Sexism, Censorship, And Art In Comics: Why Starfire’s Costume Doesn’t Need Changing For Anyone
Comic books are probably the last thing on your list of mediums that you would consider art. The hardworking men and women who work tirelessly to create imagery that conveys emotion and presents real depth is indisputably though. So it comes as a huge surprise that feminist communities would call on it to be censored.
Recently a picture of the DC hero, Superman, has been circulating as part of a feminist call to reform how female characters are portrayed in comics. The outcry is over why another DC character, Starfire, is drawn with barely anything covering her body but the same is not true for Clark Kent/Superman's uniform. The justification for Starfire is that she derives her powers from the sun, and therefore, its more logical for more skin to be exposed. "But so does Superman," the community cries out, and so, because Starfire has defied change in costume, we ended up with a man thong and nipple capes. But here's the thing, Starfire's uniform is, admittedly, rather revealing, but not necessarily in a sexual sense. Starfire is a character among the other women in comic books, that portrays a kickass female superhero that doesn't rely on the support of a man, and at the same time, doesn't demean men in the name of radical feminism either. Instead, they work independently to kick ass, and in some cases, like the Justice League for example, in conjuncture with male protagonists to lean on one another for support in a fight against a much bigger antagonist.
While it's easy to claim that it's indeed a sexist remark to dress them up like this, let's take a look at the history of women in art. For example, off the top of my head, Aphrodite. She's completely naked in nearly every portrayal. Oh no, better cover up and censor that, right? I mean, it was done by a male. Maybe the artist was trying to create a sexist image of naked females to get teenagers into religion. Or, maybe it was something else; a celebration of the female form.
Women have distinctly different bodies than men, and yes, we're referring mostly to the genitalia. More importantly, however, they were designed to do different things. While women have more than proven they're up for the task of physical labor, and nearly every job a man has held, and men likewise have proven that they can raise children, and be a comforting role model in the absence of a mother-figure, the female body was genetically engineered through natural biology to be able to carry children in the womb, and nurture them in ways men can't relate to.
Is celebrating the beauty of this form such a bad thing? Okay, maybe "it's because she gets her powers from the sun," is a terrible argument for the costume, but Starfire is one of few female characters that embraces her sexuality. She still kicks ass in spite of what she's wearing, and is rarely portrayed in an overtly sexual manner, unlike in a certain Michael Bay film where Megan Fox was specifically posed in extremely suggestive positions.
What appears to be the real problem is that radical feminists only want women portrayed in an empowering manner when it's done by other radical feminists, otherwise it's not art, it's not a celebration of women, it's blatant sexism. The problem is, that mindset sets everyone back, and continues to shed a negative light where originally there wasn't one. Starfire right now is a strong alien warrior, embracing her womanhood and fighting evil. If she was to change in fear of her becoming a stereotype, she would become a stereotype. Changing would be to acknowledge that women need to be covered up, and that there's some kind of shame attached to what she was before instead of saying, "this is who she is, this is her choice of uniform, and she's not changing for anyone."
Instead of calling on DC to alter the characteristics of their fictional heroes, or blatantly demeaning a male character to balance the "equality" between the two, maybe we should be calling upon them to have her recognize her outfit is a little skimpy, but detest that it's what makes her feel powerful the way Wonder Woman once did when she was told she dressed like a whore. After all, isn't that the point?