Friday 28th November 2014,
Comic Booked

What If…? Gender Swap Edition

Aaron Clutter 11/25/2013 Features

WARNING: SOME PHOTOS MAY REQUIRE BLEACHING OF THE EYES. WHAT YOU SEE CAN NEVER BE UNSEEN.

There are some great artists out there that  can really bring out the beauty in the characters we love, whether male or female. Whether it is Alex Ross, Adam Hughes, the late Michael Turner, or Joseph Michael Linser, the art is what draws us to a book and the story is what keeps us there. I will say, there are times that art has turned me off to a good story as well. We have to agree that comic books are a very visual media. Getting the audio book version of any comic is just like getting half the story.

What does all this have to do with my column this week? Well, I just wanted to preface my question with the idea that we are drawn to comics by the art. We are also drawn by what we know. If out favorite character is making a guest appearance in a book, we may pick it up just to see what is going on. Costume changes, haircuts or style changes, and anything else that changes our favorite characters can draw or repel us.

My question this week is one that may make your mind reel with the implications. What if all comic book characters were gender swapped? All men are now women, all boys are now girls.

Now we can take this one step further and look at what would male superhero costumes look like if they were designed the same way as female superhero costumes… It would be sad. Allow me to demonstrate:

What IfWhat If

Now that you have finished screaming and clawing at your eyes… The terms I think of are “impractical”, “inappropriate”, “sexist”, “hilarious”. However, most fanboys are more than happy to drool over anything with breasts stuffed into this and placed in a combat situation.

I am not really trying to make a statement here, just give you something to think about. What if Batman, Superman, Captain America, Mr. Fantastic, were really Batwoman, Superwoman, Captain Mammerica, and Mrs. Fantastic? Would you like them as much? Or more? What if there were only female superheroes and all the villains were male? How would that impact your view of the comics industry? It would be interesting to see Mrs. Fantastic stretching to fit any dress size.

The truth is that comics as they are now were created by men for boys. Looking back at the history of comics, they created role models for kids that may not have had a solid role model after the war. Superman, Captain America, these were men that set a moral guidewire for kids. We have definitely moved away from that now.

I feel like we have oversexualized much of the comic book industry. It is only our faults, as the readers and the consumers, since we just buy it all up. Not that it is wrong, but it has become a reflection of our media society. Well, maybe it is wrong. Nothing is wholesome anymore, even Saturday morning cartoons.

That is enough for this week. Please comment your thoughts. I would love for someone to persuade me that comics are all they used to be and more. I feel a rant coming on and I will just leave you with this:What If

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About The Author

Aaron has been reading comics since he was in 5th grade. He only had children so that he could still buy comic books and toys without looking like a nerd. Most of the things he buys are never touched by his kids. He has a vast collection of stuff that his wife constantly complains about.

  1. Škorpijon Luna 11/25/2013 at 11:46 pm

    The problem with stuff like this is that it just gender swaps the clothes, so of course male superheroes are going to look silly in something that looks like a one piece female bathing suit or bustiere. If there's any problem it's more with attitudes and reactions than costumes, I mean look how many male superheroes are drawn with hulking muscles and giant packages, removing the old red trunks from Superman actually draws more attention to his junk, it's sagging crotches everywhere man! You wanna talk character though, look at someone like Captain America. An updated version would actually make more sense being female, as they have a long history of being denied for combat positions.

  2. Rusty 11/27/2013 at 11:10 am

    I hate stuff like this, and the art in the top picture is awful…

    • bairland 11/30/2013 at 3:15 pm

      Any reason why you hate it? The art was more manga, but did go along with the article idea.

  3. geekgirl 11/27/2013 at 6:07 pm

    The male body (big muscles and undercarriage) is just as sexualized as female bodies in comics, so this article is just a bit silly. And no, if you go way back, comics were not just made for boys, they actually were made for all children, regardless of gender.

    • bairland 11/30/2013 at 3:14 pm

      Sure, if you go way back. But, you have to admit that the comics of the 40's and 50's were definitely focused on boys. War comics and male superheroes saving the defenseless women… There were things, like the comics from Key, based on cartoon characters like Top Cat, Casper, Richie rich among others.
      My point in this article is that much of what gets released now, and for the last 20 years, has muscly men in full body costumes, muscles included, but the women have huge breasts and very little cloth in their costumes. Just trying to see what would happen if we swapped those roles and dressed men more like Chippendale dancers and women less like super prostitutes.

      • Škorpijon Luna 12/01/2013 at 5:43 pm

        I get where you're going with this, and maybe I'm just nitpicking, but male characters in female attire doesn't actually swap the roles, you know like you said what if the men all dressed like chip n dale dancers, well then they'd look like old school Namor lol but pictures like that would drive the point home more I think than just Superman in drag!

  4. Pookasydi 12/01/2013 at 6:09 am

    How many times does this have to be brought up? Male bodies are not sexualized in comics the way female bodies are. Bulging muscles and skin tight costumes that show little to no skin is a male power fantasy, about being big and strong. Female characters aren't shown as powerful, they're shown as objects. Also, a power fantasy for men.

    • bairland 12/04/2013 at 8:26 am

      True, so the question here us really, how would the comics scene be different if the roles were reversed. If women were in the power roles and men the sexual used objects, how would the comic book reading demographic be different?

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