Sometimes, it’s hard to be a girl in the nerdy world. That goes doubly so for queer women, of course, and that’s something that ties directly into a truly wonderful post from Comics Alliance this week.
Writer Laura Hudson penned one of the best, most comprehensive take downs of the “sexy girls in comics are totally feminist and ‘OK’ because they are liberated” arguments of all time. In her post, she claims first that she has no problem with scantily clad females in principle, but what distresses her is just how pervasive and toxic certain attitudes towards female characters is in the genre, especially in two of DC’s latest “New 52” series reboots.
From the post:
In her analysis, she makes copious use of screens showing our leading ladies basically posing like particularly well-endowed Barbie dolls, even when no one else is physically around them. This isn’t liberation, this is pandering to the comic equivalent of the male gaze, and Hudson is most definitely not happy about it.
Of course, being a queer female reader complicates the issue even further. There’s always been an uncomfortable line between enjoying depictions of strong, sexy women that were probably “meant” for men to enjoy, and feeling angry/sad/any complicated mix of emotions about the treatment of male vs. female characters in these terms. It spans all entertainment, of course, but it’s particularly relevant in nerd culture, which still caters very heavily towards a (presumably heterosexual) male audience.
Sci-fi, fantasy and superhero fiction has always been rife with scantily clad women, some of whom are genuinely empowered (Xena, anyone? Or any of the military women from last week’s column), and some of whom are pretty – and powerless – characters with no real autonomy. Even Catwoman, who is a true, died-in-the-wool badass, comes across as unrealistically “wet-dream” like, as MTV’s Geek News review of the new book states. If only Catwoman had hooked up with Batwoman instead of Batman.
Back to Hudson:
So what is the answer, geeks? Is it more women writing and drawing comics? Perhaps more vocal female fans would do the trick? Whatever the answer, kudos to Hudson for a phenomenal post.