March 19, 2006

Women In Refrigerators

I've been reading and thinking about Women in Refrigerators Syndrome (WiRS) the last couple days, after I ran across it on Wikipedia. I'd heard about it before but never really spent much time on it.

The long and short of WiRS is that in comic books, though people have pointed out this is relevent to other forms of fiction as well, a surprising amount of female characters are killed, maimed, raped, de-powered, or otherwise injured and this injury is used as a way to push the male character forward. Often this establishes the villain who inflicted the injury as the heroes primary nemesis, though there are other uses as well.

Here's the website that chronicles the female characters affected by WiRS, several responses from prominent comic book writers, and several reader responses. I think this is pretty interesting stuff. Hopefully you will too and we'll have a lively discussion.


Noumena said...

This was something that really bothered me about Superheroes in philosophy. If you take a look at the Table of Contents, you'll notice there's only two essay out of nineteen that deals with female characters. One talks, bizarrely, about what great models of feminine strength Storm and Jean Grey (sp) are in X2, and the other doesn't seem to notice any relationship between Barbara Gordon's paralyzation and her gender.

By contrast, about a quarter of the pieces in Buffy and Philosophy work from a feminist perspective. This is probably simply due to the fan base for comics vs. the fan base for Buffy -- which is a shame. Like science fiction, too much of the mainstream comic industry is run by men with the emotional maturity and egalitarian values of twelve-year-olds. And like science fiction, comics can be a great form of pop art, occasionally even pushing the boundary between 'high' and 'low' art.

MosBen said...

Doesn't notice a connection between the paralyzation and her gender? Directly following being shot, which leaves her paralyzed, Barabara Gordon is stripped naked by the Joker while he takes pictures of her naked, bloody body. I'm pretty sure there was something to do with gender going on there. Given that it's Alan Moore,however, and he writes female characters rather well (in my off hand remembering), I'm more willing accept The Killing Joke more or less uncritically, as opposed to several of the events listed on the site which were seemingly done unconciously or, even worse, with intentional sexism.