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.

8 comments:

Drooling Fan Girl said...

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

Works for me! What you mean you were kidding? Aww man, I never get to have any fun!

Lea said...

"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,"

Actually the Mangaverse Spiderboy art did do that, which I found oogy. Not an ample package, but Spider-Cheeks ahoy!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the hilarious list, but an extra thank you for what I hear you saying at the end there -- that even if the two were the same in comics, men still have about two-thirds of the cards in the objectification poker game in the rest of the world.

This makes a big difference in the interpretation, just as any form of bigotry is much more dangerous when it's enforced by the community around at large. Thanks for pointing that out. No matter how beefcakey (and comics have a long way to go before they're equal-opportunity cheese/beef-cake), our community (not just comics) still craps on women by judging them by appearance first of all.

(found my way here via Lea's blog; adding you to my RSS reader).

Trochee said...

Thank you for the hilarious list, but an extra thank you for what I hear you saying at the end there -- that even if the two were the same in comics, men still have about two-thirds of the cards in the objectification poker game in the rest of the world.

This makes a big difference in the interpretation, just as any form of bigotry is much more dangerous when it's enforced by the community around at large. Thanks for pointing that out. No matter how beefcakey (and comics have a long way to go before they're equal-opportunity cheese/beef-cake), our community (not just comics) still craps on women by judging them by appearance first of all.

(found my way here via Lea's blog; adding you to my RSS reader).

(sorry for double post -- Blogger coughed out my identification on preview).

100LittleDolls said...

Thanks for writing about this and awesome list. I think what's really proved everything to me is how I did a Google image search on She-Hulk and well...uck, I'll never be the same again.

Why did I naively do a Google image search? At work I have a picture of the Hulk up so that when I get pissed I just have to look at him and have my rage expressed vicariously. I decided that maybe it'd be better to have She-Hulk up because so much of the time I'm dealing with sexually charged commentary with some of the people I work with. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find any equivalent powerful, angry poses for Hulk's she-equivalent.

Queen of Sheba said...

Here here. You's on my feed now.

Anonymous said...

It always seems to me that a man is never offended because he identifies himself with the super hero- while a woman is far more realistic than that...

Dan Jacobson said...

That certainly is a part of the problem--i.e. that male superheroes are made to be identified with in a way that the women usually aren't, even when it's ostensibly their story.