The portrayal of women in comic books has always been somewhat of a hot button issue. In the past year or so, the subject has come under heightened scrutiny with DC's controversial decisions regarding their most popular female heroines. Whether it was the drastic over-sexualization and simplification of Catwoman and Starfire, the drastic body image change in Amanda Waller, or making Barbara Gordon able-bodied again, DC's treatment of women was definitely one of the more discussed issues concerning their “New 52” line of comics.
One aspect of the controversy I find interesting is the portrayal of women in adverse situations and how they're resolved and handled. Prolific comic author Gail Simone penned the term “Women In Refrigerators (WIR)”, noting that many positive female role models in comic books have been “killed, raped, depowered, crippled, turned evil, maimed, tortured, contracted a disease or had other life-derailing tragedies befall [them]”. This unfortunate trend is not only applicable to comic books, as the developers of the upcoming Tomb Raider reboot were recently put under scrutiny for their “excessive” abuse of heroine Lara Croft in the game, culminating in a near sexual assault situation, the issue being that the character seemed to have to go through an objectifying sexual situation to have major character development. This trend is almost unheard of for male characters in any genre.
How much is too much? Do women get treated any more harshly than men in comic books? Where should the line be drawn where a female heroine facing adversity or violence be tipped over to what some might consider “torture porn” or the “Women In Refrigerators” syndrome? Personally, I consider the situation with Barbara Gordon to be a positive example of women and adversity done right in comics, where the character had a long-lasting disability and (as it's commonly believed) came out a stronger character in the end. However, many times female characters seem to be physically, psychologically, and sexually abused for little reason beyond entertainment value, resulting in little positive character progression and unfortunate implications about the industry as a whole.
I realize this is a sensitive subject for many people, and have tried my best to approach it in a mature and un-biased way. Because of my efforts, please try to do the same in this thread. Please, above anything else, respect everyone's opinion and let everyone have their word in.