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Women still secondary characters in comics
A recent paper in presented to the American Sociological Association suggests that female characters in the largest (most read) comic strips in America treat women characters more as props than leading characters. Conclusions in the report are based on studying Blondie, Beetle Bailey, Family Circus, Hagar, Garfield and Dilbert for one full year.
An analysis of six of the most popular nationally syndicated comic strips over the course of a year shows that women appeared less than half the time and when they did the gag was on them, said Daniel Fernandez-Baca, a UF graduate student in sociology. He presented his paper at a meeting of the American Sociological Association this week.
“When they do appear, for the most part, women don’t say anything funny or act humorously, but merely set up the joke and allow men to create the humor,” he said.
Other than being a straight man or foil to the laugh-inspiring male character, women were used mostly to reinforce certain humorous stereotypes, such as the harried or henpecking housewife, Fernandez-Baca said.
The study’s author also reports that accurately depicting female characters in comics is important because it can “can encourage incorrect or misleading perceptions of people” in impressionable children and adolescents who read the comics.