"Not All Supermen" Tim Hanley On Sexism, Comics And Toxic Masculinity

Tim Hanley is a comic book historian and the author of Wonder Woman UnboundInvestigating Lois Lane, The Many Lives of Catwoman. and Betty and Veronica: The Leading Ladies of Riverdale. He contributed the essay "Marston, Wertham, and the Psychological Potential of Comic Books," co-written with Travis Langley, to Wonder Woman Psychology: Lassoing the Truth , and the essay "Archie Andrews' Orwellian Adventure" to 1984 in the 21st Century: An Anthology of Essays. In 2018, he wrote the stats-based analysis "The Evolution of Female Readership: Letter Columns in Superhero Comics" in Gender and the Superhero Narrative and also appeared in the AMC television series Robert Kirkman's Secret History of Comics on "The Truth about Wonder Woman." He has a Master's degree in history from Dalhousie University, writing his honours thesis on DC Comics and the 1950s juvenile delinquency crisis, and his Master's thesis on Wonder Woman and feminism. And for 2022, he has a rather timely new book, titled Not All Supermen: Sexism, Toxic Masculinity, and the Complex History of Superheroes.

An eye-opening exploration of the toxic masculinity and sexism that pervades the superhero genre. Superheroes have been exciting and inspirational cultural icons for decades, dating back to the debut of Superman in the 1930s. The earliest tales have been held up as cornerstones of the genre, looked upon with nostalgic reverence. However, enshrining these tales also enshrines many outdated values that have allowed sexist gender dynamics to thrive. In Not All Supermen: Sexism, Toxic Masculinity, and the Complex History of Superheroes, Tim Hanley examines how anger, aggression, and violence became the norm in superhero comics, paired with a disdain for women that the industry has yet to fully move beyond. The sporadic addition of new female heroes over the years proved largely ineffective, the characters often underused and objectified. Hanley also reveals how the genre's sexism has had real-world implications, with many creators being outed as sexual harassers and bigots, while intolerant fan movements are awash with misogynistic hate speech. Superheroes can be a force for good, representing truth, justice, and courage, but the industry is laden with excessive baggage. The future of the genre depends on what elements of its past are celebrated and what is left behind. Not All Supermen unravels this complex history and shows how superheroes can become more relevant and inspiring for everyone.

"Not All Supermen" Tim Hanley On Sexism, Comics And Toxic Masculinity
Superman screencap

Not All Supermen: Sexism, Toxic Masculinity, and the Complex History of Superheroes will be published on the 15th of July, 2022.

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About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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