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Off My Mind: Female Superhero Costumes - Practical or Exploitive?

Is it about comfort, style or getting readers excited?


When reading the recent issue of Birds Of Prey, I started thinking again about the practicality of the female superhero costume. While spandex has pretty much been a requirement for all superhero characters, sometimes it feels that the female characters are forced to cross the line with what is practical.
 
I don't have a lot of experience wearing spandex. I have worn a pair of spandex shorts underneath my running shorts back in high school during my track & field days. Spandex is said to have some practicability. Looking at two of the Birds Of Prey, I have to wonder how Huntress' "window" showing her tummy or Black Canary's one-piece bathing suit look (with the fishnets, of course) helps them fight crime.
 
"Comics are mainly written for boys." Whether or not that's the case, what is the message being conveyed? 
 == TEASER ==

I believe it's been said before that the reason Power Girl chose her costume design was for distraction purposes. This would allow her to knock out the bad guys when they weren't paying attention. If that's the case, I would question why someone with her strength and speed would need a distraction. 
 
I've heard from some female readers that the way women are portrayed can be a turn off to comics. Most heroes are drawn in a idealized but why are certain parts of female characters focused on and certain parts of male characters are not? There are other times where certain body types simply look impossible. Yes, I know you can say that "superpowers" are also impossible but the laws of physics and gravity say that some things just couldn't happen (see image to the right).
 
It may be that society wants to see "pretty" people. In most TV shows and movies, 95% of the people have a "Hollywood" look. In comics, most characters have "perfect" bodies (must be a side effect of gaining superpowers naturally). With female characters it seems the focus is often placed on their bodies rather than their character. Power Girl, Huntress, Black Canary...they're all strong female characters and I'm not talking about physical strength. Perhaps some women feel empowered wearing certain outfits but I don't feel it's absolutely necessary. Does wearing skintight or revealing clothing make a character better? Perhaps a better question is would you be comfortable reading a comic in public with these stylized women on the cover? Those unfamiliar with the comic might wonder what type of book you're actually looking at.
 
I'm not suggesting we do away with the revealing costumes altogether. I understand that some readers might really enjoy comics or characters that have them. I just think that there should be more to the characters, especially to the female ones. They deserve to be seen as more than just a body. Often, female characters that can literally kick ass are not taken seriously. I don't buy comics just because there's a female wearing a revealing outfit. I'm buying comics for the characters and stories. 
 
I'm also not suggesting all female characters should cover themselves up and wear big bulky trench coats either. There may be practical purposes to wearing tighter clothing to allow for more movement during combat or in stealth situations. But what practical purposes are there to Huntress' tummy costume? Am I the only one that thinks female characters should get a little more respect?
189 Comments
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Posted by Silver2467
@G-Man: I agree with you entirely. It's not realistic. Most women in comics, especially those without powers like Huntress or Black Canary, would need a body armor to protect them from gunfire and knife wounds. BatMan's suit may be skintight, but it is made to be protective of such wounds (albeit, the fact that it's so thin may not make sense if it's supposed to be protective, but at least his covers himself). Now, setting aside reality, since reality and comics don't usually go hand-in-hand, it's the result of fan service and artists and writers who just want their fantasies put on paper. They fail to realize that women read comics also. Of course, many heroes' costumes are skintight. They do show their musculature through their costume, but they are covered, at the very least. Yes, the male characters are not innocent in this area, but they aren't at the degree of it what the female characters are. Female characters seem to be drawn, not only to show heir physique through skintight costumes like the male characters do, but to actually have revealing parts of their uniforms. This may not be a huge deal. It may not be the end of the comic world, but it couldn't hurt if writers and artists made things a little more practical. Fan service can be taken too far, on both the male and female characters' parts.     
Posted by DannoMan

I agree that female characters in comics, movies, and TV are made to be sexual icons, so we don't just take away the skin-tight spandex, but female characters with depth are the ones I really go nuts for! Even the characters in comics don't just fall for some girl because she wears skimpy clothing. The female characters with more developed character are the mainly the ones the hero falls for.

Posted by ImperiousRix

Following that Birds of Prey review, I actually had a discussion with my best friend (who happens to be a female) about what she thought about female superhero costumes.  She personally didn't like the fact that there was a severe lack of practicality involved in them and that in only served to lessen perceptions of the character being strong in any other way but a sexual one (not her exact words, but I'm paraphrasing). 
 
I tried to reassure her that the characters were actually very strong and complex despite the way they dressed, and even defended their costumes as being something that looks good when drawn by an artist similar to the way most male characters are hyper-muscular and wear form-fitting spandex.  The more I thought about it, however, I couldn't think of any other reason why there is such a large majority of scantily clad and/or HUGE breasted female characters (another complaint she had there being so few small-chested characters). 
 
Looking at costumes like Songbird's or Janet Van Dyne's latest Wasp get-up, these are more practical and "appropriate" costumes.  Is there a correlation that these characters are less popular?  I'd consider them comparably strong (if not more so) than others in the Marvel Universe, yet they remain relatively under-appreciated. 
 
I don't have the answers.  This just used to be something I never thought about, and yet I find myself questioning it more and more.

Posted by DarkSyde79

Most superhero costumes (male and female) are not practical. Only when they're taken into a real world context do they end up being more appropriate. Of course when you throw in mystical, technologic or biological powers that protect individuals, then I guess you can do a lil' more from a "fashion" standpoint. But in the end, the visual is what they're doing it for more and being exploitive is part of that game. 

Posted by 1337W422102
@Baddamdog said:
" ermmm think you're forgetting a serial perpetrator!!   

Practical. XD "
DAT ASS
 
Personally, I'm more interested in character development that costumes.
Posted by 04nbod

I will not buy a comic with Starfire on the cover on principle. Nor Emma, in some of her more revealing outfits, Is there a reason a warrior like wonder woman wears a bikini rather than actual combat wear?I think the distraction excuse is low. If that were true Batman would be a flasher! Honestly, would the writing be any different with a bit more material?

Edited by nyx

Ok, case in point: Emma Frost ala Land.  She could rent her breast out as air bags, ok?  No living female (except those freaky, creepy few with like ZZ cups and let's just not go there...) would be able to have breast that size and want to get up in the morning.  It's not realistic, it's a teenage boy's wet dream.  The costumes, the characters, are drawn mostly by men for a mostly male audience.  If you have any doubts about that, look at comic book stories like 'Heralds.'  The art, while cortoonish and otherwise unimpressive, has a minimal emphasis on the breast and body form, there is more interpersonal interaction with less fists being thrown.  Clearly it was meant to cater to a more female audience.  Now as for spandex, have you ever seen a full-body spandex outfit?  It is not flattering, at all.  I, frankly, always assumed comic book artists (in the early days) just drew figures, drew a few lines and colored, then said, 'Ta-da, spandex!'  Seems easier for sure, lol.

Posted by 00 Raiser
@Dipic:  I have to admit thats the best classic 90's version Rogue I have seen in a long time. God I miss her.
Posted by ForbushBug

Meh,practicality has little bearing when it comes to superhero costumes regardless of gender. Take Wolverine...he really doesn't hide his identity yet sports a mask with those useless ear/horn/whatever they are things that stick up six inches from his head. Might as well be wearing blinders and a propeller hat. Or the webbing that sometimes is or isn't under Spidey's arm that make him look like he has out of control armpit hair.  And if you really wanna talk impractical with women's costumes, there's how Black Cat and Black Widow have increased the amount of cleavage shown over the years. I wonder why Natasha bothers with a zipper since it only seems to work in the down direction. At least Power Girl has a bulletproof bosom,  Really, you can spend forever nit-picking costumes... or just accept it as part of the deal.

Posted by Shanana
@.Mistress Redhead. said:
" The thing for me is, I love the costumes, I adore the fantasy of it all but what I don't like is the readers creating the sexual innuendos. The women most of the time are drawn with class, but readers do their own art that sexualises them far to much. "
I agree with this.  Regardless of how the character is drawn, a reader will perception of how they think the character should be.
Posted by Troilus

I think its more for distraction purposes, and just from a quick survey in my mind most of the characters with the most revealing outfits (emma frost, psylocke, ms marvel etc) are all mature women, who maybe want to embrace their sexyness and use it to their advantage.  The younger characters have more reserved costumes (pixie, hawkeye the girl, surge, and armor).  Either way showing some skin is appealing and good for sales, and it does make me more interested in the character at least until i read the story and find out if its good or not.

Posted by Lokein.Lyesmith
@HexThis said:
" I'm always surprised at how defensive the reaction is to the notion, the mere suggestion women get the short end of the stick when it comes to comics. Is there any denying it? Besides dissecting the costumes to determine what indicates sex and what doesn't, just look at the numbers. Not as many women read comics and I think it's largely because they're alienated by these images, it seems to solely appeal to men.   
 
 
This it totally correct. I don't know about the REST of you guys, but if I don't get my monthly dose of spandex-covered-muscular-man-butt, I'm just not fit to be around. Usually an issue of Spider-Man will do it for me. But sometimes I have to hit up Hercules, because, really, what man could resist that loin-cloth? And that run back in the 90s when Thor ran around in nothing but panted-on-spandex pants and no shirt? That was a prime time for men reading comic books. 
 
In fact, the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of men running around in skin-tight leather and spandex is what makes ME read comics. Those women showing their tummys like Huntress? Yuck! Why would I want to see that in the middle of my might-as-well-be-naked superhero MEN? And Powergirl's cleavage? Let's face it, I'd rather another shot of Kyle Rayner's butt. 
 
 
I have yet to see Iron Man 2, but thanks for letting me know that Black Widow has to change clothes in the movie. I'll be sure to overt my eyes during that part. But when Hugh Jackman bursts forth from the Adamantium Tank in all his naked glory in X-Men: Origins? THAT'S the kind of comic book movie for REAL men! Or those scene's of Peter Parker in SpiderMan oogling his own new super-muscles? That's why I've seen it 6 times now. 
 
Dripping sarcasm aside; this is a specific fantasy world. This is what sells comics. I think you're in the wrong section of the book store. You want the Harlequin Romance novels. Those are two aisles over. Take your reality and GTFO out of my fantasy world.
 
It seems perfectly acceptable for Hercules, Thor, Tarzan, Conan, Colossus, Silver Surfer, Namor, and Hulk, can run around naked(or at least shows WAY more skin than Powergirl!). That's manly, aggressive, and most of all, socially acceptable to women. But as soon as Powergirl shows some cleavage or Huntress sports her midriff, or Starfire wants to run around nude, that's shameful and should be shunned!!!
 
Maybe it's not the comic book industry, or us men, that has the issue with bodies?
Edited by comicboy12

  

@G-Man:

  there are a a lot feminist comic blog that have had extensive conversions about the issues, one site even made a bingo game about the typical misogynist  and sexist responses most females fans have to deal with when push for gender equality in comics.
 
 
http://girl-wonder.org/girlsreadcomics/?p=4#4
There's far more issues dealt with on the site but these are the ones concerning female bodies and cosutmes
  

So you want comics full of ugly fat chicks?

No. Most likely, your critic want comics full of women treated as realistically as men are, in the same manner, with as much variety in face and body type. Apparently, you find that threatening and have jumped to an exaggeration of their argument that also demonises fat and those who don’t fit the cultural beauty standards. This says nothing flattering about you.

That’s censorship!

No, censorship would be if the critic was heading a government body and inspecting each title before it came out, with the ability to prevent the publication of anything that violated the guidelines of that body.

Unless that is what the critic is doing, or proposing others do, what they are engaging in is critique, not censorship.

Personally, I’m not interested in censoring things. I want people to stop depicting women so poorly in comic books, but I want them to stop because they realise it’s fucking dumb, not because there’s someone with a rubber stamp hovering suspiciously above each page. If criticism contributes to people realising that depicting women so poorly is fucking dumb – and I have an inbox says it does – then that is awesome.

( More here.)

But doing martial arts in high heels is perfectly reasonable.

People making this argument fall into two camps.

The first believe this is genuinely true, in which case I urge them to submit video footage at once, and salute their courage.

The second believe that superheroes being unrealistic creations in the first place, it isn’t much more unrealistic to stick four inch spikes on female characters. But why is it always the female characters? Because high heels are gendered. Women in comics aren’t wearing heels because they’re super-agile; they’re wearing heels because the artist believes that’s what attractive women should do.

Moreover, many feminist readers have worn heels, and know first hand how painful they can be and how much they restrict movement. Seeing stilettoes on Black Canary draws not admiration of her dainty classiness, but a mental *CRASH* following the failing suspension of disbelief.

But super-strong women don’t need bras!

It is true that Power Girl is not likely to suffer the backaches that her similarly-endowed real world sisters must endure or have painful surgery to correct, but once again there are two issues here.

The first is the suspension of disbelief thing – if you have large breasts, or even medium-sized breasts, you’re aware that they flop around and upset your balance and feel vulnerable when not constrained. For the male equivalent, please imagine a hero charging into battle in a kilt and a condom, with no other restriction on his own floppy bits. Now imagine that the things flopping around are about half as sensitive, but roughly ten times bigger.

*CRASH!*

The second is more an art/cultural thing, wherein the secondary sexual characteristics of women are held to be so hugely important that they must be emphasised. Bonus for obvious nipple action! If I have to point out why automatically reducing female characters to body parts is a bad idea, you are reading the wrong blog.

( More here.)

But girls often wear skirts! Why wouldn’t they go flying in them?

Girls do wear skirts! Not, usually, when they are being soldiers or fire fighters or police officers or martial artists or athletes, which are our real world equivalents to superheroes. I’ll grant you tennis and netball players, if you grant me that most tennis and netball players are wearing shorts or spanky pants under those skirts, and probably wouldn’t be wearing them at all if there wasn’t such a huge cultural pressure on women to be ladylike.

Which, again, is the problem. Superheroic women must be female first, heroes after. Women wear skirts. Therefore, superheroic women wear skirts!

Moreover, like heeled shoes, skirts restrict movement. Excess material gets in the way. And while the excess material that forms Superman’s cape is there to make him look awesome as it billows in the wind, the excess material that forms Supergirl’s skirt is there because she’s SuperGIRL, damnit!

Some superheroes might believably wear skirts. But it’s an odd choice that requires in-text explanation to suspend disbelief.

( More here.)

But that costume suits her personality!

Again, reasonable persons often employ this argument. Your critic is probably fully in favour of costumes suiting personalities. That’s why she’s irritated that, for example, Huntress’ personality apparently switched from full-cover spandex to an exposed midriff that somehow magically failed to reveal her bullet scars.

Or, she could be wearily sick of the parade of comic book women who, like the attractive aliens with no nudity taboo, just happen to have personalities that require costumes emphasising their primary sexual traits.

This one really is a judgement call. The critic may think that Power Girl’s costume suits her personality, but balks at Emma Frost’s all-white fetish wear. You might think Emma’s clothes admirably suited to her elitist contempt, but be baffled by the infamous boob window.

If this is the only spot the bingo player has scored off you, fear not! You are probably not a moron. This argument, like all the costume related points, is really only offensive in combination with others. That’s why we’re playing bingo, not handing out a misogyny raffle.

No one wants realism in comics!

This is often used to assume a fantasy-get-out-of-misogyny-free card, so if you have employed it as “but comics are about men’s fantasies so it doesn’t matter if they’re sexist and demeaning so STFU” I am afraid that this blog probably can’t help you. Possibly, nothing can.

However, if you are arguing that superhero comics employ unrealistic situations like people being able to fly and punch through solidified walls of time, and thus a lack of realism in the depiction of women is only to be expected, then your bingo player was right to send you here.

The thing is that we all want a certain amount of realism in comics. We want, for example, characters to be speaking something recognisable as language, preferably a language we understand. Unless you’re a huge Dali fan, I doubt you want Superman to suddenly become utterly surreal. (And if you are a huge Dali fan, hi! Me too!)

While superhero stories often feature wildly improbable physical storylines, powers and character origins, the characters themselves usually maintain some grip on emotional reality. They have to, or we wouldn’t want to read about them. Even the aliens are usually understandably human.

That’s why things like there being only one woman in a team, to fulfil the role of “the girl”, or lots of superheroines thinking skirts are a good idea, or the constant focus on sexy!!! gets to feminist readers. It has no emotional reality. It doesn’t ring true. And it’s skeezy and demeaning to argue that because it’s fantasy, it must be fantasy that objectifies women.

But men are drawn unrealistically too!

This is probably the bingo point that causes the most fuss. When otherwise enlightened persons use the argument and are consequently informed of their gaffe, they tend to respond, baffled, “But I’m RIGHT! They ARE!”

Yes! You are right! Nowhere but in comics or other carefully controlled media does one find such stunning physical specimens of manhood. Comic book guys often have symmetrical features, are well- (often over-) muscled and are generally good looking.

However, you don’t find many of them striding along in bathing suits and high-heeled boots, wrenching their backs out as they hurl their hips around and thrust their tumescent, massive penises and firmly rounded butts at the reader.

Why? Because that would look ridiculous. So why isn’t it ridiculous when it’s done to female characters?

No one would deny that the average superhero team contains more attractive men than you would find walking down the street anywhere but Hollywood. But there is a substantial difference between the unrealistic portrayal of men and women that relies heavily on gendered stereotyping of what is attractive. Men must be strong! Women must be sexy!

So when you say “But men are drawn unrealistically too!”, the bingo player reads “Men are drawn to look strong and handsome, and that’s why you shouldn’t complain about Frank Miller objectifying Vicki Vale’s talking butt.”

(More here, here, here and pretty much the rest of the feminist comics’ fans’ internet. )

Men can’t help themselves! Why are you punishing us for our biology?

Wow, and people say feminists hate men. If you genuinely believe men just have to objectify women, because it’s hardwired into them to regard those possessing vaginas as occasionally entertaining fuckdolls rather than people, and that objectification just has to ooze all over the pages of stories about good costumes vs evil costumes (plus explosions!) then you have a really, really low opinion of men.

I assume that since you have an internet connection, you’re not sitting in a tree eating a raw rat and grunting suspiciously at interlopers. I mean, I could be wrong. These are big internets, and there’s probably at least one person into that. But if you aren’t that person, and you make this argument, I feel bound to remind you that fully functional humans are totally capable of overcoming biological imperatives in favour of ethical standards and social justice and have been for hundreds of years. If you can’t be bothered to make the effort, then I’m not convinced I should consider you a modern human being at all.

This is just fanboy entitlement… from women!

And hence, presumably, even less attractive! Your critic may well have fan entitlement issues. They may also have feminist critique. Trolls often like to pretend one is the other, or else can’t tell the difference between “DC owes me a Blue Beetle/Catman mini-series!” and “Holy crap, if I see another Frank Cho cover where a woman is presenting at the reader, I’m going to scream.”

Honestly? Judgement call. But be aware that just because you don’t think something is offensive doesn’t mean the critic has no valid argument to make, and if you’re combining this point with others on the card, you should probably sit in the corner and think about what you’ve done.

Sexism is a convention of the genre!

Well, yes and no. Yes in that it’s certainly conventional, by which I mean, everywhere. No in that it isn’t quintessential to superhero stories. Costumes are a convention of the genre. Explosions are a convention of the genre. Origin stories explaining superpowers or the development of special skills are a convention of the genre.

Sexism is not necessary. It’s just habit.

Are you calling me a misogynist??

No, but now that you mention it….

If your reaction to a feminist criticism of comics is “But I like comics, and I’m not sexist!”, good for you. I’m glad you’re not sexist. But since you’re not sexist, why would the criticism bother you? You don’t need to identify with it. It’s not about you.

If your reaction is “But I like it and therefore it cannot possibly be sexist!” then you need to check out the concepts of “male privilege” and “patriarchy”. In your own time, please, but some good places to start are listed at the end of this column.

My girlfriend never complains about this stuff. Or: I’m a woman, and I’m not offended by this.

Your girlfriend (or you) does not speak for all womankind. No one does.

It is perfectly appropriate to point out that women do not share a hivemind in the presentation of a dissenting opinion. It is never appropriate to use your sample of female friends, or yourself, as a trump card that triumphantly deflects all feminist criticism with which they/you disagree.

Comics are never going to change. You’re wasting your time.

Goodness, how pessimistic! Your critic probably takes a more optimistic view – that things are bad, but can be changed; that social justice is possible and worth fighting for; that poor depictions and objectification of women can and should be combated, no matter the odds.

And hey, if she’s wrong, is that any of your business? It’s her time to waste.

Unless you mean that comics are never going to change, and you don’t want them to, because you like the status quo right where it is. In that case, I cordially invite you to bite me.

Posted by Aspenite

They could wear a plastic bag and would still look awesome!

Posted by Lokein.Lyesmith
@comicboy12 said:
"   

Unless you mean that comics are never going to change, and you don’t want them to, because you like the status quo right where it is. In that case, I cordially invite you to bite me.

Why should what I like, something that's been this way for decades, change, just because you don't like it? If you don't like... don't read it. Whoa. Now -there's- an idea. Instead of forcing your beliefs and what you want on me, just don't support it. Why take away what I want and love just because you don't like it? You, sir, can bite ME. Right here. This is the spot I like most. -really- get your teeth in there. Put your jaw into it.
Posted by Shipwreck

If you think about it and you are not mormon look around. Victoria Secret and what not are trying to create the perfect forms on the human body. Well made clothing male or female will enhance traits that are sexual. Look at both male and female tee-shirts. Now with you are guy that likes a more fitted tee shirt you go to department store. The shirts in the shoulders more geared to enhance the shape the shape of the shoulders as well as the breast. Same place t-shirts for women enhance the shapes of the breasts and waist.  We do it to ourselves but when it's in comic all of a sudden it's wrong? So what, I can drool over Scott Summers in a comic and Boyfriend for pretty much the same visual reasons that are designed differently.

Edited by comicboy12
@Lokein.Lyesmith said:

" @comicboy12 said:

"   

Unless you mean that comics are never going to change, and you don’t want them to, because you like the status quo right where it is. In that case, I cordially invite you to bite me.

Why should what I like, something that's been this way for decades, change, just because you don't like it? If you don't like... don't read it. Whoa. Now -there's- an idea. Instead of forcing your beliefs and what you want on me, just don't support it. Why take away what I want and love just because you don't like it? You, sir, can bite ME. Right here. This is the spot I like most. -really- get your teeth in there. Put your jaw into it. "
thanks I almost forgot that one
 
 If you don’t like them, don’t read them!

This is one of those arguments that reasonable people often make, unable to see why feminist comics fans spend time and energy discussing and deploring sexism in superhero comics when there’s just so darn much of it. Why not, the argument goes, simply stop reading? Give up comics altogether, or find alternatives to the superhero books that infuriate you so.

But that’s not good enough. Most feminist fans hate sexism, but love superheroes. I know that there’s something about costumed people beating the crap out of bad guys, invading alien armies and each other that makes my heart happy. If there are explosions, so much the better! And the fair number of books that get it right is evidence that it can be done.

But most importantly, your critic has every right to complain about sexism in comics because – crazy thought! – sexism is wrong, whether you think it’s a waste of energy or not.

Posted by Xenozoic Shaman

Aside from the debate as to whether or not they are too "sexified" and lacking focus in more respectful areas such as character, there's one thing that has always bothered me about this trend.  I don't like obvious attempts at luring me in with overly sexy imagery.  It's like they're saying, "You're a primitive without any self-control, so we're going to get you to buy this item by putting a scantly clad woman on it!"  I don't like knowing that I'm being manipulated!  Trick me without being so obvious, but don't insult me.

Posted by Lokein.Lyesmith
@comicboy12:  I don't see as sexism. It's wrong for a woman to show a little cleavage but it's not wrong for a man to run around in a loin-cloth? How is that any different at all? You're still oogling his man parts. I think comics show a fair and balanced miss-representation of BOTH sexes. I'm sorry that you're so insecure that you see sexism everywhere. 

sex·ism –noun

discrimination or devaluation based on a person's sex, as in restricted job opportunities; esp., such discrimination   directed against women.
 
 
It's not discrimination if it's happening on both sides. Men are just as objectified as women are in comic books. Go cry "wolf" at women's romance novels. You want some sexual discrimination, there you go. Or how 'bout your average nightly sitcom, portraying fathers as stupid, bumbling idiots who don't care about their families goings-ons, while the mother is a strong independent woman who fixes everything the father fumbles. 
 
My comic books are the least of your worries when it comes to sexual discrimination. Batman is little more than a naked man, colored grey black and blue, with a cape on. Spiderman is a naked man colored red and blue with little black webs on him. There's no bias here. We sexualize and objectify equally. Sorry to pop your bubble.
Posted by Pizawle

Not like the guys do not have crazy outfits either. Just stop taking it so seriously.

Edited by Lokein.Lyesmith

http://www.ifanboy.com/content/articles/Top_Ten_Most_Naked_Superhero_Costumes
 
 Can you count the men vs women in this top ten?

Posted by Sophie Lopez

Some of you people have waaay to muc time on your hands to post a 10 page rebuttal...anyone wanna do my government papers next semester? ^_^

Posted by Shadow_Thief

Err...ah, sorry. I was distracted by all the pictures. What are we talking about, again? ;)

Edited by Shadowdoggy

 I think the issue isn't about how practical the costumes are, because I personally believe that anything brightly colored, spandex or labelled  with a particular monoquer is probably not the best suited thing to wear to secretly fight crime, I think the issue is with the design 
it seems painfully obvious that some characters (their costumes, at least) are made to be very provacative to increase interest in that character 
maybe it's even done as a mask for characters writers feel won't sell or peak interests without them 
but it's a comic book, it's all a fantasy world
and like it or not, in the most case it's a fantasy world written and drawn by men 
and even if it isn't, it becomes a fantasy world written by women, trying to emmulate or continue what men have created in the past
I see the over-emphasis paid on things like crotch shots and sidebood  (which is super condusive to fighting  crime, really it is) but I dont' think it's being done with the specific intention of belittling or dehumanizing women
I agree the issue of over-sexualizing women in comics is one that deserves at the very least a little credit 
all you have to do is look at the fanart section of any female superheroe's gallery on this site to see that MANY comic fans and readers obviously turn women into sex objects, but it is a bit of a two way street too 
at 10, 11, 12 years old, I was doing the same thing....but with Colossus
and Wonderman 
....and Namor 
I WAS 12 , OKAY?! Give me a break!!!! 
but any form of media that considers teenage to twenty-something boys their prime demographic, is going to either A) have more appeal if sex is involved or, B) will end up having their characers turned into something sexual any way 
all by the same "prime demo" that is currently enjoying their work.......see? I said "enjoying" there because I didn't necessarily mean "reading" if you catch my drift 
women in comics are often used as plot devices, beautiful damsels, corpses a for a hero to remember as angrily angrily heops to smite your feelings by killing mobsters, etc, but I think that has a lot to do with a status quo that has existed in comics for decades now 
if it changed, and characters like Vampirella and Red Sonja were suddenly clad in dungarees and crocs, would business be affected? 
would the comics just sit on the shelves?  
it's hard to say, but I do firmly believe that (for the most part), writers and artists are just doing what they think the fans want 

Posted by Ncm2700

awesome.

Posted by pentagram

I DONT DISAGREE WITH ANYBODY, BUT DONT YOU THINK THERE MORE WORRIED ABOUT HOW THEY'RE GOING TO PROTECT THE WORLD RATHER THAN IF THEIR OUTFIT IS TOO SKIMPY OR NOT. DONT GET ME WRONG THERE ARE EXECEPTIONS (EMMA FROST, RED SHE- HULKS FIRST OUTFIT) BUT I THINK THEY HAVE MORE PRESSING PROBLEMS.

Posted by jessej07

Good article.  It's the reason I don't pick up certain books, and the very basic reason why I think Psylocke is the stupidest character ever created and should never be taken seriously.

Posted by Shadowdoggy
@jessej07:
well, I think you've taken things a little too far 
her costumes have been ridiculous
but I don't think she should have NEVER been taken seriously 
I mean, when she started out, she was wearing pajamas with princess sleeves 
seriously, she looked like the nightgown page in your mom's Sears catalogue
Posted by Green Skin

I think people take stuff like this way to seriously.  Comics are flights of fantasy where practicality doesn't play a role. If they started making costumes practical 99% of them would have to be changed. 

Posted by pixelized
@Green Skin said:
" I think people take stuff like this way to seriously.  Comics are flights of fantasy where practicality doesn't play a role. If they started making costumes practical 99% of them would have to be changed.  "
Going by what you said then supers shouldn't have any realism that we feel in everyday life. But seeing as how they do, it's not uncommon to find people that want their heroes in appropriate work attire.
Moderator
Posted by Meteorite

Some characters it does make sense for them to have a revealing costume, such as Black Cat. It's goes with her personality.

Posted by EpitomeofCool

I do think it's a bit over the top the way they're drawn.

Posted by comicboy12
@Lokein.Lyesmith said:

" @comicboy12:  I don't see as sexism. It's wrong for a woman to show a little cleavage but it's not wrong for a man to run around in a loin-cloth? How is that any different at all? You're still oogling his man parts. I think comics show a fair and balanced miss-representation of BOTH sexes. I'm sorry that you're so insecure that you see sexism everywhere. 

sex·ism –noun

discrimination or devaluation based on a person's sex, as in restricted job opportunities; esp., such discrimination   directed against women.
   It's not discrimination if it's happening on both sides. Men are just as objectified as women are in comic books. Go cry "wolf" at women's romance novels. You want some sexual discrimination, there you go. Or how 'bout your average nightly sitcom, portraying fathers as stupid, bumbling idiots who don't care about their families goings-ons, while the mother is a strong independent woman who fixes everything the father fumbles.   My comic books are the least of your worries when it comes to sexual discrimination. Batman is little more than a naked man, colored grey black and blue, with a cape on. Spiderman is a naked man colored red and blue with little black webs on him. There's no bias here. We sexualize and objectify equally. Sorry to pop your bubble. "
Because men general DON'T fight in lion clothes. Oh sure there's connan but what example after that? not many Also I'm not just about lack cloth of clothing, it's demeanor posing, positioning  NUDITY=/=SEXUALIZED . You can bring up superman, batman or spiderman all to want but the fact is that really are their chest or ass shoved in our face. 
 
 
For a nude or near nude males in comic books good luck finding males characters doing this

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
or this 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
how about this 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Now compare that to your lion clothed men
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Also I'm on a comic book site, the issues I talk about are going to be about comics. You wanna talk about sitcoms. Well yes I do find it  messed up when beautiful smart intelligent women end up with incompetent unattractive husbands and are always cleaning up the husbands messes
 
 
You can try to ingore or beat down the gender issues all you want, but it's not help when creators and people in the comic book industry have pointed out that there is in fact a gender issue comics.
Posted by Lokein.Lyesmith
@comicboy12 said:
"
 
Also I'm on a comic book site, the issues I talk about are going to be about comics. You wanna talk about sitcoms. Well yes I do find it  messed up when beautiful smart intelligent women end up with incompetent unattractive husbands and are always cleaning up the husbands messes.    You can try to ingore or beat down the gender issues all you want, but it's not help when crea tors and people in the comic book industry have pointed out that there is in fact a gender issue comics. "
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Namor: The First Mutant #1
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Earth-9997 Earth X
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Again. 90% of all the MALE costumes, are just naked men with color on. 
 
Also. Your opinion does not equal sexism. 
 
 
Wait, wait, wait. Superman never shoves his chest or ass in our face?
 
Watch this. Watch this. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Nope. Especially not Superman. He NEVER shoves his chest out towards the fans. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Here's a chest AND crotch shot, just for you.
 
 
Why is it that you find women in these poses degrading, but men not? 
 
 
Your opinion does not equal sexism. Men are objectified in comics too. Therefore, there is no discrimination. Again. We objectify EQUALLY. I'm sorry you can't see it.
Posted by MrDirector786

I agree with a lot of what this article says. Many times, it really doesn't seem that female costumes serve much purpose by revealing certain parts.

Edited by NeoMantis

I don't see what the big mystery is here. Comic characters are designed to be esthetically pleasing. As it happens, a lot of comic artists think that attractive people (surprise, surprise) are esthetically pleasing. Revealing clothing is (as in the real world) a way of accentuating this.
 
Do I sometimes wish that there was a more variety in the body types and physical characteristics depicted in comics? Do I wish more realism was injected into the designs? Yes. A lot actually. But I also realize why the designs look the way they do. It is part of the general esthetic of superhero comics.
 
Reading this article it would be easy to get the impression that female characters were the only ones with perfect sexualized physiques and revealing clothing. This i,s of course not true. The vast majority of male characters are have just as exaggerated proportions and while most do not sport the amount of skin that female characters do the skin-tight spandex rarely leaves much to the imagination in any case. I could point out male characters like Namor, Ka-Zar or pretty much any of the Hulk characters who regularly wear costumes showing way more skin than this but you get my point.
 
I'll agree that these type of sexualized depictions can be inappropriate but I resent the notion that some have expressed that they are misogynistic or sexist. Anyone who thinks differently should go look those words up. Depiction or appreciation of a sexually attractive female is not an indication of hatred or mistrust towards women. Nor is it a statement of female inferiority. If you want to criticize these costumes or body shapes, by all means go right ahead. But please use words that are actually relevant to the subject matter. Might I suggest "ridiculous"? That one I could agree on.

Posted by Shadowdoggy
@MrDirector786:
yeah, it's not so much the outfits, or the bodies  
if you look at the examples of females that comicboy12 showed- those women (who might not be less dressed then the men) are in sexual positions 
they look like they're having dirty thoughts while they save the day 
they stick out their asses and bare their cleave 
the dude are just as naked, and just as ridiclously stacked, but they are standing, posing and acting like heroes 
not pornstars
Posted by comicboy12
@Lokein.Lyesmith: If that's how you think then there's no point in arguing. Nudity has never a requirement for sexualazation. Just because a male or famale is nude says nothing about the 
sexualiztion  of both works. In all of the piece of art you post not one of them have a male character posing in a sexually submissive manner, nor are we suppose veiw them as sexual objects .
 
As for the superman ones. You're competely missing the point of those pictures. Superman isn't showing us his chest, he's showing his emblem, why else would all those pics have it showing in all it's glory. Compare that to Power Girl



 
Also I'm  not sure why you think objection of both genders is equality when both genders are objectified differentily 
Edited by Lokein.Lyesmith
@comicboy12 said:

 Also I'm  not sure why you think objection of both genders is equality when both genders are objectified differentily  "

You're missing that his emblem is on his chest. And the sexualization is all up to the reader. I don't think Namor looks like a hottie coming up out of the water, but I'm not a woman. My wife however, could just as easily wolf whistle and cat call at his near-naked and dripping wet self. If she got her jolly's off superman's chest, then it wouldn't matter if the emblem was there or not. The emblem is painted onto his chest. 
Edited by comicboy12
@Lokein.Lyesmith: Like I said if you're just going to devolve into personal insults then there's no point in arguing. I expciltly told you the differences between the pictures you're using and the ones I'm using. None of those males are posed or position in a sexually explicit manner. Heck you wanna talk about namor, compare that pic you posted to namora
 

Posted by Lokein.Lyesmith
@comicboy12: @comicboy12 said:
" @Lokein.Lyesmith: Like I said if you're just going to devolve into personal insults then there's no point in arguing. I expciltly told you the differences between the pictures you're using and the ones I'm using. None of those males are posed of position in a sexually explicit manner. Heck you wanna talk about namor compare that pic you posted to namora 
 
 
 
No insult was meant. You seem to be unable to see men as sexual. I think that's a problem. You're seeing the things you want to see, and completely dismissing the things you don't want to see. There's no use in arguing with someone who blinds themselves. I never once said that women weren't objectified. They are. But so are the men. There's no discrimination. It's equal. Therefore, it can't be sexism. Sexism is the sexual discrimination by objectifying. 
 
Yes. You're right. Women are objectified in comics.
 
So are men.
 
Therefore, no sexism. I did, however, give you examples of places there ARE sexism, outside of comics. Those would be a just cause for your argument.
Posted by comicboy12

Suggest that I need therapy and might have a disorder because I don't agree with your views isn't insulting? Well Whatever 
 
yes I actually can see the male body as sexual, it happens in boy love manga all the time, Marvel and DC not so much. In the examples you post none of the males are potioned posed in sexual manner. Standing there half or near nude isn't necessary sexually explicit. It's what the body is doing that matters for example 
 
this is a nude sexualized male character 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
this is NOT a nude sexualized male character  
 
Posted by Lokein.Lyesmith
@comicboy12 said:

" @Lokein.Lyesmith: If that's how you think then there's no point in arguing. Nudity has never a requirement for sexualazation. Just because a male or famale is nude says nothing about the 
sexualiztion  of both works. In all of the piece of art you post not one of them have a male character posing in a sexually submissive manner, nor are we suppose veiw them as sexual objects .

 The more I think about this, the more I disagree. Your argument is that men aren't objectified, because they aren't posed in a sexually submissive manner.  YOU don't view them as sexual objects. But sexually submissive is not the role of an average male in normal society, in regards to sex. Just because they're not being portrayed submissively, doesn't mean they're not being objectified. 
 
It seems your issue isn't sexism, isn't discrimination, or the objectification of women, but they're perceived roles in terms of sexual portrayals. You're arguing a different argument. If you want to talk about women's roles in sex, and what's considered the "proper role" of a woman in comics or society in general, we can do that. I'll even agree. Women are often seen unfairly as submissive and we are supposed to see them as more sexually explicit than men, both in women and in the world at large. Men aren't allowed to be submissive or sexually explicit. That's wrong. But again, that has nothing to do with sexual discrimination in comic books. Both sexes are objectified equally, as per their perceived roles.
Posted by Lustwish

This topic rules!  I love chicks in comics, I love my Power Girl too. hmmmmmm . 

Posted by Silver Knight75

I agree that artists do at times go a little overboard with revealing clothing on superheroines. 

Edited by doordoor123

 

@mothore:

 

@Kid_Zombie

said:

" @doordoor123 said:

 Nowadays very few people wear such revealing clothing. Unless of course they are sluts or models. "

Highly disagree, Women wear way more reveling clothing then ever before. You obviously never been to Toronto, La, or new york on a hot summers day ha ha especilly since thoughs short shorts are so in right now.  Its crazy these days what women where ha I'm not complaining but its true.  Anyways back to the aticle, SEX SELLS. They draw women unpossibly hot, but they draw men that way also. Is the uniforms for sex appeal then funcion, of course. But you do get a few women in comics with good costumes, Mockingbirds new costume is sweet really like hers.  I like in comics when the make fun of the costumes, Like when Ulra Girl has Ms.marvels old costume she has to keep picking out the wedgie ha ha "
i actually live in LA, i lived in New York and im moving to Chicago in two months. I completely disagree with YOU. Not very many women these days wear revealing clothing because they arent concerned about showing off too much. Ive dated a fashion major for five months and my mother has worked in the industry since she was 18, so i know that these days women are more concerned about having clothes that help give notice their best features. Which can be boobs and butt, but they no one reveals too much anymore unless its a date or something fancy. UNLESS like i said they are party people/sluts (same thing) or models. If not then they probably built a time machine from the early 90's and came here or could possibly be aliens. Remember the early 90's was when girls wore thongs as part of their bathing suits. Sorry for all the mess ups i have dyslexia.
Posted by ForbushBug
@comicboy12 said:

"In all of the piece of art you post not one of them have a male character posing in a sexually submissive manner, nor are we suppose veiw them as sexual objects . "

 I find it rather sexist to think that a woman in a sexual pose is sexually submissive. I've known plenty of women comfortable with their bodies and sexuality that are definitely not submissive. I don't find PowerGirls ortheMarvel Divas to be looking submissive. 
Posted by Green Skin
@pixelized said:
" @Green Skin said:
" I think people take stuff like this way to seriously.  Comics are flights of fantasy where practicality doesn't play a role. If they started making costumes practical 99% of them would have to be changed.  "
Going by what you said then supers shouldn't have any realism that we feel in everyday life. But seeing as how they do, it's not uncommon to find people that want their heroes in appropriate work attire. "
Nonsense! I never said realism shouldn't be in comics.  My point is that it shouldn't be expected.  Costumes are all about appealing to the reader and since most of the readers are men, it makes sense that women are depicted the way that they are.  When it comes down to it, if a costume sticks it's because the fans like it.  Look at how many times someone gets a new costume and then goes back to the old costume after the fan backlash. People like to complain that artists and publishers are objectifying women, but it really lies with the readers.  Some folks want more realistic costumes but they are by far the minority. Form over function has always been the clear winner, and always will be.
Posted by Onyx

Wow...this topic went of the rails a bit... 
To me I think it is a case of bad costume design as opposed to disrespect to females in comics.  
I do feel if the costume fits the character the right way ( no pun intended thank you) then we would not be having these conversations as much as we do. 
 
I think once we get away from what the characters roots are what they would wear, thats where the problem develops. 
 
Take Marvel's Black Cat and Black WIdow..Both characters wear black one piece suits. A cat burgalar and a spy. These are both sexy and simple outfits. Artist might jazz it up with the zipper being open in the suit, or they may or may not be seen in high heels, but these still are appropriate suits for these characters 
 
No caps, shoulder pads or unnessary straps or pockets to be found and I think as a result there look is not tinkered with to much. 
White Queen, Red Sonja, Storm and Starfire are some female characters that come to mind that wear less then most, but still seem to be on the "OK"  list 
 
Huntress's suit is not terrible...I like the color scheme, cape and mask is a keeper. I can see the need for the pockets and belts coming from the Bat-family of crime fighting. I certainly like her current look over her past uniforms 100%  However the exposed belly just seems not to make much sense.  
 
So I believe that showing skin is not a bad thing with female comic characters, just showing skin for the wrong reason is where I have the problem 
The one character that comes to mind that gets a free pass for a less then practical uniform is Wonder Woman 
a bathing suit and red high heeled boots does not speak powerful Amazon Princess to me 
but yet her look just seems to work... 
But when Sue Storm had the suit with the open 4 on her clevage we all flipped out 
but it works for Power Girl's chest 
 
Storm and Huntress kind of have the same design elements in their uniforms, but Storms to catch less flack 
 
And lastly... 
I thought this was odd as a comparison... 
Lady Martial artists in DC and Marvel 
 
the less suit the better it seems as Psylocke and Elektra seem to have the same tailor 
but Lady Shiva, and Chesire would be able to go toe to toe in a fight 
but they seem to have uniforms with multiple layers of clothing...I thought that was weird to me

Posted by Nova`Prime`
@comicboy12 said:
"
"
She actually looks dead in that picture. Maybe she got caught in the oil spill?
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