Sexy or Sexualized No. 3


Remember: the question isn’t whether you personally find these character sexy or not. The question is: what is sexualization and what does it look like?

The more I go over these photos (I’ve started somewhat of a collection), the more easily I can see what sexualization looks like. It seems tangled up in our quest to want to be be attractive for one another and it questions what it means when we self-determine what shape our sexuality takes …and when that sexuality is being assumed and imposed.

6 thoughts on “Sexy or Sexualized No. 3

  1. It’s difficult to be sure with so little context, but there are still clues that will likely indicate which is which. For example, angle. The female image clearly has its point of view firmly aimed at a rather revealing ass-shot. Intended or not, it’s also interesting to see a ninja staring straight at her crotch.

    But the male has such well drawn nipples and nice abs …

    Either way, I don’t mind sexualization. I do mind allowing sexualization to be the only justification for a character or motivating factor. I’m not familiar with either character, but assuming there is more to either of them than show off abs/ass, I don’t mind that they are often presented in a sexualized way. Though, an artist/writer must be more careful with that since female characters are overwhelmingly presented that way, whether they are well-developed (character-wise) or not.

    • The picture of Deacon is a bit more ambiguous than the one of Elektra. Quite a bit more, but of course more context is always helpful. To be honest, I hadn’t given either of these images that much thought before now. I just save collections of images in case I use them later. That’s why there hasn’t been more articles in this blog feature 🙂

      The picture of Elektra …I find it difficult to not see the overt sexualization. Ask yourself: in what context would that image NOT be sexualized for the male gaze? Unless the comic is about criticizing the male gaze (and chances are pretty good it’s not), then it seems we can only conclude it’s the “bad” sexualization (to use your terminology). It’s a still image of three men gazing at the crotch of a woman, even though she’s dual wielding Katana’s in a threatening way. The focus on the image is her crotch. There’s even a sword pointing at it. Yet the woman in the image is only an ass and a vagina. That is the woman. Her personhood is erased.

      Deacon on the other hand is really ambiguous, I agree. It’s clear to me that he’s supposed to be sexy (“ZIIIIIIIIIIIIP!” seems to imply it’s a sort of strip tease). But we have no idea what or who he’s looking at. We don’t know where he’s undressing (is it a battle? in a bedroom alone? on a stage before an audience?). In my opinion, though, I’d err on the Sexy side. His facial expression is quite mundane which suggests humanity foremost. Something that’s strikingly absent from the picture of Elektra.

    • But that makes no sense. If it’s a problem in the aggregate, then individual instances of it are more problematic, not less. You can’t get “overwhelming volume” without these individual instances.

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