Apparently, we need some ground rules.
If you think that there is no such thing as sexism, you are either stupid or ignorant. If you are aware that there is, and it is a-okay with you, then I hope you die in a ditch. You are a pus-filled sore on the ass of humanity.
If you are aware that sexism exists and that it is also, like, kinda bad, but assert that there is no sexism in comics, then stick around. You are wrong, and I intend to demonstrate how, but I reserve judgement on your inherent value as a human being.
Note that this is not a column about hating skimpy costumes in comics, but a column about the varied and sickeningly common instances of misogynistic tropes in superhero comics, superhero comics fandom, and the industry of superhero comics. The initial post on the blog was meant as manifesto/introduction instead of the thing and the whole of the thing, and thus did not go into great detail about specific injustices. I randomly selected five examples of misogyny in comics as illustration:
1) Stephanie Brown’s sexualised torture.
2) Her lack of a memorial case.
3) That the default costume for women is to show as much tits and ass as possible.
4) That Greg Land uses porn stills to depict a teenage superheroine.
5) That Land’s female faces are well-nigh identical
Oh, and I called Frank Miller a weasel-fucker*, but didn’t get specific as to why. Don’t worry, I will.
This didn’t prevent people from assuming that a) my only problem is the costumes and b) assuring me that men are just as objectified as women, costumes-wise, to which I respond with A. Hunt’s excellent article, Talking Points. (I disagree with the article’s conclusions, since I believe that in this nutbag cultural paradigm objectification of women is automatically easier to read than objectifying men, and thus “equal” objectification will still be biased in favour of the male gaze.)
The costumes, while frequently painful, are not the everything. Rest assured, misogyny-haters! Actual detailed and specific rage is a-coming. I have plenty to work with.
But before that, the following:
I am profusely irritated that such clarification is necessary, but I shall point out that this isn’t Feminism 101. Nor is it a place to whine about how feminists want to take over the world / they’ve already taken over the world / men are raped TOO! / you can’t get a date.
This is a place for pointing out sexism in comics with white-hot rage and acid-tongued venom. I am not required to explain feminist principles, theory, or aims to you, much less endeavour to wearily soothe your ego while I explain that I don’t hate men. I am not obliged to do your homework for you.
But for you, noble detester of sexism-but-not-in-comics-because-comics-aren’t-sexist, I have some pointers for where that homework might begin! You don’t have to do it. There will be no pop quiz. However, going up against feminist academics with the intent of proving how wrong they are without some basic groundwork in feminist theory is much like a hacker battle with Oracle when you are armed with an abacus and your hazy recollection of tenth-grade mathematics. You are destined to fail.
For men, especially, I recommend that you look into and think seriously about the concept of male privilege.
The patriarchy (or patriarchies) is not a conspiracy. It doesn’t have to be. It is an insidious creator of and creation of culture and the ideal of male domination is so deeply embedded in the collective consciousness of humanity that it is occasionally difficult to recognise its slimy appendages.
And for men, this recognition is substantially more difficult, because of male privilege.
Please read this article.
Okay, now take a look at the Male Privilege Checklist. Here are later amendments to and discussion of that Checklist by the author.
If you are a guy, you have male privilege. If you are white, you have white privilege. If you are straight, you have straight privilege. The same goes for being able-bodied, able-minded, and non-elderly. It’s not your fault. However, as a presumably decent person, it is up to you to acknowledge that it exists, and mitigate, insofar as is possible, the effects such privilege has on both your view of the world and your discourse.
Feminists of every stripe have encountered many arguments which are centred not in logic, but in male privilege (women can and do also endorse male privilege). Many female feminists are sadly familiar with even well-intentioned men patronisingly telling them how best to advance their cause from their privileged position.
In particular, regardless of your gender, you are advised to avoid the following arguments:
1) Don’t be so angry!
Don’t be an idiot. Rage is an entirely appropriate reaction to injustice. Being angry about something doesn’t invalidate one’s argument.
2) You should be doing something more important for feminism than criticising comics.
a) Criticising a manifestation of sexism in any media is a contribution to feminism.
b) Why assume I’m not?
3) You feminists-
Feminism is not the Borg. There are, in fact, feminisms, and a great number of feminists with whom I strongly disagree on many points. I do not speak for all women, all feminists, or all feminist superhero comics fans. It says that down at the bottom of the blog and always has, but it apparently bears repeating.
The following links offer illumination on these topics, and are mostly also damn good reads. Much thanks to Ragnell for her assistance in link-gathering:
Heo Cwaeth In Defense of Bitterness
Andrea Rubenstein Think Women Have Achieved Equality? Think Again.
earlbecke Political Correctness and Privilege
Ilyka Damen Help Me Out What About Actual Feminists?
The Happy Feminist Feminism 101 What Is Feminism?
Andrea Rubenstein Feminism Is About Choice
Misogyny in Language:
earlbecke On The Use of Language
earlbecke But Don’t You Like To Be Objectified Sometimes?
Mickle Monday Rant
This Is Important:
Andrea Rubenstein De-Bunking the Myth of Frivolity
Ragnell I’m Not Cleaning That Out (Discussion of Women In Refrigerators)
Ragnell Where’s My Adolescent Power Fantasy?
Kalinara Not All Female Comic Readers Like Sandman
Kalinara Women, Comics, Biases and Ramblings (Rebuttal of the “You should be doing something more important!” argument.)
Kalinara Men *Never* Sacrifice the Sluts: The Virgin/Whore Dichotomy in Comics
Dan Jacobson Refrigerator Culture and Privilege (Most male comic book fans aren’t assholes, but that’s not the point.)
heykidzcomix They Said It Could Not Be Done(Parody of those ridiculous and demeaning “How to Get Your Girlfriend To Read Comics” articles.)
Aaaaand we’re officially done with the feminist primer. From now on, ignorance is not an excuse.
- This is a metaphor, wherein I liken weasel-fucking (an unpleasant activity) to Frank Miller (an unpleasant person). I know nothing of Miller’s sex life, and would rather eat my own eyelids than learn.
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