By Franchie Viaud, Staff Writer
It’s no surprise that women take the backseat in comics, with the perpetuated notion that they are somehow not interested in comics and that creative expression is safely kept in the “male realm” or whatever stereotype that plays into it.
Not only is there a shortage of female characters, but there’s also an even shorter supply of female characters not shown in skin-tight elastic contraptions passed off as clothes paired with towering heels — any girl can tell you that you can hardly walk let alone run across pavement dodging bag guys and fighting crime in heels — but there is also a shortage of female creators. The latter undoubtedly causes the former.
Just now, when I started typing “women in comics” into Google, the three options it suggested were “women in comics book underwear,” “women in comics book thongs” and “women in comics book tights.” I was going for “women in comics industries,” but I guess that’s just me.
Marvel and DC Comic executives need to accept the fact that their female fan base is growing at an exponential rate and they need to start appealing to their broader fan population.
In my opinion, their resistance is largely founded on fear, the emotion we naturally express whenever we encounter change of any kind, or things we don’t understand. Some men fear that introducing women into the comic production process will somehow drastically change the comics they know and love, forever shaping the industry into something they can no longer relate to or recognize. Even if the exclusion is intentional, which is an argument in itself, I’m afraid the feminists of the world will no longer stand for superwomen depicted in attire and roles both subservient and chauvinistic in nature. And some have begun to understand the shift.
Marvel’s new issue of “Thor” is out, and this time, Thor, the story’s lead, will be a woman. This will usher in a world of opportunities to appeal to female readers.
A wardrobe change doesn’t seem particularly significant, but their implications are. Batgirl over in Gotham has traded in her heels and figure-hugging spandex for a motorcycle jacket and Doc Martens (a nice addition, I might add). And Captain Marvel (or Carol Danvers) has discarded the black bathing suit in favor of a red, blue, and yellow jumpsuit that highlights her air force origins.
Superwomen are wearing clothes for the purpose of functionality instead of a less-than-subtle way to reveal a woman’s more defining physical attributes, which are more often than not unrealistically portrayed. Genevieve Valentine, Catwoman’s new lead writer, remarked when she first met with her creative team, “Can we please have her fighting in flat shoes?” A simple request, and the fact that she had to even ask is very telling of the gender dynamics prevalent in the industry.
But it isn’t enough just to have a female lead role. If you make that the focus and keep everything else the same then you’re not changing anything, simply perpetuating sexist depictions of women in this industry.
Wolverine creator Len Wein summed up the argument perfectly: “I think every time you take a female character, a black character, a Hispanic character, a gay character, and make that the point of the character, you are minimalizing the character.”