Female Superheroes – No, It’s Not Equal

Kelly Thompson takes a really close look at female superheroes and body type portrayals, and the vast difference between male and female superheroes in an article called No, It’s Not Equal on Comic Book Resources.

When I look at the way characters are rendered in superhero comics for more academic purposes, I look at four primary categories: Body Type, Clothing, Beauty, and Posing….

Both men and women are given crazy nearly unattainable idealized bodies in comics, we can all agree on this. But that is where the equality ends. Men are generally portrayed with idealized ATHLETE body types. While women are generally portrayed with idealized PORN STAR and SUPERMODEL body types. Which would make sense if the women were not actually superheroes. But they are, and so making them porn stars and supermodels doesn’t make a lot of sense. If women, like men, were rendered like gymnasts, swimmers, runners, boxers, tennis pros, and body builders, you’d see far fewer objections, because that would make things quite balanced. An idealized athletic form that few of us can achieve but many of us would admire or like to have, is imminently reasonable for a superhero form, but that’s not what we get, instead we get idealized (and wholly unrealistic) supermodel and porn star types.

It’s funny that in comics, the term “brokeback” means something quite different than the gay cowboy movie. It’s a description of the pose that many female superheroes are drawn in, where they twist in a way that is physically impossible in real life to show both their breasts and ass in the image.

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