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An Open Letter to the Artist Behind the “Lady Avengers” Starring Alison Brie and Amber Heard

By Rob Payne | Think Pieces | January 17, 2013 | Comments ()


pajibaladyavengersENSEMBLE.jpg

Dear JoshWMC,

May I call you Josh? Mr. WMC is a tad too formal for this letter, I think, because I'm not registering a complaint with your customer service department. So I'm going to assume I can call you Josh. You can call me Rob, because that's my name. Nice to e-meet you!

First of all, I'd be remiss not to begin by praising your obvious artistic talent and technical skill set. I've been to your DeviantArt page and I've perused your Fan Art Exhibit, and you have a definite knack for re-imagining characters in new ways that are aesthetically pleasing and show a clear dedication to your craft. Your redesigns of the Disney Princesses as action heroes are probably my favorite. One doesn't need to know any of the difficulties about Photoshop or digital art to see that your female renditions of the male Avengers, based on the Joss Whedon movie, are at or near the pinnacle of what can be achieved when a master craftsman sets their mind to a project. Is that enough brownnosing before we proceed? I want to make sure you know that your talent and merits as an artist are in no way being questioned, because I know how hard this sh*t can be and I'm barely an Adobe dabbler.

The problem is that no matter how good your 'shops of Alison Brie, Amber Heard, Sandra Bullock, and now Rachel Weisz are from a technical standpoint, the message some of them are sending out to the Internet and the world is, well, offensive. If they'd stayed hidden away on your blog, there would be no need for this, but it seems like everyone has been posting them lately. To be sure, Josh, you aren't the problem. You're but a cog in the comic art machine, simply following the path and artistic choices your predecessors both amateur and professional laid out before you. This isn't entirely about sex or sexiness in comic books, or the immaturity usually involved when those themes are broached. This is about understanding your characters and why more than traditional aesthetics matter. It's about treating your lady characters equal to your gentlemen. Sadly, the feminized Avengers from your "If Women Ruled the Earth" series kind of insult the original characters, the actresses chosen as models, and women in general.

To be fair, Josh, your versions of Iron Maiden and Lady Hulk are far less troubling, so take heart in that. I'm not entirely sure why Toni Stark is Sandra Bullock when she could be Carla Gugino, but that's beside the point. I'm also a little confused about why the titanium alloy suit needs breast cups, but I guess as an artist you wanted some feminine definition as opposed to just a more slender version of Robert Downey Jr.'s suit? That's fair enough, and a little more flair is probably warranted for that character, anyway. Fire engine red wasn't picked because it's good camouflage, after all. As for Rachel Weisz's big green rage monster, you pretty much nailed it. Honestly, that surprised me. I was expecting something closer to She-Hulk, but that is definitely a female version of Bruce Banner's Hulk if I've ever seen one. That you gave Ms. Banner a(n impressively durable) bra instead of using the loose, ripped shirt as an excuse to reveal more skin or the hint of nipple shows applause-worthy restraint.

pajibaladyavengersIMHULK.jpg

The problems really start with the most popular of your gender revisions: Alison Brie as Captain America, or as you named her, Miss America. You deserve some amount of kudos for showing a modicum of battle damage on Ms. Brie's stomach where her skin is exposed and unprotected by the lack of Kevlar in which the rest of her body is covered. This is quite different from the suit that Chris Evans wore in the movie, and if he had worn your version, he would have looked god damned ridiculous. This is clearly a spot where serious damage could occur, which, I believe nearly happened in the actual movie. Cap doesn't always use that shield as a defensive weapon, you know. Steve Rogers isn't invulnerable and the character would probably feel like a legitimate dumbass if he commanded Black Widow and Hawkeye to "suit up" while wearing a belly shirt. So why does Stephanie Rogers dressed like she missed the bus to the USO show instead of ready to defend New York City from alien invaders? I mean, Josh, seriously. You say yourself that these images are representations of what Tony, Steve, Thor, and Bruce would be if they were women, but I don't see Captain America when I look at your picture. I see spank bank material made for 13 year-olds to hide in their bunk, and I speak from the experience of an ex-13 year-old heterosexual male comic book fan.

Your reinterpretation of Thor is equally as frustrating. Just like the movie, you have Thora's arms protected by that space-magic plating Chris Hemsworth conjured up for the film's final battle. But, then she's wearing a miniskirt and thigh high boots? I'm not going to tell you that it's an unflattering or unappealing look, but I am going to tell you that you've basically made her hips and waist into a target, with her vagina as the bull's eye. If that was your intention, then mission accomplished. But let's not pretend the God of Thunder would step out of Asgard without his pants on. Okay, maybe he would after a late night mead bender, but not to do battle. It's less that Amber Heard's crotch needs protecting and more that she's supposed to be an alien demigod and not a prostitute working the motel scene around La Guardia. That you didn't change the nipple plates in order to stay true to the original character design, despite the glaring change you did make, is awesomely hilarious, though.

pajibaladyavengersCAPTHOR.jpg

I'm really not trying to pick on you, Josh. The bothersome images are purely symptomatic of the larger comic book culture you and I are both immersed in. Female superheroes are so often depicted as women first, champions second - meaning sex appeal is the top, and sometimes only, priority - while male superheroes are almost unanimously avatars of power. We can argue gender norms through human history; how men were commonly the gods of war and women the goddesses of love; how up through the 1980s it was rare for women to be in positions of power much less actually in the workforce; how Wonder Woman always wore a skirt before cutting out the middle man and going straight to underpants, while Superman had so much cloth left over he fashioned a billowing, majestic cape. That alone is apparently enough reason for one actress not to don the tiara and wield the lasso of truth, despite being a fan herself. But like Sandra Bullock, that's missing the larger point.

Times and culture have changed, and they will continue to do so as history bends toward progress. Women are more than sexual objects to be admired or hated, as one's particular brand of sexism warrants. Sex is a fact of life, so it obviously has a place in our fictions, even our superheroic ones, but surely you know that women can be doctors, lawyers, soldiers, artists, and any damn thing they please as long as they're qualified for it. That's a privilege us menfolk have had for quite a while. What was okay yesterday may not be okay tomorrow and, even though the comic industry hates change, that also includes how people perceive and respond to female superheroes. We wouldn't respect a male doctor for scrubbing into surgery in cargo shorts and a tanktop, and we'd deeply question a male soldier's combat ability if he thought a tan Speedo was sufficient for a tour in Afghanistan. It's fine if some characters, both male and female, are overtly sexualized as long as there is meaning to the sexy beyond the base appeal.

I call it Sexiness Equity, or Sexquity, but that's only acceptable in the right story context or character motivation. But certainly not all characters should sexified all the time. Right now, that's where the majority of female superheroes stand, so it irritates and opens an already sore wound when traditionally male superheroes turned female are treated the same way. Frankly, only one Avenger ought to use their sexuality as a weapon and she's already the lone woman on the team. Make of that what you will, but thankfully Joss Whedon knows all this and adjusted things accordingly (just compare Black Widow between Iron Man 2 and The Avengers if you're unsure). But it seems for women, fictional women, anyway, the default is hot pants and a bikini top at all times. Story and character don't matter as long as the women are hot, hot, hot.

Of course, your work isn't that over the top, Josh, and that shouldn't be ignored. In my book, the fact that any misogyny or sexism has to be carefully teased out in these images already puts you above nearly every professional artist selling their wares at comic cons the world over. But when this very site covered your first three pictures, the most common refrain was about how attractive these characters were and not whether they captured the essence of Captain America and Thor. No, it was about how everyone loves Annie's Boobs, not what these women might have looked like if they were the exact same characters we've seen in the three major motion pictures, so far, with one admittedly large physical alteration. This happened because we're Pajiba and we are equal opportunity oglers. But it also happened because when you turned two male superheroes into females, you lost a bit of the truth of their characterizations along the way in favor of making them more appealing to the male gaze.

Let's face it, this Cap and Thor are far more sexualized than Jack Kirby ever likely intended. And maybe that would have escaped notice if practically every single female superhero in the history of the genre didn't already have that line covered. If you're goal was to transform Cap and Thor into Sexy Super-Halloween costumes for very confident women, then you excelled mightily. But by showing the characters in what would be the last, hour long action sequence of Marvel's The Avengers, the backgrounds belie that.

That single artistic decision established expectations from some of your audience - namely that Alison Brie's and Amber Heard's costume designs ought to reflect the context of the situation they are in, posed or not. That situation is one filled with explosions and alien laser blasts and falling debris, all things that do not bode well for exposed stomachs and targeted crotches. As it stands, no matter how expertly created those pieces are, they fail to meet the low bar that Captain America is a boy scout who's always prepared, and that Thor's biggest concern is which face Mjolnir should bust first. (Hint: Loki's.) Instead, Miss America is opening herself up to a mortal wound and Thora is going to flash everyone in NYC the moment she flies off to shoot some lightning with her hammer. All for the sake of showing off some nubile flesh, simply because they're the "Lady Avengers" and that's just how we do in comics.

You probably aren't a bad person and you're certainly a good artist, Josh. After all, your female version of Christian Bale's Batman is almost exactly what a film adaptation of DC's Batwoman should look like, albeit with a different actress. Keep that in mind should you decide to do a Lady Hawkeye or a Nicolette Fury, who between them only bare their arms and a shiny, domed cranium. Just by creating art and sharing it with people, you have great power in influencing the world around you. And we know what comes with great power, don't we?

pajibaladyavengersBATWOMAN.jpg

Your mate in comic bookery,
Rob


Rob Payne also writes the comic The Unstoppable Force, tweets on the Twitter, tumbls on the Tumblr, and his wares can be purchased here. He'd really like to see an Avengers line-up with Pepper Potts as Iron Maiden, Peggy Carter as Captain America, and Lady Sif as the eternal extraterrestrial with a chip on her shoulder.







Are you following Pajiba on Facebook or Twitter? Every time you do, Bill Murray crashes a wedding.


Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • Jack

    What a nerd. Give the artist a break. This is ridiculous

  • Will

    C'mon like women don't bend narrative and creative art to their own gender based fixation.. yes with men its often sex, violence and other geeky like paraphernalia.. but honestly it's just a bit of fun, mostly because the guys who create it are massive softys and probably love their mothers... if we went to town on the things wrong with it.. sexual attitudes are the least of the issues.... gratuitous violence, lack of different ethnicities and definitive black and white morale codes (good guys bad guys) come to mind. Hell, I doubt any men I know look like these guys. The damage these images are compared to the self imposed insecurities put in place by women as a whole is barely noticeable. Perfume, fashion, gossip magazines, disney cartoons, womens own facebook profile pictures, one dimensional music (how few women sing about something other than meeting the perfect guy or falling in love) Now from my experience of women, the biggest paranoia and gender inforcer, is other women. So before pointing fingers, I think you should get over your self-imposed insecurities and then maybe you can have some fun. Either that or devote some time to drawing and draw your own pc super heroes. Leave us boys alone to play with our action men.

  • WilValentin

    Seriously not understanding the issue with these. By today's standards in comic book representation of females, these are modest. If the issue is that the armor
    isn't "practical", technically the male counterparts weren't either.
    With the exception of Iron Man none of those characters wear "armor".

  • Guest

    In other news, I now really want to have coffee and kvetch with FrayedMachine.

  • FrayedMachine

    I... have no idea what a kvetch is but thank you?? I do parties too!

  • Joe

    In the artist's defense, he stated, "The truth of the matter is the reason I used a midriff is because I
    couldn’t find a suitable image of Captain America’s mid-section to
    manipulate on top of the body, so this became a compromise." Also, he "feminized" the name to keep consistent with the rest of his series, but emphasized she would indeed still be a Captain.

  • hasta

    Well... I've seen a lot of actual women, feminists and otherwise, who bear their midriffs. I've not seen many men do the same.

    It's possible that I don't get invited to the right kind of parties.

  • Sophie

    Do these women take their midriff bearing shirts into battle?

  • M.C.

    <utter disagreement="" follows.="" i="" tried="" to="" be="" polite,="" but="" i've="" only="" had="" 4="" hours="" sleep.="" feel="" free="" to="" delete="" if="" i="" was="" rude="">
    Wow,
    what a deeply condescending piece. If Mr. Payne wants to join this
    particular endless conversation, why doesn't he work with the
    official (and usually much more sexist/provocative) depictions of
    actual super-heroines, rather than one piece of unsolicited fan art
    containing two minor design decisions he doesn't approve of (not
    painting Cap's stomach blue, and not painting Thor's thighs
    silver--neither of which are especially sexy or provocative elements).
    Why
    doesn't he comment on the systemic erasure of Black Widow from
    virtually all merchandise stemming from the Avengers movie, to the point
    where there is hardly a single t-shirt that includes her in the group
    shots, and she was left out of most magazine cover poses?
    His
    backhanded kudos for giving his models more realistic proportions than
    most published comic books would, or for turning the Disney Princesses
    into WWF-style action heroes doesn't make up for a largely misplaced
    lesson--educating young Josh (and the rest of us) on why his work is so
    "offensive."
    If
    he instead noted that Green Lantern's ally/love interest Star Sapphire
    (Carol Ferris) has recently gone from having the most absurdly
    fan-service/skimpy outfit in the various Lantern Corps to one that
    actually covers her head to toe as per Hal Jordan's uniform, that would
    be interesting to me. His various protestations aside, the fact that
    he's decided to single out the young fan who made this little design is
    bizarre. As for Josh, his work is not all to my taste in design or
    execution, but I'd rather see a Wonder Woman film based on his
    storyboards and concept art--
    http://joshwmc.deviantart.com/...
    --then any feeble attempt at a solo heroine film we've seen from Hollywood thus far.

  • lurker_erin

    Thank you.

  • This guy

    Author is obviously gay as the day is long...

  • Kballs

    Fuck you, dimwit.

  • This was a great article, but I'm a little surprised more attention wasn't paid to the whole "Miss America" thing. I totally agree that it's worth talking about the outfits, but that name alone carries the heavy implication that women can't be captains. "Captain" is not, to my knowledge, a gender-specific term.

  • Kballs

    Outstanding point.

  • BlackRabbit

    Especially since there's already a Marvel character called "Miss America."

  • Kballs

    But she doesn't represent me! We need new leadership!

  • J.N.

    There is a lot more degrading fanart out there, and even then, I'm sorry, but bitching about fanart is pretty low and it honestly just looks like you have nothing better to do. And I am saying this as a woman who is very, very vocal about how women are drawn in comics and what an uncomfortable experience it can be for me as a fan. This artist put in this effort as a fan for fun and he's not seeing a cent for this work, and he owes you nothing. If you're that concerned about how women are depicted as superheroes, talk to the actual professionals in the field.

  • So art is only to be critiqued if it's made with the intent to profit? There is nothing in the history of art to support this notion. Nothing.

  • NoPantsMcLane

    Well, this was a waste of time.

  • Guest

    Yep, those six words under your name certainly were.

  • Mrs. Julien

    [lawn chair]
    [Rykker's asbestos tuxedo]
    [hard hat]
    [umbrella drink]
    [flameproof popcorn bowl]

    Rob, honey, you come sit with me.

  • Dragonchild

    Holy cow, valid points but don't tell me you couldn't be more concise, especially when the argument can be summed up as: "I honestly wouldn't mind these female portrayals of superheros if the outfits weren't clearly less functional than their male counterparts'." I mean, that's it, isn't it?

  • Nameeee

    A HUNDRED TIMES YES.
    I kept feeling like I had skipped back a paragraph by accident.

  • Kballs

    Damn. That Batwoman outfit is fucking badass but brings up an interesting question: Are there any female superheroes kicking ass with an A or B cup? Do gods and heroes cull the flat-chested from their ranks before picking representatives for the galactic stage?

    "I think Lelania is ready to be the protector of Quadrant 73. Those gumbleprawns can't protect themselves from Maaaazgreb anymore."

    "Guffaw! Have you SEEN her boobs?"

    "Uhh, she's easily the most qualified protector. And no, I haven't seen her boobs."

    "Exactly my point! You can't SEE them! AHAHAHAHA!!!!"

    "Sir, we're putting lives in dang---"

    "Send the blond with double-Es and tell Flatty to man the reception desk."

    "Godamnit."

  • Kathryn (@frontovichka)

    Supergirl has, traditionally, been small-chested. I think she might even be an A-cup as she currently stands. But it's less about the character and more about the artist. Noto will draw X-23 as fairly small chested, Takeda will make her chest larger, Kalman A. gives her two pineapples strapped to her chest and so on. Oh, Batwoman is probably about average, but it's hard to tell sometimes due to her use of a retro-style cone bra in her costume.

    There's nothing wrong with a big-breasted heroine, it must be said, but it's the case of it's almost every superheroine in mainstream comics. Spider-Woman is the worst for it, in my opinion. Even Alex Maleev and Stuart Immonen have portrayed her as incredibly large breasted in a very unsupportive costume. I'm surprised they don't flop down into her face when she hangs upside down. The only artist I've seen to really get it right is Jonathan Luna.

  • Dragonchild

    I can't speak for comic books but Jill Valentine from "Resident Evil" (the video game, the first video game) originally wore a snappy uniform that stressed formality over cleavage. Sadly, as the franchise progressed her boobs got bigger while her top got smaller. Thing is, I don't recall anyone ever having an issue with her initial characterization beyond the comically terrible dialogue (and even that was campy fun).

  • Kballs

    And that first game was great. I barely looked at her. My buddy played Tomb Raider around the same time and I remember her giant tits more than any of the game play.

  • banky

    JoshWMC: Why no girl version of Nick Fury?

    Rosario Dawson please.

  • lowercase_ryan

    Seriously, some of you are acting a fool. Quit making this out to be an attack on some undeserving amateur hobbyist. This IS a think piece. This IS an examination of representative sexuality in the world of comics and, imo, it DOES an excellent job of pointing out why this matters.

    And in some way, I think addressing these issues on an amateur or more local level can have more of an impact. I'm never going to convince Michele Bachmann that the Tea party is horribly detrimental to the fabric of this nation, but I DO have a chance of saving my neighbor from be a fucking idiot following her blindly.

  • I had the misfortunate of meeting Ms Bachmann, during her first term as MN State Senator. You are correct, @lowercase_ryan:disqus that there is no way to pierce that armor of ignorant stupidity. There is nothing on behind those lights she pretends are eyes, which is why she's so effective for the Tea Party cause. Find an idiot who can stand in front the cameras and repeat her lines without question or even basic self-awareness.

    The people in the media who cry about not underestimating the intelligence of her ilk are contributing to the problem, which is that validating the words that emerge from cyphers is terrible for democracy. She is that stupid, I've tried to have substantive policy conversations with her, and the media should be able to state basics facts, including that this person doesn't show any comprehension of policy, she's all over the place, clearly reciting lines rather than articulating thoughts in any principled way. Our laziness in giving idiots undeserved respect in public leadership roles is one step in accepting the possibility of a form of fascism, where power hides behind the apparatus. Of course, then we call on the Avengers to save us in their sexy suits....

    What does this have to do with this post? Well, she hasn't been elevated to prominence for her political or policy gifts, so why is she? Same reason Fox News and CNN bring the pretty to read news on TV. Our latent sexism is one of the key engines of our political economy. We have the military industrial complex, the transportation industrial complex, the credit machine, AND we have the sexualization imperative.

    Now forgive me while I go watch Game of Thrones.

  • InternetMagpie

    RYAN. YOU ARE AWESOME.

  • lowercase_ryan

    <3

  • AngelenoEwok

    <3

  • sacripanta

    When there are so many examples that are actually so much worse and are actually in the comics, you're going to pick on THAT?

    Seriously, these are ridiculously tame in comparison to Emma Frost and Starfire...

  • Dragonchild

    I think the logic here is, why reason with the crazy. This guy's designs were respectable enough that it's almost disappointing that he deliberately fell short of egalitarian.

    To put it another way. . . EVEN IF you fill out a feedback card at Taco Bell, odds are your complaints aren't about the quality of the food. It's the chef that obviously cares about the job that is more likely to heed suggestions.

  • logan

    Exactly. Check out Powergirl. Or ANY of the Grimms fairytale girls.

  • eeky

    I think it's because these were so close to being practical. I love cheesecake, but I was a little disappointed at the revealing bits of these when I first saw them. Not in a "sexism is terrible" way, but just "aw jeez ... it would've been way cooler" way. I just find the counter-reaction a tad overdone here.

  • Robert

    I hope to see more open letters to actual professional comic artists and costume designers who think this is okay rather than just an address to some guy with a DeviantArt account and some Reddit popularity. That would be awkward if this was the end of this discussion. That might suggest that we're blaming a fan for following trends set by the industry rather than exploring how the industry created this standard over decades and still perpetuates it.

  • eeky

    There has never been a better time to create an alternative option to that standard. If folks (like me) want to see and buy it, they will. I think the effort should be made to showcase those that are doing it instead of critiquing the popularity of those who aren't. If people are creating it, could we at least get them some exposure here in this thread at the minimum?

  • FrayedMachine

    The letter in and of itself addresses the fact that the blame is not to be placed on him but rather to actually help promote an open discussion on why, even fans who are not controlled by 'the machine' are allowing themselves to play into this poor imagery. I don't see this as a bad thing, but I also don't think that addressing something that has garnered so much popularity should be absolved of criticism and critique if it's not created by professionals.

    There are still many many many many -many- people who take their issues up with the professionals, but as a subject of current focus and relevance, especially since Pajiba posted the Miss America image not too long ago, it's understandable why they would turn back this specific image and topic.

    Any bit of discussion is good discussion that can hopefully help open up doors a bit more. No one's putting this guy on a crucifix. People are simply taking a pause and realizing a very deeply ingrained issue.

  • Robert

    So wanting a continued discussion is a bad thing. Good. I'm glad we've cleared that up with the down votes.

  • Brian

    Miss Brant! Get me a violin!

  • Mrs. Julien

    Prediction: More than 87 comments on this thread.
    Revision: 103, a full 9% of which will be completely deranged

  • toblerone

    143

  • Tinkerville

    I'm calling 124. Do I hear 150? Going once..

  • Pinky McLadybits

    170!

  • Rochelle

    I still think you may have underestimated. Godtopus bless Pajiba and all it's denizens.

  • emmelemm

    9% is low. Did you mean 90%?

  • Mrs. Julien

    Hello, you!

  • emmelemm

    C'est moi!

  • Socrates_Johnson

    I mean, if only there were some live action Asgardian women to base the modesty of Thora's costume on.

    http://igp-scifi.com/wp-conten...

  • DeistBrawler

    This was what I was going to post before I saw your comment:

    To be fair the Pepper Potts' Iron Man suit, or Rescue, from the comics has breasts. In regards to the female Thor...Sif, in the movie, had a miniskirt and knee high boots. Granted, she appeared to be wearing leather pants under them.

  • FrayedMachine

    Which is the point. She's not dressed to provide sex appeal, she's dressed for practicality.

  • Ginger

    Yeah. Them heels on that ice planet. Prac-tick-cull.

  • FrayedMachine

    Was she wearing heels? I feel like I remember her wearing boots but that may have been my mind auto-inserting them in there.

  • Mrs. Julien

    Socrates was here and I MISSED IT?!

  • lowercase_ryan

    Good piece sir.

  • logan

    I've been reading comics for 40 years or so now and this guys work is not even close to being over the top or sexist compared to what is out there. Mountains and molehills...

  • foolsage

    Watch for the signs next time saying "Point Up Ahead 2 miles", "Point Ahead 1 mile", and "Point Ahead Next Exit". Cause you apparently didn't see them, so you kept on driving and missed it entirely.

    Yes, sexism has existed for quite a while. Yes, many examples of sexism can be found in how women are portrayed in comics. No, knowing that a problem exists isn't always enough; it's good to discuss problems so we can in time move past recreating them.

    Now, give those ladies some proper coverage (costumes made to function in the environment those characters exist in), write in a plotline about e.g. The Enchantress gender-swapping the Avengers as part of some scheme to get Thor to break up with Sif, and BAM! I'd watch the shit out of that.

    We need a young Christopher Walken as ScarJo's male double though, or a young David Bowie.

  • Monica

    Yeah, you know as I was reading this i thought to myself "well it could definitely be worse." But then I realized "it could definitely be worse" isn't fucking good enough any more. If we as a society hadn't started with shitty design, then a step up from shitty design wouldn't be getting critiqued.

  • MadefromClay

    Whilst men and women should be treated equally in many ways, the way straight men and women see the opposite sex is different. Men react more to visual stimulus when looking for a partner and women less so, focusing more on personality, reliability and other traits that have been evolutionary beneficial to supporting and protecting a family. We see this in magazines all the time, the larger the male readership the more visually pleasing the women appear, in magazines where women are the majority of the readership other things such as self-grooming, fashion, home-making, celebrity relationship gossip are more prevalent. I am all for equality, but we cannot change our nature, exploitation of any kind is obviously wrong, but we cant change the way we see the world. There isn't an equal amount of sexualisation of men in the media for many reasons, but one of them is because straight women aren't willing to pay to see it like men are.

  • InternetMagpie

    This is bullshit. Give yourself some credit.

  • MadefromClay

    Thanks, your response is excellent too.

  • Socialization /= Evolution. Outdated sociological theory as applied to advertising also /= reality, just what we're sold with the hope everyone will keep thinking it's reality.

  • MadefromClay

    I understand what you are saying, but there has been no evidence to suggest this is nurture rather than nature, it could be right and there are studies going on to prove this, but nothing has yet been proven.

  • Multi-post

  • My comment has been vanished twice now. It's starting to tick me off. I don't know what it has against me.

    In any case, hoping the third time's a charm:

    Completely dismissing the influence of society as simple 'nature vs nurture' is reductivist and absurd. Even if we're going to go with the assumption that we properly understand nature and it is unchanging, how society views, interprets, and deals with that nature changes, and so do the behaviors of the people in that society. Nature as viewed through the lens of 20s America, or 50s America, or modern America is different each time, so hiding behind cries of 'nature' and 'evolution' doesn't prevent the interpretation from being outdated.

  • Copy of a copy.

  • Copy.

  • Pinky McLadybits

    And that's why Magic Mike was a failure at the box office. WHAT? IT WASN'T??

  • MadefromClay

    If you want to check the evolutionary argument on the differences between men and women then be my guest, we can all point to anomalies.

  • FrayedMachine

    Your appeal to evolutionary science as a point of authority is enough of a fallacy for no one to take you any kind of seriously.

    'Cause there's never been a point in history in which any kind of evolutionary science theory has ever been debunked (Coughpeoplewhotrytouseitasanargumentfordifferencesinracesinrelationshiptointelligencecoughcoughcoughwheezefuckimdying)

    I swear, people who use Evolutionary Science to justify their bullshit are just as bad as people who use Religion to justify their bullshit.

  • MadefromClay

    There has never been a point in any science field where a theory of some sort has not been debunked, lets throw it all out then, what do you want to replace facts with?

    What bullshit am I trying to justify? Let me know just so I can have a real discussion.

  • FrayedMachine

    HAHAHAHAHAHA WHAT

    Go ahead and reference fields of science that have substantial evidence to support their claims. Evolutionary Science, on the other hand, has many issues as people who tend to propose many of it's extreme theories (like the ones you are proposing) more often than not are not taking into consideration things such as Society and Culture and the effects they may have on an individual. Not only that but studies have been done time and time and TIME AGAIN that have shown that women are also visual creatures. There have been a shit load of studies that have done to record the responses that women have to things like pornography and all have shown that women DO respond positively to visual stimulation. Your argument, if anything, provides an insanely large short coming for men, since based on the theory that you are going off of, it debases men to being simple minded fools who can be sold off of one sexually enticing image. If you want to state and believe that all men are that simple minded then so be it. But don't assume that because women are capable of being excited by other things, INCLUDING visual stimulation, that they are incapable of finding appeal in it then the issue lies in the lack of apparent depth in men.

  • MadefromClay

    Further above this comment, you state that Magic Mike was catered to titillate Female audiences, a strategy that was pretty successful, are you suggesting that women are only visually stimulated? I assume not, so when I say that men buy into visual stimulation, why do you assume I am suggesting the same thing?

  • FrayedMachine

    Aawwww, it's so sad when people have nothing to use to debunk the argument and start pulling shit out of thin air.

    I'm sorry but where did I state or even imply that the methodologies used to appeal to the female argument were done because those who created the movie believed that women are only visually stimulated? The marketing that was done for that movie was fucking genius because it banked on something that very few films do - Actually comprehend, accept, and take advantage of the fact that women DO get visually stimulated - something that many industries shy away from doing. Women are capable of many different kinds of stimulation but that doesn't mean that we should be sequestered to only one form of stimulation because the idea of a woman getting off is icky and gross. Women like to look at hot as hell men, too, AND THIS IS OKAY. We also get off on things that are mentally stimulating AND THIS IS OKAY. It's not as if the possibility of being both mentally and visually stimulated is OH SO FOREIGN THAT OMG THERE'S NO WAY THAT COULD EVER HAPPEN.

  • MadefromClay

    Please stop twisting my argument, I am not arguing that women do not get visually stimulated, what I am arguing is that the only evidence available, yes, it comes under evolutionary science, says that men tend to prioritise it over forms of other stimuli and for women whilst it is important tend to prioritise other things first.
    There are debates whether it is nature or nurture and so far the nurture argument is falling behind somewhat.

  • FrayedMachine

    I'm not twisting anything, buddy.

    " women less so, focusing more on personality, reliability and other traits that have been evolutionary beneficial to supporting and protecting a family"

    Your argument makes the grand assumption that women put more weight on one rather than the other when in reality, in 2013, that's not really true. Both sexes put a great deal on physicality. Hell, there have been studies that have shown that women on The Pill will actually be attracted to different types of men during different points of their cycle due to the way in which hormones effect our brains. You're going to try to say that this means that we are less stimulated on visuals when studies like THAT are done?

    Guffaw.

  • MadefromClay

    "Women like to look at hot as hell men, too" you used this as a means of twisting my argument, I never said that women don't, did I? but the way you wrote it suggested to others that I did.

  • FrayedMachine

    Your argument provides a heavily slanted claim that the notion of using visual tactics to appeal to women is outlandish cause 'DUDES LIKE LOOKIN' AT TITS MORE*', therefor justifying the existence of so many scantily clad women. But uuhhhh... yeah, no. That's not a valid argument or claim.

    *translation my own

  • MadefromClay

    Please, if you do one more thing, stop writing 'yeah, no', I cringe every time. My stance is that I don't have a problem with people using sexual titillation methods of selling products, we are all grown ups and can decide whether we want to be persuaded in that fashion. The fact is, it is a good way to sell to men, and as you pointed out can be used to sell to women, but when it is used to sell to women it is fine, but when it is used to sell to men it is sleazy and degrading to women, why?

  • FrayedMachine

    Yeah, No.

    Like I've already stated, using titillating imagery to market towards women is JUST AS VIABLE.

    The issue comes with the fact that it also has severely warped the way that society -views women-. Living in a society that expects you to be a sexual creature while not giving into your sexual urges (because if you do, you're a total slut and a whore and should not receive any level of respect) is acceptable, how? We live in a society that plays far too much into the supposed 'needs' of men while allowing the actual needs of women to go by the wayside. We live in a culture that actually provides excuses for people like racists because "The woman was dressed provactively, so she was clearly asking for it". That the man just 'couldn't help himself'. That you shouldn't expect much else because they're a man and men are sexual so of course you'e going to get raped if you happen to be wearing a dress. We live in a culture that STILL has problems with actually addressing and discussing female sexuality and acknowledging that women are, too, sexual creatures. That we, to this day, treat this to be an actual taboo and shirk away from it.

    THIS is why it's a problem. THIS is why people take issue with it. It also raises causes our boys to be raised with a horribly fucked up perception of women and what they should expect from them. That it actually causes many men and boys to think that they are OWED a sex from a woman because they are constantly being bombarded with provocative images day in and day out. Because this is something that has bred an exceptionally unhealthy attitude and connection between men and women on a whole.

    It also raises our girls to think that they have to dress a specific way, that they must sell themselves on a day to day basis to be perceived as appealing. Because it causes these girls to grow up and have a twisted sense of self-perception and a poor image of themselves.

    People from positions of privilege are incapable of understanding the way things like this effect those who aren't as lucky because our society is created to pander -to you- and the prospect of providing equal treatment to others is unjust and unfair because it threatens the comfort that you have because it forces you to potentially take responsibility for the kind of role you have in this problem and to understand that what you take for granted as being acceptable actually hurts and harms other people.

  • MadefromClay

    I admire your passion, and the fact you are taking time to reply to me at such length, but I am not arguing against any of this stuff, degradation of women, that women should not have equal rights, that women are often marginalised and objectified in all areas of life. I am saying something people love to gloss over, that fact that women and men have differences, these differences I am pointing out cannot even be put into negative or positive categories they are just that, differences. http://www.nature.com/neuro/jo...

    Here is a link I posted up above, it's only a short passage, but shows we have differences in the way we see sexual stimuli. This becomes apparent to advertisers, not through science but through patterns in our behaviour, that is why men are bombarded with pictures of half naked women. I don't see what you are arguing against in regard to what i am saying?

  • FrayedMachine

    I'm sorry, but the moment that you ask why it's offensive for there to be such an intense pander to the male gaze is proposing a lack of knowledge and the kind of connection and effect that it has on our society. In fact, the simply fact that you have to ASK that question shows how much of a norm this is and why it needs to stop.

    Also I take issue with the study provided because of the fact that they were shown the same exact thing. When I'm not on an actual communal computer, I'll dig up the studies that have been done that show the high response rate that women have to visual stimuli. I also find it questionable to state that advertisers could know what it is that women will respond positively to when for so long women have been sequestered and pigeon holed into a very small field of appeal.

    The reason why people take issue with what you're stating is because it justifies the objectification of women while simultaneously disregarding the views and experiences of women. You might want to take a step back and re-read everything you've stated if you don't realize that.

  • MadefromClay

    Why is pandering to men's interests wrong? I am not stating it needs to be at the expense of women's rights, I am not saying it needs to degrade women.
    I prefer equality in advertising rather than censorship.

    Edit: In stating men and women see things differently, I am justifying "the objectification of women while simultaneously disregarding the views and experiences of women"

    Is that what I am doing? I thought I was just paraphrasing unbiased scientific study...

  • FrayedMachine

    To be more specific, the method in which we pander to the male gaze is fucked up but this still stands:

    "The issue comes with the fact that it also has severely warped the way that society -views women-. Living in a society that expects you to be a sexual creature while not giving into your sexual urges (because if you do, you're a total slut and a whore and should not receive any level of respect) is acceptable, how? We live in a society that plays far too much into the supposed 'needs' of men while allowing the actual needs of women to go by the wayside. We live in a culture that actually provides excuses for people like racists because "The woman was dressed provactively, so she was clearly asking for it". That the man just 'couldn't help himself'. That you shouldn't expect much else because they're a man and men are sexual so of course you'e going to get raped if you happen to be wearing a dress. We live in a culture that STILL has problems with actually addressing and discussing female sexuality and acknowledging that women are, too, sexual creatures. That we, to this day, treat this to be an actual taboo and shirk away from it.

    THIS is why it's a problem. THIS is why people take issue with it. It also raises causes our boys to be raised with a horribly fucked up perception of women and what they should expect from them. That it actually causes many men and boys to think that they are OWED a sex from a woman because they are constantly being bombarded with provocative images day in and day out. Because this is something that has bred an exceptionally unhealthy attitude and connection between men and women on a whole.

    It also raises our girls to think that they have to dress a specific way, that they must sell themselves on a day to day basis to be perceived as appealing. Because it causes these girls to grow up and have a twisted sense of self-perception and a poor image of themselves.

    People from positions of privilege are incapable of understanding the way things like this effect those who aren't as lucky because our society is created to pander -to you- and the prospect of providing equal treatment to others is unjust and unfair because it threatens the comfort that you have because it forces you to potentially take responsibility for the kind of role you have in this problem and to understand that what you take for granted as being acceptable actually hurts and harms other people."

  • MadefromClay

    You keep imagining that I am an advocate for making women feel inferior, I opened this discourse by saying that men and women see some things slightly differently, I added a useful link also (better late than never) which backed up my opinion. By your own admission women find scantly clad men stimulating enough for films to be marketed in such a way. You said yourself the marketing was "fucking genius" for Magic Mike. Why is this type of marketing OK when it is aimed at women and not when aimed at men? I agree that currently there is a big swing and most is male orientated, but you cant have your cake and eat it.

  • FrayedMachine

    I'm quite literally not repeating myself. Seriously, re-read everything I've stated.

  • MadefromClay

    I know, it affects girls, but swinging it back around will affect boys. There needs to be balance not total censorship.

  • FrayedMachine

    Who said anything about a total censorship? Asking for an actual discussion on why this issue actively exists is asking for total censorship? Fact: The way in which women are depicted in society and culture has a negative effect on BOTH women and men.

    Also, in relationship to your arguments that men are more likely aroused by visual stimuli:

    Although experimental studies support that men generally respond more to visual sexual stimuli than do women, there is substantial variability in this effect. One potential source of variability is the type of stimuli used that may not be of equal interest to both men and women whose preferences may be dependent upon the activities and situations depicted. The current study investigated whether men and women had preferences for certain types of stimuli. We measured the subjective evaluations and viewing times of 15 men and 30 women (15 using hormonal contraception) to sexually explicit photos. Heterosexual participants viewed 216 pictures that were controlled for the sexual activity depicted, gaze of the female actor, and the proportion of the image that the genital region occupied. Men and women did not differ in their overall interest in the stimuli, indicated by equal subjective ratings and viewing times, although there were preferences for specific types of pictures. Pictures of the opposite sex receiving oral sex were rated as least sexually attractive by all participants and they looked longer at pictures showing the female actor’s body. Women rated pictures in which the female actor was looking indirectly at the camera as more attractive, while men did not discriminate by female gaze. Participants did not look as long at close-ups of genitals, and men and women on oral contraceptives rated genital images as less sexually attractive. Together, these data demonstrate sex-specific preferences for specific types of stimuli even when, across stimuli, overall interest was comparable.

    http://link.springer.com/artic... (study conducted in 2009)

    As in human sexuality is far too complex for people to try and make blanket assumptions over which sex is more attracted to what. Even Kinsey himself proposed that though we may witness a higher response rate in men to visual stimuli, a great deal of it can likely be connected due to conditioning (i.e. our culture and society is very male-centric, therefor they see images that are meant to appeal to them far more than women do) and also simply because the majority of material out there is, also, male centric.

    http://books.google.com/books?...

    Other important points in studies to note:

    "When undergraduate men and women were presented photos of men and women masturbating, men reported a significantly less favorable reaction to photos of men than of women (Schmidt, 1975). By contrast, women rated photos of both sexes comparably.""

    "Similar patterns were observed when subjects were presented films of either heterosexual or homosexual sexual activity (Steinman et al., 1981). Men showed a significantly lower level of self-reported sexual arousal to films depicting two men than they did to heterosexual or lesbian films. Women, in contrast, did not show a difference in reported sexual arousal between heterosexual or female homosexual films."

    "When men and women watched films of homosexual or heterosexual sex, male genital measures and subjective reports showed that men responded highest to films depicting sex with a member of the sex that they were attracted to. This stimulus specificity was true for all the subjects from a sample that included heterosexual men, homosexual men, and male-to-female transsexuals. For women, to the contrary, genital sexual arousal did not differentiate the sex of the actors engaged in sexual activity. Chivers et al. interpreted these findings to suggest that in men and women sexual arousal is organized differently in that men are category specific while women are not."

    "In summary, based on the literature described above, limited sex differences have been found in the contexts that evoke responses to sexual stimuli. Women seem to subjectively react positively to stimuli that allow them to project themselves into the situation while men prefer stimuli enabling objectification of the actors (Money & Ehrhardt, 1972)."

    "Imaging studies show that, in response to sexual stimuli, both men and women show increased activation in many similar brain regions thought to be involved in the response to visual sexual stimuli, including the thalamus, amygdala, inferior frontal lobe, orbital prefrontal cortex, medial prefrontal cortex, cingulate cortex, insula, corpus callossum, inferior temporal lobe, fusiform gyrus, occipitotemporal lobe, striatum, caudate, and globus pallidus. Recent studies looking specifically for sex differences in response to the same set of sexual stimuli found that, in response to erotic films, men and women showed many areas of overlap in response to sexual stimuli in the anterior cingulate, medial prefrontal cortex, orbital prefrontal cortex, insula, amygdala, thalamus, and ventral striatum (Karama et al., 2002; Ponseti et al., 2006)."

    "Studies constraining possible attentional targets of visual sexual stimuli address the possibility that men and women differ in their cognitive processing strategy when presented visual sexual stimuli to produce observed differences in neural activation. A recent neuroimaging study (Ponseti et al., 2006) found that when peripheral contextual elements of stimuli are unavailable, men and women, regardless of sexual preference, show identical patterns of neural activation in response to visual sexual stimuli. In this study, heterosexual and homosexual males and females passively viewed photographs of sexually aroused genitals without any other peripheral body parts or context. The authors demonstrate that men and women did not differ overall in their neuronal response to the sexual stimuli (as compared to IAPS control pictures of matched valence and arousal) in response to images without available context. What did differ, however, was the type of stimulus that produced increased activation in areas related to reward, specifically the ventral striatum and centromedian thalamus. For both heterosexual and homosexual men and women, the activation of the reward system was highest when viewing pictures of their preferred sex. This study supports our hypothesis that men and women do not differ in the neural pathways underlying sexual arousal, but only in the stimuli and strategies that activate the systems."

    Re: Any major differences between men showing greater response to visual stimuli than women:

    "Because women may feel more self-conscious in their response to sexual stimuli due to societal expectations, they may try to inhibit their responses to match socialized gender roles in which women do not display high levels of sexual response.

    [...]

    Inhibition also influences measures of neural activation, demonstrated by an fMRI study in which men were told to watch erotic films with or without inhibiting their reactions. Men without inhibition showed characteristic activation in the amygdala, anterior temporal lobes, and hypothalamus, but men inhibiting their responses did not (Beauregard, Levesque, & Bourgouin, 2001). Thus, if women are more likely to publically inhibit their sexual response their previously reported lower levels of genital and neural arousal in response to sexual stimuli might reflect greater subjective self-inhibition in women than men."

    And the icing on the cake:

    "The currently available data strongly support the idea that men and women differ in the sorts of stimuli that they find sexually attractive and arousing. We still do not know the relationship between these sex differences in preference and differences in physiological arousal as there is not yet a common metric to compare physiological arousal in men and women. A variety of factors clearly moderate responses to sexual stimuli in men and women. Evidence supports that some previously observed sex differences in response to sexual stimuli may, in part, reflect a differential response to the content of the stimuli used. Men are influenced by the sex of the actor portrayed in the stimulus while contextual factors, possibly allowing for the creation of a social scenario, may be more important to women. Additionally, men generally prefer stimuli that allow objectification of the actor and projection of themselves into the scenario, while women are aroused primarily by stimuli allowing projection, although men also use the projection strategy which is positively associated with sexual arousal (Koukounas & Over, 2001). Whether these preferences are learned or innate is unknown. Work by Chivers and Bailey (2005) suggests that women are less specific in their arousal patterns then men, possibly as a protective mechanism. Future work would benefit from the quantification of the characteristics that are differentially appealing to men and women. Understanding these differences is of practical importance to future research on sexual arousal that aims to use experimental stimuli comparably appealing to men and women.

    The sex differences observed in subjective sexual arousal to visual sexual stimuli are possibly the combined product of social and biological influences on cognitive processes that direct the perception and assessment of these stimuli."

    All from here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pm...

    Human sexuality is an exceptionally complex thing and for ANYONE to try and make a blanket statement regarding both sexes shows a lack of fundamental understanding of this fact.

    Also, because appeal to authority is your thing, this study provided was conducted in 2008, for years later than the one you're trying to reference and appeal to.

    Evolutionary Science means fuck all if you don't take into consideration things like Society and Culture when it comes to things like this. ESPECIALLY when it comes to a topic matter like sexuality, something that scientists to this day are still trying to fully comprehend.

  • BlackRabbit

    Your argument is convincing, but you're still being pretty condescending, FM, which doesn't help your case. If you can't argue in a mature way, why bother unless you enjoy doing it?

  • FrayedMachine

    Because I enjoy doing it? And if it's convincing then why does the tone matter? Of course I'm capable of mature discourse as my replies to several people on here already have shown but I respond in a way that I feel is appropriate to the argument initially presented. If it sounds dumb and bullheaded then the likelihood of kindness and sincerity sinking in is slim to none.

  • MadefromClay

    To the impartial party reading the discourse they can remove themselves from the condescension because it is not aimed at them, making it easier to form an opinion on who is making the finer points, but to the person involved it isn't a good way to persuade them of your point, I have tried to keep this discussion civil, and just address your points, but you make it difficult, maybe you should listen to BlackRabbit, not for my sake, but to help you in further debates with others.

  • FrayedMachine

    I make it difficult because I'm blunt and up front? I'm sorry that you are sensitive with this. Also, please don't make another blanket statement and assumption that all situations are the same. If you even take the time to notice my replies to others, you'd realize that this is just with you :)

  • MadefromClay

    No calling me 'kid' and stuff like that, that isn't blunt and upfront, you don't know if I am a kid or not, you are using it to annoy me instead of working to refute my points, if you thought my posts are stupid or ignorant then I am fine with that, I can take criticism, but, you have gone to great lengths to argue your case and reverting to condescension only helps to undermine any good points made towards the person you are attacking.

    In other words, I don't care if you waste your time, I am just letting you know that is what you are doing, If your aim is to bring me around to your way of thinking.

  • FrayedMachine

    If you're going to let your sensitivity prevent you from being objective then so be it but I feel no reason to mash words to make them easier for you to swallow. I'm simply calling it as I see it.

  • Rochelle

    As a straight woman who has lusted after plenty of men with rockin' bods, without taking their personalities into account, I find your line of reasoning dated and superficial. I love pictures of Chris Hemsworth without his shirt, but if he, as Thor, were to go into battle shirtless, I would lose even pretend respect for him.

  • eeky

    No respect for shirtless superheroes? Poor Hulk. :(

  • Rochelle

    Totally different issue. I respect the hell out of the Hulk because he has a reason for being shirtless -fabric ripping rage machine that he is. In fact, I'd be ok with him ripping out of those pants too. But if Thor chose to go into battle without his shirt, just so everyone would appreciate his curves and muscle definition, I would lust, but not respect.

  • MadefromClay

    So do you lose all respect for any superhero who wears skin-tight clothing only used to show off their physique? Or do you think it is used as a scare tactic to others, "look how strong I am" kind of vibe?

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