Are comic book women unrealistic?

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#1 Posted by nerd217 (80 posts) - - Show Bio

My less nerdy friends often refer to my comic books as "nerd porn" because of the unrealistic women. But are they really unrealistic and if so is it bad unrealistic or good unrealistic? I want the girls to answer 'cause we all know what us guys think!

#2 Posted by Ninja_girl_x (35 posts) - - Show Bio

Well...Emma is a bad example, but generally women are presented as strong and powerful - like we are in real life. The eye-candy is just to get more readers.

#3 Posted by ReVamp (22798 posts) - - Show Bio

So are Men, so there's not really a valid point.

#4 Posted by TheCannon (19430 posts) - - Show Bio

So what?

#5 Posted by SC (13365 posts) - - Show Bio

Your friends probably aren't referring specifically (semantics sort of) to the female characters realism, rather the emphasis on their sexuality, and if they are guys, that makes sense, because pixels, paper or flesh, most heterosexual males are going to focus a bit more on girls nice bits than guys nice bits. There isn't really and off and on switch with realism or one with "good realism" or "bad realism" I mean most people act differently in public than in private so that in itself is acting a bit inconsistent and a component of realism is consistency. So like others say - many male characters are as unrealistic/realistic as female characters (then again maybe their sexuality isn't as overstated)  

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#6 Posted by God_Spawn (38310 posts) - - Show Bio

Comic books aren't real in the first place so tell them to get over it.

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#7 Posted by KenTheProfile (402 posts) - - Show Bio

@nerd217:

no more then guys are. i mean how many guys do you know over 6 foot 2. with abs you can grate cheese on. beat the crap out of criminals and then have a normal life.

#8 Posted by jrock85 (2850 posts) - - Show Bio

Comics are inherently unrealistic.

#9 Posted by Mercy_ (91871 posts) - - Show Bio

Absolutely.

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#10 Posted by Billy Batson (58319 posts) - - Show Bio

Absolutely not.
BB

#11 Posted by RogueOracle (242 posts) - - Show Bio

Pretty much. I'm surprised they don't have back problems and aren't irritated by their wedgies.The guys have it bad too. They look like they're on steroids and it often looks way to unattractive. It looks really creepy.

#12 Posted by FadeToBlackBolt (23238 posts) - - Show Bio
@ReVamp said:

So are Men, so there's not really a valid point.

@god_spawn said:

Comic books aren't real in the first place so tell them to get over it.

^These two responses are correct. 
#13 Posted by Rogan2112 (595 posts) - - Show Bio

I'm a VERY heterosexual male, and I can't lie...a little part of me digs the stripper super hero/villain get ups and bodies that 95% of comic book women possess, yeah i know it's fantasy and males are rarely represented realistically either, but there IS a difference. The MEN are represented for their physical prowess attributes, large muscles, powerful builds and heights etc., but the WOMEN's physical attributes (mostly) all focus on their SEXUAL attributes. Sue me, but I think it sends a not so great message to young men, and furthers the already horrible message that society sends to young women some of whom already try to starve themselves, become bulemic, what have you. In the grand scheme of things, no, I don't think comic books are going to put much of a dent in the latter, becaus not a lot of young women read comics (percentage of population wise), but my experience is that many many MANY adult males (I hesitate to call these types men) think that a woman ISN'T a woman unless she looks a certain way, and that the guy is "settling" if the woman he's with doesn't look like a rail thin, big boobed model. FORTUNATELY, most (sadly not all) comic book readers tend to be more intelligent than these types of guys, but the whole thing in general (as a society) still bothers and worries me). Anyway, once again, that's my two cents take it for what it's worth.

oh...PS. Just as a former soldier....it's nothing but an annoying pet peeve of mine, the hand to hand, or gun toting combat type characters who run around in either spandex, negligee(hope I spelled that CLOSE to correctly), or stripper outfits, having NO kind of body armor, or other protection just drives me freaking NUTS. Example: Cable is covered chin to toe in armor and junk and Domino was always shown with a black leather(I think leather) body suit, with maybe some shoulder pads) I mean C'MON! Heh...again...just a pet peeve, it's comics, just bugs me is all :)

#14 Edited by nyx (114 posts) - - Show Bio

Comic books aren't realistic. Period. I mean, excluding the sci-fi/fantasy elements and focusing on the human element. Every character is beautiful, male and female. They all have perfect bodies with big muscles or large breast. How many athletes in any Olympic event look like Arnold back in his glory days? Because that's basically how every superhero would look in real life with the dimensions they're drawn with. They aren't trim, they aren't fit; they have $^&@ing HUGE muscles. And women, as we are all aware, have absurdly large breast and even more absurdly small/reveling costumes, perfect hair, perfect features. Honestly, were's the realism in a onesy with long, flowing hair? No protection and hair would be a massive hazard. So would large boobs hanging out of a tube top. Beautiful people doing impossible things, looks fabulous the entire time. So of course it's porn. The only true divergence from porn is the story and characterization. What makes this impossibly perfect world of people accepted by readers is the characterization. Emma Frost may look like a slut. And does it make any sense that the men of the Hellfire Club wore 18th century suits and the women ran around in lingerie with whips and thigh high boots? HEEEEEELL NO! But her character is far more complex, which makes it 'forgivable' for the more discriminating reader, interested in more than make believe T&A.

#15 Posted by Blood1991 (8082 posts) - - Show Bio

Comic books are rather sexist period IMO and its worse now than when I was growing up hell I used to see Storm, Rouge and Wonder Woman Barbies plus tons of action figures of female characters. Women were portrayed stronger in the 90's period acctually. As for costumes yes they show skin and look pysically perfect, but so do most male characters. Emma may look less than conservative, but Namor until recently wore nothing but a speedo.

#16 Posted by KainScion (2969 posts) - - Show Bio

@nerd217: how dare he? of course they are realistic!! i just saw a 7 foot green lady bench press a truck. silly friend

#17 Posted by Crimsonlord53 (1361 posts) - - Show Bio

Just a little when most of the female super heros are all in the model height range 5,8 to 5,10 and are drawn to look perfect.

Lets she a female super hero who stand 5,4 and who's not a wolverine clone or a teenager then see how well that book sells.

#18 Posted by Mercy_ (91871 posts) - - Show Bio
@Rogan2112 Agree with everything you said. Well put.
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#19 Edited by ZEELLO (223 posts) - - Show Bio

I am new to comics (and it's yet to be seen whether my interest will last) but the nicely drawn female characters are one of the biggest hooks as far as I'm concerned.

#20 Posted by BatWatch (3036 posts) - - Show Bio

If the girls in comics tried to run around the rooftops and beatup thugs, they would probably be beaten to death by their own boobs in the process.

I don't know many girls who fantasize about being heroes. Typically, girls fantasize about being damsels in distress and being rescued by the knight in shining armor. I suspect that ratio of women with super powers who would actually use those powers as superheroes is probably about the same ration as women who want to be street cops.

#21 Posted by tomchu (522 posts) - - Show Bio

I would say that comic books are drawn to make every character look perfectly yet be flawed in some other way. Is that the case or does that apply just apply to the X-Men? (Ie, Cyclops' power, Storm's Claustrophobia, Jean's Surprisingly Weird Fetish for Death)

If comics were realistic, what would be the point to reading them? It would be like reading a drama novel with a bunch of pretty pictures, where each character constantly whines about their problems. Seems a bit bleak if you ask me without all the super cool effects of each character's powers.

In the 90s, there was a title, Generation X, that had characters who were written to be a bunch of mutants that were un-aesthetically pleasing, but that was one book and I have no seen another title that embraces to concept of being ugly.

#22 Posted by TheGreyOutcastX (2051 posts) - - Show Bio

@Rogan2112 said:

I'm a VERY heterosexual male, and I can't lie...a little part of me digs the stripper super hero/villain get ups and bodies that 95% of comic book women possess, yeah i know it's fantasy and males are rarely represented realistically either, but there IS a difference. The MEN are represented for their physical prowess attributes, large muscles, powerful builds and heights etc., but the WOMEN's physical attributes (mostly) all focus on their SEXUAL attributes. Sue me, but I think it sends a not so great message to young men, and furthers the already horrible message that society sends to young women some of whom already try to starve themselves, become bulemic, what have you. In the grand scheme of things, no, I don't think comic books are going to put much of a dent in the latter, becaus not a lot of young women read comics (percentage of population wise), but my experience is that many many MANY adult males (I hesitate to call these types men) think that a woman ISN'T a woman unless she looks a certain way, and that the guy is "settling" if the woman he's with doesn't look like a rail thin, big boobed model. FORTUNATELY, most (sadly not all) comic book readers tend to be more intelligent than these types of guys, but the whole thing in general (as a society) still bothers and worries me). Anyway, once again, that's my two cents take it for what it's worth.

oh...PS. Just as a former soldier....it's nothing but an annoying pet peeve of mine, the hand to hand, or gun toting combat type characters who run around in either spandex, negligee(hope I spelled that CLOSE to correctly), or stripper outfits, having NO kind of body armor, or other protection just drives me freaking NUTS. Example: Cable is covered chin to toe in armor and junk and Domino was always shown with a black leather(I think leather) body suit, with maybe some shoulder pads) I mean C'MON! Heh...again...just a pet peeve, it's comics, just bugs me is all :)

Agree with you on both parts.

Hell that second part is one reason I complain about Nate Grey's look now. He's got no power to stop bullets. So why hasn't Dani or even Doug yelled at him about wearing protective gear? The New Mutants know what a bullet can do, you'd think they would have learned.

#23 Posted by sinestro_GL (3322 posts) - - Show Bio

In thee world of comics, there are men flying around, and beings capable of time travel and regenerative abilities...yet your friends only pick up on the physical appearance of the women?

#24 Edited by ApatheticAvenger (1594 posts) - - Show Bio

They're supposed to be unrealistic, both men and woman, it's comic books. They're not real. Batman should be eighty years old by now and Cyclops' optic blasts defy the laws of physics (as do Emma Frost's glorious breast implants), but people complain about the women not being "real" enough?

The closest thing there is to a "realistic" acting female is Kitty Pryde, which is part of her tremendous appeal, but even she has aspects that make her too good to be true (such as being a child prodigy).

#25 Posted by joshmightbe (24720 posts) - - Show Bio

Yes but so are Movie stars and models who are covered with enough make up to almost be considered colored in characters

#26 Posted by ApatheticAvenger (1594 posts) - - Show Bio

Emma is probably more realistic than most comic book women, as she freely admits to using her wealth to obtain the "best body money can buy". She should look like a super model, because that's what she's made herself into. It actually fits the character.

#27 Posted by Supreme Marvel (11270 posts) - - Show Bio

No. I was talking to Wonder Woman the other day about this and she for the life of her didn't understand why people think this.

#28 Posted by God_Spawn (38310 posts) - - Show Bio

@ApatheticAvenger said:

Emma is probably more realistic than most comic book women, as she freely admits to using her wealth to obtain the "best body money can buy". She should look like a super model, because that's what she's made herself into. It actually fits the character.

Pretty much. And Emma is a bad example of him even asking this since it's been the character's motif since she was even conceived.

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#29 Posted by entropy_aegis (15439 posts) - - Show Bio

You'll often find real women (and men) to be much more unrealistic.

#30 Posted by BlackArmor (6138 posts) - - Show Bio

@ReVamp said:

So are Men, so there's not really a valid point.

QFT

#31 Posted by Joygirl (19952 posts) - - Show Bio

Yes they are, suspiciously similarly to... comic book men.

#32 Posted by Hazlenaut (1935 posts) - - Show Bio

All talk aboout super sexy how the other unrealistic one like Cologne from Ranma. Do not give me the excuse that it is manga, they can be just as or even more shallow than us.

Unrelistic super models are fine but i feel a varity will help different. That why I like Peacock from Skull Girls. In fact look at their short list of characters and see how much variety they have.

#33 Posted by sesquipedalophobe (4765 posts) - - Show Bio

None of the comic women return my calls, so yes they're completely unrealistic.

#34 Posted by Obtrusive (1656 posts) - - Show Bio

not just women, everyone.

#35 Posted by joshmightbe (24720 posts) - - Show Bio

Comics are for the most part fantasy fulfillment and lets be honest no one fantasizes that they look like normal people. We'd all prefer to think we are ruggedly handsome dudes who can get strong intelligent women who also happen to look like super models. Not one time have I ever heard anyone say "I wish I was chubby and bald and date a plain looking woman with low self esteem."

#36 Posted by moywar700 (2775 posts) - - Show Bio

you should had just said "that you're just generalizing". There's no need to write an essay to your friends

#37 Posted by jrock85 (2850 posts) - - Show Bio

These characters can bench press freight trains, fly, move at the speed of light, and shoot lasers from their eyes.

But people complain about them having huge boobs? O_o

#38 Posted by x_29 (2274 posts) - - Show Bio

They have super powers

#39 Posted by MyraMyraMyra (296 posts) - - Show Bio

Comic book babes are almost always sizzlin' hot lingerie model types with unrealistically massive knockers - but then again, the typical comic book hero has the body of a sexy & muscular demigod, so I wouldn't say that the question of realistic bodies concerns female characters only. In general, members of both genders tend to be physically idealized in the world of mainstream comics.

Personally, I don't really mind the idealized bodies, even though I definitely would prefer if the range of comic book body types had more variety. Yes, it's fan service, but I don't think that a little fan service here and there ever hurt anyone. I like pictures of sexy female and male characters as much as anyone else does. Also, mainstream comic books have a lot to do with fantasy and escapism, which is why readers respond to sexy heroes and heroines of their own gender, too. A lot of readers enjoy the wishful thinking aspect of identifying with characters who represent something they aspire to be, and I believe most people do wish to be fit and good-looking. It's fantasy, and as long as people understand the difference between fantasy and real life, it's fine by me.

However, I wouldn't say that both genders get equal treatment here. A vast majority of comic book characters may be sexy regardless of their gender, but at least male characters have a little more diversity when it comes to physique than female characters do. You've got your buff and big characters, the tall and lean characters, the short and skinny characters - even grotesque and beastly characters like Hulk, Beast, and Thing, who aren't supposed to be handsome in the traditional sense. Female characters only have one body type (busty, sexy, thin), with only some variety when it comes to height. I really can't think of a prominent female comic book heroine as grotesque as a character like Hulk. Even She-Hulk looks like a fitness model.

There's this game in the official Marvel website where you can compose your own superhero out of a selection of clothing items, facial features, skin colours and hair types provided. If you want your superhero to be male, you can choose out of two body types - fit and proportionate, or the mega-muscular Hulk-type - but there's only one body type available for female characters, which is of course the traditional lean & chesty type. I think this speaks volumes about the main difference between the way female and male bodies are portrayed in this particular genre: both are idealized or exaggarated, but at least male characters aren't required to be sexy by default.

Bringing this all back to Emma Frost, the poster child of the hypersexualized comic book babe, I have to say that I am not and never have been the slightest bit disturbed by Emma Frost's gravity-defying physique, or her permanent state of undress. Why? Because it's contextualized. It's justified. It reflects who she is as a character - a manipulative, sexualle aggressive, dominant, icy femme fatale who is always ready to get her goods on display to get the attention and sexual authority she needs. Even her gigantic bangers make sense because it's been established that she's undergone plastic surgery - and that she's the type of person who would indeed go for plastic surgery. And either way, it doesn't matter what she looks like, because she's an interesting character, who - at least at some point - has been written as a driven, independent, well-developed character who is as "realistic" as mutant comic book characters get.

I'm only disturbed by the way she looks when she's drawn wearing something ugly and tasteless. Like the hipster panties she's been wearing in Uncanny X-Men recently - what's up with those? They make her look like a cheap go-go dancer, even though everyone knows the look she's going for is supposed to be "high-class prostitute". Honestly, now.

#40 Posted by Mercy_ (91871 posts) - - Show Bio

@MyraMyraMyra said:

Comic book babes are almost always sizzlin' hot lingerie model types with unrealistically massive knockers - but then again, the typical comic book hero has the body of a sexy & muscular demigod, so I wouldn't say that the question of realistic bodies concerns female characters only. In general, members of both genders tend to be physically idealized in the world of mainstream comics.

Personally, I don't really mind the idealized bodies, even though I definitely would prefer if the range of comic book body types had more variety. Yes, it's fan service, but I don't think that a little fan service here and there ever hurt anyone. I like pictures of sexy female and male characters as much as anyone else does. Also, mainstream comic books have a lot to do with fantasy and escapism, which is why readers respond to sexy heroes and heroines of their own gender, too. A lot of readers enjoy the wishful thinking aspect of identifying with characters who represent something they aspire to be, and I believe most people do wish to be fit and good-looking. It's fantasy, and as long as people understand the difference between fantasy and real life, it's fine by me.

However, I wouldn't say that both genders get equal treatment here. A vast majority of comic book characters may be sexy regardless of their gender, but at least male characters have a little more diversity when it comes to physique than female characters do. You've got your buff and big characters, the tall and lean characters, the short and skinny characters - even grotesque and beastly characters like Hulk, Beast, and Thing, who aren't supposed to be handsome in the traditional sense. Female characters only have one body type (busty, sexy, thin), with only some variety when it comes to height. I really can't think of a prominent female comic book heroine as grotesque as a character like Hulk. Even She-Hulk looks like a fitness model.

There's this game in the official Marvel website where you can compose your own superhero out of a selection of clothing items, facial features, skin colours and hair types provided. If you want your superhero to be male, you can choose out of two body types - fit and proportionate, or the mega-muscular Hulk-type - but there's only one body type available for female characters, which is of course the traditional lean & chesty type. I think this speaks volumes about the main difference between the way female and male bodies are portrayed in this particular genre: both are idealized or exaggarated, but at least male characters aren't required to be sexy by default.

Bringing this all back to Emma Frost, the poster child of the hypersexualized comic book babe, I have to say that I am not and never have been the slightest bit disturbed by Emma Frost's gravity-defying physique, or her permanent state of undress. Why? Because it's contextualized. It's justified. It reflects who she is as a character - a manipulative, sexualle aggressive, dominant, icy femme fatale who is always ready to get her goods on display to get the attention and sexual authority she needs. Even her gigantic bangers make sense because it's been established that she's undergone plastic surgery - and that she's the type of person who would indeed go for plastic surgery. And either way, it doesn't matter what she looks like, because she's an interesting character, who - at least at some point - has been written as a driven, independent, well-developed character who is as "realistic" as mutant comic book characters get.

I'm only disturbed by the way she looks when she's drawn wearing something ugly and tasteless. Like the hipster panties she's been wearing in Uncanny X-Men recently - what's up with those? They make her look like a cheap go-go dancer, even though everyone knows the look she's going for is supposed to be "high-class prostitute". Honestly, now.

Everything I've wanted to say on the matter, articulated and elaborated upon better than I could ever hope to.

Moderator
#41 Posted by The Stegman (26005 posts) - - Show Bio

So are Men, so there's not really a valid point.

This 
 

  So what? 


And this 
  

Comics are inherently unrealistic.  


And lightly salted with one of these.
#42 Posted by fodigg (6136 posts) - - Show Bio

Just noticed this thread. Yes, the women of comics are often (could even say usually) unrealistic. But so are the men, because comics are speculative fiction at heart. I don't think it's fair to bash escapist fiction for having unrealistic females (or males).

However, there is also a trend where many female characters comic book are portrayed in exploitative ways, or as inescapably inferior/subservient to their male counterparts. This negative trend is often a consequence of the "male gaze" or the idea that comics are predominantly male entertainment. While of course there can and should be room for cheesecake female characters, the fact that this trend is so inflated should probably be addressed to make the industry more inclusive and better for everyone. (I'm assuming that more variety in female archetypes is better for everyone, but I think it's a safe assumption most would prefer this to the monotony of repeated stereotypes.)

When evaluating these things, context is paramount. Not every sexy, scantily clad female character is an exploitative character. The first few issues of the relaunched Voodoo, a book that starred a stripper-alien, was incredibly rounded and well-written. Compare that to the trashy and simple Catwoman or the early portrayals of the revamped Starfire in Red Hood & the Outlaws.

#43 Posted by PowerHerc (85335 posts) - - Show Bio

By definition a lot comic characters (both male and female) are unrealistic, hence "superheroes."

#44 Posted by Katie24 (488 posts) - - Show Bio

The fact that women appear unrealistic doesn't bug me as much as the complete lack of variety. Seriously, whats wrong with short women or small (or even average sized) breasts? Same with the men why do they all have to look so bulky? Nothing wrong with a thin guy or a barrel-chested guy. I do have to admit that the skimpy out fits that a lot of the female superheroes wear bug the snot out of me and I really hate how some artists pose them so sexually at the most inappropriate times (like in the middle of a fight).

#45 Edited by Rumble Man (11073 posts) - - Show Bio

@nerd217 said:

My less nerdy friends often refer to my comic books as "nerd porn" because of the unrealistic women. But are they really unrealistic and if so is it bad unrealistic or good unrealistic? I want the girls to answer 'cause we all know what us guys think!

No , have you friends check female models before?

http://www.comicvine.com/forums/off-topic/5/the-cutehotsexyattractive-women-fc/603743/?

most anatomy designs are based on those (except liefeld, dat liefeld)

@PowerHerc said:

By definition a lot comic characters (both male and female) are unrealistic, hence "superheroes."

agreed, they are made to emulate what people want to be with or look like

#46 Posted by thespideyguy (2650 posts) - - Show Bio

Just go on a  big rant they'll loose  interest and walk away

#47 Posted by acer51 (2248 posts) - - Show Bio

Hmmm. Unrealistic.

If they mean unrealisticly attractive I'd say kind of, but no one whos fighting supervillans all the time is going to be fat. It's people like Powergirl who are unrealistic superheros, obviously shes an exadgerated character.

But how they gain there powers is unrealistic but not more so then how men get powers.

I'd say the only thing too unrealistic would be the Powergirl example.

Other then that I'd say it's on par.

#48 Posted by acer51 (2248 posts) - - Show Bio

I like female Superheros, but I don't like the tomboy archtypes where the Women are bulky as the Hulk.

I perfer female heros like Invisable woman, Scarlet witch, and Storm. These in my oppinion are respectable female heroines, not only because they have good powers, but because they act like women and don't try to imitate men.

#49 Posted by Rumble Man (11073 posts) - - Show Bio

@nerd217 said:

My less nerdy friends often refer to my comic books as "nerd porn" because of the unrealistic women. But are they really unrealistic and if so is it bad unrealistic or good unrealistic? I want the girls to answer 'cause we all know what us guys think!

Tell them to look at glamor models then kick them in the nuts

#50 Posted by x_29 (2274 posts) - - Show Bio

In a lot of cases yes, though not all. I think the biggest issue is the boys only vibe in comic stores and its marketing. Even when female characters have been written well and are indeed kick ass characters, most have far too often sported unrealistic, semi-pornographic uniforms. As much as you try to defend Power girl, she will forever be known for having huge breasts and her costume will be deemed sexist and non-practical by a certain group of women. In Red Hood, Starfire strikes a Playboy-like pose, bursting out of her purple bikini as she propositions Red Hood. And Voodoo, a shape-shifting half-alien hybrid, spends half of her first issue stripping. Secondly, the reason why most comic book women seem unrealistic is because they are designed for boys, marketed towards boys, and a great majority who read about them are boys. Boys like boobs, butts, sex, whores and etc. If you do not give them what they want or try something different that can appeal to female or even men who have matured as readers and are willing for change in appearances, you risk alienating your core audience and possibly see a decline in sales. So in order to prevent that, you need to appeal to your core demographic by giving them either what they want, or what the writers think they want.

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