sexist avengers.

mjkimpan  —  June 22, 2012 — 23 Comments


are the Avengers sexist?

i saw the movie. i liked it. quite a bit, actually.

i’ve never been much of a comic guy, but for some reason find myself surrounded with people who think Marvel and DC comics are perhaps the coolest thing. ever. so i’ve seen the Spider-Man movies. all three of them. while i was admittedly entertained by the first one, in the second two i thought tobey maguire would’ve been better to stay in his jockey attire than to don the spidey suit once again.

i watched the Batman movies. all of them. and i was amused by the most recent adventures of the dark knight, but ever since i watched ‘homophobic batman‘ on YouTube, i am suspicious of his relationship with the joker. and his voice. sheesh. plus, when bale went NUTS over a stuntman walking on the set of another film, i have to admit i kind of lost respect for this version of the caped crusader. we should bring mr. mom back.

speaking of mothers, last time mine was in town, she wanted to go see the Green Lantern. i wanted my money back. really. i haven’t seen a movie that bad since the latest installment in the Indiana Jones series.

regardless of my past negative experiences, i understand that a lot of folks truly enjoy comic books, and so i keep on trying. and when i saw the Avengers, i must admit that i was pleasantly surprised. i enjoyed it. most everyone i’ve spoken to who’s seen the film share similar sentiments. and yet…

this week rachel marie stone asked,

what if all the avengers posed like the female one?


you can read her whole article here.

she notes further, this brilliant artistic experiment demonstrates just how pervasive images portraying females as sexually available objects are, such that when we see men posing in ways that signify sexual objectification, it looks strange.

so what do you think? are the Avengers sexist? are nearly all comics? if not, why not? and what can we do as to resist the prevalent messages of sexualization that exist in our culture?

what do you think?

  • http://penciledinexistence.wordpress.com/ Carlynn Jurica

    I’m not a comic book reader, so I don’t know much about how they portray the female superheros in there, all though I know that every graphic I’ve seen from one over-emphasizes male musculature (which can’t be good for boys’ body image) and over-sexualizes the female body. For the movie, however, I felt like they did a very good job making everyone (including the Black Widow) look attractive and bad-ass without being over-sexualized. I thought they wrote and shot Natasha as a very strong female character who I found refreshing and enjoyable. I honestly don’t think that shot is an official movie promo; I think it’s an independent artist’s rendition, though I can’t be 100% sure about its origins.

    Also… I LOVED the movie. :)

    • http://www.mjkimpan.com/ michael j. kimpan

      thanks, carlynn.  i particularly enjoyed her conversation with loki – she certainly was portrayed as strong in that scene in a way that i thought highlighted redemption of her past (and yes, i admittedly had to look up ‘who is thor’s brother’ on google).

  • ryan copeland

    that picture is hilarious (the last one). Marvel has always portrayed it’s female characters like this. It’s not just the Avengers. If you’ve ever read a comic book or watched the X-Men cartoon series from the 90’s (my personal fav) you notice that all the Heroines have skin tight costumes and are very busty. This is the way it has been since the first female superhero appeared. 

    I think if we try to remember our Art History classes in HS and College, the female figure has always, throughout history, been the ultimate symbol of beauty and perfection. Over time that has changed from beauty to sex. Now instead of being ‘beautiful’, women are seen as ‘sexy’. 

    Now back to the topic, Is this portrayal of the Black Widow sexist? I don’t necessarily think so. If it is, than every magazine targeted at young women (Cosmo, Vogue, Seventeen, etc…) are sexist. And we don’t hear many complaints about how those publications portray women. But see, when something targets young men, than it is seen as sexist. And even most women would rather see her portrayed this way than some butch looking woman in some macho-im-gonna-kick-your…stance.

    Also I would point out that culture also objectifies men too, Really! See, the stance that I mentioned above is how all the men are in this illustration, and That is what defines sexy when it comes to men in our culture. Plus they’re all wearing tight pants, so whad’ya gonna do? 

    • http://www.mjkimpan.com/ michael j. kimpan

      thanks for your thoughts, ryan. i think your last sentence gets to the tension – we objectify both men and women in our culture so prevalently i’m not sure we even know where to begin in order to rectify it.

      as you said…whad’ya gonna do?  i wonder what it would mean for us to ask this not in a way of surrendering the conversation, but of shaping the future.  i certainly don’t have an answer.  not yet, anyway. ;)

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