Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Women in Refrigerators

Last night, while I was searching around for interesting articles and such to post about, I came across a very interesting website.  It is called "Women in Refrigerators."  It's basically a website that lists female characters from comic books that have been killed, injured, or depowered as a plot device.  The writers of the site try to understand and analyze why female characters are targeted this way in comic books.

Intrigued, I decided to keep exploring the site, and I found out that it was created by none other than GAIL SIMONE!!! (Clearly, this excites me a lot.)  What a funny coincidence!  I found an interesting website that relates to our class... and it's written by an author we focused on in class!

Beyond this coincidence, the website is actually very entertaining.  On the "Character List" page, it says:

Not every woman in comics has been killed, raped, depowered, crippled, turned evil, maimed, tortured, contracted a disease or had other life-derailing tragedies befall her, but given the following list (originally compiled by Gail, with later additions and changes), it's hard to think up exceptions.
It goes on to list an entire myriad of female comic book characters with what happened to them next to the name.  For example:
Buf from X-Man (crippled)  
Candy Southern (dead) 
Captain Marvel II/Photon (depowered, ceded code name to a male hero) 
Carol Ferris/Star Sapphire (turned into a villain by the Zamarons, possessed by the Predator) 
Celsius (insane, dead, called delusional liar) 
Christine Helvin of Troublemakers (victim of date rape, discovered she could never have children because she was no longer human)
There is also a page on the site called "Respondent List" which features responses to the website from comic book creators.  Most of them actually make great arguments and points about women featured in comic books.  There is also a page of "Reactions" by various comic book authors, all worth a glance.

Why is it that female characters are perpetually killed/injured/depowered in comic books?  Does this make it more entertaining, or is it now just something that has become part of the formula for writing a good comic book?

You should all click here to visit the website.  It's fun to browse, very interesting to think about, and we get a glimpse of some of Gail Simone's work before "The Circle!"


  1. Since I don't read a lot of comic books I don't klnow how many get killed or injured but especially in movies the main character can't die unless it is for the good of others. My guess is that female characters mostly aren't the main characters so authors tend to sacrifice them instead of sacrificing their main character which is essential to the continuity of their story.

  2. I think its because women are usually supporting characters and therefore its easier to get away with maiming/killing them. If you want to create tragedy and drama without killing the protagonist and ending the series then you go after the next biggest supporting character. I guess it goes back to the theme of why there are no female main characters so that this can be avoided.

  3. It is very easy to make women the "damsel in distress." To make stories more plausible, the damsel can't always be saved.

  4. It is true that the damsel can't always be saved and that the next most important character after the protagonist is usually the one to die, but what about being depowered/maimed/raped/etc.? I might be missing some major examples of men because my knowledge of comic books isn't that in-depth, but this kind of thing seems a lot more common in women. Again, is that just more entertaining?

  5. Following the comments, I feel like it is more entertaining if someone dies in a twisted manner. I mean death due to a heart attack or old age is sort of like "whatever". I feel like the way in which characters die or become crippled adds more intensity and makes the plot more complex. I feel like there usually an order in which things happen, for example, who dies first. In a lot of movies and such usually the black guy dies first then the woman, I guess that's entertaining to some people.

  6. Women are usually the ones used for plot twists since they are usually not the main characters in the series so they can be sacrificed for the good of the comic book .


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