Before I begin, it is necessary that I state what the “male gaze” means. The “male gaze,” a term mostly used in regards to film refers to the presupposition on the part of the filmmakers, that the audience will be comprised solely of male viewers. Moreover, this presupposition renders many women as sexual objects, positioned directly towards the gaze. This is seen during close-ups on the various curvatures of the female body, and the emphasis on female secondary sexual characteristics. In addition, the gaze causes females to be other to men. All in all, heterosexual men, make many of the depictions of women in film, and as a result we see women through the “male gaze.” Moving on to comics, it is clear that many of the female characters are drawn with an emphasis on their bodily aspects, which are meant to be gazed at within the diegetic space, as well as the non-diegetic space.
Depicted above, is one of the many representations of Catwoman. In most of the illustrations I have seen there is a marked emphasis on her highly sexualized body. Even though she jumps from high buildings, it is necessary that she wears heels, and at times an unzipped costume. Moreover, she is pretty much the poster girl for the “femme fatale” trope, in that she often times uses her finely tuned seduction skills to distract men for her gain. While this may be an attempt at creating a strong, independent female character, Catwoman ultimately falls into the same bad-girl stock character hole. In a border sense, this goes back to Simone de Beauvoir’s idea that men are capable of transcendence, while women can barely escape their immanence. To expand, this means that while men are capable of trascending their physical bodies and material conditions, women will more likely than not, be rooted both in body and situation. It is also important to note that many feminist scholars state that even when women assume the role of the gazer, they will inevitably assume the same role as their male counterparts (I don’t necessary buy this part), and will ultimately look for the same characteristics.
All of this being said, I DO NOT believe that the depiction of sexuality in media is a bad thing, in fact I think it is a good thing and I hope it never stops. My point is that there is an asymmetry in the gendered depictions of sexuality in most mediums that needs to be problemitized. Moreover, I think it is important that every viewer understands the gendered nature of the physical depiction of characters in comics, which can only assist to differentiate reality from fiction.
What does everyone think?
Am I nit picking?
Is this a stretch?
Does it sound plausible?