Monash University
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Tights and Tiaras: Female Superheroes and Media Cultures [Introduction]

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journal contribution
posted on 2017-05-22, 06:10 authored by Deb Waterhouse-Watson, Evie KendalEvie Kendal
Until Wonder Woman leapt into comic book stores around the world in 1941, all comic book superheroes were expected to sport bulging biceps and other no less protruding male appendages snug within their spandex unitards. In 2010, the 600th issue of Wonder Woman celebrated the Amazonian superhero’s longevity in print media. To mark the occasion, the issue reinvented the superhero’s iconic costume to make it less revealing, introducing dark trousers and a blue, starred jacket. This shift to more practical, less sexualised wear arguably reflects changing attitudes about gender and the growing female presence in the comics industry. Nevertheless, the change prompted some controversy online amongst fan communities, again highlighting the problematic history of the representation of women as powerful figures.

Thus Tights and Tiaras: Female Superheroes and Media Cultures was born—an interdisciplinary, international conference dedicated to interrogating the representation of powerful female figures in media of all types, from comic books to online gaming and contemporary art, and from superhero staples like Wonder Woman, Buffy, and Xena to genetically modified kindergarteners and supercharged supermums.


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