I began writing this article a testament against the misogyny in Batman movies, but as I began to explore the depths of the internet, it became extremely obvious that the issue is a lot larger than the Batman movies. Women are extremely mistreated in superhero movies, even if they are the heroines. When someone thinks of a female superhero the first image that pops into his or her mind is probably a woman wearing something resembling a legless one-piece costume that typically emphasizes the bust of the character. I know that upon Googling “female superhero” that’s nearly an exact description of what showed up. Women in superhero movies are becoming more objectified than characterized.
Something that really bothers me about women in the superhero universe is the issue of how sexualized these characters become. When I initially googled “women in Batman” the articles that appeared on the search page were borderline offensive. “The Hottest Women from the Batman Movies” and “12 Sexiest Women from the Batman Movies” were the first links to appear. More than anything, the appearance of these links was more of a sad event than one that made me angry. The fact that characters who are designed to promote justice are so unjustly objectified and discussed in such ways is ironic. Of course, there are pages that do the same for men in these movies, but “ranking” women by their looks is something that feeds more fuel into an industry driven by sexism and the objectification of women.
Women are apparently only meant to be saved. They are never the people who are supposed to do the saving. The “damsel in distress” is a tired subject. Women are repeatedly saved, and sometimes I wish the heroes would just leave them in distress to switch it up a bit. Let them fight their own way out. It’s not like we women aren’t perfectly capable of taking care of ourselves. The “more brains than brawn” factor is something that probably contributes to this. Stereotypically, men are stronger and the women are smarter. Entertainment industries would rather we watch a woman have her safety physically fought for than watch her think her own way out of the situation.
An issue I have with superheroine portrayals is the fact that the women’s costumes are always racier than a man’s costume ever would be. Most men would not be dressed in what is basically a pair of high waist bikini bottoms and a glamorous crop top; if you could even consider it to be that conservative. Believe me, I have no problem with women showing off their bodies; women should do what they want. America is a free country and I think feminism is extremely important, especially as we continue to modernize. Rather, my problem is that men aren’t held to the same standards as women in how they are costumed. Their costumes consist of the majority of their body being clothed, the head being one of the only parts of their body exposed. Of course, men’s costumes can be extremely form-fitting, but still, these movies consistently portray women in scantily clad attire meant to sexualize their characters. Numerous examples of this are present in movies that have been released in recent years, but some of the most memorable include characters such as Harley Quinn, Catwoman, and Poison Ivy. This isn’t just an issue of entertainment, it is also an issue of society in general, but it is something the media exploits.
Feminism isn’t about women being better than men, instead it is about equality. It is a concept that can be interpreted as equality for any gender, or race, or any factor that causes discrimination. We need more feminism in superhero comics and movies. They should be used as a platform to portray women and men in the same way and promote equality between genders. We need more superheroines to emerge to combat sexism and enrich society’s understanding of feminism and its actual goal. Women don’t always need saving, and men don’t always have to be the saviors. No matter who chooses to take on the task of saving the world, man or woman, they should be depicted as heroes or heroines, should be given equal footings, and should not be reduced to gender stereotypes.