Professors Robert and Julie Voelker-Morris teach a class at the University of Oregon called Art Meets Science: Making Visible the Invisible. They co-wrote a paper about superhero masculinity, “Stuck in tights: mainstream superhero comics’ habitual limitations on social constructions of male superheroes,” which we discuss in this episode:
Mainstream superhero comics, such as Batman, Superman and Spider-Man, rarely ask their predominantly male readers the question: ‘What is our role as men in the everyday world?’ By overlooking this question, such typical superhero comics struggle with exploring the ‘normal, average’ roles of ordinary men: husband, father, son, worker, lover. Rather, superhero comics most often explore men in the public, political realm, creating narratives about the political climate of the times. Such superhero narratives build on literary traditions and exemplify political or world situations rather than personal ones. Stuck in their colourful uniform tights, mainstream male superheroes have little latitude to break from the one-dimensional personal expectations of the public world. This historical precedence and continuing characterization of superheroes is limiting for comic readers of all ages. Removing such essentialist gender criteria offers a liberating effect for superheroes stuck in their quick-change costumes. Social and cultural constructivist theory criteria allow examination of narratives revolving around possible applications of personal elements of these characters’ lives and explore the public centric roles normally associated with male superheroes.
The musical feature for this episode is Imaginary Future.
Julie mentioned The Genderbread Person.