Sexualityin Novels and Comics
Novelsand comics are a popular source of entertainment, both for thechildren and the adults. They portray the interactions of differentmembers of the society and are a good source of information about thedifferent roles of gender in the society. The roles shown in thecomics and novels are accepted as valid in the society. At the sametime, they inspire association from the readers and reinforce theexisting values of gender roles and identity in the society.Therefore, gender roles as adapted in the novels and comics are areflection of the existing values in the society and the best way toeliminate the negative aspect is changing the roles in the society.
Inthe adaptation of Superman, Clark Kent is always there to rescue hislove interest, Lana Lang. In other popular novels such as the HarryPotter book series, the women supported the male characters andjoined the different roles of male characters (Schmitt 153). Forexample, Lily Potter connected Severus Snape to Harry and facilitatedthe achievement of his objectives (Rowling). The differences are notlimited to a physical application. They also show women ascompassionate and driven by the need to connect and care for peoplewhile the male characters are driven by the Utility ethics and thesenses of duty (Rowling). Therefore, the novels and comics are not anideal tool for lobbying because they are merely the reflections ofthe social values in any society.
Onemay ask why a male character was selected for the adaptation ofSuperman. In the Spider-Man comics, Pater Parker also plays theprotective role to Mary Jana Watson (Schmitt 155). Is it a fluke thatthese characters are selected to play the roles that aretraditionally associated with the masculine gender? In the twocomics, both the leading characters have an important role to play insaving the society and tackling tough villains. When the women becomeaware of the powers, they play the supporting roles and often dotheir best to make it easier for the heroes. There are attempts toempower the women and reduce the reliance of these women on the men.In the Superman comics and the television adaptation in Small Ville,Lang takes Karate lessons because she still wants to be independent(Schmitt 159). Despite her lessons, there is a clear emphasis on hervulnerability. In fact, in some scenes, Clark lets her think shehandled the situation on herself to boost her esteem and feelings ofself-worth (Scivally 235). The pretense is a very interesting featureof the interactions because it suggests that men rescue women andthat the attempts by women to emulate the men are ultimately futile(Schmitt 160). The implication is that the role of the femininegender is to support the masculine gender and always to bevulnerable.
Inthe graphic depictions, there is an illustration of the genderdifferences. While the male heroes are over six feet tall and verymasculine, the women have slim waists and are delicate, regardless oftheir roles in the comics (Schmitt 161). In fact, the only time whena good woman is allowed to be fat is when she plays the role of amother. Masculinity is associated with physical strength and thetough tasks in the comics (Schmitt 161). Therefore, the depictionsplay into the social classifications of the gender roles andreinforce the image of the ideal women in the society. Therestriction of the condition to the comic books become prominent, andthe reason behind the society’s fixation with masculine andfeminist depictions becomes present. In fact, comic books providethese associations with delicacy and support. In the schoolinginstitutions, one of the biggest roles of education is to transmitthe values of the society to the students (Meskin 369). Therefore,many lessons can be derived from evaluating the roles of gender inthe society from the educational context.
Footballand Basketball are among the most common sports in the learninginstitutions. In football, the task is often physical and requiresphysical for performance (Murray 55). In most schools, the boys’teams are successful in the physical sports while the girls areassociated with cheerleading (Meskin 369). In the sport, the physicalelements are associated with the masculine gender, and the ideal malebody is supposed to be strong and tough to induce endurance in theathletes (Earnheardt 104). On the other hand, the girls are supposedto be slim and fit to support the cheer the male teams. In mostschools, the most popular students are the athletes among the men andthe cheerleaders among the women (Earnheardt 87). The role of themales is to show physical endurance while the women are supposed tocheer the teams on (Meskin 370). The lesson from observing thesocialization process is that the society has different expectationsof men and women. The deviation is not accepted, and where theindividual members delicate, they lose popularity (Murray 62). Theimplication is that the depictions in the graphic novels are derivedfrom the relationships between the novels and the society. Evenbefore the onset of formal schooling, the boys and the girls areexpected to play with different toys. Girls play with dolls toincrease the ‘care element` while boys play with cars and superherofigurines.
Inall novels, the writer appeals to the sense of identity in thereaders. In other words, the writers attempt to create charactersthat the readers can relate to (Meskin 371). Therefore, thecharacterization of the major characters depends on the sociallyaccepted norms of any society as opposed o the deliberate attempt bythe writers to sabotage the position of women in the societies. Forexample, the in the Harry Potter book series, there is a progressivefemale character, Hermione, who shows all the signs of a feminist, isstill subject to stereotype tendencies. For example, in the fourthbook, she attacks Ron and is constantly worried about how she looks(Browna 77-87). The implication is that the depiction of women innovels and comics is an appeal to the ideal images of women in thesociety.
Theappeal of the writers to the sense of identity implies there areattempts to create realistic characters in the novels to reflect theactual interactions between men and women in the society (Meskin374). In all societies, the senses of identities are tied to specificvalues in the particular societies. The changes in the roles ofgender and the empowerment of women is, therefore, a feature of thecurrent society and is likely to be a major feature in comics andnovels in the future.
Onecannot ignore the dynamism of Novels and Comics to construct newroles of gender. Currently, the existing research suggests that thepopularity of a novel or a comic depends on its ability to reinforcethe existing roles of gender (Meskin 377). In other words, where anovel deviates from the acceptable norms, there is a high chance oflack of association. In the media, the popularity of an outlet is adirect function of the ability of the media to appeal to thenormalized views of the society.
Inthis regard, the normalization of the different gender roles mustfirst be accepted in the society before the novels and the comicsthat show the deviations are accepted in the society. The implicationis that the norms of the society need to change before the Novels,and the Comic books can change. In this regard, the novels and thecomic books are a mirror reflection of the social values in thesociety. They merely reflect what is important in the society and theaccepted roles of gender in any given social setting.
Isit possible to change the roles of gender? Currently, there is ashift in emphasis from gender equality to an equal appreciation ofthe different roles of the members of the society (Meskin 379).Therefore, feminism appreciated the differences in physical andmental orientation between the men and women and suggests that thebest way to empower the women is the appreciation of the outputproduced by women, in the same way, the masculine outputs areappreciated (Murray 65). Therefore, the ideal novels and comic booksshould appreciate the different roles played by the different gendersequally to facilitate gender empowerment in the society (Dell 48). Inthe new depictions, the position of women shifts from the supportingcasts and delicate creatures in need of protection to playing rolesthat are equally as important as the physical applications of themasculine gender.
Novelsand Comics are sources of entertainment as opposed to pure agents ofsocialization (Dell 65). In this regard, it is possible that thewritings are likely to retain the elements of stereotypes thatincrease the entertainment values of the characters to the comics andthus increase the appeals of the comics and the novels to the targetaudience (Murray 66). The implication is that the novels and thecomics are unlikely to have a big impact on the values of thefeminism and masculine progress because they do not carry therequired gravity. However, where social values change, there islikely to be increased appreciation of feminine heroines anddifferent aspects of the feminine gender. In this regard, changes inthe social values and the contents of the socialization process arethe only way to empower women and to create good reflections of theposition of women in the society.
Inconclusion, comics and novels show degraded images of women in thesociety. They reinforce the view that men are strong, and women existfor the amusement of the leading characters. The women in the comicsrequire the constant assistance of men and even where they attempt toprogress, they are held back by weaknesses in the feminine mentalitysuch as ‘care` and unwillingness to use brutality. However, theimages and the depictions of women in the comics and novels arederived from the depictions of the society. In the current society,there are advancements in the position of women and women have abetter chance of determining their paths than at any time in history.However, the differences in gender roles in the society are stillapparent, and the continued adaptation of these differences in thecomics and the novels suggests that equality continues to be elusive.Therefore, to change the adaptations, the social values need tochange first. After the changes, the novels will change to followsuit and appeal to the sense of reader association.
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Dell,Felicity Ann. Socialisation through Children`s Literature : TheSoviet Example. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2008. Print.
Earnheardt,Adam C. Sports Fans, Identity, and Socialization Exploring theFandemonium. Lanham, Md.: Lexington, 2011. Print.
Meskin,Aaron. “Defining Comics?” Journalof Aesthetics and Art Criticism65.4 (2007): 369- 379. Print.
Murray,Ross. “The Feminine Mystique: Feminism, Sexuality, Motherhood.”Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics2.1 (2011): 55-66. Print. DOI:10.1080/21504857.2011.576881 Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.Print
Rowling,J. K. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer`s Stone. London: Bloomsbury,1997. Print.
Schmitt,Ronald. “Deconstructive Comics.”Journalof Popular Culture25.4(1992): 153-161. Print.
Scivally,Bruce. Superman on Film Television Radio and Broadway. Jefferson,N.C.: Mcfarland & Co, 2008. Print.