I think it is time to accept the bitter truth. Archie comics, everyone, a comic book, which has played a salient role in our childhood years is full of sexist and racist features which went unnoticed by us in our tender ages. Archie comics were a delightful read when I was young but it never occurred to me or my friends, how seriously offensive it really was. The fact is that the discrimination is portrayed so lightly and the sexism is so hidden behind the pleasant world of Riverdale, that it is almost impossible to point it out.
1) Women as sex objects- this is the most existent kind of discrimination present in the comic book. Every story, as I reread them now has some dialogue by Archie which is extremely hurtful to womankind. How he gets attracted to their oh-so-perfect bodies and becomes satisfied only after the completion of his secret wishes really seem to affect me.
2) Whatever the guys want, they get- ALL the boys, each and every one of them have random wishes all the time and get this, they all come true! Now that may mean dismissing the wishes of the women, but hey, that’s what the women are there for!
3) Checking out every new ‘hot’ girl that gets introduced to a particular story- every exchange student, every new freshman, every cousin is so amazingly flattering to the boys of their high school, that its just overwhelming. For that particular period, they become the object of attraction. After a while though, its back to Betty or Veronica or Midge- acting out their roles of a perfect docile and subdued permanent girlfriend after the disappearance of the new additional girls.
4) Every girl is perfect- how is this even possible? They have the perfect figure, dreamy eyes, and same height. In fact, the only place where they differ is their hair colour. Other than the token girl, big-Ethel, nobody is imperfect. She is of course tall, unattractive and lanky who hopes for a perfect looking boyfriend but never ever gets one. The only black girl in the school surprisingly dates the only black boy in the high school, who is coincidentally unbelievably excellent in sports.
5) Rich means spoilt- Veronica is the epitome of the spoilt brat that there could ever be. She is pretty, has a perfect figure, intelligent and loves shopping, yet she comes back to Archie every single time. Betty on the other hand is sweet, tidy pretty (as usual), and self- sufficient. She also comes back to Archie every time, even after numerous break-ups.
6) The girls have no self-respect- is it just me or do you wish Betty or Veronica take a firm stand against Archie and give their self-respect a chance? Even uncountable rejection by Archie also never makes them think about their actual place in his life. They are always there to answer to Archie’s back and call.
7) The two girls fight all the time over Archie- what makes Archie so special that it makes the best of friends fight all the time over a red-head freckled boy who remembers them only when he needs them?
8) Reveals a lot about the author’s perception of women- when we see the girls fighting every moment of their lives, talking behind each-others’ backs but pretending to be close friends in front of everyone, it makes us question the author’s idea of a woman’s character. She is always competitive-even with her best friend, she is manipulative, and she is selfish and has no self-respect.
9) It is a perfect world where there is no one who wants to stand up against women and other issues. There are apparently no social problems like under-age drinking, rape and no teenage problems.
10) Interested only about appearance- well, the girls seem to find it extremely untiring to talk about boys and clothes all the time. Everything that goes on around them has no significance whatsoever and they are only interested to look decked-up for their Archie.
These comics- although appearing to be delightful and harmless- leave an impression on a child’s mind. For example, a boy growing up would be tempted to have numerous girlfriends and might even end up having no respect for women at all. But since Archie does it and people have accepted it, they think that it is okay. Also, young girls would dream for that perfect figure and become convinced of their dutiful role in a male- dominated society. That is not preferable at all. The times that we live are extremely painful and hard and these comics are far away from reality. The times are worsening day by day and believe it or not, however insignificant you might think these comics are, they have a profound impact on the youth. It is something to think about- how such a comic which was our companion for years could turn out to be far more negative as the ages go by.