A Feminist Defense of Women in Spandex

By Eric Michael Anderson, MLIS Day

OK, we all know that female super-heroes tend to have absurdly proportioned bodies as well as extremely tight and/or minimal clothing. Setting that aside, let me explain How Reading Super-Hero Comic Books Made Me A Feminist!

Actually, I don't really like to call myself a feminist, as the views that get me labeled as such are what I consider just being reasonable. Of course women can do everything men can and girls can do everything boys can, be it sports, politics, military service, or anything else. Why wouldn't they be able to? After all, Storm led the X-Men through some of their toughest times. Sure, she led them to any number of pyrrhic victories, but that's the way with the X-Men even when ueber-male Professor X was in charge. Additionally, their ranks were filled with other strong, smart women like Psylocke and Rogue, who were just as important to the team as its male members. In fact, Rogue was easily the most powerful of the X-Men in the team's particular incarnation that I read the most.

Kitty Pryde (who, incidentally, is typically drawn with a pretty reasonable body type) was an integral member of Excalibur and easily the brains of that outfit. She wasn't just smart, she was a genius. More importantly to my teen self, she demonstrated that a teen full of determination could make a positive impact in the world.

Yes, the original Batgirl did get herself nearly killed by the Joker, but the second Robin got himself all the way killed by the Joker. And Batgirl went on to become the world's most butt-kicking wheelchair-bound librarian. Cassandra Cain, the new Batgirl, is so fiercely skilled and independent that she rarely bothers to check in with her mentor Batman, and her physical skills are superior to Batman's own (and he's no slouch).

Sarah Pezinni, while she does have an odd habit of losing most of her clothing whenever she wields the Witchblade, is an incredibly skilled detective, solving crimes that puzzle her male colleagues, as well as bravely taking on supernatural forces. If demons ever started invading my city, she's the sort of person I'd want on my side.

All these women, whatever their appearance may be, represent equality by being both intelligent and physically powerful, as well as kicking just as much, and sometimes more, super-villain butt that their male counterparts. So before you go thinking that representations of females in super-hero comic books are entirely bad and damaging to young males, please consider the effect they had on this particular male as a youth.



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Page last updated: December 9, 2004