The beauty of buff women has once again been tainted by men. The dehulkifcation of she-hulk is a travesty and speaks to a larger issue plaguing the world of male-catered comics.
What’s the issue with comics targeted at men?
Sexiness comes first, character comes second, third or often not at all.
It seems male writers are unable to write women without gigantic tits and waists the size of a coke can. Female characters are often reduced to arm candy and vapid love interests for the heroes to use and the audience to ogle.
Female characters need just as much care put into writing as their male counterparts. The over-sexualization only pushes away female readers, damages comics’ reputation when other mediums like manga manage to create well rounded and sexy female characters and creates self esteem issues in young girls.
It is fair to say most women don’t want to read comics where the only representation are pin-up models.
Objectification often keeps female readers from reading the comics, no matter how well-written the stories are. A 2019 Statistia survey found only 24 per cent of women are comic fans and over 50 per cent aren’t.
A whole demographic is being forcibly pushed away from comics and this is a disservice to the medium.
It’s not that sexy women themselves are the problem but rather being sexy is their defining trait.
There are many cases of well-written sexy women, Nami and Nico Robin from the still ongoing manga One Piece are prime examples. They are loved by audiences, both female and male, and most importantly, they’re actually characters with personalities, wants and dreams. They have goals and pasts that are explored with depth and passion.
This is good storytelling. They aren’t love interests to the male leads, they are friends and companions, and they’re also sexy.
Writing sexy, well-rounded female characters isn’t an impossible task for male authors. Eiichiro Oda, the author of One Piece, does it just fine and he’s a man.
When female characters are overwhelmingly portrayed in one way, it creates unnecessary doubt and self-esteem issues in the demographic it represents. The Dove Self Esteem project found that only 11 per cent of young girls worldwide would call themselves beautiful. They also found that six in ten girls actively avoid participating in activities because of perceived concerns about how they look.
When the only costumes female superheroes wear are either skin-tight latex or a two-piece bikini with some boob armour, it’s damaging to the young girls ho see it. Asking themselves why they don’t look like that, and what they need to do to meet such impossible standards.
Superheroes aren’t just a boy thing.
Growing up watching and reading superhero tales is a common enough childhood. Every kid dreams of saving their parents from a rogue meteor. Everyone has imagined a field trip going horribly awry, having to save classmates from utter destruction.
The difference is, young boys get the visual aid in comics and shows, while young girls get sidelined into vapid, overly sexy, love interests for the heroes use.
Girls rarely get to see well-written women in comics and they deserve to see themselves in their heroes.
That’s a travesty that requires a rewrite.