Research for Essay

Kate Beaton’s ‘Strong Female Characters

One of the biggest criticisms of the comic book industry is the portrayal of female characters, especially over the use of the infamous ‘boobs and butt’ poses where, despite anatomy, female characters still manage to show off both of these features, and it serves no purpose except to objectify these characters. In her webcomic ‘Hark! A Vagrant”, Kate Beaton has made ‘Strong Female Characters’ (see here and here), satirical caricatures who are essentially defined by this pose as well as their ridiculous outfits. She also makes fun of the idea that some people think sexism is over, making it fine to portray women this way (to make it clear, no it isn’t, and no it doesn’t).

While it is hilarious, these strips also serve to prove a point, as it is based on a huge nugget of truth. Many women in comics (as well as in other medias such as films and advertising) are written poorly, sexist ideas often surface and feminist characters are usually taken to their extremes, as they are completely against the idea of any femininity or men whatsoever. Beaton again makes fun of this extreme feminism in this comic, which she wrote in reaction to people wrongly presuming that the ‘Strong Female Characters’ were a critique on actual feminism, rather than making fun of how comics and other media tend to portray them.

Overall, this is an entertaining and accurate criticism of the comics industry, but also revealing in how influencing these portrayals can be, as they can skew peoples perceptions of what a movement stands for.


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