Deadpool is an amazing character. Mr. Wilson has become synonymous with kooky, reference-laden hilarity that pokes fun at everything, including itself. The constant fourth wall breaks, self-deprecating humor, and over-the-top action turned Deadpool from what could’ve been a generic wisecracking asshole to a truly well-rounded, three-dimensional, unhinged psychopath. Yet, Deadpool and his books are unfortunately full of misogyny. Deadpool mostly uses it in jest, but misogynistic behavior is still harmful and perpetuates sexist ideas.

I want to state, as the author of this piece, I write it out of love. Deadpool is my favorite comic book character. The Merc with the Mouth shares my sense of humor, my constant love of fourth wall breaks, and obscure references only true geeks will get. Therefore, I’ll do my best to document the misogyny in Deadpool and hope this helps in the future of his comics.

Lady Deadpool and Misogyny

First and foremost, I want to discuss the most iconic lady known to Deadpool fans: Lady Deadpool. Wanda Wilson, from Earth-3010, is supposed to simply be Deadpool in female form. In most respects, she is. She’s just as crude, rude, and lewd as Deadpool-616. Wanda fights just as well as Deadpool-616. She shoots guns with equal skill. Her healing factor works just like those of other Deadpools across the multiverse. She is, in short, a really fun character 90% of the time.

READ: Interested in more about the role of gender in comics? Look no further than ComicsVerse’s take on Wonder Woman as a feminist!

Yet, Ms. Wilson’s brain seems to differ from those of the other Deadpools in DEADPOOL CORPS. Lady D’s behavior seems to be more clichéd. Clichéd in the way of misogyny. For instance, one time when she got angry at Deadpool, she pointed a gun at him and demanded that he compliment her hair. In another instance, when on an alien space station, Lady D demanded to go shopping. Deadpool-616 even insists she runs away from a fight and back to their ship, leaving him solo. God, could that be any more demeaning?

The Sexy Lamp Test

Yet, the most egregious offense against Lady D’s dignity and worth as a character is the writers’ decision in DEADPOOL CORPS #5 to magically heal all her scars. Under her mask, she’s turned into a stereotypical blond bombshell. So, for cheap laughs, they let her fail the sexy lamp test. The sexy lamp test is quite simple: if you can replace a female character with a sexy lamp, then you’re guilty of misogyny. Most times when authors fail this test, it’s unintentional. Our society is filled with both overt and subtle misogyny and sexism, so it’s hard for even self-aware feminists of either sex to completely unlearn a lifetime’s worth of regressive gender stereotyping and constant subliminal signs of the patriarchy.

In Lady D’s case, however, the authors purposefully make her attractive. When she has to sneak into a bar full of aliens, her “disguise” is that of a blonde Slave Leia. She’s scantily clad, no weapons in sight, and looks like she came straight out of a teenage boy’s fantasy. Even if the gag might be funny, misogyny is still misogyny. I have provided a visual guide below to the sexy lamp test. Without her mask and scantily clad, Lady Deadpool fails the sexy lamp test badly.

READ: Interested in strong female characters in comics? Good! Here’s ComicsVerse’s list of five underrated DC Female Characters!

Deadpool & Misogyny

Domino

Anyone familiar with Deadpool knows Domino, the mutant with the power to alter probability so things “fall into place” — hence her name. She’s a fellow merc who’s the on-again, off-again lover of Cable. She also bumps into Deadpool a bunch. Although in all other respects a quality, three-dimensional character, Domino is also guilty of being written in a sexist manner. Not only is she often scantily clad, but her main role in the latter part of the CABLE & DEADPOOL run is as Cable’s girlfriend.

Sure, she’s an exciting and well-rounded character. Like Lady Deadpool, there’s a good argument for her being a strong female protagonist. Nevertheless, it seems whenever she’s in a Deadpool book, she inevitably becomes more of an object than a person — an object that Deadpool ogles and makes funny faces at. Another example of misogyny-laced humor at a well-rounded character’s expense.

A perfect example of comic book sexism is Domino’s oversized breasts, which sexualize her.

Sexist Humor

Deadpool is super guilty of sexist humor. Hell, a running joke in his video game has him looking for his biggest fan — a large-chested twenty-something girl. While these types of jokes are often fun, they’re still harmful to women in the real world. This may sound like common sense, but it needs to be said more: women are more than just breasts, behinds, and curves. Like men, they’re people with complex thoughts, emotions, goals, aspirations, and everything else homo sapiens have. Women aren’t toys for men to play with.

CABLE & DEADPOOL #37
Bosom jokes can be funny, but they’re also misogynistic.

READ: Interested in learning more about accidental misogyny in pop culture? Then take a look at this article on PACIFIC RIM and unintentional sexism!

In comics, this should be especially true. With so many powerful women such as Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel, one would think men in a superhero universe would be more respectful of the abilities that women and girls possess. Yet, this isn’t so. No matter how many times Ms. Marvel saves Jersey City, she’ll still be looked upon as “other.” She’ll be criticized by conservative thinkers for not being curvaceous and blond like Carol Danvers. Kamala won’t be praised for being true to herself and her culture by not being skimpily dressed.

How Can We Fix This?

This article isn’t just about the problem of misogyny with Deadpool. It’s also a helpful guide for improving future portrayals of fan favorites such as Lady D and Domino, or any female character in general. Since comics are a visual medium, we need to improve the way women are drawn. Women have different size busts. Therefore, not every heroine has to have breasts the size of watermelons. Varying the cup size is a small start.

In addition to varying the bosom size and toning down their sexualization in general, female heroes’ costumes should look more practical. The most important change would be no more heels. Fighting in heels isn’t only impractical but it’s one of the least believable aspects of any fictional character. That’s saying something when characters interact every day with aliens, meet alternate versions of themselves, and travel through time. Plus, body armor is a good thing. If you don’t want an armored look for your female heroes, then that’s okay. Just maybe make the clothes look more realistic and less form-fitting.

READ: Interested in women in comics? ComicsVerse interviewed famed comics artist Emma Ríos!

Fixing the Way Women Act is Just as Important as Changing How They Look

In order to stop the objectification of women, doing more than just changing their appearance is paramount. After all, what’s a character without action? How can you tell a story with a character who doesn’t speak, fight, or really do anything? In essence, many women in comics don’t do anything significant — hence the sexy lamp test. It’s an easy fix, however. Simply stop thinking of characters as female, and just think of them as human. As a writer, I can testify that it’s really easy to forget the gender of characters and just write them as people. Another way to combat misogyny is to seek out prominent examples of good practices. Therefore, look no further than the comics of MS. MARVEL and SPIDER-GWEN. These two series aren’t only some of the most popular titles Marvel’s producing, but they portray their female protagonists as three-dimensional people.

MS. MARVEL #3 & SPIDER-GWEN #6
Kamala Khan and Gwen Stacy are both well-written strong female protagonists.

I love Deadpool, and so do millions of other people. He’s such a zany character and pokes fun at everything, from geek tropes to comic book deaths to you name it. Yet, writers often portray Deadpool and his world in a very misogynistic way. Sexism, both purposeful and unintentional, runs rampant. Nevertheless, Deadpool can redeem himself, and his issues can go from fabulous to truly epic. Just add in some strong female protagonists, reform Lady Deadpool and Domino, and you’ll have a truly unstoppable formula.

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One Comment

  1. Robert

    August 23, 2017 at 3:15 pm

    Feminism is cancer.
    Sex-negative feminism doubly so.

    Reply

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