Why do Comic Books Need Feminism?








Catwoman, Harley Quinn, Ms Marvel and She-Hulk. All of these women have one thing in common. Gender stereotypes; without doubt, there have always been a huge gap between male and female comic book characters. Comparing the raw power of a superhero male to the petite, busty, and dependent image of his female counterpart. But is this that big an issue to need high levels of feminist influence?

Harley Quinn’s suicide is a superb representation of the extreme mysoginistic views of the owners of DC comics. Beside it’s grotesque depiction of “harley quinn naked in the bathtub with… apliances dangling over the bath”, it shows how sexually biased DC has become as a comic brand.


Marvel however seemed to go in the opposite direction. Their newest depiction of Ms Marvel (Kamala Khan) does not express the identity of previous incarnations of the character. The Muslim Teen is a far stretch from the blonde, mature, unrealistic representation before her. Even tot he point where (having the ability to shape shift) Khan decides she does not want to look like the other Ms Marvels. As she says herself, “It was exhausting being in the skin of someone I’m not. I want to be me”.


Though we have a long way to go with Marvel, and even LONGER with DC. The input of feminist ideologies is slowly levelling out the playing field on the comic book platform.


Reference list

Pantozzi. J. (2013). DC Comics Apologises Suicide Harley Quinn Contest. The Mary Sue. <http://www.themarysue.com/dc-apologizes-harley-quinn/&gt; (Accessed 16-5-14)



3 thoughts on “Why do Comic Books Need Feminism?

  1. A quick note: The problem with the Harley Quinn thing wasn’t really the scene – from what I understand, it was an imagination spot from Harley, meant to reflect her weird humour – it was how the contest was presented. They really should’ve said what it would actually be used for.

    I will agree, however, that women in comics get terrible treatment. It’s especially obvious in the art – men are powerful, women are sexy. Men get strong, aggressive stances. Women get sexual stances. It often shows up in the writing, too – Women In Refrigerators provides an example of the different treatment.

    Mainstream comics have a long, long way to go on diversity in general. Marvel is making an effort, though. The new Black Widow is well-written and well-drawn, and doesn’t sexualize the character. Elektra’s off to a good start. Captain Marvel has been excellent from the time Kelly Sue DeConnick started it, with Carol being a wonderfully human character. She-Hulk is hilarious fun. And Ms. Marvel, of course, is just a wonderful book. Beyond that, we’ve got Brian Wood’s great X-Men, and Bendis has made Jean the main character of his All-New X-Men. We’ve finally got a Storm ongoing coming up. Mighty Avengers has Monica Rambeau in a starring role, as the team’s field leader and the main powerhouse.

    But there’s still plenty of room for improvement. Women still get fridged too often – Sharon Carter in Captain America, Leiko Wu in the new Deadly Hands of Kung Fu mini – and there are still a few artists with too much fondness for cheesecake.

    1. I wouldn’t mind woman getting fridged…what I do mind, though that it rarely happens to a male character. If there were as many males which got stuffed into a fridge, it would just be another story tool.

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