Monday, February 6, 2012

Rape Culture- How Does it Relate to Comics?

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.


  1. Rape is definitely something extremely serious, and personally, I feel that despite some very rare cases, everyone regards rape as one of the worst offenses in our society. Sure, some comics, movies and TV sexualize women, but it's hardly considered rape to draw a "sexy" woman. There are plenty of drawings or depictions of "sexy" men. Furthermore, I don't even think that picture of Wonder Woman is that sexy to begin with. Ask any man in their right mind in this society, and they will confirm that rape and rape culture isn't something they encourage AT ALL. Sexual offenses are definitely seen as serious, and nearly everyone avoids misogyny like it's the plague.

    Even if men see women in a sexualized manner, that doesn't mean we will ultimately change our perception of women for the worse. Women may see men as "douches" or "jerks", but the truth is, men have more credibility than people give them credit for, trust me.

  2. I both agree and disagree with this statement. Women are treated as a "sex object" in comics, portrayed in bondage and other sexually abusive scenes, but I'm not sure that leads to rape. I don't know if it's because I believe in the best in people... but most men only resort to rape because of severe psychological issues or substance abuse.

    Our society looks down on rape so much that I don't think it will ever become a norm, even with comics portraying scenes like this. I absolutely understand where you're coming from and don't think it's right at all to show women like this, but I don't think it would have any effect on rape. Rape would happen anyways.

  3. There exists another reason why these superheroines might end up bound, gagged and cuffed in the villain's lair: the villain is horny, kinky, and likes to see hot babes tied up and scantily clad. Either that, or binding his enemies in such a way (sexually) is THE MOST degrading thing he could possibly do. The illustrators know this, and simply want to portray the scene as accurately as possible to the reader. Though I find it highly unlikely that this is true, and though I fully believe it's just the horny population at work, the aforementioned scenario is completely possible.

    That being said, and all humorous tones aside, I find rape to be the most disgusting thing in the world. It enrages me to the point of contemplating vindictive violence.

    I agree with Sophie in that rape will continue regardless of what we do, because the mutations that cause people to become sociopaths etc. won't disappear. However, I agree with Alex because I believe that rape rates might increase due to what modern society does: give everyone a sense of entitlement. We're spoiling our kids with bad parenting and spoiling our adults with government hand-outs. Is it any wonder that rapists feel they deserve something they don't? We're teaching them to.


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