So you may have heard about this:
Yes. It’s a comic classic. Painted-on costume, ridiculous contortions of the human physique and BUTT CHEEKS front and centre. You know when a character’s arse cheeks are more prominent on their cover than their face that they’re a woman.
"How are we going to connect with this character?"
"I know! Let’s focus on her BUM!"
It’s been looked into over at TheMarySue.com, and they’ve pulled it apart beautifully. I decided to look at a couple of things that they didn’t.
Of particular concern to me was Spider-Woman’s head and neck. It bends back at such an angle that would not actually be able to accommodate the cervical vertebrae in her neck. I mapped it out. It’s impossible. Even if she were superpowered, she cannot make two bones occupy the same space. She is not Kitty Pride.
Also, the rendering of the costume. It’s that pervy “painted on” look that comes from either someone colouring with one hand down their pants or being too lazy to actually render fabric. I get it. Fabric is hard. Fabric takes time. But when you DO get it right, it is SO worth it. I gave it a go, trying to render fabric correctly. I am not a professional, and I know for a fact there are plenty of people out there that are better at doing the fabric thing that Marvel could employ:
There is tenting at the buttocks, because fabric, like water, obeys strict laws of physics. It won’t hug to a body part unless you tailor for that body part. And if Spider-Woman has specially tailored butt-pouches, I worry for her. Deeply.
I also added seams and the odd wrinkle in the lilt of her waist. That happens in fabric. It bunches. It’s also bunching where her hips meet her thighs.
Of course those aren’t the only things wrong. TheMarySue.com corrected it beautifully, but there was something fundamental that I wish to address:
The pose doesn’t fucking work.
It just doesn’t. My sister and I chatted about it this afternoon and, with gritted teeth, I tried to assume the Spider-Woman. (It’s the newest yoga position).
My leg did not want to splay to the side, rather it wanted to wedge more underneath me. My arm was more rigid, as both arms stopped me from falling forwards arse-over-tit. I couldn’t bend my arse up in the air like she does because, low and behold, my arms and torso were locked in a war with gravity to keep me and my large bosoms from tumbling forward. My spine was like a tight cord, and all attempts to bend it were met with agony and a lack of balance.
And I could not lift my head like she does. Not at all. To do that, I had to push my torso upwards.
Now, it’s often pointed out during these sorts of discussions that these heroes we’re drawing have amazing abilities beyond human limits. But these are still human beings (ostensibly) and their bodies still use the pulleys-and-levers system us mere mortals have.
It was so painful even to attempt the position that it should be regarded as some kind of capital punishment.
It also does not communicate much in the way of a story, or a situation. It took a good long gander before I realised she was actually supposed to be climbing up over the edge of a building.
So when it came to my “correction”, I threw the whole pose out and went for something a little more illustrative and commanding.
I did that because TheMarySue.com already did a more correct version of the pose above, and I couldn’t beat that, it was a great redraw. Why do the same redraw twice?
Now, my final point to discuss is this: I am fully aware that the pose Milo put Spider-Woman is apes directly a pose that Spider-Man often takes on the covers and inside his comic periodicals. I get it. She’s just doing the same thing as Ol’ Spidey.
But Spider-Man is a man. And he can be depicted in certain ways that don’t carry a language of degradation and objectification. People are conditioned to look at Spider-Man in that pose and see athleticism. The same people look at Spider-Woman in that pose and think, “Man, she’s ready for sex.” Because a woman in that pose is always sexual.
You would think that enough is enough, that the online bollocking these ridiculous covers get would make a difference, but obviously Marvel hasn’t yet got the message.
I’m tired of seeing our heroines trussed up on covers like this. I’m weary of knowing the exact shape of Storm’s vulva, the hairless glory of Rogue’s inner butt-cheek and upper thigh, of costumes creeping and climbing and clinging in ways that afford these women no dignity.
I have no problem with showing flesh. I read Oglaf on a regular basis, for fuck’s sake.
I just get really friggin’ sick of seeing women characters that mean the world to me have their bodies twisted in painful ways to assuage the horniness of men, and not even given the basic option of wearing clothes that cover them properly.