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Are comics inherently sexist?

In the 40’s and 50’s not only did comic book writers treat their female characters as objects of lust and annoyance, but they simplified their goals in life down to children and marriage. We can partially blame this on the comics books code and society, because most women were starting families with their husbands and the societal norm was more likely to buy comic books that promoted the values shared by millions of American families. The code also make it hard to diverge a characters motivations from the assumed average desires ; so for women whose only valid option was a home life, this stifled their comic characters options immensely. Male characters had more options within the male sphere because while working an office job was common, it was not the ultimate goal of most men. A man could do almost any job so long as his family was taken care of, meaning Clark Kent could work in TV, Bruce Wayne could be a playboy (not common but still an iconic male figure at the time outside of comics), but Diane Prince was a secretary waiting for the world to be safe enough for her to get married.

I think the most taxing attribute to Wonder Woman’s powers was that she would lose them if she ever got married, which implies that a women is only of use to society as a virgin which is a total double standard. Bruce Wayne probably got laid all the time, he was rich and he practically paid women to hang out with him at events and Superman, well he’s super. Meanwhile Wonder Woman’s ove interest is tying her to refrigerators and barely even likes her alter ego. These portrayals were relevant in their time, but hardly stand as timeless examples of the roles of men and women.

Now, after a women’s movement and a popularization of the concept that women and men are equal, Comic books are taking huge strides in creating female role models. While fan service still exists, there is now fan service towards a female and homosexual audience in addition to the original female panty shots. Readership is no longer a little boys club, but a diverse wall of independent thinkers (and children who need socially responsible heroes). Comics are consistently an extension of their creator’s beliefs so if a creator has a sexist bias then any female characterization in his work will be tainted with his limited understanding of women. Women in comic books reflect their time through their writer’s lens.


J. Chambliss said…
So comics are not sexist, society in general has problems with presenting women?

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