Monday, April 5, 2010

Lois Lane: Feminist Icon

So, I decided to conduct a little experiment today. I would go through all of the covers of Superman's Girlfriend, Lois Lane (1958-1974) available at the Grand Comic Book Database and see how many of them deal with the subject of marriage, whether it be Lois marrying somebody or stewing that Lana or whomever is marrying Superman, and how many deal with, you know, her actual job at the Daily Planet. For the purposes of this highly scientific experiment, I would count any cover with a marriage specific word (such as Mrs., engagement, proposal, etc.) as one for the Marriage column. Contrary-wise, I would not count any cover where she's just standing around at the Daily Planet as one for the Job column, as anyone can stand there apparently; you wouldn't believe how many covers there are where Lana Lang is just hanging out there, but it's at least one.

Anyway, the results were as shocking as they were kind of predictable- out of 137 covers, 42% referenced marriage in some fashion, whereas only 4% showed her doing anything relating to her profession. The only real exception, if you can call it that, is this one right here....

That's right- Lois is trying to use her credentials as a journalist to convince a justice of the peace to marry her to Superman.

I kinda figured that early in the run there would be a lot of marriage covers, but the fact that it continued all the way through 1974, after The Feminine Mystique and everything else, was surprising. I mean, honestly! You'd think that at least someone on the Superman staff would've seen what Denny O'Neill was doing with the rest of the DC Universe at the time and get with the program.

And that doesn't even take into account all the covers where romance in a non-marriage context comes into play. The most disturbing of which is this one here. Yes, that's Lois, who has somehow managed to travel through time and space. And yes, that gentleman suitor is Jor-El, father of Superman. They actually wrote a story where Lois attempts to make time with the father of the guy she'd been trying to jump the bones of for a quarter of a century at that point. That's pretty freaky, even for the company that made one of Supergirl's boyfriends a horse. It's practically a Greek tragedy waiting to happen.

Granted, these stories were written by a bunch of white guys who assumed that's what the targeted female audience wanted. Granted, a big part of the allure of the Superman mythos is the romance between Clark and Lois. But still! Did they not think they could make an interesting cover story that focuses on her job? I mean, she's an investigative journalist who's constantly running afoul of gangsters, robots, supervillains, and God knows what else! But no. No, no, no. Apparently, Lois marrying a death row inmate is more appealing than anything they could come up with.

You know what would fix things for me? Wonder Woman covers! Now that's where DC got it right, because Wonder Woman is always portrayed in a way that is demonstrates strength, initiative, and above all dignity.

Oh, goddamnit.

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