A few days ago, BBC News reported that one in ten kids aged 12 to 13 fear they are addicted to pornography. Any right minded parent will have been disturbed by that report. And sadly, it's hardly surprising. Popular culture has been sexualising children, and pushing sexuality at children, for far too long now. Only recently, the Cartoon Network was forced to pull this variant cover of a Powerpuff Girls comic, after its sexualised imagery caused outrage:
Whilst this is bad, there is actually a lot worse out there. I grew up reading Marvel and DC comics, and I love the superhero genre. But there is a lot wrong with it. And these days, I wouldn't want my kids reading the modern comics, purely because of the misogynistic exploitation and over-sexualisation of female characters. What really shocks me is that these comics are drawn by grown ups - people, presumably, with mothers, sisters, wives, girlfriends, aunts and grandmothers. What the hell are they thinking? Just so you don't think I'm exaggerating, here are a few examples of this sexualisation and exploitation at work...
This image has caused a fair amount of complaint and controversy on the web, but this is actually one of the mildest images I'm going to show you today. Painted-on 'clothes', a porn-type pose, and focusing on the character's bottom. There is worse to follow...
9: Power Girl
Power Girl is something of a teenage fanboy favourite. And, I'm sure, is just the sort of character we want young men brainwashed with when they want to take our daughters out on a date! I'm sure Power Girl finds the cleavage-window an important part of her crime-fighting regime, but she really should cover up those thighs - the poor thing will catch a cold!
8: Poison Ivy
Now, here we can see the theme really developing - more oversized breasts, bare thighs, and a glimpse of bottom. Because this is great entertainment for kids. Not.
And the theme continues - oversized breasts, bare thighs, and on this particular pic, underwear seems to have been replaced with a tiny triangular plate. Not sure how it helps fight the supervillains...
A little variation on the theme here...
As you might guess from the name, She-Hulk, like the more famous Hulk, was a normal person before being exposed to gamma radiation and getting transformed into a monster... Wait... That can't be right. The guy gets turned into a monster, but the girl gets turned into a pouting sex goddess with - you've guessed it - breasts so oversized that the artist couldn't draw a suit big enough for her!
5: Emma Frost
Another fanboy favourite, from Marvel's X-Men continuity, this is actually one of the tamer pictures of the character. She is normally found at something called 'The Hellfire Club', where she parades around in basque, stockings and a fur stole. Seriously.
4: Ms Marvel
With a costume that borders on bondage gear, Ms Marvel's main superpower appears to be the The Sashay. While holding a sparkler. Bet those villains are scared now!
3: Wonder Woman
It has been alleged on numerous occasions that Wonder Woman creator William Marston was a bondage fetishist (google it). Certainly, if you were to look back on the very earliest Wonder Woman comics, you'd see that in almost every issue, the scantily clad heroine was either chained up or tied up at some point. This image, however, takes a different spin, and a variation on the theme so far - it isn't always about the breasts. Sometime just a lot of naked thigh, and being a 'temptress.' I bet Lois Lane was furious with this one! Of course, Lois tends to not dress up in skimpy spandex - she's more interested in pursuing a career, which is way too boring for pubescent fanboys.
Yet another one for the fanboys... but not like this, surely! Elektra was a lover of the superhero Daredevil, and was, in her own right, a brilliant martial artist. Still, she ended up getting the spike from Daredevil's archenemy Bullseye. Now, if Elektra had worn some combat gear a little more sensible than a leotard and garters - garters, for goodness sake - she might not have ended up in such a tragic predicament. Note that the villain's body is nicely under wraps, the only bare flesh he's showing being his smug grin.
Before we move on to the number one spot in this countdown of exploitative misogyny and sexual misdirection, let's just have a look at what things might be like if male superheroes were portrayed like the females... The following image is from Funny Meme...
I'm sure the fanboys would love this in every issue of their comics... #Sexy
And now... the Number One most ridiculously over-sexualised comics character ever - RED SONJA!
Yeah, Red Sonja has everything, right? The pout, the enormous breasts, plenty of flesh on show... But that's not the most ridiculous thing. Oh, no. You see Red Sonja is a warrior. A sword-wielding, monster-slaying, battle-fighting warrior! God job she's wearing some armour, then, isn't it? Yeah, armour. A chainmail bikini. And people expect us to buy this rubbish.
Words © Darren R. Scothern 2015