People complain when characters are too sexualized in comics. Some do this complaining justly and others unjustly. When characters become objects or body parts like in porn or advertisements for products then I see reason to be angry. When it comes to risqué outfits that is another breed of topic.
Are there character outfits created with the purpose of the male gaze? Yes, of course there is. Are those characters any less strong or badass because of that? No, I think not. The comics industry has this new scary trend where they are covering up every inch of their female characters so there is no backlash from those crying “sexism” or about inappropriate outfits. This is unhealthy, sexuality should not be shameful or shunned because people do not understand it or fear it. Sexuality can be positive and embraced. One should never deny a person or character their right to express their own individual self-expression through sexuality or otherwise. Characters like Red Sonja, Vampirella, and Purgatori are criticized because of their outfit choices but their appearance is apart of who they are and what makes them iconic characters. They are strong women who do not care what you think and dress how they want because, shocker, they LIKE it! I applaud those companies that choose to stick by their characters and refuse to change apart of them because of those out there who believe women should not be sexual beings with their own autonomy.
Do not get me wrong, I love characters in body suits but only if it is something the character would wear. Could scantily clad women also wear them? Sure, but not in the long run. People might think their outfits are not just too revealing but also unrealistic. To this I laugh because that is part of the appeal. Are these women putting themselves in more danger by being so exposed? Yes, and that is what makes them so badass. Do they ever get injured? Yes, but it is rare because these women know they can hold their own. Plus these women can take a few injuries here and there and still take you down, did I not say they were badass? We are talking about warriors here, not damsels in distress. Take for instance Gamora the Marvel character. Her tag line is that she is the most dangerous woman in the galaxy and she has run around in minimal clothing for most of her comics career. Now she has received the coverage treatment (though it is tasteful) but I do not see anyone covering up her fellow male guardian Drax.
Have you ever thought about how difficult it might be to fight in a full body suit? Yea less armor may be less sensible but it is breezier, not as heavy, and easier to maneuver around especially if you are trained in specific fighting art forms. I have always thought about how Batman’s suit is so unrealistic, no way anyone in real life would wear that heavy suit of armor around and swing around a city.
The Bottom line is that both men AND women should be free to express themselves however they see fit. Comic characters should not have to give up what makes them iconic because people do not understand the difference between sexuality and sexualizing something. You could sexualize ANYTHING, it is all a matter of the person and their perspective. Not everything that you find sexy or sexualized is something that I sexualize. There are predators out there that sexualize inappropriately but that does mean you are like them. Sexuality is a form of expression and everyone should be free to express it however they want to, it is our human right to do so. Calling a character a “slut” is no different than slut shaming a real woman, it is wrong and a hinderance to freedom of expression.
I am a feminist. I went to college and graduated with a Bachelors in Women and Gender Studies. I am aware that my sexuality is not your sexuality. I am also aware of how important sexuality is to someone’s identity. I am not ashamed of anyone expressing themselves. If someone wants to cover themselves up then I say go for it. If someone wants to wear minimal clothing then I say go for it. People will sexualize you whether you wear a body suit or nothing at all, that is the real problem.