Rubber Spine Syndrome: A message on RSS prevention


I just spent a little while trawling Escher Girls—which is never a great idea unless I’m trying to whip myself into a Righteous Feminist Fury™—and I’m writing this out of genuine worry for the video game/comic book/anime women who seem to be missing a major chunk of their skeleton. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there are a significant number of women walking around without a spine.

Now this is clearly an oversight of epidemic proportions, so here’s my public service announcement:





Call it what you want—Escher Girls, The Brokeback, Rubber Spine, the list goes on—but it’s totally disconcerting that so many artists, working in so many genres, are willing to break any and all rules of proportion and perspective in a ham-fisted attempt at getting both breasts and butts in the shot. Some of these illustrations (and presented below is a tiny random sample) defy everything we know about anatomy, gravity, and bone density.

Now, I would never try to infringe on anyone’s artistic vision, but if you find yourself incapable of drawing women realistically and in ways that don’t reduce them to an awkwardly-assembled collection of sexy parts, I reserve the right to call you out on it. It’s bad art, and I expect better.


I expect Black Widow to know how to take off her shoes properly (in this context “properly” means “in a way that doesn’t give me sympathy hip pain”).


I expect X23 to actually be X23 and not, say, Elastigirl.


I expect racist caricatures with missing left feet not to be running around New York City, posing for invisible cameras. (Seriously, what even is this.)


I expect this illustration to be some sort of terrifying, Exorcist-type rotating torso, not a sexy pinup.


I expect a warrior who presumably battles dragons to have a better way of dealing with hemorrhoids.

These are understandably not genres that hew too closely to realism, but the ways in which the fantasy manifests is deeply misogynistic. There’s no reason for any of these women to be contorted like this. Many of these characters (though I’m admittedly not familiar with all of them) are really fantastic, and deserve better than to be twisted and moulded into grotesque approximations of some arbitrary “sexy” template.

They’re heroes, and it’s not fair to render them literally spineless.

All images from Escher Girls.

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One thought on “Rubber Spine Syndrome: A message on RSS prevention

  1. I totally agree. Not just rubber spines, but static poses when dramatic is being drawn. That pose is only real for a muscle beach steroid usage contest! And the costumes…. the more powerful the female hero or villain the less clothing they have on? Not at all real. Meanwhile, guy heroes are fully decked out in military-like garb? And anatomy? Either inflated top or bottom for women, and for men, hands, and arms so big they’d fall over if they were real.

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