The Strong Female Character that Wasn’t: Female Leads & the Superhero Genre in the 21st Century

Hdl Handle:
http://hdl.handle.net/10149/620535
Title:
The Strong Female Character that Wasn’t: Female Leads & the Superhero Genre in the 21st Century
Authors:
Doran, F. (Fionnuala)
Affiliation:
Teesside University. Institute of Design Culture and the Arts
Citation:
Doran, F. (2016) 'The Strong Female Character that Wasn’t: Female Leads & the Superhero Genre in the 21st Century' Comics Forum, Leeds Central Library, Leeds, 3 - 4 November 2016
Conference:
Comics Forum, Leeds Central Library, Leeds, 3 - 4 November 2016
Issue Date:
3-Nov-2016
URI:
http://hdl.handle.net/10149/620535
Additional Links:
http://thoughtbubblefestival.com/events/comics-forum/
Abstract:
In this paper I interrogate the objectification of female leads in the mainstream, superhero genre of the comics industry and discusses how the continual dominance of male writers and editors mitigates against more authentic representations of women. I argue that the trope of the Strong Female Character depicts women’s empowerment as seen through a heterosexual male gaze that reinforces damaging and regressive stereotypes. Sexual objectification is repackaged as an empowered ownership of sexuality in female-led books, with appearance, behaviour and plot all aimed at titillating heterosexual male desire. I document the creation of a hostile and defensive attitude within the major publishers to reader criticism, and the barriers ‘group-think’ creates to non-male participation at writer and editorial level, particularly in regards to its effect on perceptions of quality and value. I also detail how homogenous groups lack a wider cultural perspective that renders them at greater risk of depicting female characters’ choices and actions in a way that alienates the readership. My approach to this misrepresentation is primarily informed by ‘Structural Aporia & White Masculinities: White Men Respond to the White Male Privilege Critique’ (Farough, 2003), ‘Hot, Black Leather, Whip: The (De)evolution of Female Protagonists in Action Cinema, 1960-2014’ (Heldman, Frankel and Holmes, 2016), C Wright Mills’ notion of an intersection between social theory and fiction, and the work of Irving Janis. I finish by looking at potential remedies for this institutionalisation of the male point of view and the barriers to change—such as ‘gender-blindness’—that mitigate against them.
Type:
Meetings and Proceedings
Language:
en

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.contributor.authorDoran, F. (Fionnuala)en
dc.date.accessioned2016-09-19T16:45:26Z-
dc.date.available2016-09-19T16:45:26Z-
dc.date.issued2016-11-03-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10149/620535-
dc.description.abstractIn this paper I interrogate the objectification of female leads in the mainstream, superhero genre of the comics industry and discusses how the continual dominance of male writers and editors mitigates against more authentic representations of women. I argue that the trope of the Strong Female Character depicts women’s empowerment as seen through a heterosexual male gaze that reinforces damaging and regressive stereotypes. Sexual objectification is repackaged as an empowered ownership of sexuality in female-led books, with appearance, behaviour and plot all aimed at titillating heterosexual male desire. I document the creation of a hostile and defensive attitude within the major publishers to reader criticism, and the barriers ‘group-think’ creates to non-male participation at writer and editorial level, particularly in regards to its effect on perceptions of quality and value. I also detail how homogenous groups lack a wider cultural perspective that renders them at greater risk of depicting female characters’ choices and actions in a way that alienates the readership. My approach to this misrepresentation is primarily informed by ‘Structural Aporia & White Masculinities: White Men Respond to the White Male Privilege Critique’ (Farough, 2003), ‘Hot, Black Leather, Whip: The (De)evolution of Female Protagonists in Action Cinema, 1960-2014’ (Heldman, Frankel and Holmes, 2016), C Wright Mills’ notion of an intersection between social theory and fiction, and the work of Irving Janis. I finish by looking at potential remedies for this institutionalisation of the male point of view and the barriers to change—such as ‘gender-blindness’—that mitigate against them.en
dc.language.isoenen
dc.relation.urlhttp://thoughtbubblefestival.com/events/comics-forum/en
dc.titleThe Strong Female Character that Wasn’t: Female Leads & the Superhero Genre in the 21st Centuryen
dc.typeMeetings and Proceedingsen
dc.contributor.departmentTeesside University. Institute of Design Culture and the Artsen
dc.identifier.conferenceComics Forum, Leeds Central Library, Leeds, 3 - 4 November 2016en
or.citation.harvardDoran, F. (2016) 'The Strong Female Character that Wasn’t: Female Leads & the Superhero Genre in the 21st Century' Comics Forum, Leeds Central Library, Leeds, 3 - 4 November 2016-
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