Not that anyone cares what I draw


Hey Mom, I wanted to ask you about something.

Oh, hello, dear.

So, you know I'm not sexist, right?

Do I?

Don't you?

What's this about?

Well... recently, I've been trying to draw more, and I've been doing these kind of pin-up style drawings where I take photos of women I know so that I can use the pictures as reference for pencil drawings...

Image: sexyism_reference

... and then sometimes I colour it on the computer and make her into a kind of action hero...

Image: sexyism_agent_abigail

This sounds like a long conversation. I was just about to watch Project Runway ...

... and, well, recently I've been reading a lot about how women are depicted in the media, especially in comic books , and there's a lot of criticism about a lot of sexist trends... and, I don't know, it's kind of got me thinking about it.

I guess I can record the show for later...

I feel a bit caught between the fact that I don't want to be sexist or anything, and I'm all for women being equal in society in every way, and I don't want to make any statements against that with what I draw...

Which button is it again... Oh, maybe this one...?

... but... well... I still want to draw hot chicks.



No, I... never mind... Look, what's the problem? Draw whatever you like.

Sure, yeah... it's not like I'm a famous artist or anyone really gives a crap what I draw, but, these are drawings I show to people sometimes, usually in a context of just showing people that I can draw.

Image: sexyism_my_pinups

More than that, though, I guess I have aspirations of one day, in some way or another, drawing for something more than just practise. Maybe I'll draw a full on comic or something. And in that context, I don't want to be inadvertently drawing women in a sexist way or anything. But...

You want to draw attractive women.

Yeah. So, is that being sexist?

Could be.

That's a rel... wait, what?

The devil would be in the details, but if you're drawing women only for their quality of being sexually attractive, then there's a good chance you're falling into the same pattern of depiction that constitutes sexism in the broader popular culture.

But, I'm not just drawing them being sexy, like, just as sex objects. Obviously sexiness is a part of it, but I think of it more as drawing a character who is also sexy. They're action heroes, women who do stuff. They're not just showing off their body.

Image: sexyism_diana

That doesn't really save it. The question is, if you want to draw a woman who is a super hero, why does she have to also be sexy in order to merit you drawing her?

Because I like looking at hot chicks.


Totally. I don't know if this is a part of me that can be reconfigured in any way. I like looking at beautiful women, and I think that comes from a part of me that is kind of fundamental to being me, to being male. A heterosexual male, anyway.

Oh please... biological determinism?

No... I mean, more like... I just mean I don't think it's a bad thing to be a guy who likes looking at babes...


... it doesn't really matter why... biologically determined or not, socially developed or not, it feels pretty natural that I'll have a type of woman that I find attractive, and want to indulge in that. I don't really feel the need to justify that beautiful women is an area of interest to me. What I can't get past is, why is it that me drawing a woman in a way that shows her as sexy has to be connected with sexism?

I don't know if it is automatically connected. Is it?

Maybe? I'm not sure, but it seems some people are saying it's wrong. Like, sometimes on the 'net you'll come across these drawings where artists try and reverse things by taking male superheroes and sexualizing their depiction the way that's done all the time with female superheroes.

Image: sexyism_superman

The idea, if I get it, is to highlight how sexual objectification is bad by saying, " see how you like it ".

Image: sexyism_starfire

But my reaction is, "cool, whatever floats your boat." Like, go ahead, draw it or look at it or jerk off to it if that's what you dig. An up close picture of Green Lantern's ass isn't for me...

Image: sexyism_gl

...and so what if it isn't? I just assume it's for a different market. If someone wanted to make a comic like that for women or gay dudes or whoever, then more power to 'em.

You do understand that you're in a privileged position, though, right? You can contextualize and separate out an image of a sexualized man into a broader context of men depicted in a wide variety of archetypes because all those archetypes exist for you to select from. You can say, "this sexualized Superman is not for me, so I'll just put this comic down and go read one of those thousands of other comics that show men how I'm comfortable seeing them." For women, it's not as easy for them to just turn the page and find a different depiction that they might like. You think "meh, whatever," when you see those drawings because they're trying to say, "Imagine a world in which all male super heroes were only drawn this way," but it's hard to make the mental leap and really feel what it's like to live in that world. They can only show you a very small, and thus largely unimpactful, window into that world.

So the problem is just a lack of variety?

As far as trying to educate you about what it's like for female fans of comic books, it's a lot harder to draw what an absence of choice would look like for you. The point, though, is, would you still read Batman or Spider-Man comics if you had to read them in spite of them being always shown to you as sex objects marketed to someone else?

Image: sexyism_spiderman_beach

That's where women are. There are women fans of comic who probably enjoy the female heroes they read about for their character and their adventures. But they pretty much always have to do so while allowing for the way they're drawn to always be for someone else. I'm sure there are even some women who like the sexual depictions, who find the sexuality something they can relate to or at least enjoy.

Image: sexyism_cosplay

But even still, that doesn't change the fact that it's pretty much the only choice offered. As opposed to depictions of what it means to be male, which has almost infinite variety. Women are largely faced with the choice of how to orient themselves around a single archetype, the sexy bombshell. They can either enjoy it, tolerate it, or leave.

Sure, okay, I can see that, and that does kind of suck for women. But, is that my problem to solve? It's not like me drawing a woman in the way that I want is stopping other people from doing other stuff. Like, there's this totally awesome comic called Atomic Robo ...

Image: sexyism_atomic_robo

... and they've made it part of their mission statement to not have any gratuitous depictions of sexualized female characters. And I think that's cool. I get they're still in the minority, but isn't it just that they've just made one artistic choice and I've made another? I mean, if I put my art out there somewhere, does that impact what they do?

Your drawing doesn't stop others from having creative freedom. But that's not what you were asking. You were asking if your drawing is sexist.

But I thought we got to a point where it was only sexist because it might contribute to crowding out alternative depictions. If other depictions exist, then can't I just do my own thing?

You can always do your own thing if you want, but you're asking about the possible impact you make in the world. Your depiction of women falls into a paradigm that's pervasive, and an argument could be made that a thousand voices shouting one singular message can drown out any one voice trying to be different. But that's more an issue of market forces than of principle. The question here is what your drawing says about your perception of women. It's whether or not there are alternatives in your universe.

But I want my universe to have hot action hero babes...


... and lots of 'em! The more the better.

Yes, I get that dear. But, let me try and come at this from another angle. Do you have female friends that you don't want to sleep with, but you still like their company, and respect them for qualities they have, completely separate from their looks and sexuality?

Yeah, sure. Lots. I would even go so far as to say that I think this is part of why I feel like my drawings, or maybe anyone's, shouldn't be a place where an assessment of sexism is made. In the real world I just treat people like people, and in my comic world is a separate fantasy reality.

I think what we're talking about, though, is if someone who doesn't know you personally looks at your drawing, and so they don't have that context of what you do in your daily life. The issue you're expressing concern about is whether or not your drawing is sexist, not you. Or maybe that might someone think you're sexist because of your drawing.

Oh... yeah, okay.

So, now imagine you have a party, and you invite all your friends, male and female, and a whole bunch of other people come too. Among the new people you haven't met yet are a few women who you find attractive. You might go up and flirt with them.


The question is, in that situation, would you completely ignore all the other women, all your friends and the other women you don't want to flirt with? Take it to the extreme... let's say you're flirting with one of these attractive women, and another woman comes up and joins the conversation. Would you bluntly tell this other woman to just get lost?

No, that would be a dick thing to do.

So why not?

Um... Actually, I have to admit, when I was in my late teens, and up to my mid twenties, I kind of did that sort of thing. Not ever quite that bluntly or even consciously, but I would get agitated by the presence, male or female, of anyone who I felt was obstructing my pursuit of a woman I was interested in. Like, if I was hitting on a woman, and somebody came up and was just being normal and making conversation, inside I'd be thinking, "hey, fuck off will ya? I'm trying to get this girl's number!" I was so hopped up on the tension of pursuing a woman, that I couldn't handle anything I perceived as an interruption.

I hope you're not still like that.

I don't think so. I think it was another form of insecurity. I was so worried about things going wrong, that if anything came along that made me even less in control of the situation, it was a form of panic. Now... I don't know, but I feel more confident now so I'm not rattled by stuff like that.

So you've developed better tactics, but the other woman who joins the conversation is merely an environmental condition that impacts your success with the woman you want to sleep with?

Whoah.... wait, hold up... that makes me sound like way more of a dick than I intended.

Don't blame me if you discover something about yourself that you don't like.

No, that's not what... no, look... this is getting out of hand. I'm trying to say I'm no longer so one dimensional. I'm happy to meet all sorts of people, men and women, who are cool and it's not just about sex all the time.

Well, it's good to know you've matured into a human. Or close enough. But anyway, for the sake of argument, imagine that this imaginary party you're at is thrown by that twenty-something version of yourself. That party is the universe you create with your drawings. Your fictional universe is even more extreme, though. Not only have you shunned the women you don't find attractive, you've blipped them entirely out of existence. Your deletion of them was so complete, they never even existed there. Your attitude to those women was so foundational that you never even pondered the question of whether or not to include them.


You see what I'm getting at? In the party of your fictional universe, you never even considered inviting the kind of women who are your friends in real life. As a result, the women who fall outside of your paradigm of what is attractive, the ones in real life, could very well look at your drawing and think, "there's no place for me here. I guess this guy can't be bothered with me." Knowing that about you, or at least getting that impression from your drawing, they don't want to be at your party.

So my drawings might convey a sort of exclusivity by omission?

Maybe. It translates to women looking at your drawing and possibly thinking that the guy who drew it only cares to have any interaction with women so long as it's sexual in nature, and their qualities as people is not so important. In other words, as sex objects.

But it seems like that whole line of reasoning is based on making assumptions about what I don't say in a drawing. Like, if I draw a sexy woman, then because I haven't said enough about other qualities, then somehow it gets assumed that I have no respect for any other qualities. Why can't it be assumed that I just haven't said those things? Like, if I drew a picture of a cat playing with string, I don't think people would jump to the conclusion that I automatically have no respect for cats in real life that do useful things, like chase mice.

They might if you built a career on drawing cats, and every single drawing you ever made of cats was playing with string, and never catching with mice. But I think that comparison is a bit too sterile, because there's no social context in which pictures of cats really matters to anyone. The depiction of women in the media is something that matters more. For a closer comparison, consider other groups of people. What would you think of someone who said, "I'm not racist, I have lots of friends from all over the world, but when I draw a picture, I just never include any people of colour in it. I just much prefer looking at white people."

I see the point your making, though I'm not sure that's exactly the same type of thing.

Why not?

I don't know... it's just that it feels like racism comes with an undercurrent of hostility. Like, if a guy said, "Oh, I just happen to only like drawing white people," you can't help but feel that they're just trying to deny the fact that they hate other races. But, while I can see that focusing on women that men find sexually attractive leaves other women out in the cold, I have a hard time equating that with any sense of guys actively hating other women. Apathy I can believe, but not hatred. I don't know, there are probably some dudes out there who would surprise me with how big an asshole they could be about it, but for me, anyway, I don't feel any kind of negative feelings towards women I don't want to draw. It's just that art is a visual medium, and I want to draw pictures that I want to look at, which includes people I want to look at.

There are gradients of sexism, just like there are gradients of everything. So I don't think anyone is accusing you of being against women, the same way a Nazi is against other races. However, just because a person isn't proactively keeping a group down doesn't mean they aren't playing along with the norms that contribute to some kind of oppression. By presenting women in the way you like, which happens to be in line with the way that the groups that hold power in society also like, you're contributing to a general presence of sexism in our society.

Well that's what I'm trying to avoid. But, I still don't see how me doing my thing is making a contribution to that problem.

It's like having a city where all the bars and clubs don't allow women in except as exotic dancers. They're all private businesses and can legally and maybe even ethically do as they please, and each one can say they're only doing what they want to do, and that they don't mean to stop women from having a good time at any other club. But since there are no other types of club, there's nowhere for women to go. So, if you're going to open up another club, and it's just like the others, are you not actively contributing to the status quo?

If the world was that stark then it'd be pretty obvious. If there is only one type of club, and if I open the same type, then I'm definitely just perpetuating the norm. But, I think the real world is a little more nuanced. There are, using your analogy, other alternative clubs for women to go to, so if I open an exotic dance club that's like the majority, yeah, I could see that it's not really helping to progress anything, but is it part of the oppression? I mean, it doesn't reverse the efforts of those other clubs.

It doesn't reverse the efforts of other clubs, but I think the point is to consider what the landscape is like for the women in that situation. What if a bar opened for women, and it was a jazz club, but you were a woman who liked country music? Even though the situation has improved slightly, a woman could still find herself with zero satisfying options. If a second bar opened, and it only played hip-hop, as a woman into country music, she's still out of luck. So even though there are alternative options to your men's club with exotic dancers, that doesn't necessarily mean there's a balance that offsets you. Sexism is a gradient, and each participant pushes the gradient in one way or another, and your own influence on that gradient can be identified for the contribution it makes.

That seems to suggest to me that the issue is the quality and variety of everyone's contribution, which kind of gets circular for me. It brings me back to either not drawing hot women so as not to contribute to the saturation of how women are depicted, or drawing something other than hot women in order to bolster the side of more fair depictions. Neither of these ideas get me to where I want to go, though.

Which is...?

Drawing hot chicks...


... but, doing so in a way that doesn't... I don't know... accidentally oppress anyone. I mean, I think there's gotta be room in the world for men to look at women they find attractive, to make drawing of them and stuff, and also for women to have equality in society and be able to become scientists, or athletes, or politicians, or whatever they want to do. Like, I don't think the fact that I drew a picture of a woman that has an element of sexuality in it necessarily means that I wouldn't vote for a female politician who was capable of doing the job.

I don't think anyone would be justified in saying that there is anything wrong with sexuality itself, or either gender finding the other, or the same gender, attractive, or expressing that attraction in a myriad of ways. But, still, I think you're conflating the issue by mixing in your personal politics that can only be known by hearing you express it, and what is conveyed if someone who didn't know you saw one of your drawings. You just can't expect people to give you the benefit of the doubt when they see your drawing, knowing nothing else about you, and expecting they'll assume that you are capable of seeing women in other ways. You can't expect people to know anything about you that you're not expressing.

Yeah, okay, I wouldn't expect anyone to look at a pin-up I drew and think, "this dude must be a feminist all the way." I guess I don't get why anyone has to make any assumptions at all. Images of attractive women are a staple of art since the dawn of culture. As far as I know, no one is bitching about Botticelli's Birth of Venus being a sexist depiction.

Image: sexyism_venus

There's even some technical issues with the painting, like for example that she's completely off balance, leaning to one side beyond her centre of balance, which I kind of take to mean that Botticelli was kind of shitty at some fundamentals of drawing. However, these days, if an artist draws a woman in a pose that's unrealistic, people don't assume that the artist is just not that good, the assumption is that the artist is so sexist he's ready to break a woman's spine to get her to show her tits and ass at the same time .

I don't think Renaissance paintings are above criticism for the way women are portrayed , but we probably don't want to discuss all of art history. I think you can recognize that there's a world of difference between drawing a woman's nose in slightly the wrong way and posing her with her spine twisted around so far that both her butt and her breasts are both facing the same way in order to not risk missing out on any of her sexual potential.

Yeah, I guess, but it still seems like there would be a lot of borderline cases.

Sure, and I think that's always going to be true in any discussion society has about art forms.

So why can't the default assumption be that maybe the artist just isn't that good at drawing, and not that they were following sexist conventions?

In this particular context it's because there are so many depictions of women where the goal is to sexualize them and it's successfully accomplished within reasonable limits of proportion and position, even taking into account that comic characters tend to be exaggerated and idealized humans. That sets a certain standard by which similar art will be judged. I mean, if we see a thousand images of women where they are presented in a sexual way...

Image: sexyism_good_spine

... and then the thousand and first image shows a woman doing that same thing, but to a degree where a human spine couldn't move that way...

Image: sexyism_bad_spine

...then I think it's reasonable to suspect that the failure occurred as a result trying to achieve the sexuality of the previous thousand anatomically believable pictures.

I guess. In any case, I think that's an issue I can avoid. Regardless of any other consideration, I try not to contort figures past believable limits, just to not suck as an artist.

Image: sexyism_spine

That's nice. More to the point, though, I think that issue of contortion and proportion is also a symptom of inconsistency in how male and female characters are presented. In the same comics where women are put into spine breaking poses to show off all their sexuality, how many men are similarly contorted?

I don't know about spine breaking, but guys are also drawn in some pretty weird ways sometimes. Crazy unbelievable muscles and stuff.

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But are those exaggerations all geared toward sexualizing those men, or do they span a variety of different archetypes of men?

Honestly, I don't know the degree to which men could be considered sexualized or not. I mean, male characters are routinely depicted with idealized forms and perfect physiques and all that, but almost all the time it's a power fantasy for men...

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... and maybe within there sometimes it might be sexualized in some way that might appeal to a female, or gay, or whatever audience that digs looking at dudes in a more sexual way...

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...and maybe other archetypes as well. But I find it hard to tell, in that I think it seems more obvious when a woman is being sexualized, because guys tend to respond to the same kinds of things. I barely understand what women find "sexy" in a man, in real life or fiction, so I'm not sure I can identify it.

You think men might be being presented more sexually more often than you are aware of?

No, not so much. I'm pretty sure that, like, when a woman's chest is emphasized it's sexual...

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... and when a man's chest is emphasized, it's a male power fantasy.

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One is for looking at and one is for identifying with. I just don't know where exactly all the lines are drawn, and it gets confusing which is what sometimes. Like, recently there was this blowback against Marvel Comics for a drawing of Spider-Woman that was drawn in what most people would agree is an obviously sexual way, with her ass up in the air.

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But, there's a similar picture of Spider-Man with his ass up in the air, but not only is nobody complaining that Spider-Man is being sexualized, no one even seemed to notice or think that it was anything other than just another picture of Spider-Man. It went by completely without anyone remarking on it until comparisons with the Spider-woman cover became a thing.

Image: sexyism_spiderman01

I don't think I've ever seen this Spider-Woman character, but I know enough about Spider-Man to know that he's been around for decades in countless depictions and contexts, to the point where I wouldn't doubt that the occasional picture that might have elements that could be interpreted as sexual, intentional or not, would be mere drops in an ocean. This Spider-Woman character, though... I'm guessing like most female super heroes, she is constantly sexualized.

Um... yeah... actually, one of her powers is to beguile men... She's not only depicted as sexy the same way most female heroes are, she's sort of supposed to be especially sexy within that universe as well.

Image: sexyism_spiderwoman

So the comparison to Spider-Man isn't really that meaningful. We know who he is, and even if someone were to come along and draw an overtly sexual drawing of Spider-Man, which I'm sure must exist to some degree...

Image: sexyism_spiderman_erotica would be seen as maybe a fetishization or an exploration of a different dimension to a multidimensional character. When you take a frequently sexualized character, and then throw one more sexualized image onto the pile, well... actually, what I'm wondering is, why did people complain about this one particular image when I'm guessing this Spider-Woman is probably routinely depicted in seductive poses that emphasize her body and sexuality?

Good question. I don't really know, but I guess if I were to think about it now, one issue is that the artist they got made his career on straight up pornographic comics...

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... and even if you didn't know that, just in his style, it's pretty overtly sexual. I guess enough so that people felt that some line was crossed.

Maybe. My guess would be that even though comic characters are granted a lot of suspension of disbelief for the degree to which characters are put in action poses that are contrived to show off their body, there is still a point at which a consistency with in-universe rationale gets lost.

Uh... what?

One of the hallmarks of sexual objectification is that creators focus so hard on a woman's sexuality that other considerations fall by the wayside. I don't read Spider-woman comics, so it's hard for me to use her as a point of reference, but I do read fantasy fiction novels, so let me go with that. On the covers of a lot of them, you often get pictures of women just in skimpy bikini armour holding a sword.

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Just from that bare minimum of information alone, we know two things about the fantasy world this image comes from. One is that women warriors dress without much protection, and the other is that people in this world fight with swords. That's all we know, nothing else, and yet already these two facts are conflicting, since it's too much suspension of disbelief to think this woman could survive too long when in all of human history, any warrior that had to go into any significant battle with swords wore corresponding amounts of armour. The artist is telling us that even though the terms of living in this world make the kind of armour she is wearing a silly choice, she's going to do it anyway, because he wouldn't have her in that world if she didn't prioritize her sexuality over her safety.

Why is that the go-to assumption, though? You're basically talking about Red Sonja...

I'm talking about Red Who-ja?

Image: sexyism_redsonja01

She's a barbarian character from the pulp era that was made famous in a comic called Conan the Barbarian . She's always depicted wearing a chain mail bikini.

Image: sexyism_5sonja

But what I always thought was the justification for her, and characters like her, showing so much skin is that she is supposed to be so wicked at killing dudes that she doesn't need all that extra armour. Just slows her down. But, more importantly, in terms of how naked she is, she's not any different from the character Conan, who always just wears a loincloth, has got all the rippling muscles, and is also running around killing dudes in massive battles with a sword and no armour.

Image: sexyism_conan_covers

So, how come if Conan wears practically nothing to a battle, that's just his style, but if Red Sonja does it, she's the product of a sexist culture?

Because of what we talked about earlier about the abundance of alternate depictions. You can name Conan as one example of a man who likes to wear Speedos to a sword fight, but that one image exists within countless depictions of men who fight in full body armour. On the same fantasy fiction novels I read, when it's a male on the cover, more often than not they're head to toe in metal.

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How many images of sword wielding women that wear sensible armour can you think of right now?

Well, there's... uh... That one woman in Game of Thrones maybe...

Image: sexyism_gotarmour

Right... not so many. Whoever originally made Conan and Red Sara can claim some degree of balance in that they have at least some men and women following the same internal logic of how that fantasy world works in terms of fighting and protection. But, when a poster of Red Suzie goes out into the wild on its own, separate from that context, and some woman walking down the street happens across it in the window of a comic book store, you can't blame her for thinking "typical". It falls right into the pattern repeated over and over again. The same pattern you're worried your drawings will get lumped in with.

But is the artist responsible for the woman walking down the street? Like, she's not part of the consumers he made his stories for, so does he have to write and draw in such a way as to make this random outside person comfortable with the world he made?

No, he's not responsible, but he also can't deny that her response is a valid and rational reaction. If ten guys walk in a room and ask a woman to put on a bikini, by the time the tenth guy gets there, she might be tired of it. It may be the case that the first nine guys wanted her to dress sexier, and the tenth guy innocently just wanted to invite her swimming. In that circumstance, she might snap at the tenth guy who had innocent motivations, and that's unfortunate for everyone involved. But, for him to regard her as being irrational because she is responding to the overall pattern of her experience and not to his specific individual situation is to deny how humans work. If he were in an equally similar situation where people kept asking him to, I don't know, say, fix their computer because they were too lazy to do it themselves, and then the tenth person who asked for his help genuinely has a problem, he's probably going to complain at that tenth person how everyone takes him for granted instead of doing their own work.

Okay, so maybe that woman who stumbles across a Red Sonja poster out of context has fair enough reason to assume it's just one more example to add to the pile of sexist depictions she sees all the time. But, aren't you also saying that if she looked into it, and saw that the guys who create Conan also depict the male characters in a similar way, then maybe she'd see that Red Sonja was being portrayed the same way as the men, and so it might not be sexist?

Sort of. It wouldn't work if Red Shannon were the only woman of significance in the story. If it were the case that the only woman was this one bombshell, then it wouldn't provide enough balance just to have this one other male character, Conan, with an equivalent depiction. If she was the only female character, you'd still just be saying a woman can only be in this world if her sexuality is on display. But, if there were multiple female archetypes , roughly equal to the number of male archetypes, then it would make sense that this one female hero character was given all the attributes that the male hero had. In those circumstances it would be easier to believe that skimpy attire was the domain of an occupation, not a gender. With a variety of men and women archetypes, then we can see that being powerful, strong, and scantily clad comes with being a barbarian hero, and Red Sandra's sexiness ensues as a result, not a cause.

So it's about consistency...?

Consistency certainly helps. One of the routes to sexism is when an artist just defaults to depicting a woman in a sexualized way without it being a conscious contribution to the way in which that female character exists within a story. Like how on television you'll see women who are cops but wear high heels that no one in that job would ever wear.

Image: sexyism_cop_heels

By taking sexiness to be a default, that conveys the assumption that women are, or should be, like that in real life.

Huh. So, in a sense, the more that I convey the deliberation to depict sexiness, the less it risks sexism?

That's a bit over simplified, but you're more on the right track that way. That a universe you create is, at least in part, for the purpose of depicting a heightened sexuality, a form of pornography if you will, and then you place a woman in it is a little better than just having an action-adventure kind of universe, and the women in it are all depicted sexually for no other reason than the fact that they are women.

I guess that makes sense. Though I'm a little weirded out by the idea that I'm making a form of porn...

At least pornography acknowledges why the women in it are depicted the way they are. In the real world, and in the better fictional universes, women have an infinite variety of possible characteristics. Being sexy is one of them. When building a female character, that you decide to include sexiness as one of her characteristics is an important distinction from just assuming sexiness is one of the qualities that defines a woman. You don't just have sexiness because you have a woman, you have a woman, and then she can be sexy. If you want. Which, clearly, you do. It's up to you to convey that this is a choice, and not an expectation.

Is there a way to do that within the confines of just a pin-up, though?

Up until the point you start drawing more people and contexts from your fictional universes, I don't think here's any way in which you can completely guarantee that no one could interpret your drawing as falling into stereotypical sexist conventions. With your pin-up drawings, we know how you see women that you find attractive. How you see other women, and men, is a question left unanswered. If you don't answer the question yourself, then you leave yourself open for the possibility of other people answering the question for you. Whether it's fair or not, some of those people might answer by saying that your omission is, in of itself, a statement.

Huh. Well... I guess that's fair enough. I mean, I can live with the idea that it's a perception that only survives as an inverse to the degree that I create more complete universes.

Are we done here? Can I go watch Project Runway now?

Oh, was I interrupting something?