Wonder Woman: Objectified and Subjectified
Here’s a good illustration of the difference between subjectifying and objectifying comic book characters.
On the one hand, io9 reports on a paper published by feminist comics blogger Karen Healey (who’s writing a dissertation on the fan culture of American superhero comics) and Terry Johnson on the Comparative Sex-Specific Body Mass Index (BMI) in the Marvel Universe and the “Real” World.
As you might expect, the BMI range for the fictional women is much less varied and more unrealistic than the other three groups (fictional men, real men, real women), particularly if these characters are supposed to be athletes. You can think up any in-story explanations you want, but they only cover up the limited range (or imagination) of many artists who draw these characters.
On the other hand, there’s DC’s iconic female character Wonder Woman. Seen here as portrayed by Lynda Carter and as part of the newly-revealed Alex Ross cover for the book The Age of TV Heroes, to be published in November by Two Morrows, WW has certainly had her share of objectification and questionable storylines, even from her inception.
But she’s also been more of the subject of her own story than any other female comic book character, inspiring not only countless feminists but avid collectors as well. One of them, Kyall Coulton, has created an entire site of WW memorabilia, The Ultimate Wonder Woman Collector’s Guide. The site currently features over 1200 items, the largest online index of its kind, as well as short biographies of participating collectors. And the categories! Everything from original art to jewelry, bedding, food items, clocks and watches, even cookie jars! (If you’re seeking contributor Joel Thingvall’s famed WW gallery of original and commissioned art, it’s accessible from the links page.) You can even enter a trivia competition to win a memorabilia pack!
Recent coverage by the NY Times and other mass media can only inspire more collectables to come.