*Insert Internet Rape Joke Here*
This link went up today on Journalista concerning the question of just how negatively women are portrayed in comic books. It takes it's stance against this article from Stuff Geeks Love, claiming that one of those things is "strong female characters who actually aren't."
The first thing that irked me about the Stuff Geeks Love article is the accompanying photo of a horde of Princess Leias at some convention posing together next to a Jabba the Hutt with the caption "Strong, empowered women posing for men." I don't think anyone who wants to spend their free time dressing up like a fictional character gets a sense that they are being "empowered" by it. I think... well, I don't really know what they think, but to suggest that they're all being duped into displaying their bodies for creepy, leering fanboys is misleading. They're probably fully aware of doing that, and eating it up, obviously.
The rest of the article talks about how various other prominent female characters in science fiction are made weaker due to their gender, or have their gender completely ignored so that these issues don't come up. One of their examples for this "wo-man" syndrome is Scully from the X-Files, which is the only example of this I am somewhat familiar with. I'm sorry if I've taken one too many Women's Studies classes at a liberal arts college (and that would be one) but if you're going to argue that stereotypical "feminine" attributes are negative in a character, and the absence of them undermines her gender in a negative way, what are you looking for as a medium? I can see the problem in that sort of thing in intentionally overly dude-like female characters, but Scully? Isn't she awesome because she doesn't have to worry about breaking a heel while running from bigfoot and she can still get all kissy-kissy with Mulder?
Then they drop the bomb, "In the comic book world, if there’s an alleged strong female character, you can count on one thing: she was raped." I happen to be one to point out misogynistic overtones I see in comics I read, and yeah, sometimes it's wrong and sometimes things aren't meant to be taken so seriously, but a statement like that is wayyy too rash.
And so then we get this response. Leading off with some of the flaws of the aforementioned article, it is accompanied by a list of 67 female comic book characters who were known to be raped. To counter this, there's a list of 335 (yes, the number is bolded in the article because it's just SO MANY) female characters who weren't raped. Now I know these sorts of issues have great potential to slip from talking about comics to talking about the real world, so I'll only say this, but statistics on rape don't come out every year saying "This many women WEREN'T raped this year! Hooray!" And not that I have an extensive knowledge of female superheros, but the percentage of relevance seems way higher in the rape list than in the not raped, where it seems like there are probably literally hundreds of throw-away obscure references.
A sort of good point is made in a really stupid way in saying, "If we are to take Stuff Geeks Like at face value, we’d have to say that the blogger thinks that none of the women on the non-raped list are empowered role-models or that none are strong women" which is totally bullshit because of course that's not what they meant, but it's important to notice that rape as a means for female ascension to superhero ranks is just the easiest traumatic origin story that most writers can come up with for women. At least most women that are raped in comics make the better of the situation, and while it's still not totally cool, I think the cause of the frequency of rape lies in poor writing rather than intentionally misogynistic intentions.
So if we can toss out all this rape debate as being part of insensitive, unimaginative writing, I think the bigger issue still lies in visual depictions of women in comics. Big titties and impossible proportions have long been ingrained into the public idea of what ladies are supposed to look like in comics, and that'll probably never go away. All I'm saying is, comic book reading dudes should be ready to level the playing field, a la some Simon Bisley Judge Dredd, where you can clearly see which way he decided to pack his dong into his blue leotard.
Comic dudes, you can have your scantily clad women, but if a little dong shadow is making your uncomfortable, just think about how we feel.