acrobatics and subtlety to get from point A to point B. My goal is to not be seen so I can stalk around. Should I wear something skin tight and shiny so when I, maybe, happen into some sort of natural light will give me away? Should my boobs be hanging out with a deep v-neck top so, now, I have to be spatially aware of my front;I’ll knock things over or maybe my giant boobs don’t allow me to hug a wall very well without falling over?

Maybe I should wear something dark brown and comfortable so I can have more control over my movements. Maybe I should wear something full body, including neck and nothing shiny; maybe a matte finish, so that when I move around I actually blend in with my surroundings. Maybe I should wear a sports bra so I don’t have to worry so much about my tits knocking shit over, giving away my position. And when I’m not breaking into jewelry stores and I’m just Selena Kyle, maybe I’ll wear a nice pant suit so that nobody suspects me?

Most people don’t think about these things; especially the male artists. You think: Catwoman, CAT SUIT! Ah-HA! Perfect.

N–No…What is her function? How does she fight? What does she have to carry to do her job? Yeah, Catwoman is sexy…BUT She’s dressed up as in a shiny catsuit with a V-neck plunge and heels. HEELS!? Are you kidding me!!

YOU try RUNNING in stilettos. Come back and tell me how that went for you.

This could be summed up as: Study real women, and the artists who draw them (in no particular order): John Romita, John Buscema, Alex Toth, Adam Warren, Jamie Hernandez, Serpieri, Moebius, Milo Manara, June Mills, Dale Messick, Matt Baker. That’s just off the top of my head.

Eh I like my characters the way they are. As an X-Men fan I always loved the X-Women and their looks. Never masturbated to them but I do think they are nice. I’m okay with this. This new PC interest in comic heroines is kinda tiresome. Where’s the bitching over the buff male superheroes?

@Eric:

We HAVE been saying that as well. Male characters who are overpowered football players. Except for Spiderman.

Personally since I love Psylocke I have to say the the new costume makes much more sense and makes her look totally bad ass. I approve 100%. I also had no problem with Ms. Marvel’s costume/name change recently. I like characters. I don’t really care what they wear 80% of the time (don’t mess with Batman’s duds!). If the story is good I’ll read it.

@Djwaglmuffin but you could say that for 90% of the superheroes out there!! Most superheroes uniforms are for fashion/decrative purposes and not functionality/logic based…..all im saying is that psylocke’s original uniform is not sexist and people shouldnt just throw that word around….let the artist decide the way he/she wants to draw these characters but if they decide to draw them sexualized lets not burn them at the stake…also ill again say that they’re many different female body types and drawing every woman flat chest is also unrealistic but more importantly its done just to PC frankly…

@jtwonderdog

Likewise, it’s disrespectful to demand that someone suppress or shut down the natural course of chemicals, psyche, and any outward models of beauty because passive “sexual objectification” has been arbitrarily held up as the more offensive of the two.

Math is hard sometimes, huh?

plus why doesn everything nowadays have to be uber realistic….this is fantasy after all….cant we just have fantasy for fantasy sake?

I stopped apologising for being a man years ago.

Vanos_Of_Manos

May 8, 2013 at 1:50 pm

I really like Psylocke’s redesign, as my biggest problem with her prior costume was that it didn’t make sense for a ninja/assassin. It just wasn’t utilitarian for my tastes. This looks like something I’d expect her to wear, it invokes the stealthy ninja aspect of her character. From a story standpoint, I kind of thought she was “covering up” because she felt emotionally/sexually vulnerable after the events of Uncanny X-Force vol 1. Though that was just my own brain working more than anything else.

The greater idea here, sexism vs. sexy, should be common sense. You can have/draw women in any costume you want, there’s nothing inherently wrong in drawing the female figure clothed in nearly anything and it’s fine. However, the moment the pose or design turns from normal to exploitative is when the problem arises, and unless it straight up makes sense for the character (see the Emma Frost example), then you run the risk of being labeled sexist. Hot and sexy poses work for Emma Frost or The Enchantress, but are totally out of place for someone like Kitty Pryde.

Really, the biggest transgressors here are the artists who throw away anatomy for the money shot, as it were. All in all, the any artist just needs to keep in mind two things: why would dress like that, and could a normal person actually get in to that pose? It’s not that hard, just ask someone to stand like that: if it looks forced or unnatural, guess what, you probably shouldn’t be drawing it. Also: for Kirby’s sake, please consult an anatomy text book every once in a while!

@”Justin” you said far worse and far more than just BURN IN HELL. You said enough to get your comments deleted and to get banned from CSBG by Brian unless an apology is forthcoming…that takes…A LOT of horrible disgusting comments, so congratulations!

As for the word “sexist” – that word appears NOWHERE in my original article. Scan it again, do your best. You won’t find it, because I didn’t say it. Perhaps work on your reading comprehension before you start typing in the future.

@Eric:
I don’t suppose it will hold much water, but this is my response to why there’s not a ton of bitching about male superheroes in the same way there are about female superheroes:

http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2012/02/21/she-has-no-head-no-its-not-equal/

@Fact Man:
I don’t know if you’re referring to my original piece, but I in no way want women to have the same body type (regardless of WHAT that body type is) – in fact that is the antithesis of what I want in comics. And I think if you look at the original piece you’ll see that absolutely reflected – even in the choice of characters on the list – pick – Glory and Jubilee? Couldn’t be more different physically.

But I do think – for example – Pyslocke (in her current Japanese body) makes much more sense as a slender woman with a flatter chest, as that’s far more interesting and well suited to the natural body type…as opposed to a slender Japanese woman that has double D breast implants bolted to her chest…Psylocke doesn’t seem like the breast augmentation type to me…for a lot of reasons, including the fact that double D’s make a lot of physical activity – like a superhero would probably engage in – a pain (and I should know). I think Psylocke would know this too. :)

Considering if you showed the new Psylocke costume to anyone outside the regular comic book audience they would consider t sexist. Why? Because her clothes are skin tight. Female soldiers in war wear battle armor. Female Olympic Judo practitioners wear Gi’s. In Female MMA OR Kickboxing they wear a sports bra and baggy shorts. At the end of the day comic book depictions of females, no matter how ‘conservative’ are considered sexist outside the fan base so it’s a little deluded to act like this isn’t sexist.

In the interests of full disclosure; I’m pro fan service and sexist costumes particularly for characters who exist for that purpose or have segued into that vein. If it’s okay for Shatterstar to be revamped as a gay character then it’s okay for Psylocke to be revamped into a ninja slut. How can I say this? Because it’s comic books. At the end of the day comic book characters don’t age, don’t get cancer from radiation, walk around in their underwear and are nothing more than power fantasies designed to entertain and collect on your three bucks of hard earned cash. They are what they are, get over it. Just read what you like and enjoy it.

Anka is right. Skin doesn’t always equate sexiness . . . it equates sex. Sex sells, and it was/is something that the publishers still do. Except now there’s a greater audience of women, and they are more vocal and some fanboys are having to be made to come into the light of the real world where things like respect and objectification are known. The first is nice, the latter we can do without.

Most comic characters are male and quite honestly the whole comic readers buy comics because of sexy girls argument is dumb and lame and cannot actually be defended by the simple fact that books like Lady Death or Vampirella are not the number one selling books. Is there a contingent of comic fans that like those kinds of books. Yeah. They also buy Vampirella, and Lady Death and not for the stories, but they are not in the majority they are the ones overreacting and blaming the costume change on feminists.

Anka defends himself well, and he’s right, you don’t need skin to be sexy. And I like his litmus test for designs. Would that he would design Supergirl’s outfit, because honestly, its worse than the skirt. Comics need better designers and artists and not just cheesecake and pinup artists.

That logic is probably why I hate comic book fans so much. Really, being gay evens out to being a slut? Whatever dude.

This comment section is pretty hilarious though. Keep up the good fight of defending mens rights. Lord knows we’ve been persecuted for so long by all that teenage male power fantasy.

I’m laughing at the comments MADE BY SOME COMMENTERS about costumes that don’t show skin.

DUDES AND/OR DUDETTES – I HAVE EXCITING NEWS FOR YOU!

THERE IS FREE PORN ON THE INTERNET if you want to view scantily clad ladies or ladies that are just not clad.

Let the people who want to read good stories with female characters do so without trying to serve your, um, needs.

And really the idea that “sex sells” is such a crock. How many of the top 10 comics have sexy ladies on the cover?

Psylocke being fully clothed is NOT out of nature for the character. If anything, her prancing around in a bathing suit is what was totally out of her nature. She went from being a modest upper class Brit to a slutty Asian ninja for no other reason but to draw her in an overly revealing costume. I think this costume re-design is a step in the right direction for Psylocke. Hopefully a return to Elizabeth’s real body will transpire at some point and fully put this Kwannon mess behind her.

@ Sue (DCKWA)
once again your missing the god damn point, porn and that kind of entertainment and what it entails has nothing to do with it.

Haha, Justin, did you get to the other side of the planet already, digging so deep your own grave?

Hey Kelly, lay off. You may have not said sexist but look at the damn title of the page and share on facebook shesh. Get off the high horse.

“How to draw sexy without being sexist – Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources
robot6.comicbookresources.com
Last month on our sister blog Comics Should Be Good, columnist Kelly Thompson wrote a piece titled “6 Sublime Superheroine Redesigns” that profiled several recent costume makeovers she thought effective and ”
^ from the CBR share.

Even if you didn’t title it or set up the page. The first stone was thrown at us all first. Things like this is why most people moan and groan when ever they hear a title or conversation that means “all men = bad or evil.”

@ KELLY THOMPSON

ITS IN THE TITLE!
“”” HOW TO DRAW SEXY WITHOUT BEING SEXIST “””

whats really disqusting is you and the articles writer are fucking judgeing and putting down people who think different and enjoy different things than you.

@SONYA
i rather be dead, than be in a world where i cant enjoy women’s beauty and sexuality in my entertainment without being instantly labled a pervert, or a disrepectful women hating sadist freak like you bastards have made us feel like.

refering to the article, instantly asuming that we are protest here and on this matter have any thing to do with “””getting are rocks off””” is cheap, presumptious, mean spirited and bully-istic.

@Justin, et al.

Girls, and guys that aren’t basement-dwelling mouth-breathers, are going to continue to have opinions (and make purchasing decisions) that will have an impact on areas in culture that have been traditionally produced for and consumed by boys. This is a GOOD thing. The world is changing. Evolve.

Justin, women aren’t here just for your own enjoyment. Get off your “good-guy” high horse, you twat.

Oh, and please, honor your word & stop living in this world.

@kalelmity

you’re not an uncontrollable beast, dude. if getting your rocks off involves objectifying human beings, then so sorry if I don’t care about your boner.

@Gary: I actually like my high horse, I’m very comfortable here. You know why? Because I don’t in any way shape or form think, believe, or write things that say that all men are bad or evil (probably in part because I’ve got a boyfriend, father, brothers, and tons of male friends that I adore so would have no reason to hate men or think they’re evil as a group). You and those of your ilk are the ones jumping to overly defensive retorts. It’s up to you to figure out why you’re so defensive about this subject.

Why on earth would you have to resort to this shit when all I did was write a column about superheroine costume redesigns I liked. WHY, seriously WHY do you feel stones are being thrown at YOU? Nowhere do I see fans being burned in effigy in these posts…it’s just people – artists and writers (and fans) talking about comics. You don’t agree, that’s fine, it’s your prerogative, but nobody is putting your picture up on the internet and going YOU ARE BAD. YOU are doing that.

@”Justin”: Again I respond with the comment that you should continue working on your reading comprehension. THIS is not my post. This is a Robot 6 post that is linking to mine. You told me to BURN IN HELL (etc., I have the screencaps if you really want to see them – you’ll be so proud!) on a post that didn’t EVER say the word sexist. You are continuing to read into things that are simply not there.

I’m putting down nobody. I’m simply sharing my own opinion on things that are good/that I like. You are overly defensive, perhaps because you have something that YOU are ashamed of. I don’t know you and I’m not judging you (well, I mean, now that you’ve insulted me a billion times and want to comment on things you clearly don’t understand I am, but prior to that, I was not judging you, I don’t even know who you are, how would I?) You should take a good hard look at yourself, man…I think you’ve got some self exploring to do.

As for your comment to Sue…c’mon.

Let’s use your own words – from your now deleted comment on my post on CSBG (typos are all yours) – as those words tell me EXACTLY how much you think of comics as being porn. So don’t try to tell Sue she’s got it wrong. And honestly? I have no problem with you wanting your comics to also be porn. My only problem is with you denying it, shitting on other people, and being offended that there are those of us that like our porn and our mainstream superhero comics to have a little more separation – here’s your comment:

“YOU PURE F##KING EVIL
HOW DARE YOU CLAIM THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH SEXY REVEALING OUTFITED SUPER HEROINES.
your the kind of trash that would refuse to go out with guys just cus they complimented you on you attractive you are.
your the kind of bully who makes many of us geeks and nerds be impossible to get laid and have a girlfriend and have to turn to porn and even comics for are sexual desires, AND NOW YOUR F##KING TRYING TO RUIN THAT TOO
BURN IN HELL.” – Justin (to Kelly) 4/30/13 7:28am

So charming “Justin.”

honestly, i thought anka’s post made some sense. a bit disjointed, but it made sense. sexy doesn’t have to overtly pushed down my throat unless the story and character calls for it. sexy doesn’t have to mean walking around wearing a bikini everywhere. i mean, fully clothed badass women are sexy too. it’s a nice pragmatic look at designing superheroes no matter what sex.

“Pure f##king evil”. Not used to describe bin Laden, Pol Pot, or Pinochet, but a writer on the Internet who dares to have a dissenting opinion about the costumes of lady superheroes.

I’m a woman and psylocke ( old style ) was one of my faves, side note sexuality was a big part of her. She was a thrill seeking British aristocrat long before we had heard of Lara, who had the sultry poise and exotic look of the japanese body she inhabited. Have any of you people protesting been to a gym? Seen what active people wear? For girls anyway it’s skin tight lycra, doesn’t catch on anything, it stretches and moves with your body, it’s practical . Psylockes original costume was the same it allowed her free movement as she was a fighter, on Jean Grey a none physical combatant, sure impractical but not on Psylocke. As for it not offering protection……well I don’t think extending fabric down over her thigh a little more really make much of a difference in that respect? The only overly sexualised costumes I object to is when they are point blank stupid, eg Starfires gravity defying tit wrap. Not attached to anything yet that strip of fabric magically stays on just covering her nipples. I for one want to celebrate the female form….why can’t women be women in comic books AND still look feminine? On the flip side how many women have stared at Dick Grayson’s ass in his lycra? Equality people, you can’t say you are objectifying women then drool over a guy. Also….they are comic books….fantasy characters……they aren’t real so there is no person for you to objectify, you are getting your panties in a bunch over…a drawing.

I always love Kelly Thompson’s articles and I find them really enlightening. For Psylocke, think the design prior to Anka’s redesign was made worse by artists putting her in awkward poses for the sake of making her look “sexy.” For me, the sexiest form any superheroine can take is just to be a hero. Swimsuit costumes, weird poses, and bad anatomy can get in the way from making a good story, and there take away from them being a superheroine.

The way sexist has been used in this discussion to refers to sexual objectification That is to say the female characters are treated as sexual objects. It’s all about context but there should baseline respect for female characters. For example, they should probably never where thongs or have their lower area so revealing that it appears they are wearing a thong. Namor’s costume is never turned into a thong.

If Kris Anka’s design is boring (which I don’t think it is. It’s awesome), Psylocke will get another redesign down the line. But that is independent of it being an improvement over her previous design.

B. Clay Moore

May 8, 2013 at 3:51 pm

That Psylocke redesign is great. The original was barely a costume.

Kris Anka? Also great.

These comments…kinda depressing.

-BCM

To be honest, I think we are overdue more superfellas who are designed to appeal to women. Lithe athletic pretty boys in short-shorts, like Noh-Varr. Cosmic Boy got a redesign that emphasised his physique due to the League of Super-Heroes picking up a prominent gay fan-base. Nothing wrong with fanservice or cheesecake, but you need to appeal to both genders, and it needs to make physical sense. Adam Hughes and Terry & Rachel Dodson-style cheesecake, not Greg Land drawing…anything.

People are complaining about how males are equally as objectified, and to them I say “…Not really. They’re usually not drawn for the titillation of the reader, as so many superfemmes are. Also, welcome to the gender binary, guys! It hurts everyone – makes men feel inadequate, and makes women feel inferior! See why it’s bullshit?”

Yeah, but Namor isn’t wearing a thong! Once,just ONCE I would love the see Banner change into the Hulk and his pants don’t expand like pajama jeans!

Comics are all about sexy men and women in sexy tight costumes. Partly because back in the day it was easier to draw them at a fast rate and get the books out. Women show more flesh because, frankly seeing Superman in a costume like Psylocke, well, you’d be trying to attract a different male demographic than teenage and young males.
I don’t have a problem with Psylocke’s costume, but the overusage of arse shots and big boobies can be grating. Ed Benes I’m looking at you. But these redesigns are, frankly IMO, boring, and over complicated.

i like the redesign. its something different and brings a new dynamic to the character who, for myself, has been something of a one trick pony over the last decade in whether or not she shows enough skin in her outfits.

though, i did discover in a quick Google search, ninjas use stealth and trickery for assassinations thus tend to dress in dark materials and hide their faces. my own gaff against Psylocke is that she’s such a versatile character that gets demoted to what type of butt shot can she perform while kicking a dude in the head.

sorry, but my “i believe” button broke a long time ago when it comes to crime/street fighting women in bikinis and high heels. i “voice” my opinion by not buying the books that do such things to any type of character, whether male or female.

Interesting thought……you are all objectifying the women by judging them SOLELY on what they look like. In the comics women are never treated as objects, they are team mates, allies, equals. Yeah wonder woman wears hotpants but she is treated with respect by other heroes. Vampirella is wearing small strips of material but no man has ever turned her into their sex doll. This is dissolving into nit picking about what people wear, is the girl in the short summer dress a tramp or someone’s sex toy? probably not but she was showing leg so snap judgements based off her clothes are made. What worries me is some of these arguments that they are dressed in skimpy clothes are dangerous attitudes if used in real life. Some women like showing skin, it gives them a feeling of power, they aren’t doing it for a man they are doing it for them. This also echos of ” she got raped because of what she’s wearing” .

If the story is tightly written and her character is engaging and not playing an air headed panel candy role how is she being objectified? Unless you are looking at her purely as an object, just a thing to look at with no personality, history, motivation or character. She has boobs, she’s a girl get over it, she has an ass too, stop focusing on them solely because the writers sure as hell aren’t.

Why can’t people can’t just enjoy the comic without having to be an in depth discussion on fashion or civil rights? :/

instantdeath999

May 8, 2013 at 4:10 pm

Factman said:

“plus why doesn everything nowadays have to be uber realistic….this is fantasy after all….cant we just have fantasy for fantasy sake?”

It is fantasy. The problem is, you’re asking for it to be fantasy ONLY for men. It’s that kind of exclusive attitude that made nerd culture so looked down upon for such a long time. We’re not a boys club. When we start treating the female characters as little more than objects, all we’re doing is seeking to please the lowest common denominator and alienate a portion of the fanbase.

And besides, the whole “it’s fantasy, stop treating it so seriously!” thing doesn’t work. There’s something called Wiling Suspension of Disbelief, and it can be a tricky thing to maintain. Once the audience accepts the fantastical elements of a story, you have to make sure they keep accepting it. What showcasing ridiculously skimpy costumes does, at least for me (and I am a straight male) is remind me that I am reading a comic book. It takes me completely out of the story, and all of the sudden I’m being so blatantly talked down to. It reflects badly on the artistic medium as a whole.

Consider The Avengers movie, for a moment. There was a lot of ridiculous stuff in that movie. A lot of fantasy that mainstream audiences had to accept. But it worked, and it worked well. Now, imagine that Scarlett Johansson spent that entire movie with her pants off, for no particular reason. Would that have been more unbelievable than a giant green monster or a thunder god? No. But you can bet it would have taken more people out of the movie. Sure, some would have cheered at the move, but the only thing it would do is make it even harder to take seriously.

Small things can shatter the fantasy, sometimes even more easily than the bigger things. If you want your audience to get lost in your story, even if you’re writing a fun story that doesn’t take itself too seriously, you can’t be constantly reminding them that it’s a story.

I’m actually more offended at outside special interest groups trying to police another person’s artistic expression than any kind of perceived exploitation of women. The fact is that the comic industry is a business and there are more male fans that will stop patronizing that business if the female characters start dressing like male warriors than there are women that will be attracted to comics now that the superheroines are now covered up. Hopefully some middle ground can be found and female costumes can be designed in a way that looks like a woman would WANT to wear it as much as men want to look at it, but I doubt it.

You should be allowed to draw anything you want. But expect reactions to be at least honest.

Back when comics where aimed at slavering teenage boys and it would have been good sense to make foil embossed, gate fold covers easily wipeable it made BUSNESS sense to put female characters in little more than would would make a prostitute blush.

These days the industry is maturing and realising that (as said) sexy doesn’t mean making a deposit at the spankbank every time you open a comic, so creators are re-designing and re-working female characters to fit this maturity.

It seems tragic that a lot of fanboys can’t seem to mature at the same time.

@Kim Kemp
The article described in the post is about superheroine redesigns, so it’s precisely about what they look like. Anka’s tumblr post is in response to comments on that article. But even then, the redesigns and designs are talked about in the context of the character’s personality, history, and power set. Kelly Thompson’s previous writings are also full of that. Solely wearing revealing clothing is not sexually objectification in all circumstances. But when it challenges costume practicality, anatomy, and gravity, that’s when it becomes a problem. Because it can take a reader out of the story.

@Dunkin
Designing characters should never just about trying to please one audience or another. When you redesign a character, I imagine the artist is trying to make the character look better (or continue to look awesome), to reflect the character’s current status, or just the artist’s take. Men and women just want well-designed characters. Design characters that appeal to both men and women is always what’s best for business.

@dunkin

oh utter bullshit. “women” aren’t an outside special interest group, they’re 50% and more of the human population.

also, lbr, dudes’ll fuck anything, you aren’t going to be depirved of spankbank material if chicks are wearing patns. y’all are easy.

Imraith Nimpahis

May 8, 2013 at 5:07 pm

Jesus S. “Comics need better designers and artists and not just cheesecake and pinup artists.”

End of discussion.

@Justin: She said that “sexist” doesn’t appear in her original article. She didn’t write the title. In newspapers/magazines/news blogs, someone else generally writes the headline. And she did nothing of the sort. Quit reading the articles expecting to have your ox gored, and you might actually learn something.

I think the idiocy behind this constant rationalization of Emma Frost’s costume by those supposedly against the oversexualization of female comic characters and their costumes ranks up there with that of Justins. Which, as we can all see, is formidable. Thanks for helping to undermine the argument. You third gen feminists totally…um…rock.

“Hey guys, look at me! I’m a woman who totally digs Emma Frosts costume! Now you can’t dismiss me as just another finger wagger out to spoil your fanwanking!”

Sigh.

May I point out that comics sold in consistently higher numbers before they morphed into thongs, ass shots, helium boobs and pseudo wank material? When the “distaff” half of the population was made a little more welcome from a visual standpoint.

Psylock’s old design is clearly the best, but is it so hard to just cover up her ass? Please, who’s thinking of the asses?

@StacyR Yes that’s EXACTLY why I think Emma Frost’s costume works for her. I’m a third gen feminist who wants to not be dismissed by dudes.

Jeez, do you REALLY believe that (sorry I had to add the caps since you mentioned capsking Justin)

It couldn’t be that it fits the character, right? Noooooo, let’s all make it about “idiocy” and ladeez sucking up to the man.

Sigh.

Sorry, but I have to disagree with Anka. I’m not a huge fan of Psylocke’s newest costume, but I don’t hate it. It just seems borderline generic. Slapping a purple sash on her doesn’t make it look unique to her either. I loved the blue Jim Lee swimsuit because it was unique to her. It was highly recognizable, sexy, and stylish. I didn’t like it when a lot of artists would draw it as a thong, but I loved it when it was drawn with a full covered bottom. She used to be a supermodel, so Anka’s explanation that Emma is apparently the only sexpot who likes to show off her body and is comfortable in her own skin is lame.

I find this a terrible a example. Theres about 100 different better examples .. There nothing sexy about the re design of psyclocke …

The other I was hanging with my white Canadian homegirl (we used to “knock boots” and we still do it every once in a while as we’re both still single), and a guy that obviously wanted to hook up with her ask her: why you girls fuck all these immigrants with accents and none of us. She said: “because there are no real men in these parts”. Didn’t get it at the beginning, but after reading all these comments from “pseudo-males” I totally understand what she was saying now.
I know cultures are different but when you have men crying over a comic character which, as ancient sculptures from Greek civilizations told us, are supposed to be the best and highest pinnacle of human perfection (yes, including the physical body) like a superhero or superheroine have to be, then you know shit is fucked up.
Female heroes don’t have to become more masculine to satisfy Western ladies sense of accomplishment (even when all these little men are clamoring for it).
Where I come from the power of women it’s not only in their fierceness when they have to be fierce but more importantly in the fact that they won’t accept ideas that tell them they have to become less feminine (and more masculine) in order to be more powerful and respected.
Wonder Woman might wear skimpy clothes but she is hardly look as a tramp because it’s not about the clothes she wears but who she is (to judge solely on what she’s wearing IS sexist and demeaning), but the Black Widow goes from lover to lover and fucks anything that moves in the Marvel Universe which makes her uber-awesome but at the same time no one mentions her because she is one of the guys but with boobs n’ a vagina.
Come on stop the bullshit already and let women be sexy AND powerful at the same time if they so choose, as history has proven to us again and again…and let artists draw this way if they want to, you can choose to follow other characters more suited to your ideals.
Btw, Shout out to JUSTIN and to KIM KEMP and the others that don’t fall into the trap of name-calling, labels and over-generalization.
Much love.

The fearless re design of Valkyrie is a better choice

Its really genric costume and doesnt remind me of her at all

Greg Giordano

May 8, 2013 at 7:37 pm

Kelly-

You are spot on with your criticism; in this and other op-ed’s you have written on the subject. The fact is, many (if not most) male comic readers are socially awkward, often smart but also often sexually and emotionally stunted at the maturity of adolescence to maybe 21 yrs. old max. The older they are in real life the more their uniquely socially awkward sexism calcifies into the type of thing that Justin represents- and of course, degrees of lesser immaturity. I’ve worked and hanged out (like everyone here I imagine) in comic stores, cons and forums. In more than 30 years of participating in fandom, I have yet to see the shades of misogynism fade away in my fellow male fans. The crits you and other women who actually love superhero comics(and the medium as a whole no doubt) are simply asking that their own gender be represented with equivalency of power, grace and RESPECT; not 2-dimensional, hypersexualized(without cause or context), super-bimbos.

If you think “so what it’s just a comic” or that somehow you’re entitled to have characters and your fantasy fiction be static- you don’t. Signs and signifiers EXIST. Visual codifies metaphor, denotation and subtext. When women are depicted in a universal way- according to their sexual attributes ONLY- this is in the visual sense I’m referring to, society(in this case chronologically pre and post pubescent males and females are taught by the visual metaphors symbols and so on what things are “hot”, desirable, strong, weak and the rest. When you show only one kind of depiction that drills right into the brain. We learn what we are shown. I’m ready for new more mature messages and tropes thank you. I’d think we would want for our fantasy fiction to be depicting diversity of race, gender and not be demeaning or perpetuate stereotypes. Not to mention, make better designs! Why all the kvetching and bile over this? Many of the costumes from the helium boobs-broken spine period of comics are total shit anyway- made up by young new artists that were immature, or older ones with no ideas. We should be psyched to have these overhauls if they are done right!

Superhero comics since their inception (Wonder Woman, and Miss America possibly, before WWII ended being sole exceptions) have been operating under a sexist visual and thematic groupthink- it’s high time that women and girls get their due and are depicted visually with, as said above, power, grace and respect. Nothing is harmed in the precious canon, there is no lack of “hotness”- the iconography of that hero is not disrupted forever; it’s been made contemporary, better designed and NO LONGER OFFENSIVE to the female audience! There are women readers in the land of superhero comics- it’s not a special persons club for malcontented man-boys and their 13 year old boner-fandom. With that new group comes accepting that there are boys club depictions that are actually stupid and OFFENSIVE and need to stop. That’s good business, that’s progress and that’s life, guys. It’s time to grow up and learn what adult modern and postmodern, female empowered superpower and sexuality looks and feels like. The stuff in the 90’s is over. This alpha-male fan, geek, sex-crazed, post-neanderthal is looking forward to it.

Kelly, the people who would attempt to spar with you( and attack you and others) in this thread are not your intellectual, emotional or criticism equal. The guys who would not give up on passe’, 1990’s male-fantasy sexualized portrayals of female characters are stuck in a phase where the females in their fantasy are just objects to satisfy arousal- nothing more. The worst of the detractors are pre-and post-adolescent, cultural illiterates. Don’t let the trolls get under your skin.

Enough of my mansplaining- Keep it up!

Pixie_Solanas

May 8, 2013 at 8:42 pm

at the end of the day, we’re all just arguing whether or not a racist cariacture looks better in pants or not.

sadface. I’d rather not see the character clog up narratives, pants or no pants.

Greg * Think what kelly is getting at “Good ” new “/bad “Design ” Degrading or not degrading is “Entirely subjective . Largely based on your own personal religious beliefs which I am gonna assume are White western American humanist/christian/generic rationality ..Which is fine just don’t pretend to that anything you say is universal or transcend you or even universal among all individuals in your own culture man or woman. (Not even other Western country react the same way to sex the way Americans do, with this unnaturally deep fear of seeing breast or an ass , or an attractive woman so it not even universal to the”West” West would mean German Nordic country and Iceland , And when it comes to sex Americans have nothing in common with culture) . . And yeah you are just trying to enforce your sense of what right or wrong and associating anything with sexuality with primitive and evil (darkness ) or in this case the “Basement dweller nerd mythology. Simplifying any image you find to that because you desire to and don’t pretend otherwise. in this case American comics . is your right ,I am guessing since these comic American cultural comics and product of American culture and that your culture , I just wanted to point all this nonsense about how you protecting society , I guess if you believe in your own mind that fine . For me it just sound like christian cultural idea and transcending sex as some kind of maturity (Yet American will still obsess about the evil of boobs at the end of the day and boil all images down to boobs appearance , try to control boobs , obsess about boobs , desire boobs in secret for all there bigoted talks about maturity while they watch more porn than the rest of the world combined. And the cycle of hypocrisy will keep going on and on ) . If Kim like psylok and she doesn’t have an issue with sexuality and woman (Unlike most Americans ) then she not going to have a problem with the design. And she doesn’t have to agree with you . She basically just rejected your opinion and doesn’t like it ,your moral righteous/intellectual statement won’t change that . Don’t pretend there some universal consensus that pretty much what the rest of your statement looks like , there is none . . And all the stuff about visual images teaching , images are subject to interpretation . a Penis is an evil perverted thing and symbol of male domination to the average American, . To the Yoruba it was a sign of sexual fertility and long life, Same with Breast and the Vagina . But beyond the culture aspect it just seems like Americans “Censoring , policing sex ” shouting about some nonsensical world-unity that is virtually nonexistent and in there own minds ,on something that is entirely subjective and demanding all fantasy be exactly like reality (Bizarrely still want to create fantasy ??? ) really don’t understand this logic . I comprehend the cultural logic as an outsider , I just can’t relate to it . Your society believes “fantasy is inherently evil and causes evil ” similar to the video game debates ,video game violence more real than the gun, with deep center insecurity on your own perversion which you hide , while talking about “Maturity” . That fine just don’t try to enforce that nonsense on people who don’t share your religious beliefs.

The left image she is just butt and boobs and dangerous thin. Another artist could draw her in the same outfit and make her sexy and fit and cool and interesting.

If the wrong artist was asked to drawn the costume on the right, they could drawn an images that looks just as bad as the one on the left looks.

@justin if you think the Psylocke’s image on the left is “physicaly fit” (sic) then you have some issues.

Yeah, it seems a great shame that everybody’s merrily waltzing past the fact that she’s racially offensive no matter what clothes she wears.

So based on the commentary, is it fair to assume that anyone who complained when Jim Lee put pants on Wonder Woman is sexist because they prefer to have her ass exposed?

I think we’ve all grown as people and learned an important lesson today: If you enjoy seeing large breasted women in skimpy clothing then you are a sexist pig, but at least that’s still better than being an ultra-judgemental twat.

guywhocanread

May 9, 2013 at 7:13 am

Just thought somebody should clarify:

How to draw sexy without being sexist
by Chris Arrant

and

She Has No Head! – 6 Sublime Superheroine Redesigns
by Kelly Thompson

So…… In conclusion, Kelly’s title doesn’t have the word sexist in it. Don’t know where any of you are getting that from….

Greg Giordano

May 9, 2013 at 7:30 am

B-

You know nothing about my sexual, metaphysical and spiritual background. I’m a Unitarian, and participate in folk/Root Magic rituals (there are links and similarities to Orisha or Orixa), neo-paganism, and various other non-christian traditions. I am an active participant of the alt, kink and bdsm community- hence very sex friendly, very much not fundamentalist christian and anti-sex . If you would like to exchange life histories on how “non-traditional” we both are in our politics spiritualism and sexuality, I would be happy to oblige.

Your defense of the costumes that we discuss does not show, in my opinion, any empathy with what women are distressed by (in this article and the articles referred to about the same subject). I see my beliefs as a matter of empathy. I see the resistance to hearing the complaints of women on this matter as a willfulness to not change.

In what way does it harm, police or discourage sex positivity or sensuality to discard the “stripper-style” costumes and redesign women characters as strong sexy depictions of women that WOMEN feel are appropriate and not demeaning?

B, You can go on and on defending the sexist depictions described above with all your fervor. You can attempt to discredit my point of view by surmising that I must be some kind of puritan, which you have failed to do. I am simply saying that depictions of male ideas of what is sexy cannot any longer be the dominant depictions of women characters any longer. It is unfair, sexist and distressing to women. WOMEN in this article and comments section are saying so. The choice is quite binary– we choose to respect them or we don’t.

I am unfortunately led by your argument that you justify not listening to women’s complaints- complaints that have been vehemently voiced in the female comics fan community for a while now. Be my guest if that is your stance, I sincerely hope it isn’t . I personally do not want the status quo; A status quo of depictions of women that turn them solely into sexualized objects of men’s idea of what is sexy, worthy instead of fully realized women who are sexy, strong and respected- individual people that are equals to male characters.

@Gamma-AMEN!

Yup watch your step if ever decide to step off that 50 foot high horse

@ GREG GIORDANO
so??? your fucking solution is that men, no longer get anything they want and desire on the matter?

the ONLY way to go on this matter is what the female readers want, male readers are now 100% irrelevant?

no one said “SEXY” has to be the dominant thing female characters need to go for

like right now im content, pyslocke is covered head to toe, fine, shanna is still in her classic fur bikini in savage wolverine, AGAIN its about Balance!

the only reason im angry is dew to many here trying to eliminate it completely. and for the offensive bullying of lonely guys who, apparently sense they cant get laid are the scum of the earth and are complete abominations whos opinion doesnt matter.

I don’t think that you can base whether or not something is or is not sexist based on the clothing the character is wearing.

A) All of these costumes are based on what gymnasts wear, male and female. I think if you want something to change so badly, you’re going to have to first demand the affiliated sports change the attire that these characters’ attires are based on.

B) Being sexy, especially in combat, could probably be considered an edge. I’d imagine it’s much more challenging dueling with someone who is oddly turning you on at the same time that they’re kicking your ass.

C) The femme fatale has been a staple of storytelling since its invention. An aspect of that is seduction. I would certainly consider Psylocke (and earlier, Revanche) a femme fatale, especially when she was first introduced.

There are NUMEROUS female comic characters who don’t wear next to nothing. The few that do have a specific reason for doing so. Emma Frost dresses nothing like Kitty Pryde or Jubilee or Storm. I think people just like to focus on a few random characters while completely ignoring the MAJORITY of female characters who don’t wear gymnastic outfits to work.

I am specifically remembering the message board reaction to Jessica Jones right now. The fact that she was more in line with reality as a character in superhero white male power fantasies was uncomfortable to fanboys. The fact that women aren’t portrayed as orbiting around a male counterpart scares fanboys. The female who is NOT a madonna/whore adherrent SCARES FANBOYS! How dare marvel take away the sacred cow of fetishised womanhood named psylocke. Her character development clearly mirrors the growing fan service jack-fest that was 90’s comics. With the stagnation of readership to 30 year old maladjusted (though mostly fun-loving and harmless) white men, psylocke lost her ethnicity, family, eyes and personhood to this fetishistic mold. ALL THEY DID WAS CHANGE A FUCKING COSTUME! Granted many marvel woman have fallen victim to this. Carol danvers and her rape/immaculate conception episode, Rogue and her forever untouched status, wasp under hank pym’s mental state and the extension of it through robot proxy. Kitty pryde finally gets some during whedon’s run and that tarnished her image to these guys. Men are equally as fetishised with the perpetual bachelor mode they are all stuck in. Thankfully there’s the fantastic four as some attempt to portray the family unit, Luke cage and Buddy Baker as actual fathers in comics. But just to get back on point (this issue is such a fucking joke i’m sick of it) messing with the fantasy figures of these fan persons who clearly have ALOT of unresolved issues with sexuality is a bold progressive move by the comics companies. I say here here. I may not like ALL of the new costumes but the thought and effort behind it is appreciated. Bloggers like Kelly and many others have raised awareness that YES WOMEN ALSO READ COMICS!!!!! Simply as companies i am glad that marvel dc and their ilk can now move away from the oppressive iconography imposed by an equally oppressed fandom. The sickest thing here is the way comic fandom duplicates the very same structures that they despise and that bind them in real life.

I wish I had a drink handy. Watching justin take all of this so personally is fantastic.

BTW, the word you keep mangling is “DUE”.

I like the new costume…[runs_away]

How in the world would anyoen consider the redesign ‘not sexy’?

Picture that outfit on a real person… it would look really good.

As opposed to that travesty that she has been wearing all this time. There is NOTHING sexy about that buttfloss mess.

Oh… and Steve has it right. Psylocke is an INCREDIBLY offensive character, no matter what she is wearing.

I tend to agree with Karolina here.

The gymnastic outfits make a lot of sense for flexible individuals that do a lot of acrobatics during combat. No loose clothing to snag on something and no unnecessary pouches. My 7 year old daughter takes gymnastics and while as a father I’d prefer her wear sweatpants and a t-shirt…it’s just not practical or safe.

Taking a character, like Psylocke, out of the gymnast/bathing provides her with a bit more protection during combat, yet still allows her to remain limber. No one complains that Black Cat, Catwoman or Sue Storm isn’t sexy. Granted the first two usually have exposed cleavage, but the majority of their bodies are covered.

If there’s a complaint about cleavage being exposed, then women in general should re-evaluate their wardrobes in general. How many real-life women wear low-cut, v-neck shirts out in public? There are plenty of professional women who wear that style of shirt to work in a business environment even.

I certainly understand the need to reduce the number of half-dressed women running around in comic books, but if it fits the character’s personality (and combat needs) then it’s not sexist…it’s part of the story.

Soooo, am I the only one here that likes the new Psylocke design? Especially since, you know…. She’s a ninja??

To me, the issue should be more about function. I’ll admit that I loved looking at Psylocke’s old swimsuit, but it never made much sense, in terms of what she was & what she did.

As a woman who enjoys cosplay and costumes, I can understand if the overtly sexual costume fits the character (like Emma Frost) but the more practical the costume is to the character and their abilities (be it women or men), the more I prefer it. And if the practical costume is sexy without getting the way of the character or their abilities, that’s cool too.

Samurai36,

I like the re-design. Although I wish they would’ve stuck with the dark purple as it’s been a color synonymous with her for years.

I don’t know if anyone commented this, but during the 90’s, Psylocke was a sexy character, not just for her looks, but her personality too, and that made her a very popular character. The outfit was a right fit for her and the bending poses were popular.

I do agree that the female costumes should be designed in terms of the character personality and abilities, but lets also agree that, as in the fashion industry, in any visual media beauty (and sensuality) sells.

@ justin: Sexy heroines is fine. It’s sexy heroines who are wearing thong bikinis or bras and walking around with the authority of a uniformed police officer with a badge is what’s the problem. A female superhero can be badass, even when hers isn’t hanging out of thong bikini. Let’s be clear that if Namor was walking around in a thong bikini and spouting off that he’s going to take over the Earth, would you really take him seriously? What if an artist decided to draw Beast, in his boxer-briefs, with a clear indication of how horse hung he is, would that make you think, “Yeah, this one is a genius” before thinking “Beast is named not for his mutation but for the third leg he carries in his boxer-briefs?”

You missed the point of the article. I took it to mean that Anka was shoving Psylocke into a body suit because he took issue with her parading around as a half naked ninja. It fit the character. Psylocke was never about how sexy she was. She was a ninja telepath. White Queen, because she was always about manipulation, be it her telepathy or her physical attributes, she exuded sexuality in her outfit.

Are you arguing about heroines not being allowed to fight crime unless they were only wearing their panties, or did you misinterpret the article to mean that superheroines can’t be sexy? They can be sexy without their boobs and ass hanging out. Do you disagree?

What’s incredibly hilarious about this is the fact that it’s not about “outfits” or “costumes”, it’s about the choice of color.
What really is the difference between Psylocke’s old costume and her new one? Color. One utilizes a good deal of “fleshtone” and one does not. But they’re both form-fitting to the point of the character essentially being nude.
Let’s turn this around: think about Batman, Spider-Man and Superman and their costumes. Completely form fitting, showing every bit of muscle tone. If you changed Superman’s costume color from blue to flesh-tone (making no other changes), he would be nude.
Prince Namor used to fly around in a Speedo. But add some green to his chest and legs, now it’s a bodysuit. Same muscle tone, same detail, but now there’s an illusion of clothing.
The fact is that whether or not a Superhero is in a full bodysuit or something resembling swimwear, it’s simply a matter of the choice of color that differentiates the two.
Psylocke’s new outfit still shows off all her parts just as much as it did before, in terms of showing off her curves and physique. At least when she was running around in her one-piece and thigh-highs, we were all being more honest with ourselves about what we were looking at.

True story:

Some time ago I was drawing (its a hobby, not a life pursuit). I happened to be drawing a female in what was a black latex suit. I should emphasize that I was drawing a typical Jim Lee body type for a female. At the time, my wife glanced at it (she’s also an artist and I wanted her opinion). She told me that it made her feel insecure. I thought this was crazy. I was drawing a comic book picture and I asked her why this made her feel insecure.

This beautiful woman stood 6 feet tall and weighed 120 lbs. She also is a small “b” cup and has virtually no curves to her body. She has often described her body as looking boyish. She had the idea that what I was drawing was what I wanted to see in a woman and she was nowhere near that ideal. I assured her that this was not the case but, as I said, she was insecure about it.

As men, we tend to draw what we find attractive in women. There is nothing wrong with that. We’re human, we have likes and desires and, no, that doesn’t make us sexist. If comic books were the sole providence of males, there would never be an issue. However, many of us have been lamenting for years about the lack of female readers. That is slowly changing. We also need to change to allow them into the club. No one is saying that we have to stop being men and become prudish “gentlemen”. We just need to make sure the new members feel comfortable coming into the club house.

edit: I realized the second paragraph was virtually unreadable.

My wife, this beautiful woman, stood 6 feet tall and weighed 120 lbs. She also is a small “b” cup and has virtually no curves to her body. She has often described her body as looking boyish. She had the idea that what I was drawing was what I wanted to see in a woman and she was nowhere near that ideal. I assured her that this was not the case but, as I said, she was insecure about it.

Brian –

People will react differently to a woman that is wearing a form-fitting dress and one that is only in her bra and panties, despite both being form-fitting.

Well, I like Psylocke’s new costume, but I don’t find her sexy. Plus, it’s incredibly generic. Everyone in Uncanny X-force has the same shaped head and Psylocke is just flat overall. I don’t think sexiness should play a part in a character’s outfit, unless you’re going for the femme fatale look.

Obviously, Psylocke is infamous for her costume, and this new one works, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was designed to appeal to feminists.

Also, while I get that it’s more common with women, but why don’t make characters ever get huge reactions to being portrayed sexily? He’ll, Kyle Raynor and Nightwing are huge fanservice, yet nobody goes and redesigns their costumes (red symbol aside, which I still don’t like).

I hav to agree with those who says that lately comic writers and even a lot of the readership seems to be pandering to over-the-top feminists. For example in Brian Wood’s new relaunch of X-men I find it odd that not even a single cast member is whering revealing clothing. For Someone like Rougue for example who is uneducated and a loves fooling around, you’d expect her to wear revealing clothing. Same for a liberal teenager like Jubilee imo.
What Kris Anka is saying that the only female characters who would wear revealing clothing are dominatrix and sex hound types like Emma Frost is laughably incorrect. That just isn’t how women dress in real life.

Just sitting here at home writing some comic book reviews and wondering what in the hell an “over-the-top feminist” is.

Best guess? Someone who REALLY wants equality. Like ALL CAPS WANTS IT. LET’S HEAR IT FOR ALL CAPS EQUALITY!!!!

Close?

Psylocke has been an offensive character since she became a fake Japanese stereotype and started wearing a thong bathing suit for a costume (the better for little boys to wank to), but at least now she’s wearing clothes. But if they really wanted to improve the character, she should go back to her original race. I still can’t believe they put a white woman in an Asian woman’s body (killing off the actual Japanese woman) and no one said, “Hey, this might be kind of offensive.”

“YOU try RUNNING in stilettos. Come back and tell me how that went for you.”

Catwoman is a drawing. She does not have hard time rinning in stilettos, because she is not real. Me or whoever not being or being able to run in whatever is not releant to anything.

There is no Catwoman, no stilettos, ergo, she can’t have problems running in them.

“asking to not be sexually objectified constantly.”

The character is not real, she is obviously not asking to not be sexually objectified constantly, since she can’t, she has no mind on her own.

Some of the arguments people make are completaly out of touch with reality.

John ConstantineItRhymeswithLine

May 9, 2013 at 2:10 pm

@Kelly Thompson.

No, an over-the-top feminist is not one that REALLY wants equality. It is usually a woman who thinks the following :

1) All men are pigs
2) All a man wants from a woman is sex.
3) Women are better than men because : (insert a stupid illogical example)
4) To play upon what Orwell said ” All people are equal but to an over the top feminist Women are more equal than men

You are no longer looking for equality, you are looking for dominance. Equality is beautiful, everybody should fight for equality but as soon as you start fighting for it you forget it and you start wanting more and more and more. That’s where double stands come into play.

Double Standards :
-the-top-feminists have huge double standards and also that Girl Power thing, that’s what ruins everything.

From elementary school i remember girls hitting boys and not getting into trouble but when a boy slaped back a girl he would get expelled.
We are equal but you have to buy me stuff without me even remembering your birthday.
We are equal but you can’t go out with your friends while i am free to go anywhere i want with my friends and if you say NO because of this and that then you are an oppressive bastard.
We are sexist because you like Comic Book Psylocke ….. “Hey look at Bella Swan, what a powerful female character she is…she is totally not embarrassing women”, ” You are pervert for liking Monica Bellucci but i can masturbate all i want to Johnny Depp”.

It happened to me the other day I was flirting with a girl and when i got to talk to her she started screaming about how i don’t need to buy her a drink because she is a strong female with a good job and i am a jackass who all i want is to fuck her. and random things like that.

YOU SCARE US !!!

I don’t feel like I need to apologize for enjoying looking at hot women in revealing costumes. It doesn’t make me a misogynist, it makes me a heterosexual man. Comics are fantasy – the real world is the real world, and that distinction should be quite clear.

For that same reason, the argument that sexy costumes for superheroines are “impractical” for crime-fighting is BS. Come on, we’re talking about a fictional universe where we simply accept that people can fly, shoot laser beams from their eyes and cast magic spells and we’re going to argue that a female character in this world couldn’t fight in high-heels and a swimsuit? That is – clearly – a ridiculous argument.

Having said that – I think the quality of the redesign is king. I loved Ms. Marvel’s old swimsuit and thigh-high boots look because it was sexy, but Carol Danvers’ new Captain Marvel uniform looks so damn good, I’m prepared to let my love of the old look go. I don’t think the new Psylocke design is that amazing compared to how memorable the old look was – though, I have to say, fully exposed butt-cheeks is going a bit far even by my standards.

DC’s redesigned Power Girl uniform was boring as hell and I’m glad they’ve now brought back the legendary boob window. It’s just too much a part of that character. She’s super-strong, assertive, confident and has huge boobs that she feels no need to be ashamed of, and that’s Power Girl. Likewise, I think it’s only a matter of time before we get Black Canary’s old fishnets look back – the New 52 design is just too much of a departure. She looked fantastic in Gail Simone’s run on Birds of Prey and the fishnets were easily justifiable as a means to distract male adversaries. So why “fix” something that was never in the least bit broken?

I hope others take notice of Anka’s view of how to be a good artist.

The comment section just makes me sad

The question that needs to be asked is, “Would that female character, given her personality, realistically wear a costume like that?”

Yeah, I’m a man. Yeah, I like to look at hot women. But I also like quality entertainment. It’s not about politics. If I’m watching a movie and the scene “stops” every five seconds to close up on the lead actress ass or tits, then I will be taken out of the story, or I will think that I’m watching some satirical piece. Or if I’m supposed to take a female character seriously in the movie, but she wears only underwear while her male coleagues are all in suits and ties, I’ll also laugh out loud and shake my head.

Movies and TV shows also appeal to the male gaze, but almost never to the grotesque extremes of some superhero comic books. There are exceptions. Sex comedies, Transformers, Twilight movies (in the case of the female gaze). But those are trash. Do we want our comics to be trash too? Actually I’m okay with some comics being trash, but I worry when most of a big publisher’s female cast is portrayed in this way.

And I feel that the discussion about costumes is only part of it, and not the most important. Perhaps it appeals to the literalist minds of people on both sides of the discussion, but costumes aren’t as important as body posture, body language. George Perez could have Wonder Woman in her traditional Miss America pageant costume, and she looked quite regal and respectable. She was a beautiful woman in a costume that showed legs and cleavage, but it didn’t feel like the artist was asking you to masturbate to it.

Conversely, I bet that Greg Land or Mike Deodato could make Psylocke look cheap, no matter what costume she wore.

Guys. Psylockes stupid purple bikini was not her original outfit. Stop throwing a hissy over that. Also her new outfit, and even her earlier ones, are massive improvements over the old one. It was a definite step back, and sure Jim Lee made it look great, but it was a stupid costume.

The fact that there is so much rage towards this article, and the viewpoint within, shows that yeah, this sort of article is still needed. Massively. Comics are rapidly shrinking, and it seems like that is perfectly fine with you guys as long as there’s nothing to upset the straight, white, male and his fantasies.

There is not a single point in which the older costume is better than the UXF redesign.

Greg Giordano

May 9, 2013 at 4:17 pm

@ Rene-
“Do we want our comics to be trash too? Actually I’m okay with some comics being trash, but I worry when most of a big publisher’s female cast is portrayed in this way.”

@ Drew G.
“No one is saying that we have to stop being men and become prudish “gentlemen”. We just need to make sure the new members feel comfortable coming into the club house.”

@ HARDMAN!
” The sickest thing here is the way comic fandom duplicates the very same structures that they despise and that bind them in real life.”

Fistbump to you all.

Michael Johns

May 9, 2013 at 4:28 pm

@kellythompson

An over the top feminist is anyone who gets offended by everything that doesn’t fit into their view of how an assertive feminine culture should be. For example these idiots that complain about the term manhole instead of maintenance hole, or about cartoon characters showing too much skin, it’s just stupid. Psylocke is a particularly good example since traditional female ninjas are supposed to wear as least clothing as possible, those long and therefore noisy pants are impractical for any kind of stealth ninjitsu. I can concede that a character like Storm doesn’t need to be showing off so much skin, but to make the point that her showing off skin is sexist and offensive to woman is dumb. Especially Considering that you can go outside today and see women on the street wearing much less.

Political correctness ruins everything. Seriously, I miss when people weren’t so damn sensitive about everything. I’d rather sucking it up and stop being a crybaby be the cultural rule than “Ohnoes, someone is offended!”

That and her new costume looks horrible. It’s like a bland rendition of the already bland costumes from the X-Men movies. And the artist calls it “sexy” without sexist? It’s not even interesting, let alone “sexy.”

If you spend three decades on a misogynistic rationalization crafted almost exclusively by men then eventually you’re going to have a generation or two that buys into that misogynistic rationalization. Which, apparently, some have. Internalized or not.

There are any number of ways to fashion a costume that fits the character of Emma Frost(as she has evolved over the years). Arguing that a fictional female character can only be fully realized or only makes sense when she’s wearing thigh highs and corset tells me all I need to know about just were that person stands on “oversexualization.” And it isn’t with those who are genuinely against oversexualization. This is a rationalization that has baked slowly over many, many years. I can assure you that 25 or 30 years ago, women, including some working at Marvel at the time, were not pleased and were definitely not pointing to Emma Frost as an example of sexy costumes that work because it fits the….character.

Sigh

So yes, I really really believe that. I really believe that people are rarely consistent in their arguments and this is just another example of that. While I’m sure you genuinely believe that you aren’t undermining the argument against over sexualization in comics by rationalizing something that is clearly oversexualization doesn’t make an inherently weak and inconsistant position any less so.

Now, carry on with statements of incredulity at having the apple cart of rationalizations upset. And feel free to use caps to really drive the point home. If one really is fine with the position of standing behind Emma Frosts costume then my quaint little post should really not draw anyones ire, thinly veiled behind classic dismissive statements of the “OH COME ON!!” variety. Should they? Own it, girlfriend.

Sexual objectification has seised being a sexist issue ever since the late nineties. That is because for the past twenty years, both men and women have been sexualised in media to equal degrees.

Psylocke’s costume during the early nineties, was the ONLY revealing one among the other four X-Women’s fully body suits. The full body suits were only ever as skin tight as the mens’ and in the nineties, a lot of the male characters (like Cyclops, Wolverine, Bishop, Angel, etc) were ALSO drawn half naked a lot of the time, always dawning six pack abs and hunky biceps with ripped outfits. So in the context of the nineties, I would never consider Psylocke’s costume to be sexist, in that she was not singled out as the only character to show a lot of skin.

There IS a difference between sexy and sexual in fashion, but it’s quite a thin line as a lot of women DO enjoy feeling sexually empowered and in touch with their feminine side. And OF COURSE only in comics would some idiot illustrator put Psylocke in a cheesy wetsuit when one piece bathing suits are now very in style. And of course only in comics would some idiot put Jubilee in a full body covering suit right at the time when short short shorts ARE fashionable for young women (in reference to the original linked article).

What annoys me is that in our society we associate skin with sexuality. When most people see skin or body parts such as breast, buttocks, or genitals, their first and only association is sex. In comics I hate how there is always some mysterious shadow, light, or object blocking these taboo body parts. With that said, such taboo seems to attract a certain audience. I personally don’t care if someone tries to use sex to sell their comic, it appeals to the people they are trying to attract, just because it is not my cup of tea I don’t feel compelled to bash it or reform it. Simply put, if you don’t like it then don’t buy it. Find something else that satisfy your taste. Everyone has their own unique visions of fantasy and every comic has their own niche.

I have to defend Justin on one point. Not everyone buys comics for the story. I am an artist and have bought comics forever mainly base on good art. I look at the artist first, and if they have a good story, I may read it. For example, it doesn’t matter how great the story is or how great the writer is if the comic is drawn by Rob Liefeld, I wouldn’t touch it with ten foot pole.

@Stacy R
The Emma Frost example is used because it’s one that can be generally agreed upon. It also goes with the context of the character in the modern age. Due to her character development in New X-Men, it makes sense as Morrison and Whedon and others have developed her, especially considering her diamond form. Emma also makes better sense in contrast, as if the other X-Men female characters around her aren’t wearing revealing clothing around her for no reason. Colossus when he debuted also showed a fair amount of skin because of his metal skin.

Revealing clothing does not inherently make sexual objectification. Being able to tell difference between an introvert character wearing revealing clothing and a character whose sexual nature is inherent to the character enhances your argument, rather than weaken it.

The thing about any costume is that it can be changed. There might be a better design for any character besides the current costume.

@CSharp
I don’t think about political correctness. Like any artist, Kris Anka is informed by what he thinks makes a good design. If he doesn’t want his characters wearing buttfloss, then that’s how he will design the costume. If he wants to design a costume no artist can turn into buttfloss, then that’s also his choice. If the costume isn’t well received, it will eventually be changed back or changed into something better.

@JohnConstantineItRhymeswithLine
On over the top feminists: It’s a term that to my knowledge that doesn’t make any sense. As if you can argue too much equality for your fellow human beings. It’s impossible. Especially considering the fact that there is so much more we all need to fight for. However, if someone is in your face with their face with their views, and demanding that you conform to them, it’s not because they are an “over the top feminist.” It’s probably because they are rude, mean, or any number of miscommunications us human beings tend to have.

@George: “That is because for the past twenty years, both men and women have been sexualised in media to equal degrees.”

They really haven’t. I get where you’re coming from, but they really haven’t. Not even approaching equal.

I love Psylocke as I’m glad that she finally has a new look, it was always unprofessional/silly. I prefer realistic clothes that have a purpose instead of a swimsuit which doesn’t make sense.

At least for me, it’s not so much the costumes. It’s more than that, it’s women being pictured as blow-up dolls.

Really, you get Valkyrie in the 1970s as drawn by Sal Buscema, and she is fine. The costume is the same skimpy one, but by Buscema she looks regal, even classy, and not exploitative at all. She radiates power even as she walks around.

Now consider Rogue in the 1990s as drawn by some Image-influenced guy. She is covered almost head to toe, but she is a blow-up doll that fights and moves as if she were a stripper, bending and contorting in unnatural ways.

And these blow-up dolls all look remarkably the same. You get the Sentry’s wife. She was a middle-aged woman, almost plain, in the original Sentry mini-series. She looked real. Then Mike Deodato in the Avengers draws her as the same blow-up doll he always does. And the text says she is supposed to be plain and flumpy, but the art doesn’t even match it. It’s just that Deodato doesn’t know how to draw women, just blow-up dolls.

Marvel and DC still have a lot of Image-influenced art going round. If you got rid of it, you’d get rid of a lot of the “sexism” issues in superhero comics. Not all, but a lot. And you guys say that men were also ridiculous in the 1990s. Yes, they were. I also hated seeing the male heroes depicted as monstrous weightlifters on steroids, striking silly poses. But that has died down a bit more in the 2000s than the female counterpart.

Stacy – I got news: Emma Frost is a sick puppy. She was a member of a S&M club that all dressed like pervy aristocrats and had French Maids and played mind control games. If one character gets to dress in a corset, then it’s her. Still, it’s notewhorty that in the 1970s and 1980s, she usually only dressed like that in private, the Hellfire Club wasn’t the kind to appear in broad daylight to fight the Avengers in Manhattan’s streets.

“jtwonderdog
May 8, 2013 at 3:08 pm

@kalelmity

you’re not an uncontrollable beast, dude. if getting your rocks off involves objectifying human beings, then so sorry if I don’t care about your boner.”

That’s some presumption.

No, I am not an uncontrollable beast. If I was an uncontrollable beast, it wouldn’t be PASSIVE “objectification”–it’d be sexual harrassment or rape.

And no, I do not “get my rocks off” objectifying human beings. Or, to put it more clearly–no more than anybody else does. From a basic philosophical standpoint, everyone else, everyone outside our own somatic boundary, IS more or less an object. They are things-in-the-world. Of course, thanks to abstract mental functioning, we can conceptualize other people as beings like ourselves. However, take something like sex and the whole thing gets inverted. We are capable only of feeling our own pleasure, and, of course, will take great pains to reap that pleasure. In sex, the sexual object is just that: an object by which we can obtain pleasure. Abstracted, over millions of years, we have founded art and the conceptualization of beauty to this end, separate from an immediate object. Or, as in the subject at hand, reproducing the sexual object–or desired, ideal sexual object. This is passive, harmless, and–though too often vulgar, undisciplined and absurd–quite natural to human culture. What is ALWAYS vulgar, undisciplined and absurd, however, is a minority who, equal parts neurosis and political language, wants to stifle an uncomfortable reality.

No boner here. Frankly, in comics, outrageous, impractical, underdressing costumes, and puerile sexiness for the sake of puerile sexiness, put me off. I’ve only ever TOLERATED them if the story is top-notch, or there’s a sense of irony attached.

See you around….

Wow, there’s lots of false equivalency going on around here.

First, let’s get one thing straight—there is a world of difference between the over-exaggerated portrayal of men in comics compared to the over-exaggerated portrayal of women in comics. It’s not even close to being the same thing. With men, the exaggerated aspects are always associated with male power fantasies—big pecs, big guns. A male comic reader can look at Colossus or Cable or the Hulk or Wolverine and think, “that is awesome, I want to be like that.” But the way women are portrayed is almost always in the light of a male sexual fantasy. Male readers look at a character like Psylocke, open mouth, ass thrust in the air with a heaving bosom and wearing nothing but a bathing suit thong, and they think, “I want to hit that.” Many women who see the picture above won’t look at that and say, “wow, that’s awesome, I want to be like her.” No, they look at it and think, “that’s ridiculous.”

And if you still think it’s the same thing, go on over to thehawkeyeinitiative.com. THEN tell me it’s the same thing once you’ve seen Hawkeye drawn in the same manner as women in comics.

The fact that some male comic readers get so worked up over this issue and scream to the heavens about how political correctness and over-zealous feminism are ruining comics is pretty disheartening. And people like Justin really need to take a minute and think about what they’re arguing about: the fact that they think women not being overly sexualized will ruin comics.

I’m a straight guy and I love women just as much as the next. But I read comics for good stories and good characters. That’s what comics are for. If I want something to wank to, I’ll go watch porn.

I think it’s so funny how people keep pulling the “Psylocke’s a ninja” line as though that makes either her post-Siege Perilous revamp by Jim Lee or the Kris Anka redesign somehow a valid reason for either outfit.

The simple fact is that neither outfit is “ninja.” Well, at least not for MALES.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Himeji_Oshiro_Matsuri_August09_349.jpg

and

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Hokusai-sketches—hokusai-manga-vol6-crop.jpg

tend to be the standard model for males. Fairly loose clothing, similar to standard martial arts clothes. Not skintight apparel that can’t conceal anything, much less the usual assortment of ninja weapons and accessories.

Rene posted “Emma Frost is a sick puppy. She was a member of a S&M club that all dressed like pervy aristocrats and had French Maids and played mind control games. If one character gets to dress in a corset, then it’s her. Still, it’s notewhorty that in the 1970s and 1980s, she usually only dressed like that in private, the Hellfire Club wasn’t the kind to appear in broad daylight to fight the Avengers in Manhattan’s streets.”

Uh, minor correction here. The Hellfire Club did NOT dress like “pervy aristocrats and had French Maids.” If you remember, Emma was the WHITE QUEEN, yet she was dressed worse than those French Maids. Only the MALES were dressed as “aristocrats”–fully covered from throat to foot (well, Sebastian Shaw did take his shirt off in the Club’s first battle with the X-Men but even that was actually within an accepted norm for males, even the aristocrats, in the late Georgian era the Hellfire Club was emulating). One simply did NOT see an aristocratic woman wearing just a corset in a public setting; the only women who routinely wore corsets in an open setting were prostitutes. You want to make an equivalency, then why did the men wear formal attire with breeches and vests and frilly shirts and cravats and brocaded coats yet their presumptive “queens” were dressed wearing LESS than the “maids?” There WERE “boy brothels” in that era, where the young men (yes, into their early 20s) went shirtless, wearing loincloths or a male version of harem pants, but you’d never see a “powerful” man wearing such attire, not even if he were truly powerful or rich enough to flout the conventions of the times. Such a man wearing that kind of attire would be shunned by his peers.

Not ONE of the male X-Men who wears a skintight suit has a pot-belly!

And this.

Must.

CHANGE!

Y’know. There is a reason why DC has kept Darwyn Cooke’s Catwoman’s re-design for, what? Almost ten years now? It’s because the character exudes sexiness without having to resort to skimpy flesh revealing outfits. Psylocke is drawn incredibly beautiful, and she is still beautiful when drawn fully and practically clothed. This is the Supergirl’s red shorts argument all over again.

If you had a girlfriend who for 5 straight years liked to wear skimpy outfits, and you loved her, then five years later decided skimpy was no longer her style. Would you love her less? Would you say “But you’ve always worn those clothes? Why would you change?” Unless you were a total ass you would accept her change. If you liked the character of Psylocke for exactly that, her character. Why would a change in costume turn you off?

Unless, of course, you are a shallow ass. In which case you never cared about the character anyhow and just needed to see imaginary comic girls half-naked. Which says a lot about you.

My take-away from the comics is that Justin feels that if you take a physically fit woman with an attractive-but-realistic body and don’t draw her in a bikini posing like a model on a car calender, that you have personally deprived him of ALL OF THE SEXINESS.

No, seriously. The rest of the comments I expected, right down to the old “Well, male characters are objectified too!” chestnut that proves that okay, we have to have this conversation AGAIN, sheesh.

But I did not expect a man to stand before God and everyone and scream to the heavens that a woman isn’t sexy unless she is barely covered, with improbably-sized (and separated) breasts and a bum that operates on a swivel scale, and that it is an injustice to take this from him.

That I did not expect.

(I mean, is the one on the right…UNattractive? She still looks pretty sexy, if not inherently sexual. And it’s just a design turn-around, not an action pose or anything. Those poses are usually bland.)

*My take-away from the COMMENTS, not “comics.” My bad.

This is one of the more distressing comment threads I’ve ever read on this site, and that’s saying something. However, something magical happened in Justin’s first post that nobody’s pointed out.

“Why the fuck does the one character that doesnt get crap for being sexy (emma frost) have to be a god damn sadist monster, who fills us with dread even thinking about her, sense she could mind rape us if we even slightly fucking displease her.

THAT SHIT IS FUCKED UP!”

I think I just gained several magnitudes of appreciation for the character of Emma Frost.

I’m quite fond of Psylocke’s redesigned costume. It better suits the character than a purple thong, pun intended. Uncanny X-Force is, in my opinion, the sleeper hit of the Marvel Now! initiative.

a little late to the party I guess?
so many comments in 2 days?

Truth be told I am relieved to see the new trend in the designs.
I felt always embarrassed particulary about the original Psylocke suit.

Anyone remembers Jim Lee’s infamous scene from X-Men issue 8? (X-Men picnic?)
The one where Psylocke poses like a porn star?
I will always remember when my dad was viewing this comic.
I had a very red face.
He was okay with me reading comics, but he always considered them as a childish thing.

And there is no surprise that people used to consider comic book fans as nerds an pervs.
There was a lot of wrong with comic books, and thankfully, they are changing for better.
I hope that this changed, right?

@farseeker Um, who said anything about love?

@farseeker Hell, who said anything about liking the character?

Oh, and I doubt anyone cares, but it’s bugging me. My first comment looks stupid because I’m typing on an iPad. ‘Hell’ becomes ‘he’ll’ because… censorship! And, yeah, general autocorrect annoyances.

There’s some truly scary comments on here from some of these guys, but also hilarious seeing people try to justify a ninja wearing a swimsuit.

@Brodie

“They really haven’t. I get where you’re coming from, but they really haven’t. Not even approaching equal.”

Yes they have, they really, really have been. Anyone who thinks otherwise has been living under a rock.

And to be clear there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. I think most Americans are still too weird and self-righteous about sexuality. What’s so bad about hot looking people anyway?

Comics are a visual medium. Women should be drawn sexy, men should be drawn sexy. That being said, I agree that not every female character should be running around in a bikini. I don’t have a problem with Psyocke’s new look, even if it is a little bland, and I kinda like Gamora’s new look, to cite another recent costume change. I like Ms/Captain Marvel’s new costume, I just like her old one more. Sorry if that makes me a perv. (and will someone please fix her hair!?)

As long as they still look cool, which should really be the goal always, it’s okay with me.

My wife reads comics, thinks the whole sexism debate is silly, but she could just be the unique snowflake that she is.

and as far as the argument that these costumes aren’t “practical” for battle. if you’ve found yourself reaching the point where you’re reading a comic and you think what the female character is wearing in a battle against a horde of alien zombies isn’t realistic, maybe you’ve grown out of comics. Sorry to tell you, but Spider-Man’s body stocking isn’t any more practical.

Also, I feel like the unrealistic posing and the bad artwork is the bigger issue than the revealing costumes.

Or else, every female cosplayer ever just doesn’t really realize how offended they are by themselves.

I agree with Ben.

The only thing wrong with Psylocke’s new costume is that it lacks color. Gray is boring on everyone. Other than that, I think it’s attractive, superheroic, and reasonable. She still looks sexy but in a way that everyone can find appealing.

I like sexy superwomen with big boobs and tight costumes too, and I’m not calling for obese or stick-thin women to replace Wonder Woman and Storm (no one is calling for that), but not every character should look or dress like a Playboy bunny.

I know so many women who are interested in comics, specifically superhero comics thanks to the recent movies, but who can’t find an inroad into reading them. They don’t make a big fuss over the depiction of women but they definitely aren’t . They just roll their eyes and move on to something else. That shouldn’t be happening.

I was telling my wife that maybe she would enjoy reading comics, now that Psylocke is covered from head to toe and has smaller breasts. She said “Who is ‘Psylocke’? That sounds stupid,” and went back to reading her Jane Austen novels, where all the men are rich and handsome and want to settle down with poor country girls.

Clothes aren’t sexist, double standards are.

Some of you guys say the douchiest things.

Jerzy –

Perhaps you should try reading some of those Jane Austen novels. “Where all the men are rich and handsome and want to settle down with poor country girls” What the hell? Is that the same Jane Austen I read? Maybe your wife is reading Harlequin novels instead?

Anyway, the way you guys imply to be speaking for all red-blooded males also annoys me. I am white, male, heterosexual (unrepentantly so), and you don’t speak for me. You don’t speak for me at all.

Guys that are secure and happy in their manhood never feel threatened by “feminists”. Maybe I’m living in a different world because I’m Brazilian instead of American, but I never had one of those highly suspect horror stories of “feminists” ruining things for me, throwing drinks in my face because they think all men are pigs, etc.

@Rene ‘Guys that are secure and happy in their manhood never feel threatened by “feminists”.’

Really, because those subversive political and social changes, as well as the constant maneuvering for who should hold power, can be a bitch.

Awesome, they took Psylocke and made her boring. I really hope this trend doesn’t continue or else it’ll be unitards, unitards everywhere and no one making eye contact at any time lest someone accidentally intimidate anyone else and also lets all just sit around sipping cups of water (tea might alienate someone, and alcohol is PROBLEMATIC!); this action stuff is sexist and demeaning to women!

Kalelmity –

That is only for people who believe life in society is a zero sum game. That every right gained by women is a right lost by men, and that all this is about a struggle for “who should hold power”, in your words.

I reject this whole premise.

I am a real man, not a manchild. I don’t need a traditional society that “puts women in their place” to feel like a man, I’m already one and quite satisfied. So I don’t see women looking for respect as “subversive”, or better yet, they’re subverting something that really needs subverting.

Joseph –

You’re right. But my point is more that the Hellfire Club is a mix of fetish club and global conspiracy. They’re twisted people. I don’t know that the White Queen is dressed “worse”, because in certain S&M circles a dominatrix is a figure of power, while a French Maid is submissive, despite being more covered up. In any case, I agree that the whole thing is sexist, but at least we have a sexist character design because the character exists in a sexist environment. So it makes a certain sense in-universe.

I oppose that to the scores of female characters in the 1990s that wore skimpy clothes “just because”, and worse, were always posed in silly, unnatural positions. For instance, why the hell does Red Sonja wears that bikini armor?

DigitalGeisha

May 10, 2013 at 1:47 pm

Ass cheeks falling out of g-strings and barely covered nipples can get a bit old but I kind of like the sexy look. Males might be more covered up but the body expectations of being tall, handsome and overly muscled are just as present as females bodies. This is not a one sided thing in the comic book world. I liked the re-do of Wonder Woman I thought it updated her, the revamp of Psylocke is boring, blah and does nothing for the character. She looks like a generic back drop character.

Saying “but that’s the way the women dressed in the real hellfire club!!” is like saying “But there were no women who dressed in red, white and blue bikini’s in the real amazon culture!”

I think there’s a happy medium to be reached between panties, thigh highs and corset and traditional victorian neck to toe coverage. I’m not advocating for either. Nor am I saying that we must never show skin. Just something in between that isn’t clearly a misogynist male fantasy. Frankly, anyone advocating the former with eye-rolling rationalizations like “but, but…it fits the character!” or “that’s just what extroverts wear!” is really not doing their credibility in the argument against oversexualization and sexism in comics any good.

Can’t even read everything here. If you get offended by over emphasizing the bodies, read/draw something else. Some people like sexualized stuff. They read (or look) at this stuff. That’s simple as that. We don’t need one fucking reality. Just accept that other people thinks differently.

If you’re too attached to this or that x-girl then write the editor. Sexualized or not it doesn’t matter. Just tune to something else… Simple no? Let other people be. If you disagree make something to your taste.

God. I personally don’t care about over sexualized women in comics. I think that could be nice at times. Other times i read and enjoy the opposite.

I think one of the cool things about comics is that such extremes can exist. People should let things be a little.

The new costume is alright. Boring. And she’s basically naked but in black…

So, I’ll just go a head and say it: I like naked women.
There is a trend right now to persecute men who do. Guess what? My girlfriend looks at more porn than I and nearly half the Tumblrs I follow feature hardcore porn (along with kittens, Dr. Who, cool pictures of random shit in the woods, etc.) POSTED BY GIRLS! Yeah! GIRLS POST A LOT OF PORN!
Sure, Psylocke’s old costume was a little dated and I’ve often questioned how practical it is. Even when I was 14. But sexist? Come on. Don’t try to make people who enjoy something for the right reasons feel shitty about enjoying it.
Guys who get wood from reading comics have bigger problems than being sexist and they aren’t the guys most women are affected by anyway. You’re not going near these guys because the only females they even have the nerve to speak to are their mother, with whom they still reside at the age of thirty-seven and my fucking girlfriend who sells them their comics.
You should be more concerned with that hipster guy you and your girlfriends drool over at the bar while you chug PBR (just before you crash your fixed-gear into a parked car.)
They pretend to be sensitive and will even try not to say “that’s gay” around your gay friend.
Guess what?
They wanna fuck.
That’s why they do and say the things they do and say.
And guess what?
YOU WANNA FUCK TOO!
That’s why you bought that little dress with the ugly print and skinny belt at Urban Outfitters. That’s why you went and dropped $85 at Sephora.
That’s why you got a bunch of traditional tattoos on your hands that you’ll regret when you’re a grandmother.
And don’t get me started on 14-yr-old girls who look 26 and prance around at the grocery store in just about as much as Psylocke’s original costume with their titties hangin’ out.
Yeah, I said “titties”. I’m sexist.

I understand why it’s stupid to say “it’s just a drawing anyway” because the issue is what you think it represents. That statement would piss me off too if I was making your same point. Hell, I disagree with you and I’m annoyed by that statement. That and the fact that the person who said it was obviously a dude pretending to be a chick.
Anyway.
You think it represents a world where men think women are objects and it’s o.k. to rape them.
Guess what? ( I say that a lot, don’t I?)
Well, GUESS FUCKING WHAT?
NO WOMAN WAS EVER RAPED BECAUSE OF A COMIC BOOK!
Well, maybe an isolated case in southern Georgia but she was asking for it… seeing how she was the guy’s sister and all.
Women are raped because the guy raping them is an asshole.

I must say, though…
All of those new costumes look WAAAAY better than the old ones.
But so do Korn’s NEW track suits. Those old ones were just so ’90’s.

And, Rene…
You have a girl’s name.
Stay out of this and let the Real Men talk.

oh, yeah.
And you’re foreign.

(jeez, people… I’m fucking KIDDING)

@Rene

“That is only for people who believe life in society is a zero sum game.”

Politics can be analyzed as a set of very complex problems, each which must be viewed with discrimination. However, down to basics: Power is finite. Either I take from you, or you take from me. In a general, total, more simplified version of the same, life IS a zero sum game. That is, if we’re talking about power OVER–mastery. These terms, of course, gain more relevance in conflict. If power is challenged, that is conflict. If power is challenged, and a regulatory body is set up to divide power, to take a little from one group and give “equality” to a second, then mastery–power over–has been achieved by this second group, for they either have the power directly to regulate the first group, or indirectly, by benefitting exclusively from the existence of this regulatory body. Either way, “equality” is the victory of the second group over the first. This is all very academic, however. It is not exclusive to the sexes, either, and covers any number of historical variables. And I should warn you, before you attempt to read into this any more than what was intended, this is imperfect and imprecise. But it DOES capture the SPIRIT, the fundamentals, of human society accurately.

“That every right gained by women is a right lost by men, and that all this is about a struggle for “who should hold power”, in your words.”

Not every right, I assure you. Take equal pay.

One could probably find some phallocentric drawback to it, but no, I am NOT against women working, or being paid IN FULL. It frees men up from the kind of management of the life and finances of women one sees in a rigid patriarchy, and gives appropriate compensation and dignity for labor done.

Plus, being able to afford to pay people more means that we–as a society, down to the employer–have the POWER–the actual reserves–to pay people more; and this reflection of our own power should make us happy. (After all, money is only a means to power, while generosity is power’s proof.)

“I reject this whole premise.”

As if even blood, fire, and conviction ever meant anything to the world….

“I am a real man, not a manchild.”

Well, I don’t know you personally. But you do speak with the flaccid tongue of the bumbling utopia.

“I don’t need a traditional society that “puts women in their place” to feel like a man,”

Neither do I. But I don’t need a society that limits men, period.

Not that it’s good if men permit themselves to fall into a pattern of cruelty, voraciousness and para-psychopathy….

“I’m already one and quite satisfied.”

Don’t ever make the mistake that what satisfies you is enough for anyone else. We MIGHT be a stronger, more loving world if all our appetites were so limited…but even then, it’s still a mistake.

“So I don’t see women looking for respect as “subversive”,”

Not RESPECT.

POWER. (See 1st paragraph)

“Respect” is only poltical vanity.

“or better yet, they’re subverting something that really needs subverting.”

Nothing ever NEEDS subverting. But if a society is to remain active and virile and survive, then it best extol such virtues, and the individuals who best embody these virtues, as would allow it to remain active, virile, and survive. Sheer strength, intelligence, and a profound aesthetic and sense of justice to guide these–not SUBVERT them, not ENTANGLE them–so that society does not become, or remain, fragmented, hostile, internecine, is the rubric.

What were we talking about again…?

Ah, yeah…, most comics tend to blow chunks…

Well it looks to me like some of the people posting here are being over defensive, or trying to play the victim

@Really

Welcome to the internet. ;-)

Kalelmity –

Suffice it to say that I have a widely different view from you as to society and life. When one group has “power” over another both groups are diminished. Advancement as moral beings entails the recognition that power (in the sense of control and influence over other human beings) is beget of pride and greed. Real power lies in compassion and the recognition that we’re all brothers and sisters, and that this material life is a fleeting thing. Power is more often than not a test that most people fail. Any kind of strength is only justified if it’s used to protect the weak; otherwise it’s a waste of God’s gifts. My view of what entails advancement for society is likewise.

Pig –

Nah, the girl version of my name is “Renee”. It’s French (and I don’t really understand why my Italian-Brazilian family gave me a French name). It’s the Americans like Rene Russo that are doing it wrong. :p

But I’ll admit to being non-American. I suppose I’ll just have to endure that hit on my manhood. But Brazilians are very macho, really. We love to ogle half-naked women while drinking beer in the tropical sun. But I prefer smiling women who look like they’re having fun when they’re sexy. Like the dames Alan Davis draws. The Image guys and the copycats like David Finch always have these strange bad girls grimacing and gnashing teeth while posing in bikinis.

@Rene

Aw, ain’t that cute.

While, I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree. …Unless it comes down to which fork society must take. Then you’ll be trying to kick the shit out of me or otherwise deprive me of my free will, to hold me down and submerge me, to ensure the survival and dominance of your ideals. Then, then we’ll see just how resolute your vision of a sharable world really is.

Let me ask you, Do you have criminals in Brazil? Because if you do, the society and the “moral beings” that you speak of, that don’t stand on anyone else’s back, either exist only in your own mind, or in the piss-thin welfare of self-congratulatory “ideas” of society-as-it-REALLY-is.

“The Image guys and the copycats like David Finch always have these strange bad girls grimacing and gnashing teeth while posing in bikinis.”

…Although, between existential and existentialist power struggles over the fate of mankind, we can at least nod in each other’s direction about how much we agree on THIS.

I swear, I wish we could just write off the 90s like it was a goofy glitch in the system.

To all the people who keep pointing out that these women aren’t real: yes, you’re right.
However, I am a woman, I identify as a woman and I often identify with other women. And when I pick up a comic looking for good story-art and I find a series of cookie-cutter tits-on-sticks (to put it crudely) I start to get . . . annoyed. Embarrassed. Upset. Is this what the guys reading these comics think women are? I start to skip past these sections, looking forward to getting back to the male protagonist and his exciting exploits.
So when I see a project like the New Defenders, full of bright and shiny opportunities to actually read about female protagonists and their exciting exploits, I get a little excited (though I was disappointed at the number of brokeback poses I counted, just from the perspective of an artist and someone who has stood in the mirror for a good five minutes trying to figure this out).
Now to be fair, some of the under-dressed super heroines and villains do have deep, well-developed personalities. Which just makes me wonder–who dressed them? Because I cannot actually imagine most of these women waking up in the morning and saying “hmm, y’know, I feel like foregoing my dignity today, lemme at that thong-bottomed bathing suit.” What I’m trying to say, is that the saying, “Clothing makes the (wo)man”, is more accurate than most people admit. It’s part of human communication, and part of how artists communicate their characters to their audience. The sexy uniform reinforces the feeling that all these women are one and the same, like friggin’ bikini-bottomed stormtroopers.
More than anything, when I sit down with a good comic, for fifteen, thirty minutes, these fictional, unreal women become real. At which point all the affronts, all the horrible characterization, all the stereotypes they enact become all the more painful to me, personally, as a woman (and this goes for any storytelling format, not just comics). So yeah, I’d appreciate it if you did treat them like “real people”, because, sometimes, they are just real enough to hurt. I don’t mind sexualization when it moves the story forward, expresses important character traits or emphasizes their powers. Heck, sometimes a face-full of well-drawn cleavage does me good. But not to the point of making these awesome female characters too ridiculous to credit.
And for the sake of my curious, curious spine? No more brokeback poses, please.

Pig,

If your idea of a successful depiction of women is “well at least no women were raped because of it,” then that’s a pretty low barometer of success.

Was a woman ever raped because a guy got hot and bothered by a comic book? Probably not. But that doesn’t make objectification of women okay.

When you have women who are coming right out and saying directly to you, “I and people I know are interested in superheroes and we would like to read comics, but when they’re drawn as if they’re in a porno, it turns us off,” don’t you think that’s something you should listen to? Just from a business standpoint, it makes no sense to continue to alienate half of your potential audience, and when they’ve told you why they feel alienated, to continue to do it is being deliberately stupid. What good is it to continue to alienate potential readers at a time when the industry desperately needs them? Just so you can keep your drawings of women in thongs contorted into brokeback positions?

Sure, there are women who don’t mind. But those women tend to be a minority. You’ll find exceptions to every rule, but an exception doesn’t negate the rule.

And that whole hipster rant? Holy crap, you just decided to take the off-ramp to Crazy Town and stomped on the gas.

@Helene

That’s why these days I stick with my offbeat Dark Horse titles, whatever Alan Moore pulls out of his beard, and any interesting independent books I find off to the side.

Just read what you think is healthy. Limiting, yeah, but If enough readers did likewise, the writers and publishers of mainstream books may think twice about which artists best serve their stories.

yep, the new costume looks ordinary.

PCP,

“If your idea of a successful depiction of women is “well at least no women were raped because of it,” then that’s a pretty low barometer of success.”

I don’t know if that is Pig’s actual barometer, but here’s another take on that: if you can’t show that there is actual harm arising from allegedly sexist art, then to what authority do the protestors appeal, aside from that of personal taste (i.e., “It turns us off.”) And, lacking the proof of harm, what validates the protestors’ taste over that of the paying customers?

@gene

I suppose if you’re looking for “actual harm” (I’m not sure where we’re going to define this–does that mean it has to be physical harm? There’s a lot of kinds of “harm”), there’s plenty of con horror stories, or even just well-known artists publicly calling out all cosplayers as slutty fake geek girls who do not belong in his club house and similar hostile attitudes. Porny comics aren’t really the root of the problem–they’re just another symptom of a problematic culture. But making the default for every lady character “sexy object” first and “developed character” eventually sort of encourages those attitudes.

But hey, y’know what, y’all are right. Media and the stories we tell and repeated visual representation in no way influences public perceives reality. Phew, isn’t that a relief!

Actually, lemme try to clarify that one. Somebody mentioned that no one gets raped because of a comic book–they get raped because the rapist is a bad person.

True. No one gets raped, groped, harassed, dismissed, mocked or disrespected because of a comic book. Those things happen because some people choose to be dickweasels.

But the media we consume tends to make people feel justified about being dickweasels.

John ConstantineItRhymeswithLine

May 14, 2013 at 4:17 am

To any woman reading this.

Do you mind Black Canary wearing fishnets too ? 99% of the time her breasts are covered with black leather and the only thing we see is bare arms and legs with fishnets. Does this bother you ?

For all of those saying that judging characters on their clothing is wrong, and that the characters are more important. Why do you care if the characters start covering up?

The fact that so many people are upset by criticisms of the sexist clothing, means that they clearly do see the costumes as important and do judge the characters based on their clothing.

And for those saying it is just a power fantasy. My fantasy is seeing female superheroes who don’t place performing to hetro male sexual fantasies as their first priority. It would be lovely to be able to forget about the unrealistic expectation that women always look attractive and available. This is one of the reasons why I find all the ridiculous poses and costumes so insulting – it shows that the creator really does think that no matter what skills, attribute or personality a women has, she had better also be sexually pleasing if she wants to be valued.

If you define “feminist” as a “man-hating, double-standard-having, PC-obsessed” woman, I don’t think that’s the “special interest group” that is speaking out here. As a female comic book fan, the ridiculously underdressed heroines in porn star poses make me feel uncomfortable sometimes. I’m not saying it makes all women uncomfortable, but I think it does a lot of women.

What really gets me is all the defensiveness. I haven’t seen anything in the article above or the original linked article saying that the people who enjoy the skimpy costumes are sexist perverts. I completely understand why a man would enjoy looking at a bikini-clad woman. However, comic books are not produced solely for male readers, so the female portion of the fandom might appreciate art that is more practical and realistic for the female characters.

And I am not saying that every female heroine should be covered head to toe in a burqa (seriously, Jerzy?) or even long sleeves and pants. And I am not saying that female characters should never have large breasts or butts. And I am not saying that female characters are not allowed to be SEXY at all. But if you think that the ONLY way to be sexy is to wear a swimsuit and thigh-high stilettos, if you think that a woman CANNOT be sexy wearing pants and sleeves and practical armor…then I feel sorry for the real women in your life.

@Justin @Kelly Thopmson @Kris Anka @Chris Arrant

I hope this leads to an amicable and productive result; better comics! It is subjective, not objective, what is sexy. What is not subjective is the objectification of women. As a heterosexual male cartoonist without “the tired old media biased” personal perceptions of what sexy is, myself, I give the artist and writer a lot of leeway to develop a character as a whole. However, we do live in a post-modernist social media pop culture democratized feespeach free market society. So the audience is given (and takes) the option to own a piece of the creative process through critique. Critique in this case is in response to “change” and “reflection” of character in cultural context. Nostalgia alone makes this hard for some to accept. Then we have base instinct responses to aesthetics. I am personally not dismissive of these feelings. I have them in spades. To complicate this, we are talking about cartooning. We are talking about ink on a page and/or pixels on a screen. The tradition ebes and flows between iconic form and realism in terms of style. Effecting the artist ability to communicate to the audience a visual which presents the persona and the story. It is the artist and writers job to create a visual lexicon and utilize a linguistic lexicon which makes sense to the story they are telling and the characters development through out. This can include a practical and appropriate attire to that character. This is determined by the Artists, Writers & Editors understanding of the character and their story through imagination, colaberation, previous work and reader feedback (sometimes from some fucking lawyer or marketing specialist). No one here is “really” arguing there can’t be nudity, or there has to be, as far as I can tell. There are strong feelings on the characters persona and how the design reflects this. I would just caution that some design choices will limit the marketability in terms of broadening the demographics. This is an important point, because comics, and only comics, as a visual storytelling, artistitic, literary medium has a consistent history of huge cultural contributions, intellectual & design innovations and a consistently under performing market share. Jim Lee recently stated there is a core 200,000 comic book fans. Industry makes $100,000,000’s. In a nation of 300,000,000 with $10,000,000,000 on art and entertainment, comics are loosing. Despite what we see as fans and creators hard won improvements in the quality of the work. It’s not enough. We have work together better as a community to survive. So utilizing IP and staying true to their character, while problem solving design and developing a continuing narrative designed to be inclusive of new readers is an essential idea. The first place to start is to stop objectifying women in comics; and again this does not infer removing sexiness. It means having the character ware what they would based on personality or practicality.

I have kinds of edit issues in my post (tipical): including that was $100’s of millions to actually 100’s of billions (not $10Billion) in market share of arts in entertainment. No other storytelling medium dips bellow the multi Billion mark. Only comics suck that much at marketing.

@Xany

‘“actual harm”…I’m not sure where we’re going to define this–does that mean it has to be physical harm? There’s a lot of kinds of “harm”…’

The problem with the “there’s a lot of kinds of ‘harm'” argument is that an unrealistic person, experiencing an unexceptional sensation, can feel transgressed against, can feel “harmed.”

And that harm, too, is often just a sensationalized interpretation of discomfort. It’d be a fair estimate to say we’re all screwed as a species–a SOCIAL species, at least–if “discomfort” is our threshold.

Of course, there IS psychological and emotional harm, but the proof for such a case would be if they caused longterm damage systemically–true neurosis. Unless it’s accompanied by bodily symptoms, i.e. declining health, feeling disgusted with the male of the species is not a legitimate complaint. Even then it could be just your garden-variety “moral neurosis”–your INHIBITIONS are violated, but not you personally.

So, yeah, BODILY harm is the only OBJECTIVE judgment. All else is either too personal or too political.

So stay to the well-lit streets, brush your teeth, and thank Thunderhead Astro City’s returning….

Ben Cohen said:

“What is not subjective is the objectification of women.”

That’s a pretty big claim to lay out there without any support.

The most one can say is that statisfically a lot of people may agree that a given drawing represents “objectification,” insofar as all those people agree on the definition.

But that’s not “objective,” in the same way that E=Mc2.

At best it’s “intersubjective.” One may find a definition here:

http://arche-arc.blogspot.com/2011/08/intersubjectivity-solution.html

Also, a very different take than Thompson’s on the narrative function of beauty:

http://arche-arc.blogspot.com/2013/05/beautiful-people-always-win-pt-1.html

At what point did it become sexist to draw or look at alluring photos? Guys like seeing ass and boobs and girls like biceps and abs. I draw hot shirtless guys all the time! Now I’m sexist? It’s embarrassing that anything sexual has become sexist. It’s always directed at women too, men aren’t received well when they ogle at girls in real life but I wouldn’t even call that sexist just rude but a picture, not even a real woman, must be dressed appropriately and not like a slut unles justified or its sexist? It’s all just crazy, people need to lighten up. I say let there be boobs, butts, biceps, abs, and whatever the hell else people want to see or draw.

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