plainly and simply parasitical on the obvious or univocal reading

Monday, May 15, 2006

And he's hot, too...

Recent discussions about objectification of women in comics have tended to bring up the corollary question of whether men are equally objectified in comics, and if that isn’t “just as bad.” I think we’ve all seen the remixed covers by now that feature the Green Lantern’s Power Battery among other heroes’ attributes. Alas, it is but a dream, a hoax, an imaginary story. Truly it takes more than spandex over muscles to bring the objectification even close to in line with the way that women are presented by default (two of the most important words to remember in discussions such as this) on the comics cover/page. But is it even possible? Certainly the remixed covers provide a good place to start, but even they don’t go far enough. So I thought I’d start to whip up a list of other criteria that would need to be met prior to my being able to accept that men are just as objectified, and that said objectification is just as bad as that of women (and as a note, I’ll add that the dynamics I envision in this list are hetero, for the sake of simplifying the discussion)…

IF…every drawing of a man, even the civilians and background characters, put him in an outfit meant to show off as much of his body as possible, and

IF…every panel in which such a man appeared had him striking some kind of pose meant to show off his body in a sexual way, no matter how awkward and inappropriate to the situation, for example showing off his ass and (ample) package at the same time, regardless of comfort or practicality, and

IF…every time a man threw a punch or a kick, the angle of the image were sure to draw attention to the ass or package, and

IF…men’s costumes were frequently designed to draw as much attention to the penis as possible, while still keeping it covered up, and

IF…at least some men took it upon themselves to go out fighting crime in a thong (hey, it’s no less impractical than when a woman does it…), and

IF…when anticipating getting into a fight, men would slip casually into a contrapposto and still manage to flex something, and somehow land a punch, and

IF… when coming up with examples of cheesecakey exploitation, Gogo Fiasco was just as likely to come to mind as Vampirella, and

IF…in the fan press you would constantly see references to male heroes who are hot and by the way kick ass, with hotness always coming first,

Even then, the objectification wouldn’t be as bad, unless we could say in real life that…

The first measure of men’s worth is how attractive and presumably available they are for women’s use, and

Whenever we see a movie or music magazine with a male celebrity on the cover, he is coyly looking at the camera while pulling his untucked shirt suggestively over his hip, showing off the skin, and

When making a list of the accomplishments and non-physical qualities of a man, we are expected, by default, to add “and he’s hot/easy on the eyes/whatever too!” and if we don’t it is presumed that he is ugly and the previous list of traits is mere compensation for that fact (and it matters), and

On and on…

Anyway, this could obviously be one hell of a list were I not so pressed for time, so hey, feel free to add more in the comments! I know my list is far from complete.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

This Cannot Get Buried

This is too important to allow it to be eclipsed by certain other also-important subjects. Lea Hernandez is starting a grant program to help women who want to make comics on their own terms and still make them available to people to read. Here's the goods:

In order to foster women publishing independently, with economy, and as owners of what they create, I will award three grants annually, of a year's free hosting at, to women making webcomics. The recipients will have unlimited data storage and bandwidth, the ability to choose to support their work with ads, and a storefront for selling merchandise.
Being able to make comics at no cost to yourself is like the equivalent of getting paid at any other job, so this is a big deal. Keep an eye out for the details, which should be coming next month. Lea's got a good eye for talent, as evidenced by the Girlamatic roster, so these recipients should really be people to watch. Another thing that'll be fun to watch is when guys start complaining that it's only available to women. Yeah, I wish I could believe that wasn't going to happen, too.