butno (must_go_faster) wrote in ohnotheydidnt,
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ohnotheydidnt

Tropes vs. Women: #2 Women in Refrigerators

This is the second of a six part series created for Bitch Magazine.
(if you care, #1 was the Manic Pixie Dream Girl)

Women in Refrigerators is a trope identified by comic book fan (and now comic book writer) Gail Simone because she was sick of seeing "superheroines who have been either depowered, raped, or cut up and stuck in the refrigerator."



video source + my writeup



  • 1994 issue of Green Lantern, #54: protagonist finds that his girlfriend has been brutally murdered and stuffed into a fridge

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic

  • Simone created a long list of over 90 comics that featured female superheroes, who suffered a loss of superpowers, brutal violation or an untimely, gruesome death, most often as a plot point for the male hero to seek revenge or further his heroic journey.

  • WiR is one way of making sense of the incredibly complex comicbook world by pulling out overarching patterns of the way women are treated in comicbooks.

  • Simone received backlash from outraged fans who thought it was unfair to single out female characters because male characters get killed and tortured, too.

  • She responded by saying: "First, there's (always been) a larger selection of male characters, so a handful killed made barely a ripple. Second, they didn't seem to be killed in the same way - they tended to die heroically, to go down fighting.
    Whereas in many cases, the superladies were simply found on the kitchen table already carved up."

  • Also in response to the criticism, the people who run the WiR website created another trope called Dead Men Defrosting. "In cases where male heroes have been altered or appear to die they usually come back even better than before, either power-wise or in terms of character development/relevancy to the reader." - John Bartol

  • The writers of these comics treat similar narrative situations very differently based on the character's gender and it seems to be faring much worse for the women.
    Examplified: Barbara Gordon's permanent paralysis after a gunshot through the spine vs Batman's full recovery after having his back broken by Bane.

  • WiR can be applied across other popculture mediums such as video games, tv shows (well deserved Lost and Heroes shoutouts) and movies.

  • Writers are using the WiR trope to literally trade a female character's life for the benefit of a male character's story arc.

  • The WiR list was created for us to identify, understand and resist the variety of ways that women and our fictional representations are disempowered and victimized.

  • It's not that women can't die in comicbooks, but it matters how and why they die.




ugly bolding for the tl;dr crowd tbh, brought to you by Nolan & his bff
Tags: batman, comic books, computer / video games, film, heroes (nbc), lost (abc), sexism, spider-man, television
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