Friday, March 09, 2012

Aquaman 6

Walking home from work today I had a brainwave.  You know those moments when things suddenly seem startlingly clear and you can't imagine why you didn't understand them before?  Well it was one of those moments, about Aquaman 6 and the role of women, specifically strong women, in comics.

Then about 40 seconds later I lost the thread of it and now I don't think I can articulate what the thought was.  So like me.  Anyway I shall have a go.  Aren't you all astonishingly lucky?  No.  Ahem.

Right, what I was thinking was, although I did like Aquaman 6, and felt the spirit of the sisterhood* cheering Mera on within me, and yes it was gratifying to see her break the man's arm (who was harassing her and had been harassing his staff member), I wondered why is it that to prove a woman is strong, or kick ass, we so often see her beating up a rapist or other man about to commit a sexual assault?

It's like when we consider how to make a woman strong, we think we have to show her doing something related to women's issues.  And we only understand women's issues as domestic violence and sexual assault.

I mean, when we see Batman or Green Lantern proving their bad assery it's because they've taken on an army and beat them, or Darkseid, or the Joker or someone like that.   But women get to deal with bastard men, or if they're lucky bastard supervillains who want to rape them.

It's like we can only ever associate or understand women as being merely bodies that are there for use by someone more powerful than them, but we know that's wrong, so we try to show women as breaking away from this (as a critique of it) but we can only  do so in a framework that reinforces that women are just bodies.  Because gods forbid we show a woman using her mind, or facing off against a bad guy that doesn't want to rape/abuse her or one of her sidekicks/female stranger on the street/female acquaintance.

Damn, I wish I'd retained that moment of clarity.

Now, part of me is saying that hang on, not all women are shown like this. Some are shown in the same way as men are.  Another part of me is going, yes but that doesn't count when the artwork reinforces them as being only bodies (and not minds) and encourages the reader to view them in terms of their bodies only.

Yet another part of me (I'm positively splintered tonight) says but women heroes also prove their heroicness by saving children!  That's not to do with their bodies!  and then the other (sixth?) part of me says yes but children are seen as coming under women's sphere of influence, as the domestic and the familial, so of course children fall under women's province of saving.

Does any of this make any sense?

*this isn't strictly true.  I don't believe in a sisterhood, but you get the general idea, right?

1 comment:

SallyP said...

That's ok, I understand what you're getting at. And I'm also pleased to realize that I'm not the only one who comes up with brilliant ideas, and then forgets them.


But yes. Which is one of the reasons, why I found Birds of Prey so satisfying when it was written by Gail Simone, because Oracle used her BRAINS, and Dinah used her badassery to go out and beat up an entire army once. By herself. It was awesome.