Comics and graphic novels have been expressed as distinct popular-culture art forms with the ability to persuade, educate, and shape beliefs and behaviors; they are an art-related enjoyment not available in any other media. Despite the fact that most academics dismiss the value of comics, they have important reflective messages about our lives and cultures. Gender representation in these early 1900s comics was in such a way that male superheroes were portrayed as superior characters with abilities to fix complex issues, while females were supporting characters whose function was to push the storyline of the story. Over time this has changed, women have been portrayed as superheroes who are saving the world. Unfortunately, this comes with making these heroines as sexual objects who satisfy the male fantasies. Comic book artists tend to argue that depicting woman voluptuously and provocatively is attributed to giving strength to the characters, but this has been articulated to depict women as sex objects. Most comical literature and books have been representing female super heroes with large busts, slim figure and half-naked appearance referred to “headlight comic books,” which is a rude way of referring to female anatomy. Sexist undertones have been articulated in most of the comic literature in the way these super heroes have the abilities ranging from gymnastics to mind controlling. The ability to control fellow actors and opponents especially men by female superheroes and use of their beauty to manipulate men is deemed sexist. The escalating amount of violence and sex lead to the establishment of a written code in 1954 to control the content displayed in graphic novels, manga and comic books (Putstz 204).
Provocative Dress Code
Artists tend to draw women who are anatomically impossible with overemphasizing on sexuality. Their scanty outfits are attention seeking as it fulfills the sexual fantasies of the male-dominated comic industry which stimulates erotic fantasies. It is evident that these outfits do not provide protection whatsoever in cases such as dangerous working places such as cold areas. It beats logic that the outfit cannot in a possible way help protect from attack by the enemy. Comic literature has articulated that most female superheroes use this skimp dresses to distract male enemies as they tend to be distracted by the bare skin giving the female an opportunity to overpower them. It can be argued that clothes do less to the power of the heroes since they are so powerful and cannot be harmed by the extreme environment, but this argument does not hold so much water. It cannot be ignored that the attitudes and expectations of gender roles are shaped by the entertainment industry thus the female superheroes are failing to show decency by being sexualized. Scholars have argued that comic book publishers sexualize their characters to boost sells since most male lead comic are likely to be a sexy female lead comic book. There is a high chance that the male customers would easily pick a book with a good looking sexualized female rather than a dull looking book (pitcher).The male gaze
Male gaze can be articulated as the act of male heterosexual’s letting the camera linger on the curves of a female body, this denies women decency and promotes objectifying women (Osha 196). These women are presented in a way that the men wouldS want to see them such that women should aspire to behave like that when they are with their men. The female drives the male lead to act, they are the drivers of the plot, but when keenly examined, it is the man doing the acting, this puts the woman at a second position who just advance the plot of the story. The powers bestowed on this characters are ripped off by their sexual nature since they cannot be taken seriously from their appearance. The problem comes in when the character is only viewed from this sex appeal and not from their abilities to fight crime and protect the society.
Despite the strength displayed by female super heroes, they are the portraits in certain sexual poses which has led to women falling into gender stereotyping. Attractive bodies, suggestive lingerie advertisements on the comic literature sexualize the female super heroes. Their actions are sexualized as it depicts the female heroes as she poses sexually not like the male counterparts who are muscular and ready to spring into action to solve problems. During lifesaving fights, female heroes have been displayed pretty much from the behind with emphasize on the ass, their beasts as well as voluminous hair. This is the typical fantasy of most teenage boys who love watching this kind of comics. One of the famous character the spider girl in the first volume of the series of the comic book has been shown in a sexy pose as she crawls on the flow leaving too much skin to be seen, this could be confused as being a pornographic content rather than comic. The male counterpart is depicted a strong superpower which is ready to face his opponents and the enemy at any time. His strength in climbing walls, breaking obstacles of any kind is clearly recognized in this comic book while the female heroine can be said to be flaunting her body and likely to be less prepared to fight crime at all times (Kim 324).
Female superheroes actions
The ability to control the less physical–power such as empathy, intellect and telepathy has been linked to female heroines; this allows them to win more battles and forms long-lasting ties and complex relationship with other characters. This ability has been used by these female heroines as a weapon to control the male characters, one of the popular female comic characters has been articulated to take advantage of this ability together with her sexuality to persuade one of the male characters to give her wealth. This form of manipulation has only been linked to the female characters since they show a high ability to control the minds of the various characters in the set comic and graphic novels. Adversaries can easily be duped by this female character as they can easily be fooled into believing that the female character means no harm while in the real sense these females are ready to pounce on them at the right opportunity. Mind reading has been attributed to female heroines this has an advantage to them since they can be able to avoid attacks from their enemies. (Busiek).
It is evident that the female character has evolved since it was introduced as a super hero since they were only depicted as supporting characters who were there to drive the plot of the comic stories. The female played fewer roles in the earlier comic series, but this has changed in the recent past there has been an introduction of female superheroes. These heroines are articulated to have the same powers as their male counterparts, unfortunately, this comes with sexual exploitation in line with the fulfillment of the male fantasize who dominate the industry. Sexual appeal is created by creating unattainable bodies such as large busts, slim waists, and voluminous hair. It creates the illusions that these females use their sexuality to attain their goals thus reducing their significance as the superheroes.
Busiek, K., Perez and A Vey. avengers vol 3. new york: marvel world wide inc, 1998.
kim, L,S. “Sex and the single woman.” chicago, 2001. 319-334. television and media.
osha. “venus and white desires.” osha. venues and white desires. new york, 2008. 80-92.
pitcher, K. Critical studies in communication. boston, 2006.
putstz, M .J. Comic Book cultue: . boston: jackson school, 1999.