Gender and superheroes

My Open University mate Helen Owton and I just got together to write a piece about gender and superheroes in the run up to the new Batman v. Superman movie (with huge thanks to Joseph de Lappe for his expert input)…

Why is Wonder Woman only playing a secondary role in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice?  This article looks at the role of gender in superhero films. 

The new Batman v Superman film, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, is coming out on 25th March 2016 so we thought this would be a good chance to reflect on superhero movies: particularly the place of gender in them.

 

We’re particularly interested in the role of binaries and hierarchies in these kinds of films. Batman v Superman pitches two well-known superheroes against each other in a binary way, and – of course – the superhero genre as a whole is based on the linked binaries of hero v villain, good v bad, and right v wrong, with the former winning out in the end. More recent versions of superhero movies trouble these simple distinctions somewhat. For example, The Dark Knight version of Batman is less clear cut, and the two groups of X-men can be seen as more about assimilationism v radical approaches to activism. However, audiences may well not pick up on such nuances.

An additional binary and hierarchical consideration in Superhero movies is needed. Characters are male or female, with predominantly male characters, and masculinity is privileged over femininity in various ways.

Currently, we are living through a golden age of comics, with a vibrant independent comic and graphic novel scene which includes strong representations of womenExternal link  and LGBT+External link  characters, much of which has been taken up by mainstream superhero comicsExternal link  too. Nonetheless, there is a serious disparity between this shift in comics, and the continued limited representation in the movies which are based on these comics.

Read more…

Embrace your inner mutant superpower

This might seem a bit of a departure from the usual stuff that I write about here, but stay with me and hopefully you’ll see the connections. It’s also the first thing I’ve written towards one of my long term projects, Everyday Horrors. This aims to bring together two popular genres of book which not many people have previously thought to combine: spooky story collection and self-help guide.

First I need to come out. Coming out is something I’ve done perhaps more than most people do in one lifetime. However this time it’s a bit different. After much reflection I need to let you know that I am a shape-shifter. Transmogrifier, lycanthrope, trickster, chameleon: call it what you will. I have the mutant superpower of magically transforming to fit my surroundings.

In the rest of this post I’ll use my own example to illustrate how you might come to identify, explore, and embrace your own inner mutant superpower.

Read more of this post

Update: New books!

I haven’t posted on here for over a month. Part of the reason is that I was hit with a big illness in February which took several weeks to recover from. But a happier reason is that all of my writing time has gone into working on two exciting new book projects.

Back when I wrote Rewriting the Rules I struggled to find a non-academic publisher to publish it because all my previous books had been with academic publishers. Fortunately Routledge picked it up. They publish mostly academic books but also some books for a more general audience.

After that I was keen to move into working with more specifically non-academic publishers. I was surprised and delighted when, this year, two opportunities came up at once.

First, I was asked to write a self-help style book with Jacqui Gabb based on the Enduring Love? project which I had been involved with as a public engagement advisor throughout. Vermilion publishers (part of Penguin Random House) took it up, and I’ve just finished the first draft.

EnduringLove

Then I received an email from Icon books asking if I’d be interested in writing one of their introductory comic-based books on Queer Theory. I’m a huge fan of those books already because I love the use of comics to communicate ideas and experiences. In fact I’ve just finished a wonderful project with Asylum magazine with Joseph De Lappe and Caroline Walters where we’ve collected together comics about mental health from multiple perspectives. The special issues and features based on that project will come out over the course of 2015.

With the Icon book I’m really excited to try to get key ideas from queer theory across in an accessible way, particularly drawing out what I see as some of the most useful concepts for everyday life.

QueerTheory

So it has been a very exciting time for me. I’ll be updating you more on both projects in future. They should both be out in early 2016.

Sex blogging superhero!

I’m stoked that I was voted in the top 100 sex blogger superheroes this year by the kinkly website. So great to hear that people are enjoying my posts on sex and sexuality (as well as all the other things I blog about on here!)

Superhero

 

Thanks to everyone who voted for me, and to all of you who read my blog. It feels so great to be able to put these ideas out and know that they connect with people.

I haven’t been blogging much this past few weeks due to work deadlines, but I’ve been using the chance to post up some of the interviews I did over the summer so there’s not been a gap. I’m mulling over some more blog posts to come soon though. I’m still thinking about consent (what actually happens when we bring ideas of sexual consent into other aspects of relationships?) and BDSM (with the upcoming 50 shades movie what advice would be useful to people wanting to bring kink into their sex lives?)

Also I’ve been working on a great project with a couple of friends for Asylum magazine. The whole of next year we are contributing features to the magazine about mental health and comics. We put out a call for submissions and were completely overwhelmed by the response: loads of fabulous comics, and writing about how people had found comics helpful in thinking about their own experiences, as well as reflections on specific comics. It has inspired me to start making more comics myself (something I haven’t done for a few years), so I might well be sharing some of those here as well.