Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Depiction of Heroes

  Over the last couple of weeks we have been discussing how in comic books female characters are sexualized to make it more interesting for the male reader. I believe that the male character is also sexualized and it would be interesting to the female reader, who wants to be interested.
These depictions of Batman or Superman are simple examples. Just look at how nicely shaped they are. Batman has pumped up biceps with a nice upper body (chest muscles, six pack) and very powerful lower body. Superman has incredibly broad shoulders , visible biceps, triceps, shoulder muscles. His wings are what are amazing though. His lower body seems even more powerful than Batman's. There's even a black area on his read underwear!
It is true that female characters are sexualized in comics. They definitely draw the reader's attention to specific parts but I think that for a female that is interested, male heroes also have very interesting parts. I think both genders of superheroes have to be depicted like that, because they are super, more than human. (Of course, there are examples when are not too)


  1. I never really thought about the way superheroes are sexualized but it's funny that you mentioned the black area on Superman's underwear. When you think about it, it's kind of silly that these superheroes are wearing small underwear looking things over their tights that show off every muscle in their body.

  2. The difference is between men and women heroes being sexualized is that I think that women are overly sexualized to attract men to read the books, while the men are sexualized so that men reading the books will look to the heroes as role models and something to work toward. I don't think the male heroes are overly sexualized for the sake of attracting women to read their comics.

  3. Brittany, your comment makes me think:
    How much should male characters be sexualized in order to attract the female reader?
    I don't think you can further sexualize the male character without making it seem foolish and unserious or without making it look too indecent (pornography or erotic).

  4. I find these depictions kind of hilarious because I don't find them appealing at all. Bulging muscles in a spandex suit may work in the comic book world, but I don't think that most people would be attracted if they saw a real life version of Batman or Superman. They're like body builders... who are quite scary frankly.

  5. Most of the parts that are overly sexualized on these superheroes are their chests, arms and legs... which makes sense since they give the appearance that they are physically strong and invincible. On the other hand, the parts of super heroines that are sexualized are often their behinds and their breasts, which honestly doesn't contribute to their super power effectiveness. Hence, though I agree with you that both female and male superheroes are sexualized in comics, I think the way in which male superheroes are sexualized makes more "sense" than the way in which female super heroines are sexualized.

  6. While I think that Volkan brings a valid point here, I think we are confusing sexualization with idealization. Both male and female characters are idealized (at least to the comics creators and a portion of their audience), but when we talk about sexualization, we're not just talking about ideal bodies. With the exception of explicit sex scenes, you very rarely see male superheroes, at least the major ones, as sexually alluring (something suggested not by their muscles, but, following Winnie's logic, by lingering on enhanced erogenous zones, by sexually suggestive poses, etc.).

    I agree with Brittany in assessing that the idealization is mostly for boys and men to project themselves onto. And then men make the argument that these fantasy versions of themselves are attractive to women (or other men). It becomes a much more complex question about masculine identity and fantasy, and in many comics, the women are just props within that fantasy to further support the idealization of the male self, which, I would argue, is one of the reasons why women are casually sexualized.

    The sex scene between Promethea/Sophie and Jack Faust offers an interesting commentary on this because the plot/ideology hinges on the woman's fantasy, which critiques the traditional comic book mode of desire by rejecting Faust's glamour, i.e. his idealization of himself. Also, if you look further into Simone's run on Wonder Woman (outside of what we read for class), she deals with Wonder Woman's desire in interesting ways.

    Also, I have no idea what Volkan is implying re: the "black area" on Superman's underwear.


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