There has been a lot of talk about the hyper-sexual representation of women in nerd media. We see, again and again, Blogs and tumblr feeds showing us just how utterly ridiculous the state of female representation is.
Sometimes, though, we really do want sexy – I’ve not heard many people trying to end all sexual pandering in comics and video games – A lot of the complaints are about the inequity, that it’s all sexy ladies and brutish men. So, one might expect we could make things more fair and keep some of our sex appeal if we can just sexy up the dudes a bit. The problem is, I’m not sure that we know how.
Somewhat NSFW links and images included after the break.
If you are either brave or foolhardy enough to scroll to the bottom of the internet, you are likely to find a panoply of commenters telling us that men are just as sexualized in comics as women. The big bulging muscles, the skin-tight spandex, that’s totally man-sexy… right? I honestly thought it was, before I asked an actual female of the species. It seems that most of the men in comics and games are not actually physically attractive. This was news to me more recently that I’d like to admit.
I also asked what is attractive, and the answers have been vague and inconsistent. There is practically a mathematical formula for creating titillating female characters, but no such thing seems to exist for males. I thought that maybe tastes were just so diverse that it wasn’t possible, but I’m not sure that’s the case. Men’s tastes in women vary wildly, but still we know how to pander to them. We have a pattern for every race, age, and body type. I’ve started to think that the lack of a formula is partly from lack of practice. We’ve been pandering for hetero men for centuries, but there hasn’t been the same opportunity on the opposite side.
I tried to do some research, but it turned out to be damned near impossible to sort it out online without just finding parodies or pornography, neither of which I’m convinced are actually visually attractive.
Here’s the problem, then. What is man sexy? If one wishes to pander equitably to fanciers of both sexes, how do you do it? Shortpacked offers one opinion:
But how universal is that? Would that representation of the dark knight cause the hearts of young women to beat a little faster when spied through the comic store window?
How about something to match the double-sided tape enthusiasts like Starfire?
Is that pandering to a female audience? My gut says “probably not”, but I honestly don’t know.
What about this reimagining of the Disney princes? I am not able to judge whether it’s parody or soft pornography. Is that sexy or silly?
It comes down to this, we’re so acclimatized to the way things are, that everyone knows the formula for drawing a sexy lady, but a lot of us are stumbling in the dark when it comes to the male equivalent. We have lots of examples of what not to do, but not a lot of positive reinforcement around.
How do you visually pander to a female comic book audience? Are there rules and guidelines? Are there any good examples? In comics? In gaming? In cartoons? Should we even be trying?