I hate a lot of women superheroes. This is not a new statement. It has been made time and time again by so many nerds who just want some fair representation and instead end up with a loosely formed “character” in heels and armored lingerie. But today I have no intentions of ranting about the patriarchy and objectification of women, though I could easily do so because it is so obviously to blame here. That has been done by many women who are far more talented than I am. No, today I intend to approach this issue with a lens that men think that they have a monopoly over. We are going to talk about the failed logic of female superheroes. More specifically, how they are drawn.
First, we should talk about what you should wear in a fight. It should probably be maneuverable so point one for the skimpy bikini that your favorite butt-kicking woman wears, but it should also protect the really important parts like the heart and the organs so minus one point for that bikini. It should not restrict breathing so that latex or leather catsuit is out and if you have big breasts which so many female superheroes coincidentally have you basically need to strap those things down so cross that push-up bra off the list and chuck it in the fire. Considering the fact that you might need to be running or jumping a lot unless you only fly throw out those heels because you will roll your ankle in the middle of chasing a bad guy and you will just have to limp home. Is that cute skirt a part of your possible outfit? Get that out of there. If it flows even a little bit think about how easy it would be to grab that is considering whether it would stay on in the first place. The exception to that rule would be a tough armored skirt which I can conceive of as useful though only if it helps to cover the major artery in your leg which means it goes down to the knees. Is your superpower flight? Well then bundle up cause our atmosphere is incredibly cold and the higher you go, the colder it gets. I wouldn’t recommend flying through a rainstorm without a raincoat or at the height of a mountain without something real warm.
Second, we should talk about what happens to the body when you do a lot of fighting. If you happen to be knocking around evil villains you will work up quite the sweat which will cause muscle growth. Running after bad guys will beef up your legs and punching them in their faces will strengthen your arms a whole lot. Chances are your boobs will also shrink as you burn all unnecessary fat so those triple Ds might start looking a lot more like Bs. Do you fly high or dive deep in the sea? Well that tiny ribcage will expand so that you can take in more oxygen (unless you can breathe underwater.) Say goodbye to the microscopic waist that you sport. In fact, that waist actually doesn’t make any sense in any context seeing as the only real way to achieve it is to corset up every single day which I can’t imagine anyone would decide to do while they are trying to save the world.
You may tell me that this is ridiculous and that your female superhero is just an unchanging invincible tiny-waisted giant-boobed goddess who wears the Princess Leia bikini and flies around in heels. But then what purpose does she serve? If she is not muscly, if she wears skimpy outfits despite the inconvenience the pose in battle (if she is invincible she might as well be naked,) and if she does not conform to anything that an actual woman would do or look like or be like then how can we even call her a woman? She does not even represent an idealized one she represents an impossible one and becomes nothing but fodder for masturbation. I know I said that I wouldn’t make this about patriarchy and objectification but it is impossible not to. This “woman” exists only for pleasure. Sure she may smash some heads but in the end she has no trait that connects her to any sort of humanity. Not even the writing for many female superheroes reflects real life, I focused on the design but I could talk even more about the role of female superheroes simply as emotional fodder for their male counterparts. Sure, this is a fantasy space, but you have to wonder why the flipside of this is nonexistent? How is it that the closest comparison for women is a romance novel in which the male characters still get a lot of development and don’t wear stupid costumes. In the end, the female superhero does not make sense in the long-standing context she has been put in.
Revolution is happening in a lot of ways but people still question and even oppose the changes. In the end, people stuck in their ways will insist that I am wrong and that things were fine the way they were but if you take even one second to consider what is most effective in battle, and how women’s bodies actually behave, you will find that there is a huge difference between the muscly men wearing skin-tight suits and their tiny-waisted, big-breasted bikini toting female counterparts.