The Supergirls: Fashion, Feminism, Fantasy, and the History of Comic Book Heroines

by Mike Madrid

The inclusion of females in stories is specifically discouraged. Women, when used in plot structure, should be secondary in importance …

DC Comics Editorial Policy Code in the 1950s, quoted on p. 77

Overall, a nice survey of the evolution of women and girls in mainstream comics intended for young adult readers. But …

No pictures? There is not even one panel showing the subject matter.

Also, the author never met an adjective he didn’t like—especially if he could use it to describe a woman’s body parts. In fact there is a strong whiff of chauvinism throughout. Here’s an example from the chapter “Supergirl and the Ballad of American Youth.”

Britney Spears is credited with kicking off a revival of the teen pop star, updated with a sexually mature image. An army of adolescent trollops followed Britney’s dancing footsteps to dominate the media and America’s attention. No longer relegated to teen gossip magazines, “Young Hollywood” women were now the stars of the day, and the role models for not only young girls, but for plastic-surgery addicted middle-aged women as well. Slatternly songbird Christina Aguilera, amateur porn starlet and heiress Paris Hilton, and “difficult” teen actress Lindsay Lohan entertained the nation with tales of drunken revels, dangerous eating disorders, and general rude behavior. This was the world into which a new Supergirl would arrive.

p. 95

“Adolescent trollops?” “Plastic-surgery addicted middle-aged women?” “Slatternly songbird?” I don’t know. Feels kinda gross. But then again, comic books are steeped in chauvinism. Maybe it’s inescapable when writing about them.