Ten Instances of Sexualized Male Superheroes

At a Comic Con San Diego panel last month entitled "Women of Marvel," the news of an upcoming series, Spider Woman, was announced. Yet when a cover of the first comic in the series was revealed, drawn by Milo Manara, an artist known for his erotic drawings, controversy erupted. There was Spider Woman, in a red, skin-tight outfit, posed on all fours. Some bloggers and organizations that write about comics were extremely critical. 

Is it the fact that female superheroes (and females in general) in comics are sexualized that makes some people angry, or is it that male superheroes and other male characters are not objectified with the same frequency? This i09 article features ten times that male superheroes have been sexualized, both in movies and comic books. Did they have to throw in movies because there were too few examples in comics? Perhaps. But let's take a look at one. 

Pictured below is Dick Grayson, also known as Nightwing. His suit comes fully equipped: mini computer, knockout gas, anti-toxins, "re-breather," listening devices, stun gun and more. But it appears Nightwing has one more secret weapon: his posterior. At least, that's the asset artists who drew the following images took the liberty to highlight, including Secret Six artist Nicola Scott, whose artwork is in the photo immediately below.

I suppose the only true test of public opinion would be a massive increase in male comic book characters being sexually objectified. I daresay if, however unlikely, that did happen all of a sudden, the only quantifiable result would be a reduction in comic book sales.  

Images Credit: DC Comics




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I agree with Zeon wondering if the author of this neatorama article is even a comic book fan or knowledgeable cause it was one of the most poorly worded and thought out article I've seen on here, regurgitating the same ole rhetoric from people who don't want women in their 'boy's club'.

That's really excessive. Lisa's point is clear and coherently expressed. It flows smoothly from point to point.
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"is there a demand?" of course there's a demand! Are you really so blind in not thinking there are queer male and straight/bi/queer females who are comic book fans? Female comic book fans have been around forever! And we're a growing demographic and we've been around for a lot longer than men would like to admit.

If you feel irritated, then you have to look at yourself at why, why are you feeling irritated that women want to have comics stuff catered to them a little more? That we don't want to be deluged with sexual objectification 24/7.

As to what to do about it? Teach men to be less misogynistic, sexist and entitled brats because we're not going away.

I agree with Zeon wondering if the author of this neatorama article is even a comic book fan or knowledgeable cause it was one of the most poorly worded and thought out article I've seen on here, regurgitating the same ole rhetoric from people who don't want women in their 'boy's club'.
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I really don't know what to think about all this stuff. When it is criticized I take it personally because I like it and I even create art that is sexually charged. My initial reaction to the complaint about a lack of objectified males is a degree of irritation, and I ask, "is there a demand? If we make some do you promise to at least make an effort to consume it?" Or, "if you want to see other kinds of games and comics then by all means make some." But if I try to see it from the other side, then I guess the fear is that comics that are never seen or read by woman are nevertheless going to impact their lives because people raised on them will take those women less seriously as equally qualified men. that raises some questions, such as "is that actually what is happening?" and "if so then what -- if anything -- can we or should we do about it?"
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I can't help but wonder- do you actually read comic books, Lisa? Anybody who does knows that this issue is pretty silly, because men are just as objectified- powerful male superhero= steroid beefcake, many of which run around half naked as well. And if you're scrawny? Well, you'd better have a cool power or you're screwed.

Wonder Woman is one of the most powerful characters in the DC Universe, nearly a match for Superman, and her classic outfits aren't particularly objectifying. Superheroes are about idealization, not reality, and this whole objectification issue is based on people who don't even read comics taking offense to the cover art, which any true comic reader knows hardly ever matches the storyline within the issue.

Are men offended when every romance novel in the world features a Fabio beefcake on the cover? No, because we know this is all marketing, a way for publishers to sell their books.

Another thing that makes this whole issue ridiculous is the fact that many superheroes wear clothes simply because of censorship. Comic book creators from the Golden Age have been quoted as saying if they could draw their characters naked they would, both male and female, because virtually invincible aliens wouldn't really feel the need to wear clothes. So Superman is actually supposed to be flying around naked, but that wouldn't fly with the parents and censors. How's that for objectification?

This issue is being pushed by non-readers but isn't stopping the publishers from doing what they've been doing for decades- making their target audience buy their books. They're never going to care much about these arguments because the people perpetuating this BS don't buy comics.

I suppose the only true test of public opinion would be a massive increase in male comic book characters being sexually objectified. I daresay if, however unlikely, that did happen all of a sudden, the only quantifiable result would be a reduction in comic book sales.

Personally I've been reading comics for over thirty years, and I know doing this wouldn't result in a reduction of sales because the so-called objectification would only take place on the covers, and real readers would still be buying issues so they can read the stories. But, as I said before, this is only an issue to people who don't actually read comics.

Lastly, on the topic of the recent Manara cover for Spider Woman- she's a character from the Bronze Age, and Manara was most active during the 70s and 80s, so this is clearly meant to appeal to older readers who actually remember reading Bronze Age comics with Spider Woman in them and appreciate Manara's style. The cover isn't meant to appeal to fans who jumped on board the comic book trend after watching The Avengers, it's a throwback meant to appeal to readers like myself who have been reading comic books their entire life.

I agree with John's point that "if you don't like them then don't read them", but sadly this whole issue is being pushed by people who don't even read comics, people who are capitalizing on the current popularity of comics and writing articles about things they know nothing about.
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Is it the fact that female superheroes (and females in general) in comics are sexualized that makes some people angry, or is it that male superheroes and other male characters are not objectified with the same frequency?

I think that the point is to demonize heterosexual male desire.

I suppose the only true test of public opinion would be a massive increase in male comic book characters being sexually objectified. I daresay if, however unlikely, that did happen all of a sudden, the only quantifiable result would be a reduction in comic book sales.

I suspect that you are correct. But I would enjoy watching the free market deliver that hard and painful lesson.

My take: if you see comics that you don't like, then don't read them. Read the stuff that you do enjoy. Life is too short to get worked up over bad comic books. Time is better spent enjoying those that you do like.
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