(I will pause now for the traditional arguments from my readers: these characters are all femme fatales in the comics, all of the characters in the Arkham games are over-the-top, the men are just as exaggerated/sexualized/objectified as the women. Got all of that out of your systems? Good.
Because that reaction is exactly what I’m talking about.)
Your whole post, in its entirety, is playing into the privileged mindset Harris is devoting the article to debunking. And you seem to think that Batman is sexualized because girlz. Let’s get one thing clear, Batman looks the way he does because straight males made him that way. For us. Girls are doing nothing to perpetuate the hyper-sexualization because they’re already oppressed harder by the same patriarchal system you’re taking arms against. You’re arguing that girls are approving of the way Batman looks, when I’m sure you’d find that most people who buy and indulge in Batman materials are STRAIGHT MALES. Women aren’t saying “this isn’t bad”, men are saying this isn’t bad. Batman is escapist male fantasy for geeks to immerse themselves in and imagine themselves as the alpha; Batman is at the very top of the system they don’t like in real life. But they WANT to be Batman. Why would they escape into the fantasy of another unattractive average joe? Batman is not responsible for male body image issues. And your goofy and fun male character exists all over the place: Peter Griffin, Homer Simpson, Fry, the Big Bang Theory cast, and plenty plenty more.
Your high school example….which girls are attracted to these muscular partying teen males? The cheerleaders maybe, MAYBE, but this still entertains a mindset of the attractive girls. The geeky gamer girl with a bit of a weight problem is meanwhile being completely ignored by the geek she’s crushing on because he’s too busy raving about how girls don’t want “nice guys”…when it’s really just the hot girls he wants his dick in not reciprocating his attraction. And are mothers the ones telling their kids not to show weakness? If anything, that would be the father, but above all else that’s a blatantly cultural message. It pervades our media and norms. That’s a result of the oppressive patriarchal system the males themselves set up in order to keep themselves at the top.
Speaking of this system, your point on the comment exchange falls short too…that guy has the ability to go on Xbox Live, start voice chat, and not be worried about the repercussions. SIMPLY BECAUSE he is male. Females consistently get bombarded with hate speech, flirtatious messages, lewd pictures, and more once their sex is revealed online, and absolutely none of this is solicited. They don’t have a choice. He’s NOT receiving any kind of abuse. He doesn’t have to walk through life being judged on his appearance by literally everyone, being hit on multiple times a day, being told to smile more, having to worry about being RAPED when he walks down a street at night…and you want these issues to be put on hold so we can include less sexy men in our media? Men don’t need to look good in order to achieve. Women are CONSTANTLY judged on their appearance. I can give you myriads of examples of that.
Yes, the traditional depiction of masculinity is oppressive and inaccurate and encourages men to think they suck at raising kids, can’t connect emotionally, and need power, control, and sexual aggression to be valid. However, it’s much easier for a male to go against that system and receive little flack for it, while for women it pervades every aspect of their lives. If the focus is placed on the much more vastly oppressive factors that are restricting women, then these self-supposed male issues will quickly fall away. I just think it’s more important for girls to not have to worry about being violated than guys to feel upset that Batman doesn’t cry more.
Anime Central (ACen) is around the corner, and so I’ve begun browsing the forums to start planning out my weekend. As I did so, a topic caught my eye entitled, “Nerds and Male Privilege.” It linked to an article on Kotaku entitled the name of the thread, and so I gave it a…