Upon reading a recent blog written by Jaquelin Friedman, author of feminist text Yes Means Yes, I was appalled by her description of today's rape culture. To Friedman, rape culture is "When men make choices about what women do with their sexuality, that strengthens the idea that men can control women’s bodies". In her opinion, the basic structure of today's society revolves around this notion, and Freidman provides a cruel example of this truth.
In her blog, Friedman discusses a recent incident in which Ben Roethlisberger avoided charges for rape. While he had been accused of rape, the case was not taken seriously by authorities- ESPN decided against reporting the case because it was apparently untrue- and the women who was accusing Roethlisberger was told that "most girls would feel lucky to get to have sex with someone like Ben Roethlisberger".
Friedman argues that this nonchalant approach to rape accusation indicates that rape culture is a prevalent aspect of American culture. When authority figures and people with power can delegitimize rape as a serious offense or accusation, then woman lose agency in sexual encounters, and are dehumanized in the process.
So what's this got to do with comics?
Well in the case of Wonder Woman and other super-heroines, they are frequently represented in comic books as weaker and less legitimate characters. Wonder Woman even wears Bracelets of submission, which cause her to become subject to any man or woman that may bind them. Many a times, female super humans are over sexualized- big breasts and round butt are certainly not meant to target a female audience, and the frequent submission that super females are subject too is almost meant to arouse the reader. If you don't believe me look at this picture. Not only are these costumes unrealistic and sexualized but the woman still look "sexy" even though they are in a state of submission. What purpose could that serve other than to enthuse the reader?
The correlation between rape culture and comics is strong because of the implications. Who mostly draws female characters in comics? Who mostly reads comics? When men constantly see women in this light, it is clear that their perception of women become misconstrued. But thats not to say that men have an excuse. Rape culture is serious, and it is a prevalent issue in the modern world. Comics are only one example in which rape culture permeates into everyday activities- TV, movies and social media all help to cover up rape and to perpetuate the notion that sexual offenses are sometimes less serious than they actually are. Women should be the ultimate judge of what is and what isn't rape, and it is important that men recognize their agency.