Can We Bare It or Bear It: The Breasts of Superheroines

So, I’ve never been much of a superhero comics reader. I was an Archie, Betty, and Veronica kind of girl for a good many years, but I only ever owned two or three superhero comics. The most memorable of these featured a Huntress short in the back. I read that one over and over again.

Also, there was this:

Probably 1982 or 1983...5 or 6 years old. Dude.

< /addendum >

Over the last year or so, Josh, comics aficionado extraordinaire, has done his deadlevel best to further my superhero education. Mostly, this occurs through my listening to his conversations with his son and watching said son imitate whichever superhero is on his childlike plate for the day.

Usually, Josh’s kiddo gives me new insights into Spider-Man. But Josh also introduced me to All-Star Superman and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, so I’m getting quite the smorgasbord.

This morning, Josh texted me a link to this blogpost by one Dave Dorman (which, since the writing of this post, Mr. Dorman has deleted). In his article, Mr. Dorman expresses his disapproval of a new comic called Saga, allegedly being marketed to kids.

Mr. Dorman finds Saga offensive because of this:

I know nothing about Mr. Dorman except what he says in his blogpost and in comments on that particular post: He is a father; he himself draws curvaceous superheroines; he advocates breastfeeding; and he finds Saga to be offensive simply because it’s being marketed to children.

According to several comments on his blogpost, it’s possible he posted before researching, as several people opine that Saga isn’t being marketed to children at all, and its creator intended it for an adult audience.

As of this writing, my own comment on Mr. Dorman’s post is awaiting moderation. In the meantime, here are my thoughts on the matter:

On one hand: Superhero comics marketed to kids, in which women are drawn scantily clad or in suits so skintight, every outline of every boob and butt curve is visible. These women are unmistakably meant to arouse sexual attraction. Repeat: marketed to kids.

On the other hand: A superhero comic marketed to kids (?), in which a partially bare breast is drawn to illustrate breastfeeding. Hardly any curve is visible at all.

If one disapproves of the barely-there curve of a bare, breast-feeding breast, it would be hypocritical to approve of the sexy superheroines who keep their shirts on. In superheroines marketed to children, the only difference between the bare breast and the clothed breast is the color of the ink.

I’ll also take this moment to state that I’m continually perplexed and annoyed by the apparently general North American aversion to bare breasts during public breast-feeding. Yes, I do realize I’m coming from a cultural background (German) in which public breast-feeding is considered normal and acceptable; a German would be horrified at the idea of asking a breast-feeding mother to “cover up” or leave a public area.

But this pervasive, North American distaste for public breastfeeding irritates me. To tell a breast-feeding mom to cover up or go away is to express that the breast’s primary function is sexual, which is not the case at all. Yeah, we all know guys like ’em — but they don’t exist primarily for guys’ enjoyment. Breasts exist primarily for feeding babies. And I’m saying this as a woman who has never had children.

A bare, breast-feeding breast shouldn’t be any more “offensive” or arousing than a bare arm. Or a bare hand, if you’re from a culture that considers bare arms a sexy taboo.

For another take on this, do pop on over to read Josh’s thoughts on this. I quite appreciate both his analysis of the situation and respectful but still in-your-face way in which he chooses to present it.


Weigh in, y’all. I know you’ve got something to say about all of this; just please keep it courteous and respectful of one another! : )

10 thoughts on “Can We Bare It or Bear It: The Breasts of Superheroines

  1. […] I accidentally incensed Courtney Cantrell by forwarding this story on to her and here's what came out. Filed under: Uncategorized Leave a comment Comments (0) Trackbacks (0) ( subscribe to […]

  2. M.K. Hajdin says:

    Unfortunately, women’s breasts are not simply body parts, like elbows or nostrils. In a world free of gender oppression they would be. But we don’t live in that world.

    In this world, women are the sex class, their bodies are endlessly pornified, and even if there were some neutral way of portraying them, they will be interpreted as sexual by viewers.

    The only cure for this is to eliminate the patriarchy.

  3. Patricia says:

    I don’t consider breast-showing ‘offensive’, I consider it immodest. I don’t want to see anyone’s breasts, no matter what the cause, because they are a sexually arousing part of the body and should therefore be covered. Same for rear ends, I might note, and their ‘primary purpose’ is not sexual, either.

  4. Joshua Unruh says:

    First of all, I miss Underoos. That pic is FIERCE!

    I don’t know how to respond to these comments. Eliminating the patriarchy and a basic function of motherhood being immodest are beyond my ability to deal with in a reasonable manner this morning.

    Let’s instead say I would appreciate some media attention to the breasts that MIGHT mean my son won’t giggle like an idiot when he’s in Jr. High and sees a woman breast feeding at the mall. I cannot and will not abdicate my responsibility in turning him into a non-jerk, but it would be nice to get the help.

  5. I agree with Joshua above. I would love to see more items marketed toward children that show/endorse breastfeeding. I’ve been made uncomfortable for breastfeeding in public on multiple occasions, and I’d like for my child to see the world as a place where mothers can use their breasts for their intended functions without it being a big deal. You might be interested in the time I was pressured by a diner’s short order cook because I was breastfeeding while eating, even though I was covered with a nursing cape.

  6. b says:

    Yes, I do! In the state of Oregon breast feeding is encouraged BUT in most public places there is a room giving the mother some privacy. Now, I ask you, in this day and are where the breasts are exposed at every turn should a mother have to go in a closet to breast feed?

    A little discretion goes a long way. If women take some care to maintain some modesty who could possibly object. I found the picture above very tasteful. Don’t you think that censors “protest to much” and actually are attracted to and …..well you know where I am going with this. Children would not think a thing about the picture if the adults around them weren’t teaching them to be “peeping toms”.

    There you have it…my opinion!

    Just a thought.


  7. Breastfeeding is just as natural for humans as it is for other mammals, anything is cultural bullshit getting in the way.

    Hot buxom sexy women in comics is also cultural bullshit. Cultural bullshit I can’t help but like. Oh well.

    To talk about something as being “marketed to children” is a red herring. It doesn’t matter to whom it’s being marketed because kids will always be curious about stuff that’s not meant for them.

    Whatever you see in something is what you bring to it. The more loudly you proclaim it’s external and objective, the less I’ll believe it.

  8. Everyone: I’m late in replying to your wonderful comments, and I apologize for that. The irony is that since the penning of this post, I have been most exhaustedly and nauseatedly pregnant — and, perhaps not unexpectedly, my feelings about breastfeeding and such have intensified quite a bit in the meantime! ; )

    At this point, I’ve decided to go against my own comments policy and not respond to each of your comments individually. I wanted this post to inform and challenge, and it has done so; I don’t think my further expressing my opinion would add to the discussion. I appreciate all of you for sharing your thoughts, and I especially appreciate the respect everyone showed in commenting on this potentially inflammatory topic.

    You guys rock. : )

  9. […] 2. Can We Bare It or Bare It: The Breasts of Superheroines […]

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