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Male Objectification? by kevinbolk Male Objectification? by kevinbolk
Been sitting on this one for a while (mostly 'cuz I feel like it's kinda beating a dead horse at this point.) Whenever I tackle the subject of how women are portrayed in comics and related media, the argument is often made that men are just as sexually objectified in comics as women (because they have muscles and stuff). The idea for this cartoon counter-argument is what would always pop in my head.

The point I'm trying to make here is that "idealization" is not the same things as "sexual objectification." I see the former as significantly less harmful than the latter. But what do you think?

Feel free to discuss (as if I would or could stop you), but please try to be polite about it. ^_^
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:iconnostep:
NoStep Featured By Owner Mar 31, 2014
There is a big difference between how men and women are objectified.

Of course men aren't as objectified sexually. They are objectified in many other ways.

While women are objectified physically and sexually, men are objectified for social status, power, finance, and other status symbols, including the women they keep around, and even women judge these other women. 

It is the order of things, and women have the upper hand so far, contrary to popular feminist myths about "oppression".
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:iconkaytara:
Kaytara Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
In comics, the portrayal of men is meant to make men want to be them, the portrayal of women is meant to make men want to have sex with them/conquer them/rescue them/whatever. The portrayal of men in comics is not for the benefit of the women. Crucial difference and why oh why is it so simple to grasp.
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:iconveng1saur:
Veng1saur Featured By Owner Mar 31, 2014
Look up the idea of the archetype, and go from there. These ideas exist for a reason. Some are shallow, some are not. But the idea stems from mythological ideal form/function. Rather basic, really.
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:icondrronin-93:
drRONIN-93 Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2014  Student General Artist
Idealization such as you show is one thing, but could the anime bishounen not be considered as objectifying as the bishoujo? What of yaoi, and its fetishization of gay effeminate males made and consumed primarily by women (of course I do not resent this or even consider it particularly sexist, as I would be hypocritical to do so).
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:iconjustcallmefaye:
justcallmefaye Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
i know i'm late to the game, but this made me think quite a bit, so i decided to weigh in. if you want to see idealization, real and proper idealization, then take a look at the art of the Ancient Greeks. i'm not even kidding. men and women alike are portrayed in idealized, beautiful forms, but they are not objectified because they are inherently respected. even when carved into marble in the nude, these men and women are assured, poised, and graceful. are they sexually alluring? i'm sure they could be viewed in such a light, but they are not meant to be thus; they are not bent over or otherwise contorted into supposedly sexy poses; they have retained their decency.

now, are men protrayed the same way in Ancient Greek sculpture as they are in superhero comics? no, but think on this: Ancient Greece had the idealization of humans and the human form, where as superheroes are, by their very definition, more than human. they're going to be exaggerated, and as a visual medium, the exaggeration of their "super" traits (be that speed or strength or some invulnerability) is going to be and indeed must be reflected in their appearance. if someone is supposedly strong but has no muscles, they do not appear strong, and no one would believe that Superman could pick up a train if he didn't have bulging biceps. the Flash is super-fast, and he's also super-built, but has anyone ever seen an Olympic sprinter? they're also very strong and built, because speed requires it, so the Flash is also a logical extension of a sprinter's body.

so, until the day when comic books start depicting their male characters as super-buff with no reasoning behind it (no traits associated with musculature, that is, for a logical visual) and are simply drawn as the male ideal for no other purpose than to be the male ideal, then there will be male objectification in comics.

objectification, in and of itself, happens when respect is taken out of the equation, and the person in question is no longer treated as a person, but rather as a few different physical attributes for someone else's gratification. in effect, it is the opposite of the phrase "the whole is more than the sum of its parts". it's taking a whole and reducing it to parts, which strips it of all meaning and beauty.

people are a lot less interesting when they're no longer, in fact, people, so let's have some class and stop objectifying everyone, just for the novelty of it.
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:iconmicroblonde:
Microblonde Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2014
I... What? I was following along up until the point where you seem to have switched arguments. I may just be misunderstanding.

"so, until the day when comic books start depicting their male characters as super-buff with no reasoning behind it (no traits associated with musculature, that is, for a logical visual) and are simply drawn as the male ideal for no other purpose than to be the male ideal, then there will be male objectification in comics."

Isn't everything you just said previously directly contradicting the "male objectification" idea? They aren't being objectified. They're, as you said, muscular because they are super strong, or have the athletic body associated with the ability to run fast, etc. How is that objectification? Can you please clarify for me? :(

A character being muscular because they're strong is not being objectified. There is nothing about gratification in that. That's just common sense. I also don't really agree that super heroes are innately exaggerated beyond the level of human beings in terms of physique, nor that they "must" be. It sounds like an excuse for saying female super heroes have to have huge breasts and super-narrow waists and wear super-sexy and super-impractical costumes.

What does having big boobs have to do with being a super hero? What power is that exaggeration supposedly representing? The power of super motherhood? XD

Again, I might just be misunderstanding something. If so, I welcome a clarification, and even if I'm not misunderstanding an explanation would still be appreciated. Thanks! :D


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:iconjustcallmefaye:
justcallmefaye Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
until the day that they're just posing and being muscular for no reason, i.e., that one episode on "Glee" where all the guys posed for a calender in practically nothing. that was objectification. they even said it on the show. so that's a great example. similarly, if male comic book characters began outrageously posing in such a medium or way, like a "sexy" calender, that would be objectification; their musculature would then have no other reason but to be sexy, to be alluring, etc.. i merely wanted to point out that yes, there would certainly be a way to objectify them, but in the general comic book sense, i don't believe it happens. i think you would have to take the male characters out of the plot and out of the context in order to blatantly objectify them, whereas that happens to the women regardless of context. (the males can, of course, start flaunting at the camera whenever they so choose, such as in the middle of a fight with their archnemesis, but as far as i know, that hasn't happened yet.)

you definitely misunderstood the part about women...i was referring to the men, mostly, when i said they were exaggerated images of real human musculature, because they are, because they're huge and bulky and ridiculous, to an effect. but they're supposed to be "ridiculous", because that makes an obvious difference between them and the non-super. as you said, there is nothing super about big breasts. they just kind of happen, via genetics or surgery, and nothing with a woman's strength has any bias on their cup size. so, yes, women are clearly objectified when their sexual, and not necessarily their mere physical, traits are augmented and focused upon in such a manner. i was never denying that. i instead pointed out that Greek sculptures of women were much less absurd, and that we should try to imitate their standard, instead, if we want to display beautiful people in a tasteful manner.

for women to be properly exaggerated in a superhuman sense (again, check out proper Olympians), their breasts would definitely take the back seat, because breasts are just bulky and vulnerable and in the way for athletic females. any female superhero in their right mind would wear something at least approximating a sports bra, because otherwise, ow. sadly, sports bras aren't sexy (although Victoria's Secret would certainly like to think differently), but they're not supposed to be, either. and therein lies the root problem with this whole thing: the women are supposed to be sexy, because the audience they're supposedly designed to cater to wants them to be sexy. so the focus will always be on their sexy traits and their sexy poses and not on anything remotely logical for the situation.

is that depressing? well, yes. but there are some professional comic artists (sadly, i don't recall their names, although i believe they were behind the reboot of the Glory character) who have actually attempted to apply a level of realism to their women (or at least, a comic book appropriate sort of realism), and i applaud them for that, and take heart in their efforts.
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:iconmicroblonde:
Microblonde Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2014
Ah, okay! Thank you very much for explaining! Sorry about misunderstanding! :D I definitely agree with you then!
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:iconjustcallmefaye:
justcallmefaye Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
oh, no, i'm glad you asked for a clarification. :) there were some things i wanted to flesh out further, but my comment was already paragraphs long, so...yeah... :XD:
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:iconspielodia:
Spielodia Featured By Owner Nov 15, 2013  Professional
Nah.
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