Superhero comics have long been known for blatant and nearly across-the-board sexism. They are heavily dominated by males, and when a woman does show up her outfit appears to be painted on to her impossibly large breasts, wasp waist and generous rear. Even the rare female superheroes are sex objects: already-skinny movie star Anne Hathaway had to go on a diet to fit into Catwoman’s “skin-tight leather” costume for a Batman movie.
The “Avengers” movie poster offers another recent example:
Five of the six superheroes face front in the drawing, while the sixth’s body is turned almost three-quarters of the way around to show off a firm butt and a costume that goes right up the crack. You guessed it: the sixth figure is the only woman in the poster. Her bum isn’t the only thing her suit reveals. It seems to be made of some strange, futuristic, barely there fabric that creates pouches for each individual breast. Forget about sideboob — this is all boob, all the time, all the way around. (I am embarrassed that Joss Whedon, one of this feminist’s superheroes, was involved in a flick promoted by this image.)
Here’s another example:
Superheroes’ masks must have obstructed their view of the changing times, but some of them are finally catching up to feminism. A new comic book called “My So-Called Secret Identity” (MSCSI) not only stars a woman, but it dresses her in normal clothes. Yes, she’s pretty, but not in a plastic way — in this picture she looks like someone you might pass in the grocery store (and then turn around and stare, but still):
Praise and a lot of relief are pouring in from critics and fans. ”As the founder of Comicspedia, the most frequent question I’m asked is, ‘What comics would you recommend for girls?’ MSCSI provides the answer,” says Patrick O’Connor of Comicspedia.net — implying that before this brand-new comic book, there was nothing he could recommend for girls.
Geeked Magazine called MSCSI “The one we’ve been waiting for!” Indeed.
Little girls have not been immune from cartoon marketers’ obsession with their male audience. Female fans are frequently excluded. Fruit of the Loom has long offered superhero underwear for little boys, but none for girls — they got flower patterns in pastels instead. Some girls wanted to wear superheroes on their tushies so badly that their parents bought them boy underwear and they made do.
Now girls can be superheroes too, or at least wear some on their skivvies, as Fruit of the Loom has finally awakened to the existence of an untapped customer base.
I adore this child.
I’m not sure how girls’ underwear and superheroes grew so far apart. Back in the 70′s I was wearing Wonder Woman underoos — not just underpants, but a tank top too. How did the industry backslide since then? I’m not sure, but I think I’ll leave the research on that mystery to Susan Faludi while I go out to find a copy of MSCSI and enjoy the tale of a crime-solving brainiac woman wearing non-clinging cotton.