Editor’s note: This series of blog posts was adapted from a paper written by Erminia “Minnie” Saucedo. Minnie’s series on this topic will enlighten you on the portrayal of women in comics. We’re excited that she’s shared this with us. Enjoy this enlightening series.
By Erminia Saucedo
Gender Violence and Sexual Imagery
Another side of the comic book spectrum that paints an odd portrayal of heroines is gender violence and the overuse of sexual imagery with women. Amateur writer and blogger Katherine Broendel brings up the fan favorite classic and original graphic novel Watchmen, a comic about a team of heroes set in an alternate history earth during the 40’s and 60’s, in an entry on her online blog. She explains the
attempted rape scene between heroes Comedian and Silk Spectre, teammates on the hero force The Watchmen, as an example for gender violence. In the scene Comedian justifies his actions by saying, “C’mon, Baby. I know what you need. You gotta have some reason for wearin’ an outfit like this, huh?” A statement thrown at Silk Spectre about her crime fighting outfit, which was a short yellow and black dress combined with black leather gloves and black garter connected pantyhose that segued into black heeled boots. They fight and he beats his teammate, rather easily, to the floor then the scene is interrupted by Night Owl, another member of The Watchmen, who immediately stops the attack on the woman. While Night Owl helps the beaten and bloodied Silk Spectre he says, “Get up…and, for God’s sake, cover yourself.” Even though she was the one who was victimized by someone who was supposed to be her partner, Night Owl blames Silk Spectre for her clothing instead, leaving the feeling that while Comedian was being an utterly terrible person, he was only reacting like a man. Broendel writes, “While the sequence does not glamorize rape, it does contain victim-blaming language…This [Night Owl’s actions] solidifies the victim-blaming justification used earlier [by Comedian] and reinforces the notion that, even though she’s a crime fighter, she can still be degraded, overpowered and controlled by men. ” So even though Silk Spectre is strong and has kept up with her male teammates during all their endeavors, her strength as a hero as well as her pride as a woman is taken away in a quick moment simply because of her outfit. The pain she feels from her attack is even intensified when she is blamed for it; a harsh yet factual example of gender violence in the real world as well as the illustrated world of ”heroic” men and women.
The next post in this series discusses Girls’ Comics.