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The Last Bastion of the Red-Blooded Male?

I am aware there are women who read comics and completely accept what is presented to them without a complaint or a second thought. I also know that there are people, men and women, who dismiss comic books immediately as something for children. I find it odd that even when informed of the gender gap in comics, they shrug or roll their eyes. The sexist idea that comic books, particularly ones about superheroes, are "for boys only" doesn't register with them. However, if you were to tell them a young adult novel was being marketed almost exclusively to boys and girls were actively being discouraged from reading that novel, they would be most likely be up in arms. This is happening in the allegedly adult world of comic books

Why is disregarding or dismissing a woman's cognition that "something is wrong in comic book land" so easy for some men to do? I don't think all these men hate women. I am sure many of them are loving husbands, fathers, brothers and sons. But if these men were honest with themselves and compare the portrayal of female characters in comics with the portrayal of men in comics, they would have to acknowledge the discrepancies. Female characters are more often devalued than their male counterparts. I want to understand why these men think this should be the norm and allowed to continue.

Why is saying "comic books are for boys, anyway" a valid excuse for the portrayal of women in superhero comics? The concept of the hero is a universal archetype to which all humans can relate. Why, in putting the word "super" in front of the word "hero," is it suddenly no longer meant for the female of the species? Is being exclusionary acceptable anywhere, in regular life or in comics? Should comics be divided into those meant for men, those for women, those for black people, those for asian people, those for people with disabilities etc etc?

Why is saying "If you don't like it, don't read it" seen as a valid response to a woman pointing out the negative in comic books? Women do enjoy many of the same elements men enjoy in comics: the idea of being more than an average person, of making a difference in the world, of having control and power in their lives. These things really become important to individuals around the time they are teenagers and feel that their bodies and their lives are beyond their control. It is as teenagers most of us truly become comic fans. We have our own money to buy what we want to read, we can understand the deeper levels of meaning that might be present in the stories and we can relate (on a smaller scale) to the struggles of the heroes. Eventually most of us settle into who we are and deal with our issues enough to get by but we still have dreams. Comics keep us in touch with our imagination and can inspire us, male and female. Are Women are supposed to totally deny themselves the overall enjoyment they get from reading comics because some elements are problematic?

Why do some men think if they say "that's just the way things are, deal with it," that will be the final word on the matter? If people just accepted things the way they are, humanity would never had made any advances.
Are these men so threatened by the achievements woman have made in being treated as humans - as equals to men - in the past century that they just dig in their heels when it comes to what they see as exclusively their escapist entertainment?

Comic books are an a business and as such, the goal is to make money. Why is it so difficult to those in control of this business to realize that by catering to just one group of individuals and alienating another, they cost themselves money? I know there are "girl-friendly" comics out there but why does there have to exist this sub-genre? Why can't all comics be friendly to all readers? It really seems so simple but why it is so hard for some people to acknowledge?

If some man (or even a blase female) reads this post and is angry about the questions I have raised I would like him to engage in an exercise.
Yes, yes I understand that comic books are make believe and are only products of someone's imagination. However, we are still supposed to have empathy for the characters. We are supposed to be able to develop a relationship with the characters that brings us back to the comic time and time again to see how the character is faring. So I challenge this man's to be truly honest and to use his imagination and empathy.
Look at the cover of Heroes for Hire #13. I want you to imagine a woman you truly love and respect to be a character on that cover. Imagine your daughter's, sister's, wife's, girlfriend's or even mother's face instead of one of the faces drawn there. How does it make you feel to see someone you care about portrayed like that? She is being victimized, treated like meat, shown a just a sex object to be toyed with. Does that make you uncomfortable? Does it make you angry? Do you feel anything at all? I realize that some guys are just idiots and will be hot and bothered by a woman in their life being treated like that, but I think most men will not be pleased with the idea. They might just get the idea of what women who read comics feel when they see how a lot women are portrayed in comics.

Posted by Marmy on May 27, 2007 01:16 AM