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Thursday, October 02, 2014 

A licensed DC t-shirt reduces Wonder Woman to an object for Superman

Proving something else could go wrong with Geoff Johns and Jim Lee's fanfiction pairing of Superman and WW, a shirt-making company took the picture from Justice League #12 and used it to make a t-shirt where WW is lowered to a mere object Superman can snare for himself. And it was digitally altered so that instead of her snaring him with her magic lasso, said rope was removed from the finished product, making her left arm look awkward.

They also came up with a t-shirt for girls that says, "training to be Batman's wife". That one, on the other hand, isn't so bad, since it could be perceived as some kind of wish fulfillment for women who like being partners for adventure (a writer for Newsbusters thinks its okay too, and agrees the Superman/WW shirt is sloppy by contrast), but honestly, that's why I think it would've worked better if they'd done it with Superman's logo instead of Batman's. But I think it's obvious why it all turned out this way: they don't want to promote the Man of Steel as a guy who could be married to a woman like Lois Lane, and Matt Idelson made that clear 2 years ago. Heroes like Supes are actually better for marketing to women because of the brighter perspective, yet that's exactly why the modern editors won't try it. As for Batman, the irony is that he's long been touted as the ultimate bachelor, so they probably figured this would be okay since Bruce Wayne's not getting married in the forseeable future anyway.

I also found an article about this on Baby Center, of all places, talking about the topic, though it's a very mixed bag:
My wife pointed out a couple of interesting pieces of licensed merchandise from DC Comics which some folks might see as sexist. But in DC’s defense…

No, they’re just sexist. But it’s the type of casual sexism that, if this were an isolated incident, would be easily explained as just a bad decision or as people like me taking things too seriously. Unfortunately, DC has a habit of being very dismissive toward women, so this is a pattern of behavior. It’s one of the reasons that, even though I’m a huge fan of superhero comics, more and more of the comics I read to my kids comes from outside the genre, since both DC and Marvel tend to kind of ignore the fact that girls make up half the population.

One of the shirts shows Superman kissing Wonder Woman with the text “SCORE! Superman does it again!” and the other proclaims that the girl wearing it is “Training to be Batman’s wife.” A normal person might see these shirts and just roll their eyes. For a comic book nerd who puts too much thought into this stuff, it goes from offhandedly sexist to bizarrely perplexing.
As I said before, the Batman t-shirt's not as bad, but laughable when you think about the chances Bruce Wayne will marry being zip. But, he's right that in this modern age, DC has been negative to women, and with DiDio still in charge, nobody should think it'll change so easily.
Let’s look at the first shirt. “SCORE! Superman does it again!” Yeah…that fits the thinking of modern comics well – take the world’s most iconic superheroine and reduce her to trophy status. But that aside…”Does it again?” When did he do it the first time?

Superman is a guy who spent more than a half century wooing Lois Lane. Prior to that, his only potential sexual experience was in high school with Lana Lang. Since his marriage to Lois got erased from history due to the Flash destroying the universe, it’s highly probable that this Superman is a virgin.
Yeah, it's quite possible. Even DC editorial's standing on romance has been very poor.
By comparison, Wonder Woman is from an island modeled after ancient Greece. She’s the daughter of Zeus, and if the sexual preferences of her father and her culture are anything to go by, sex is something she does in place of afternoon tea. [...]
Here's where the guy comes up short - WW as the daughter of Zeus is a recent retcon, not the setup as seen in the Golden Age origins where she was created from enchanted clay. And judging from sales returns, it's clear nobody cares about the retconned background they gave Diana 2 years ago.
[...] my problem with this shirt (other than the sentence I just wrote) is that it has disturbing implications when you consider DC’s ongoing policy about marriage. In DC-world, superheroes either don’t get married or their marriages end tragically. So if I put this shirt on my daughter, I’m basically relegating her to death by homicidal clown.

Batman’s hardly the type of guy I want marrying one of my kids anyway. Sure, he’s got money, but he’s emotionally stunted, refuses to seek the psychiatric help he needs, and spends every waking hour beating up on fat men with umbrellas and guys with an unhealthy Lewis Carroll obsession.
Sigh. Another instance where somebody doesn't have it in him to lament the awkward writing dictated by editorial. Of recent, far too many writers have dwarfed a once finely written character into a selfish freak whose respect for his co-vigilantes is questionable. I think Dick Grayson may have suffered the worst when DC came up with their post-Crisis on Infinite Earths retcons. If there's anybody who needs help, it's the writers and editors, who're stuck in vindictive adolescence and won't get the help they need to realize why it'd be better to make Bruce Wayne act like a real human again.
I love superhero comics and love the opportunity to share them with my kids. But the culture surrounding the genre makes it really hard to do so. Sadly, these shirts aren’t outliers – this is pretty indicative of the type of attitude toward women that dominates the industry. It’s possible to find comics where women are treated respectfully rather than as trophies, but it never seems to be easy to do so these days.
Well there's something we can agree on. The newer output since the turn of the century is far from suitable for children. But criticizing fictional characters instead of how they're written is also indicative of how the most immature of the audience goes about voicing their would-be opinions, and it's got to be changed somehow.

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Just another example of the "vindictive adolescence" that makes today's mainstream comics unsuitable for either children or adults. They are too violent and salacious (and misogynistic) for the former, and too silly and sophomoric for the latter. And now the merchandising, such as these t-shirts, reflects the same attitude.

Wonder Woman was originally a symbol of empowerment and equal rights for women, and the character even became a feminist icon. Now she is an object, a goal for the Big Strong Man hero to "score."

And why does a girl have to be "training to be Batman's wife"? What would be wrong with "training to be Wonder Woman"? Or "training to be" Supergirl, Batwoman, or Mary Marvel? (It would be even better if comics had more heroines who were not just spinoffs of male heroes, but that's another subject.)

Oddly, in the Silver Age and earlier, when comics were aimed at pre-pubescent kids, DC's women were often treated more respectfully. Wonder Woman had her own solo comic and was treated as an equal partner in the Justice League. Supergirl had a solo strip in Action Comics. Hawkgirl was an equal partner to Hawkman, not just his stooge or sidekick.

Even the girlfriend/love interest characters were often portrayed as competent adults, with jobs that they did well. Lois Lane and Iris West were journalists, Carol Ferris was CEO of an aerospace company, Patricia Powell was a police officer, and Jean Loring was an attorney.

Now, though, there is a misogynist streak running through both DC and Marvel comics. And I suspect that it is at least partly because the medium has been abandoned by the general public, and has been taken over by geeky fanboys. Both the fans and the creators are resentful misogynists who couldn't get a date in Danbury Prison with a stack of pardons.

Batman became "emotionally stunted" because DC adopted a grimdark house style. It was decided that heroes had to be "realistic," and, to the self-styled geniuses running the comics industry now, "realistic" means neurotic, or even borderline psychotic.

There are no bad characters, only bad writers and bad editors. Or, if there are any inherently bad characters, they were created by bad writers in the first place.

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