Friday, January 05, 2007

Must Restrain Myself From Talking About Racks!


Power Girl
Originally uploaded by Heidi Meeley.

It's been a long day and I am sitting here yawning. I should do the right thing and collapse on the couch. I just can't do it without saying a few things.

Boobs. Females have them. Most guys like to look at them. They are a practical piece of anatomy that has become a fantasy of sorts. Sometimes artists draw them very large on female comic book characters.

Is that going to make me quit reading comics? Nope. Why should it? I can choose to read what I want and spend my dollars the way I desire to.

Besides, have you seen the way the male characters are drawn? Perfect physiques and high and tight fabulous packages. Not a small one in the bunch. Yippee! Why do male readers not complain about that? Do you spend your dollars trying to avoid men in skintight spandex?

Food for thought.

18 comments:

Carl said...

That's why my favorite characters mostly wear long coats, wrap-around capes or dusters...

Elayne said...

Must restrain myself from pointing out the double-standard difference between the way male characters are exaggerated (to emphasize active strength) and the way female characters are exaggerated (to emphasize passive sexual characteristics)... oops, too late...

(Packages? Where? What books have you been reading? Most maintream super-book artists draw them as dickless wonders.)

Paul McCall said...

"Sometimes artists draw them very large on female comic book characters."
Sometimes? More like 99.9% of the time! It's like swearing in a Tarantino film - after awhile you cease to notice it.

Heidi Meeley said...

Carl, I appreciate that!

Heidi Meeley said...

Elayne- You make an interesting point. It makes me wonder how male fans feel about their sex being portrayed as relatively sexless in some books.

As for packages, the best example I can give right off the top of my head is The Ultimates. Captain America is blessed to say the least. Also in JSA, Mr Terrific usually gets the VIP treatment. I will try and find a few examples to scan and show.

What boggles me is that there are artists that try and be very fair in portraying size and scale on an idealized female character and they are still thrown in with the rest.

Your reply has given me an interesting idea for a future post so I really appreciate your candor. Thank you Elayne.

Heidi Meeley said...

Paul- Evidently I am pretty desensitized then as well. Growing up and reading comics, never once did I focus on how big the character's boobs were. To this day, unless it is blatant, it doesn't register with me. It wasn't until the advent of "bad girl" comics that it ever seemed like an issue.

Opening up an issue of Justice League of America and seeing Dick Dillin's portrayal of Wonder Woman, Black Canary, and Hawkgirl, I would be delighted at the beauty and strength of the characters. Why am I made to feel dirty now if I simply want to do the same on a current issue?

Biggie said...

I can elayne's point, but I think the physical exaggeration has more to do with presenting the idealized physical form for both males and females. Guys with big muscles are considered attractive, as are women with small waists and big breasts. That may have the effect of emphazing physical strength in males, but I don't think that's really the point behind drawing them that way. I know Wonder Woman is plenty strong without her physique representing that. I personally think it would look kind of funny to have Diana drawn with the same muscle mass as Superman.

Merle Whitefire said...

Except you know that penis size is a myth, right?

And also, it's been stated BY THE CREATORS that the male heroes are people they'd want to be, and the females are people they'd want to date (Read: Sleep with) which AUTOMATICALLY puts men into the power status and women into the sex status.

And BTW< most of the superheroes in comics would be reviled as disgusting by the female population because they're so freakishly ripped. There's a reason Orlando Bloom has fangirls and Ahnold doesn't.

Tamora Pierce said...

And of course there's no differentiation between the way that so many female heroes and villains are drawn as popping out of their costumes (as per your introductory picture) and most male heroes are drawn as popping out . . . oh, wait. They aren't.

Heidi Meeley said...

Well Hell, I go to work and look what happens.

Yikes.

I really don't want to have a fight on my hands so let me say a few words.

Friday when I got home from work I read two different blogs that pointed out and complained about how the Huntress was rendered by Joe Staton back in the day. The lovely Dorian at postmodernbarney used several examples of Helena Wayne sitting around with her robe opened in the front. I don't know how much was sarcasm and how much was serious, but it really irritated me. If you look at the Huntress trade in it's entirety, you will notice that she is clothed in several outfits that have turtle necks. As a partner in a law firm she dresses in an old school conservative way. To me it was ridiculous to pick on.

Another observation is that when any male artist draws Power Girl, there is a great deal of complain about her breasts. When the very talented Amanda Conner does it, the breasts pass muster. She doesn't draw them any smaller so what is the deal?

If you were to read more posts on my blog, I showed an example of a male rendered "true to life". Cap on the cover of The Ultimates is packing some major heat. What I wanted to know is how come it doesn't ever seem to bother men. I have gotten the feedback that men have the upper hand in this department so to speak.

What I did not seek to do is to make the wonderful people who wander over here from When Fangirls Attack alienated. Regular visitors to my blog know that I am very fair minded and also are aware that I know the score. If you look a few entries further, you will notice that I wasn't thrilled with the portrayal of Hawkgirl's goods on the cover of issue #56 of her own series.

That is the thing about having a blog. It is a public site. People don't have to agree with what I say or even like me, but I would appreciate that they take a bit of time to look at more then one post before drawing a conclusion about where my head is at 24/7.

Thank you for your comments.

Tamora Pierce said...

Heidi, I did look at your posts about Captain America and Hawkgirl, and other posts you've made--I just didn't comment. The fact is, as Elayne points out, the majority of male characters are drawn with little bulge in their pants, and I ought to know, because I look. Cap is still fully covered, and Huntress wasn't. In the new Green Arrow/Star Sapphire cover, GA is covered; Star Sapphire is glued into her costume. Emma Frost holds her gear on with telekinesis; Cyclops is clothed.

I don't always have something to say, so I speak only when I do. But just because I didn't post elsewhere doesn't mean I didn't read.

Heidi Meeley said...

Tamora, thank you for clarifying that. I don't have a problem with disagreeing on the semantics based on the posts as a whole.

As for the Green Lantern cover, it turned me off as well. I felt that my fellow bloggers, including Ragnell and Loren, covered that well. I didn't think jumping on that particular bandwagon would enhance anything.

I disagree about the portayal of Huntress by Joe Staton back in the day. I didn't find it offensive. The Star Sapphire/GL cover, on the other hand, was enough to make me drop the book.

It is all about personal preference. I check out the male costumes as well, and as much as I abhor Bryan Hitch's lateness as an artist, I enjoy his portrayal of Captain America in The Ultimates.

At any rate, thanks for clarifying. I appreciate it.

James Meeley said...

Heidi, I did look at your posts about Captain America and Hawkgirl, and other posts you've made--I just didn't comment.

Then, perhaps, in the future, when you want to get into an issue someone raises, you should address the whole issue, not merely the part you want to. Picking and choosing what parts of an issue you want to use, to make yourself look "right" (or someone else look "wrong"), is really a very discourteous and dishonest way to debate an issue.

The fact is, as Elayne points out, the majority of male characters are drawn with little bulge in their pants, and I ought to know, because I look. Cap is still fully covered, and Huntress wasn't.

And, as Heidi shown, sometimes the male characters are shown with substansive bulges.

As for Cap being covered, we also have Robin (Dick Grayson) who ran around in what was little more than speedos well into his adulthood, as did Aqualad. We have Hawkman who's costume has him running around half naked at all times, as well. So, it does happen that male character are sexualized.

Now, if you want to play the semanictal game of "it happens to women a lot more", well, on that, I have to say you are right, it DOES happen more often to female characters. But the argument that it ONLY happens to female characters is false and that is the premise Heidi was working on.

Her question was why don't men get upset about it happening to male characters, like women do when it happens to female ones? Funny thing, but I don't think anyone ever tried to answer that question, which was the point of the entry.

I don't always have something to say, so I speak only when I do. But just because I didn't post elsewhere doesn't mean I didn't read.

Well, when it's an important part to the issue or point in discussion, it certainly doesn't behove one to ignore it, simply because it doesn't work with the point one wants to make.

Here was the original point to the entry: "Why do male readers not complain about [male characters being sexualized]? Do you spend your dollars trying to avoid men in skintight spandex?"

Your previous reply, as well as this one, doesn't even attempt to answer that. Neither did pretty much anyone else who replied to the entry. Perhaps in the zeal to "defend women" you missed what the whole point to this entry was.

Perhaps all this can be seen as a great example of why it's better to simply not reply to a topic, rather then post a knee-jerk reaction in haste. Is it any wonder so few people in positions of authority, to effect changes within the comics, fail take bloggers and internet pundits seriously? Given the way this entry has shown, it shouldn't be.

Tamora Pierce said...

James--I didn't address it because I'm not a man, and that particular question was directed at men. I felt Heidi was saying the inequity was not so great an issue based on male exaggerated physiques versus female ones, so I pointed out that females are often portrayed as popping out of their clothes, where the majority of male characters, your examples aside, are not.

I was responding to this entry, not to the entries as a whole. I wasn't aware there was a requirement to respond to the set or not at all.

Yes, I would like to see more realistic bodies on everyone, male and female. Do I think it will be any easier to get comic artists to draw more realistic men than it is so far to get them to draw realistic women? No. Their reasons will be different, but they are as emotionally bound to these super-idealised men as they are to the women. I'm going to focus on the women because it makes me queasy to see these half-naked icons spread for the delectation of fanboys who turn the pages of one hand. It makes me wonder how many of them look at all of us as if they feel we should be half-clothed, sultry, and ready to splay our legs like Hawkgirl or Huntress, ready for the game to go to the next level. It makes me feel like all women are seen by these artists and fans as sex toys.

Calling me dishonest and discourteous hardly contributes to a fair discussion. Suggesting that I respond only in the way that you think is proper or not at all in order to get the respect of comics publishers suggests to me that you prefer that I please you rather than state my honest opinion. You may have gathered I'm not really interested in pleasing you, only in trying to get some equity here. Heidi kindly gave me the opportunity and a listening ear.

James Meeley said...

Ms. Pierce:

I felt Heidi was saying the inequity was not so great an issue based on male exaggerated physiques versus female ones, so I pointed out that females are often portrayed as popping out of their clothes, where the majority of male characters, your examples aside, are not.

What Heidi was saying (and being her husband, I think it's safe to say I probably understand her thoughts more than most any other could) is why don't men have the same "rightous fury" when male character are sexualized, the same way (it seems) so many women do with female characters? Because, as noted, it does happen to male characters, too (although not as often as it does female ones).

She wanted to get some thoughts from folks (both men and women) on why it is like that. Why men don't have the same feelings seeing their gender sexualized. While you might be a woman, I still think you might have a theory or idea on why that is. Yet, no one seemed to give any. Pretty much everyone missed the whole point and turned it into another tired complaint about how female characters are drawn physically.

I don't think Heidi would have minded a differing opinion on the question she raised. But I think she did want it to be ABOUT the question she asked, not just seeing her post as fodder for "more of the same" type of debate which others have already covered. If one wants to debate an issue, shouldn't it be the issue raised that gets debated? That certainly wasn't the case here.

I was responding to this entry, not to the entries as a whole. I wasn't aware there was a requirement to respond to the set or not at all.

But you didn't really respond to it. You even stated that yourself just now (i.e. "because you aren't a man").

You didn't respond to the entry. You responded to what you wanted to talk about. That's vastly different.

I'm going to focus on the women because it makes me queasy to see these half-naked icons spread for the delectation of fanboys who turn the pages of one hand. It makes me wonder how many of them look at all of us as if they feel we should be half-clothed, sultry, and ready to splay our legs like Hawkgirl or Huntress, ready for the game to go to the next level.

That's perfectly fine. If that's what you wish to focus on, that is your perogative. But that wasn't what the focus of THIS entry was about. And I think there is a great disservice done to a blog (and blogger), when those who wish to respond, don't want to focus on the point/discussion the blogger makes, but one they want to make. That is certainly what has happened here.

And while I do think you make a valid point concerning the the portrayal of female characters, I don't think as many "fanboys" are reading one-handed as you think. There are certainly some, but they hardly represent the majority of male readers. Most, in my experiences, want good stories and characters they can care about. If they want "porn", there's plenty of REAL women who can supply that for them. So, I doubt that the pre-Crisis Huntress and her costume will be doing very much to arouse male libidos, given what the billion dollar porn industry churns out in a year. I'd think that would be a much more corrruptive influence on men seeing women as you descibed, than ANYTHING mainstream superhero comics put out (no pun intended).

Calling me dishonest and discourteous hardly contributes to a fair discussion. Suggesting that I respond only in the way that you think is proper or not at all in order to get the respect of comics publishers suggests to me that you prefer that I please you rather than state my honest opinion.

That's not what I asking (or suggesting) at all.

I do think ignoring the point to an entry is discourteous. If you can't (or don't want to) address the entry being made, then it is better to simply say nothing (until such time as you can contribute to the discussion being made), then to twist it to fit your own personal agenda at the expense of the blogger and their point.

I can see now, given your latest reply, that it wasn't your intention to do so. If I misjudged you, I do apologize. But, sadly, I've seen way too many people with a cause or agenda, use "Isms" as a weapon to make another person's opinion or thoughts appear to be "wrong" and their own as "right", even when the "Ism" in question had little or nothing to do with the actual topic.

Heidi's entry was not meant to be used as a platform to blast the comic industry (yet again) on how it physically portrays female characters. It was to get thoughts and ideas on why men, when faced with that same issue, don't feel the need to ring out with such loud and dissenting voice in the male character's portrayal. Yet, that's exactly what most of those responding to it have tried to make it into. That is wrong. It is discourteous. And it is something that REALLY needs to stop.

As for getting the respect of publishers, that only goes as far as to say that's what most people want. We post on blogs, message forums, and the like to be heard. We want those who have their hands on the controls to hear our thoughts and factor them into how they handle what they do. This is a fact. Because if you don't care if you are heard or not, then why would you even bother to post? It would seem rather pointless.

So, when someone posts an entry about ONE thing, but commenters go and make it into something else it was never meant to be, what would those in power tend to draw from such a thing? That the people don't really know what they want. That they don't even really know what the issue is. And that they are more concerned with proving themselves "superior" (i.e. them "right and others "wrong"), then with actually addressing the topics that are presented.

Is that a bit unfair to do? Probably. But it also is a bit understandable, as well. I think, despite how some people want it to appear, that everyone wants what is equitable. Now, how we reach a point that everyone can agree on in that, I couldn't tell you. If I could, I'd be God. But what I do know is that the way a lot of people are going about trying to get it, isn't working and has never worked before in the past when it was done.

Heidi is one of the most fair-minded people I've ever met. She really tries hard not to let a personal belief stand in the way of hearing out the other end of the issue. That's why she posed this question about male characters being sexualized to begin with. She knows where most stand on female characters whom it happens to, but we don't know so much about the other side of the coin. She wanted to get some thoughts on that. To see if there is any common ground, or if maybe the male side knew (or didn't know) a little something the female side doesn't (or does).

We need less "knee-jerk" recations and more people who focus and pay attention to issues that are brought up. And if the point seems unclear, then ask for clarification before you "go off" with your opinions. There's seems no shortage of people having a problem saying what they thing, but yet, those same people seem to have no idea to ask, "So, what exactly do you mean by that?" We need to stop looking at everything written (and the ones who write it) in the worst possible light. We have to stop using "Isms" as weapons to berate others with and work towards addressing topics as they are intended. Only when this starts to happen, can we ever hope to start working towards real solutions and resolutions to the problems within the comic industry and the world at large.

As my wife stated at the end of this original entry: "Food for thought."

Heidi Meeley said...

On that note, once again I come home from work with much discussion going on.

Tamora- to be fair, I should have been more clear in my post to start with. Having my hubby explain it in the comment section makes me realize that I didn't get my point across.

Jim- I know you love me. I am lucky to have a passionate man like you in my life.

Tamora Pierce said...

James--

I know I should keep my trap shut here, and doubtless I'm going to be really, really sorry I said this, but . . .

I too am married to a passionate man. When he feels I've been dissed, his first response is to lower his visor, couch his lance, and go thundering after those he feels have hurt/disrespected me. And it's a wonderful thing, that he is so protective of me.

It's taken me years to convince him that I don't want him to do this, and that I will handle my own arguments. While it may make him feel better to leap to my defense, it does not allow me to show that I am an autonomous creature who is more than capable of defending herself, well, of presenting her own, well-argued, counter-points, and if necessary, of slamming any rude geeks who come by. It makes me look like a damsel in distress who needs a Big Man to defend her. I tell him, if he's proud of me--and I know he is--let me show I'm more than able to handle myself.

It's just something to think about.

Heidi Meeley said...

Tamora, this kind of post resonates with me- rather then thinking it awful, I understand. Having a loving husband that cares that much is a great joy to me. To see him defend my honor gives me a school girl blush like no other.

That being said, having the same kind of husband, it is hard to have them step back sometimes because they are so protective. I saw what Jim was doing as standing up for me, so I thought it was precious. I did want the opportunity to reply myself, so I did.

What is even sweeter is knowing that I am a tough old broad but having him want to protect me regardless. Sigh.

Thank you for your thoughts on this.