The term Women In Refrigerators has been part of the critical vocabulary of pop culture for nearly two decades now, but if you're not too familiar with comic book discourse, you'd be forgiven for having never heard of it until recently. Thanks to two of the biggest superhero movie releases of 2018, Avengers: Infinity War and Deadpool 2, using the troublesome trope to hang key plot points on, the term has reentered our conversations about comic book-related media.
Accordingly, this is the perfect time for a little Fridging 101, exploring the term's origin, development and impact. (It's a cold and bloody job, but somebody's got to do it...)
The name Women In Refrigerators, usually shortened to just fridging or fridged, was coined by comics writer Gail Simone in 1999. The name was inspired by a storyline in 1994's Green Lantern #54, in which Kyle Rayner (Green Lantern) arrives home to find the dead body of his girlfriend Alex DeWitt stuffed inside his refrigerator.
This excessively grim crime inspired Simone to set up a website under the same name as the trope, dedicated to listing as many examples of fridging as possible. "This is a list I made when it occurred to me that it's not healthy to be a female character in comics," she establishes. "I'm curious to find out if this list seems somewhat disproportionate, and if so, what it means, really. These are superheroines who have either been depowered, raped, or cut up and stuck in the refrigerator. [...] Some have been revived, even improved -- although the question remains as to why they were thrown in the wood chipper in the first place."
Unfortunately, her hunch about it being "disproportionate" proved correct.