In Defense Of… Catwoman #1 and Sexy Female Comic Characters

Not everyone sees eye-to-eye. You might love something that’s reviled by most others. When we at PoP! feel like that, we make an argument In Defense Of

Writer’s note: this article deals with events depicted in the final pages of Catwoman #1 (and to a lesser extent, Red Hood and the Outlaws #1 and Birds of Prey #1), however, I will not be posting spoiler pictures in this article out of respect for the comic creators.

I want to make it known that the prevailing views of the Catwoman #1 controversy are not shared by all women who read and love comics. I feel the need to speak out, realizing that I will be possibly incurring the wrath of many highly vocal women in the comic community, but I don’t feel that they speak for me, and I do not share their views.

I wrote an article back in June titled “Goodbye Sirens, Hello Sluts”. I’ll admit that I was wrong on a lot of things. While Harley Quinn has changed a lot, I still enjoy the new character she’s become. Also, at the time, it seemed as though writer Judd Winick had given Catwoman and Batman’s relationship the axe, and I was upset over that.

Imagine my surprise and fangirl glee at the two of them hooking up at the end of Catwoman #1. Then imagine how disappointed I was at seeing other women respond with bile and hatred at a female comic book character having sex with a male comic book character.

Yes, Catwoman #1 is a book about a woman who uses her sex appeal to her advantage. That is a big part of what makes Selina Kyle a great character. Her relationship with Batman, sexual and otherwise, has always been a defining characteristic of the Catwoman character. However, writer Judd Winick is getting a lot of hate from people who didn’t like how Catwoman chose to be sexy, from running around in her bra (which we saw twice in Batwoman #1 last week), to seducing a man with whom she has had an ongoing relationship.

One article that I take offense to is Laura Hudson’s The Big Sexy Problem with Superheroines and Their ‘Liberated Sexuality’.

I would like to say first and in the strongest possible terms that I absolutely support the right of women to embrace and act upon their sexual desires in whatever way seems right to them, within consensual boundaries. My sense of justice is inflamed by the double standard that tells us that every person a man sleeps with makes them more of a stud, and every person a woman sleeps with makes them a little less valuable and less respectable.

Is that what’s happening here? Is Catwoman horribly devalued in the eyes of comic readers because she initiates sex with a man? What about Starfire in Red Hood and the Outlaws #1, who even says, “I am free to do what I want when I want”?

Some women like fanservice, too.

In my experience, it has always been women who have devalued other women based upon the number of people they’ve slept with. Surprisingly enough, men don’t care. Well, that’s a bit of a generalization, since there are some jerks out there who will give you a hard time no matter what, but for the most part, women are the ones who make other women feel bad over their sexual encounters.

That is what’s happening here. Catwoman and Starfire are being labled as “sluts” because they’re women who go after what they want. Sex is only okay if it’s a feminist-approved “certain type of sex”. It doesn’t seem as though we’re “supporting the right of women to embrace and act upon their sexual desires” at all.

One of the explanations that I’m hearing, from women who evidently know much more than I do about being a woman, is that these sexual encounters are being initiated by “men with tits” or “chicks with dicks”, basically, female characters written to act like men. I take offense to the thought that all women are cupcake-baking, scrapbooking, subservient, gentle creatures. I love “guy things”. I don’t play coy games. I identify with these characters because they’re not afraid to break traditional gender roles. To call them “chicks with dicks” is disgusting, deplorable, and closed-minded.

Basically, what these women are telling me is that I’m less of a woman because I see aspects of myself in characters like these. They could never be further from the truth.

What really baffles me are some of the themes that aren’t being discussed in the DC New 52. This week, Birds of Prey #1 was released. In it, Black Canary is forcibly kissed by one of the bad guys. We’re totally fine with that? It’s just a kiss, sure, but she didn’t want it. She didn’t ask for it. That man forced her to kiss him to demean her. And yet, we’re up in arms over sex between two consenting adults. The fact that women are choosing the Catwoman battle over Birds of Prey shows just how screwed up their whole argument is.

Contrary to popular belief, I don’t think that male writers, artists, or CEOs are the problem here. The problem is women who believe that a one-size-fits-all approach to female sexuality is how we should all be portrayed in the media, reality be damned. It’s the fact that the vocal minority of female comic fans feel the need to “dissect and inform the ignorant masses” every time something doesn’t fit into their preconceived notions of what twenty-first century femininity should be.

I’m shocked at how women want more female characters in their mainstream comics, and yet when we get what we asked for, there’s a huge, angry outcry. How are the creators over at DC Comics supposed to react to this? Women are holding back women in comics.

I understand that there are people out there, male and female alike, that were genuinely unimpressed by Catwoman and Red Hood and the Outlaws, and I can respect that. What I can’t respect is using these books as an excuse to further feminist agendas in ways that appear to speak for all female comic book fans. It’s not the truth. That is not how we all feel.

Thank you for hearing me out. It may not be what you want to hear, but I don’t think that I’m the only female comic fan who feels this way, and our side deserves to be heard as well.

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Who ARE these people!?

Mary Knize, Captain Painway, "C-Pain", and formerly Mary Staggs, was Panels on Pages' May 2010 Fangirl of the Month and is a former rollergirl. When she's not busy writing, she's probably playing a video game. She also loves Wikipedia and science.

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Comments (184)

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  1. One word: Facts. You nailed this one, Mary.

    • Tess says:

      Yep. Mary totally nailed it. Thanks for the article. I was getting worried that all my fellow geek girls had lost their minds…

      • DCM says:

        WE are not losing our minds, frankly, I think you are acclimating to whatever DC produces is okay. I think Mark should have stuck with her first posting, because it was accurate.

        This is back peddling. I am the person who most wanted to see Catwoman and Batman get together since I was little. And This is not at all how it should’ve happened. It’s like they’re throwing all this crap at you that is completely for male enjoyment only (no heads on the women, talking about how they sexual conquered women as if that made woman more important.)

        It is all missing the point. If you prefer to enjoy less and less of your favorite characters as they widdle the women down to g-strings and no personality.

        Women loving sex is not at odds here. B&C hooking up is not the problem. Me and several others I’m sure wanted that years ago.

        When women condone more and more of what a male dominated industry gives them, it does hurt the ability to fight back.

        Remember this is not a fantasy land we live in. It’s a business. And if they want to keep their readers they should listen to their customers complaints.

        Years ago comics were not about male sexual enjoyment.
        The sexualization of women characters is off the charts today, and this is the next step.

        When I saw that cover of catowoman with her boobs hanging out looking like she is helpless lying down, I was disgusted. You should be too. That is not Catwoman.

        that is not what confidence and strength look like. That is what porn looks like availability to the reader, that’s not sexy to everyone, and it’s not Catwoman. She’s driven by other things than passive sex.

        You know, Mary. There are men who don’t like this either.
        This is not a men vs women issue. But it is a old idea versus equality idea. And the industry is dominated by liked minded men who don’t value women.

        I wish you wouldn’t backpedal, stand up, and demand better.

        • Jason Knize says:

          1. If the Batman/Catwoman sex scene was made “completely for male enjoyment only”, then why did some women enjoy it?
          2. You’re right, it is a business. But if DC (or other comic companies) listened to everyone’s complaints ALL the time, they’d never get any comics on shelves.
          3. Years ago, comics were even MORE about male sexual enjoyment than they are now,
          3. You see a helpless Catwoman lying down with her tits hanging out. I see Catwoman lounging off the EDGE OF A BUILDING while pouring out a bag of diamonds she just pilfered.
          4. “I was disgusted. You should be too.” And you ruined any type of argument you had when you suggest that because the author doesn’t think like you, she’s a traitor to her gender.

          • Thad says:

            “If the Batman/Catwoman sex scene was made “completely for male enjoyment only”, then why did some women enjoy it?”

            That’s pretty fallacious reasoning.

            If things could only be enjoyed by their intended audience, there wouldn’t be so many adult male My Little Pony fans.

            And I wouldn’t like breasts so much.

            • Jason Knize says:

              The My Little Pony box doesn’t say “completely for girls 3-6 enjoyment only”.

              • Thad says:

                And Juneau is the capital of Alaska. Relevance?

                • Masque says:

                  The relevance is that this was not meant “just for a male audience,” as the commenter stated. The intended audience is “people who enjoy Catwoman,” which includes women who like powerful female characters.

                  The MLP bit was exactly on topic: just as MLP is not just for young girls, Catwoman isn’t just for stereotypical male comic fans.

                  • hannah says:

                    seriously?

                    I mean, really?

                    Obviously the half-naked Catwoman fetishistically putting on her clothes is intended for a male audience. The fact that a few women may also enjoy it is pretty irrelevant.

                    As a person who used to work in advertising, I can inform you: When you draw lots of female characters with huge breasts in teeny bikinis like Starfire is portrayed here, swinging their hair around etc., you are going for a male audience.

                    A creepy male audience, sure. But a male audience nonetheless.

                    you just sound like you’re in total denial here.

                    • Andre says:

                      You do understand that young women tend to see sexuality as powerful right? Brittney Spears fans are almost all women. Go watch one of her videos and think about that. Also think about Cosmo covers. Think about sex and the city and how often it showed tits. Think about MMO’s like WoW and know that women will play the sexually more attractive race/class more often.

                      Women tend to like boobs almost as much as men do… just for different reasons.

    • Bijou says:

      AMEN Sister!! I feel exactly the same way! I never even knew there was a Teen Titan’s comic before the controversy over the new Star Fire came out. Upon investigating it (buying a bunch of the previous ones and this new copy or Red Hood) I came to the same view points as you have. So what if she initiates sex? Awesome! She’s finally taking control of what she wants and her life rather than meandering around mopping over Nightwing, who dumped her and has moved on. In the previous comics she was just sad and had no purpose and didn’t even know what makes HER happy anymore. She had come to the realization that she was just living for her friends rather than herself. I can’t wait to see what her character can do now, with a clean slate in a brand new storyline. It’s hilarious that the idea of a woman having meaningless sex with someone sends so many people in such a tizzy but when I guy does it they don’t bat an eyelash.

    • bb says:

      The problem that some many women have with the sex in the Catwoman issue has nothing to do with the fact that it’s sex. I am a liberated woman and support embracing sexuality, but was upsetting about Catwoman #1 was not the fact that she initiated sex with Batman it was the motivation behind it. If you bothered to actually pick up an issue you would have seen from the first panel you get a eyeful of cleavage which continues for the next few pages, later on Catwoman feels the need to undo her top to distract the bad guys, and this very short 32 page comis ends with very graphic sex. Don’t you get it? The whole issue is nothing but sex,sex,sex. Catwoman is powerful enough to unleash a can of whoop ass on some loser without performing a strip tease. This comic had no substance whatsoever. It is yet another reminder of how men have taken advantage of the sexual revolution of sexualize women. Catwoman barely had a personality or a linear storyline, just a bare of huge breast and some sexy bras.

      • Andre says:

        :I am a liberated woman and support embracing sexuality:
        Just don’t support others embracing sexuality? The whole issue was about sex? I disagree but for the sake of argument…. what of it? Do you not support men/gay women embracing sexuality through porn? is it only some kinds of sexuality your ok with? If a women wants to watch a BDSM porn film is she wrong/bad and should be ashamed of herself? If your truly a Liberated women then you must also understand erotic fantasy in the form of comics or movies is healthy and normal. You must also understand that this means men can look at women in submissive or dominating roles and it is not autosexist even if it is not your cup of tea. the same runs true for women as well. =D

  2. Ang says:

    Well witten Mary! I totally agree, so you definitely aren’t alone.

  3. I can already predict the general reaction to this article:

    ***********************************
    How DARE you use logic and common sense to defend DC Comics exploitation of women?!?!?
    ***********************************

    My favorite quote:
    “In my experience, it has always been women who have devalued other women based upon the number of people they’ve slept with. Surprisingly enough, men don’t care.”

    Thank you for saying what no man would dare utter out loud.

    • ahrimanpob says:

      A real man would not dare to demand a woman for something he can’t or is not willing to give in return. If she’s had her share of sexual encounters it means she had a life before you (and by “you” I mean any man). What happens after that is up to them both.

      A man who cannot “utter” any word out loud should not call himself a man.

      And bravo for the article, bravo milady.

    • Aaron Davidson says:

      It’s not true that men don’t care how many partners a woman has had. If it’s a fairly reasonable number, they won’t care, but many men still don’t want to ride the village bicycle (and I’m assuming many women also don’t want a man who has had 30 or more partners before her).

      The problem with many feminists is that they want to turn women into sluts but get mad when women are sluts. I respect the author of this article for at least being consistent, even though I agree more in principal with the other article (women are portrayed in a negative light in these comics).

      I disagree with both authors, however, that our kids’ role models should be promoting extra-marital sex. Feminists fallaciously think that empowerment comes through sex. Empowerment can come through many things, but I think sex (and only sex) is rarely empowering in the long term.

      • Jason Knize says:

        As for Catwoman and Starfire being role models for kids? Well, both of these books are labeled T for Teen….

        …and Catwoman is a thief.

        No one is okay with promoting extra-marital sex towards kids.

        • Aaron Davidson says:

          Ah, Catwoman is rated T for Teen. OK, that explains it away. Thank you! 🙂

          I guess I’m just stuck in an era where it was mainly kids that read comics, not adults lol.

      • Andre says:

        :but many men still don’t want to ride the village bicycle (and I’m assuming many women also don’t want a man who has had 30 or more partners before her).:
        Assuming matters of health are clear whats having 30 partners got to do with anything? Why is there a magic number when women become “less” for sexual activity. It would be very liberating if someones sexual activity had nothing to do with there value as a person.

        “Slut” is just a word used to keep women down… so stop using it and your already less sexist =D

    • Andi says:

      I’m sorry. I think both you and the author of the post have missed the point of the female backlash against these books. I don’t care if Starfire bangs 10 dudes in an orgy, I care that her character is fleshed out and the sex she has is an extension of who she is and the life she’s living. I think the idea of Batman and Catwoman having sex on a roof is, in theory, incredibly hot. The problem isn’t the sex itself, the problem is the way it’s portrayed and the reasons behind it.

      Let me make something clear. A woman having promiscuous sex doesn’t make her strong. It doesn’t make her weak, either, but “She’s owning her sexuality, look how many guys she has disconnected, empty sex with” is simply bullshit. If the disconnected, empty sex is a part of a larger story about her psyche… maybe? Remember Buffy and Spike? That’s a good example of that done right.

      This isn’t slut-shaming. These are women who read comics bringing up legitimate issues they see coming out of DC and worries over the portrayal of some of the most beloved female comic book characters.

      However, to Mary, I’m glad to see another female perspective come out of this, though I disagree with you. All I want is a discussion, because at least then the issues can be brought to light and everyone can weigh in. I think you are going to get some criticism, but you certainly have a right to your opinion. Glad you enjoyed the books!

  4. I think the biggest problem is that everyone takes a “one size fits all” approach to these kinds of arguments. Something “is” or “isn’t” this way and with situations like this it comes down to an individual’s perceptions and personal experiences. Rather than wanting to see the other side’s point of view we just label it as “wrong” and present our own as fact.

    I read both this article and Laura Hudson’s and see both sides of it. I’ve never really experienced the things they’re talking about because I’m not a woman, but I know I’ve seen and heard men respond negatively to women that have “slept around.” In either case I always think it’s kind of a shame both sides leap to a “you’re wrong” attitude about arguments of this nature, especially one like this that rely heavily on a person’s own experiences. I think we’d learn a lot more if we attempted to see where someone was coming from in situations like this rather than demonizing the other side. Just because someone doesn’t see the problem with Catwoman or Starfire doesn’t make them self-haters and bad feminists; just because someone does doesn’t make them femi-nazi gender police.

    • Tito Cruz says:

      There you go making sense again.

    • Jess says:

      I think you made a great point.
      I also can see both sides of the argument and I am a woman. And I am also a female wrestler and wrestling coach and a a huge comic book geek who has used comic characters to try and inspire my girls (and the few young boys I also coach on occasion). As for the arguments brought up in both articles I have to say I am drawn.
      I don’t have a problem with Cat-woman and Batman on a roof (I mean hey she was on top and seemed the one in control) but I really didn’t appreciate, as Laura pointed out, the fact that we see every inch of her body except her face and especially her eyes for the entire first two pages. The only way you know if a woman is being aggressive and confident or coerced or faking is by the look in her eyes.
      As for Starfire I found that really disturbing considering her back-story and the fact that she isn’t going out having a blast taking names and enjoying herself after a break-up or part of some event but instead she is opening her legs for any male within reach without any emotion at all and she is already in a relationship and the way she reacted to the names of her past lovers (and you love on purpose) sounded more like a labatomized sex slave or a robot. It truly creeped me out and I wouldn’t want any of the girls I mentor reading it. Hell for that matter I wouldn’t want my boys reading it.
      Now as to what happened to Black Cannery in the new Birds of Prey (I didn’t read it and have only this article’s summary to go on but) I would not have enjoyed seeing it, but would have accepted it as something a “bad guy” would likely do as a way to try to assert dominance. And I would hope and expect that he got his face punched in for it. Now if she didn’t get even or she cried or ran away or something then I would say that sucks too … but the actions of a “bad guy” acting like a bad guy don’t upset me … the actions of strong independent inspiring women as empty headed bimbos does.

      P.S. I too have been an avid fan of Bats and Cats getting together!! 🙂

      • Tito Cruz says:

        Oh you wrestle? PoP! has a wrestling podcast called PoP! Cast Wrestling (PCW). Check it out and tell us what you thing http://panelsonpages.com/?cat=4886 =)

      • Andre says:

        :the fact that we see every inch of her body except her face and especially her eyes for the entire first two pages.:
        Yah but I liked it. It was a build up for the 1/2 page devoted just to her face that fallowed. I don’t know about you but I found that the build up really paid off, and made me laugh out load. This is also the fist comic I have picked up sense Y the last man. I don’t read comics, my wife is the fan.

  5. Danny McCaslin says:

    I liked your article, and I think it’s a fair assessment of some of the critiques about these books. As a father, I want to be able to share comics with my children, but books like Catwoman and The Outlaws make it hard to share female characters with my daughter.

    We can’t have this conversation about men. We can’t because men aren’t portrayed in this way in comics. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Superman #1 in which Supes gets laid, or an issue of the X-Men where Wolverine started throwing himself at Storm. Even when we do attach sexual relationships to male characters we portray them as loving and caring (See Scott Summers, Clark Kent, Peter Parker). We look back on the Jockish man-whores of Rob Liefeld’s X-Force and laugh.

    So you answered the question correctly, but you asked the wrong question, like saying “What’s wrong with Nixon taping his conversations?” while ignoring the 18-minute gap. The question is why do we, almost exclusively, portray female superheroes in a sexual light, yet we almost never do the same with men?

    • Flinthart says:

      Because by the time it became acceptable to portray sexuality in comics, it was no longer acceptable to portray a male sexuality that wasn’t carefully, sensitively correct.

      Check the old stuff from the sixties. Look at the sexism of the dialogue and action relating to Sue Storm, for example. (I bought my kid a compendium of the early FF. Okay, yeah. I read it too.) Even the letters are full of male fans lauding the artist for drawing ‘hot women’. It’s… weird. But that was the times.

      However, at that time it wasn’t actually acceptable to come close to portraying sex. And by the time things changed to permit that, we had learned the hard way that frank male sexuality is oppressive and unacceptable.

      Unless, of course, your character is gay. Then it’s okay.

      Back in the day (as in the recent movies) Johnny Storm revelled in his female fanbase.

      Go ahead. Try writing that into comics now. And good luck to you. Males as the initiators or aggressors in sexual relations are too damned close to the PC line that denotes ‘rape’. No writer or artist wants to come down on the wrong side of that line for too long.

      • Jan Arrah says:

        We’ve seen several instances of the men not being caring, sensitive or gentle. Hell, Hank Pym sent ants out to eat his wife ALIVE in Ultimates. We’ve seen Scott Summers making out with his latest conquest on the GRAVE of his recently dead wife! This is not kind and sensitive. Heck we’ve seen Ollie banging Dinah in a DUMPSTER. In fact we’ve seen Ollie serial cheat on Dinah and have her stupidly accept it b/c he didn’t remember it happening.

        The problem is NOT that Catwoman or Kory had sex.. The problem is the stories did not read for many people as if they were ABOUT the women instead they were written and drawn like the writers/artists fantasies. In Catwoman, we get get to see Selina’s boobs and butt for the majority of the comic. We do NOT however see Selina developed at all.. We see a half naked woman run away, meet up with a friend, beat up a random guy for reasons we are never told and then sleep with Bats. We don’t see her doing much of anything to show her personality or that she is much mire than her sexuality. The SAME is done to Kory. We’re told almost immediately that she’s completely and utterly infatuated with the male portaganist. Then we get a series of pin up poses where it is revealed she has the memory of a goldfish and apparently cannot remember anything for more than 10 seconds, not even long time friends or lovers, then she just jumps in bed with the other male protagonist so he can “score”. She is left utterly under developed and pretty much plastic so she can be treated like the sex toy for the guys.

        THAT is the problem! I don’t care if they have sex, but give us a personality and a character first and don’t make the art and story seem like a bad Cinemax porno!

        BTW if ANYONE can name a comic released by the big 2 where gay men are allowed to have sex… Let me know! The MOST we get is SOME kissing in VERY few titles (x-factor, manhunter, and Authority), Apollo and Midnighter laying in bed together typically with their daughter in the AM, and Apollo getting repeatedly RAPED! So no.. gay men aren’t allowed to
        have sex.. In fact Peter David has said Marvel axes the idea that after a strange night that Jamie Madrox, the Multiple Man, could be seen leaving Rictor’s room as well as the ladies’ rooms in X-Factor!

        • Snargelfargen says:

          Right on Jan Arrah.

          In fact, if I was to establish an opinion based on only the final part of Catwoman 1, I would have said “Sweet! So the run starts with Catwoman and Bat banging. This could go interesting places in the next couple of issues.”

          It’s the sequence of panels where Selina squirms into her costume, all the while artfully avoiding showing her face, that is creepy. The message the reader is supposed to get is something along the line of “Oh yeah… look at those tits and that ass” and not much else. In the context of those panels, Catwoman having sex at the end of the issue becomes pure lecherous voyeurism instead of a story. The Starfire issue is even worse because of the passive character writing.

          Personally I’m all for sexy characters, and I really enjoy both of the artists but this is just embarrassing.

        • Snargelfargen says:

          Off-topic, what issue does Madrox do that in?
          Heh, doesn’t he only get memories from other multiples when they return? His “morning after” could be pretty epic!

  6. Molly Whipple says:

    The Birds of Prey kiss did make me annoyed with the perpetrator. Here’s the difference. He was a villain being incorrigible. He’s not supposed to be admirable. Canary did nothing to invite it. He just did it. And she reacted by being stunned not unlike I was by the Catwoman and Starfire portrayals.

    I guess the difference in opinion is that I want my hero(ine)s to be characters I find admirable, characters I would want to emulate. For the same reason I’ve never been a big fan of the whole fascination with anti-heroes in modern comics either. Promiscuity is not a trait I admire. If that’s a person’s choice it is their choice, and that’s fine. And if comics like Catwoman and Red Hood and the Outlaws are people’s choice then that is fine too.

    But while some of the outcry may be overwrought, my own included, I think it is acceptable for people like me to complain about dumping the likes of fun admirable female heroines like Steph Brown batgirl, Oracle, Powergirl and Zatanna for what seem to me to be blatant attempts to make heroines simple sex objects. It’s not as if those characters from old DCU titles didn’t have sex appeal, but it was not the sole thing that defined them.

  7. franzferdinand2 says:

    I do see what you’re trying to say, and again, there’s nothing wrong with women initiating sex or going after what they want.

    The issue in these cases is that they aren’t doing this because they want to, they’re doing it so they can look hawt for the (presumed male) comic book reader.

    • Anon says:

      Here’s my question. Why are so many readers arguing about what these fictional woman want? Starfire and Catwoman both walked up to the men, and asked for it, point blank. Starfire and Catwoman are both very sexual women; they have always been. It’s not out of character, at all, for them to want and ask for sex. It never has been.

      So where is this mystical “These women are asking for sex, to look hot for everyone else” argument coming from? It feels shoe-horned into this entire argument, defending women that, in these panels, don’t look or act offended in the slightest.

      • D3D says:

        Yeah. Something tells me there are fans who are wee bit TOO emotionally invested in fictionally characters.

      • Red says:

        Because Starfire has never just gone for sex for the sake of sex. It was always an emotional experience for her, not simply physical.

      • Angelina Fernandez says:

        Because the writer was a man.

        • Jason Knize says:

          How can “because he’s a man” be anywhere close to an argument in a discussion about gender roles and sexism?

          FACT: Men have been writing female characters for centuries. Look it up. Some of the greatest female characters of all time, were, in fact, created by men.

          YES. Women have struggled for the same amount of centuries to be seen as equals to men. Yes, women have been persecuted and attacked because of their gender.

          Any chance that you are progressive or enlightened died the moment you implied that because the writer of Red Hood & The Outlaws is a male, he can have no other motive than to demean a fictional female character.

          Because he’s a man, right? We’re all pigs, that only see women as tits and ass. Only women should write women.

          • Warren says:

            I think she was making fun of the feminist side of this argument, not arguing for it. Poe’s law I guess. Or something like that.

            Not that I agree with her, though. Regardless about how you feel about them there is undeniably something more to the feminist arguments than the fact the comics were written by men.

      • Astanphaeus says:

        In the case of Starfire, its a betrayal of the character, as she’s been established.

        It’s not about the sex. Read that again. It’s not about the sex.

        It’s about the emptiness of the encounters. It’s about Starfire -dehumanizing- the people she has these encounters with. That’s something that is in direct opposition to the character’s essential personality, as she’s been depicted and written over many, many years.

        Stephen King wrote about maintaining the truth of a story. Same goes for characters. Starfire’s truth has been discarded. This is, in essence, a fundamentally different character.

  8. AdamW13 says:

    You wrote:

    “One article that I take offense to is Laura Hudson’s The Big Sexy Problem with Superheroines and Their ‘Liberated Sexuality’… Is that what’s happening here? Is Catwoman horribly devalued in the eyes of comic readers because she initiates sex with a man?”

    Ms. Hudson wrote… in the same article:

    “I would like to say first and in the strongest possible terms that I absolutely support the right of women to embrace and act upon their sexual desires in whatever way seems right to them, within consensual boundaries.”

    and:

    “Like I said, I’m on board with the hot ladies; part of what got me into comics back in the day was being a 12-year-old girl who looked at strong, beautiful characters like Rogue and Jean Grey and Storm and wanted to be like them in large part because they were so sexy and confident and had exciting romances.”

    Ms. Hudson even gives at least one example of a woman having sex in comics that she feels work on multiple levels. I think you missed the point of her article. I would suggest re-reading it.

    Though my major problem of Catwoman#1 is Batman in it. I’ve been a huge Batman fan since I was a child, but this made me lose so much respect for the character.

  9. Emily says:

    See, this is the issue with having the argument over sexy women. Someone makes a thorough, nuanced argument saying “It’s all well and good for women to be sexy and beautiful, but why is that the only aspect of their personalities, and why is the sexy and beautiful bit clearly geared towards a male audience? Why are so many female comic book characters put in cheesecake poses compared to men, and why is sex so much more a part of female comic book characters’ personalities and portrayals?”

    And then someone responds with:
    “WHY DO YOU HATE WOMEN HAVING SEX YOU HORRIBLE SLUT-SHAMER.”

    Total strawman.

    I think you read a different article than the one I read. Laura Hudson does not have issues with women who like being sexy and having sexy fun sex. Laura Hudson (and the people agreeing with her) have issue with the way these women are portrayed. As in, the women who are being sexy and having sexy fun sex are only seen as big-tittied sex dolls fulfilling the sexual fantasies of the male readers, with giant splash screens of their butts and tits, rather than their sexuality being a facet of the great, powerful, complex character they are.

    • alex says:

      Yes, exactly. This article isn’t arguing against what Laura Hudson said. It’s arguing against a completely different and utterly ridiculous concept. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mary Staggs never actually read the Hudson article and instead is just going off of the 4chan comments about it.

      • Tito Cruz says:

        Just because you don’t agree with her argument doesn’t make it ridiculous. It is a bit presumptuous on your part to assume that Ms. Staggs didn’t read the Hudson piece. Ms. Staggs is presenting her point of view and how she interpreted what was written by Ms. Hudson. To disparage someone for their OPINION is asinine.

        • Thad says:

          He didn’t say THIS article was ridiculous, he said the imaginary one that the writer is RESPONDING to is ridiculous.

          “To disparage someone for their OPINION is asinine.”

          Well, no, there are lots of opinions it’s perfectly okay to disparage people for having.

          “The Earth is 6000 years old and dinosaur fossils were put here by the devil to test our faith.”

          “Black people are inferior to white people.”

          “Rob Liefeld is awesome.”

          And, in this case, “Laura Hudson is mad because Catwoman had sex with Batman.”

          It is COMPLETELY REASONABLE to criticize someone for taking that reading away from Laura’s article. Because Laura REPEATEDLY, EXPLICITLY STATES THAT THAT IS NOT WHAT SHE IS SAYING.

          While “Did you even read the article?” comments are often tedious, it’s justified in this case. There are three possibilities here:

          1. Mary did not read the article carefully;
          2. Mary did not understand the article;
          3. Mary is deliberately mischaracterizing what Laura said in the article.

          Of those three, honestly “she didn’t read the article” is the most generous.

    • Justin says:

      I think that saying new comic starring Catwoman, the former prostitute turned Femme Fatale, is ‘too sexy’ is odd.

      I also think lumping her depiction in with starfire’s is unfair. Her personality wasn’t totally changed for this comic, nor is she sleeping with just anybody for the sake of lulz. She slept with B-Man, and it illustrated their past and present as lovers to readers who Winick should assume are largely new (since that was the point of the whole DCnU stunt) need a catwoman primer.

      And ‘cheesecake’ poses for men look a little different. If superman were depicted from behind looking over his shoulder while arching his back it would emasculate him and defeat the purpose of said cheesecake. What we do often see is him in a frontal pose with his chest bulging out whilst wearing nut-hugging tights, or a big manly fist sticking out in front of him as if it were an analogue for something as he flies through the air all steely eyed. Dramatic poses will probably accentuate whatever gender a character happens to be.

      Though I will say starfire’s, well to put it lightly, something else, I’d say Catwoman was completely in character. Somebody lounging around the house in their undies seems realistic to me, as I do this and I’m sure others do, and thugs with guns pounding on your door certainly warrants leaving the house in such a hurry that you haven’t completely zipped your skin-tight leather jumpsuit all the way up. I’m just glad she didn’t leaver her poor kitties behind.

      • Kryss LaBryn says:

        The problem, though, isn’t “Catwoman leaps into her outfit and leaves.” The problem is “Catwoman’s tits leap into her outfit, without so much as showing us her face, and she leaves, while shoving her ass in our faces.”

        There’s way to present her lounging around casually in her apartment then scampering to dress and bail without having to fill up two pages with blatant T&A shots.

        It’s like Schumaker’s Batman films, eh? Fine, show Batman getting dressed. Cool. Do we really need that crotch shot in there? I *know* we could get a shot of him doing up his belt without involving genitalia. And did we really need that shot of his ass accompanied by a slapping sound effect? What did that add, seriously?

        Now imagine if that entire sequence was nothing *but* ass and crotch shots, how gratuitious that would be. And then I think you’ve got an idea of why so many people are facepalming over this. It’s not the concept of “Catwoman is relaxing at home and then she has to get dressed and leave” that is ticking them off; it’s the completely gratuitious way they *portrayed* her getting dressed that’s insulting.

        Here, have some sexy Batman and see what I mean. 😉

        http://www.harkavagrant.com/index.php?id=295

        • Justin says:

          I never said the shots weren’t gratuitous T&A, just that they were in character. She’s Catwoman, a little bit of the old eye candy is part of the title, from what I understand.

          Also, batman in cowboy hat+***less chaps, priceless, XD. Kinda makes my male cheesecake point though.

          • Chris says:

            “I never said the shots weren’t gratuitous T&A, just that they were in character.” What? This doesn’t make any sense. It’s part of her character for her face not to be seen by an unknown fourth-wall observant? I’m pretty sure that no sane person, no matter how comfortable they are in their sexuality, goes around posing for hidden voyeurs unless they’re psychotic.

            Really, I think the problem is not the assumptions that the comics make about the characters as much as what they make about the readers. It’s not about what kind of woman Selina Kyle is, it’s about the fact that comic makers think that we don’t really care, we just want to see T&A and have our sexy desires of banging a hot cat burglar or a hot alien chick catered to. She has a face? A personality? Who cares, just put her in some more ridiculous poses that don’t actually make sense in context so we can almost see her spilling out of her clothes.

            • Jason Knize says:

              I think you’re the one making the assumptions about the readers. With both Catwoman #1 and Red Hood & The Outlaws #1, I took more away from the book than “Catwoman’s tits”, “Batman and Catwoman boning”, or, “Starfire is an orange f— toy.”

              It’s starting to border on reverse-sexism when male comic readers (and creators) can’t be trusted to see a woman, fictional or otherwise, as more than a pair of tits…even if said tits are on front street.

              • Chris says:

                I wasn’t making assumptions about the readers; my whole point was that the people who actually make comics are the ones making those assumptions. The point-of-view I used at the end of the comment wasn’t me saying that comic readers (or at least, ALL comic readers) really want that, it’s a sarcastic parody of what it seems comic makers THINK their readers want.

                There is a difference between a comic book character posing sexily for another character (that we happen to end up seeing) and being depicted sexily for the reader (especially when there even aren’t any other characters around!). The former happens because of character establishment and interaction, the latter happens because the people who made the comic apparently think we as readers just want to see more T&A.

                Note that I’m making a distinction between “posing sexily” and “depicted sexily” here; in the picture given in this article of Starfire, she is literally the only focus in this picture. If she’s posing sexily for a character in the comic, we wouldn’t know it from this context, and even if she is, we’re probably getting a better view of the pose than they are, unless they’re also two feet away and a foot taller. One of the other pictures in Laura’s article is I believe a better example of posing sexily instead of just being depicted sexily; she’s overtly standing right over the guy, and he seems to be enjoying the view, although I’m not sure why she’s not looking at him.

                In the case of Catwoman, she’s not even posing, or at least I would assume she’s not even posing. There’s no one else in the apartment for her to interact with, she’s just putting her clothes on like any normal person would (well, okay, like any normal thief/cat-burglar would, but that’s beside the point). We could’ve had a viewpoint from pretty much any angle or any perspective in the room and it still would’ve established the same basic concepts. It didn’t have to be shot after shot of T&A… but it was, and it doesn’t seem to be because of anything to do with Selina’s character. She’s just trying to get dressed and get out of there before her front door gets knocked down. The only explanation I can see for this is that we’re seeing these angles because that’s what the person drawing the comic thinks we wants to see.

                So, yeah, reverse-sexism, I can totally see that. Unfortunately, it’s coming from DC, not me.

                • Juggalojohn says:

                  Chris Wrote (In the case of Catwoman, she’s not even posing, or at least I would assume she’s not even posing. There’s no one else in the apartment for her to interact with, she’s just putting her clothes on like any normal person would (well, okay, like any normal thief/cat-burglar would, but that’s beside the point). We could’ve had a viewpoint from pretty much any angle or any perspective in the room and it still would’ve established the same basic concepts. It didn’t have to be shot after shot of T&A… but it was, and it doesn’t seem to be because of anything to do with Selina’s character. She’s just trying to get dressed and get out of there before her front door gets knocked down. The only explanation I can see for this is that we’re seeing these angles because that’s what the person drawing the comic thinks we wants to see)

                  Yes thats the Point, the Shot Composition is design to show the actions of the character not the Character them selves. this is a Cinematic technique, and shows up in movies all the time. Back to the future is the first to come to mine, but i could make a big list if given enough time. you never see marty more then the waste down, the focus is the skateboard.

                  Each panel is punctuated by her Word bubble of the action to focus on. outfit, gloves, communicater/over turned room, cats, the look on the cats face. Catwoman isn’t ment to be the focuse of the shots, only until the reveal out the window (the prestige as it is called in magic) then is Catwoman the Focus.

                  the whole 3 pages are ment to play out as 30-60sec on screen. and i say screen cause its clear (to me) that each panel is set up in a letterbox style format.

                  it was an attempt to give an opening movie Feel to the book. if you felt that fell flat then thats you. but i got it right away.

    • D3D says:

      Lady, if you’re gonna de-construct someone’s argument, at least make the attempt on speaking out on all of the points spoken in the article rather than making a childish assumption that it’s nothing but a why do hate women having sex you slut-shamer opposition.

      Staggs was talking about how for some odd reason, it’s okay for women to behave in a prudish manner and behave in a feministic manner in comic-books but it’s not okay to go outside that standard even though we truly have women that displays these traits in real life and among other characterizations of women we’ve seen through out our lives.

      In case you didn’t notice, Hudson is contradicting herself throughout her article saying it’s fine for women to be sexy and act anyway they want but in the same line, she says she despises the very portrayal she has no problems with; Women being sexy and acting anyway they want. She has problems with certain parts and poses of the human anatomy being shown through out the comic. However what destroys her own argument is the characters she is putting on the table.

      Catwoman and Starfire has ALWAYS acted in this manner throughout their existence so showing certain parts and poses a little more often in comic-books and them acting seductive is not news.
      It’s always been in subtext until now with Red Hood #1 and Catwoman#1.

      Even though I don’t have problems at all with people with different opinions, the notion that DC is trying to “degrade” the “minority” is ridiculous considering the society we live in and the laws that protect us women in this society now in the 21st century. If she has problems with the art and thinks that the comics are trying to “talk” to her, then that’s her own fault.

      Let me tell you something. ALL comic-books whether Manga or American or French will always exaggerate the human body and the environment just enough to keep the reader interested and mimic a different view on our world. That’s not discrimination in the least, that is reality that one needs to get over. If the art is attracting you just enough to make you buy it’s product, then it is doing it’s job. And this type of treatment is not just aimed at women, it’s with men also.

      How many men do you know who has a very defined six-pack, abs and bulk on their bodies? Very few.

      So it’s completely ridiculous to think that DC has something against the female audience when the body type for men in comic-books is also exaggerated so the argument falls flat on it’s face.

      If you don’t like the article then don’t bother commenting if you’re not going to say something constructive and stick to giving low-blows. I don’t have a problem with people giving their own opinions but I don’t care for people who bash on one’s point of view just because it is not your own or doesn’t represent your ‘spokesperson’s’ point of view.

      Like Staggs said before, she is only posting this article to let you know that Hudson’s view does not define all womens’ view on the issues at hand which is completely true because I do not agree with Hudson’s article. I have the right to agree or disagree just as much as you do but don’t be a fuckin’ troll about it. Get me? Good.

      • Anon says:

        Bravo. Nice work, D3D.

      • Red says:

        Way to dodge the point.

        No, Starfire has NOT ‘always acted this way’ She has never once, to my knowledge, just gone around and slept with guys for no reason. There was ALWAYS an emotional connection. There was always love and caring in her physical encounters. Where was it with this issue?

        ‘Even though I don’t have problems at all with people with different opinions, the notion that DC is trying to “degrade” the “minority” is ridiculous considering the society we live in and the laws that protect us women in this society now in the 21st century.’

        I suggest you try to get a job in the entertainment industry and then you’ll see how pervasive sexism is.

        It is not so much that DC is ‘trying to degrade the minority’. It is that they are following an out-dated model of who their audience is. And their audience is young adult white males, a ‘model’ used since the 1950’s. It has changed little since then.

        The problem is, that model doesn’t work anymore. Times have changed. The comic book market is shrinking and losing readers and DC is NOT going to net new, loyal readers if they keep to the same formula of catering solely to that narrow demographic that is shrinking year by year. A lot of women feel that comics aren’t written for them and unfortunately, they seem to be right. Ultimately, that is not good news for DC, as women represent over 70% of the fiction reading market. And DC can’t really afford to lose readership just because they can’t bring themselves to change.

        Explain; how can DC expect to bring in new readers and broaden their demographic if they adhere to the SAME formula, when it’s clear that it NO LONGER WORKS?

        • D3D says:

          http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000261514&tstart=0

          This is a thread that evolves into the very controversy about Starfire’s change.

          Read every single page carefully and look at the posted pictures of the pages that featured Starfire in the past.

          You’d be surprised how Starfire is technically a heroine that only few are very knowledgeable with.

          http://scans-daily.dreamwidth.org/2138541.html?#cutid1

          http://i206.photobucket.com/albums/bb169/Maolmao/rejectedbig.png

          Starfire slept with Captain Comet when Dick apparently broke her heart and dissolved the engagement.

          http://img37.imageshack.us/img37/9896/newteentitans39004custo.jpg

          Starfire informs Dick that in her culture, her kind allows many sexual relations with people that have even an inch of feelings for the other, it’s clear in this dialogue that Tamaraneans are people that embrace polygamous and polyandrous relationships with open arms.

          She does not seem angry at all that Dick, for some reason, wants to have a relationship with Raven. In fact, she wants Dick to form that bond with Raven.

          I’m already aware of sexism when it comes to the entertainment industry. However, this issue does not apply to characters like Starfire and Catwoman who are indeed sexual characters but for Starfire, she is a sexual character by her very culture.

          I doubt the audience is the majority of white males since we now have black superheroes who have become icons like Static Shock and Cyborg; we have variety now.

          Even to this day, the majority of readers is still males but they are now being considerate to the growing female audience of readers now. We now have female icons like Black Canary, Vixen, Huntress, Batgirl, Batwoman, Wonderwoman, Powergirl and Supergirl. We now have more heroines and female villains like Catwoman even starring in their own series more than ever now. There is clearly variety of heroes and villains that everyone regardless of gender can follow.

          IMO, comicbooks are just not as mainstream as they use to be. As far as demographics goes, for comic books. It’s still mostly men that read comics. Here’s the latest update on comic-book demographics.

          http://www.themarysue.com/comic-book-demographic/

          The key to bringing in new readers is to simply do more advertising for comic-books so the general public will eventually starting recognizing comic-books again.

          It’s nice to hear about this issue from another with different backgrounds. 🙂

    • crashsuit says:

      BINGO, you win all the prize monies.

      • crashsuit says:

        An addendum to my previous reply, as my network was throwing some errors and I’m not sure the form replied to the comment I was intending to: I was trying to reply to Emily’s comment, posted September 24, 2011 at 2:41 pm.

  10. jayfarer says:

    >”That is what’s happening here. Catwoman and Starfire are being labled as “sluts” because they’re women who go after what they want.”

    It’s not about slut-shaming, as the CA article states, because these are not real women making real decisions about their real sexuality. These are men deciding, “wouldn’t it be awesome if Starfire was just having sex with everybody? Oh man.” Which, ultimately, is a detriment to the character’s history, a deterrent to mainstream appeal, and generally reinforces stereotypes about superhero comics incessant need for cheesecake.

    >”What really baffles me are some of the themes that aren’t being discussed in the DC New 52. This week, Birds of Prey #1 was released. In it, Black Canary is forcibly kissed by one of the bad guys. We’re totally fine with that? It’s just a kiss, sure, but she didn’t want it. She didn’t ask for it. That man forced her to kiss him to demean her. And yet, we’re up in arms over sex between two consenting adults. The fact that women are choosing the Catwoman battle over Birds of Prey shows just how screwed up their whole argument is.”

    The difference here is that this is depicted as something clearly bad. Superheroines get punched, too, but it’s not invoking domestic abuse the way this doesn’t invoke sexual assault. A bad guy forcing a kiss on Black Canary, okay, it’s a little off-center, but it doesn’t reinforce stereotypes, doesn’t perpetuate poisonous ideas about what women are like, and it isn’t wish fulfillment about no-strings-attached sex with alien supermodels.

    • I think it’s interesting to note, Jayfarer, that the colorist makes it pretty clear the “forcible kiss” came from a dude with poison lip balm or something, which historically has been a device used to make women more menacing to men who, the writer or audience was to assume, could beat them up. Here, the guy knows Dinah will take him in a fight and prepares for the inevitable moment when she tears the helmet off him.

  11. I didn’t find the Birds of Prey kiss to be problematic. He kisses her to poison her, not to demean her, and I thought it was actually a neat twist on the seductress female villain attacking with a kiss trope.

    Mostly, I’m just sad that great comics like Wonder Woman don’t garner the kind of attention stuff like this does. Controversy sells, I know, but I feel like comics media pays way too much attention to controversy and spends too little time highlighting genuinely great comics.

  12. Spazzy says:

    Mary.. I love you so hard. Epic.

  13. Ben Gilbert says:

    Great article, Mary. I too don’t see the big deal with Selina and Kori acting sexually liberated, because that’s how they’ve been for years. If Dan Slott decided to write a Spider Man story where May Parker jumps Harry Osborn’s bones, that would probably be more legitimate cause for the nerds to cry foul, because that would be increasingly out of character (if not oddly hot).

    I’m sure that Winick has more in mind for the Catwoman series than just “sexy sexy sexiness,” which would get old after issue 2 if that was the only point of the book. He just amped up the tittilation in this first issue to get publicity and (gasp) drum up some controversy. Those who are offended should chill out and relax. Winick’s Catwoman is not going to be DC’s version of The Red Shoe Diaries.

  14. Kayla says:

    You and Hudson are both missing the mark on why most of the girls were upset. It had little to do with their sexuality and more to do with characterization and the use of cheap tricks and ultimately weak story-telling.

    While I’ve yet to read a complaint about Catwoman being sexy, I have, in fact, seen plenty of eye-rolling over the tacky ‘shocking ending’ that had her sprawled on top of Batman. Even people who ship Catbat said they found it unsexy and flat, which is a failure on the part of the writer/artist. It’s basically a sex version of the ‘faceless Joker’ that had many other readers upset. I for one, didn’t like Catwoman because it was a weak written book crippled my bad art, and the last bit was just the icing on the cake. It felt like a gimmick. While I’m all for sexy ladies, I don’t like cheesy, gimmicky nonsense. If this is the book for that, fine, but I’m going to give it a weak review and not buy the book in the future.

    Likewise, the vast majority of complaints about Starfire had to do with her personality, the problematic issue of Jason/Roy sleeping with a girl who was basically mentally stunted (“She doesn’t remember shit?” “Yep” “Cool bro!”), and a whole host of other issues.

    You’re just another blogger who totally missed the point, way to just contribute to the problem.

  15. Andrew says:

    I really want to thank you for writing this. I had posted comments to Laura Hudson’s article being as respectful as possible in my disagreement. For that, I had a handful of females comment about how sexist I was and how horrible I am for liking how the creators have been writing diverse characters especially in how they view sex and how they present themselves.

    Even Gail Simone said that Laura’s assessment doesn’t hold up with most of the new 52 female characters. She got a lot of heat for that too, but she was absolutely right.

    I understand that there was a time when the mostly male creators wrote women solely as sex objects, but now I would argue they have written women as human beings with sex drives just like everyone else.

    Starfire isn’t going to act like a regular female, especially given her history, but with her new personality of living and being completely in control of the present. And as you said, Catwoman has always been sexual. I find it funny because what Laura doesn’t mention is how Starfire and Catwoman use their bodies and sex as a means of having power over men. These are actually very strong women and should be looked up to by feminists for how they have power over men instead of being looked so down upon. Besides, it’s not like these characters act as though they are innocent. Catwoman, Red Hood, Arsenal, Starfire are all in the middle between being good and evil. So when judging them, base your judgment from where they actually stand, not from where you think they should stand.

    Finally, I’m glad you stand with me in how you believe that these feminists are in fact being unreasonable. How Catwoman and Starfire are actually relatable to REAL women even these loud feminists as much as they may pretend. Women, like men, are sexual beings. It’s in our nature to be such. I don’t know why this is such a bad thing.

    • Andi says:

      Perhaps you are getting problems because you are characterizing women discussing comics as “loud feminists”. Just a thought. It’s very, “Sit down and shut up now.”

  16. Alexios says:

    This article makes me sad. Not because I disagree with it–in fact, it’s something I’ve felt strongly about for some time now, but have been afraid of voicing because as a man I feel I don’t have the right to make arguments like that–but because I feel that the entire “controversy” is misguided. The Catwoman scene, at least, is purely a question of whether fanservice is acceptable, but that’s not the heart of the kurfuffel; Starfire is.

    For a professional reviewer to write an article damning a comic without even reading would be a serious accusation to make, but I honestly can’t imagine any other way Laura Hudson might have arrived at her conclusion. Reading the comic myself for the first time, it seemed obvious to me that Starfire’s sleeping around was NOT in any way meant to be a positive thing. The narration boxes and dialogue make it clear that she is, in fact, extremely prejudiced against humans, and that her not remembering the names of the people she sleeps with is meant to be seen as a sign of how beneath her she considers them at this point in time. It’s clear that Starfire is meant to be traumatized, and that there will be character development in the future which will address her relationship with her teammates.

    None of that is subtext, it’s written down on the page clear as day. It’s extremely frustrating to see people who supposedly are long-time comic fans completely fail, on every level, to understand a comic’s simple plot. Comci book fans already have a bad reputation for being whiny and petulant, and this little spat won’t help that in the least.

    • Jim says:

      At first, I wanted to believe that this was true. And if it turns out that it was the author intent the whole time to take her from trauma to hearing, I would applaud the decision to bravely address that kind of issue in a comic book. However, it’s pretty clear that the author meant this all to be positive. Here’s an article talking about the internal debate at DC.

      http://www.bleedingcool.com/2011/09/22/behind-the-scenes-on-starfire-and-red-hood-and-the-outlaws-1/

      Kinda disheartening, isn’t it?

      • AMD says:

        That’s disappointing.

        While I didn’t necessarily have an issue with the initial portrayal of Starfire, as the first time you see her she’s frying everything in sight and demonstrating more raw power than Jason or Roy could ever dream of throwing out, and I also thought that there may be that aspect of trauma or alienation that we would see resolved over the course of the book, to have DC not bring that forward could be either:

        a) a kneejerk response from them that didn’t cover all the nuances of the original decision
        b) a disappointing attempt to represent healthy sexual liberation.

  17. Justin says:

    Waiting for a blog that didn’t completely disparage catwoman this week. My girlfriend (who completely outclasses me, her being sociology grad-student) and I loved it. I wasn’t crazy about red hood for a lot of reasons, starfire being one of them, but that catwoman was nice I thought.

    • Justin says:

      What I mean to say is, thank you for not getting your opinion from a blog or a message board and arriving to it on your own. You’re a credit to bloggers everywhere.

  18. D-Rock says:

    Catwoman came out this week?

  19. Jim says:

    I agree that the controversy over Catwoman is probably overblown, that issues biggest crime is dealing with sexuality in a less than nuanced way, and that’s not demeaning to women, it’s just trashy writing. My biggest complaint about the book was that it seemed lazy, starting off with her having sex with Batman rather than building up some tension first. I’m sure the author felt that the tension has been ready to boil over for about thirty years now, but for an issue with a #1 on the cover, it did feel a little premature.

    HOWEVER, I totally disagree about the treatment of Starfire. Prior to reading Red Hood and the Outlaws, I knew next to nothing about the character, but come on, this was just pathetic. It’s not that she has sex with the two main male characters; sex is as much a part of life as violence, and unlike violence, sex is usually a positive experience for those involved. It’s the fact that she is portrayed as not cleary being sure who she is having sex with, most likely won’t remember even the act afterward. It’s that doesn’t seem to be attracted to person she’s going to be bed with and doesn’t even relish the idea of the act. It’s that Jason implies that he is manipulating her, both into bed and into battle. It’s that her seduction of Roy is the only self-motivated thing we see her do. It’s that during that very seduction, she looks as vacant-eyed and disinterested as a junkie, amking it seem less like seduction and more like a proposition. It’s that she asks, “Do you want to have sex with me?” at once deferring to his desires rather than pursuing her own, and leaving the impression that she would be equally affected if his answer was “yes,” or “no.” It’s that we are given the distinct impression that sex is neither a positive or a negative, but merely the way she communicates, and if that is the case, then it’s not an empowering attitude but a crippling inability to interact with others. And its that the author wants us to believe that this what empowerment looks like.

    In other words, Starfire is not the girl who looks at the two hot guys on her team and says “Damn! How lucky am I?! I’ll think I’ll take the red head first,” and then goes after what she wants. I could respect that woman. Catwoman acts a bit like that woman, albeit a little more discerning. Starfire is the girl at a party who doesn’t say a word the entire time, looks like she might be on something, and then randomly starts making out with the first male that comes close to her. That girl I would wonder about the mental health of. And you know what? If Scott Lobdell wants to write a story about that girl, power to him, but he shouldn’t sell her story as one of a sexually liberated female. When you get down to it, that’s the biggest offense. Starfire acts like a suffering victim of sexual assault, but is sold as a feminist.

    I’m a guy, and therefore maybe I don’t have the right to talk about feminism. But I do know a thing or two about healthy behavior, and having indiscriminate, meaningless sex with people that you are not interested in is NOT healthy behavior for a man or a woman.

    • Andi says:

      Your perspective as a man is always valuable in a discussion of feminism, and I mean that sincerely.

      I think you nailed it about the portrayal of Starfire. She seems dazed and empty… it’s disturbing.

  20. Ego says:

    “What really baffles me are some of the themes that aren’t being discussed in the DC New 52. This week, Birds of Prey #1 was released. In it, Black Canary is forcibly kissed by one of the bad guys. We’re totally fine with that? It’s just a kiss, sure, but she didn’t want it. She didn’t ask for it. That man forced her to kiss him to demean her.”

    Sorry, I am a failure at detecting sarcasm over the Internet. But this was sarcastic right? Because otherwise I fully agree with your post.

  21. vots says:

    Any comparison between the kiss forced on Black Canary in Birds of Prey #1 (an external event) and the depiction of Catwoman and Starfire (internal events) is a complete fallacy. Think in simpler terms from the POV of this article:

    – Character being forced to something out of her control: BAD! BAD! BAD! Because, obviously, if something’s wrong in real life, it should be wrong to depict in comics too? (Is that it?)

    – Characters wilfully “showcasing” themselves in very promiscuous ways: GO GIRL! FLOWER POWER! Because, well, that *DOES* add to an institutionalised pattern in media that’s been dominant for as long as anyone can remember and that its’s a good thing?

    A further simpler way to look at this:

    – The author of the article is obviously not comfortable with the idea of being physically forced to something. Something that can be used as a story device no matter how nasty it is.

    – The author of the article is comfortable with being represented as promiscuous in an exclusively male-oriented way, which is more or less the norm. Which can also be used as a story device except, it’s the norm, everyone already does that, there’s no story left to exhaust there, so is it not enough already?

    Moreover, this comparison is the principle point of focus, disregarding many other fine points of the referenced article.

    I’m (not really) sorry but I have to say it: Nothing else screams internalised misogyny as good and loud as this, when a woman, no less, starts defending the heterosexual male oriented world view.

    As the other article mentions, the problem isn’t that there are depictions of promiscuous women. The problem isn’t that *some* women can act sexually liberated in comics. The problem is not at all that there are depictions of women who aren’t all “fitting the feminist agenda”.

    The problem is that nearly ALL depictions of women exhibit promiscuity. The problem is that when nearly *any* women in comics indulge in sexually liberated behaviour, it doesn’t make much of a sense in the plot and *always* serves to provide a pornographic relief where the women are reduced to sex dolls for males without consideration given to the act from the female character’s POV. The problem is that nearly ALL depictions of women are misogynist like this, reducing women to sexuality, to eye candy for heterosexual males.

    This point is further refined in the referenced article by a comparison picture of official and fanmade depiction of male and female characters:

    http://www.blogcdn.com/www.comicsalliance.com/media/2011/09/male-star-sapphire.jpg

    And the problem is that the average heterosexual males are enraged at the slightest suggestion that their pornographic cravings should not be catered to, as if they have been oh so underserved!

    Now go back to that image I linked to from the other article and focus on the male Lantern. Are you comfortable about the idea of all of your favourite (or not so favourite) male characters depicted in such… flamboyant outfits? ALL. THE. TIME?

    • Captain Obvious says:

      “The problem is that nearly ALL depictions of women exhibit promiscuity.”

      This sounds much like that silly idea that women who have sex are whores and men who do are playas. That is wrong and silly.

      “The problem is that when nearly *any* women in comics indulge in sexually liberated behaviour, it doesn’t make much of a sense in the plot and *always* serves to provide a pornographic relief where the women are reduced to sex dolls for males without consideration given to the act from the female character’s POV.”

      That’s not true. How often has Wonder Woman ever been depicted having sex? Power Girl? Supergirl? Storm? Sue Storm? Even Emma Frost is rarely shown doing so. She-Hulk is one of the few (as in 2 or 3) women in all of mainstream comicdom who partake in a sexually liberal lifestyle and such is done to reflect the the nature of her character. Compare this to Tony Stark or Wolverine who get around and finally Daken, who gets with both men and women with no one making a fuss over it.

      As for your picture, there are male characters that are effectively nude, like Silver Surfer, still nude but quite muscle bound, like Captain Atom, have worn nothing but speedos for the longest time, like Namor, hopped around in underwear, like Grayson Robin and Aqualad, run around with torn pants and just shorts, like the hulks, and so many other heroes who are made with idealized bodies and instead of wearing costumes have them painted on (Superman, Spider-man). Your point holds no water anyways since it preaches that women are not allowed to act a certain way and that sexual encounters in comics are for the pleasure of men, indicating that women take no pleasure in seeing or reading about the fictional depiction of sexual acts, which makes me wonder how Romance novels have ever been popular if this is true. In short, you’re quite full of it and don’t know what you are talking about.

      Have a nice day.

    • AMD says:

      To be perfectly honest it doesn’t bother me at all. Namor has worn less for ages.

  22. Vallon says:

    God Bless you. You are awesome

  23. Sleepmessiah says:

    Mary, I just wanted to thank you for having the guts to write this article. I know you’ll be taking a lot of heat for it from members of both the female and male DC demographic, but I just wanted you to know that there are many of us out there who genuinely do agree with everything you’re saying. We just might not be as vocal as the opposition about it.

  24. Juggalojohn says:

    *claps* great artical mary, the point you made about the kiss is right on.

    but i think some of the feeling is, it’s just the writes using the Female characters as their own Fanasty toys, so anything about them being sexy is already looked from a view of criticism.

    anyway going to link this like crazy.

  25. Captain Obvious says:

    This was a good article with a lot of good points that I agree with. Nice work.

  26. Anon says:

    The problem with Starfire in this new book is that she’s taking a cold and emotionally detached view towards sex, when in the past Starfire was a very warm and emotional character. Men who treat sex as coldly and mechanically aren’t usually portrayed in a positive light either.

    • Captain Obvious says:

      “when in the past Starfire”

      This is a reboot. The past means shit. Stop acting like it does. And her attitude is no more different than various other male characters. If she were a male character, people would be wondering if he could top Tony Stark or amass the panty collection Dick Grayson must obviously have. Daken would be impressed and try and sleep with him, if he didn’t try and screw him over or kill him (yet people loooove him).

  27. Captain Obvious says:

    “I agree that the controversy over Catwoman is probably overblown, that issues biggest crime is dealing with sexuality in a less than nuanced way, and that’s not demeaning to women, it’s just trashy writing. My biggest complaint about the book was that it seemed lazy, starting off with her having sex with Batman rather than building up some tension first. I’m sure the author felt that the tension has been ready to boil over for about thirty years now, but for an issue with a #1 on the cover, it did feel a little premature.”

    Why is it trashy? What about it makes it trashy? I see this term tossed about by people yet they do so: Not knowing the reason for why each character is acting as they do – we are led to believe that her and Batman have a history, a sexual one at that when she indicates that she has grown accustomed to the taste of metal that comes with kissing him. She states outright that there is a history and that there is tension. Batman’s response to Catwoman as well Catwoman reacting to Batman is also indicative of this. I hate to say it, but it’s all spelled out. If they went any slower or had “more progression” I would wonder if the writer thinks the reader is slow his or herself. As for the sex itself, sex is not trashy. It amazes me how in 2011 we still have people with puritanical views on sex and relations with women. Amazing.

    “HOWEVER, I totally disagree about the treatment of Starfire. Prior to reading Red Hood and the Outlaws, I knew next to nothing about the character, but come on, this was just pathetic. It’s not that she has sex with the two main male characters; sex is as much a part of life as violence, and unlike violence, sex is usually a positive experience for those involved.”

    For you maybe. To some people, it’s a throwaway experience. Tony Stark, Hercules, and Daken can tell you all about that. Some guys who treat sex as a throwaway experience without any scrutiny from anyone and no complaints from any of the reader, even when throwing themselves and flirting fiercely with anything that moves.

    “It’s the fact that she is portrayed as not clearly being sure who she is having sex with,”

    She has an easy time remembering their names. At the same time, this was obviously done to show how low she thinks of humans: She wishes for more aliens to be around, comments on how they make her laugh, but shows a somewhat apathetic attitude towards them. This does take me to another point…

    “most likely won’t remember even the act afterward. ”

    She didn’t remember female members of the titans that were mentioned as well. She must be a double whore then, right? Oye. This act of not recalling people plays with the fact that she has a short attention span towards all things earth-linked, which adds to what she said about earthlings. While it remains to be seen if she truly has issues with memories and wasn’t just saying that to put up a front, it can easily be explained, again, as her not caring for earthlings. She is not an airhead, and shows she can recall names and people where it is important. Unimportant people she does not care to recall.

    This reminds me of the Hercules story where he sleeps with Psylocke, then years later, hits on her in the same fashion as before and does not recall who she is or that they met. He did not have amnesia, he was not an airhead, he was not stupid, he had nothing wrong with his mind, he just found Psylocke forgettable. No one threw a fit over that story, no one ranted and raved about how he was being shown as an idiot, nothing. There is a horrible hypocrisy at work and it both amazes and sickens me how blind people are to this.

    “It’s that doesn’t seem to be attracted to person she’s going to be bed with and doesn’t even relish the idea of the act. ”

    People don’t relish the idea of jerking off. This is the equivalent for her. The guy equivalent of this would be settling for some chick. Yes, guys do this. In fact, much of Starfire’s attitude is very well representative of a guy. It’s like they took a guy from Jersey Shore and replaced them with an alien chick (they’re even both orange!). Or Sex and the City with guns and sans all the annoying characters except Kim Catrall’s character. No one rages about these but this comic, it’s the epitome of all that is evil in the world. Burn it! Kill it!

    “It’s that Jason implies that he is manipulating her, both into bed and into battle. It’s that her seduction of Roy is the only self-motivated thing we see her do.”

    Jason is something of a prick and a liar. He shows this by making it seem like Starfire and him are an item and yet she goes off with Roy, meaning what he said earlier was a pants on fire lie.

    “It’s that during that very seduction, she looks as vacant-eyed and disinterested as a junkie, amking it seem less like seduction and more like a proposition.”

    She has no pupils. How you came to this conclusion shows how fertile your imagination is and how willing you are to put forth on a simple scene something that does not exist. Amazing. The problem here is that you treat sex like it is some wonderful and sacred thing, when to some people, it’s like dancing with someone at the club or some fun sport. It’s recreation, nothing more.

    “It’s that she asks, “Do you want to have sex with me?” at once deferring to his desires rather than pursuing her own, and leaving the impression that she would be equally affected if his answer was “yes,” or “no.” ”

    Wow. Did you read the comic? She wanted to have sex. It was her desires and wishes she wanted to fulfill. Not his. When he was hesitant, she was going to go off and fulfill her desires through some other means. How did you missed this I don’t know and they will go down as one of the great mysteries of the world next to the building of the Pyramids.

    “It’s that we are given the distinct impression that sex is neither a positive or a negative, but merely the way she communicates, and if that is the case, then it’s not an empowering attitude but a crippling inability to interact with others. And its that the author wants us to believe that this what empowerment looks like.”

    No, sex is merely an activity, a bit of fun for her. She communicates just fine with words. Roy was nothing more than an overgrown dildo to her. Why doesn’t she buy one? Who do guys who cheat on their wives or have multiple girlfriends/partners just use their hands? Sometimes the real thing is simply better.

    “In other words, Starfire is not the girl who looks at the two hot guys on her team and says “Damn! How lucky am I?! I’ll think I’ll take the red head first,” and then goes after what she wants.”

    That would actually be less empowering and more along the lines of a very bad romance novel or a male fantasy where the writer projects himself on the two male leads. He picking and choosing like she picking a calf for the slaughter is a lot more fun since her lacking true emotions towards either one indicates she is in control and is not held down or under the power of either one. In the end, it’s all about her and she does what she wants and if the guys don’t like it, that’s too bad. This is emphasized when Jason walked into the room and saw the two if them sleeping. Jason grabbed his stuff quietly and walked out. In short, she will sleep with another guy if she wants and Jason has to sit there and take it and not wake her up from her sleep if he doesn’t like it and if he doesn’t like it, he can’t even say anything about it. We saw some of this earlier when she rebuked them for trying to chastise her attitude. Think about it, if a girl sleeps with one guy and the boyfriend knows and can’t say anything about it, she has sex with the other guy in their bed, who’s in control of the relationship? The girl holds all the cards and runs things.

    “I could respect that woman. Catwoman acts a bit like that woman, albeit a little more discerning. Starfire is the girl at a party who doesn’t say a word the entire time, looks like she might be on something, and then randomly starts making out with the first male that comes close to her. That girl I would wonder about the mental health of.”

    You’re very bad at analogies and should just stop. I’m using all my willpower to not reach into the computer and slap you. Starfire has sex with who she wants. She’s not on anything. If anything, she acts like a rich kid who thinks they can do whatever they want and that they are king of the world and everyone is a fucking commoner. She’s a bit of Paris Hilton but crossed with Xena, Warrior Princess. She acts like she is better than everyone else and takes what she wants. In many ways she’s more of an aloof bully than anything else. And in this case, it’s fun to see it done this way.

    “And you know what? If Scott Lobdell wants to write a story about that girl, power to him, but he shouldn’t sell her story as one of a sexually liberated female. When you get down to it, that’s the biggest offense. Starfire acts like a suffering victim of sexual assault, but is sold as a feminist.”

    No the biggest offense are people who have an issue with people having sex (you’re lying when you said you don’t since you dwelled on that aspect and tried to turn her into a rape victim) and then instead of simply admitting they aren’t comfortable with seeing in their comic book (yet having no issue with violence, dohohoho), they try and turn it into some crusade for righteousness and decency or whatever cause comes to mind. It’s appalling when there are worse things yet this is what they pick on. TV has similar if not the same thing, movies and pretty much everything else but it’s the dying industry that they must pick on nd try and regulate to fit the whims of the few, as if FCC and Soccer Moms haven’t shown us how horrible such groups can be towards any medium.

    “I’m a guy, ”
    Riiiight….

    “and therefore maybe I don’t have the right to talk about feminism. ”

    Or anything else for that matter based on your post….

    “But I do know a thing or two about healthy behavior, ”

    You mean puritanical behavior….

    “and having indiscriminate, meaningless sex with people that you are not interested in is NOT healthy behavior for a man or a woman.”

    Its behavior some parts of society frowns upon (like yours), but there’s nothing wrong with it. She’s an alien who finds earth customs screwy. Hell most people do. And no psychologist or psychiatrist will say anything if proper precautions are taken. Seriously, cross-dressing and fetishes are allowed as well.

    • Captain Obvious says:

      This response was to Jim. Somehow (I blame magnets and their evil magic), it ended up down here.

      • Jim says:

        Or, perhaps, evil magnets!

        • Captain Obvious says:

          In the DCnU, Dr. Polaris is now: Evil Magnet Man lol.

          On with the show:
          “Right. It’s all spelled out. There’s no subtext, no build up. We’re told, not shown. It’s sexy stuff presented to be flat out sexy, nothing more or less is going on.

          There’s none of that stuff because the author is trying to speed through that because, quite frankly, it slows everything down. You’re asking him to decompress something that works just fine compressed. It’s only one issue with many more important plot points, it makes sense that he would touch upon some of them and move one. Establish and go. If after the whole arc we get nothing then I would understand but he’s trying to move through, establish plot points, and keep readers interested. This is how it’s done.

          “I could not agree more that sex is not trashy, but that does not mean it cannot be written in a trashy way. By the way, “trashy” is not meant as a moral judgment, it’s just a stylistic comment. Other books would take more time, and have more of a romantic bent, or try to get the reader more involved before heading straight for sex. I happen to enjoy trashy sometimes. It’s fun, exciting, and not too cerebral. I LIKED this book, I’m just saying that this is why some people over reacted. And, as I said, I think it was an overreaction. Thought I made that clear, but I’ll restate it here if necessary.

          I thank you for the clarification. I disagree though. On top of all the points I mentoned earlier, this book at this point, at an introductory issue, would work poorly as a soap opera and I don’t know how many people would be on board with it if it were. The book is fast-paced action that rarely slows down. I don’t fault it for acting the way it does and treating sexual relations the way it does. If anything, the book can be accused of trying to do too much but beyond that, I can’t really call its writing trashy. We can agree to disagree on this point.

          “I by no means meant to make a universal statement. The difference is that we actually see Herc and Stark, and even Dakken, relishing the seduction and consummation of the act. Starfire by contrast does not seem to care or be interested.

          She obviously enjoys it and wants it since she pursues partners and initiates everything. Her brand of seduction is more forceful and more along the lines of “I want sex and I want it now, get in line or get out of my way”.

          “No. This aspect of the character, whether in regard to males or females and in isolation, is just kind of makes her uninteresting, as she can’t sustain a relationship with other characters.

          I disagree again but this point seems more personal preference so I can let it pass, I think she can form relationships and I think she will begrudgingly come to do so in later issues. In the end, she is a great mystery in this book that is filled with mysteries. I find her quite interesting, even more so than other female or even male characters. In this title I find her to be the most interesting. It’s the A-Team but with a dash of mystery.

          “I think the words, “hit on her,” are the optimal ones here. As in, he shows he’s actively going after something he clearly wants.

          Starfire actively went after something she clearly wanted. In the case of Hercules, the only real difference, especially the first time with Psylocke, was that he was cheery and not “let’s go have sex now”. This just means that they approach talking to people differently but they want the same thing. With Psylocke, her being mean and somewhat rude is very much in-line with her not really caring about earthlings and earth. So if anything, the author is being consistent: she’s Hercules but something of an alien supremacist. On a team with two humans on earth, that sounds interesting to me. If one does not find that interesting, fine.

          “Right…but that was three years later. I think we can safely assume that if Herc would be able to identify Psylocke the next morning. Starfire has trouble telling Jason and Roy apart even as she goes to bed with them.
          When she says this, she had only presumably slept with Jason only. She had not slept with Roy so that conclusion cannot be made. And her comments were meant to mean she does not care all that much for humans. It does not mean she is mentally deficient, since she does show she recalls their names. A good example is the guy who sleeps with a girl but does not recall her name the next morning. Hercules has done this, Zeus has done this, Constantine has done this without any problem. They get the names wrong as well. They were looking to get laid by a decent to pretty looking individual, they don’t care about the person they are sleeping with. In short, they used the person as a human sex toy. On Seinfeld there was an episode about jerry who, having been with e woman for some time, still did not know her name. Why? It wasn’t important to him at the time. None of them were considered braindead or anything for this. No one should regard Starfire in the same manner either. It does not add up. It reeks of hypocrisy on many ways.

          “There is a horrible hypocrisy at work and it both amazes and sickens me how blind people are to this.
          I politely disagree. Firstly, with characters like Herc and Stark, writers often portray their womanizing as a comic flaw, rather than a strength, as opposed to a mark of sexual liberation. ”

          A comic flaw? Hardly. The writer may poke fun out of it, but it is presented in a positive light and a mark of how “full of life and gusto” the character is. Those are male fantasies being enacted in comic form. Bruce Wayne is the same way, sleeping with women then running off to play Batman.

          “Secondly, Stark and Herc seemed to enjoy sex, while we’re given little indication that Starfire does. ”
          Starfire obviously enjoys sex or she would not seek it out.

          “I agree. I just wouldn’t then hold up a sign saying “Look how liberated these people are!” I mean, the whole reason Jersey Shore group is so entertaining is how dysfunctional and bizarre they are. ”

          And here’s the problem: The women are liberated there, regardless of how dysfunctional they may seem. Compare that to the roaring 20s, where women were striking out and going to parties and sleeping with whomever they wanted. The men, doing likewise, getting into drunken fights and living it up. Both genders wearing crazy clothing and prettying themselves up in various ways…wait, did I just describe Jersey Shore? Yes I did. They are the same thing. Yes, women’s liberation took a front seat during those times but much of the women fighting the good fight were not the women wearing the flappers and going to parties. Some maybe but overall, most were hard-working women who planned and strived to figure out how to fix things, with the party-goers and so forth being the people who benefited from tat hard work. We may look back at the Roaring 20s as a cool time, but at one point, people saw those people and saw them as irresponsible youngins who did not know better, much the same way we see the people on the Jersey Shore.

          “No, those women like sex and often agonize over attaining it.”

          Starfire obviously likes sex or she would not seek it out. Why you keep thinking she does not like it is beyond me. She even throws a fit when someone tries to stop her from having sex. She takes offense to it because she wants something and some dude is trying to stop her from getting it. It’s as plain as day and cannot be made any more clear. It’s the same thing, quite honestly.

          “She has no pupils. How you came to this conclusion shows how fertile your imagination is and how willing you are to put forth on a simple scene something that does not exist.’

          Come now, most comic book character don’t have pupils. If pupils were do-all end-all of showing emotion, no one would ever know what any superhero was thinking. In the splash page with Starfire on the beach, it’s clear how much she loves the tropical climate. Rocafort does a great job showing Jason’s cold contempt and sneering face through even through his mask. Yet when it comes to Starfire talking about sex, she looks as blank as a cow.”

          You’re completely reading this thing wrong. Her being impassive nature is not meant to mean anything beyond her view that humans are silly people. And she has an eyebrow raised. If anything she is amused and perturbed at the idiocy of Roy and his protestations (I make the same expression when faced with silliness – I must have something wrong with me). But she is not blank and certainly not for the reasons you cited before.

          “…when to some people, it’s like dancing with someone at the club or some fun sport. It’s recreation, nothing more.

          Right. But nothing about the character’s attitude suggests excitement or even the prospect of having fun. ”
          Except she does, by asking Roy. If she did not enjoy sex, she would not ask Roy or make a fuss over it. Ergo, she wants sex and the person who wants to stop her can go to hell. Must she dance and hold a parade to show how much she wants something? I am seeing a common theme here: Something is expressed in a simple, maybe subtle matter, and you expect them to go some extra step to illustrate a point that was already and best handled in a subtle manner. I don’t get this. It’s all there, spelled out. I don’t know how you’re missing them.
          “She wanted to have sex. It was her desires and wishes she wanted to fulfill. Not his. When he was hesitant, she was going to go off and fulfill her desires through some other means.

          The book isn’t explicit about what she would do if Roy said no, and that’s my point. Nothing suggests that she cares about it even as a passtime. ”
          Except she’s about to make a suggestion, illustrating she had another option (or another person) in mind. Again, she wants to have sex, but love and all the crap that goes with it, has nothing to do with it. It’s there, shown plain as day. Consequence free sex, as the kids call it.

          “Starfire has sex with who she wants.
          See, that’s it! We don’t see her wanting anything! ”

          Yes we do! No one told her to have sex with Roy! She wanted to! She initiated it! She was not forced into having sex! She even makes a point to say “I am free to what I want, when I want.” Again, it’s in the book, stated plain as day.

          ” If anything, I was being snide in my contempt and in suggesting that the character Lobdell has come up with looked more like a sexual abuse victim than a liberated women. I meant to be insulting his writing, not his viewpoints. I have no reason to believe the author is anything other than egalitarian. ”

          And this is where we disagree considerably. I think Lobdell was trying to create this, essentially, warrior princess type character, except, instead of being a bro, she is kind of an icy prick. I am personally curious about how she interacts with the team because it seems to me that at any given moment she will up and leave when she gets the chance. I am curious about her past relationships as well. Is she a normal person? No, I can admit that. She has personality issues, but nothing too extreme or offensive in any way. Will people dislike her? Sure, but not because she is written like a rape victim. That analogy I can’t fathom. I still can’t see it.

          ”I’m also not saying there isn’t more stupid writing present in tv and movies. I’m saying talking about one issue, and saying “this is stupid.” I’m saying it because I was looking forward to this book, and I was disappointed. ”

          I can understand that and I’m actually sorry, no joke, that you didn’t like it. I wish everyone could like every book or see something they really like in it. I wish I could enjoy some other books but can’t.

          ”I actually rather enjoyed your response, and appreciate your viewpoints, particularly the bit about Starfire as a Paris Hilton type. I still feel the writing doesn’t quite hold that interpretation up, and there’s a knee-jerk reaction for me to say, “who would want to read about Paris Hilton as a superhero,” but while I may not, perhaps there are many who would, and if so, they deserve to have that book available for them. Even if it would be stupid. ”

          Yeah, I enjoyed your response as well. As far as Red Hood and the Outlaws, I feel as if the writing was pretty good and that the author created many interesting plot points that I am hoping will be explored. I think Lobdell was solid on all points. And a Paris Hilton type hero would be pretty funny when one thinks about it and would make for an interesting commentary on the concept of being a superhero and if they truly served the greater good or their own. But agree to disagree.

    • Jim says:

      Captain,

      “Why is it trashy? What about it makes it trashy?”

      This is:

      “She states outright that there is a history and that there is tension. Batman’s response to Catwoman as well Catwoman reacting to Batman is also indicative of this. I hate to say it, but it’s all spelled out.

      Right. It’s all spelled out. There’s no subtext, no build up. We’re told, not shown. It’s sexy stuff presented to be flat out sexy, nothing more or less is going on.

      “If they went any slower or had “more progression” I would wonder if the writer thinks the reader is slow his or herself.” As for the sex itself, sex is not trashy.”

      I could not agree more that sex is not trashy, but that does not mean it cannot be written in a trashy way. By the way, “trashy” is not meant as a moral judgment, it’s just a stylistic comment. Other books would take more time, and have more of a romantic bent, or try to get the reader more involved before heading straight for sex. I happen to enjoy trashy sometimes. It’s fun, exciting, and not too cerebral. I LIKED this book, I’m just saying that this is why some people over reacted. And, as I said, I think it was an over reaction. Thought I made that clear, but I’ll restate it here if necessary.

      “To some people, it’s a throwaway experience. Tony Stark, Hercules, and Daken can tell you all about that.”

      I by no means meant to make a universal statement. The difference is that we actually see Herc and Stark, and even Dakken, relishing the seduction and consummation of the act. Starfire by contrast does not seem to care or be interested.

      “She didn’t remember female members of the titans that were mentioned as well. She must be a double whore then, right?”

      No. This aspect of the character, whether in regard to males or females and in isolation, is just kind of makes her uninteresting, as she can’t sustain a relationship with other characters.

      “This reminds me of the Hercules story where he sleeps with Psylocke, then years later, hits on her in the same fashion as before and does not recall who she is or that they met.”

      I think the words, “hit on her,” are the optimal ones here. As in, he shows he’s actively going after something he clearly wants.
      “He did not have amnesia, he was not an airhead, he was not stupid, he had nothing wrong with his mind, he just found Psylocke forgettable. “

      Right…but that was three years later. I think we can safely assume that if Herc would be able to identify Psylocke the next morning. Starfire has trouble telling Jason and Roy apart even as she goes to bed with them.

      “There is a horrible hypocrisy at work and it both amazes and sickens me how blind people are to this.”

      I politely disagree. Firstly, with characters like Herc and Stark, writers often portray their womanizing as a comic flaw, rather than a strength, as opposed to a mark of sexual liberation. Secondly, Stark and Herc seemed to enjoy sex, while we’re given little indication that Starfire does.

      “The guy equivalent of this would be settling for some chick. Yes, guys do this. In fact, much of Starfire’s attitude is very well representative of a guy. It’s like they took a guy from Jersey Shore and replaced them with an alien chick (they’re even both orange!).”

      I agree. I just wouldn’t then hold up a sign saying “Look how liberated these people are!” I mean, the whole reason Jersey Shore group is so entertaining is how dysfunctional and bizarre they are.

      “Or Sex and the City with guns and sans all the annoying characters except Kim Catrall’s character.”

      No, those women like sex and often agonize over attaining it.

      “No one rages about these but this comic, it’s the epitome of all that is evil in the world. Burn it! Kill it!”

      Perhaps there are those out there who would like to burn it or the author, but I do not count myself among them. My accusation leveled at this book is that its portrayal of Starfire was “stupid,” hardly evil or worthy of rage.

      “She has no pupils. How you came to this conclusion shows how fertile your imagination is and how willing you are to put forth on a simple scene something that does not exist.”

      Come now, most comic book character don’t have pupils. If pupils were do-all end-all of showing emotion, no one would ever know what any superhero was thinking. In the splash page with Starfire on the beach, it’s clear how much she loves the tropical climate. Rocafort does a great job showing Jason’s cold contempt and sneering face through even through his mask. Yet when it comes to Starfire talking about sex, she looks as blank as a cow.

      “The problem here is that you treat sex like it is some wonderful and sacred thing…”

      Actually, I don’t.

      “…when to some people, it’s like dancing with someone at the club or some fun sport. It’s recreation, nothing more.”

      Right. But nothing about the character’s attitude suggests excitement or even the prospect of having fun.

      “Did you read the comic?”

      Yep.

      “She wanted to have sex. It was her desires and wishes she wanted to fulfill. Not his. When he was hesitant, she was going to go off and fulfill her desires through some other means.”

      The book isn’t explicit about what she would do if Roy said no, and that’s my point. Nothing suggests that she cares about it even as a passtime.

      ” You’re very bad at analogies and should just stop. I’m using all my willpower to not reach into the computer and slap you.”

      I assure you, this topic is not worth getting that upset about.

      “Starfire has sex with who she wants.”

      See, that’s it! We don’t see her wanting anything!

      The biggest offense are people who have an issue with people having sex (you’re lying when you said you don’t since you dwelled on that aspect and tried to turn her into a rape victim)

      Well, here I am going to say something about projecting, because that just not my attitude. I liked Catwoman #1. I thought that one hook-up between Spider-man and Black Cat was great. Hell, one of my favorite graphic novels was Alan Moore’s Lost Girls.

      “…and then instead of simply admitting they aren’t comfortable with seeing in their comic book (yet having no issue with violence, dohohoho)”

      That’s kind of a different issue, but one I’d be interested in discussing. There are definitely some poor and stupid portrayals of violence in comics.

      ” It’s appalling when there are worse things yet this is what they pick on. TV has similar if not the same thing, movies and pretty much everything else but it’s the dying industry that they must pick on nd try and regulate to fit the whims of the few, as if FCC and Soccer Moms haven’t shown us how horrible such groups can be towards any medium.”

      I’m not getting morally indignant. If anything, I was being snide in my contempt and in suggesting that the character Lobdell has come up with looked more like a sexual abuse victim than a liberated women. I meant to be insulting his writing, not his viewpoints. I have no reason to believe the author is anything other than egalitarian.

      I’m also not saying there isn’t more stupid writing present in tv and movies. I’m saying talking about one issue, and saying “this is stupid.” I’m saying it because I was looking forward to this book, and I was disappointed.

      “Its behavior some parts of society frowns upon (like yours), but there’s nothing wrong with it. She’s an alien who finds earth customs screwy. Hell most people do. And no psychologist or psychiatrist will say anything if proper precautions are taken. Seriously, cross-dressing and fetishes are allowed as well.”

      You know what? You’re right. The bit about “healthy behavior” was over the top. I stand by my ground that this character does not seem to act like a person who actually wants to be having sex, but I meant it as writing critique and it came out as moral grandstanding. And for that I apologize. (I was also going to redact my comment about the Jersey Shore people, but on second thought, no, they’re definitely some pretty dysfunctional people, though I would be interested to hear you thoughts on them.)

      I actually rather enjoyed your response, and appreciate your viewpoints, particularly the bit about Starfire as a Paris Hilton type. I still feel the writing doesn’t quite hold that interpretation up, and there’s a knee-jerk reaction for me to say, “who would want to read about Paris Hilton as a superhero,” but while I may not, perhaps there are many who would, and if so, they deserve to have that book available for them. Even if it would be stupid.

      Sincerely,

      Jim

  28. Mary Staggs says:

    Thank you for all the comments. I just wanted to clarify a few points.

    First, this article isn’t a rebuttal of the Hudson article. Anyone who is trying to compare the two is missing the point. While I read Ms. Hudson’s article, and many others that jumped on the bandwagon after it, I didn’t reference the article as I was writing my own. You’ll see in my other op/ed pieces that my style isn’t to completely deconstruct someone else’s work, but to explain why I think that certain prevailing attitudes are misguided. I took the one quote from Ms. Hudson’s article that I thought best represented what I was seeing posted on blogs/Facebook/Twitter, etc. While there were probably better quotes I could have used, I would rather reference a quote from an article written for a well-known media outlet than one from someone’s personal blog or Twitter.

    Second, since Starfire has become a point of contention, here’s how I see her. I ended up cutting this out because I thought the reference would be too obscure for non-Star Trek fans, but I see Starfire like Seven of Nine from Star Trek Voyager. They’re both characters who don’t know or care much for “socially acceptable” sexual conduct. In one of Seven’s first episodes she tells Harry Kim to take off his clothes. However, I think that between Seven and Starfire it’s an issue of ignorance vs. willful disregard. Seven was new to human culture, and thought it would be perfectly alright to have sex with a stranger. Starfire seems to just not care what humans think.

    That’s one thing I never understood even as a teenager watching Star Trek Voyager. I could never understand how Seven of Nine was being labeled a “bimbo” when she was given the most backstory, the best story lines, and more character development than every other character on the show, male and female. Perhaps that’s because I’ve never been a person who focuses on how a character looks, and instead I look for great characterization. Perhaps that’s a naïve view that I still haven’t outgrown. And now that I’ve re-read that statement, I do wonder how I’ve gone from reading novels to comic books, since I don’t pay a lot of attention to how a character is drawn, but to where their story is going. Maybe I read comics differently than someone who has been reading for years.

    I could be missing the mark on Starfire completely since I don’t know her detailed character history. I definitely haven’t read any earlier comic books with her as a character before now. I’ve watched a lot of Batman over the years, so I feel pretty confident in saying that Catwoman has always been sexy, but Starfire? I guess I have to admit that I’m going off of this one book.

    As a new DC reader, I can say that I’m not at all put off by what DC is offering me, but I am discouraged by people going back into the DC history to show me why I shouldn’t like what I’m seeing. I thought one aspect of the relaunch was to make DC books accessible to new readers without them having to do a ton of research into some 70-odd years of history. It feels as though the even bigger issue here is that longtime DC readers don’t want new DC readers to play in their sandbox. Maybe that’s why I’m seeing so much, “Women, no! Stay away! You won’t like this.” In hindsight, maybe the article should have been more about why DC fans are actively trying to discourage new fans from liking DC comics, instead of about how there is a dissenting opinion amongst female readers.

    • Red says:

      ‘Second, since Starfire has become a point of contention, here’s how I see her. I ended up cutting this out because I thought the reference would be too obscure for non-Star Trek fans, but I see Starfire like Seven of Nine from Star Trek Voyager. They’re both characters who don’t know or care much for “socially acceptable” sexual conduct. In one of Seven’s first episodes she tells Harry Kim to take off his clothes. However, I think that between Seven and Starfire it’s an issue of ignorance vs. willful disregard. Seven was new to human culture, and thought it would be perfectly alright to have sex with a stranger. Starfire seems to just not care what humans think.’

      Except you’re overlooking one thing.

      Starfire, in nearly every incarnation, has been shown to be fully emotionally involved in every situation. She is shown to be a joyful, open person. Yes, she is an alien, but her people are very open with their emotions and have no such constraints as humans do. They love everyone openly and at times show it physically.

      Seven-of-Nine, being ‘raised’ by the Borg, left her stoic and seemingly devoid of emotion. She cares, but she is NOT open about it. She is restrained and formal. Some of the things she does is more for the sake of experimentation, not for the sake of an emotional connection

      Starfire is NOT Seven-of-Nine. Beyond being aliens, they are NOTHING alike, in attitude OR actions. Starfire, as she has been portrayed in this issue, acts NOTHING like the character as fans have known her to be since her introduction in 1980.

      • Captain Obvious says:

        I said I was going to avoid these but I have some time to kill so:

        “Starfire, as she has been portrayed in this issue, acts NOTHING like the character as fans have known her to be since her introduction in 1980.”

        Well naturally because it is a reboot. The older incarnations of Starfire were not profitable enough to bring in people and readers, despite the numerous pushes she, as a character, has had. Even when she was on the Teen Titans cartoon, more people cared about Raven, of all people, than her. Obviously the old formula wasn’t working so they made a new one. Obviously the old fanbase/audience were not enough to make the character a success so they traded that in for a more expansive and less elusive target audience. No matter how many times you scream “THIS IS NOT MY STARFIRE!”, nothing will change because that version of Starfire had her chance and did not deliver, for all the years she existed. It’s a reboot, it’s going to be different. Not expecting this is silly.

        • Thad says:

          The Teen Titans cartoon had a whole lot more eyeballs on it than ANY comic book being sold right now. And to say that its audience cared about Raven and not Starfire…well, I’m gonna need some evidence to back that claim up.

          Similarly, the notion that Starfire’s characterization is what’s been holding her books back from selling is frankly a little silly. Not least because she has, to the best of my knowledge, always been part of an ensemble cast.

          Never mind the fact that the comics market IN GENERAL has been shrinking since the mid-1990’s.

          About the time Scott Lobdell was running the most popular franchise around at the time, incidentally.

        • Red says:

          ‘Well naturally because it is a reboot. The older incarnations of Starfire were not profitable enough to bring in people and readers, despite the numerous pushes she, as a character, has had. Even when she was on the Teen Titans cartoon, more people cared about Raven, of all people, than her. Obviously the old formula wasn’t working so they made a new one. Obviously the old fanbase/audience were not enough to make the character a success so they traded that in for a more expansive and less elusive target audience. No matter how many times you scream “THIS IS NOT MY STARFIRE!”, nothing will change because that version of Starfire had her chance and did not deliver, for all the years she existed. It’s a reboot, it’s going to be different. Not expecting this is silly.’

          I’m going to explain this as carefully as I can.

          It DOES NOT MATTER if it’s a reboot. Changing a character in the way Starfire has been changed from her previously established canon is to take a tremendous risk. Doing so insults the reader and demeans the character. It also insults those who have come to know Starfire as she was. There was NO REASON to change her and no excuse DC can offer makes it okay.

          Who’s to say that Starfire, as she was, wasn’t ‘profitable’? Not being the ‘most popular’ didn’t mean she wasn’t’ popular in her own right.

          I fail to see how DC’s formula has changed. It hasn’t. It’s format has changed, but the formula ultimately remains the same.

    • Red says:

      ‘As a new DC reader, I can say that I’m not at all put off by what DC is offering me, but I am discouraged by people going back into the DC history to show me why I shouldn’t like what I’m seeing. I thought one aspect of the relaunch was to make DC books accessible to new readers without them having to do a ton of research into some 70-odd years of history. It feels as though the even bigger issue here is that longtime DC readers don’t want new DC readers to play in their sandbox. Maybe that’s why I’m seeing so much, “Women, no! Stay away! You won’t like this.” In hindsight, maybe the article should have been more about why DC fans are actively trying to discourage new fans from liking DC comics, instead of about how there is a dissenting opinion amongst female readers.’

      Mary, you seem to be missing the point entirely. And that point is…

      You DO NOT just completely change an established characters personality, history, etc. when there is NO REASON to. No justification DC can offer makes this okay.

      No one is trying to discourage new fans from liking the comics or even asking them to rehash everything. What they are saying is that the changes made were completely UNNECESSARY and could be ultimately damaging. The characters themselves aren’t necessarily the problem. The problem is the situations and stories DC writes them in and how disconnected they are from the situations they are placed in. With this issue with Starfire being a prime example.

      You do not change an iconic character like that because it is demeaning and insulting to both the character and those who have been following the story.

      This has nothing to do with longtime DC readers not wanting new DC readers ‘to play in their sandbox’. It has EVERYTHING to do with the fact that DC is out of touch with the changing demographic. The way in which DC is trying to bring new readers in is simply them doing the exact same thing they have been doing this whole time and it will become obvious in the months to come.

      While the format may have changed, their formula has NOT. When it is the formula that is the problem and now it;’s been made worse by changing established characters. They are targeting a very narrow (to say nothing of shrinking) demographic with stuff like this. Any short-term gains they have through this will not be sustaining because it’s the same old same old.

  29. Matt says:

    The way Catwoman is portrayed is what devalues her. Not the sex.

    NOT. THE. SEX.

    Look at the first two pages. Where’s her face? It’s not there. Her tits are there. Her ass is there. Her face isn’t important enough to be shown.

    That’s what devalues Catwoman, but go ahead and keep attacking the straw man you’ve built. Way to go, champ.

    • Captain Obvious says:

      There’s nothing there that would serve to devalue her though. She’s getting dressed. Even in featuring breasts, she’s not being “devalued”.

      • Astanphaeus says:

        By rendering the character faceless, the character is being objectified. It’s latex, lingerie, and T&A. It’s fetishism.

        That’s pretty obvious, captain.

        Your attempt to edit out that fact is a pretty glaring indication that you’re not the voice of fairness you’re trying to present yourself as. You’re engaging in blatant apologetics.

        There’s a lot of points to argue about here. That some of the art involved is pure, unadulterated fan service isn’t one of them. Clearly, it is.

  30. Testudownist says:

    I don’t disagree with this argument as a whole.
    However, as uncomfortable as Catwoman #1 was, I didn’t have a huge problem worth getting upset over until it ended with the final page penetration.
    It also didn’t help that Batman was like, “No, sex…wait, you already got my belt off? Yeah, okay, sure. Might as well now.”
    Sex in comics is fine, but there’s a right and a wrong way to do it. And this made me feel like I needed to take a shower with boiling water.

  31. jaydee74 says:

    Well done Mary. That was a very well thought out article and very well written. I can’t say I agree with everything but I’m glad you’re trying out DC and isn’t that what this relaunch is all about? Trying out things we wouldn’t normally try? I can’t say I hated the Catwoman issue but it didn’t wow me either and so Batman and Catwoman had sex at the end of the issue? Do we think that they never did that before? I’m okay with it. It’s not what made me try the issue out but it is what it is.

    With Starfire, I am curious to see what the writer is going to do with her. I am going to assume her backstory is different than what we remember it being in the old DC Universe. I’ll be interested in seeing her new backstory revealed so we have a better understanding as to why Kory is the way she is. Now, as someone who read the original Wolfman/Perez New Teen Titans, I am going to miss the old Kory. She was a very fun character but I’ll wait and see how I like this new Kory. So far, she doesn’t do anything for me but maybe that will change.

  32. D-Rock says:

    Am I the only one who realizes that the only thing we can confirm through the art is that Selina is being aroused by some dry humping. All this sex talk is purely speculation since there’s no confirmation after that panel.

    With that said, it’d be absolutely hysterical if Winick starts off the next issue with Bats throwing Selina off him saying “NO MEANS NO!” Showing once again that people just like fighting on the

  33. Sally says:

    Let me preface this by saying that I’m glad that someone who feels that their opinion on a matter is getting drowned out by the opposition took the time to express it and critique the other side.

    But what troubles me about the way you did so is that it’s full of so many strawman arguments.

    Firstly, has anyone actually claimed to have a problem with a female character having sex? or having sex with a male character? To the contrary, the articles I’ve read that are critical of how Catwoman and Starfire are portrayed, including Hudson’s article which you yourself linked to, are adamant about contradicting that notion, lest someone assume otherwise.

    Secondly, you take a quote from Hudson out of context, as though she draws the conclusion that readers will pick up from the books that having more sex makes men studs and women sluts. I don’t understand how you read it that way. I’m reading that paragraph a few times over, trying to understand why you don’t see that she’s using that statement to enforce the previous statement, that she is a person who believes in pro-sex women.

    I mean, honestly, I could go on through your whole article. I’ll be concise in saying, I read the entire way through answering the rhetorical questions you asked with “No, no one’s saying that though.” Over and over. I don’t know who these questions are addressed to, but I have a hard time believing it’s Hudson, considering she made none of the statements you’re arguing against. I don’t believe the people who found Catwoman and Red Hood and the Outlaws sexist are attempting to make statements on behalf of all female readers either.

    Basically, I wish you’d talked more about the comics and how you felt about them than spent time responding to arguments that do not even exist, because I do think opinions in the contrary are very important.

    • SporkBot says:

      Well put, Sally. I too noticed that quote was misconstrued.

      I’m sorry, I don’t think the author is really grasping the problems people have with Catwoman and Outlaws. No one criticizing the books has said anything about how a woman SHOULD act (certainly not what Ms. Staggs mentioned). And the idea of having sex, as Sally mentioned, isn’t being attacked. It’s the context, excuses, and execution. Allow me to explain:

      I can see Catwoman having sex. I’m not saying she should be chaste (though I think that’d be refreshing to find in any form of media), but since I’ve never known her to go from one lover to another, she’s always seemed at least…reserved; she’ll do it at the appropriate time as she sees it. I can see Batman having sex, in the same situation, for the same reasons. In fact, I’d assumed they’d had sex during “Batman Incorporated” and it’s short run. MY problem is that Batman IS NOT and SHOULD NOT BE the kind of hero that goes on patrol, sees Catwoman and decides to have sex on a rooftop. Like so many other heroes (Wonder Woman, Superman, etc.) he has his priorities straight. In short, this isn’t how Batman would act. Judd Winick is just being the “edgy, raunchy writer” that I loathe, which is disappointing, because his run on Batman was good and I enjoy the Red Hood animated movie.

      Secondly, Starfire is basically being twisted into something she really wasn’t beforehand. Yes, she had sex (in fact, Ms. Hudson puts her sexual past into a proper context in her article), but not like with Jason Todd or Roy Harper. Before, she clearly states that intimacy always came with an emotional connection for her people. But, that didn’t work for Lobdell or DC or whichever idiot decided she NEEDED to be sleeping with Jason. After all, as Roy pointed out, Hood tried killing Star’s old flame Dick Grayson many times. So how do that “fix” this? By screwing with her character and saying her species don’t register humans outside of two senses. They made a forced amnesiac…so she could have sex with an asshole. That “I do what I want” line is quite clearly thrown in there to excuse her behavior, to make all “feminist” and “empowering” or some-such drivel.

      I’m a straight guy who’s collected comics for…maybe 15+ years. I like looking at pretty dames. But they do not, repeat DO NOT have to be these scantily clad, half-naked, sex-starved cut-outs with triple-D cup sizes. You cannot replace characterization and depth of story with this dreck.

      I can only think of two instances where sex was actually used as a plot point well. DC isn’t changing that here.

      • Jason Knize says:

        “I’m a straight guy who’s collected comics for…maybe 15+ years. I like looking at pretty dames. But they do not, repeat DO NOT have to be these scantily clad, half-naked, sex-starved cut-outs with triple-D cup sizes. You cannot replace characterization and depth of story with this dreck.”

        First of all…dames?

        Second…maybe the problem isn’t that there isn’t depth of story or characterization (considering Catwoman #1 and Red Hood & The Outlaws #1 were the FIRST ISSUES OF BOTH COMICS), but maybe the problem is that you can’t see past tits in a bikini? Starfire could have the mind of Gloria Steinem, and the bikini shot would still be a point of contention.

      • Jason Knize says:

        And really…you’ve been collecting comics for 15 years? That would put you in around 1996? That was the HEIGHT of the triple-D-chested, scantily-clad heroines and villains.

      • Captain Obvious says:

        Mary didn’t misconstrue the quote.

        “MY problem is that Batman IS NOT and SHOULD NOT BE the kind of hero that goes on patrol, sees Catwoman and decides to have sex on a rooftop. Like so many other heroes (Wonder Woman, Superman, etc.) he has his priorities straight. In short, this isn’t how Batman would act.”

        And thus this is why Batman protests at first. But Catwoman makes him weak in the knees. He truly cares about her and is truly drawn to her. We know this because why would he be there in the first place when he could have had Alfred go, or call, or call her himself (she was at a hotel so he could have called the room’s number via the front desk or he could simply hack the phone system if he wanted to). Him going over himself spoke volumes about how deep their relationship is.

        “Secondly, Starfire is basically being twisted into something she really wasn’t beforehand.”

        Yes, this is a reboot. She won’t be the same as before. To expect this would be silly since they confirmed only two titles not truly affected by the reboot. Starfire was not part of those.

        “Before, she clearly states that intimacy always came with an emotional connection for her people. ”

        Before has no bearing. This is a reboot. They could have made her green with wings and there’s nothing anyone can say about it. Reboot = new continuity and new canon.

        “But, that didn’t work for Lobdell or DC or whichever idiot decided she NEEDED to be sleeping with Jason.”

        So the problem here IS that they are sleeping together. Ok.

        “After all, as Roy pointed out, Hood tried killing Star’s old flame Dick Grayson many times. So how do that “fix” this? By screwing with her character and saying her species don’t register humans outside of two senses.”

        I’m sure they had other motivating factors outside of Todd trying to kill Dick as a reason for the change. Comics tends to work that way.

        “They made a forced amnesiac…so she could have sex with an asshole.”

        I doubt she is an amnesiac. If that were the case, she wouldn’t know where she came from, she wouldn’t know that she dislikes soldiers, she wouldn’t know she was an alien (she could have easily concluded she was a metahuman, and so many things. She simply did not recall any names. I forget names as well, especially when I don’t really care for the people who’s name I forgot. She just doesn’t care for the people who’s names she forgot. Does this make her cold? Sure. Memory problems though? No, not really.

        “That “I do what I want” line is quite clearly thrown in there to excuse her behavior, to make all “feminist” and “empowering” or some-such drivel.”

        Clearly. Even though her attitude has been constant throughout much of the issue. But it clearly is this because you sat in through the creative process and know everything perfectly about the whole series, despite only one issue having been released. Clearly.

        “I’m a straight guy who’s collected comics for…maybe 15+ years. I like looking at pretty dames. But they do not, repeat DO NOT have to be these scantily clad, half-naked, sex-starved cut-outs with triple-D cup sizes. You cannot replace characterization and depth of story with this dreck.”

        Congratulations! You are not part of the target audience for this book. You are part of the audience that these kind of books were directed towards but such was not enough so they had to change to attract other people.

        In any case, the point of the whole DCnU is for diversity. Comics in the past all ran together and diversity was quite lost. If one wanted it, they would have to read out of continuity books, which annoys and confuses some people. I don’t fault DC for creating titles that appeal to various people, allowing the whole company to appeal to everyone.

  34. Jin Saotome says:

    Read your article. Read everyone else’s too. I’m a guy, straight, married, and the ultimate fandom geek. Psylocke in a bikini will always be one of my earliest comic memories. (wait, Wolverine was there too? Oh)I was upset when SDCC stopped allowing scantily clad booth girls who would pose and rub shoulders with the fanboy crowd. (the loss of so many hoverhands will never be forgotten)

    But even I can’t take anything good from the way Catwoman or Firestar are portrayed by guys, to the readers. I guess this is why I don’t read comics anymore. I don’t want my memories of my favorite characters as a child twisted and ‘rebooted’ with crap writing like this.

    Mary. You have either sold out or are just too ignorant to understand what’s going on here. I’m a guy and even I know what’s up. No part of Catwoman or the other books were written to empower females/sexuality/decision making/strength in women. They were chock full of innuendo, breast/panty flashing, and the portrayal of the superhero women I once knew as playthings.

    And if a guy who notices when Power Girl grows a cup size (or a few) between artists can see through DC’s crap…I would suspect you could too.

    Kinda disappointed in you here.

    • Jason Knize says:

      Your comments are more offensive than anything in Catwoman or Red Hood & The Outlaws, Jin.

      First, you don’t read comics anymore? But you “know what’s up” with these books?

      To imply that Mary “sold out” or is “too ignorant to understand what’s going on here” is some scandalous ass shit to say. You should honestly be ashamed of yourself.

    • Hey, Firestar’s a New Warrior/Avenger. For Marvel. Just sayin’.

      And the word “ignorant” should never come about in an OPINION discussion.

      I would be more crass to you, but I respect Knize and the lovely Mary Staggs too much to fling poo on their website.

    • Joshua says:

      “Psylocke in a bikini will always be one of my earliest comic memories. (wait, Wolverine was there too? Oh)I was upset when SDCC stopped allowing scantily clad booth girls who would pose and rub shoulders with the fanboy crowd. (the loss of so many hoverhands will never be forgotten)”

      So you lament the loss of real women being scantily clad and objectified, but are offended by fictional characters being scantily clad and objectified…

      “But even I can’t take anything good from the way Catwoman or Firestar are portrayed by guys, to the readers.”

      Hey Mr. Ultimate Fandom Geek, her name isn’t Firestar.

      ” I guess this is why I don’t read comics anymore. I don’t want my memories of my favorite characters as a child twisted and ‘rebooted’ with crap writing like this.”
      Your favorite memories including the anecdote you already mentioned about Psylocke in a bikini…? Yeah, it sure would be a shame for them to pervert that.

      “Mary. You have either sold out or are just too ignorant to understand what’s going on here. I’m a guy and even I know what’s up. No part of Catwoman or the other books were written to empower females/sexuality/decision making/strength in women. They were chock full of innuendo, breast/panty flashing, and the portrayal of the superhero women I once knew as playthings.”

      1.) Do you know what the term sell-out means?
      2.) Those comics you’ve mentioned having such fond memories of were chock full of innuendo, breast/panty flashing, and the portrayal of super-hero women you once knew as playthings.

      I was not a fan of the panels I saw from either Catwoman or Red Hood (less because of the perceived exploitation and more to poor writing/layouts), but your arguments are weak at best and completely impotent due to their reliance on ad hominem. Please, be ineffectual and insulting somewhere else.

  35. DCM says:

    “Is that what’s happening here? Is Catwoman horribly devalued in the eyes of comic readers because she initiates sex with a man? What about Starfire in Red Hood and the Outlaws #1, who even says, “I am free to do what I want when I want”?”

    No. that’s not what she was saying at all. You should re read the article. You’ve missed the point.

  36. Brit. says:

    “That is what’s happening here. Catwoman and Starfire are being labled as “sluts” because they’re women who go after what they want. Sex is only okay if it’s a feminist-approved “certain type of sex”. It doesn’t seem as though we’re “supporting the right of women to embrace and act upon their sexual desires” at all.”

    They are not being labeled “sluts” because they are women who pursue sex. They are labeled “sluts” for the same reason sluts in real life are labeled “sluts”: because their pursuit of sex just amounts to a bunch of tit-flashing that says that women are only sexually attractive because they fit some porno-fueled-lowest-common-denominator ideal. In real, complex stories there are more factors than the physical that contribute to human attraction and sexuality. Women don’t have to resort to tastelessly showing off their bodies to attract men. Any self-respecting woman knows that. The ones who don’t are the sluts. And there are men out there, who are not jerks, who can tell the difference, even at a glance (they are very visual in judgement calls, too).

    • Jason Knize says:

      So, what you’re saying is, the attraction between Catwoman & Batman is based solely on Batman’s affinity for her sweet tits? Is this the first you’ve ever heard of Batman and Catwoman?

      I find it very telling that so many of the detractors to this article are mentioning porn with a negative connotation. I leads me to assume that the same people would think it impossible for a woman to enjoy porn, as well.

      • Angelina Fernandez says:

        I find it very telling that people immediately go back to catwoman when someone mentions how completely porny they’re acting. I’ll concede Catwoman is a sexual character. But Starfire? She’s not a woman there, she’s an object. An object that apparently wants nothing more than to be fucked. Emotions? Pshhhh who needs those!

        Honestly, it’s creepy. She’s like a male fantasy in the flesh. Sex with no emotional attachments! AWESOME. Oh wait. And you know, I love watching porn as much as the next person. But I don’t love watching porn that is very clearly for male enjoyment. You know, the ones where the girl is sitting there sucking the guys dick for an hour and practically having an orgasm because of how hot it makes her to please him.

        • Jason Knize says:

          Why is it impossible that Starfire might be the one that sees the men as objects, and she would be the one doing the f—ing? It’s these types of snap judgments that happen in the real world, as mentioned in the above article. While we see the before and the after, we don’t see the actual act between Starfire and Roy. Is it entirely out of the realm of possibility that she rode him like a champion and roughed him up a bit? Why would we assume she just lays there and takes it?

          • Angelina Fernandez says:

            Who cares if it was starfire doing the fucking? I’m not talking about sex positions, I’m not complaining about whether she bottomed or topped. Whether she was dominant or not. That’s not the point. She’s still having sex for the readers enjoyment.

            Oh sure, in character she’s the one who initiates, but this is an act that is completely out of character. An act that was written by a man. In so many of these panels she’s clearly posing for the viewer. THAT is what I find offensive, not that she wants to have sex. Girls like sex too, but this is a guys fantasy of a girl having sex.

            • Jason Knize says:

              For the readers’ enjoyment, or for mens’ enjoyment? Because I think you just said readers…and that would imply male AND female. Also, god forbid that something in a comic book is intended to make the ready “enjoy” it.

              While the DC reboot has been pick-and-choosey about what stays and what goes, I’ll echo Captain Obvious’ point that this is in fact, a reboot, and whatever is established for the character….is…IN CHARACTER. Many of his actions are “out of character”, but the Superman in Justice League #1 and Action Comics #1 is THE Superman now, therefore, IN character.

              As for posing for the viewer? It’s a visual medium. That’s the point. Every page and every panel of every comic book ever made features the characters “posing for the viewer”.

              According to your argument, if the book was exactly the same in story and artwork, but both the writer and the artist were female, you would have NO ISSUE with it.

              • Angelina Fernandez says:

                Speaking of cherry picking, you’ve cherry picked my argument apart. By readers, I DID mean men. You know why? Not many women would read this and enjoy it. Because this is not how women act, and it’s ridiculous to read something like this and take it seriously.

                So DC has rebooted, and now Starfire is a completely unlikable character with no personality traits other than ‘likes to have sex’. Great job DC. And just because comics are a visual medium doesn’t mean that the female characters have to pose so that male readers get off to their shapely bodies. Women CAN stand normally, believe it or not. They don’t generally LIKE to thrust their boobs into mens faces as they bend over.

                And no, if this book were the exact same story and artwork but both writer and artist were female I’d still be pissed. Just like I’m pissed at this stupid rebuttal, which is written by a female. The only reason I mentioned the fact that the author was male was because it is VERY TELLING that he is male. And has written a female character like this.

                Because right now? Starfire is serving men by being a sex object. And men are “enjoying” Starfire as a way to wank off to their stupid power fantasies, not enjoying her as a character.

                Women in the comics industry are being portrayed as sluts, and not in a sex positive way. If it was sex positive, Starfire would have more personality than a piece of cardboard with tits drawn onto it.

                • Jason Knize says:

                  Do you actually know any men? Honestly. Your opinions on the male gender are as short-sighted and blanketed as those towards women pre-Woodrow Wilson. We don’t all jack-off to our comicky books, or get off on “stupid power fantasies”.

                  I can’t decide who you hate more…”sluts”, or men.

  37. Thad says:

    You know that scene in Spinal Tap, where Ian says they’re in hot water with the label because their album cover is sexist? And Nigel, incredulous, responds with “What’s wrong with being sexy?”

    You’re Nigel.

    You’ve completely mischaracterized Laura’s objections to the books in question.

    “Is Catwoman horribly devalued in the eyes of comic readers because she initiates sex with a man?” Well, that’s a straight-up strawman, Mary.

    • Jason Knize says:

      I’m beginning to think the anti-Catwoman folks got their talking points from some centralized source. I have never seen the phrase “strawman” used so much and in once concentrated area.

      • Thad says:

        Maybe it’s because that’s what it’s called when you argue with something nobody actually said.

        Or it could be, you know, some elaborate George Soros conspiracy, I guess.

      • Captain Obvious says:

        They’re probably mostly from Tumblr (those still talking about it). They were having the biggest fit over this, then carried it over to 4chan where a shitstorm ensued which lead to whole threads about sexism which caused most of them to leave 4chan since they were being roundly beaten and they retreated back to Tumblr and their various blogs. Some stayed on 4chan stirring the shit at which point this article was mentioned. This article popped up on Tumblr around the same time, and well, 250 replies and 100 images later, here we are. In other words, it’s mostly people who can’t let this go.

        • Thad says:

          It’s so cute how you’re both going straight for the “WHO SENT YOU?!” angle rather than actually contradicting anything I said.

          • Jason Knize says:

            What exactly are you saying? That this writer didn’t read the article that she referenced or didn’t understand it (even though she only references the one quote, and the greater argument was in response to the internet-wide reaction to the 2 comics)? Did you read this article? Because it’s not an attack on Laura Hudson or any opposing view to the comics…it’s her want to be able to feel something different than the majority.

            What did you glean from Laura Hudson’s article? My understanding is that, while she “supports” women to evoke their sexuality, ALL of the ways that Catwoman or Starfire were portrayed relied on their sexuality, and there were no character beats short of that. Mary, myself, and others certainly disagree. It seems as if the detractors are putting on some sort of magical spectacles that view comics through the eyes of a stereotypical undersexed fanboy, and Starfire and Catwoman begin and end at their tits and genitals.

            • Thad says:

              I am saying that the point she was arguing with was not the one made by the only person she cited in her piece.

              Saying it was a response to some sort of hand-wavy “internet-wide reaction” is cute, but still so much hot air; I haven’t seen a single example of somebody ACTUALLY saying that the problem with this book was that Batman and Catwoman had sex.

              Batman and Catwoman having sex is not what is wrong with the issue. I don’t know of anybody CLAIMING that is what was wrong with the issue.

              • Jason Knize says:

                And where in this article did Mary Staggs claim that the “other side” is mad at the fact that Batman and Catwoman had sex?

              • Captain Obvious says:

                I suggest going back up and reviewing the comments here. There are plenty of people bothered by the fact that they had sex (as well as people bothered by the idea that there was (oh noes!) penetration). Saying there are none is short-sighted and reckless of a statement and, well, erroneous, incorrect, and flat out wrong.

                • Thad says:

                  “There are plenty of people bothered by the fact that they had sex”

                  I’ll grant I haven’t read all 108 comments, but I see a grand total of zero people saying that in the first few dozen. Would you care to point me to the “plenty of people” you’re talking about?

                  “Saying there are none is short-sighted and reckless of a statement and, well, erroneous, incorrect, and flat out wrong.”

                  Pity it’s not the statement I made (AGAIN with the strawmen!). I said I hadn’t SEEN any and didn’t KNOW of any.

                  I’m sure there are some out there. Because this is the Internet, and you can find someone who will say pretty much absolutely anything.

                  However, there’s a difference between “Some lady said it on her Twitter” and “Plenty of people said it in this thread” — let alone “it is an internet-wide reaction”.

      • D-Rock says:

        “I have never seen the phrase “strawman” used so much and in once concentrated area.”

        I KNOW! I feel like I’m watching an episode of the Daily Show were he does the bit about all the politicians and/or Fox News staff saying the same “sound-byte of the day”. 😆

  38. Lee Rodriguez says:

    Watch it, now. Let’s show a little respect for the author, Thad.

    • Thad says:

      Hey, I LOVE Nigel. And I think the comparison is apt: people aren’t complaining about sexiness, they’re complaining about sexism. Catwoman is sexy? Well, yes, that’s kind of her thing. She has sex with Batman? Okay, wouldn’t be the first time.

      A consistent number of panels in the issue, including the opening pages, consist of just tit- and ass-shots, without her face even being pictured? THAT’S where the problems start.

      • Captain Obvious says:

        “A consistent number of panels in the issue, including the opening pages, consist of just tit- and ass-shots, without her face even being pictured? THAT’S where the problems start.”

        1. Action and motion are being depicted, and this is one way to do it without tossing speed-lines everywhere.

        2. It’s a hassle to draw faces, so it’s a nice way to avoid this. It’s similar to Liefield not drawing feet or obstructing them in some manner; because it’s a hassle for him.

        3. I can see how an artist would have small faith in the size of the panels there. Heads take up a lot of space.

        4. Shots of the body are not sexist. They do this with guys plenty of times and no one screams sexism. Often times, the man’s ass is featured heavily in a panel yet no one calls that sexist. In the movie Batman and Robin, they were shown putting on their gear, each section at a time, and no one cried sexism. No one still cries sexism because of that scene. But suddenly these panels are considered a great evil? Even though we see stuff like this in other comic books or other mediums without issue? It’s hard to take the claims tossed against this book when there is no consistency in the mindset behind these attacks. It feels like hypocrisy.

        • Thad says:

          You make a great point.

          Absolutely nobody complained about the gratuitous crotch-and-ass-shots in the beginning of Batman and Robin.

          • Captain Obvious says:

            “Absolutely nobody complained about the gratuitous crotch-and-ass-shots in the beginning of Batman and Robin.”

            Not really. No one cried sexism and just thought it was a bit too much camp and fun for the movie, a franchise that, up until then, was still regarded as serious.

            Also, thank you for skipping over my points and not trying to contend them. I assume they are to your liking then.

            • Thad says:

              “Also, thank you for skipping over my points and not trying to contend them. I assume they are to your liking then.”

              That’s rich coming from the guy who entered the conversation with conjecture about where I found a link to this page.

              I avoided your first three points because they’re self-evident arm-flailing. “March just wasn’t drawing heads because it’s so hard to draw heads, especially in those tiny little panels”? Really? That’s what you’re going to go with? That would be an insult to the artist even WITHOUT comparing him to Liefeld.

              And as for the fourth, now you’re just hairsplitting. Schumacher’s obsession with Batman and Robin’s physiques was off-putting, and yes, the opening sequence here is similarly off-putting. About the only argument against sexism is that it’s equal-opportunity off-putting.

              • Captain Obvious says:

                “That’s rich coming from the guy who entered the conversation with conjecture about where I found a link to this page.”

                Not really. A lot of these people are on Tumblr and did post on 4chan (with their names as well, which is silly to do but whatever). In any case, I find your amusement quite humorous since all you’ve done is re-hash arguments that has been discussed in full above already (so thank you for not contributing anything new), and hurl insults at the author of this article in manner that was unwarranted (I guess you contributed insults so it wasn’t a complete waste).

                “I avoided your first three points because they’re self-evident arm-flailing. “March just wasn’t drawing heads because it’s so hard to draw heads, especially in those tiny little panels”? Really? That’s what you’re going to go with? That would be an insult to the artist even WITHOUT comparing him to Liefeld.”

                Again, you did not provide a counter point, rather just hurled insults. That simply does not fly anywhere. If they are easily refuted, then by all means, do so. And my point was speaking of artists in general. It’s not an insult but an observation.

                “And as for the fourth, now you’re just hairsplitting.”

                No, not at all. It has bearing to this argument and has many uses here. We’ll get to that soon.

                “Schumacher’s obsession with Batman and Robin’s physiques was off-putting, and yes, the opening sequence here is similarly off-putting.”

                Ah, so they are they are the same thing? Now we’re getting somewhere.

                “About the only argument against sexism is that it’s equal-opportunity off-putting.”

                So because both men and women were off-put by the Batman and Robin sequence, that makes it not sexist….kind of like how both women and men (since many were kind enough to volunteer this information about themselves) were off-put by the Catwoman panels? So because it has been demonstrated as equally off-putting for both genders, that’s another reason why it’s not sexist? Alright then. You said it yourself.

      • Jason Knize says:

        While her tits and ass are PREVALENT in the first two pages, they are not the focus, if you read her inner monologue. The sequence involves Selina gathering her things before she peaces out of her apartment…and each shot shows her doing just that. The fact that she is not shown in 100% full figure in any of those panels is to create anticipation for her full splash page reveal as she jumps out of the window.

        • Thad says:

          “they are not the focus, if you read her inner monologue”

          Ah, I see the problem — you don’t know what “focus” means.

          • Captain Obvious says:

            He’s saying the words are there and reveal her inner thoughts. In addition to my points, Knize’s points are also true. The collaboration between an artist and a writer, especially on a new project is filled with many things, to put it bluntly. It’s a complex collaboration. Revisions upon revisions.

            • Thad says:

              And Juneau is the capital of Alaska.

              It’s true, and it’s also completely irrelevant to the fact that the very first thing you notice when you open the book is a giant set of tits smack-dab in the middle of the very first panel. Followed by the same thing in the second panel. And the third.

          • Jason Knize says:

            If you’re reading Catwoman #1, and her inner monologue reads, “wardrobe, mittens, talkie talk, babies”, and in each successive panel, she’s grabbing her wardrobe, her gloves, her phone, and her cats….if all you can see are her tits and ass, you’re the one with the focus issues. I, personally, didn’t linger on those panels or those pages.

            • Captain Obvious says:

              Agreed with Knize.

              • Chris says:

                You know, I’d accept this as a valid argument if it really was the focus. Let’s look at this breakdown by panel (going off the image in Laura’s article):

                First panel: The text itself is shuffled off to the upper-left corner, while a big shot of the T of T&A features prominently dead-center. The wardrobe part of this shot just sort of floats around peripherally on the sides.

                Second panel: This one gets a little better since the text gets a little more focus as well as her articles of clothing, although the center of the shot is still very much bare-skin and rack.

                Third panel: This one’s actually not so bad. The chaos of the situation comes more into play, and the dialogue takes more of a center-stage. I’m not entirely sure why it’s taken her three panels to get her top completely on but I guess we can assume that she has to keep her inventory under there. Did we really need to know that though? If we didn’t want to have a complete shot of her to preserve the full-body reveal for her jumping out the window, we could have just as easily had a shot just of her head and neck or something like that here. It’s not like we haven’t seen her face yet; it’s right there on the cover!

                Lastly, the panel with her cats as she’s evading what appears to be gunfire… seriously? Her backside and legs, aside from a few splinters, are quite literally the only thing there in the right side of the panel. I will give them credit for at least putting detail on the guy in the background.

                I’d say that it’s pretty obvious that T&A was a major focus here, and assuming that someone else is the problem for not seeing it just seems laughable.

                But you know what? If there’s only one or two pages per issue where this happens, then maybe this is being blown out of proportion. I’ll admit it, I haven’t read the entire issue so maybe people are complaining that it happens more often than it actually does. But to outright deny it at all… yeah, just laughable.

                • Captain Obvious says:

                  And naturally your response ignores the inner monologue being depicted and the context in which everything is occurring, a problem that could have been avoided if you actually read the comic. If there is one thing that is detestable in this kind of debates/arguments is when someone complains about a comic they have not read. That’s so ridiculous it’s laughable.

                  • Chris says:

                    Yes, the inner monologue which I specifically mentioned in the previous post as starting off shuffled off into the top-left corner and does manage to gradually move towards the center by the third panel? And I also specifically mentioned how the fast-moving, chaotic context makes the third panel less ridiculous. I even said that given that I haven’t read the comic that maybe this is focusing too much on just one or two pages, giving you a perfect opportunity to go, “Yeah, but the rest of the comic isn’t like this so we’re in agreement on that, it IS blown out of proportion” … Did you just not read what I posted? You’re right, someone arguing without reading the material first IS laughable…

                    But seriously, as I’ve said, if this is only going on for like one or two pages then maybe it’s not such a big deal (I guess I have to repeat myself here?). It just seems like, taken in with the other examples mentioned (and MANY complaints made in the past, oh I guess I should spend an hour or three compiling all of those or it must be the case that fanservice/cheesecake has never ever happened in comics, right?), maybe it’s not something we can dismiss easily.

                  • Chris says:

                    Unfortunately there’s not a post-edit button, but let me see if I can make my point easier to comprehend: if every single panel were like that, with no shots of her head, no one would be taking this comic seriously. Obviously, that’s not the case, I don’t have to read the comic to know that they wouldn’t go that far. Conversely, I’d like to think that people don’t seriously believe that cheesecake (both the visual version of sexy depictions that have no bearing on the plot or characterization, and the writing version of characters acting in ways that only seem believable if they’ve been created to fulfill a reader fantasy instead of actual characterization appropriate to the narrative) never happens in a comic and that any such provocative shot is always explainable in context.

                    The contention is simply a matter of frequency. The more it happens in comics with female characters (especially as it happens to characters of increasing relevancy), the more we get complaints about sexist portrayal of women in comics, and the more it feels like some of these comic makers are really just pandering to immaturity, an insult to readers like us who find, want, and expect more.

  39. fnstellar says:

    This is a well written piece that I agree with completely. I read the Hudson article & found both it & the ensuing commentstorm to be pretty ridiculous. Thank you for presenting the other side of the coin here. Kudos.

    Ü

  40. Denim says:

    I have always wondered if the old ladies that have about 8-15 cats think that they are sexy.

  41. Joshua says:

    I know my opinion about a female comic book character is completely invalidated by my gender, but I wanted to share my perspective on the issue.

    Personally, my gripe has little to nothing to do with exploitation (anyone can find exploitation anywhere if they look hard enough) and more to do with poor storytelling, namely in the final Catwoman page.

    Sexy is subjective, there’s really no disputing that. What turns one person’s crank completely turns off someone else. For me, sexy is subtle. The allure is in the tease. There is nothing subtle or alluring about that last page, we might as well be reading about sex in a textbook for all of the desire it invokes. Mileage will vary, as the success of the porn industry illustrates, but I personally don’t find that last page sexy. It’s obvious, ham-fisted, and reeks of erotic fanart. I don’t think March is a bad artist, but I think this is a poor showcase of his talent. Had he focused more on the buildup and only hinted at the final act, letting our imaginations run wild, I think the scene would have been far more effective, at least in being a provocative and stirring moment. Clever plotting and creative page layouts would not only serve the moment better, but also the medium. Sequential storytelling can be a very imaginative and one-of-a-kind form of expression, but if the creators are going to sacrifice that unique experience for splash pages of boning, it’s devolving into porn. I’m not saying porn is bad, but if someone wants porn, then why bother with comics?

    I love the female form. I love sex. I am totally down with sex in comics. However, I don’t need it spoon-fed to me like I’m a moron. Less is more, with sex just as much as with anything, and tends to force the writer/artist to be more creative.

    If you want a sexy Catwoman book, check out Loeb/Sale’s Catwoman: When in Rome. I personally find that what Winick & March have given us thus far could just as easily be found with a quick search on Google or Hentai Foundry (again, in terms of that final page).

    All that said, I don’t presume to speak for anyone other than myself. Not only do I realize that there is an audience for that kind of stuff, I’m not particularly bothered by it, so long as comic publishers don’t allow that demographic to dominate what they print.

  42. Mark P. Tjan says:

    I’m calling you out on bad taste for this one. It’s all very well to play devil’s advocate, but how is defending this portrayal of female characters helpful in any way? I’m all for NOT simplifying female sexuality down to one note — quite the opposite — but this IS simplifying it down that way.

    It isn’t as though comics have been playing it safe and this is some sudden break from the norm. This has been the degrading norm for a decade now. When cartoonists and writers couldn’t get away with making their female heroes petite and second-fiddle to men, they decided to make them “independent” and hypersexualised them.

    Realistically speaking, this kind of comic isn’t being drawn for “men”, but for hypersexual and shallow people. If comics are going to have a broader audience, be dignified or at least respectable in any way, and explore more avenues OF sexuality, they have to be less about pornography and exploiting the female anatomy.

    That isn’t to say females in comics can’t be sexy and show off some skin. But this is bordering on just being porn, and there IS something wrong with that: It appeals to the lowest common denominator, and in doing so, lessens us all as artists, viewers, readers, and writers.

    • Captain Obvious says:

      “Realistically speaking, this kind of comic isn’t being drawn for “men”, but for hypersexual and shallow people.”

      Insulting and poorly categorizing people for having a different tastes than you is repulsive and shameful. There are people who enjoyed these books who are quite normal, intelligent, accomplished individuals.

      “If comics are going to have a broader audience, be dignified or at least respectable in any way, and explore more avenues OF sexuality, they have to be less about pornography and exploiting the female anatomy.”

      If comics is to have a broader audience, it should have variety, not some limiting factor that applies only to it but not other mediums. This constant need to scale back where other mediums are allowed to explore is one of the reasons why comics, as a medium is dying and why even mangas are better off. The point of the reboot was to provide something for everyone, not alienate a major core audience that will go elsewhere if an effort is not made to bring them in.

      • Mark P. Tjan says:

        You’re assuming the people who “read these books” are necessarily the same as the people who enjoy the material being called into question. It’s fine to enjoy the *books*, but the material in question is superficial and hypersexualised to appeal to certain audiences, or certain urges within readers.

        There are all kinds of comics made to appeal to this sector. Manga has ’em, European comics have ’em, even the highly censored and controlled world of Chinese Manhua has ’em. That’s NOT the problem. The issue is that the writers are taking overt liberties with established characters, transforming them from one form of sexuality (be it sensual, deliberate, controlling, etc), into shallow caricatures of themselves.

        The comic with Starfire above does not read as a sexually liberated woman. It reads as someone promiscuous and cold, who doesn’t care about the emotions of others. Is that a valid character type? Sure. Is it valid for Starfire? No. Starfire’s entire background is built up on emotion, openness, and love. That isn’t present at all in this character, and the cheesecake shots do nothing but reinforce that sexually vapid attitude.

        I get what you’re saying about openness and not pigeonholing character types. I don’t think anyone is arguing that point; some characters can have sleaze, they can be nyphomaniacs for whatever reason. But when you make that the byline for characters, you deprive the medium OF its variety. That’s what’s being called into question here, because it is de facto in mainstream comics right now.

        Providing something for everyone you say? Sure. I can buy that as the mission statement. That’s NOT what’s being done in these comics, at all. It’s the same sexuality that was pandered all through the 90’s to draw in horny teenagers, mostly boys, and some girls. It’s flat, it’s shallow, and has nothing to say about actual sexuality or emotion.

        If you can’t see that, I dunno what to say.

        • D-Rock says:

          Consider this, in the old DCU and new, Starfire was a slave forced to engage in sexual activities with her captors. Now in the old universe, she came to terms with her captivity and embraced life.

          Perhaps in THIS universe, they’re exploring the opposite reaction to such abuse. Perhaps she hasn’t come to terms yet, or perhaps those acts jaded her so much that removing any emotional attachment to sex is what helped her live through that torture. And now that she’s free of captivity, she’s lashing out by being the aggressor. She comes off cold to Roy because she’s emotionally stunted by her trauma.

          Holy shit, I think that sounds like character development.

          • Mark P. Tjan says:

            I’ve love for that to be true, D-Rock. But it still wouldn’t really justify what we’re seeing here. It certainly doesn’t justify what’s going on with Catwoman either. I’ve seen plenty of agreeable sexuality in comics, even cheesecake moments. Heck, I’m a pretty big Power Girl and Black Cat fan, but there’s a limit to how much exploitation I can take before I call shenanigans.

            It’s all fine to debate this all-so-intellectually, but logic has to give way to reason at some point. The problem with this article is that it tries to be overtly “logical”, and logic has that one fatal flaw — it can justify *anything*. Reason, in my books, differs from logic because it can draw on experience, instinct, and intuition, and all three of those right now are telling me that the people making these comics aren’t doing ’em for the right reasons.

            • D-Rock says:

              It’s a visual medium, and what we’re seeing here is absolutely cheesecake. I dont think anyone’s really denied that. I think the point trying to be made is that everyone’s tolerance for cheesecake is different. What might be completely outrageous for some, might be tame to the other. And neither person is more right or wrong since “taste” is all based on opinion.

              And as far as the creators of the work go, I think it’s unrealistic to assume someone is going to change their drawing style based on a few vocal bloggers. If Greg Land and Marvel are any indication of the mindset of this industry, despite their controversial ways if the artist sells books then they’ll get work. So if you’re unhappy with a certain creative team or title, make yourself heard with your wallet because that’s the only thing that has any true impact.

              • Mark P. Tjan says:

                Oh I am talking with my wallet. I haven’t purchased a single issue of the reboot after seeing all this, and I won’t be until things either get better, or DC realises that this whole reboot has been a giant kick in the nads for its established fanbase.

                • D-Rock says:

                  Well, I’m part of that established fanbase and I don’t feel kicked in the nads. In fact, I’ve quite enjoyed the majority of the new 52.

                  With that said, I can see how not all the changes would be popular ones. And while it’s nice to see someone back up their complaints by voting with their wallet, I wouldn’t hold my breath for any sweeping realizations from corporate.

      • Astanphaeus says:

        “There are people who enjoyed these books who are quite normal, intelligent, accomplished individuals.”

        – There is no such thing as ‘normal’. It is, however, unhealthy to present dehumanization as “sexually liberated”.

        – “Intelligent” and “emotionally shallow” are not mutually exclusive.

        – “Accomplished” and “emotionally shallow” are not mutually exclusive.

  43. Wowlock says:

    Frankly, I didn’t care about the fan-service. Sure they are hot and all but when this takes near the whole chapter and we get little bit of character from them, I say that is a weak comic book.

    Comics are defined by their characters and their strong attributes. Starfire was a stunning alien girl who had a really interesting background and her own beliefs, her naivety about the Earth customs but in the end you were taking a liking to her not because she is just a hot alien but she has a sweet personality and interesting character. With the new ”Starfire”, I couldn’t see her anything but an ”Alien Escort” that Jason ”rented” from a superpowered whore-house. Yes that was harsh but if they gonna butcher one of my favorite characters and turn her into a sex object with no personality other than ” Lets shoot stuff then bang me when we return ” …I believe I have the right to say it.

    About Catwoman, she was always free-spirited and sexuality was one of her strong weapons but one of the things that made me a fan of her and Batman was their ”human side” behind the masks. Sure there were a lot of sexual tension but at least their feelings were true, rather than her being another ”Bat-friend”. I always supported the idea of Batman and Catwoman being together and hell when they are together, they have to be steamy but it shouldn’t be like ” Oh so you are here, I am horny. Lets do it and forget it ”. There has to be a meaning behind it so we can care about their relationship rather than ” Oh well, Batman got another score” …

    I like boobs as much as the next guy, hell maybe even more but the strong points of a comic should be having a Character with a stable personality and backstory. I know this reboot was going to change things but I didn’t expect it to destroy these characters and alienating them to the fans. Changing the mood of a storyline or a series is one thing, butchering years of personality and characteristic is another.

    I don’t buy comics to jerk off to these women but to see how they will overcome their hardships. All I see now is who is gonna score them and boast about it in the next chapter….

    It is a sad start for the ”New DC” indeed…

  44. You know what’s great about comics? There’s hundreds of them to choose from. If you don’t like it, try something else. Move along, please, nothing more to see here.

  45. Amber Love says:

    I completely agree with you, Mary (and blogged about it myself http://www.amberunmasked.com/my-culmination-of-frustrations-about-the-catwoman-haters/) except on one point: the Canary kiss. Yes, he did force his kiss upon her but it was done in order to (****SPOILER****) transmit something to her skin. It wasn’t a sex scene and therefore, not in the same category as the Catwoman/Batman scene. Why does no one complain that Batman had sex? The complaints are that Catwoman had sex. Then there are the nitpickers that say her zipper didn’t go down far enough. It’s art!

  46. Astanphaeus says:

    “Then imagine how disappointed I was at seeing other women respond with bile and hatred at a female comic book character having sex with a male comic book character.”

    Interesting that you’d put it that way, as that’s not what I was reading in the backlash at all. As I understood it, the complaint wasn’t about the sex. In the case of Catwoman, it was the artistic depiction of the character: faceless with boobs. Which, frankly, I have to concur, was tacky. Sorry, some of that art is clearly and blatantly fetishist. It has nothing to do with the character at all. If you’re not willing to acknowledge that, I can’t really put any stock in anything else you have to say about it.

    But, whatever. The sex scene has ignited discussion about stuff people really should be talking about, so that’s good. What really bothers me, though, is Starfire.

    The character described is not “sexually liberated”. The character described is emotionally broken/under developed/shallow. The character described has serious issues with intimacy and is a borderline psychopath.

    That is NOT okay. I am troubled that any reader, male or female, would think it is. I’m also troubled by the “chicks with dicks” notion, that she’s acting like a man would.

    No. A man behaving in such a manner would be just as broken. It’s not “liberated” at all. It’s a damaged psyche at work.

    Now, if this were simply a character flaw, that’d be one thing. But… no one, pro or con, seems to be viewing it that way, and that boggles my mind.

    I have a problem with how the whole debate’s been framed. Seems to me the feminism angle–while, again, carrying some weight in the area of artistic depiction–has only, as far as the characterization is concerned, muddied the waters.

    I don’t give a damn that the character’s a woman. I have an issue with the behavior–or, more pointedly, the mentality behind it–being presented as appropriate at all. It’s also worrying that the trait has been assigned to a character that’s become a role model, but that’s a whole other ball of wax.

    Artistically, there’s objectification going on here, no doubt. People can argue about that. But I have to question the grasp of anyone who thinks Starfire is being portrayed as “empowered” or “liberated”.

  47. nefisto_black says:

    wow, lot’s of people have problem with their own sexuality…

  48. D-Rock says:

    I don’t understand why people keep saying they had sex on the roof. Selina’s hiding out in the penthouse her friend hooked her up with and Batman met her there. Sure, the penthouse is the top floor, but it’s not like it’s out in the open. I don’t understand why people even bother to bring it up. Unless of course they didn’t actually read the book and just misinterpreted the art… but that never happens

    • D-HeavyMetal says:

      Or it could be possible that the old DC fans, who definitely got too emotionally attached to certain characters, are trying like hell to make this reboot fail by spreading rumors and/or half-lies mixed with a gallon of hypocrisy with a pint of egotism and a dash of favoritism, to discourage or brainwashing the new incoming fans and bring down DC for now taking away the characters that were the equivalent to a security blanket to these fans because they don’t know how to cope with or handle change. However, that theory would simply be too ludicrous and impossible to consider….or is it?

  49. Miki says:

    “In my experience, it has always been women who have devalued other women based upon the number of people they’ve slept with. Surprisingly enough, men don’t care.”

    Tell me more strange tales of this bizarro world you live in!

  50. NYJ says:

    Nobody noticed that -strictly speaking- Selina raped Batman, huh?

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