Not a woman? You can't have an opinion on women's matters

Regardless of your stance on abortion, I'm sure you've seen a form of this sign at one point or another:



This sign is in protest to how most of our politicians, the ones who love to make crazy laws about birth control being covered by health insurance and the legality of abortion, are males and do not have the equipment that is under discussion.

Now, my discussion isn't about abortion. I don't want to talk about it because A) it's highly contentious and B) well, I don't want to talk about it.

Instead, I want to talk about skimpy females in comics and the sexuality of the female form in media.

You know, like this glorious cover.  Actually, this woman is quite concealed - a shame, I know.


I really despise how many comics portray women. Most of the women are the curvaceous type, with huge breasts and barely any clothes for their costumes.  There are very, very few female characters in comics that are not curvy with big breasts.  Plus-sized?  Plain-looking women?  They don't exist in Comic Book Land, even while you may get a lot of skinny, weasley looking men.  Women in comics are also frequently sexualized, either explicitly (being rape victims or having nearly every other male character hit on them) or implicitly (costumes)

 

I suppose this might not be so bad if we saw something similar with the guys, but this isn't what you find.  There is quite a variety in costumes and body shapes for men in comics.  Costumes are designed with functionality (yes, some sexualization and the "showing off of the 6 pack", but they ARE mostly functional).  Leotards for the ones with flexibility, armor for those that aren't made of steel, hoods and masks for those wanting to conceal their identity.

 

When I voice these opinions, many women will agree with me. Many men too. But then I've come across those guys that go, "Well, haven't you really taken a look at the males? Those body types aren't very reasonable and are a bad influence to boys too. Women should just stop being influenced by these comics. Plus, comics are just a form of art - you shouldn't take them that seriously."



To understand why this is such a problem, you need to pull yourself out of the rock you've lived under and start talking to women about beauty and sex.  Women live under ENORMOUS pressure to live up to the unattainable Beauty Ideal. While I don't agree 100% with everything Naomi Wolfe had to say in "The Beauty Myth", I do agree in one point: women are told by society that they need to strive to this Ideal Woman - one with huge breasts (that aren't for breast-feeding), an hourglass figure, tall, blond, blue-eyed, etc. And that Ideal Woman is everywhere in society - magazines, movies, TV, beauty products, girls' toys, and yes, even comics.

 

It isn't one random instance where it bugs me.  Barbie may be unrealistically shaped, but she isn't going to spell the end of the world.  No, it's Barbie and LEGO Friends and makeup commercials saying if you are older than 18, you better start using anti-aging cream (really?!).  It's models on the runway who have stopped having periods because they are so underweight, it's sexy women posing on cars in men's magazines - and it's comics that feature every woman in a sexy catsuit with holes revealing cleavage or hips. 

Everywhere I turn, I am bombarded with things telling me my body isn't good enough. From the time I'm a child and I hear from my mom how her body isn't good enough to an adult where every advertisement and movie and media tells me that I could be better if I used XYZ, I am told I am too fat, too short, too muscular, too flat-chested, too red-faced and everything in between.  This Beauty Image is INGRAINED in our culture, in many women's backgrounds and goals.  Ask most women what they want most, and I'll bet my sock-monkey hat that it's to lose 20 pounds.

I'm not saying men don't feel a similar pressure; I know they do. I know they also feel different pressures than I do, such as (and please bear with me as this list is from the stereotypical "manly man") pressures to be the man of the house and to provide a large income and have a good job. But you know what - I'm not going to say, "Oh, you know, that's just society telling you you have to be like Bill Gates. It's just not realistic. Why don't you just stop trying to compare yourself to him?"

 

You can't just tell a man to stop trying to be something that has been ingrained in him from childhood.  You can't tell a drug addict to stop taking drugs, you can't tell black people to stop fighting for civil rights...and you can't tell women to just, overnight, throw off the shackles of the Beauty Myth.

 

(Oh, and even if you could...does that mean it's STILL ok to feature women in comics as mostly sexualized beings?  Is it ok to show the Chinese and Black myths from the 30's?  I don't think so!  These images and stereotypes are offensive and dehumanizing and have no place in our society!)

If you aren't a woman, you can't have an opinion on how body image and sexuality and ludicrous interpretations of the female form in comics affect a woman. You can't just tell a woman to stop listening to EVERY SINGLE OTHER PERSON ON THE PLANET telling her she needs to wear makeup, be a certain weight or wear this sexy but not TOO sexy garment.  The only way you are allowed to have an opinion on this topic is if you become a woman and have to live that life.

And although this really doesn't have any relevance to my topic, but because Kate Winslet is a f-ing bad ass, here is this quote to finish off my rant: