I have never been a big fan of comic books. Not a remarkable fact necessarily, but given that I have wasted countless hours traversing across the pixilated lands of Hyrule, attended 1 (or maybe 10) cosplay conventions, and devoted a good part of my teenage years imagining I was a character in Sailor Moon (shut up), one would think I would at least have a light affinity for the genre.
Unfortunately, no. Something about the dark, gritty imagery, half-naked girls with improbable proportions, and typecast, often hyper-violent heroes, just turned me off.
So when I recently read Mark Millar, comic book writer, commenting that “…comic books are not meant for women” and “It [rape] is the same as, like, a decapitation. It’s just a horrible act to show that somebody’s a bad guy,” I was disgusted, but not surprised.
Apparently I am not alone. Female fans of this genre are starting to graciously put down the more popular comics – giving up all together or looking for smaller, independent publications. Laura Hudson, editor of Comics Alliance, even commented that years of reading the hyper- sexualized portrayal of women as a guise for their subjugation might have finally broken her.
So what’s DC’s response to all of this? They run a competition where fan can submit pictures of Harley Quinn naked,committing suicide.
After the obvious public outcry, Marvel promotes it own contest. This time the epitome of brains and beauty, Natalie Portman urges girls 14-19 to interview empowered women who work in the STEM field in conjunction with her Thor character, Jane Foster.
These two attempts at pandering to the female fan base seem to be opposite sides of an unrealistic coin. DC and Marvel are trying to sell women something, but whatever they are selling does not align with most of the actual female population. What are our two choices here? Naked, suicidal villain or buttoned up super scientist?
I know that many think comic books are meant for cheap entertainment, but they are more than just that. They are a media form that functions as a window into the world we live in, and I worry for that world. I imagine that in 2013, major comic book companies can see the value in being entertaining without being insulting. Or how about just not stuffing a woman into a refrigerator for awhile ?
If these companies are pandering to their fan base – which is mostly male – does that indicate that most fans are comfortable immersing themselves in a story line that contains women only to murder, mutilate, and maim in order to promote the hero’s agenda?
If that is so, I will be content looking through another window.
Once the major comic book companies learn that women are not just an audience to be manipulated with cheap gimmicks, but a community but part of the whole fan base, maybe they will start developing some real ways to lure women back into the fold.
Written with StackEdit.