Friday, May 26, 2006

Women and Comics: A survey

Ragnell at Written World and a number of other intarweb types have been discussing some issues related to women and comics, mostly in the wake of Frank Miller's Wonder Woman cover for All-Star Batman and Robin and Erik Larsen's recent column on the topic. You can check here, here, and here for some summaries of/contributions to the current conversation.

A number of rational people have suggested that guys talking to guys about what gals might or might not want does not seem to be the most successful strategy for increasing understanding. With that in mind, I have thrown up a quick and dirty survey as a pilot. This survey, focused more-or-less on some key issues that came up in the recent debate, is intended for females only. (There's no way to check, of course, so we're all on the honor system here.)

Click the link, take the short survey, ignore the ad that displays afterwards (unless you really want to make your own survey), and you're done. I get the anonymous results, which I will compile and report on. I will leave the survey up all week and report on it next week.

If the results seem to shed some light on the subject at hand, maybe we can expand the project and take a more scientific survey. But let's see how it goes, first.

What Do Women Fans Think? Click here to take the survey. Disabled 06/01/06.


Mickle said...

I would just like to note that while I picked "yes' to several of the objectification questions, I don't think "offended" is quite the right word for why I do not buy such comics or why I ignored the medium for so long.

It more has to do with how much I can relate to the characters and storyline (yes, I know that might sound silly when talking about comics). As a hetero woman, a comic that depicts women as sexually attactive - but not men - is not one that I will likely relate to.

Each story has it's own internal logic. Over the top objectification of women (esp in the absence of the same for men) suggests an internal logic that does not take my experiences into account. Such narrow minded viewpoints aren't necesarily restricted to obvious objectification. Kalinara's complaint re: 52 and sleeping in lace bras is a good example of this. There are worse examples of objectifying women in comics, but that one is especially jarring as a female reader because there seems to be so little reason for it.

I find repeated objectification of women in comics (and other media) offensive, especially considering how seldom men are sexually objectified, but I rarely find any one particular image or comic offensive all by itself. I just don't find it terribly attractive or compelling either, and so I generally avoid such comics/media. It's the lack of female voices, not individual comics, that has made it so difficult ot get into comics - even though as an avid reader, art history minor, and fan of children's picture books, it should have been a lot easier.

pssst - it should be female fans. Would you ever say "men fans"? Sorry to be the feminazi police - it just happens to be one of my pet peeves.

Walaka said...

Mickle: Thanks for your thoughtful response. I appreciate the distinction you are making between individual, acute instances and an overall pervasive sensibility when it comes to objectionable imagery or treatment of women in comics. I wonder how to capture responses to that.

In regards to the survey title, I was trying to evoke the Freud quotation "What do women want?" and agree that the construction was flawed.

storyjunkie said...

Thanks for setting up the survey!

While cover art has never caused me to not buy a book that I otherwise would, I have been known to drop entire titles because the amount of objectification/sexualization is wearying.

Walaka said...

Storyjunkie: Okay, two is not a trend, but it is interesting to hear your echo of Mickle's distinction between chronic and acute...

jamawalk said...

Liefeld still has a career and yet you guys turn your guns on Larson? Bizarre.

And by guns i meant boobs.