Comic book superheroines are the goddesses of modern times; they are the ideal beautiful, powerful women of America’s collective imagination whom girls have looked up to and emulated for decades. But these iconic examples of womanhood usually lack one of the key elements of humanity that enrich real women’s lives, an element that has been proven to increase women’s autonomy and confidence: female friendships. Wonder Woman may have led armies of female friends in the 1940s when superheroines first appeared in the comics pages, but by the 1950s and ‘60s, female characters confiding in one another and working together in the comics was a rarity. This was in part because of unprecedented institutional discrimination in the comics publishing industry, which specifically discouraged the inclusion of women who challenged traditional institutions and ideas. As a result, female characters were portrayed as either helpless or boy-crazy, and when more than one woman did find themselves in a story together, they hardly ever interacted in the healthy ways that would have brought about friendship and personal growth. The first comics eras largely portrayed female relationships as either jealous rivalries for the affections of men or treacherous covens of witches out to overthrow their male betters. These portrayals have done lasting damage to both female readers and characters in the comics, damage that heroines have only recently begun to heal from and fight against: this time by heading out onto the battlefield together.

Semester/Year of Award

Fall 12-12-2016


Jill Parrott

Mentor Professional Affiliation

English and Theatre

Access Options

Open Access Thesis

Document Type

Bachelor Thesis

Degree Name

Honors Scholars

Degree Level




Department Name when Degree Awarded

English and Theatre