The James Gunn "sex with superheroes" list fall out continues with more interesting and thoughtful commentary from Alyssa Rosenberg at ThinkProgress.* Yeah, I found this doing yet another melancholy Google search for some new Cassandra Cain news, read it and liked what she had to say, plus she also mentions Cass's entry, so I'm linking to it here. I'm pretty sure ol' David Cain taught Cass to kill before she was eight years old, but that aside, I have a question.
The three essays I've linked to here each talk about how it's not the list itself that's wrong, just the asinine commentary. I think the same, but at the same time I can't say I've spent much time pondering which superheroes I'd sleep with. They're not real people, are frequently poorly written and the drawings of them can be grotesque-- hence the term "Escher girl," which is gaining currency-- so I can't really parse the notion of wanting to have sex with a comic book character as anything more than a joke.
Yes, I appreciate good girl art or cheesecake drawings, especially when they're by someone like the late master Dave Stevens or Adam Hughes, and like cute, appealing stuff by Rumiko Takahashi and even Bryan Lee O'Malley, but none of that makes me want to sleep with the characters no matter how awesome or cool or kick-ass they might be in the stories. Years ago, I worked with a guy who made a lot of noise about having a huge thing for Shampoo from Ranma 1/2, but I just shrugged. Good luck with that, man.
The closest I probably came to having these fantasies about any comic book character would have to be when I was around 14 and obsessed with Dani Moonstar from New Mutants. We were the same age, so it seemed a natural fit. A lot of it was tangled up with wanting to be her, but pretty soon I realized that was only slightly less likely than meeting anyone like her in real life and I moved on to crushes on actual people. And from there to real relationships.
I just prefer my fantasy characters hooking up with each other in the stories (if they must) and keeping my reality apart from that. Gunn makes a snide comment on his list about a drawing of Starfire ruining real women for him, and even though I know that's just a joke and not true at all, I'd have to say I feel just the opposite. Real women have ruined funny book characters for me, so I can't really feel sexual attraction to some two dimensional image with a one dimensional personality. Even if the character is richly written and complex, I'm still kind of, "Well, I like reading about her, but she doesn't exist and there are so many fascinating people in the real world for me to meet, so why get hung up on some ink on paper?"
Actually, I don't even have to tell myself that.
For example, I'm a big Cass Cain fan ("Really?!" you say in astonishment), but I've never given even a moment's consideration to sleeping with her. It's just never crossed my mind. I think she's cool, yeah. I've had a few idle wishes that I were here so I could have wild and crazy adventures, but that's it. That she's one of the few female characters not particularly sexualized-- her few desultory experiments with being "sexy" according to the Barbara Gordon model didn't exactly work out for her-- is hardly the point for me. I don't feel any physical attraction to the overtly sexy characters, either. Starfire, She-Hulk, Power Girl, Dark Phoenix, evil Mary Marvel, evil Invisible Woman, Star Sapphire, the Gen13 girls. Nothing.
Don't think I'm saying you can't fantasize about superhero sex while being in a relationship with a real person. You absolutely can. I feel certain doing so is part of a healthy sexual imagination, as opposed to exclusively fantasizing about comic book characters to the exclusion of all other relationships. I don't do it, but lists like this make me curious, as does all the sexy fan fic out there. How many people seriously give thought to what superheroes-- or any fictional characters, for that matter-- they want to have sex with?
I'm guessing I must be the odd person out here, especially within genre fandom, but I'd really like to know.
*It's even on Huffington Post now!