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03 July 2007 @ 07:56 am
MILLION MANSTREAM MIDRIFF MADNESS  
BECAUSE FEMALE SUPERHEROES DERIVE THEIR POWERS FROM THEIR EXPOSED WOMBS.



Seriously, the exposed midriff is a purely decorative costume element, like the high heel. It serves no functional purpose; in fact it's impractical in combat situations.  It's only all the more obvious when the females are placed beside their more sensibly-clad male colleagues. So why so many midriffs among superheroines? Because it's fashionable in the real world? Because it's sexy? We're not saying that midriffs are inherently bad. But midriffs DO indicate the inherent difference in the way female and male superheroes are treated- even in so-called "wholesome" children's TV shows. What do midriffs say about the character?

The next time you design a superheroine with a naked belly, first ask yourself why.

















































 
 
 
( 87 comments — Leave a comment )
Ami Angelwingslost_angelwings on July 3rd, 2007 02:50 am (UTC)
Whenever somebody makes the argument that female superheroes have exposed bellies b/c that's what girls are wearing now, I point out that guy heroes aren't wearing baggy pants that hang at their thighs, bling, grills, or giant oversized jerseys. :|

Somehow no teen male fashion trends catch on with the guy heroes, but all the female ones dress "trendy". >.>;;
the Soozfurikku on July 3rd, 2007 02:49 pm (UTC)
Y'know, my biggest problem with that argument is that, no, it's not. At least, not where I am. I've been looking all over the place here. It's late summer, hot as fresh boiled sin, and what I see gals wearing is:

T-shirts
Tank tops
the occasional blouse
various miscellaneous styles of tops

but NO MIDRIFFS.

These guys need to stop living in the last decade, yo.
(no subject) - rebootfromstart on th, 12:00 am (UTC) (Expand)
The Event Horizon of Awful Thingsthetathx1138 on July 3rd, 2007 03:32 am (UTC)
LJ cuts: Not just a good idea, they're the law.

The street clothes look is one thing; yes, it's gleefully using a trend to slide some skin in there, but frankly, at least it's making an ATTEMPT to justify it. Superheroines buy off the rack like everyone else.

The costumes, though...yeah, I see your point. Only Supergirl can get away with it, because, let's face it, it doesn't really matter if a Kryptonian flies around naked. Ma's costume or birthday suit, whatever they chuck at an El is probably just going to bounce off.

Now I kind of want to read a story where Clark gets exposed to Red Kryptonite and it makes him a nudist. That shit would be a riot. The military lays in a full assault to get Supes to at least put on some Jockey's, for Christ's sake!
MANSTREAM COMICS AWARDSmanstreamcomics on July 3rd, 2007 11:17 am (UTC)
About the lj-cut...

I could have placed most of the pictures behind an lj cut, but I wanted to emphasize the sheer number of characters featuring this design. It's an entry that depends on mass. The intent is to boggle you with a giant column of midriffs.

Or it's a lame attempt at Manstream being meta. Call it what you will. Apologies for the long scrolling.
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anderson_t on July 3rd, 2007 03:38 am (UTC)
I don't personally have an issue with exposed midriffs; would I appreciate them more if there was muffin-top, probably--but I like that sort of thing. >.> I guess I don't mind sexy; but I do mind gratuity. It's a fine line, but I can still the line.

As for the first cover, the Amazons Attack #3; I think it's rather dignified, and I quite like the way those two are depicted in it.

MANSTREAM COMICS AWARDSmanstreamcomics on July 3rd, 2007 11:33 pm (UTC)
As for the first cover, the Amazons Attack #3; I think it's rather dignified, and I quite like the way those two are depicted in it.

Which is amazing in itself, as it's hard to look dignified in a bright blue cheerleader outfit and a a big gold breastplate.

Or so my husband said when I tried it.
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Juniper the Gooseman: shoesjdeguzman on July 3rd, 2007 04:36 am (UTC)
But exposed midriffs aren't even fashionable now. If you look at young women's clothes now, you'll find long tank tops and empire-waisted smock tops that hit at the hip or even lower. So that reasoning is right out -- but who expects male comic artists to pay attention to women's fashion anyway, right? They can't even pay attention enough to give them enough room in their abdominal cavities for organs.
enikobelom on July 16th, 2008 11:25 pm (UTC)
Women, I have discovered, tend to pay attention to their own health and the health of other family members, while men busy themselves keeping everything running -- in the garage, in the office and in the house.
Zrath-Smiley: Ghost Riderzrath on July 3rd, 2007 04:39 am (UTC)


Please, for the love of Jack Kirby, LJ-Cut!

Yes, lots of bare midriffs for no reason.
It's trendy, I guess.


Elin: pensivedoronjosama on July 3rd, 2007 07:37 am (UTC)
I agree with the idea of utilizing the handy Livejournal cut tag, because whoa, scrolling of doom.

I think it's actually a little odd to include the Buffy cover in here, because the character often wore midriff-baring tops quite regularly on the show. And considering for the first couple of seasons, Sarah Michelle Gellar had to wear her own clothes because the budget was so pathetic, I guess those scandalous mid-1990's midriff baring tops should be blamed on her? Also, that tank top is pretty strong- there's not even any nipplage.

And I cannot believe you guys are busting on Kim Possible, which is an excellent, empowering cartoon for kid and tween girls featuring nothing but strong, capable female characters.
bellatrys: respectbellatrys on July 3rd, 2007 11:10 am (UTC)
And I cannot believe you guys are busting on Kim Possible, which is an excellent, empowering cartoon for kid and tween girls featuring nothing but strong, capable female characters.

So because something is good in someways, we are prohibited from noticing that it fails in other, stereotypical ways? "Shut up and be grateful for the crumbs the patriarchy throws you," is that it?
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The real Joon: comicsinnerbrat on July 3rd, 2007 07:57 am (UTC)
While I agree with the general point - midriffs are not practical in situations that call for armour unless you're Supergirl - midriff-exposing outfits do have their use in acrobatic, aerobic situations. It's not so much a case of street fashion as gym fashion. They let the skin breathe, help sweat evaporate, and can be generally more comfortable. This is why you'll see so many more exposed midriffs in a gym than on the street.

Doesn't explain why we don't see more male superheroes running around topless, but it you're relying more on speed and acrobatic agility than strength and the ability to withstand damage, I can see why you'd minimise the clothes factor.
bellatrys: radicalbellatrys on July 3rd, 2007 11:08 am (UTC)
The explanation is simple: male privilege.
Doesn't explain why we don't see more male superheroes running around topless, but it you're relying more on speed and acrobatic agility than strength and the ability to withstand damage, I can see why you'd minimise the clothes factor.

Then, again, why so few shirtless superheroes?

The absence of male skin is not an irrelevancy.

Likewise, if you're not made of steel, then you *still* need to wear clothes. No matter how agile you are, you still get major burn when you drop and roll on pavement, to your exposed areas. The girls should be covered with scabs and raw skin during and bewteen fights...
I mean... - bellatrys on th, 12:00 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: I mean... - innerbrat on th, 12:00 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: I mean... - furikku on th, 12:00 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: I mean... - innerbrat on th, 12:00 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: I mean... - thetathx1138 on th, 12:00 am (UTC) (Expand)
bellatrys: radicalbellatrys on July 3rd, 2007 11:11 am (UTC)
Two words: Eye Candy.
...and two more words, "Male privilege", to explain why there's just about no equal-opportunity eye candy...
MANSTREAM COMICS AWARDSmanstreamcomics on July 3rd, 2007 11:49 pm (UTC)
WHY MIDRIFFS?
I have another theory, but it's probably more contentious.

In most superhero or mainstream comics- or action movies- in general, the whole point of design is to 'armor' the male body so that it projects strength and invulnerability. This is already on top pf the physical armor- that is, muscle. Most male action characters, including superheroes, wear thick boots, rugged pants, or full-body spandex suits. Look at Spiderman, Superman- they've got rather thick rubber suits, webbing or capes. Batman has a whole utility belt and car that also function as body armor. You get Rambo, who's shirtless, but he's also got rounds of bullets strapped across his thickly-muscled chest.

By contrast, you get all these females in skin tight shirts and pants. Often these females aren't even all that muscular. I never once believed that Buffy has the muscle mass capable of doing more than the average well-toned high school girl. The graphic presentation of the female body is all about softness, sexiness, and vulnerability. This is where the bare midriff comes in.

The exposed belly is a signal that yes, this female is sexy because she's bearing skin, but she's also vulnerable. Look, she has a soft, round torso! Look, her clothes aren't that strong at all! Look, she may be tough and cool, but she's also a walking womb!

Couple the bare midriff with the exagerrated hip-sway position of most of these characters' postures. They're mostly off-center, a little off balance. Another sign of vulnerability coupled with sexiness.

In depicitons of the male body, sexiness is associated with strength and virility. In females, it's strength tempered with softness and vulnerability.

And for god's sake, look at the Powers cover. See the short-haired blond character in the lower right hand corner. Why does a cop need a bare midriff? Even an undercover policewoman could be fired for coming to work like this. In this case the midriff is actually antithetical to the character, but the damn thing is still there. Why? Why??

Like Enron (and the FBI guys who subsequently investigated Enron) we only ask why.
oh, that's simple - bellatrys on th, 12:00 am (UTC) (Expand)
Virtue and wine: wimmin's libocarina on July 3rd, 2007 01:11 pm (UTC)
I can definitely see some practical uses for un-joined moving around clothes. Flighting crime in onesies pajamas would definitely restrict movement. There's also the question of what some of these superhero costumes are made out of - even if they're breathable magic science material, I can see how gals might like to be a little more natural. Why not wear something like a sports bra and a loose fitting shirt that would keep you drier that something skintight? That's when you get the excuse that loose clothing is a weakness in battle yet somehow ridiculous hair going everywhere is not.
And don't even get into the exposed midriff plus armor on other parts. It really just hurts to try and apply logic to what women wear in comics. They wear tight midriff baring clothes for practical reasons - but they don't take into account practical reasons for footwear and hair and oh, the rest of the outfit.
They wear tight midriff baring clothes for fashionable reasons - but its not fashionable anymore and arguably very little of what superheroes wear was ever fashionable, even during the 80's.
They wear tight midriff baring clothes to distract their opponent - because all villains are heterosexual males with the little known problem of sexual ADD and every man is distracted by any torso?? (This does no favors for men.) (Also, I will now fight crime by throwing porn at criminals.)

Oh, and while I love LJ cuts, my impression scrolling through this was EXPLETIVE THAT'S A LOT OF MIDRIFFS, so I think your point was very, very well made.
tammy212tammy212 on July 3rd, 2007 01:46 pm (UTC)
We is in ur jurnal
showin off our inniez


The long long long scroll makes the point ever so beautifully.

And in all Buffy's and Kim's dumps and rolls on grass, asphalt, stone, woods, concrete, etc., I can't believe their entire midsections aren't masses of cuts and scabs. Okay, Buffy's would heal faster, but they still hurt.

And what keeps the panties up? Spirit gum? I know, I know--"unstable molecules." Feh. That's just lousy science, y'know.

I'll buy Wolvie in hipsliders for a dollar!
Woodrow Jarvis Hillasim on July 3rd, 2007 01:53 pm (UTC)
As a male raqs sharqi ("belly dance") artist, I do see my fair share of midriffs, and have since well before the trend in belly shirts came 'round. I've been told that, in heavy-duty dance environments, it is cooler, but much, much harder to cope with when the body cools down. I can't count the number of dancers I've worked with at outdoor bits who show up in just a choli, and then freeze soon after the performance in over.

But it's a hard call. My dance form, of course, almost requires showing the belly (not because of the misnamed form, but because of societal expectations), so it's hard to judge how much of what I see at seminars is "I'm physically more comfortable/cooler with my belly bare", verses "I'm used to/am expected to bare my belly."

It's clear that midriff-baring tops in these contexts tend to come from a different mental space, though. In dance, it's pretty clear who's wearing such a top for comfort vs. seduction; for example, dancers will wear layers, and the underlayer'll be a choli; the warmer it gets, the more likely they'll wear the choli solo. But too many of these images seem to be the latter, rather than the former, and appear to be worn to just "show off the goods", over "my actions have made me warm, and this garment helps to keep me cool".

Frustrating, to say the least.

MANSTREAM COMICS AWARDSmanstreamcomics on July 4th, 2007 12:10 am (UTC)
Good point. Midriffs do have a place in physical activity. I like your whole point about mental space.
Alainndgmtlcd on July 3rd, 2007 03:11 pm (UTC)
You can be faulted only for missing out a lot of them, or for missing all the ones who have such sheer wet-looking tissue over their midriff that you can see every detail of their belly button.

Don't you think it would be easier to make a list of heroines who don't?

Let, see, there's Alex from Totally Spies, there's Atomic Betty, there's...

OOops, now that I think of it, all those other dames wear impossible stiletto heels.

OK, now let's start over with heroines who don't show their navels (at impossible times) and who don't wear impossibly useless stiletto heels.

Can you find one who's actually in the "mainstream" US comics. (Euro BDs don't count)

All the ones I can think of are in Web comics:

Kimiko Ross in Dresden Codak, Agatha Heterodyne in Girl Genius, Sophie of Novasett island, KTshy and her sister, Jax Epoch, any lady aboard the Galaxion...
MANSTREAM COMICS AWARDSmanstreamcomics on July 4th, 2007 12:00 am (UTC)
Well, Agatha Heterodyne did spend a lot of the first volume walking around in her underwear.

Which doesn't mean that Girl Genius isn't a good story. Just sayn'.
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John R. Plattplattcave on July 3rd, 2007 03:41 pm (UTC)
I think I have more of a problem with the hip-hugging, plunging waistlines. Those pants are so low in most of those pictures they're bound to fall off if the character moves. Oh well, thank god for double-sided tape, right?
MANSTREAM COMICS AWARDSmanstreamcomics on July 3rd, 2007 11:59 pm (UTC)
That's the only I can explain Polaris's outfit in this panel http://pics.livejournal.com/manstreamcomics/pic/0003k909.

Also, what kind of pimpdaddy is Magneto, to be letting his daughter flash the poor Von Dooms like that. Maybe it's a mental destabilizing strategy.
(Anonymous) on July 3rd, 2007 04:01 pm (UTC)
Hi
Hi all!

Looks good! Very useful, good stuff. Good resources here. Thanks much!


G'night


Panya Covin-Gwynn: keiko - poutnaienko on July 3rd, 2007 04:53 pm (UTC)
At the severe risk of being bitchsmacked or conflicting with those who have rightfully pointed out that today's female fashion trends toward long tops, I must also point out that today's female fashion trends toward hip-slung skirts, shorts, and pants. Ladies and gentlemen, what happens when you raise your arms, and you are wearing low-waist lower body gear?

Usually, your midriff shows.

This, however, is no excuse for all the girls in that column wearing skin-tight 'shirts' that cut off just below their breasts. Or worse, all the ones with a cutout strategically placed over their belly button.
MANSTREAM COMICS AWARDSmanstreamcomics on July 3rd, 2007 11:56 pm (UTC)
It's a good point, but two things:

a) most females who wear street clothes aren't entering combat situations (well, not the kind we think of in comic books)

b) And besides, why have bare nmidriffs becomes so popular in contemporary fashion, let alone comic books.

lea_hazel on July 3rd, 2007 05:34 pm (UTC)
To be fair, the X-Factor team wear civilian clothing, not superhero outfits, because they're technically a detective agency. Also, Terry and Monet are wearing normal T-shirts that are just hiked up because of the way Guido is holding them, and only Rahne is wearing a real midriff-baring top.

Still, they're at least five-ten years out of fashion, so that argument is a no-fly, even besides it assuming that women "need" to maintain trendiness more than men do. Kara can get away with it, but WTH is Hawkgirl doing wearing a bra? She'd freeze to death every time she flew higher than a hundred meters above ground.
Dumok The Artistcu_mhorrigan on July 3rd, 2007 05:40 pm (UTC)
dont you know that Hawkgirl's breasts have climate control abilities? they keep her warm when she flies up that high.
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Dumok The Artist: pic#50295837cu_mhorrigan on July 3rd, 2007 05:37 pm (UTC)
Okay number one....LJ-CUT it works wonders and does not clog up the friends list.

numbah 2: While I dont subscribe to the whole "Every female character should wear a Thong and bustier with two foot heels", There are some characters which that look is entirely appropriate like Emma Frost. Let's face it the woman walks around in Dominatrix attire because a) She Can
b) What better way to play mind fuck funny buggers with Men?
c) She Can
d) It pretty much lets a villian know that if she is crazy enough to walk around dressed as a Domina She might have some serious powers to back it up.
e) She Can.

Numbah Three: I promise, that in My webcomics, that I will give equal time to the ladies for their eye candy..that's right Ladies...I am all for equal oppurtunity..and I will give it.(This is My shameless plug sorry had to do it.)

Numbah Four: Why are people still paying for Comics?

That's all I'll say for right now and just wait for the Flames to come wafting in..
Bears and Butterfliesgoldjadeocean on July 3rd, 2007 08:25 pm (UTC)
I'm on dialup and this is not cool. I'm defriending this journal just because I can't have this many images on my friendslist. It makes my browser die.
MANSTREAM COMICS AWARDSmanstreamcomics on July 3rd, 2007 11:52 pm (UTC)
Ohhh, all right!!!


Do you love us now?
((Puppy eyes))
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Melony: weird shitgothwitch on July 3rd, 2007 11:21 pm (UTC)
Show us your deliecious womby center, it shows how...tough and strong you are...yeah, that's it.
The Event Horizon of Awful Thingsthetathx1138 on July 4th, 2007 04:45 am (UTC)
>SNICKER< I need to figure out how to use "delicious womby center" in normal everyday conversation. Kudos!
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MANSTREAM COMICS AWARDS: VAPIDSTAREmanstreamcomics on July 4th, 2007 12:02 am (UTC)
I have another theory, but it's probably more contentious.

In most superhero or mainstream comics- or action movies- in general, the whole point of design is to 'armor' the male body so that it projects strength and invulnerability. This is already on top pf the physical armor- that is, muscle. Most male action characters, including superheroes, wear thick boots, rugged pants, or full-body spandex suits. Look at Spiderman, Superman- they've got rather thick rubber suits, webbing or capes. Batman has a whole utility belt and car that also function as body armor. You get Rambo, who's shirtless, but he's also got rounds of bullets strapped across his thickly-muscled chest.

By contrast, you get all these females in skin tight shirts and pants. Often these females aren't even all that muscular. I never once believed that Buffy has the muscle mass capable of doing more than the average well-toned high school girl. The graphic presentation of the female body is all about softness, sexiness, and vulnerability. This is where the bare midriff comes in.

The exposed belly is a signal that yes, this female is sexy because she's bearing skin, but she's also vulnerable. Look, she has a soft, round torso! Look, her clothes aren't that strong at all! Look, she may be tough and cool, but she's also a walking womb!

Couple the bare midriff with the exagerrated hip-sway position of most of these characters' postures. They're mostly off-center, a little off balance. Another sign of vulnerability coupled with sexiness.

In depicitons of the male body, sexiness is associated with strength and virility. In females, it's strength tempered with softness and vulnerability.

And for god's sake, look at the Powers cover. See the short-haired blond character in the lower right hand corner. Why does a cop need a bare midriff? Even an undercover policewoman could be fired for coming to work like this. In this case the midriff is actually antithetical to the character, but the damn thing is still there. Why? Why??

Like Enron (and the FBI guys who subsequently investigated Enron) we only ask why.
The Event Horizon of Awful Thingsthetathx1138 on July 4th, 2007 04:52 am (UTC)
I think it's even simpler than that, although the cultural stereotypes undeniably play into it.

Most comic writers are guys, so they'd know what they'd want to wear if they were facing the situations they were writing. Women, though...complete loss. I think quite a few writers and artists are just kind of stymied when faced with a female character. Maybe they're married, maybe not, but like most guys in America, they don't generally have a large pool of female friends with which to poll.

So they play, obviously, to what they want to see, but more importantly they stick to what fashion magazines and the like tell them women like to wear.


It doesn't help we're in a country with rigid gender roles, either. The more backwards of this fine country we call America would consider a man in a midriff-baring top gay.
nitf on July 4th, 2007 04:04 am (UTC)
The worst one was the Huntress redesign Jim Lee did for "Batman:Hush". This was for a non-powered woman who fought crime in GOTHAM CITY and had countless lowlifes and lunatics trying to shoot and stab her. This was for a woman who had been stabbed herself in the past. Thankfully this was corrected by Gail Simone and Ed Benes (ED BENES of all people) in BIRDS OF PREY. When ED BENES (whose is still a fine artist) finds your costume design too cheesecakey and impractical...
MANSTREAM COMICS AWARDSmanstreamcomics on July 4th, 2007 06:25 pm (UTC)
Benes more than made up for the spasm of practicality (more likely editorially mandated, not Benes-invented) by cramming BoP full of asses and crotches, making good writing completely unreadable.

Benes. Feh.
MANSTREAM COMICS AWARDSmanstreamcomics on July 4th, 2007 06:36 pm (UTC)
My fellow Manstreamer makes quite a point. That IS an overwhelming amount of middle. We knew there was a lot of it, but was never presented it in such a way as to see how much more pervasive it was than we thought.
We knew there was something bugging us, and that is, as our fellow put it, sort of, that there's an awful lot of soft, sweet vulnerability.

It's funny that the obverse of this belly coin is men who look like they abuse steroids.

We are not averse to belly shirts. They are more comfortable on a hot day. Much more. Some girls could totally carry the look. But the extreme of that, the sport bra-with-sleeves, is just stupid. Even on a character who doesn't need it, it's still about display of flesh.

We have never been bothered by Kim Possible, probably because her look was in style when the character was designed. Also, because she wore pants. Also, because she had armor/snowsuit/wetsuit when called for. Because we never had her flying at us crotch-first, or bending over to show cleavage. (We have been studiously ignoring the weird pointiness of her breasts, and how large and round enemy Bonnie Rottweiler's are.)

In conclusion, this Manstreamer could live out their days and be happy if she never ever again saw a female character blowing gum bubbles.

In another conclusion, some of that art is pretty darn good.
Leia Weathingtonsolmaru on July 5th, 2007 08:52 pm (UTC)
Bahaha! The midriff! There was a solid three years in my teens, like 14-16, that I wore black midriffs constantly. And My mother encoraged it. She thought they were cute. still does...

But I think The miriff is just one of those visual cues that's held over from like a decade ago. We see it and then almost instantly pinpoint the age of a character. It's something that people instantly recognize.

In a few years though, maybe it'll switch to being those godawful little shorts that say "Juicy" on the ass...
(Anonymous) on September 14th, 2007 02:04 pm (UTC)
i yotixon
Hi all!

keep up the good work
(Anonymous) on October 5th, 2007 06:11 pm (UTC)
joputol
Hi

pagine piuttosto informative, piacevoli =)
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