Hey, Everyone — Stop Taking This Picture! (No, I Mean It.)

So, the most recently released image of Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises kind of got me worked up. The moment I saw it I think I said something to the nature of, “If I have to see one more woman posed with her behind in my general direction, looking smouldering-ly over her shoulder, I’m going to punch someone in the face. And you two [my Tor.com officemates] should be worried, since you’re the closest people at hand.” My co-workers generally prefer a non-violent environment, so I decided to work through this the only way I know how: with lots of photographic evidence.

It’s not that we all haven’t noted how prevalent titilation is where women in the media are concerned, but this pose in particular is everywhere. And why should that be?

Well, it typically does a good job of showing off all of a lady’s assets for one. And I’m sure if an actress isn’t quite so curvy, showing off her posterior (wow, how many synonyms for “butt” will I have to use in this?) sounds like a good way of ramping up sex appeal. It’s also a pose that tells you, in no uncertain terms, “I’m here for you to objectify me. It’s okay, you don’t have to feel bad about it.”

Now, there is no problem with women being sexual, of course. But when you begin to see certain trends over and over, it’s not hard to figure out who is the benefactor of the imagery. Also important to note, this doesn’t happen to men with anywhere near the same frequency.

And it happens all the time. Observe:

The latest offender in the long line. Does anyone believe she has any experience firing a gun when she’s got her heel popped like that? She’d fall over from the kickback. And that’s ignoring the heels altogether (which you have to do in these situations).


Interestingly enough, after general derision across the internet for this poster (well, this one too), most of the new Avengers images featuring Black Widow look a little tougher. Maybe they noticed?


From what I’ve been able to find, this is the first promo shot of Gwen Cooper where she has ever been posed this way. The interesting part? It’s for Torchwood: Miracle Day, just last summer. Meaning this is specifically American marketing at work here. Great job, Starz.

But this isn’t a new trend, my friends, oh my goodness, no. For more proof, scroll on down.


You know what, I loved X-Men: First Class, but Angel had to have been the most poorly-executed, infuriating character in it. (Which is unfortunate, seeing as she’s the only woman of color in the film.) Her whole “I have a back tattoo that turns into wings, so I need to be partly naked in order to release them” was pretty sketchy to begin with, and then they took this promo shot on top of it, as though the tattoo-wings justify the pose.


Speaking of justifying: this was the most prominent frame of Megan Fox in the Transformer’s trailer at the time of its release. But it’s completely legit, you guys! She has to be in that position to fix this motorcycle. It’s more comfortable that way. And the camera would only fit here to shoot her from this angle — it’s a crowded cycle yard.


Oh, look. I’m shocked this was in the promo stills for Tomb Raider. Shocked. And then I look at her posture and my knees start hurting (also my lower back).


This one isn’t even lit properly for Aeon Flux’s purposes. Is she practicing yoga?


We don’t even see her whole face. Oh, but she’s got two guns. I get it. That makes it okay, of course. And to think, Sarah Connor was actually better about their portrayal of women in most cases….


Well, it’s not as though I expected much from this movie in the marketing aspect (or any other aspect). But this one gets special points for having some sort of essential strap following the curve of her derriere. Nice.


Noteworthy — this is Elektra’s poster for Daredevil. But the posters for Elektra itself didn’t cop to this. Wonder what the thinking was behind the change up? (It unfortunately didn’t help the movie’s content or box office pull, and no Marvel or DC ladies have helmed their own movies since.)


One more time, Jennifer Garner! Aren’t you tired of seeing the picture above? (This one is special — she actually has to grab her butt to make sure you’re paying attention. Thanks, there.)


Amy Pond doesn’t quite pass muster here either. She’s not aiming for the sexy pose on this one, but it’s sort of silly that the first New Series companion wearing a short skirt gets her caboose showcased in the initial promo poster.


Even Joss Whedon’s women don’t escape this entirely. It’s not intentionally provocative (Zoe is thankfully standing like a real person with a spine), but it’s still that pose.


And again. (Though there are worse posters featuring Echo. You know the one.)


Wait, Padme’s here? Ugh. I quit. I freaking quit. And she’s all beat up from that arena (to strategically show off her midriff) too. Gross.


Oh, no. Not you. Uhura, not you too. (Why is she holding her arms that way? Is she practicing ballet positions?)


Wait a minute… here’s an example of the exact opposite at work. I know, I know. The horror of Bella Swan. But problems with Twilight aside, she’s not doing the pose. In fact, she’s not doing much of anything besides standing there looking pissed off.

Could it be because the movie in question isn’t marketed toward men? I’m thinking… yes.


Then again… I would like to point out that I googled “urban fantasy cover” and this was the second image to come up. The first didn’t even have the woman’s face. Slightly more perplexing in that woman are the primary readers of urban fantasy. Is this a wish fulfillment thing? Because it’s not fulfilling any particular wish I have.

There’s only one solution, since I don’t see Hollywood backing off this model any time soon: I want equal billing for male backsides.


Cowboys & Aliens did us the favor in their teaser poster (they don’t bother showing Daniel Craig’s face either), but I think this is perhaps my favorite example amongst the slim pickings for guys in the dreaded pose:


Yeah, Riddick. You’re looking fine. Show off those goggles, baby. And those… curvy blade things.

Emily Asher-Perrin has that Cowboys & Aliens poster directly to her left. She never stares at it. You can bug her on Twitter and read more of her work here and elsewhere.


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