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Sexism in Comics is Not New--Here's What You Should Do about It

The industry will eventually realize that depth is more valuable than cheesecake, and believe it or not, you can make a difference.

The release of DC's 'new' 52 books has led to some rather interesting yet controversial opinion pieces ranging from how much these characters have changed with the relaunch (we've done several articles on the subject) to whether or not many of these books are simply pandering to male fantasy and exploiting female characters. It's a discussion that has left me, as a a female reader rather uneasy; mainly because to a certain extent I agree with the sentiments of my peers; and its just so damn discouraging.

'Red Hood and the Outlaws' #1
'Red Hood and the Outlaws' #1

However, as much as I agree with the arguments over the portrayal of women in these books, (albeit I don't agree with all of them) it's hard not to get tired of the negativity. I know there are female characters being exploited in comic books and I'm sure it's no surprise to you either. You, who are reading this right now already know that there are overly gratuitous interpretations of women in these books. Yes, it's sad. And it makes me depressed. But it's still exhausting to go over the discussion over and over again, even though it's the last thing we should stop doing. But there is more that we should be doing to combat sexism in comics than simply ranting about it.

== TEASER ==

This morning I came across Eric Stephenson's blog and it really resonated with me. Eric is the publisher at Image Comics, and Image publishes some really fantastic books. Eric addressed the debate over sexism in comics in his latest blog stating that this isn't a new concept, and that if you have a problem with these books and the portrayals of these characters, you should stop reading them.

I feel the whole practice of reading some of these comics is akin to whacking yourself in the hand with a hammer and then screaming that it hurts. There is most definitely a sexist element to how certain female superheroes are portrayed in comics, but it's not a secret. You don't look at a character like Power Girl and wonder, "Hmmm, could it be that tawdry costume she's in has a purpose other than drawing attention to her ridiculously enormous tits?" (And in case you do, here's a hint: No.) By and large, the types of comics creating all this uproar practically celebrate what they're doing. Meaning, it's not at all difficult to ignore them. And if you're offended by the portrayal of women in these comics, that's the best recourse: Ignore them. Starve them out. Stop supporting them.
Read me, instead!
Read me, instead!

With a struggling industry like comics, it wouldn't be hard to see some real change if everyone that hated the interpretation of Starfire never picked up another issue of 'Red Hood and the Outlaws' again. That's how change happens. Speak with your wallet, not just your words. Then, take that money you've worked so hard to earn and put it towards a title you can really appreciate, because at the end of the day, comics should be fun. They should make you feel good; and there have been plenty of female characters who are for more interesting and have a lot more depth than the interpretations of a few of the women in the books we've seen lately.

In the uproar, I really feel that a lot of comics that feature female characters in a positive, empowering light have gone overlooked. They have been overshadowed by so much hostility towards two titles and that is unacceptable. Yes, it's easy to get upset and rant about how angry you are at the interpretation of a character, but that won't help bring positive awareness to some really good books that deserve some love. Not enough people are talking about how powerful Wonder Woman is in this new relaunch, or how fantastic it is to see Kate return in 'Batwoman.' How these women really are kicking so much ass and taking names, and how excited people are to read their upcoming issues. And there's absolutely no reason for that.

Good characterizations of women in comics do exist, which is something we need to acknowledge; even if it can be hard sometimes; and if we are going to stand up and say that something is bad, then we should also stand and admit when they are really good. Yes, we are overloaded with gratuity for the sake of gratuity, and sexism for the sake of pandering to fanboys, but good comics with strong, interesting, intelligent women are out there; we just have to make a greater effort to talk about them, too.