Monday, October 10, 2011

"What Women Want In Sexy Depictions of Guys in Pop Culture"

I stumbled across a very interesting article, called "What Women Want In Sexy Depictions of Guys in Pop Culture" by a culture blogger from

The article starts off by featuring a funny picture that depicts male superheroes as though they were posed like Wonder Woman (left). The author then cites a study done by Rolling Stone that says that images of both men and women have become more sexualized over the years, but the number of sexualized images of women has increased faster. Alyssa Rosenberg, the author, mentions this "because while I think reducing women to their sexuality is a problem, we've also got something of an equal opportunity problem here." She goes on to say that female superhero's costumes are ridiculous, and the ridiculousness is further proven by the images of men wearing the same costumes - all things we've discussed before.

However, then Rosenberg's article takes an interesting turn. Instead of arguing that there are too many sexualized images of women out there, Rosenberg argues that there are too few sexualized images of men. She closes her article with, "I don't want to live in a world where we remove all images of women that are desirable. I just want more of other kinds of images, and equal opportunity for women who like to sigh over dudes to have images to sigh over."

Rosenberg's article, while very funny, makes an interesting point. Is it now a question of fairness, rather than a question of exploitation? Since the number of popular sexualized images in pop culture has gone up for both genders, can it still be considered sexism to sexualize women if men are being sexualized as well? Personally, I think there are definitely some situations where it can be considered sexism and exploitation if a woman is portrayed in a certain way. There is definitely a fine line. However, I don't think "sexy" images should be removed from our culture entirely.

I'd love to hear what you guys think!


  1. Reminded me of this

  2. I disagree that there is a lack of depictions of male heroes that can make females sigh. It might even be more considering that there are more male heroes than female ones.
    I am trying to share some images of Batman and Superman but unfortunately my lack of technical knowledge is not letting me. In these depictions I wanted to share both Batman and Superman have incredible bodies, far better than the depictions in the movie 300.
    When I think of a guy image a girl would sigh over I don't think of heroes in female poses. That is more something to laugh over.

  3. I think that Volkan might be on to something in his implication that an image of a man that heterosexual women might find attractive would or could look different then what hetero men would find attractive. While the illustrations of men in the coy WW pose are funny and prove a valid point, we should also ask the question about what does it mean for a man to be sexually alluring, how that translates to comics, and whether or not there *are* examples in comics or otherwise.

  4. At this point in time, I feel as though the only way some superheroines could be more exploited is if they were depicted naked. The superheroes depicted in the picture above just look ridiculous and this is definitely why superheroes are not as exploited as superheroines. I disagree that this is a problem of "equal opportunity" because superheroes will never be and should not be depicted like sexy superheroines.

  5. Hmm...perhaps it's because a good artist friend of mine absolutely loves the male form (and isn't afraid to flaunt her admiration in the form of her own art), but I agree with Volkan that there are plenty of sexualized heroes out there (basically all of them, really), just portraying "sexy" in a different way from women. The huge shoulders, bulging arm and leg muscles, six pack/eight pack/12876823 pack, slick hair, etc. have all found their way to superheroes, and all of those physical characteristics are meant to make them more sexually attractive...

    I think the bigger problem is how women in comics are much more frequently known for/defined by their sex appeal.

  6. I agree with Yvonne here. While men are frequently sexualized in comics in their own way, they usually have a real purpose in the story as well. After all, most superhero comics are named after the male lead (Batman, Superman, Spiderman, etc...) because he is the main character the story is based on. Women, on the other hand, tend to just be there to look good. The female character is usually the girlfriend or damsel in distress, and doesn't often have any more dimension than that. So maybe, rather than being less sexualized, women just need to be more recognized for other factors as well.

  7. I totally agree with you guys men are way less sexualized than women and many times it is because the idea of a man been overly sexual is seen as ludicrous whereas female heroes are mainly judged based on their sex appeal and not on their real worth.


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