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There are several qualities that have hurt the overall portrayal of women in comics and several suggestions from the interwebs and myself that I think could help further equality in comics. That’s what this new series, “Women in Comics: Do the Super Ladies Need Saving?” is all about. Inspired from a Gender Studies inquiry project and a “Gender and Comics” survey I created a couple of weeks back, this series will take an indepth look at women’s portrayal in comics. It was originally going to be one feature, but after hitting almost 4,000 words I thought people were much more likely to stay awake if I made it into multiple parts.
If there’s a particular topic you’d like me to talk about, let me know! I already have a lot planned including the way women in comics look, the way they dress, how women of race and other ethnicities are treated in comics, how women in comics are abused and I’ll be listing some empowering women in comics. But today, it’s all about how women seem to pose as if they’re going to be in a centerfold spread.
For most of the examples I’m going to be using the two mainstream comic book companies Marvel and DC Comics. Independents and other publishers like Image Comics and Dynamite Entertainment have their problems too, but the “Big Two” are the comics that are most widely read, meaning they have a huge impact when it comes to how women are portrayed in comics. These examples are also not limited to just superpowered heroines but also non-superpowered beings and villains.
Please check out the first two parts of “Women in Comics: Do the Super Ladies Need Saving?”
Part 2 – Victoria Secret-esque Styles
What’s so bad about a broken back?
Women’s poses in comic books are often mocked and yes, they mostly look ridiculous. There are several nonsensical poses women are put it and while it’s to make them look seductive when in reality it makes their anatomy look more anatomically incorrect and hilarious. It’s good for a laugh but this juvenile stunt shouldn’t spread like wild fire onto almost every comic book cover featuring a woman and, even worse, in the comic’s pages.
There are several poses which I’ve mostly had to nickname myself that are almost always reserved for women:
Dainty feet. Artists seem to have a fetish for showing off women’s legs. Often in odd, almost Ballerina like gestures that would be impossible for a real person to pose in for more than a couple of minutes without having them topple over.
Even comic book women who are sitting aren’t safe from a weird leg placement.
Arm rest. Female characters seem to love to run their hands through their hair like they’re stretching.
Sometimes only one hand is used. Check out this picture of Catwoman where, to add to her one-handed pat on her own head she’s lying down with her feet outstretched, perfectly melding the arm rest with the lazy cat pose which consists of a comic book women posed while lying on her back or sometimes her front outstretched.
These poses are nowhere near as repetitive as the next position, which already has a name so I don’t have to give it a crummy nickname.
The biggest face-palmer is what’s been dubbed by fans as the “brokeback.” You know you’re a popular pose when you have your own moniker. The brokeback is when female comic book characters are twisted in such a way that you can see both their boobs and their butt – meaning they’d need a “broken back” to pull off the pose. An infamous example is the original cover of Catwoman #0 which earned a place on my list of the “Top 11 Worst Comic Book Covers of 2012.”
But why is this a problem? The poses are just ridiculous and while they can make you laugh the fact that it infects good titles and makes it harder for people to take comic books as a serious medium with a fair portrayal of men and women can make this growing phoenomenon a problem. It’s usually on covers, and the first impression a person has of a comic shouldn’t be a mocking laugh if it’s a serious work (not that Catwoman #0 is very serious). It can also take you out of the story if a character seems to be posing for the non-existant camera man right off the panel.
I think the simplest way to address ridiculous poses has already been put into place with something called “The Hawkeye Initiative.” The Hawkeye Initiative is an initiative that takes a humorous look at just how demeaning these poses are by substituting the female heroines for the male hero Hawkeye. The results are often chuckling. Hawkeye has posed like fan favorites Mary Jane, Wonder Woman and Catwoman. Even Captain America has joined in on the action!
Please let me know what you think about how women pose in comics. Is this really a problem? Should women’s backs be “broken” for titilation? Share your respectful thoughts in the comments below.