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Had a good discussion last night with Secret Headquarters: Comics and Games for Everyone about organizing a bimonthly(ish) Ladies’ Night.
I AM SO EXCITED I WANT TO THROW A BEAR
Some of you may remember our Unicorn Party we held a few months back. It ruled. Ladies’ Night will be different, but it will also rule.
The Unicorn Party was an effort to demonstrate that women really DO love comics, we make comics, we read them, all that good stuff. And the Party was super successful (thanks to all who came!)! We intend to have one every year, and to grow it into a major event, with guests, workshops, and gaming. We want to keep it open to everyone, and make sure it’s a positive statement proving that women and comics do mix.
Ladies’ Night is intended to provide a safe and comfortable experience for ladies (of every kind) who want to shop for comics and games. Many women, myself among them, have had negative experiences involving shopping for and appreciating comics and games. I’ve heard and read about all kinds of uncomfortable situations: ogling, assuming that a woman is shopping for a boyfriend or brother, intense questioning in order that a woman “prove” that she’s “really” a fan, outright animosity, overt “nerds girls are even worse than nerd boys” bulls**t…the list goes on. Treatment like that is one of the reasons I stopped buying comics in the 90’s (the other reason is Rob Liefeld). I’m now spending far too much of my fun money on comics, dice, rpg minis, trade paperbacks, collectibles….and it’s because I have had such a drastically positive experience at SHQ.
So we want..no. I want other women to have the same great experience. I want it for women who, for one reason or another, allowed their passion for comics and gaming to lapse; for those who always had an interest, but just couldn’t take the negative vibes in their local shops. I want it for all the gals who have been toughing it out, because they assumed there wasn’t anything better. Ladies’ Night is for them. It’ll be all women. It’ll be safe. It’ll be non-judgmental. Most importantly, it’ll be fun.*
I’ve been inspired by Kate or Die and her work at Strange Adventures, and have already culled from the advice they’ve each published on the topic; we’ve got some cool things planned, and they’re going to stay secret for now, but we want more! More input (I’m like Johnny 5 over here)! What would YOU like to see and do at Ladies’ Night? What are you expecting, if anything? If your local comic shop has a Ladies’ Night, what do they do? If they don’t, what would you like them to do? Let me know!
*It should be noted that Secret Headquarters is NEVER a hostile environment. Brian always makes certain of that. This is just a chance for things to be even more awesome, as well as a chance to invite women who maybe didn’t know the shop existed to come give it a try. One of my coworkers is a loyal shopper at another local store, and has just been accepting the crap she deals with on a regular basis as normal. This is just weird to me.
I was excited for Justice League #3 yesterday as it featured Wonder Woman’s debut. But her awesome debut was, for me, quickly undermined by Hal Jordan announcing he had “dibs” on Wonder Woman.
I just find the idea of the ONLY female in the league within pages of her debut being seen as an object. Obviously your mileage may vary. But as I thought about it, I remember the post-crisis debut of Wonder Woman to the League in John Ostrander’s Legends and I think the comparison is telling.
Wonder Woman shows up looking awesome and powerful. Just like in yesterday’s Justice League #3. She is fresh off the island and still getting her bearings. Just like yesterday’s issue. And she is immediately positioned as the chick by the Green Lantern. But that’s where the comparisons end.
This is the page from yesterday’s Justice League #3.
I woke up last night to page of emails and comments that told me I overreacted.
I also woke up to a number of people, many male, who saw my point.
You know I don’t go looking for this stuff. I don’t wait and hope that something shows up in a comic so that I can “spread my vitriol” or “go trolling for page hits” or just to be negative.
It’s a sad that everytime I open a comic the first thing I think is “please don’t let me be disappointed.” “Please don’t let them do something that insults, degrades or objectifies my gender.”
And for the most part I open my comics and I’m pleased. But there are moments like this where I’m not and I just wonder what the point is? I don’t think it is intentional, I think its just tone deafness. The tone deafness that puts Catwoman in her bra in her first appearance. Starfire written as she was in the first issue of Red Hood. The entire first issue of Voodoo. I’ll stop but know I can go on.
Now for everyone of those there was the first issue of Wonder Woman, and the great run on Batwoman and lots of other moments where I was thrilled. Hell, the page before the one I’m talking about in Justice League was filled with awesomeness.
I don’t want to make this one page from yesterday into a big deal. It’s not really. But it’s part of a cumulative effect. Death by a thousand paper cuts? I don’t know. But the sad deflated feeling I have when I across something like this is something I find harder and harder to shake. Because I know they’ll be another one.
I wish I wasn’t so sure of the last line I wrote. I’d like to have the benefit of the doubt. Know the odds are against it. Perhaps the odds are getting better. I don’t think it will ever be 100%. Nothing really is.
I don’t know if there will ever be a day where every comic will be devoid of gender issues. I don’t even need it to be a fan. But I’d like a day where my expectations that there are no problems are more fulfilled that dashed.
I’m still waiting.
Yes, to the above, a sad, resounding yes.
So, I haven’t yet had my coffee, and I woke up on the dumb side of the bed this morning, but I’m going to comment anyway. Feel free to just skip on past this. I won’t be hurt.
But to add my unrequested two cents: Look at the writing here. The first example is funny and with an economy of language and clear, easy-to-interpret images is able to tell us everything we need to know about these characters. A comics neophyte would still be able to tell you, after reading this page, that Wonder Woman is a character of strong morals and ideals, with a speech pattern that indicates nobility and/or an upbringing outside of normal modern American society. They could tell you that Guy is a cocky, sexist jerk with the most um…astounding fashion sense ever.
Now look at the second page. Could a newcomer be able to tell you about these characters? Diana is apparently slaloming through an infinite pile of monsters (I may be an outlier here, but I just…what is up with that pose?), looking more sexxxy than powerful. Not that she’s not participating in some action, just that her stance doesn’t exactly imply strength and power. It’s more like she’s a practitioner of waif fu or something. It’s up to Supes to point out how powerful she is, telling Wondy “You’re strong.” Thanks, Clark. Maybe we should start calling you Captain Obvious now? And her response? Compare that to the “shut up and fight” stuff above and tell me which is the more interesting dialogue. Which of the two moves character development and story forward better? Also, WHY DOESN’T SHE SAY ANYTHING TO REPRIMAND HAL? An unitiated reader would get this out of the page: That lady is pretty hawt and also strong and possibly a downhill skier. The guy in the red mask/helmet thing is…not so bright maybe? Certainly not glib or well-spoken. The green person is a pig, and the guy without a mask is also not so bright. She likes having them look at her like that, because she isn’t correcting the green pig one and looks like she’s flirting with the one who may be developmentally challenged in a cape.
Look, I’m with the OP here. I don’t open a new comic hoping for something fresh to bitch about. I open it holding my breath, praying that I won’t be let down. Wishing for 20 or so pages of something fun or escapist (and, if you know me, hopefully also twisted and violent). The current run of Ultimate Spider Man is doing that for me right now. As is the relaunched Wonder Woman. But…I’m not reading so many books because I just don’t want to be disappointed, and I know that they will disappoint me. Sometimes it’ll just be the art, sometimes the writing, more often it’s both. And I already have so many people and things in this world I’m disappointed in, I just can’t bear to add another to the list.
WOMEN: Look, even if you don’t read comics, take a moment. Read this. Think about what it has to say. Even if you don’t follow it back to the original article. Just…read it.
Over the last few months concerns around women and comics, particularly comics from the big two have been getting industry attention.
For years people and sites like When Fan Girls attack, founded by Kalinara and Ragnell and run later Maddy and Caitlin, GirlWonder.Org, Sequential Tart, and others have talked and talked and talked about the how the representation of women in comics, both from the creative side and the content side, is problematic.
In the last year there seems to have been change in this conversation. The participants in the dialogue are growing. The dialogue and issues moving from rumblings of a few to the roar of many.
There was the showdown at SDCC between Kyrax2 and DC which had people talking about women and comics and sites that had never talked about it before discussing gender issues in comics.
More and more the dialogue and debate is moving out of sites like mine which critics deride as representing a “vocal minority” to other sites like Comics Alliance, CNN, Jezebel and the Beat who wrote a few weeks ago about New York Comic Con:
The New 52 has been a success at getting outliers interested in comics again. But looking around the Javits, at the ocean of non-white faces, and of female faces, it became VERY clear to me that all the angry blog posts begging for more diversity in the comics isn’t just a few loudmouths—even though they are treated as such by the big companies. It’s the reality of the world. Reaching this audience through inclusion might just be the most important goal for the mainstream comics industry’s continued survival.
And now today on Wired’s GeekMom where Corrina Lawson just nailed it.
You need to go read the whole thing, but I’m going to pull out this:
We’ve reached a tipping point where this idea of “superheroes are only male adolescent power fantasies” is going to be challenged and, eventually, proven a myth. It wasn’t always so and there’s no reason it should be that way. Superheroes are a mythic fantasy about taking control to do the right thing. There’s nothing inherently male about that.
DC said with the reboot that they wanted to push past the boundaries of their current audience, yet the majority of their content so far says otherwise. It was a perfect storm in which many of these women, myself included, said “enough is enough.”
But I object to the idea that somehow, well-written and well-drawn female characters who look beautiful and powerful at the same time will suddenly make the male audience run for the hills. Women read a ton. They love male characters. They’re not asking for a radical changeover. They”re just asking, as Busiek said and Hudson said in her article, that the two major superhero companies stop actively trying to drive them away. The movies, especially Marvel’s movies, do a great job also appealing to the female audience.
I don’t see why that’s so hard to replicate in comics.
If there was a major corporation that said “you know, our audience is just white people, we don’t have to listen to any concern of minorities because they just don’t buy our comics, we want the white consumer” I don’t think that would go over well at all. But because it’s women, it’s somehow more accepted. It shouldn’t be.
Again you have to go read this. But she’s right. You know she’s right. I know she’s right. Hell I’ve been saying the same things for the past year. Others, as I’ve said, have been saying it for YEARS. But of course when you say these things there’s pushback, derision, and outright anger. Just last night after there was a link in my site from the CNN story, I had this posted on my blog:
Women have their pop culture niches, men have theirs. If you are drawn to ours fine, but don’t come complaining about our world because it wasn’t made for you, because IT WASN’T MADE FOR YOU. Make your own crappy comics that nobody but women will read and see how loudly we don’t care.
And that’s one of the mild ones.
But Corrina is right, this is the tipping point. This is the time. This is it.
We’ve 51% of the Goddamn world and I think we’re more than just a “vocal minority” in the readership.
Change can happen. Change has happened. But there needs to be more. So help tip it.
Be a “Loudmouth”. Raise your voice. Let the companies know you don’t want crappy portrayals of women or art that objectifies women or being told that you don’t matter. Write letters. Speak out on line. And vote with your pocketbook.
As Corrina says “Enough is Enough.”
Because I keep wanting to tell them stuff like “If you don’t like it, don’t buy it" and "Comics are about ideals. Don’t hate because you can’t live up to them.”
In case you haven’t heard, here’s a neat summation.
(And for the record, no he doesn’t only pick on men and no, it isn’t only men who have a problem with what amounts to bullying and rampant sizeism. HOWEVER, I find it sadly funny that it takes someone picking on the men in comic culture to make this much of a stink. Seriously, responses to the original article are all over the internet, and the article itself has been pulled from the Men’s Fitness website. I shit you not.)
This is part of their review of Voodoo, and sums up what I’ve been trying to explain to a non-comic-reading friend of mine. There’s a bizarre dichotomy of non-reading public perception wherein comics are both “for kids” and “paperback Cinemax”. I fail to understand how people can somehow reconcile these two ideas and their association with one thing, and I also fail to understand how nobody is bothered by it.
THIS IS A GOOD ARTICLE. GO AND READ IT.
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