In my post Female Villains Canâ€™t Win, one of the things I mentioned was that even in their powerful poses, women were sexualized. Peatbogfaery asked if I had any other examples than what I provided. Initially I was just going to reply on the thread, but it’s taken on a life of its own (when does it not?), so here it is.
For some advice I turned to comic books (thanks to Ragnell for the links!). I’m putting the rest behind a cut because of the pictures.
I. More Example Poses
As strong-willed as ever, PowerGirl (bless her soul) demanded to be first with this pose:
In it she has a very active stance — rushing at the camera — and her face isn’t a sultry “come hither” look, but rather a, “I’m gonna @^!% you up!” expression. But, yet, the lines of her arm draw the eye to her breasts?
Adam Hughes also has some good examples in his Wonder Woman gallery. I’m going to just pull two of them. First up is this one:
It shows WW clutching a fist full of lightning with a clearly “I’m in pain but I will endure as much as I have to!” kind of look. Not to mention that her muscles are bunched with effort. Unquestionably powerful. But if you notice the lighting, it draws attention to the breasts, and her hunched posture is all about the butt-action.
Secondly we have this one:
There’s the clear power in her clenched fist, and it’s clearly the focus of the piece, but equally shiny and eye-catching are her two breasts (which I swear given the pose you shouldn’t see both of) and then her hair. In this, she is not even given the dignity of a face. One may argue it gives her an “Everywoman” kind of appearance, but it also reduces her to a fist and a pair of boobs.
Greg Rucka‘s webpage also has many good examples. Again, Wonder Woman is the focus of these pieces and again I’ll take only two. First up:
This is one of WW mid battle. Though she is in some ways in the visual disadvantage, being lower than her enemy, she is fighting actively instead of being a passive part of the scene. In addition, her fist is connecting to her opponent’s face. However, her body is contorted (possibly anatomically impossibly so) in order to show both her breast and her butt.
Second and final picture:
This picture of WW in the process of using her
whip of submission lasso of truth. She is given an artificially wide stance (seriously, would anyone advise unbalancing yourself like that while trying to lasso something?) in order to stick out her butt for the reader. Again, you have the power of the active stance versus the sexualization.
Although my original post was on video games, I went for comic books because — being a still medium — it was easier to find examples of deliberate posing. If one were to look through box art and other promotional items that feature video game women, some of the same poses would come up.
I’m not, as everyone and their dog assumes, putting down sexuality. I’m just pointing out that women — whether they be comic or video game characters, or even real life women — can’t escape being sexualized. It doesn’t matter how powerful we are. It doesn’t matter if we’re feminine or not. Or whether or not we want to be sexual. Or whether or not we want to be sexual right now. The lens is forced on us without caring about whether or not we consent to it. And that lens applies to popular culture as well as our real lives.