Women in Comics – Guestblogging at Verbal Remedy

In the run-up to the launch of Friday’s Feminist this Friday, I wrote a two-part series for Verbal Remedy, a social community project based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Both come with content warnings for sexual and physical violence.

The first post was titled: Women in Comics: Women in Refrigerator.

It explores how comic writers and creators use the rape, death, brutalisation or depowerment of its superheroines for the advancement of a male hero’s story arc. It uses the examples of two Batgirls: Barbara Gordon and Stephanie Brown.

Here is an excerpt:

A fundamental difference can be summed up with two examples from the same universe. Barbara Gordon, the most famous Batgirl, was shot by the Joker, paralysing her spine. She stayed this way until the New 52 reboot. Batman has his spine broken by Bane in Batman #497 (1993). By the events of Knightquest: The Search, Bruce’s back is healed and he is able to reassume his mantle.

The second post was title: Women in Comics: The Sexy Lamp Test.

It explores how comic artists and creators sexualise their female characters solely for the male gaze. Notable examples of this are Power Girl and Starfire from DC Comics.

Here’s an excerpt:

From another juggernaut in the comic world comes The Sexy Lamp Test, coined by Captain Marvel writer Kelly Sue DeConnick. The guiding principle is that a female character that can be replaced with a lamp or any other inanimate object while still maintaining the integrity of the plot is not a suitably developed character. In DeConnick’s own words, “if you can replace your female character with a sexy lamp and the story still basically works, maybe you need another draft”. The aim of the test is to highlight the problem of female characters who are used as a prize, possession or object for the sake of a plot, much in a similar style to a Damsel in Distress. Think Princess Daphne in Don Bluth’s 1983 game Dragon’s Lair, who could quite easily be exchanged for a lamp in gossamer lingerie.

Friday’s Feminist’s first post will explore how male victims of rape and sexual assault are portrayed in comics. I hope you’ll all read my posts over at VR, and maybe you’d like to check out my new blog too!

You can now like Friday’s Feminist on Facebook.

And so, dear readers, we reach the end of another post.

Let me ask you this: can you think of any examples of sexy comic heroines in impractical or impossible clothes/poses? Are there any heroines that have suffered unnecessarily? And what are some good examples of representation you can think of?

Let me know your thoughts.

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About Stephanie Gallon

I'm 22 years old with first class honours in BA (Hons) English and Creative Writing. I'm currently studying MA English Studies. I'm an author, a blogger, and a zealot of all things written. I write on everything from comics, to feminism, to advice on university life.
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