Before I begin, I will not state my professor’s name due to privacy. Their doctorate is in Education and does active research (and teaches about) multicultural education, (anti-)racism, social justice, and sexism to name a few. The professor has even helped co-author and edit a few college level text books. The basic view my professor had of Starfire is that she is by no means a strong woman but a negative portrayal. So lets take another look at Starfire’s portrayal in the comic Red Hood and the Outlaws.
Her Appearance: If you somehow have not seen the pictures of this new version of Starfire, take a look at the image above and below for when she’s not dressed in one of those two ways she’s naked (granted only for a moment). Not once does she wear modest clothing. There are two main thoughts I hear in regards to this that I’ll address.
- She’s always open with her body: Okay, this is technically a moot point as I think most their race barely wears more than what we’d consider underwear and her race overall isn’t that modest when it comes to their body. But most readers – especially new ones – won’t know that and just see her as a female. If she was a human character, then this would matter as a negative outlook. She fights in something that no male would (unless forced to). In fact if we did suddenly have a male character frequently in comics who only ran around in a banana hammock then majority of males would be disgusted by it.
- She’s constantly posing/arching her back: Even when she first appears (after destroying a bunch of tanks) she is posing like you’d expect a model to do, not someone who is in the middle of a battle. Back is arched causing her chest to stick out one way and ass the other. About half her appearances in fact she’s posing in some way that can be considered sexual. See that last word in the previous sentence? Yes, sexual. Sexual is not an empowering trait for women. Just imagine what people think when a woman poses sexually in public. Negative terms come to mind like slut, skank, whore, etc. I’d be shocked to hear people state something like “Well that’s a powerful woman!” Same actually fits in regards to dress.
Her actions and words:
- What she says: After reading this my professor had said no where does anything Starfire says comes off as her being a strong or powerful woman; doesn’t talk with leadership or authority. After she first appears she goes right to asking Jason what to do. The only hint we get of her talking possibly with authority is when she’s trying to get sex, and where is the empowerment to women in that (I’ll get to that soon)? Later on after being quizzed by Roy on Titan members she jumps right to asking him for sex. Maybe in Tamaranean culture in this relaunch this is perfectly fine, but that mostly would be a cop out answer to this argument. How does most cultures view women who constantly go for sex? Like earlier, very negatively: slut, skank, whore, etc. Again it would be very hard to find someone call a woman who sleeps around a lot as anything close to being strong.
- Her actions: So what does she do in this issue? She destroys a bunch of tanks (off panel), poses a bunch (already addressed) and has sex with Roy (not to mention it is strongly suggested she is sleeping with Jason). Okay, so this one is mainly looking at that sex part. Sure sex is seen a lot of times as empowering for guys to do, but we should all know that is a double standard. When a woman goes around sleeping with a lot of guys she is seen (again) as a skank, slut, whore, and other derogatory things and is once again not empowering to woman by any means.
This is a double standard! For those who have defended Starfire’s portrayal in here, well that seems to be brought up. Usually in regards to her sleeping around with various guys for when someone like James Bond did it in the old films, it was cool for Bond and made him looked up to by men all around the world. But as my professor had basically stated: this does not matter. That is for yes, it is a double standard but that doesn’t change the fact that such actions done by a woman comes off as negatively. For things to be fair, all sexes (male, female, transgender) needs to be viewed equally by the same standard.
Deconstructing Starfire – So I’m editing this in nearly a month after I wrote this, but just found this nicely written view of Starfire in issue 1 by Lunar Archivist.