Does anyone remember the backlash this past year over the cover to Spider-Woman #1? When the feminists and the Social Justice Warriors came out in droves to denounce the cover as being sexist and objectifying to women? Yeah, that made my head hurt too. The feminists already attacked video games with Anita Sarkesian and GamerGate, and now it seems that they want to come after comic books as well. The problem is that they have absolutely no idea what they are talking about and their claims are ludicrous and disingenuous. If you don't remember the cover, it had Spider-Woman on top of a building on all fours, her legs wide apart and her ass prominently displayed. On the surface, it would look as though it was meant for nothing more than to give pre-teen men a hard-on at the expense of the dignity of this particular character. The problem with taking this image at face value, however, is that it demonstrates a severe misunderstanding of the character. This was actually nothing more than a fairly accurate representation of the kind of pose Spider-Man is often drawn in, to demonstrate his Arachnid prowess and dexterity. Don't believe me? Well, let's put this cover side by side with the cover of Amazing Spider-Man #30, shall we?
As you can see, the poses are almost identical. Spider-Man has the same prominent buttocks featured, the same wide spread stance in his legs (in fact, his legs are even WIDER apart than Spider-Woman's). The poses are identical. But you can't tell that to a feminist, because if you do you are just supporting this non-existent Patriarchy they are always yammering on about and you are a misogynistic rapey bastard for daring to say such a thing. How dare you say that this woman was treated absolutely EQUAL to her male counterpart?!
Feminists want to always complain that women are objectified in comic books, drawn with undue or unnecessary emphasis on their often well-developed, um, assets. Yeah, assets. We'll go with that. They also like to claim that male characters would never be illustrated in those same poses and point out how ridiculous it would be to do so. In fact, there is even a website called The Hawkeye Initiative, which publishes fan art of men in the same poses as some published female poses in comic books. Here is an example:
The pose of Hawkeye on the right is indeed laughable, however it is laughable not because the picture of Starfire on the left should also bee seen as laughable. No, it is laughable because it seems to forget the fact that men and women are not the same. You see, feminists want you to think they are, but they aren't. Men are masculine, women are feminine. It is a fact of biology and no amount of crying and complaining is going to change that fact. If Hawkeye had come out of the water wearing that exact same speedo but in a more masculine pose, it wouldn't be laughable at all. In fact, we see things like it all the time. I refer you to the scene in Casino Royale of James Bond coming out of the water.
007 in this scene is scantily-clad, wet and glistening in the sun, and sauntering in a very sultry way as he makes his way out of the ocean. But he does it in a masculine way, dripping with testosterone, and it doesn't look silly even a little. In fact, it has made more than a few women swoon and make plenty of comments of a sexual nature regarding 007's also well-developed assets. And we see the same things in comic books, as illustrated by the Justice League cover, cleverly parodying the film Magic Mike, at the top of this article. Sex sells, plain and simple, and it sells to women just as much as it sells to men. Even in movies and comic books targeted toward men, like James Bond, these scenes are thrown in to appeal to the female audience. Women want to see a well-defined and powerful man and we give that to them. Men want to see well-defined and sexy women, and we give that to them. If you think Halle Berry was being objectified in her bikini in Die Another Day but see nothing wrong with the image of 007 himself doing the EXACT SAME THING, then you, my friend, are a hypocrite.
The comic book market is often portrayed as being dominated by male consumers (in reality it is almost even as 47% of comic book readers are women) and as such, women are often objectified in these publications to appeal to the male consumers who are all, as I stated above, misogynistic rapey bastards. How, then, do you explain the Cosmopolitan cover above? I don't think anyone would argue that the target audience of this magazine is women. I have bought 2 or 3 issues of Cosmo myself, and all of those times it has been to bring home to my wife because I thought there were things in them she would like to read. I've never read the magazine myself and I don't know any men who have ever read this magazine. So how do you explain the very sexualized and not unattractive woman on the cover? This certainly wasn't put there for the benefit of misogynistic rapey men who most assuredly aren't going to buy the magazine, is it? So why? The answer is simple: this image is there to attract women and leave them with the subliminal claim that if they try the diet or the workout featured in the magazine that they can look like this sexy goddess too. That's why this cover exists. The truth is, hyper-sexualized and well-defined portrayals of both genders appeal to both genders. Thor appears with his shirt off and it appeals to both genders because woman want to swoon over him and men want to look like that so women will swoon over them. It is the same with female characters. Black Widow is sexy, and her sexiness appeals to men who want to drool over her and women who want to look like her. It really is that simple.
If you think men aren't objectified in publications aimed at women, you're wrong. The above image is the kind of image you would find on ANY cheesy romance novel. Men don't read those, women do. Women want to see a dreamy man and picture him as they are reading the soft porn stories found within the pages of such a book. And never do you ever hear any man complain about being objectified or treated unfairly based solely on our sex appeal. Why don't men complain? Well, first because no one cares. Not one. We might sit back and laugh and be like, "Yeah, if that's what you're looking for in a man, good luck with that" and women are free to mock us in the same way. I mean, come on, what comic book reader is going to end up with a woman who looks even remotely like Wonder Woman? I love my wife. My wife is beautiful. My wife is constantly being hit on by other men because of her beauty. She is far from a dog, but she certainly isn't Wonder Woman. And I'm not Chris Hemsworth and she wouldn't have a shot with Chris Hemsworth if she really wanted him. That doesn't stop her from drooling over him when he takes his shirt off (actually, she's always had the hots for Dean Cain, who also ran around in Lois and Clark with no shirt on quite often. We met him. I outed her and told him that she's had a crush on him since junior high school. He blushed, it was funny). If any double standard exists, it benefits women. They can freely see Chris Hemsworth or Dean Cain or whoever with their shirt off anywhere they care to look. If Scarlet Johanssen or Megan Fox take their shirt off, that's called pornography. Sounds like female privilege to me.
The bottom line is, both genders objectify the other. It is a natural outcome of having a healthy libido. To say that men are somehow wrong for being attracted to a sexy woman but that women are fully justified in being attracted to a sexy man, that's just disingenuous and is, in all actuality, unfair treatment to men. Creators shouldn't have to walk on egg shells out of fear that their art is going to be found somehow to be offensive to some over-sensitive woman, or a feminist group that is just out to cause controversy and get attention. That's wrong, it's unfair, and it is, for all intents and purposes, a disadvantage to being a man. It's female privilege, plain and simple.