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Most of the male heroes we see are loners, but many of the women work within a team.

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Female superheroes are often members of teams, but you also have collaboration and female friendship featured prominently in some fandoms such as Xena and Buffy. I wrote about this in my Firefly paper: all four of the women of Serenity depend on each other as well as the male members of the crew as a family unit.


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The crew of Serenity and the Scoobies stick together because they love each other, and they work better as a unit than they would as loners. And now, enormous thanks to Jennifer for agreeing to a TDF interview! I actually had the pleasure of meeting her at San Diego Comic Con and chatting there, but alas! My iPhone ate the interview recording, and she was kind enough to agree to an email interview instead. Jennifer K. Stuller: I think this is a question that needs to be answered on a case by case basis.

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Though the answer is usually that they have some degree of agency and objectification — how much of each depends on the character, actress and storytelling. For example, Sydney Bristow often played the femme fatale, but had an arsenal of other weapons at her disposal; she was highly trained in hand-to-hand combat, firearms, technology, and language. To use the example of Sydney Bristow again, she could distract with lingerie and often did. But this was done playfully, and her other skills were just as emphasized and important — if not more so.

Whereas someone like Cinnamon Carter played by Barbara Bain on Mission Impossible served as the gams of the operation and little more.

So we can argue that perhaps she was progressive or captivating for that era. Have you noticed this yourself? Why do you think this is? JKS: First it depends on the book.


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  • Plus, the erotic encounters seem to be written with a female audience in mind. Whereas something like a Robert Heinlein novel has sexual female characters, that are sexualized. Additionally, much of urban fantasy literature is written by women, who are less likely to objectify women or make them one-dimensional characters.

    Ink-stained Amazons and Cinematic Warriors: Superwomen in Modern Mythology

    In fact, many of these characters are the protagonists themselves. Finally, there is the visual aspect. Because sexual encounters, or physical bodies, appearance, and dress is described, rather than shown, much is left to the imagination.


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    • With television, film, and comic books too often the concept of the male gaze is employed — whether intentional or otherwise — and female characters are objectified for heterosexual male pleasure and I would argue, often deprived of agency or value. Buffy Summers: The feminist superhero that changed the model, and changed the world.

      Modesty Blaise: The most complex, sophisticated, and capable of all female heroes.

      Ink-Stained Amazons and Cinematic Warriors: Superwomen in Modern Mythology

      Sydney Bristow: A smart female hero in a smart series. Like Buffy, Syd had female friends that were just as important to her as her calling, and refused to be isolated by her secret identity. Emma Peel: Just the coolest of the cool.

      Sophisticated, stylish, smart, and sexy. And I actually wrote a blog post recently that answered this very question! TDF: Do you think that progressive portrayals of tough women can positively affect male fans? Capes and Crusaders in Comics and Films' published by I. Tauris, April The Birth of Modern Mythology and the Mother. The Buff and the Backlash.

      Super Grrrl Power in the s and the Turn. On Mothers. Women Making Myth. Where Do We Go from Here? A Select Glossary of Superwomen in Modern.

      Jennifer K. Stuller | Ink-Stained Amazons and Cinematic Warriors

      Bibliography Filmography and Internet Sources. Author Recommendations. Stuller is a writer and journalist, specializing in gender and sexuality in popular culture. She has been researching and speaking internationally on superwomen for over a decade, and has contributed to such publications as "Geek Monthly, Washington CEO "and the "Encyclopedia of Gender and Society.