Saturday, March 3, 2012

Liberal Feminism in Relation to Comic Books

While researching feminism for our assignment this week,  I found that many of the theories can be directly related to the discussions we have been having class.  Out of all of these theories and movements, it seems that Liberal Feminism has a particular relationship to the themes of this course.  I found that Liberal feminism focuses on the idea that society views women as inherently inferior to men mentally and physically.  Women such as Mary Wollstonecraft and Elizabeth Cady Stanton worked against this stereotype, primarily in an attempt to gain women’s suffrage.  However, the ideas of Liberal Feminism apply to more than just the right to vote and are relevant to the views of women in all aspects of society.

Among the most important ideas of Liberal Feminism in connection to this course are those dealing with the physical difference between men and women  and the societal views that accompany them.  It is apparent in comic books that men are usually characterized at the superhero, while superheroines are bit harder to find.  This in itself suggests that society prefers to see men in a role of physical supremacy rather than a woman in this type of role.  The imbalanced number of superheroes to superheroines could support the theories of Liberal Feminism.

Though Liberal Feminism deals with the subjective views held by the majority of society, some of them do come from biological reasons.  Especially with physical strength, the hormones in men allow them to be more muscular and for that reason, women can be weaker.  However, this should be a generalized notion.  There are women who are stronger than men and vice versa.  Women are capable of gaining strength to be equal to men, so the societal belief that women not only are not as physically strong as men but also that they cannot be as strong even if they try is not realistic. 

Whether it is rational or not to have the idea that women are not equal to men, it still may be true that society feels that women are not equal.  This is only propagated in the media, especially in comics.  Comic books such as the X-Men are dominated by male characters, most likely because men are associated more with heroism and strength.  An example of this is Wolverine, who has the power of a skeleton made of adamantium, something related closely to physical strength.  This contrasts Jean Gray, whose primary strength is mental instead of combat related.  The comparison of these characters begs the question of whether women are a victim  of gender stereotypes  in relation to strength or whether their strengths are unrelated to their gender.

Liberal Feminism aims to dispel those views that suggest an inferiority of women in any manner.  However, it seems that in the media and particularly in comic books, stereotypes related to the physical strength of women are commonly spread.  While giving women a mentally strong power does fight the idea that women are not equal intellectually, it still seems that comic books are quick to assign the role of the physically strong hero to a male character rather than to a woman. 

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