Last weekend (Feb 6-8th) I attended New York’s Comic Con, the largest Comic Book Convention on the east coast. There were various panel discussions throughout the weekend addressing various topics and ideas related to comics. I attended one titled “Representation of Women in Comics”. Five graphic artists (one was male, four were female, three were Asian, one was a senior citizen) sat at a panel and answered diverse questions about historical and contemporary representation of women in comic books.

All five of them touched on the idea that women have graduated from a role of damsel-in-distress into one who can keep up with (and even overpower) men. In the Wonder Woman movie that premiered this year, Wonder Woman is more powerful and more intelligent than Steve Trevor, even though they’re in a pseudo-relationship, which is counter to previous representations of both women and men.

The pannel addressed how women are dressed in comics, explaining how women who are more clothed seem to be more powerful whereas women with fewer clothes (an increasingly popular trend) are more pin-ups than actual superheroes and can’t be taken seriously:

I feel like what we see in comics is a social response (or commentary) to feminist movements and how men react to them. In the second wave of feminism there were power feminists who tried to get away from the idea of “women as victims” and so woman victimization has become an unpopular (almost degrading?) representation in comics. The 80’s and 90’s gave rise to power-women who could balance both a career and a home, which is what most comic women heroes have to do in order to be seen as powerful as men heroes.

The panel discussed how, soon, female heroes and male heroes in comics will have the same levels of power and be able to compete in the same arenas against the same villains. As compelling as this is, it worries me; there are some attributes that are definitively male and some that are definitively female, biologically and culturally. With the meld of men and women having the same attributes in the comic world, I worry that men and women will soon meld into an androgynous identity in the real world. That’s what will happen if women have all the same attributes as men, right?

28. Men and Women Flowchart

February 5, 2009

Online, I came across a flowchart and, subsequently, a forum discussion of it.

I found it through Digg.com.

Of course, most people in the forum agreed with it, liking a lot, but making comments about sex and God (as is typical with online forums). I think this is the kind of image that society likes to perpetuate about the unnecessary complexity of materialism in women and the simplistic, “basic” needs of men. It generates the stereotype that women need clothes and shoes to match with several different kinds of sophisticated drinks, whereas men are basic creatures who need only a solid beer to be satisfied.

Not only does this picture promote materialism, but it exploits the stereotypes of the two genders: simplistic men and complicated women. I know that most women are not as complicated as the media would imply, and I know that men are much more complex and vulnerable than society would have us believe.

SOURCES: Diaz, J. (2009, January 16). Workflow Charts Show Fundamental Men vs Women Differences. Message
posted to http://digg.com/odd_stuff/Workflow_Charts_Show_Fundamental_Men_vs_Women_Differences

Gamble, T. K., & Gamble, M. W. (2003). The Gender Communication Connection. Boston: Houghton Mifflin
Company.

The 1959 film Operation: Petticoat takes place during WW2, traveling with Commander Sherman (Cary Grant) on his rickety submarine, The Sea Tiger. Somewhere in the South Pacific, Lt. Holden (Tony Curtis) finds five female US officers stranded on an island and they come aboard the submarine, to be transported to the nearest US naval base.

There is a particular scene I have in mind to demonstrate the gender clash in this film, which can be viewed here, on YouTube.

Here, Sam Tostin (master of the ship’s engine room) is unwilling to admit that Major Heywood (who, we learned earlier, grew up in her father’s engineering plant and knows about machinery) was able to solve a mechanical problem in the engine room. Tostin is frustrated that there is a “woman in his engine room,” and Heywood is frustrated that Tostin is “too stubborn to admit” that she fixed a problem.

Even though this movie was made in the late 50’s and takes place in 1941, the gender roles are clearly defined–and clearly broken. Tostin firmly believes that an engine room is man’s room and is no place for a woman to belong. It lends itself to the patriarchal system that “men, not women, were preeminent in public life,” (pages 70-71). Major Heywood, however, doesn’t stand for this. Heywood, being both a Major and a half-decent mechanic, defies her gender role by repairing something that the sub’s Chief mechanist wasn’t able to. Personally, I think that was pretty classy of her.

SOURCES: King, P., & Stone, J. (Writers), & Edwards, B. (Director). (1959). Operation: Petticoat [Motion
picture]. Unites States: Universal Pictures.

Gamble, T. K., & Gamble, M. W. (2003). The Gender Communication Connection. Boston: Houghton Mifflin
Company.

This semester I’m in English 352 (Poetry). We were reading various poems aloud on Wednesday in class, and this one sparked much discussion:

Please Come Late by Hugo Williams

Please come late,
so that I gave almost given you up
and have started glancing round the room,
thinking everyone is you.
Please don’t come
until I have started missing you,
thinking I will never see you again,
praying you are lost.
Come too late for me not to notice.
Make me suffer,
wondering what you are doing
on the other side of town,
still in your dressing down.
make me beg for mercy
when you pick up a magazine.

Are you looking in your mirror,
suddenly remembering me?
I’m on my second coffee by now,
eating the little bits of sugar in my cup.
Haven’t you even set out yet?
I decide I don’t want to see you after all.
I don’t really like you.
I’d rather be on my own.
I know it is all over between us.

but I go on sitting here,
reading a newspaper,
not understanding a word.
If you came in now, I wouldn’t recognize you.
Don’t come anywhere near me
until I have gone slightly mad for love of you.

This poem made Cat say, “This poem is about a girl. Clearly it is the girl that is waiting. Yeah it has the part about the other person still getting dressed and looking in mirrors but that could be a guy too. I feel exactly this way when I have to wait for someone.”
David then said, “This poem is about a guy. I’ve been in exactly this position waiting on a girl and I think girls make guys wait on purpose.”
After an extensive class discussion, the only conclusion we could all come to is that girls and guys are more alike than we had assumed; both girls and guys wait on each other, and when the other is late it drives the former crazy.

Our textbook states, in Chapter One, four components of gendered communication: it is dynamic, systemic, pervasive, and learned (page 20-21). Whether a guy is waiting or a girl is waiting (in the poem) the communication is still ongoing (by absence) and unpredictable (could happen to both a guy or girl, as concluded by the 352 class). Our class suddenly became more relate-able (relational? Systemic.) upon discovering that both guys and girls empathize with Hugo Williams. Finally, as per our class discussion, it can be assumed that “being late” is a behavior learned and practiced by both genders. (It’s also good to know that both genders can relate to poetry.)

SOURCES: Williams, H. (2005). Please Come Late. In B. Collins (Ed.), 180 More (pp. 55-56). New York: Random House.

Gamble, T. K., & Gamble, M. W. (2003). The Gender Communication Connection. Boston: Houghton Mifflin
Company.