female sexualisation in media and comics

(Okay, I’m cheating a little by partially reusing a linkdump I compiled back in January — but this is forever topical!)

© j scott campbell

The male gaze & the portrayal of women in media is one of the things I’m perpetually interested in, mostly because it’s usually so gosh-darned unhealthy and strange. Most of these pages were scrounged up over the course of a single evening, after pitching headfirst down the rabbit hole & following link after link after recommendation after link. Here they are, for posterity and if you also have an evening to spare:

  • Porn That Women Like: Why Does It Make Men So Uncomfortable?: The comments are interesting in that apparently James Deen’s porn isn’t much different from the usual, but I definitely agree that he is way more attractive than what I’ve seen of most porn stars. And I don’t really care about the actual quality of his films, but am super interested in why guys looking like him can’t get jobs in porn, the homophobia argument, the disembodied phallus, etc.

A friend of mine made the point that even while she completely agrees, another part of her just likes the sight of hot ladies. And I know that I waver sometimes in terms of good artwork; for an example off the top of my head, I’m a big fan of Stuart Immonen’s art in Nextwave even though the women have wacky Barbie proportions, because it’s obviously super-stylised and they don’t show that much skin. (And not to mention, Elsa Bloodstone is so badass.) So there’s a line to tread, I guess, but for the most part it feels like the broader media is still doing it wrong.

Anyway, that’s the tip of the iceberg! If anyone else out there has further thought-provoking/well-written/funny/etc posts on this topic, feel free to pipe up and share! As you can see, once you get started there’s really no end to it. But I still don’t get tired of reading about this, ever. There’s a pretty obvious connection between advertising’s image of women & our self-esteem; when it’s so pervasive like this, no wonder so many people have inaccurate or unhealthy relationships to their own bodies.

(Note to self: At some point, blog my thoughts on specifically the male gaze/female gaze in a few diff. movies.)

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2 thoughts on “female sexualisation in media and comics

  1. Elizabeth says:


    These are the only two I could find offhand (there’s at least one other one I’m specifically thinking of), but there’s quite a treasure trove out there of drawings of male superheroes in “female” poses to underscore their ridiculousness.

    I wasn’t too bothered by most of the art in your first link (except for the Wendy ones because she’s supposed to be a CHILD, and the one you used for the post–who cleans like that!?), but the comments are horrifying. A lot of the male commenters really seem to believe they have the God-given right to idealized, objectified depictions of the female form. I guess some guys just freak out when you try to take away their toys.

    • Julie says:

      Very, very belatedly: Thank you for the comment and the links! I’d seen the second one, but not the first. It’s ridiculous, too, because this just keeps happening — c.f. the most recent Catwoman #0 cover that was announced just a couple days ago. She is literally just a bundle of T&A.

      One picture that I know I’ve seen but can’t locate anymore was a photograph of a male Thor cosplayer, in a horrifyingly skimpy costume, all “what if Thor dressed like female superheroes?” I wish I could find it because it was such a great photo.

      The comments are always the worst part. Whenever controversy like this pops up, I try to remind myself not to read the comments — it’s the first rule of the internet! — but I always cave anyway.

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