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The Power (and Predictability) of the Male Gaze




As avid (male) fans of the graphic novel would agree, we as dudes have undoubtedly enjoyed the panels and cover art that serves up hot chemistry that entice the male gaze, that primal mechanism that draws our eyes to those child-rearing physique we’ve all been evolutionarily-programmed to love. But as good as some comic artists seem with enthralling our eyes with primal chemistry, it seems some of them ignore the other sciences. Images that defy biology, physics and any other form of earthly logic.

Case in point, that quite sensual cover artwork by Mike Choi and Sonia Oback. It’s a nice cover. I like it. Some feminists would disagree though. And that’s there prerogative. Everyone has something to bitch about. My problem (which is a small one on the moral scale) is with the physicality of the character’s render. The artists pretty much mangled and snapped Rogue’s spine so we can see her crack while still in the Gambit’s embrace.
And it seems the comic artists who have a tendency to over sexualise female characters have two common guilty go-to techniques they use:

Play-do spine
Apparently there are no chiropractors in the comic universe as it seems they would have a heavy workload on their hands trying to figure out how female superheroes get their spines all bendy. A prone female, for example, will undoubted end up having that Lady Gaga, lower curve of the spine that pushes her chest and buttocks out. Like that chick that works out in the gym who is not at all naturally endowed so she pushes everything out as if she is permanently being kicked in the spine by Shaolin monk.

Bubble butt
Many forms of clothing cover the body. Even in revealing get ups. But I can’t imagine any for of clothing, latex or earthly material that can hug the human figure so close you get this defined a butt cheek. Material that literally goes in and out the crack. Sorry guys, spray paint is not fabric. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy the female figure like the next guy, but there is something genuinely ridiculous about some of these artist renders. Check out this SpiderWoman cover art by Milo Manara for example.


I’m guessing his source material was watching Nikki Minaj and internet twerk videos using “Clockwork Orange”-styled eye apparatus.

Even the feminist would agree that we as a western society are breast fixated. In advertising, film, everywhere, your bound to get some cleavage or if your lucky, a nip slip, or side boob. But of course I don’t need to tell you that. Apparently, bigger is always better. So why wouldn’t this idiom not apply to representing the female form? And what more tactical way to ensure airflow for ultra comfort and distracting one’s enemy by showing them cleavage. Comfort is key.

You have to though appreciate where the feminists and feminist-minded are coming from. Generally speaking, when you reduce the female form to two circles for breasts, a plum for a bum, and connect the pairs with a golden ratio curve for a spine, you can understand the frustration. But unrealistic body images aren’t only reserved for the ladies. Generally, supermen that dawn our comic stands have muscular, gym bodies. I’d have to work out everyday for months and chug all the whey protein and steroid shots to get like that. All women have to do to look like their heroine counterparts is stop eating carbs, become bulimic and have non-important invasive surgery.
But all kidding aside, the ‘male gaze’ has always been there. And the ‘gaze’ is far from being just ‘male’ at all. Josei Manga has been quite the craze in Japan, flaunting the perfect, quasi-masculine, lean men that have been a craze for Japanese women and females the world over. And the only reason why I feel the ‘male gaze’ is heard of more than the ‘female gaze’ is because of the feminist conspiracy to make all men look bad that which entices the ‘male gaze’ is quite visual and easy not to miss. What they won’t tell you is women are gazers as well. But within a male-dominated field like the graphic novel, the ‘male gaze’ in art is understandably predominant. So maybe it’s not even an issue of the created image, but rather the creators. And while the ‘gaze’ should surely be used to grab our attention, there should certainly be more to hold us. Otherwise, all you end up having is tits and asses. And that’s just the artists and publishers.

Blogger, comic book and anime fan. FPS addict. All very convenient. Known to do storyboards and motion graphics when he's really busy.

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