Things Feminists Hate: The Art of Women in Comic Books

Feminists tend to get really really upset over how women are portrayed in comic books. I actually tend to agree that I would like more female superheroes, but I’m not going to be particularly offended if the comic book industry doesn’t oblige me. I don’t need my superheroes to be female so that I can relate to them. No matter how much I enjoy Wonder Woman, after all, Batman and Superman are going to remain at the top of my list of favorite heroes. I’d rather have good quality superhero films than a bunch of affirmative action flicks, made simply to assuage the angry feminists who need more girl power on screen.

Sorry, but it’s true.

Two of the issues I hear complained about the most are these.

1. Female Superheros are drawn too sexy. They give girls an unrealistic expectation for their own body.

Yes and those horrible misogynistic comic book authors don’t give men and boys unrealistic expectations about their body ever.


Nope, never.

Look, these women are drawn to be attractive and be “ideal” specimens of womanhood. They are superheroes and, no, I don’t think I’ll ever realistically have (or want) boobs the size of my head like Wonder Woman is occasionally drawn (usually in cover art), but most men don’t look anything like their male superhero counterparts either.

Cosplaying her takes guts...or actually very little guts.

Cosplaying her takes guts…or actually very little guts.

We aren’t meant to, not without copious hours at the gym anyway. These guys don’t have 6 pack abs, they have 12 packs and biceps the size of my head, thighs the size of both my legs. The woman have washboard abs and sculpted calves and asses so tight you could bounce a quarter off them. You or I could possibly accomplish these feats by spending all our free time in a gym (and some people do) but, while I have known people who despaired over not looking like a magazine covergirl, I’ve never had a friend in the comic-con circuit talk about having an eating disorder because her waist wasn’t as tiny as Supergirl’s.

Why is this? I think it’s because, as much as we obsess over comic book characters and movies and story lines and reboots, we recognize fiction when we see it. Sometimes the cosplayers bitch and moan about unrealistic waistlines and oversized boobs, but then we buy a waist cincher or alter the clothing, buy a push up bra and learn to deal. 

And, quite frankly, if my straight female friends get to enjoy objectifying the beefcake males of comic books when they read them, then why can’t I enjoy the same objectification of female super-heroines?


2. Female costumes are impractical and too sexy compared to men’s costumes.

Okay, yes, you have a point. The women are dressed ‘sexier’ than the men (even though all the men are wearing skin tight spandex) and their outfits are not ‘practical’, but once again, they are superheroes. You’re expecting realism in costumes where the women are an Amazon princess who fights evil with the ‘lasso of truth’ and Supergirl from the planet Krypton is invulnerable to everything other than Kryptonite. Honestly, the outfits I wear would be a lot more tiny if I had a perfect body and skin that was invulnerable to damage (or nearly invulnerable and fast to heal like Diana).

There are, I admit, times when the cut-outs and ass revealing leotards can go a little over the top, but overall costumes like this work on female characters in a way they would not work one male characters, the same way a string bikini looks sexy on a woman and would look incredibly disturbing on a male.

In all fairness of course, skin tight spandex from neck to feet would look sexy on female superheroes too, but women in the 21st century regularly wear short skirts and low cut shirts and mid-riff bearing tops anyway, so why can’t Supergirl?

Because, you say, it’s impractical for battle.

Yes, I’m sure it would be, if Supergirl was human. She isn’t, neither is Wonder Woman, or Spiderwoman, or Ms. Marvel (to an extent). Their costumes might offend your sensibilities by being so brief (I thought that was slut shaming in real life) but they aren’t “impractical” in battle, not the way you are implying anyway.

blackwidowmfSpiderman and Superman’s spandex would be incredibly impractical for battle with villains wielding machine guns too, if they didn’t have speed and invulnerability going for them. As far as our non-super powered heroes, like Black Widow or Catwoman for instance, They both tend toward a more sensible full cover outfit.

But, I hear you say, it’s still impractical in a fight. It’s just leather/spandex and it’s skin tight, that’s just sexist and unnecessary. Only it’s not. Black Widow and Catwoman both rely on speed and agility, more so than frontal assaults or brute strength, to defeat opponents. A costume that is light weight, won’t bind their movements, and won’t have a chance of getting caught on anything (hence being skin tight and not baggy pants or t-shirts) is extremely beneficial to them.

Their outfits would be very poor defense in a firefight, but the whole point of their skills is that they would be in an out, killing or capturing their target before they even had time to start a firefight.


Keep protesting and asking the comic book industry to change, you are welcome to do so, but don’t be surprised when the all mighty dollar speaks louder.

Sex sells.

And this












is just way sexier

than this

Credit Michael Lee Lunsford

Credit Michael Lee Lunsford













Face it.


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Categorised in: Entertainment, Feminism, Media, pop culture, Things Feminists Hate

14 Responses »

  1. Nicely done. You addressed a lot of the issues i have with feminists. And while I would love a movie about a female superhero, its not necessary to me. I loved Peter Parker long before I loved the Scarlet Witch and that’s okay.

    And as for impractical outfits. Let’s talk Starfire. That kind of hurts. There are times where Superhero outfits just go a bit too far.

  2. Very interesting thoughts. I wasn’t expecting what you wrote from the title. It was a pleasant surprise to read some of the the things you wrote.

  3. You failed to show any pictures that would be objectionable. A lot of times the woman’s ass is lifeted up in a gymnastics pose, poised for penetration at any time. The message is: you may be strong and have kick ass powers, but you’re still just a sexual object first, a human being second.

    I am firmly against censorship and for free speech. However I agree with you that the dollar speaks and because of all the comic book movies there has been an influx of girls reading comics. We’ve noticed the sexism, we don’t appreciate it, and our voice is being heard. Whether there is enough financial gain for Marvel and DC to change remains to be seen.

    • Perhaps in cover art, but most cover art (whether male or female) is overly sexualized than the art inside, while the clothing remains the same and is more often criticized.
      Of course I’m not covering every complaint made, I’m covering the main two that I see regularly.

      • Historically and in present times there will be a different cover artist than the artists drawing the work inside for series published by major publications. As the saying goes ‘you shouldn’t just a book by its cover’. I would recommend learning more about comic book culture than blindly criticizing what you haven’t done your research on. And as to what you ‘see regularly’, what comic book series do you follow? Or are you quickly jumping on the bandwagon?

        Additionally from a financial standpoint, if a demographic doesn’t significantly support a product or industry, that industry won’t be responsive to their requests. Furthermore, we are talking about 100+ years of comics but a MINUTE amount of women are complaining.

      • men aren’t sexualized its a male power fantasy men are strong

    • I guess you failed to read how the author pointed out that the vast majority of male superheroes are just as unrealistically depicted in terms of physique. If males want to look at a sexualized female they are going to look towards playboy or some other adult offered publication or online site. The only people who are offering that semiotic reading are women who seemingly project their insecurities into a culture they haven’t even begun to honestly understand.
      An issue I see with feminist endeavors (background doing activist work and taking gender studies classes as a sociology major) is that they strive for SUPERIORITY (as in telling men how to depict fantasy and surreal depictions of women) instead countering with creating their own cultural artifacts. How can you demand change when only very few women are involved in the creation and support of the culture? I’ve heard complaints from self-identified feminists about Greek statues at museums, ancient Hindu art, and even National Geographic filming African tribeswomen who don’t wear tops. Most people would look at this as absurd.
      To be honest I rarely see women at comic book shops (normally they are there with a male or their son) so in terms of financial gain I don’t see it happening anytime soon. And I don’t see women or girls really even reading traditional comics. The closest I”ve seen is they have turned books like the Babysitters Club or Nancy Drew into comics for young females learning to read.


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