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Okay. Now I’m Getting Mad.

November 19th, 2009 by | Tags: , ,

justno

Wow, I’ve never read about many female characters giving her a hard time in the comics . . . oh.  Oh.  That was meta.  The ‘most women’ comment.  The character looking out at us from the panel.  This is a little speech given to the women who, for some crazy reason, criticize Peej’s uniform.

You know, I think I’ve heard a similar speech.  It was about how Peej was proud of her body, and if men decided to degrade themselves by looking at her, then that was their business.  And I’ve heard the speech about how she had the ‘S’ and ripped it off, and that patch of fabric would stay absent until she found a symbol that represented her.

And I heard the justification about how Canary’s outfit was in tribute to her mother, even when that means she’s in panties and a jacket in the First Wave books.  And I’ve heard the one about Poison Ivy being a plant and therefore unconcerned about human modesty.  Oh, and I’ve heard the one about Supergirl being invulnerable and therefore not needing pants.  There are a few about how Huntress wanted to show off the fact that she was shot, and she lived, and that’s why she fought in a bikini.  And then there’s the one about Batman and Superman . . . oh.  Wait.  There aren’t that many excuses for how  Batman and Superman dress because, golly, for some reason, the male heroes in this mostly male-controlled medium put their fucking clothes on when they’re going to fight someone.

Are you kidding me?  I’m getting an ‘I choose my choice’ speech from a fictional character?  Feminist fans are getting a slap because they won’t accept one bullshit excuse after another for why male heroes are mostly fully-clothed and female heroes mostly walk around in their underwear?

Let me make this clear:  No matter how many times you have the female characters talk about how they decided on their outfits, they are still fictional characters.  These aren’t women who have decided on what they want to wear for reasons of their own.  These are characters who are dressed as playboy bunnies because a bunch of creators decided to dress them that way for fun and profit.

Jen Van Meter; I don’t know what you were trying to do here, but you failed.

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102 comments to “Okay. Now I’m Getting Mad.”

  1. Countdown to dumbfuck “Namor just wears pants! Therefore it’s COMPLETELY EQUAL! You’re TOTALLY WRONG, FEMINAZI!” comment in 5… 4… 3… 2…


  2. Bring it.


  3. Esther, I hear you. You got every right to be hostile, cuz the shit’s ridiculous. Can we really take Starfire serious when she looks stupid? How bout Emma Frost and Madelyn Pryor back in her days lookin every bit the hookers? It’s a terrible status quo more prevalent than we’d like to admit and one of the many reasons why non-fans look at comics and scoff or why many women just don’t care abou superhero stories. You would think that in 2009 the editors woulda gotten the point, but they show across the board they don’t care. Just look at most of the stories. Spidey’s stuck in OMD no-man’s land, Wolverine’s in every comic both dc and marvel, DC’s main trio’s gone again just like during 52, death is worse than useless as Cap comes back after two years worth of stories, etc. The editors suck, the editors-in-chiefs are awful, and the stories being told are usually mediocre, run-of-the-mill, and just not worth spending money on. The shitty heroine attire is just one of the many symptoms. In case it sounds like it, this ain’t a hater speakin; just an angry ass fan.


  4. Esther, thank you so much for putting into words why exactly I got angry enough to throw the JSA Annual away after reading those panels.


  5. Of course male superheros put their clothes on when they fight, if they didn’t their wieners would be hanging out. Nobody wants to see that, ghee don’t be so silly. Now on the other hand women superheroes fighting crime in bikinis and other such attire makes perfect sense because not many of them have wieners and it’s awesome.

    Oh yeah…. and David Wynn Namor just wears pants because he lives under the ocean and pants are all you need there, not because he wants to make female superheroes feel better about what they have to fight crime in …. sheesh I thought everybody knew that.


  6. I think that if real-life women had superpowers many of them would, indeed, wear revealing costumes. Most women like playing sexy dress-up, much more than men do. Look at the joke that Halloween has turned into. Ordinary women falling all over themselves trying to dress sluttier than their friends.


  7. @John Foley: Great joke dude, I laughed


  8. Emma Frost, Starfire, that pink one in Green Lantern all look ridiculous, but I always though Power Girl looked cool. I know it is exactly the kind of shit that gives comics a bad name but I dunno, It’s a longsleeved swimming costume thing with a token cape and tit-window. Ok, tit-window’s a bit much… I admit I don’t buy the comic, but I always kind of dug the look. The whole yelling at the audience through character dialogue really sucks though.

    p.s. Namor wears only pants because he’s awesome.


  9. I’d argue how “dressed” the average male superhero in spandex is, since most artists draw their costumes a pallete-swap and a de-caping away from being naked. But it’s no question that women generally have it worse since their outfits are deliberately designed to be provocative.

    The problem is there still exists the stereotype of the male comics fan being a mouth-breathing, dateless loser, and it’s one that mainstream creators seem to be happy to cynically cater to.

    As a bloke, Power Girl’s costume doesn’t bother me (neither does Wonder Woman’s high-cut one-piece), but I wouldn’t exactly boycott either character if they decided to dress a little more appropriately.


  10. Nobody ever talks about how Doctor Doom wears a skirt with no underwear.


  11. I completely agree with what you said, but I do think that sometimes writers DO try to justify male costumes too. Of course, what they have to justify is why they look so silly, not sexy, but still.

    Examples that come to mind is the big “S” in Superman’s chest being a family crest, and the cape being the blanket he was wrapped in (at least that’s how it was in Superman: Birthright, I don’t know if that has been retconned). Another one was when they justified Batman’s big yellow logo, which would be pretty easy to see in the darkness, as being an easier target to draw fire away from the head/limbs where he doesn’t have protection.


  12. “There aren’t that many excuses for how Batman and Superman dress because…”

    Oh, really? It wouldn’t be hard to fill a long-box with examples of commenting on why Superman wears his underoos on the outside of his clothes.

    Or the multitude of comments and articles of outsiders who look at superhero comics and see homoerotic imagery in the way men are drawn.

    Historically, male characters have been drawn nude and then panties drawn on top so the artist wouldn’t get fired. Female characters are drawn the same way but then it gets extra attention when the artist is creative about how to make it clear that he or she has covered the nipples.


  13. Leaving aside the above writer’s flatulent indignation, that is lousy comic writing.


  14. Is flatulent indignation good like boobies or bad like wieners?


  15. […] Esther Inglis-Arkell read what looks like this past Wednesday’s Justice Society of America 80-Page Giant #1, and she did not enjoy the section by Jen Van Meter and Justiniano (pretty nice looking art, though!). […]


  16. “Historically, male characters have been drawn nude and then panties drawn on top so the artist wouldn’t get fired. Female characters are drawn the same way but then it gets extra attention when the artist is creative about how to make it clear that he or she has covered the nipples.”

    I dunno man, Batman doesn’t leave half his arse hanging out his clothes, or decide to bare his midriff for some weird reason.
    And the girls don’t even get those extra panties on top of their pseudo-naked outfits like the guys do.

    Anyway, I think the whole comment about guys explaining/not explaining their outfits is sort of a digression from Esther’s point, the guys might have to explain outfits that are goofy or gaudy, but you don’t often see them have to justify whatever sex appeal their outfits might have.


  17. […] Fourth Letter, Esther Inglis-Arkell becomes enraged by female comics characters who stand around and explain why they wear skimpy costumes. And I […]


  18. @Robert Frost: “Historically, male characters have been drawn nude and then panties drawn on top so the artist wouldn’t get fired.”

    I’m pretty sure this isn’t true, if only because it makes no sense whatsoever.


  19. the ads that show up for me on this page are hilarious


  20. @versasovantare:
    “Anyway, I think the whole comment about guys explaining/not explaining their outfits is sort of a digression from Esther’s point, the guys might have to explain outfits that are goofy or gaudy, but you don’t often see them have to justify whatever sex appeal their outfits might have.”

    It’s true. I have digressed.


  21. @Gavok: YOU ARE NOT PREPARED TO GAZE INTO THE NETHERS OF DOCTOR DOOM!


  22. I vote for more revealing male costumes!

    …I have seen at least one panel trying to explain Dick’s Robin costume. And in Nightwing Year One they kinda gave an explanation for Discowing. No one’s attempted to explain the mullet because that’s not sexy, that’s stupid and we’ll all be happier if we forget about it.


  23. Awesome post, and point well made.


  24. In related news, the other day I found out that a lot of Mystique’s clothing is generated out of her skin and that she’s technically naked all of the time. So, that poses the question – if she leaves her coat on a chair, then has to make a run for it and forget the coat, does it remain a coat or turn into a disgusting sleeved sheet of moist blue skin?

    …Answer me, you cowards.


  25. @Stig: It hardens and hollows out like a dead insect.


  26. I’m always surprised by the one about how someone dressing like, say, Starfire is just showing that they don’t care about modesty/what they look like and would rather be naked. Because first, if she’d rather be naked, why wear an outfit that the opposite of being naked–one that you can’t move around in without popping out of it and you’d probably spend half your time adjusting or digging out wedgies? How come there’s never a female character who “doesn’t care what she looks like” and so fights in an outfit that’s purely based on comfort and practicality–in ways that would actually be comfortable. Like sweat pants. When you get down to it, a lot of the male costumes are perfectly unisex anyway–there’s no reason a woman couldn’t wear the exact same costume as Batman. That’s why I tend to prefer outfits like Cass Cain’s Batgirl. It just looks like flexible armor.

    Also LOL on the Robin example–yes, people did notice that it was a bit stupid for the kid to be running around with bare legs. But after a couple of silly explanations they did the most logical thing: changed his outfit to give him pants. For some reason that never works with the female heroes. They just love cut-outs that could get snagged on things, and costumes held together by belts and metal rings over bare skin.


  27. You want revealing male costumes? Try the Super Friends. Samurai, Apache Chief and Black Vulcan all had bare legs. Samurai, Apache Chief and El Dorado were either bare chested or wore open vests.

    And even as a kid I thought they all looked like dorks.

    While I do think it makes sense for more female characters to dress enticingly than it does for men, but still, for most female characters, there’s no logical reason, either in-continuity or in the creation process, for them to look the way they do other than the fact that some male creator(s) thought it look cool.


  28. @david brothers: I’m pretty sure this isn’t true, if only because it makes no sense whatsoever.

    But that is what makes it so BRILLIANT!!! :)

    Great post, Esther.


  29. And see, this is why I don’t read many DC comic anymore. Not that Marvel is better, but at least they just wink at their stupidity and don’t try to write it into continuity.

    PS: I guess Power Girl lost her powers here, since she looks less heroically drawn than Mary Jane Watson? Or am I just so spoiled by Amanda Conner by now?


  30. Can I motion to have all one-piece swimsuit costumes redesigned so that they have pants, sleeves optional? Seriously, imagine Amanda Conner’s Power Girl with her boots and the ribbing on her costume having pants. She’d look great. Everything Conner does is great, but she’d be great-er.

    I call it the Robin Solution.

    The superheroine costume thing is a symptom of a larger problem in mainstream comics: a lot of artists don’t care about fashion. Clothes are t-shirt (color random, maybe some stripes), jeans-like pants (color tan or blue or black, lo-rise on women), a thong with extra-long straps for the lay-deez, and maybe a generic leather jacket.

    The people who put real work into clothes, Takeshi Miyazawa, Adrian Alphona, Paul Pope, Frank Quitely, Cameron Stewart, Marcos Martin, Amanda Conner (Conner is one of the best at fashion), a few others whose names I’m spacing on, are too few and far between.

    Solenna, a regular reader who I often talk about this with (and who is currently on vacation, otherwise I’d send her thisaway), pointed out the early issues of the Batgirl relaunch had absolutely abysmal fashion for teens. Generic pink shirt and thong and jeans for a girl, loose fit blank t-shirt for the dude, crap shoes all around, and hey look, everyone at this school shops at the clearance aisle of Wal-Mart.

    It’s like, “Do better.” That’s all I can really say. Conner even introduced a great light redesign for PG in her book, with power button emblems, boots with treads and detail, and I haven’t seen it in any other book. You’ve got resources, brilliant ones, even, so use them.


  31. Let’s face it: all superhero costumes are incredibly ridiculous. It’s funny that costumes haven’t evolved much from when they were created for the characters. It’s probably due to not wanting to upset hardcore fanboys and to keep with tradition. Quite a few costumes have always been goofy to me.

    I don’t get capes. Besides someone like Batman, who actually designs it to protect him, all other capes seem like they’re unnecessary.

    Then you have the swimsuit types, like Ms. Marvel. She has probably the most ridiculous costume I’ve ever seen. I know most of these characters are incredibly invulnerable, but you don’t feel a draft, at all?

    I would hope that people who have had a negative reaction to this not only write here, but contact the creators and companies and speak your mind. Or you could drop the book. Whatever.


  32. Get out of your basement and go to a bar some day. Check the way the women dress.


  33. Wait, Esther, you live in a basement? Remind me to give you a raise.


  34. Superhero costumes, “heroes don’t kill humans unless they turn into monsters or something,” youthful crime-fighting sidekicks, superhumans automatically either fighting crime and evil or trying to rob banks/take over the planet, and many other really, really bizarre conceits of superhero comics that were thrown in for the lulz (before there were lulz, mind you) aren’t really things that writers should attempt to justify. Because their answers always make no sense, dodge the real question, or both. Actually, most of the time it’s naturally both.


  35. You know, the funny thing about Namor, since people want to bring him up, is that from what I’ve seen, he’s actually put on more clothes and ISN’T just running around in a swimsuit these days. I can’t be the only one who’s noticed he’s put on a full pair of pants and a vest, can I?


  36. @Frank C. Bassuda: Because male superheroes base their outfits on what some men wear to your favorite bar?


  37. @david brothers: wait you pay on this site? can ya help a fellow San Franciscan out? :p


  38. “they are still fictional characters”

    Fictional characters in fiction are ficticious.


  39. Yes, because women don’t dress like that in real- oh wait.


  40. @david brothers: It’s tough to say, actually, whether I live in a basement or not. It’s a nice view for a basement, but I have to walk down to get in the door. Perhaps I live at the nexus of the universe, where the laws of physics are bent and broken.

    I’ll take that raise, though.

    It’s interesting that one of the most common replies to rants like this is the claim that women really dress that way. I don’t know how it got to be a common reply though, since, no, no they don’t. Not at home, not at work, not walking around, not at the gym (unless they’re in the pool), not at most bars, not in most dance clubs. It’s just so clearly not true, and yet people keep saying it. And how do you reply? If a person can’t see that half the population is *not* walking around in underwear and fishnets, then I don’t know what to say to them.


  41. Man, I wish Superman would put on some clothes to go fight…basically the only reason we know he’s got anything on his legs and arms at all is because the artist colors ‘em blue instead of pink. Swap one ink color and he’s fighting aliens while wearing a speedo, a cape, and a bad chest tattoo.

    Anyway, I’m fine with Power Girl’s outfit, boob window and all. Maybe it’s too sexy for crime-fighting or maybe it isn’t, I refuse to be the judge of that. What I don’t get are the sexy female costumes that involve thongs: I’m looking at you, Ms. Marvel and Starfire. I don’t care how comfortable you are with your body, it can’t possibly feel right to fly around punching villains with your costume riding up like that.


  42. Esther, I don’t think any of us believe that women actually dress like Black Canary every day. My only point was that women tend to wear much more sexy/revealing things when they dress-up in costume. In a real world setting, at a Halloween party, the women are much more likely to be wearing something sexy. Good-looking people tend to enjoy showing off. Once you get past the initial conceit that all superheroes are beautiful and have perfect bodies, it’s not that hard to imagine that the female ones would wear stuff they look hot in. Now, maybe you don’t like the fact that they’re all beautiful and have perfect bodies. Maybe you think more supercharacters should look like normal people. That’s a fair point, but it’s not about to change (and that’s a separate article). They’ve always been represented as idealized humans, and idealized humans like to flaunt what they got.
    Sure, there are still some characters whose costumes are ludicrous, who would never dress like that in the real world (if they were real world crimefighters). Huntress and Black Canary’s costumes are ridiculous. Phantom Lady’s costume is beyond ridiculous. Those should definitely be updated and made more practical.
    The female characters with vast amounts of physical prowess probably would show more skin than was necessary. Wonder Woman and Power Girl don’t need to worry about bullets or temperatures, and they have perfect bodies, so they don’t wear long pants. WW is probably a bad example anyway, since she comes from a clothing-optional culture.
    Starfire is a special case. Not only is her costume impractical, it’s a complete disaster from a design standpoint. Nothing works.


  43. Yeah, I don’t get it, Frank. How do women dress? They all dress the same, is what you’re saying? They also dress the same way they do if they’re going to the bar or on any other occasion?


  44. @John Foley: Wait…what? First, superhero costumes really aren’t Halloween costumes, even if they have some element of that. But regardless, it’s not really fair to take a relatively recent trend in Halloween costumes and make it part of female psychology. Especially with so many women not liking costumes like this that they’re addressing it in a comic.

    The world is full of attractive people and they while any one of them may or may not wear flattering clothing, flattering =/= revealing, particularly at most jobs. The premise that good-looking woman would of course want to show a lot of skin just doesn’t really have any basis in reality. Sure there are good-looking women with good bodies who like to wear strapless tops, thongs and cut outs. There are also women you probably wouldn’t consider fit or good-looking who like to wear those things. But that doesn’t explain why a woman–much less so many women–whose priority in life is protecting people and fighting villains would create a uniform based around making sure everybody could see as much of her skin as possible. Especially when their male counterparts don’t have anything like the same need.


  45. sistermagpie-
    You said “The premise that good-looking woman would of course want to show a lot of skin just doesn’t really have any basis in reality.” I didn’t say “of course” they would do this, or that it was a universal desire of every beautiful woman to show as much skin as possible. I just that it’s that big a stretch to think that SOME would do exactly this. If you really believe that this idea has NO basis in reality, I don’t know how to respond to that. I’m not making this up. It’s not like I think slutty Halloween costumes are awesome or something.


  46. It’s also important to note the difference between “something you do for fun” and “something that is basically a job.”

    I go to work in t-shirts or polos and jeans, nine times out of ten. If I’m dressed up, I’m not at work, I’m going out. There’s a time and place for everything.

    That’s why these justifications don’t work. They try to apply a certain level of reality into something that doesn’t need it, and only draws more attention to the ridiculousness of it. “But but but women like this!” may well have a point, but it’s a point on a different subject, not this one.

    Do you want a female cop to come investigate a break-in at your place in a thong and one-piece? No, you don’t. Because there is a time and place for everything.


  47. @John Foley: I don’t deny the reality that there are some women who would want to show as much skin as possible, but is that really an answer to explain how female superheroes dress in comics? I personally don’t know a single woman who considers showing lots of skin a priority in how they dress–which is not to say that therefore they don’t exist, but I’m not sure why they’re so over-represented in the superhero community.

    In fact, PG doesn’t even give that reason for her outfit. She doesn’t say that she’s just really proud of her cup size and doesn’t feel like everybody’s really admiring enough of them if she doesn’t display a lot of cleavage, she claims it’s got a practical purpose, that the men she fights are put off-balance by cleavage. (Which is not the way that works either in the real world or in the comics world.)


  48. Mixed feeling here:
    I live in San Francisco, a city with lots of young, beautiful, wealthy people. When I go into a bank, or an office, or an upscale retail establishment, I almost always see the women working there dressed in tight skirts, stockings, high-heels, and breast-accentuating tops. I don’t see men dressed sexy. Perhaps I’m seeing this because I’m a horny het-male. Maybe the men are dressed sexy and it just doesn’t register with me. (My ex once claimed wearing a suit would make me look sexy- I never understood that one.)
    Here in San Francisco, when the weather is warm the T&A comes out IN FORCE. It seems to me that 80 degrees Farenheit triggers the must-show-of-my-tits response in many young women.
    And then there’s the ability of Maxim and FHM (?) to find a new Starlet to show off her TnA every month. Presumably these women have made an informed decision with brain tissue in their own skulls to do these photos. And there’s the scarcity of Burka-type garments in the output of female fashineers like Donna Karan, et al.
    I think someone with superpowers and the opinion that they should make a difference in the world will have a BIG ego. I think they might feel the urge to show off what they’ve got. And in comics, this DOESN’T only apply to females. Look at all the male asses-in-tights shots (I sometimes wonder if liking Daredevil as much as I do means I’m gay!).
    All of what I’ve written makes me poo-poo the original blog post. Indeed I think the sexification gender imbalance is greater in the real world of business than in the superhero realm.
    BUT- the fact that female characters in comics are NEARLY ALWAYS portrayed as T&A displayers tips the balance in Esther’s favor. I remember enjoying all the quirky characters Larry Stroman fit into crowd scenes in his X-Factor issues back in the 90s. Then I noticed all the quirky characters were males. All his female crowd members were sex-body babes. Males of all shapes and appearances, but females of only one type. Even many teenage girl characters are all boobs’n’butt-ed up. (Dammit, I’m 41 and shouldn’t be looking at under-age sexettes!)
    We males can justify the sexing up of SOME female characters SOME of the time, but making nearly all the female characters sexed up is not something we can justify, and is probably what really inspires Esther’s tantrum.
    Many men want more women to read comics. Might not be what you really want guys! Look at what happened with wanting the new generations of Kids to read comics. We old folk are now surrounded by Kids reading comics that many of us don’t like or understand (I’m talking about the Manga and Manga influence explosion)!
    I could blather on…..


  49. @Seth Hollander:
    “And then there’s the ability of Maxim and FHM (?) to find a new Starlet to show off her TnA every month. Presumably these women have made an informed decision with brain tissue in their own skulls to do these photos.”

    No offense but, who does Maxim sell to? Who do these starlets depend on if they want to keep making a living?

    There was a very famous Vanity Fair cover a few years back with Scarlett Johansson and Keira Knightley, both completely naked. Then there was also Tom Ford, the issue’s creative director, fully dressed.

    There were originally supposed to be three women on the cover. Rachel McAdams was supposed to round out the trio, but she didn’t want to do a naked shoot. So she got booted off, and Tom Ford subbed it, albeit with his clothes on because again, he was the creative director and no one could kick *him* off.

    Knightley and Johansson were well-known beforehand, but from then on they rocketted to fame and huge movies. McAdams has done very well for herself, but she hasn’t commanded the same fame that the other two have.

    So look at the covers again. It’s true that those women have brains. They know their career depends on their fame and their popularity, and they know they *aren’t* getting on the covers of magazines wearing business suits. If they want that boost, more often than not, they will have to strip down.

    And that’s where we get an exact parallel to comics. You can put Batman in the shadows with a cape obscuring his form, because he’s tough, and guys identify with him and he’s a figure of mystery and and and. But if Power Girl isn’t going to show her boobs, well, put Superman in instead. He’ll sell more.

    For the creators to *blatantly* have that philosophy and then have the fictional characters they created do the equivalent of “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain,” feels a little insulting to me.


  50. I definately agree with Esther about the overt sexiness thrust unto women in comics. It just seems to be too far done, but in the same token there aren’t really any realistic body images whether male or female in comics anyway.

    So while the hyper sexualization of women in comics is an issue I think there is just as much a hyper machoization (I know that’s not a word) of male characters in comics if you will. How many of these guys have muscles that are beyond inhuman and perfect washboard abs that won’t go away even if they down a million Miller Lites? Or let’s not forget the tragic history that makes them stone cold and unfeeling. Uggh it just gets to be too much on both ends. But I think comics and the greater entertainment industry in general have a problem with portraying realistic body images for men and women.

    The issues with women and the negative images thrust upon them just happen to be brought up more often because there are feminists out there willing to mention it and point it out. Guys don’t have so many advocates.


  51. I know my opinion may not matter, but I am currently enrolled at a highschool where the girls there where revealing clothing. They wear shorts that don’t even cover their thighs. I’m not saying it’s okay, but those girls do. However, Powergirl is an adult and I’d expect her to know when she’s dressing like a slut.

    It’s also weird to note that Powergirl wasn’t the one trying to justify her costume, Cyclone was. It seemed like Powergirl wore it… just because. It’s almost like, “Er… yeah. That’s exactly why I wear this. (Phew! Dodged a bullet there.)” Maybe the scene would have been better if at the end of Cyclone’s speech, Powergirl just stares at her then says, “That’s stupid.”


  52. @Esther Inglis-Arkell: “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”

    There’s a nail hit right on the head.

    @Jerk: Maybe the scene would have been better if at the end of Cyclone’s speech, Powergirl just stares at her then says, “That’s stupid.”

    That’s an interesting way of saving the scene.

    I completely agree with the complaints about Starfire and some others having just burningly stupid outfits. I’ll also agree with those that feel that, for better or worse, Power Girl’s peekaboo hole has become somewhat iconic for her. Were I tasked with writing a defense scene, I’d have her uncomfortably have her reference some of the arguments made by others (distraction, iconic, somewhat atypical form of feminism), then just say that she put on the outfit because she was proud of her “girls” (or some other unsexy personal pet term), but now, *shrugs* “It’s what I wear and I’m okay with it.”


  53. I’m not about to read 51 comments ahead of mine, so maybe this ground was already trodden on, but the difference in clothing and lack of clothing for most characters is ink. The costumes are, for the most part, tight-fitting spandex. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen shirtless, hairy-chested Batman (who managed to keep his cowl on somehow).

    You want to change things, then overhaul it all. My prime example is Ted Kord (who sadly doesn’t work so well being dead), but what kind of computer nerd/engineer/geek/whathaveyou would ever wear tight-fitting spandex? He’d wear something comfortable and practical.

    So why don’t we abandon this notion that women are being overly sexualized significantly more than men (I’ll concede that they are a little, but this is mostly from society than the medium), and accept our funnybooks for what they are.


  54. Shirtless Batman isn’t his normal costume. Full body covering is his normal costume. Power Girl/Starfire/Ms. Marvel/Etc aren’t SOMETIMES wearing revealing outfits to super-hero. They ALWAYS are. See the difference there? I know its a subtle one…

    And its not like the costumes can’t be changed. Compare regular Starfire to “Teen Titans Go” Starfire…


  55. @david brothers: Wonder Woman would look switching to pants. As I’ve seen in several elseworlds but I think the piping on Power Girl’s costume would look strange running all the way down her legs.


  56. @David: So why don’t we abandon this notion that women are being overly sexualized significantly more than men

    Because they are?

    I don’t think the tight-fitting is the issue. The way I think of it, where clothes are a uniform for a job, men and women usually wear similar outfits. At a law firm, for instance, clothing is dictated by fashion and the culture of that office–which usually means suits with pants for men and pencil skirts and blouses for women (with stockings and heels). Battle fatigues for soldiers are fairly unisex.

    I can understand the spandex outfits–they’re more like outfits dancers wear, built for movement (with the cape optional). It’s the elaborate ways to reveal skin rather than spandex that’s being discussed here, where there’s a big double standard. Even one of the few male characters who had an outfit that showed a lot of skin, Robin, had his costume changed.


  57. she is putting words in powergirl’s mouth.


  58. Nothing new to add Esther everyone covered it all seemingly but I love how you put together the previous “reasoning” to some female costumes in the past.

    I love seeing them in the costumes but they lose me when trying to reason it away.


  59. wow ya actually got Palmiotti to show up


  60. @ Space Jawa

    Namor’s black costume is his 70’s-era “war costume”. IOW, it’s vintage, not some pseudo-trendy 90’s era grim and gritty retread.


  61. I think the point has been made earlier on this page, but people aren’t getting it or aren’t believing it–that for the most part, male and female comic book costumes are effectively nudes with some strategic smoothing. The Marvel (First Impressions) book, which is a 50-year retrospective on Marvel’s history goes into this in more detail, but the gist of it is this:

    Most artists learn to draw people by drawing nudes. Even after becoming more experienced, most artists still utilize a lightly-sketched “nude” form when drawing what will eventually become a clothed character. The problem is that clothes add an extra level of difficulty to drawing a character–just one extra step. This little extra level of time and effort becomes magnified when you have to draw the same character 50 or 60 times in the same single issue.

    In addition to this, for some of the more outlandish positions and poses for a lot of comic characters, clothes increase the difficulty of the drawing by adding in new layers of perspective, folds, and shadows. Can you imagine trying to draw Spider-man in a five-shot backflip that ends in a crouch if he was wearing cargo pants and a trench-coat?

    What shortens the process is just keeping the nude form and adding a handful of lines to depict a form-fitting suit which makes it faster to produce the comics we all love and create powerful scenes that can show muscle movement and elaborate flexibility. Examples of this would be Spider-man, Superman, Captain Marvel, and Invincible, who are all, for the most part, nude characters.

    More modernized costumes, like a lot of Batman interpretations, and the modern Robins have focused on the function of the costume as it pertains to the practicality of superhero-ing. Armor, boots, and pockets weren’t just a symptom of the early 90s, they were part of a movement to move away from the skintight nudes.

    So where does PG fit into this? You’d have to ask the writers and artists. The nature of the “window” expresses itself as more fabric than body paint, but then raises the question of “why move away from the nude if you’re going to expose even more?” Pick your favorite answer to /that/ question–cheesecake, misogyny, sexual revolution, sales–and you’ll have solved the Breast Window Anomaly.


  62. Since when is a writer not allowed to internalize a character? Yes, PG is not a ”
    real woman”…but when someone is writing her it is up to that writer’s discretion to get into the character’s head and see how she/he works. I think this was not a “lecture”…it was simply a person trying to write a fictional character, perhaps a little awkwardly, but valid enough within its own context. I think you’re the one with image issues if you feel offended by the off-hand comments of a fictional person. Yes, PG was created by men, dressed in a tarted up outfit by men, and even for years had that outfit explained away by men. However I don’t think this attempt by a female writer to rationalize her outfit within the context of fiction is any worse or better, it just is. It reminds me of the “My Short Skirt” piece from the Vagina Monologues. Women most likely did not design and market over-sexed micro mini clothes to other women from the outset, but that doesn’t mean that every woman wearing a mini skirt is a dupe or a piece of meat for men to ogle or unconscious of their decision to wear said clothes. The clothes aren’t necessarily about the person who is looking at them, they are about the person who is wearing them and I think she is trying to write PG as holding this opinion.

    TLDR version is thus: Let’s not make an issue where there isn’t one. A fictional character made a comment about her fictional clothing and fictional body. Yes that comment may have been aimed at detractors both real and otherwise, but it does not make the author’s interpretation of the character any less valid.

    Also, as many people have pointed out: comic books.


  63. @Brent Lambert: The reason the woes of man are not as spotlighted is because there’s this thing called PRIVILEGE and YOU HAVE IT. You don’t even have to think about encountering sexism every day, multiple times a day, and going, “Oh. That’s right, my opinion/experience doesn’t matter in MAN’S WORLD.” Do a little googling if you’re interested in the view from over here (but I sorta doubt you are).

    @iKami: Uh. That’s a nice….theory? that Marvel book has, but it’s bollocks on the large scale. Drawing Spider-Man in a shirt and pants is a lot easier than drawing the web lines (semi-)accurately on his costume (as one of many examples). Ultimately it’s got no baring on this discussion anyway, otherwise the gals would be in FULL spandex too. Pretty sure Power Girl’s tit-window and Black Canary’s fish nets take more time to draw.


  64. @Darrell: “Let’s not make an issue where there isn’t one.” means “There isn’t an issue because it’s a WOMAN’S problem, not mine.”

    If you don’t think there’s an issue, then why don’t you go about your day secure in your man-ness and lack of having to deal with sexism, without throwing it in our faces? It must be nice–taking for granted what we’d like to have and still don’t.


  65. @iKami: What do you mean, not “getting” it. Yeah, they draw nudes before they create the illusion of characters having clothes- but so what? What does that mean to the issue?

    In real life, we’re all naked under out clothes, but if a woman shows enough cleavage, some people get in a tizzy!

    I think the “point” here is that some people feel that mainstream comics in America still have quite a bit of growing up to do and the 4th wall justification of boob windows not only doesn’t cut it, but drives some people nuts.


  66. @puck: “The reason the woes of man are not as spotlighted is because there’s this thing called PRIVILEGE and YOU HAVE IT.”

    Don’t do this here, please. Telling someone that they have privilege is not something to be used as a conversation ender.

    I don’t think that Brent was trying to minimize the problems of female heroes by mentioning the problems with male heroes. Rather, I think he was trying to strengthen the thrust of this comment thread, which is that comics tend to suck at a lot of things involving basic respect.

    And the idea that sexism against males doesn’t exist is factually untrue.


  67. Seth Hollander: Yeah. It couldn’t be that when it’s warm out, wearing concealing clothing makes one sweat uncomfortably, could it? And it couldn’t be that since their “tits” etc. are parts of their bodies, they’re not aware of them constantly, the way you’re not aware constantly of your left leg or whatever? Oh, nooooo. They’re showing off for Teh Menz. Because that’s what’s on women’s minds 99.999% of the time.

    Fuck you. Yours is the same mentality that blames women for getting raped because of what we were wearing.

    David Brothers: Baaaaawwwww, let’s not alienate teh poor poor sexist menz by informing them that they do, in fact, have more privilege in society as a whole than women do! And let’s by all means pretend that sexism against teh menz is JUST AS BAD!!!


  68. @b.g.: No, that isn’t what I said or implied. I’ve never said anything even approaching the sort. Keep on condescending, though.

    I’m not sure why I’m bothering to respond, since you’re clearly a troll who hasn’t never been here before and isn’t going to come back, but whatever.


  69. Hi, Esther. A friend forwarded me links to your post and to a couple other blogs that have picked up on your comments, and I feel compelled to reply because you’re right — I failed in what I was trying to accomplish with the “Spin Cycle” story, or, at the very least, I failed you and many of your respondents.

    What I was asked by DC to supply was essentially a short story about one of the younger JSA characters walking through a door in the brownstone to find something unexpected, surreal, impossible (by the character’s standards) that, whether it “really happened” or not, could somehow have bearing on the way that character perceives her-/himself.

    I’ve been interested in Cyclone since she was introduced because, unlike most teens in costume in the superhero worlds, she doesn’t seem particularly interested in conveying a fully-formed adult sexuality, nor is her chosen costume conventionally sexualized. I like her smarts, her sense of the theatrical, and I think she’s interesting because her insecurities seem very plausible and refreshingly commonplace. I wanted the story to be a series of experiences that in one way or another allay some of her anxieties about meriting a place in the JSA, and given that she was team leader at the time I was writing it, I wanted to use PG to stand in for the focus of those anxieties.

    Because I was thinking about the story as being some whacked-out magical construct emerging somehow out of Maxine’s point of view, I wasn’t thinking about Power Girl–in the story–as herself but as something produced by how Maxine sees her, and in my reading of these characters Maxine had been seeing PG the way a new hire might see a CEO as explicably demanding, intimidating, and intense as, say, Oprah, Madonna and Secretary Clinton all rolled into one. I wanted Maxine to leave the story feeling more like a worthy peer and teammate.

    So one thing led to another, and I found myself wanting Maxine to come upon PG doing something simple, ordinary, humanizing, and when I decided on laundry I started wondering what Maxine would think of Power Girl’s costume. There was nothing externally meta-textual going on for me, but I was indeed thinking that Maxine looks at super-heroics as at least one part theater; she’s got the theater background and knows that–in their world–there’re lots of reasons they’re not all running around in track suits and army/navy surplus. What I had in mind was that in “reading” the costume to this apparition of Power Girl, what Maxine is really doing is explaining to herself some of why she finds Power Girl so intimidating. I’m not pretending to be unaware of the conversations amongst fans and creators about the sexism that seems so deeply embedded in the genre, especially as it focuses on costuming; I am saying that what I was concerning myself with at the time was the notion that similar conversations might/must be ongoing in the world the characters occupy as well.

    One other thing I do need to offer up for consideration, and I see this come up frequently in comic reviews and critiques: you ascribed intent to lecture to me but used the art as the focus of your argument. In the script, what I asked for was a shot of Power Girl, “a little surprised by the enthusiasm, perhaps thoughtful,” or something like that. I didn’t see what you have when I saw the inks; if I had done, I probably would have asked if there was time to redraw at least that panel, or, more likely, would have tried to make changes at the lettering stage to make the ideas behind the scene more plain.

    Do I like the vast and very gendered disparity in costuming in conventional superhero comics? No. Do I love superhero comics despite the many flaws of the genre? Absolutely. Having chosen to write superhero comics for hire on occasion, must I work with what’s available to me? Sure. Did I imagine that I could say something about Cyclone by giving some thought to how she might see, or want to see, one of the costumes most emblematic of the problem at hand? Yeah, I did. Clearly, I misstepped.

    I wish I had caught how the scene could be taken while I was working on the script. I would have done something about it.


  70. Jan, as I saw the scene, it was a young girl saying to pg what she thought the suit represented and powergirl letting her talk herself into a circle…with powergirl not really saying she was right or wrong, just her listening to a young girl ramble on…which reflected her own insecurities, not pg’s

    and to Jan’s defense…we deal with this all the time…the art not exactly matching the scene and the mood it was written in. we, meaning writers. On the monthly, I am lucky to have the artist in the same house…lol

    Yeah, so the scene can be dissected as much as possible…and you can put your own opinions into it…but the bottom line is it’s a good thing when this much attention is sent to a character. good or bad, press is press.

    like any book where you write a character you didn’t create, you will eventually piss of someone. Had that happen to me personally on Hawkman, superboy and a boatload of others.

    not the end of the world by any means.

    AND AWESOME we all get to not only have an opinion, but have someone like Jan come here and talk it out. How cool is that?


  71. @J Van Meter: Jen. Thank you very much for taking time out of your weekend to post such a long and thoughtful reply. I know that anytime a creator wades into a comments section of a website, it can get messy, especially if the post is negatively describing their work, so I know it was a risk for you to come here and talk.

    It sounds like you put a lot of thought into Cyclone’s character when you were making this comic. Character focus is something that is often lacking in comics, and it’s great that you’re so intent on bringing the inner thoughts of characters to the forefront.

    As you said in your comment, the disparity between costuming (as well as a few other problems) are a source of frustration for feminist fans. A comic that seems to imply that not only is there a justification for the disparity, but we’re wrong for even pointing it out, is an unpleasant reading experience.

    I appreciate your clarification as to the art and for your information on what you wrote regarding that panel. And again, thank you for coming to the site.

    @jimmy palmiotti: And thanks to you as well for coming by. Having creators explain what happens between the idea and the final product is always interesting.


  72. […] Inglis-Arkell starts things off: And I heard the justification about how Canary’s outfit was in tribute to her mother, even when […]


  73. […] I was reading Esther Inglis-Arkell’s post over at 4thletter! when something occurred to me. Check it out: And I heard the justification about how Canary’s […]


  74. @Esther Inglis-Arkell: I want to make sure you understand I’m not trying to throw Jesus Merino under the bus for this; his interpretation of what I asked for is just that, and I take complete responsibility for not being a more proactive reader of the story as I wrote it and as the art came in. I missed the possibility of your–absolutely legitimate–read of the scene because I knew what I meant. I should have seen it; if someone else had written it, I would have probably read it much as you did.

    I have to admit, I debated engaging the conversation for quite a while once I’d become aware of it. I’m usually pretty thick skinned, as comic writers must be, about negative reviews. We can’t please everyone, we know it, and writing for a living means getting called a hack on occasion. This is the first time, though, that I’m aware of my feminist cred being on the line because of something I’ve written, and I’m pretty uncomfortable with some of what’s come of all this elsewhere–people who clearly know nothing about me saying some pretty hateful, personal things. The tone of your initial post, while angry, was intelligent, precise, well-argued and reasonable; that’s what made it possible for me to post here, and I thank you for that.

    @jimmy palmiotti: And Jimmy, thanks. A lot. I know it happens to everyone, but it’s nice to be reminded. And reassuring to know you don’t bear a grudge for my bringing unhappy attention to PG.

    I envy you and Amanda being able to know it’s what you want before it leaves the house!


  75. @J Van Meter: I just wanted to stop by and thank you and Jimmy Palmiotti both for commenting. We try to maintain a certain tone/level of discourse here even when doing negative posts, and I’m glad to see that it pays off sometimes, particularly when it comes to creators of works that I’ve personally enjoyed a fair few times over the past few years.


  76. @J Van Meter:

    I understand, I think, what you’re trying to say regarding the art. You wrote something, the artist kind of winked at the audience, and it all went bad.

    “This is the first time, though, that I’m aware of my feminist cred being on the line because of something I’ve written, and I’m pretty uncomfortable with some of what’s come of all this elsewhere”

    This is a difficult thing with feminism, or with any political philosophy. Everyone occasionally missteps, either intentionally or otherwise. I know that I do. In most cases that shouldn’t be viewed as the same thing as saying that every woman needs to get back in the kitchen. Hell, even if someone’s thinking is perfectly in line with one branch of feminist philosophy, they will eventually get criticized by another branch who thinks they’re doing it wrong. One of the perils of a wide-ranging movement, I suppose.

    Thanks again for both the content and the tone of your comment. After this, I look forward to reading more of your work.


  77. @Esther Inglis-Arkell: I’m not even sure Jesus actively winked. For all I know, he read the script, and thought “thoughtful” implied looking down, away, passive, and wanted a panel that looked more active, stronger. It’s his prerogative to want the finished page to look eye-catching and dynamic. Indeed, it’s his job.

    If I didn’t catch it because I was looking at it from a different POV, I’ve no reason to assume anything he did was intended as a slight; I don’t know the guy, but I don’t see evidence of it in his other work. It could be one of those accidents that happen in a collaborative medium; they’re far more common than you might think.

    When I was in grad school, I had colleagues who wanted to dismiss the entire genre of superhero comics as nothing more than misogynistic and juvenile male power fantasy, and who were inclined to regard my positive interest in the genre as apologist and naive. I thought they were being willfully stupid then, and I still do; too many women have been drawn to the genre as fans and creators for me to accept that there’s nothing in it for us that is redemptive, engaging and empowering. Indeed, if we compare superhero comics to a similar film genre like the high-octane action blockbuster, I’d argue that comics are light years ahead of Hollywood in terms of featuring women as leads and active agents of their own stories, and in terms of subverting some of our culture’s most embedded assumptions about gender in narrative. I’m not saying Hollywood never does this, but I do think comics did it earlier and has done it more; and I’m not saying superhero comics aren’t riddled with misogyny and sexist cliches, but I don’t think you or I or thousands of others would be bothering with the form if there weren’t something balancing the scales.

    The tensions embedded in superhero comics are tensions embedded in our culture, and as you know, they are old, old tensions. Are there artists and writers and fans who wish feminist critics would shut up and sit down? I’m sure — to them, perhaps, these conversations sound like a bunch of outsider Scrooges getting together to Bah Humbug an art form and pastime they regard as theirs alone. And yet despite that, the fan and review sites I’ve been to that deal with film, television and music rarely approach with any consistency the level of thoughtful discourse about race, gender and sexual politics that I see on comics sites all the time. That says something about the form and the people of all stripes who are drawn to it, I think, even when the conversation takes unpleasant or less-than-civil turns.


  78. Jen: All I have to say is thank you. (and also that I like Hopeless Savages)


  79. […] even though the Power Girl/Jen Van Meter controversy has been stirring up the web everywhere from Esther Inglis-Arkell’s column at 4th Letter (where it originated) to sister CBR blog Robot 6 to somewhat remote locations like Jezebel I had […]


  80. […] Boob Controversy, and Kelly Thompson just got a Swiffer WetJet. New combatants include writer Jen Van Meter getting into the fray and explaining what she MEANT by the PG Costume Explanation Scene, and how it […]


  81. […] week Esther Inglis-Arkell over at the 4thletter called out a scene in the recent JSA: 80 Page Giant comic where Cyclone and Power Girl have a […]


  82. In comic books, does the art exist to serve the story, or is the art the story?

    The question’s relevant, because it concerns how writers and readers view the characters. A writer might treat his characters as if he’s writing a novel, with the art merely serving as descriptive text, and try to make his characters and plot as complex as page space will allow.

    Or, he can take the attitude that the art is the story, as is the case with practically all dialogue-only comics currently published, and write dialogue only as needed to advance the plot or to clarify what isn’t clear in the artwork.

    Power Girl’s large breasts are intrinsic to the character, or they’re not. There’s no middle ground. If they are intrinsic, then the character is sexist; if they’re not, then the size of the breasts simply detracts from the character’s assets, and the breasts should be modified.

    SRS


  83. […] the comments section of a 4thletter post: “A friend forwarded me links to your post and to a couple other blogs that have picked up on […]


  84. geez, that Stahl’s got a one-track mind.

    So, SRS, there aren’t any large-breasted women in the real world and if they did exist, they should be “modified” as well?

    Sometimes you just can’t explain things to people when they’ve already made up their minds. SRS is a lost cause when it comes to Power Girl and the supposed sexist nature of characters.

    I like Power Girl as is, don’t change a thing, and she’s not a “sexist character.” Of course saying that on this site isn’t going to go over well, but a person’s gotta fight the good fight. This blog entry didn’t deserve a post from Jen van Meter explaining her story because there’s nothing wrong with it, but there’s no chance selling that to the natives.


  85. @Fun Gnome: “The natives?” Cute. No one’s said that Jen van Meter owed anyone an explanation, nor did anyone expect one.

    And if you think that the post is about Power Girl’s costume, instead of the explanations surrounding the costumes of female characters, you read the post wrong.


  86. Consider how the “Cyclone is intimidated by Power Girl” sequence would be handled in a prose story. The writer would have Maxine think about the heroine, how she’s intimidated by her accomplishments, power, status, etc., and then approach the heroine to initiate a conversation. There wouldn’t be anything remotely sexist about the sequence.

    A writer could, in theory, approach the sequence the same way in a comic book, with Maxine thinking about the heroine, etc., but that sort of character contemplation, with thought balloons and narration, is apparently considered too outdated to use.

    The prose analogue to the published sequence would be Maxine thinking about Power Girl’s breasts, how the costume enhances them, how attention is drawn to them, by the hole, etc., and would hardly have anything to do with being intimidated by Power Girl as a person. The result is an impression that the writer thinks that Power Girl’s breasts are such a dominant aspect of the character that they have to be talked about.

    SRS


  87. @Steven R. Stahl: @Fun Gnome: The issue is not this black and white. It isn’t “her big boobs are evil” vs “uh no they aren’t”.

    Power Girl is a charged character. Some people think she’s nothing but the porno fantasy of frustrated, nerdy men. Others think she’s… well, basically what was said in the comic, I guess, that she’s proud of her body and all that. I think both of these aspects are present.

    While I DO honestly think that issuing a proclaimation that “here ye, here ye, all superheroines must have small breasts” is arbitrary and also sexist, (and I bet most people agree) putting your fingers in your ears and pretending there isn’t a disparity in the way female characters are often presented compared to males isn’t the way to go.

    It isn’t pleasant to admit that a favoured genre has such a flaw, but it helps you grow as a person to do so. Take a deep breath, and say it. “Yeah, superhero comics can be sexist SOMETIMES. But I still enjoy them.” Wasn’t so bad, was it? Acknowledging flaws doesn’t mean you suddenly can’t like something.

    A lot of strides forward for the ladies in comics have been made, and too often, this is forgotten. These strides most definately need to be celebrated. Too many people are advocating throwing the baby out with the bathwater, or seem to think that the solution is to constantly eject bile. It won’t work.


  88. Power Girl is a charged character. Some people think she’s nothing but the porno fantasy of frustrated, nerdy men. Others think she’s… well, basically what was said in the comic, I guess, that she’s proud of her body and all that. I think both of these aspects are present.

    If you’ve watched the TLC show What Not to Wear, you’ll see real-life women who are proud of their breasts, or their body shapes in general, and want to show them off. The result is that they look ridiculous much of the time, and are nominated for the show because their friends and/or family think they need some fashion sense.

    The notion that a heroine is “proud” of her midriff or her breasts so she wants to show them off is as unrealistic an aspect of her as anything, and is more damaging, because it affects her persona. As a rationale for sexist artwork, it’s become worthless.

    SRS


  89. @Steven R. Stahl: I think you should take a reading comprehension course, or at least remove the piece of paper that you’re using to block half of my sentence there.


  90. Incidentally, nitpicking on someone who’s actually basically on your side because of some language that has almost nothing to do with their point isn’t going to help anyone.

    Are you the Steven R. Stahl who writes for The Beat?


  91. Lugh, you’re ignoring the fact that the costumes bare skin. It’s possible to have the heroines look good to practically anyone without baring skin unnecessarily. The central issue is the writer’s conception of the character, and how that conception is distorted by the visualization of her. Adjusting her personality to fit the costume turns the character concept inside out.

    SRS


  92. Except that I wasn’t talking about that, at all. I was talking about how she’s a character that creates discussion, and I only mentioned what you’re on about to describe two popular sides in that discussion.

    Since you didn’t answer the question about yourself, I’ll ask you another one: Are you a person, or a fakeposter using a name that when turned into initials, happens to be “SRS”, as in srs bsns?

    God, that felt dirty to type. If I’m off the mark, I’ll gladly take any internet lashings that are coming to me.


  93. But… aren’t Superman and Batman in spandex body stockings? That’s only “modest” or “fully dressed” at certain parades…

    Well, I guess they ARE wearing little trunks over theres, with belts to hold them up… Spidey is just in the tights.

    Also: Hercules skirt and slutty boots > Supergirl’s mini and little boots. At least Supergirl wears panties…


  94. Now you’ve done it, Steve.


  95. Steve: “But… aren’t Superman and Batman in spandex body stockings? That’s only “modest” or “fully dressed” at certain parades… […] Spidey is just in the tights.”

    Yes, but, and this is a key difference, their costumes are not intended to be sexy. They’re not in spandex PJ’s because someone decided that’d be HAWT, and they’re not played for fanservice. Male superheroes might be designed to be good-looking, if you like the hugely over-muscled type, but they aren’t designed to be titillating in the way that Power Girl’s boobs are. When Superman (or Spiderman) gets a redesign that shows off half his nekkid ass-cheeks and starts casting pouty come-hither looks at the audience, then you’ll have an argument.


  96. […] Okay. Now I’m Getting Mad. No matter how many times you have the female characters talk about how they decided on their outfits, they are still fictional characters. These aren’t women who have decided on what they want to wear for reasons of their own. These are characters who are dressed as playboy bunnies because a bunch of creators decided to dress them that way for fun and profit. comics meta […]


  97. I forget…who’s holding the gun to Van Meter and Conners head to write and draw these women in their revealing outfits again?

    Would it be the same person that’s holding the gun to all those women at comic cons that LOVE wearing that stuff? Who held the gun to Trina Robbins head to help design with Frazetta one of the most revealing comic book outfits of ALL TIME…Vampirella!? Oh wait…Robbins is a woman…she was probably stomping her feet insisting Vampi wear a turtleneck right?

    Please.

    Is it the same person holding a gun to the heads of those women in Penthouse and Playboy to take their clothes off by any chance? And who’s guarding the door to the porn industry to keep the percentage of women at like 95 to 5 in favor of women?

    And who held the gun to Arkells head to read it in the first place? Oh…wait…THERE IS NO ONE HOLDING A GUN TO THEIR HEAD.

    Women will always be a womans worst enemy. It’s a comic book, not the cover of Newsweek. It’s not supposed to be representitive of REALITY, HELLO! Who the hell cares what the writer or creators intent or excuse was in making the costume? It’s a non issue at this point.

    I would have had more respect for Van Meter if she had not explained herself at all and simply told the writer of the article “Hey, I’m proud of every last damn word and panel of this comic and if you don’t like it, don’t read it” or just ignore her all together.

    Arkell is obviously a bored, dilatant bomb thrower who has no clue what she’s talking about. And given that she’s a “woman” talking about “female” comic book characters and complaining about the “woman” that wrote it…thats pretty bad.

    The very concept of someone being sexist is now officially a myth and has been for decades. It became a myth when women willingly became a part of what they claim to hate.


  98. Everyone do me a favor and don’t respond to that guy. He’s clearly got no interest in conversation, just being a jerk.

    Though I do want to thank him for “dilatant,” which I can only assume is a “militant dilettante,” which makes Esther a strident lover of art. Which is an incredible compound word, like Brangelina or Manwich before it.


  99. What if the kid was talking about eye ‘holes’ in a burqa? The same dialogue would apply and no Palmiotti’s wrong.. it’s not the kid putting words in Power Girl’s mouth. The wrongness of the dialogue is that the kid has an understanding beyond her years and that Power Girl would really throw that raggedy suit in the trash.

    This whole thread is not about what a woman wears, but what a society thinks a woman should wear.


  100. Looking at the panels; I would have thought the last one conveyed some level of uncomfortableness.

    Like the girl’s statements about her clothes actually reflecting the contradictions in Power Girls own actions.

    Though that apparently wasn’t the writers intent.

    I’m also not that sure that Power Girl is all that confident about herself.

    On one hand she likes to show off her body but on the other hand she has problems with people focusing on that part or even having brief glances at it.

    She has inferiority issues relating to Wonder Woman.

    As far as women hassling her about the costume, Crimson Fox bugged her about it once but not in a pro-feminist kind of way.

    I think she mentioned to Huntress once that she’s doesn’t get along with most female super heroes.

    Even her name kind of reveals insecurities; she calls herself “Power Girl” but she’s clearly a woman whose what got to be around her mid-late 20’s?

    I remembering hearing somewhere that the one of the reasons Peter Parker called himself “spider-man” was because there was no way someone who was 16 would call themselves “boy or lad” and I can’t see a woman in her twenties calling herself “girl”, maybe playfully refering to a friend that way but not as an actual “label”.

    Though regardless of whether or not Power Girl is a character created under sexist values; ironic considering what she originally fought against, I have to question the argument that “big boobs equal sexist”.

    What only woman of medium, height, appearance and purportion should be presented now? The only hair color allowed is a medium brown?


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