Does female superheros have an empowering influence over women?

Posted on April 17, 2015

Photo: flickr

We see lots of traditional gender stereotypes of powerful, strong and smart superheros in Avengers, The Hulk, X-Men, etc. But are female super-heroines as empowering as those male counterparts? Heroine characters are often hypersexualised with revealing appearances and sex appeal for influence.

Participants were shown scenes from Spider Man film with Mary Jane in distress and vulnerability and being rescued by the a powerful man and some of them were showed super-heroines in sexy outfits with bravery, powerful and heroic displays of behaviour. They were being asked about their views on gender roles and equality, body self-esteem and self-objectification.

The research shows that those who were shown the scenes of the damsel in distress, increase the endorsement of traditional women roles that they should put children before their careers.

While, the video clip on female heroines had an adverse effect on the participants’ body self-esteem instead. It reduces the participants’ self-objectification. This causes the participants to place more importance on their health and competence than looks alone.

There are mixed views of how female super-heroines make women feel. It could be bad if they had impossible bodily ideals which young females wants to strive for. But It helps the female to prioritise their physical health and ability over appearance.

Source material from British Psychological Society

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