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Zia McCorgi by Cooner

"Spill it, Short Legs!"

The Journal of Zia McCorgi

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Feminist help and an image
Zia McCorgi by Cooner
Oh whoops! I forgot to mention this!!!

So dragoncrescent also drew up a picture of my Irish hero Sheleighlie


and its awesome... ^.^

That said and I know I said this before I does make me think: am I being a bit sexist with my female heroes?

I'm noting a distinct movement towards dresses in my female heroes... not sure how I feel about that. Is that sexist of me? I mean I like the look of each of them and I think it encapsulates them. Force Vixen dresses in skimpy tart clothes to shock people. Lady Leopard is trying to be proper and polite and finds pants a little too improper. Sheleighlie's is supposed to be reminiscent of royalty...

but they're all wearing dresses.

At the same time my other female heroes: Mandala Aicha, the Hyderbad hero, wears a modified salwar kameeze but is that any better then a dress? I mean I love Salwar's they look great but am I making it too feminine? She's a computer hacker inventor type with her own style but really did I put her in a Salwar Kameeze because I like the look of them or is she in it for her own character reasons? She's from india and the salwar is popular in Hyderbad. Wavefront, Wellington's superhero, wears a wetsuit so I assume that would show off her feminine body a bit more but that's sensible her powers are water based and she swims a lot. The Buckeye Guardsman, female hero for Cincinnati, wears pants, jeans probably, because its sensible and a hat and jacket I suspect... she's a green arrow/hawkeye analog but I don't have a firm enough handle on her yet. Sort Blomst, the Copenhagen femme fatal of dread, wears a black canary like outfit in my mind, sans high heels which are never sensible. It shows off her curves but its just as much about being sleek and not having much shown. Getsumi, the Osaka superhero, and batman analog, I'm not sure what she wears but its not a dress... I'm not even sure what Kilimanjaro wears honestly but theoretically she's one of the most powerful women on earth and she's working in Kenya for women's rights and if pressed I'd still put her in a dress... Force, Lady and Sheleighlie are three of my most powerful heroes in my world and they are front and center women and they wear dresses...

Perhaps I am worrying about this too much. Women can wear dresses or skin tight clothes and its not about sex or objectifying themselves for men. It often is about comfort and personal expression so why wouldn't female heroes be the same way? They have a lot more options then men after all. Nor do I think it lessens the power of a woman to wear different types of clothing that might reveal a bit more or might be a dress... yet I do worry as a man writing female characters I want my women to stand on their own and be characters who happen to be women not women who are characters if that makes sense....

Then again Metalyena I dressed in a skimpy shorts and shirt to show off his body so I'm clearly objectifying a guy a bit. Then again two wrongs don't make a right but I did that mainly for myself as I wanted the big sexy hyena to strut his stuff... same with Gary if we're honest... and that club scene in Save the Day is if we're being honest pretty self indulgent...

okay I'm rambling thoughts welcome.

So yeah I suppose I am checking my assumptions here what do you all think?

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I think you're worrying too much about it. Really, if you think about it, the costumes in most comics involving supers are designed to show off the bodies of the characters, both male and female (see Power Girl for further details...lots of further details). There aren't many super women in dresses, though there are plenty in skirts. As you say, it's going to be a matter of personal preferences and that's going to include skirts/dresses/salwar kameeze/ whatever. This goes for males too, as you could argue for some Scottish male hero wearing a kilt or a Hawaiian hero wearing a grass skirt or something similar.

Plus, honestly, they're all covered in fur much denser than a humans, I'm really not sure anyone could have an issue with a 'naked' Old English sheep dog since they're so hairy almost nothing ought to be visible anyway...

power Girl while she is awesome is a constant offender of my sensibilities. WHY does she need to ave a circle showing her ample cleavage? WHY?!? is this the source of her powers? This really does irk me and just because its a conceit of the genre doesn't mean you have to use it.

You know Wonder woman used to wear a skirt but then she didn't fly so maybe it made sense.... but then her shirt went down to her knees and this is Wonder Woman can anyone seriously claim she isn't awesome and respectable?

Mmmm a kilted hero I am intrigued and want one now....

Well from one comic I read it's because she hasn't figured out what to put there. She wanted a symbol like Superman has but wanted to personalize it. Unfortunately, as you point out, this becomes rather lurid.

I *thought* I saw her in a skirt once before. Honestly with all the powers they give her now they might as well make her a Kryptonian or something. Well Wonder Woman also comes from the Amazonian culture. I seriously cannot imagine women whose identity is based off of freedom from male rule would ever decide to follow them, though that doesn't mean they can't be respectful.

Cool. I'm hoping if you make one you consider a Shire horse for the role. It was probably not conscious, but all the Extraordinaires are carnivores (or omnivores). It will be nice to see more herbivores like Sheleighlie.

A good chunk of them are also canine.
There's a coyote, a husky, a hyena, a wolf, a fox... and then three others if you want to count Swiftwolf, The Stranger, and Marvelous Malamute. *shrugs*

Yeah okay they'll diversify I guess eventually... >.>

Well you do a good job diversifying your villains and criminals. I mean there's Power Puma (cougar), Cinnamon and Spice (foxes), Whilwinder (wolf), Raja Raksha (tiger), Etenoir (mountain goat), Slipstream (rabbit), Ms. Q (fennec), Therma (mink), Killa Thrilla (hyena), Rigger (otter), Dr. Orgon (red panda), and Dr. Fabulous (koala).

Of course someone like Madeline Lee could make something out of the supposed lack of diversity, if you ever needed.

Odd considering she's the supergirl of the now defunct earth 2... just saying...

in the 1940 run when she had her invisible plane and could run as fast as a speeding car... but yes Wonder Woman has seen power creep on the other hand she's always been highly trained and good at magic...

point taken.

I know, but they aren't always logical with their story lines. I mean the whole point of "Crisis on Infinite Earths" seems a bit moot considering they eventually reestablished the multiverse anyway...

*nods* Well when Superman first started he could only leap about 1/8th of a mile and his skin, while bullet proof, *could* be pierced by something with enough force. He's probably had the most amount of power upgrades and downgrades over the years.

Women can wear dresses or skin tight clothes and its not about sex or objectifying themselves for men.

You hit the nail on the head there =)

If your characters are comfortable dressing as they do -- and I'll be the first to admit that I have very little control over what my characters do, despite being their creator/artist/writer -- then let them be. If you think dresses suit your ladies, then let them wear dresses!

If the hero of the story is a frumpy librarian with short hair, glasses, a big nose, kinda chubby, not entirely unattractive but not the first thing you think of when you use the word "attractive," and wearing pants...well, actually, using that description, the librarian could be a guy OR a girl. Which may or may not be my point; does it really matter what your hero wears so much as what they do?

Would you feel the same way about your female characters in pants instead of dresses/skirts? Heck, would they feel the same way?

oh wow I actually think the frumpy glasses chubby look would be great for Buckeye Gaurdsman... maybe I'm wrong though...

You make some very good points and I'm getting hung up on a pointless triviality. What matters is what they do and these superheroes are heroes so stop worrying about it.

And no i don't think froce Vixen would be the same in pants and neither would Lady leopard or Sheleighlie or any of the others... it just makes sense to the characters.

Veneo wears a dress, as does Ms. Q. Beyond that? You have Thrilla Killa who does not, C&S's outfits vary, no clue what Lux wears, and I have no clue about the others. Therma wears revealing spandex. No clue about the rest.

But honestly? You're worrying too much about a non-issue. For one thing, it's text, not comics, you don't put a lot of emphasis on it. In text it would only be exploitative if you spent a LOT of time describing it or were exploitative in what you did/how you had them behave.

Furthermore, look at comics. Look at anything action related. Everyone is typically in form-fitting and/or revealing attire. For one thing: It looks good. For another: it's functional (loose material gets caught on things) and less material or less tough material means less impeded movement. Only three scenarios occur that leads to non-form fitting attire:

1) Real world body armor (bullet proof vests et al are bulky) or equipment gets in the way (see: bandoleir of gear).

2) Flair and eccentricity.

3) Obscuring. Such as a cloak or big billowy clothes to hide identity and physical features, and this goes back to eccentricity to create a certain image.

Look at our media. Ninja wear tight, thin material that if on a girl would suggest the figure. Thieves wear tight body suits (to avoid getting loose material caught on things). Girls in fantasy and sci fi art rarely wear anything. Hell, look at real life: gymnists and fencers wear skin-tight leotards, tennis players wear tiny shorts or skirts, cheerleaders wear little, etc.

The only place where I really see arguments about "that's exploitation" is in fantasy art, where you have warrior women having vital areas revealed. It's non-sensical to expose your vital areas to sharp pointy things. But for superheroes? A sword in the thigh is not a usual risk (and body armor of the thigh is also rare), or they are durable enough to take it (Or have a power that addresses it: see Force Vixen). Or they're facing threats that typically would obliterate them, shatter their bodies, so covering up vitals really doesn't matter.

Dresses are non-nonsensical in that they would likely impede movement and/or get caught on things, and the simple fact that fliers wearing skirts is not a wise move for the modest. (In fact I imagine that they're called sluts for this reason). Beyodn that? They're eccentric because you rarely see dresses in comics.

If nothing else, you're following the tropes of the genre.

But bottom line? Bottom Line? If it fits the character, if there's a reason for it, then that's all the excuse you need. "That's what the character would do." It's not that way "Just because" you want to show off T&A, it's manifesting the character (like Lady Leopard as a good example: old fashioned).

C'mon, Zia. In your world, two of The strongest supers are women. One is fighting for womens' rights, and the other is respectable and polite and can punch meteors out of the sky. If that ain't female empowering, I don't know what is.

Hell, look at real life: gymnists and fencers wear skin-tight leotards, tennis players wear tiny shorts or skirts, cheerleaders wear little, etc.

How could I forget ice skaters or ballet dancers?

Lux goes for sensible pants and techno gear she's an inventor first and foremost so she wears big tool belts and sensible shoes. Bertha Bang the, to borrow gamerchick's term, rubenesque criminal and explosives expert likes big boots, aprons and goggles along with thick work gloves.

You've made a lot of really good points and i think you and everyone else are right I'm worrying over nothing. I never was hyperfocused on the clothing they wear except in Force Vixen's case and there it was all about some of her character background.

you also make a VERY good point about skin tight clothes and about dresses and staring up them hmm ^.^ okay yeah its true they are rarely seen so maybe I should embrace that...

It actually sounds to me like you have quite a large amount of diversity in your female characters - not only in what they wear, but in terms of their background, their ethnicity, their powers, etc.

I can also tell you that nowadays I put a lot more emphasis on what the women in the media I consume *do* rather than what they wear. This was not always the case, and about 10 years ago I would probably have been really bothered by a cast where most of the women wore dresses or were skimpily clothed. Since then I've matured as a person and as a feminist and I tend to pay a lot more attention to whether the women in a book are equally developed to the men, whether they have their own personalities complete with good and bad qualities, whether they have interests outside a romance or the home or having lots of babies, and whether they have some degree of agency and self-determination. When a book's female characters meet those criteria, I am willing to cut them much more slack on their clothing or their appearance than I would if they were cardboard cut-outs.

For example, in a series I've been reading, it's pretty obvious that the writer has a thing for the bigger ladies. Almost all of the major women in the book are described as being, shall we say, Rubenesque and very sexy because of their curves. And yeah, I think it's a little silly when I catch it, but the thing is that there are dozens of awesome female characters in the book who all have distinct personalities and goals and backstories, so I am more than willing to say that the author writes good female characters because of that, and just smile knowingly at his little bits of wish fulfillment.

Clothing on female characters is still something I notice, but more in the context of whether the women's clothing is recurrently more revealing or impractical for the setting than average. If the book is about a group of debauched club kids and everyone, men and women, wears skin-tight and revealing outfits, I might think it's a little silly but it doesn't bother me because it makes sense for who the characters are. If the book is about a legion of soldiers, and all the men wear practical, protective armor and all the women wear chainmail bikinis...well, then there is an issue. In the case of superheroes, I sort of expect that all of them will wear spandex and masks. In light of that, I'd probably find a female superhero who wore dresses to be an interesting twist rather than something offensive.

okay you make a lot of good points here and I really have to thank you for it. You make an excellent case for characterization and action and while that informs the appearance of my women they're not ending with how they dress.

I admit my first book the women were to the side a bit more but I want to develop these heroes a bit more an I'm writing stories about them now so I guess i was getting a little silly about it.

What is this series it sounds interesting :)

Superheroine fashion, sad to say, is built around being objectifying and revealing. I'd actually have to say you're being different, in that dresses are unusual--your ladies are on average more covered up than the norm.

I WILL say that from a practical standpoint, loose clothing might get caught ("NO CAPES!") so to some extent a dress might be dangerous.

I've worked in offices that are 50-75% female. While business casual isn't exactly standard, I can safely say plenty of them have no problem wearing dresses and skirts. And, by my own unbiased eye, the shapely and/or fashionable ones are more likely to do so, in some cases nearly all the time. So though I can't speak for them, I seriously doubt that knowing many of their personalities, that they consider a dress an indication of a lack of power.

So yeah. You're overthinking XD

hahah yeah cover up ladies! metalyena I want you to patrol the city in a thong now! ^.^

true but in at least two cases the likelihood of a caught dress being very dangerous is low (invulnerable and force field powers after all).

Yeah I think everyone has made a very good case for me over thinking it. And its true a dress isn't disempowering.

He'd still have an armored rating higher than almost anybody.

Also, this; http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ChainmailBikini

curse his invulnerable hide!!!

It's not just what you put them in, but how you describe it. Since this is text rather than visual (save Kyle's lovely pieces scattered throughout the first book) the attire is more focused on your word choices. Some of the outfits may be 'sexier' than others, but you're not really emphasizing the sexual aspect of any them.

So no, I don't think your setting and writing thus far has been particularly sexist. At least not from my reading of the material :)

Hmmm I hadn't really thought of it that way but you make a good point. Yay that I've avoided sexism.

Most of these costumes are designed to objectify to some degree. Superheroes are what we would like to be. That said, I don't think too much thought should be put into what their outfits look like so much as HOW they integrate that into their personality/motives.

That said, you know the kind of superhero I'd like to see donning some snug tights, for totally objectified reasons. ^^;

Yeah that would be Pembroke Bounce a tubby corgi who rechannels kinetic energy that strikes him... just saying!

I think a lot of other people here have made a good point that the costumes are more functional then objectifying but its true some are. I just want to break the habit.

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