You’ve heard the argument that male superheroes are sexualized simply because they are often bare-chested. But a man taking off his shirt doesn’t make him a sex object. It’s actually rare to find examples of male superheroes who truly are sexualized the way women are in comics. Here are ten examples.
Our Young Avengers’ opening scene being in this list made me smile, in a good way.
What’s so interesting to me was that even a list of ten times, they had to include fanart, largely drawn by women, to make the list. And it included a joke scene.
And in all the examples, while they are sexualized they aren’t objectified. You see them in full-body shots. They’re flexing and powerful, the center of attention with other sexualized, even objectified, women surrounding them (especially in those swimsuit issues). The outfits and scenes are full of their own personality and who they are. You can’t swap out different characters at will with no change in the scene (aside from maybe the Scarlet Spider pic)
You don’t get a closeup shot of Thor’s ass as he climbs up a ladder. You get a full-body shot of him, including his face and what he’s interested in and doing.
Noh-Varr is specifically dancing to impress a girl he just had sex with and we can assume would like to again. He’s in control of what is happening, he’s aware that Kate is watching him. He’s inviting her to keep watching. He has agency in the scene.
If the way women were sexualized in comics were more like the scenes in this, then I don’t think it would be such a big deal. But more often what we see are women broken into body parts, removed of their identity, with no agency in how they’re being presented, and in scenes where they should be flexing and powerful we get glorified porn poses.
Agreed, I get the lists intent, but it only highlights what a huge difference between how female and male characters are treated differently in the large landscape of comics. I could make twenty top ten lists of lady characters in overly sexy poses, but why bother when you could literally head over to Escher Girls and find 1000+ pages about it?
Fact of the matter is, male characters are still seen as people first, while female characters are still seen as object first. Noh-Varr’s scene is certainly playing up his sex appeal for Kate (and others attracted to him), but he’s still a person first. This isn’t a bad thing, but you don’t get the same thing with female characters.
Jessica Drew is an object meant to sell to men on the variant cover for Spider-Woman. Because the artist believes women are objects first, people second.
Whenever someone brings up this debate I always think back to a scene in Teen Titans where Koriand’r is bathing, naked. You’d think this would be a prime time to objectify her, but she’s not. She’s thinking, she’s feeling, she’s not posed awkwardly or contorted in anyway. Everything about the scene is as natural as the picture of Steve Rogers on the beach or Namor chilling in his speedo. And then you have her in RHATO #1 where she’s on the beach, wearing an itty bitty bikini, being posed and contorted for (literally) Jason, Roy and some nameless teenage boy to watch and drool over.
That’s the difference.
And I’m so sick of fake geek guys trying to say scary mean feminists are trying to de-sexify comics and are prudes, like screw you man you have no clue what it’s like or what you’re talking about.