I’ll Have Some Plot with My Cheesecake, Please


Wonder Woman cheesecakeThis isn’t new or even surprising, but people—specifically women in this instance—tend to be sexualized and exploited for marketing purposes that just do not make sense to me.  I’ve never claimed to be the stereotypical “guy” and don’t enjoy a lot of things have been described as “manly,” and so I just do not understand why women are exploited as eye candy for various products and services.  A woman scantily clad in a bikini is not going to make me enjoy Mountain Dew any more than I already do.  But, the thing that really annoys me—and impacts me personally—is the portrayal of women within geek culture, and especially within comics.


With the New 52 continuity that DC has brought forth, several female characters have been shuffled around or eliminated entirely.  While I haven’t had a chance to read ALL of the titles yet, most of the ones I have read seem to have portrayed women in a fashion that I don’t like.  Let’s take Wonder Woman, Zantanna, and Starfire for example: before the reboot, the costumes for these characters were somewhat revealing, but now they just seem downright ludicrous.  Wonder Woman’s outfit has always seemed small to me, but now it seems as though it’s just painted on.  I’m all for expression and don’t mind a little fan service every now and then, but not to the point where it takes away from the storytelling.  In fact, the only way I see it as plausible is if it distracts the bad guys for a moment or two, but that’s not always going to be the case.

Then, there’s Supergirl’s outfit; again, her outfit’s always been rather revealing, but what’s the point of the shortness of the new one?  It’s been shown that the material her costume is made out of provides protection against a variety of threats, both direct and indirect, so why wouldn’t she want to cover her legs with it like Superman does?  I can’t believe that it’s due to social convention from Krypton: it was an advanced society in which women played an equal role with men, so there’s no reason why Kara’s outfit would be so fan-serviceable.

As mentioned above, there are many such areas that show women to be scantily clad individuals, including RPG source books.  Having played some tabletops in my time, I’ve oft been curious why the drawings of women in such books are always wearing significantly less than they should be, especially given the practicality of their surroundings and class.  Of course, the main reason that pops up is men.  Traditionally (such a lovely word), males have been the ones who have played such games, but that “tradition” went out the window a long time ago.  Perhaps, it’s simply because I know more female geeks than I do male ones, but I have encountered many a woman who can effectively play a 3.5 session of D&D more so than 4 men put together.

And, the oh so very sad aspect of that last sentence is that there seem to be so many people who are surprised by the fact that women know their geek stuff.  It may be me, but why should it matter that it’s a woman who can school you on FFIX or rock out on Guitar Hero better than you could at an actual audition?  It shouldn’t; we’re all individuals who enjoy the aspects of geek culture that we’re into, and that’s all that should matter.  A few months ago, fellow geek Molly McIsaac—though not a personal friend of mine—wrote what I like to call a “ranticle” concerning how men in her local comic book shop treated her given the simple aspect that she was a woman, and she made a very fine point: “Geek is Gender-Neutral.”

Sadly, McIsaac has not been alone in such interactions.  My first real comic book shop, 4 Color Fantasies, is owned by a married couple, though most of the time I’ve seen the wife behind the counter (still to this day, even).  As one normally does with the regular staff worker in comic stores, I developed a rapport with her and talked about several things in the comic world; however, there have been a few times when I’ve noticed fellow customers question her veracity as an entrepreneur of comics, and for no other reason than simply because she’s a married woman (or a woman in general).  I was a bit taken aback that such a situation would even occur over such a small difference, but, as I said, I am very much not the typical guy.

Perhaps, owing to that non-typical aspect, the vast majority of my friends have always been female; I just tend to connect better with women than I do men for the most part.  As such, my experiences and observations have been influenced—directly or indirectly—by that of my friends, and not once have I ever seen one of them let themselves be exploited simply because of their gender.  In fact, I even asked some of them if they would relay their accounts of running afoul any individuals who tried to take advantage of them simply because they were women. The end result is that they didn’t allow themselves to be pigeonholed because of how they were born, and may The Watcher help any who didn’t get out of their way.

But, I also asked them what they thought of the portrayal of women, too, and some of the remarks were interesting.  Most agreed that they believed the reduction of mainstream female comic characters is a negative step, but there are a few who actually like some of the changes.  One friend stated that she may not agree with the random sexual encounters that Catwoman has with Batman, but that she likes how Catwoman handles her opinion of sexuality: “She owns it,” and doesn’t make excuses for her behavior.

Objectively, I do enjoy the female form, but I don’t need it shoved down my throat in order to enjoy a storyline.  Ms. Marvel (soon to be Captain Marvel) may look good in spandex, but how she looks has no bearing on how awesome she can be at kicking the butt out of S.H.I.E.L.D. and H.A.M.M.E.R. agents.  So, I appeal to those of you in the marketing departments of various companies: don’t objectify women—or men, or anyone, actually—as a sexually appealing aspect of a product.  There are far better ways to sell things—like, providing the best services for their intended demographic. (I know, a radical idea, but one I think will take off eventually.)


Last modified on Thursday, 27 December 2018 17:34

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