SEX Gets People’s Attention

Flipping through your older sibling’s dirty novels to find the steamy sex scenes becomes a much simpler task for a curious tween when their older sibling reads graphic novels. First, you don’t have to bother reading; you can just see what is happening on each page. And second, graphic novels are full of sex. Sex gets people’s attention.


Miss Don't Touch Me, p.39
Miss Don’t Touch Me, p.39

Miss Don’t Touch Me is a graphic novel that most reviewers would agree is very strange. It is an erotic and gory mystery that uses sex to create an uncomfortable and out of place feeling. The main character in Volume 1 is Blanche. Blanche witnesses the murder of her sister and is working undercover to find the killer. Blanche is considered to be a prude, but in order to find her sister’s killer, she is willing to take a job in a brothel. Blanche is employed as a virgin dominatrix. Blanche is in several situations that don’t entirely make sense: a prude in a brothel and a virgin prostitute. Blanche’s character is used to express societal norms about sex and its relation to identity.

One page in particular expresses these ideas with a single scene. Blanche and the other prostitutes are receiving medical exams to check for STIs. The doctors label her as a virgin and a prostitute within the same scene. This raises several questions for society: what counts as a virgin? A prostitute? What happens when our perceptions of ourselves don’t match with what society has labeled us?

At the bottom of the page, Blanche receives a card stating that she is a prostitute. “I’m a prostitute-it’s written on here,” she says, referring to the card she was just issued. She does not consider herself to be a prostitute because she is undercover and a virgin. By her own standards and definition she is not a prostitute. By societal standards however, she is. Her friend who also works in the brothel tells her, “It’s all right, it’s just a piece of paper.” The prostitutes who are considered to be out of the norm have taken on a deconstructive attitude where they take away the meaning of the cards they are issued. The card represents their taboo place in society, but all that is really is is a piece of paper.

Graphic novels, and other more contemporary forms of literature, use sex to create the intriguing and sometimes uncomfortable feeling that keeps readers interested. The graphic novel does this especially well. When reading the standard novel, we can almost choose not to imagine the images being described, but with the graphic novel, the images are blended in with the words. Graphic novels are much more impactful when it comes to sex and violence.






  2 comments for “SEX Gets People’s Attention

  1. jordanriser
    September 8, 2015 at 10:09 pm

    I was really drawn to this post because I don’t think a lot of people would admit or talk about how sex really draws peoples attention. I mean honestly in our world today, sex is mainstream. You seem it everywhere you go whether it is in the classroom reading a novel/text/literature, watching movies, walking past a billboard in the city. I also feel like it is hard to find a middle ground between highlighting to much sexuality and completely ignoring the fact that we live in a world were sexuality is prominent. Either way, a prominent theme in comics and graphic novels is sex, more specifically, violence against the female body or image. With these thoughts in mind, what does this say about our culture? and more importantly the literature and the message it implies? Does this mean that we validate violence? Or does it mean that we are coming into an age that values sexuality more?

  2. knewell2
    September 28, 2015 at 12:21 pm

    Okay, so I have had this article open on my browser for a full week because the second I saw it listed on the main homepage of this blog I knew I wanted to comment! First off, you are so right about sex getting people’s attention and I bet a lot of people wouldn’t be willing to admit that they probably are subconsciously drawn to sexual material in media, comics included. Now whether that is due to the fact sex is still seen as taboo in some circles in our culture could be anyone’s guess, but I definitely think you make a strong argument in your article that sex does indeed get our attention whether we want it to or not. I would be curious to see if there is a correlation between sexual content and views on comics over the years and what other outside factors effect what makes someone decide to start reading a comic. I would also be interested to see whether the majority of sex that is included in graphic novels serves a higher purpose, like exposing the prominence of the “male gaze” in media today, or simply there to get attention.

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