Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters

Wonder Woman's Lasso: Understanding Gender and Sexuality Through Comic Books

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Naveen Jonathan


To understand how gender and sexuality are portrayed in comics, an extremely understudied medium, we analyzed comic books (n = 100) and graphic novels (n = 5), looking for ways gender and sexuality were displayed and discussed. Preliminary results indicate femininity is commonly portrayed as submissive, less capable, highly sexualized and stigmatized for being this way, and were often relegated to a secondary role. Masculinity is portrayed as highly sexual, strong, aggressive, intelligent, and dispassionate. Race appeared to have a moderating effect on how gender was portrayed, with greater exotification of women of color, and more acts of unnecessary violence by men of color. Existing literature indicating that comics, used in therapy, can be a helpful way to explore identity. These current findings support previous research, and would provide an additional understanding of gender and sexuality in an area predominately focused on race and ethnicity (Gavigan, 2012).


Presented at the Fall 2014 Undergraduate Student Research Day at Chapman University.

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