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Author Topic: Gender Representation in Comic Books and Other Popular Media [Somnifera x Rick]  (Read 1298 times)

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Offline rick957Topic starter

This thread grew out of a conversation that took place in the COMIC GEEKS R US thread that touched on a number of issues having to do with the representation of women in superhero comic books.  In the course of the conversation, Somnifera made a number of remarks that I found interesting and would like to understand better, so this thread is my attempt to pick her brain, so to speak, and learn more about her opinions and how they were formed.  I may also voice some opinions of my own, in agreement or in dissent with her viewpoints.

We could have had this conversation by PMs, but we have mutually agreed to do it publicly instead in the hopes that some others will find the conversation interesting to read, and will (better yet!) contribute their own thoughts on the subjects discussed here.  The appropriate place to do that would be in our Discussion thread (not in this thread, in compliance with the Section guidelines).  I'll be watching and sharing in that discussion also, and perhaps Somne will do the same if she's interested.

I'm going to start by simply looking at some interesting remarks that Somnifera made previously in the Comic Geeks thread, as a jumping-off point for further discussion.  Here's the first thing Somnifera said that particularly grabbed my attention.  Referring to superhero comics:

What a loaded and provocative paragraph.  Let me try to parse it and use it to frame a question or two.

I think it's safe to say that titillating sexuality is at the forefront of the portrayal of nearly all women in modern comics; in fact I've seen artists (ex. Mike Deodato in his early days, and his knock-off imitators) who seem completely at a loss when called upon to draw any female who isn't showing off her unbelievably-hot bod to everyone around her.  (The artists I'm thinking of, for example, if asked to draw Aunt May -- a loving, grandmotherly type, from the Spider-Man mythos -- would end up drawing a freakish grotesquerie with the curvy-but-slim body of an 18-year-old attached to the head of a wrinkled, gray-haired 70-year-old.)

But there's a problem, isn't there?, in letting a character's sexual attractiveness show without making that the defining characteristic in her overall portrayal?  How does an artist balance the need to show a character's sexual attractiveness with the desire to show her as more than merely that, alone -- to show her as a rounded person with a formidable intellect or personality, apart from her looks?  Can you maybe mention examples of what you might consider to be successful portrayals of women in comics or in other popular media?  (I'm fine with talking about stuff outside of comics, too.)

Part of your answer to that question may touch upon your personal understanding of ethics or morality, since that must come into play whenever one talks about the portrayal of any "superhero," who is by definition a champion of society's moral or ethical values.  I'm interested in how you formed your set of ethical values and what traditions or experiences informed that process (without getting inappropriately personal, that is).  Did you adopt and stick with a single set of ethics, or did you consider alternatives and perhaps change over time?  Many people are forced to develop personal ethics in contrast or in conflict with those dictated to us by our parents or teachers or church or society; that whole process of value formation for any individual is of great interest to me.

Finally, in the quote above, it sounded to me like maybe you were thinking of specific examples you've seen of each of the types of portrayals you mentioned, both positive and negative.  If you can mention any of those and elaborate a little on them, that would be great.

It's not important for you to address every single issue raised above; you can talk about whatever topics grab your interest or touch upon issues you have strong opinions about. 

Your turn at bat, Somne!  :)

Offline rick957Topic starter

Oh, that kinda sucks.  I was planning on pasting in the link to the Discussion thread, except I can't, because you can't modify anything in this section.  What's up with that?  Anyway, sorry about the dead link up there.

Hey peoples, if you wanna discuss what we're talking about, please do so here:
http://elliquiy.com/forums/index.php?topic=141691.0

Thanks!

Offline rick957Topic starter

Oh fer cryin' out loud.  :P  Okay, so I fucked up twice in the opening post.  Where it says this:

Quote
I'm going to start by simply looking at some interesting remarks that Somnifera made previously in the Comic Geeks thread, as a jumping-off point for further discussion.  Here's the first thing Somnifera said that particularly grabbed my attention.  Referring to superhero comics:

Obviously there's supposed to be a big quote there.  Here's the quote of Somnifera's comments, from the Comic Geeks thread:

Quote
Obviously I am not against sexuality, but it does get annoying that when they want to 'power up' a female, she becomes a sex icon. The reality of that is because a woman's sex appeal is the power she 'holds' (I don't really agree with this) over men. But it doesn't mean anything, realistically.

The issue is that writers/creators whomever seem to think including a female hero is good enough, and that makes it balanced,so the feminists should shut up. However, making a female character that exaggerates that her main appeal, on TOP of being a hero/villain is how sexy she is negates that. The characters in question are also just 'badass', which tends to translate to 'cold, calculating, strong' etc. That's not balanced out all the time by having a strong moral standpoint, showing compassion or mercy, being impacted by the death of others (and NOT just to 'get revenge) or just being smart, because giving someone more than two out of that list makes them less 'cool'. So yeah, what women often get depicted as whenever they are heroes or villains are just archetypical men with tits and less logical costumes.

And then the post continues,

Quote
What a loaded and provocative paragraph.  Let me try to parse it and use it to frame a question or two.

I think it's safe to say that ...

This no-editing crap really sucks.  Is the assumption that if it's possible to do edits, then people will be tempted to revise their posts after the fact in order to lie and make themselves look better, or something?  Why would anybody bother?  I think we should be able to edit in this section, please.  (Pretty please!)  But hey, that's just my opinion.  :)  Big love to whoever mods this section, no offense intended.

Offline rick957Topic starter

Alright, so, this dialog thing isn't going anywhere after all, it appears.  My apologies to anyone who read the first parts and was planning to continue reading.  Somnifera hasn't been in touch with me, so I assume she had to back out for some innocent reason, and that's fine -- such is life!  Too bad the mods won't delete the whole thread so it doesn't take up space, but that part's not up to me.  :)  Bye now!