“Girls only like Nightwing because Dick Grayson is cute.” “Girls only like Doctor Who because Matt Smith/David Tennant is cute.” I can only assume that is why men are always treated as sex objects in genre fiction, drawn or shot in ways that show off all their “assets” even though many of these positions are impractical or impossible. That’s also why there are booth boys at every convention squeezed into costumes which range from slightly exploitative to just shy of naked.
(art by Kelly Turnbull)
No. Wait. That’s not right.
“Girls only like ____ because ____ is cute.” Fill in the blank with whatever you like. It’s the standard way to dismiss female fans. How did this happen? How did the idea that women only like nerdy media based on the hotness of the men and not the content of the plot come about, especially when that same media is lousy with exploitative images of women?
The costumes of heroes are very concealing while the costumes for heroines tend to be much more revealing. Yet there is no broad assertion that men only enjoy these characters for their visuals. Powergirl has a cleavage window in her costume that serves no purpose other than to collect bugs in between her breasts. Supergirl flies around in a skirt and Wonder Woman wears a bustier. Until recently male superheroes in the same universe (think Superman and Batman) had their genitals covered by both pants and trunks. Similar costume disparities occur throughout all genre fiction. The men are covered while the women are exposed. If anything, shouldn’t we all assume that women are going for plot while men are in it for the eye-candy?
The truth is those who say that women only like things because the male characters are cute are just looking for reasons to dismiss female fans. If women only read/watch something because of their attraction to the characters physically, then the opinions of women can easily be dismissed. When fanboys get mad it’s because they’re deeply invested in the characters and story. There isn’t a question of motivation. Saying I only like things because the boys are cute not only insults my investment in the fandoms but me as a person. It implies that I am not smart enough to see and understand the nuances inherent in the media I enjoy and am only invested in the pretty packaging. It implies that I am not a real fan. It is a way to say that girls aren’t as smart as boys and we should stay out of the “real” (read: male) fans’ way.