Monday, July 31, 2006

Monday Misandry

Well, I'd have been satisfied letting the conversation fizzle out on this earlier post, but one last commenter showed up with some rather unusual ideas. He seems much more interested in talking about Harlequin romance being unfriendly to men right now, which would be fine except this is my blog and I don't know a damned thing about Harlequin romance books. I really don't care about Harlequin romance books, I want to read comic books. He also has some interesting views on what an "independent publisher" is, along with a rather questionable resume. I'd be inclined to just ignore him entirely, except his argument had an underlying idea that needs to be addressed.

His first comment:
The Big Two have no reason to publish shoujo-esque manga unless they wish to lose their core, primarily male fan base.
After we set him straight that we didn't want DC to market Manga, he continues:
Ragnell, the same arguments you made can be applied to any number of industries. Yet no one is suggesting that Harlequin market towards males. Why? What is the fear about marketing to men?
So I replied that I knew very little about Harlequin, and wouldn't argue against a male romance reader who suggested that they could be better marketed for men. I never once said that the way Harlequin practices business or writes books is okay in the least. I simply said, I knew nothing about the subject. He comes back:
Various companies appeal to certain markets regardless of whether people outside those markets also enjoy the stories. You seem in favor of it when the market is largely female. That’s quite hypocritical, and honestly you lose the support of male fans by doing that.


The commenter in question is from a blog I found by way of his linking to Girl-Wonder.org. I'm going to assume that he's aware of their complaints -- Stephanie Brown's treatment in particular -- as well as the ones I've brought up on this blog. In the comment thread he posted on, I had suggesting marketing a few superhero comics where women could find them, and having covers which were friendly to female readers.

Yet, and I believe this because he keeps bringing it up, he seems to feel that if something was done to make the superhero comics industry friendlier to female readers, that somehow male readers would be driven away.

As though male readers feed on the degradation and humiliation of female characters. As though, female characters must be disposable and never once in the spotlight for male readers to feel comfortable. As though bad art portraying practically pornagraphic images are what is necessary to sell to a male reader.

See, I simply must disagree. I very much doubt my father or my brother would be bothered by the suggested improvements in their entertainment. I've watched TV and discussed books and movies with the men I work with, and while they enjoy raunchy pictures found online and in their magazines, I've yet to see one of them flee from a story with a respectful portrayal of a woman. In the comic book store, when I point out that a female character got shafted in a storyline and describe a better way to handle her, most of the men in the store either agree that they would read a story about her, or come up with a better idea. I'm willing to bet a lot of Birds of Prey readers are male, as well as readerrs of Rucka's Wonder Woman and other stories that have "gotten it right" and would probably have been widely enjoyed by a female audience were they marketed to them. I've yet to see a man give up buying manga or name because he's seen it in a bookstore with female customers perusing the shelf. On the whole, I'd have that I have a high opinion of the male comic-book reading public, and I believe that good stories would be read by readers of both genders.

So, I have a question to ask that commenter, and anyone who agrees with him -- Why do you have such a poor opinion of men?

57 comments:

  1. Hear hear. As a male (a red-blooded American straight guy at that) one of the things that always gets on my nerves when people go, "Well, it's okay for comics to be this way because they're marketed to men!" is the implication that, as a man, I somehow want my entertainment to be sexist and exploitative. I don't know who they're making the current Supergirl series for, but it sure ain't me.

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  2. I don't agree with the above comments, with your antagonist I mean, but I do disagree a lot of the time with what you single out as "good stories."

    You will never convince me that either Greg Rucka or Gail Simone are good writers. I'm all for well written female characters and just raising the bar generally in terms of quality, but whenever I hear Greg Rucka's Wonder Woman run or Birds of Prey singled out as being really good "pro-feminist" comics that we need more of I feel really let down. These are basically C-list writers. And I'm not for the promotion of mediocrity. I'm not trying to defend bad male "traditional" writers either, as far as I'm concerned C-listers of either gender are unacceptable. So, when I hear "feminist" contributions to "how this could be better" I get kind of turned off - because 99% of the time it just suggests a different approach that would be just as corny, just as moronic, but no better and it gets touted as a signifigant step forward.

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  3. Ragnell,
    I'd like to apologize, for ever
    bringing up the whole Harlequin
    books idea. I had no idea that some guy could turn it into a rant AGAINST women. I mean, my whole
    point, was that I consider Harlequin romances and the whole genre of "bodice rippers" to be pretty sexist anyway. There is a reason why they are called "bodice rippers". Guess what it is? If this guy wants to go out and read
    romances, then all power to him.
    Oh, and whle we are establishing
    our level of geekiness...I bought
    Giant-size X-men at the age of
    15. New. Off the spinner rack in
    a drug store. Haw!

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  4. I'd like to apologize, for ever bringing up the whole Harlequin books idea. I had no idea that some guy could turn it into a rant AGAINST women.

    Well, it’s nice to see my gender being attacked. It’s not unexpected. I mean, your friends already attacked and mocked me for raising awareness about the sexual abuse of boys, so thanks!

    So, I have a question to ask that commenter, and anyone who agrees with him -- Why do you have such a poor opinion of men?

    Ragnell, that’s a strawman and a poorly constructed one.

    The comparison between the two industries is fair because they both appeal to specific genders and both fail to market to the opposite gender. Dismissing the point because you “know very little about it” is really no different than saying you don’t see it or you don’t care. Isn’t this the same complaint being brought against males?

    Yes, I understand that no male characters are ever shafted in comics. I understand that only female characters are treated as disposable. I understand that having male leads makes female readers feel uncomfortable. I understand it’s wrong to tell a story from a male perspective and that no such story could ever be considered “good.” But the point isn’t that males run from strong female characters. The point is that the kinds of stories told matter to the audience. That’s why shoujo manga outsells American female-driven comics. Could Sailor Moon work in the Big Two? Yes, but it wouldn’t draw a male audience if it were told in its original form. It’s not the concept. It’s the execution of the concept. Knowing your intended audience affects the kind of story you tell. That’s Writing 101. I'm sorry if you don't understand that.

    Again, attacking me doesn’t change the validity of my questions. There are plenty of independent publishers out there and the indie industry is perfect for market building. If there is a market for female-driven superheroes, why aren’t female characters jumping at the chance to build up that market without the Big Two’s help? I really do wish you’d address that question instead of dodging it.

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  5. Wow, I didn't realize that comment thread kept on going like that.

    Dear Blogger, please introduce comments rss feeds like WordPress does.

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  6. Just noticed the title of the thread. Wow... Well, at least you admitted you hate males.

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  7. Yes, I understand that no male characters are ever shafted in comics. I understand that only female characters are treated as disposable. I understand that having male leads makes female readers feel uncomfortable. I understand it’s wrong to tell a story from a male perspective and that no such story could ever be considered “good.”

    Speaking of "strawman" arguments...

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  8. Well, it is good to be able to debate this with someone actually here. So I will ask-

    How SPECIFICALLY would having, say, more female heroes and fewer cases where they're treated as disposable or sexually assaulted drive male readers away?

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  9. Knowing your intended audience affects the kind of story you tell. That’s Writing 101.

    Isn't that kind of the point? That there really isn't an audience of men who require women to be beaten and treated as second-class citizens in their superhero comics, and that it's shortsighted and self-defeating for creators and publishers to assume otherwise?

    That, you know, if you just fixed things here and there, you could sell stuff to men AND women, and everybody wins?

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  10. You know, I never thought of comics as male-oriented when I was a young kid. I certainly never heard that from my parents, who bought them for me. By the time I hit high school I knew there weren't that many girls who read them--there weren't that many kids who read them by that age--but I did, and my best friend was a rabid X-Men fan, so I never felt particularly excluded from the fan base. Never got a weird look at the newsstand I bought them at (hey, I was giving them money!) Who knew?

    As for the Harlequin romance argument, it's not entirely off base, but there is an existing fan base of female comic fans. If there's a similar male fan base for romance novels, they might want to look into it.

    (And all I know about Harlequin romances is that my grandma used to read them--she liked them because there were no surprises. This was a woman who couldn't even take the level of tension in Murder She Wrote...)

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  11. Evan- I don’t defend opinions I don’t hold. You’ll have to pose that question to someone who holds that opinion.

    Steve- What books are you reading that require women to be beaten and treated as second-class citizens in their superhero comics? What books treat women as nameless, faceless henchmen to be beaten, maimed or killed without a second thought?

    Just to clear up a point of confusion, is you issue with comics that there are few female characters or that few stories are told from the female perspective? Likewise, what is your opinion about creating more female characters in the indie industry? Do you think female fans would buy those books or are they only interested in established characters?

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  12. You are arguing that making superhero comics more female friendly would alienate male readers. What I'm describing is what would help make superhero comics more female friendly.

    As for your question to Steve- Identity Crisis, War Games, All Star Batman are a few examples which come to mind.

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  13. Toy Soldier, you won't defend opinions you don't hold, but you expect others to.

    Yes, I understand that no male characters are ever shafted in comics. I understand that only female characters are treated as disposable. I understand that having male leads makes female readers feel uncomfortable. I understand it’s wrong to tell a story from a male perspective and that no such story could ever be considered “good.”

    Is this your own... interesting idea, or are you seriously asserting that this a common idea among people who think comics should be more women friendly?

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  14. Elizabeth – The idea isn’t any less… interesting than asserting that the reverse is a common idea among people who like comics with male-driven superhero stories.

    Evan – My argument is that stories that appeal to female readers don’t typically don’t draw male readers. You’re asserting that a book can attract a male audience and yet turn off female readers. Can’t the reverse be true?

    As for your other comment, Identity Crisis, Infinite Crisis, War Games, E is for Extinction, the Punisher, Avengers Dissembled and Wolverine: Origins come to mind for fine examples of males being treated horribly. And let’s not forget Jason Todd and Bucky. Are you suggesting that degradation and murder are acceptable when done to boys and men, but not to females?

    By the way, what is your opinion about creating more female characters in the indie industry? Do you think female fans would buy those books or are they only interested in established characters?

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  15. As someone who enjoys "comics with male-driven superhero stories," I have frankly no idea what point you're trying to get across.

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  16. So toy soldier, is your argument that romance comics and the like can more or less shut their doors and ignore that male readers exist, while comics get labeled mysoginistic for doing pretty much the same thing but with the genders reversed? Or am I misinterpreting what you're trying to say?

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  17. What exactly are the criteria here for determining male-driven or male-appealing vs. female-driven or female-appealing? I mean if someone's going to assert that men don't read female-appealing stories, isn't it important to establish what those are and to point out where anyone suggested that superhero comics be made into that?

    To put it another way, it's clear that mainstream superhero comics, as-is, are appealing to female readers. If they weren't, we wouldn't even be having this discussion. Furthermore, they are more appealing to female readers (if we judge appeal according to dollars spent) than supposedly "female-friendly" indy comics, by and large. In fact, it wouldn't be much of a stretch to say that there are more female readers buying the top-selling superhero titles than there are people in general buying most indy titles.

    All of which says to me that basically, male-appealing comics and female-appealing comics are for the most part exactly the same titles.

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  18. toy soldier said...

    Just noticed the title of the thread. Wow... Well, at least you admitted you hate males.


    Ummm...no. That's not what the title means at all. Please go through Ragnell's blog a bit more to notice what the whole Monday Misogny/Misandry thing is all about.

    toy soldier said...

    As for your other comment, Identity Crisis, Infinite Crisis, War Games, E is for Extinction, the Punisher, Avengers Dissembled and Wolverine: Origins come to mind for fine examples of males being treated horribly. And let’s not forget Jason Todd and Bucky. Are you suggesting that degradation and murder are acceptable when done to boys and men, but not to females?


    Ummm..
    Identity Crisis -- the whole story starts with the murder of Sue Dibny whom we also find out was raped in the past. The rapist's memory was restored and as a consequence he was made more powerful.

    Infinite Crisis -- Jade gets killed as a plot device to empower Kyle Rayner. Pantha's head gets knocked off. Yes, a LOT of other people died male and female. I know.

    War Games -- see http://www.girl-wonder.org/ Plus, Jason Todd is alive and well thanks to EmoBoy Prime AND Bucky we now know never died. Did they suffer? Sure. Are they dead? Not anymore. Women in Refrigerators. In fact, after coming back both Jason and Bucky are much stronger and more capable than ever before. Like dying was just a bump in their road to becoming a man. And yes, I know lots of gangsters and Orpheus died but none of them were totured for their part in War Games and then posthumously held responsible for their own death.

    Avengers Dissassembled -- it was revealed that it was all the fault of the Scarlet Witch. Yes, Ant-Man died. The She-Hulk, normally a fun-loving level headed character was turned into a raging monster and destroyed the Vision.

    I can't comment on the others as I've never read them.

    Toy soldier: What is so wrong with stories that will appeal to a broad range of people that regardless of gender, race and so on? Is it so hard to do that we shouldn't even bother?

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  19. By the way, what is your opinion about creating more female characters in the indie industry? Do you think female fans would buy those books or are they only interested in established characters?

    Superhero fans of either gender tend to gravitate toward established franchises; much of the appeal of the whole thing comes from shared universes, rich histories, and diverse creative teams. These are not things you can replicate from the ground up with an indie line. It's been tried unsuccessfully a number of times by now.

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  20. Elizabeth – As someone who enjoys “female friendly” comics, I have frankly no idea what point you’re trying to get across, either. I assume by “female friendly” you mean stories told from a female perspective, but I do not understand the use of code words if that is the meaning.

    David – Yes, but more specifically that the act is being condoned by the same people complaining about the reverse. That is quite hypocritical, though not surprising.

    Dan – If comics, as-is, are appealing to female readers, then it makes little sense to alter comics in any fashion. The implication is that the marketing employed by the companies now does attract female readers, so females would not need to be specifically marketed to. It also suggests females prefer “misogynistic” mainstream books over “female friendly” indy books. However, that still does not explain why female creators are unwilling to publish indy books. That seems more like a cop-out.

    Lostintube- You seem to be excusing the murders of males as inconsequential. I am sorry, but you cannot condemn the mistreatment of female characters while dismissing the same mistreatment when done to male characters. That kills your point and shows that you care more about gender than fairness.

    There is nothing wrong with telling stories to a broad range of people. However, there is also nothing wrong with telling stories to a select group of people. If there is, then we should stop making children’s books because they alienate adults. The fact that I am male did not stop me from enjoying all 73 issues of Batgirl.

    The only ones suggesting that stories must be told a specific way with importance placed on a specific gender are the folks who agree with you.

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  21. And not to mention Pantha was killed so that SBP could go craaaazy; Johns wanted you to focus on her as an object, her head, rather than her as a character. She has still has an unresolved storyline, and Johns kills her as a plot device for SBP's development to go craaaaazy. It was an "accident," even. Then it cuts to Baby Wildebeest's and Red Star's reaction for the full "You messed my stuff" male vengence cliche. Much more different than the one panel quick, more heroic deaths the male heroes get.

    Sorry, it's my pet issue. :P

    But the point is, it's disingenuous to say "male heroes die/have awful stuff happen to them too!" because it's treated differently with men then is it women. It's being deceptively simplistic. The Jason Todd/Stephanie Brown example has already been noted and is particularly egregious.

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  22. These are not things you can replicate from the ground up with an indie line. It's been tried unsuccessfully a number of times by now.

    Why do you think they have been unsuccessful?

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  23. Actually, I would suggest that if mainstream superhero comics already appeal to women, that is all the more reason to ensure that they are not unwelcoming to them. There's a chance that they'll stop reading, which in such a low margin business can only be disastrous. Additionally, it dispels the myth that such stories tap into something unique in the male reader, which kills that explanation as anything approaching an excuse for not making the incredibly minor tweaks that would maintain a solid following among women. Make no mistake; no one has suggested that anything intrinsic to the genre be taken away, nor has anyone suggested that the companies market specifically to women (how would you even do such a thing?).

    As for indy comics, well, what exactly makes them more "female-friendly?" And anyway, why does any creator prefer working on mainstream superhero books to working on indy titles? Perhaps because that's what they enjoy doing? Why shouldn't they? What is it about indy books that presents a better option for a woman who wants to write Batman books? Certainly having women writing mainstream superhero titles does nothing to harm them. And neither does writing them in such a way as to not put female fans off.

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  24. I might add that it strikes me that, rather than being made and marketed with women in mind, specific attempts at marketing "female-friendly" material are in fact targeted to men as something women supposedly like, much in the way that cinematic romantic comedies, chocolates and jewelry are.

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  25. Anon -- You will never convince me that either Greg Rucka or Gail Simone are good writers.

    Well, wasn't intending to get into a debate about the skill of the two writers, but I personally like them and they both have a strength when it comes to female characters. I've never said your mileage may vary before, but this would be one of those circumstances where it does.

    Toy Soldier -- Well, it’s nice to see my gender being attacked. It’s not unexpected.

    The point of the post was that you are attacking your gender, and to ask why. You've yet to answer.

    I mean, your friends already attacked and mocked me for raising awareness about the sexual abuse of boys, so thanks!

    Wait, I missed this one. Who exactly did that? Name names, and link comments so I can go after them as well. No one belittles sexual assault on my blog.

    Just noticed the title of the thread. Wow... Well, at least you admitted you hate males.

    Well, this proves the theory that you don't actually read the posts. The title was referring to you and not only did you fail to realize that, you failed to notice the title before you commented.

    How can you possibly debate with someone if you're not reading their words?

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  26. Ragnell, thanks for your analysis. It boggles my mind that somehow appealing to new markets translates to abandoning the old ones. More to love, more who love, all of these are good things.

    And it's always hilarious to me when men decry bringing in more "femmy" stuff when Spider-Man -- the KING! of soap opera -- is so darn popular. For that matter, the X-Men too. Hey, wait, the X-men....that team with more than one woman on it...coincidence that so many women find an entry into superhero comics through the X-books? I think not.

    Marvel comics enjoyed an explosion in the '60s thanks to seeking out new markets, but not losing the established ones, by writing up to older readers, writing more in-depth characters, and overarching storylines that naturally flowed from issue to issue. They didn't abandon the young boys market, but adults -- many of them women!!! -- came around to enjoying them too. Again, it can't be chalked up to sheer coincidence that the most sucessful superhero franchise by far are the X-books...the ones with the highest number of female readers.

    And man, if you want to read a romance novel, go for it. Have a blast. I won't care or mock you. Heck, they're even going to make Harlequin manga and then you'll have everything you've ever wanted.

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  27. Could Sailor Moon work in the Big Two? Yes, but it wouldn’t draw a male audience if it were told in its original form.

    Actually Sailor Moon had a close to equal gender split in it's viewership when it aired on Cartoon Network. In fact, it's been said to have had more male viewers early on in it's run.

    For anyone interested, here's an old article (circa 2000) that points out some of these things and mentions the difficulties American superheroine properties have often had in comparison: http://www.akadot.com/article.php?a=30

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  28. This is a very interesting debate, and most of the posters, even the ones i disagree with are presenting their arguments well.

    But every so often on a number of boards someone brings up the first SBP fight from Infinite Crisis and I get all riled up.

    And not to mention Pantha was killed so that SBP could go craaaazy; He was already crazy. See: Infinite Crisis Secret Files.

    Johns wanted you to focus on her as an object, her head, rather than her as a character. Pantha was a terrible character. Her death was the most interesting thing about her. If you felt some sort of lose when you saw her get killed, you really need to go back and read those old Titans issues. She even tried to jump onto the back of someone who just flung S.T.R.I.P.E. like 5 blocks and clearly has the strength/powers of superman. Real smart.

    She has still has an unresolved storyline, and Johns kills her as a plot device for SBP's development to go craaaaazy. Again, he was already crazy. And as for her unresolved storyline? Please. If she was a decent character someone would have used her since Wonder Woman v2 175. In 2001. Written by Phil Jiminez no less, the artist of the issue you seem to have such problems with. No one cares about her unresolved storylines because she's a crappy character.

    Then it cuts to Baby Wildebeest's and Red Star's reaction for the full "You messed my stuff" male vengence cliche. Um... Yeah. Wildebeest and Red Star were the only two characters who Pantha even remotely had an effect on. Johns knew this, that's why they get the reaction shot. And Superheroes, even D-List ones, get pissed off when you kill their friends/surrogate mothers. The fact that they're male and she is female is irrelevent. A downed superhero brings vengence. See: Infinite Crisis 7.

    Much more different than the one panel quick, more heroic deaths the male heroes get. You didn't cite any examples, so i'll leave that alone. Although you seem like you would prefer it to be a one panel quickie. See: Infinite Crisis 7. Bane killing Judo-Master. So Heroic!

    Sorry for hijacking your comments with such a long post, Ragnell!

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  29. That fight, though, is what everyone says is such an "important" point for SBP. Johns even frames it that way, with all that follows after Pantha's death. Here's the thing, why did Johns kill her first? Bushido got more time alive total than her. Really, jumping SBP doesn't make any damn sense - no adult is that stupid, it's sloppy writing. It could've been Baby Wildebeest, and Pantha's and Red Star's familial vengeance, but Johns went for the son and husband, signifying more than fellow hero vengence. And guess who's appearing in #38 and rumored to be leading Titans East (and angsting with Beast Boy) after how long he was in limbo with Pantha!

    This is probably derailing things even worse, so I'll just have to say that I do have those old issues and I'll just have to disagree with you about her character. I think she had pleny interesting about her, and not being used isn't necessarily saying she's a "crappy character," - is Jason Todd such a great character that he gets to come back over, say, Lilith? Was Kid Devil a better character than Argent? (Johns had to completely alter the character into a genetically modified monster! Like some other Titan we know....)

    Ack, I'm ruining the whole thread! I'll quit now... sorry, Ragnell... :O

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  30. Ragnell, I think I can explain: a couple of weeks ago, when this dust-up started, I made light of Toy Soldier's men's rights advocacy, given that it's laced with virulent anti-feminism and strikes me as "oppressed majority" whining on par with neonazis, "persecuted" Christians, etc. He responded that I "support the rape of little boys". I don't think it's worth the effort to even argue with such insanity. As we all can see, the guy's deeply dishonest in his arguments; I assume he has serious problems.

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  31. The vast majority of anime/manga fans I know read both shoujo and shounen titles, regardless of gender. The fact that superhero comics have female readers should be proof that women don't enjoy only shoujo-type stories, but of course they still want female characters to be treated with respect.
    I think the reason that series like Strangers in Paradise and Y: The Last Man are always recommended to female readers is not that they're soap operatic but that they have a lot of diverse, non-scantily-clad female characters in plot-driving roles. And I know many women and men who enjoy them. Why, then, assume that making mainstream comics less misogynistic would make them less appealing to men?

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  32. Ragnell: The point of the post was that you are attacking your gender, and to ask why. You've yet to answer.

    I do not defend positions I do not have. However, I would appreciate giving an example where I stated I thought little of or hated men, which is what the term misandry means.

    How can you possibly debate with someone if you're not reading their words?

    Reading and agreeing with a person’s words are two different things.

    Who exactly did that? Name names, and link comments so I can go after them as well. No one belittles sexual assault on my blog.

    Apparently you do not read, either. Check the post you linked to on my site and it’s follow up. Read Cole’s comments that label protecting boys from rape as “a degree less sad than white pride.”

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  33. Again, this is an example of toy soldier's blatant, and I assume intentional dishonesty. He's hiding the overall virulence of his anti-feminism, and frankly, mysogyny, behind his laudable opposition to prison and child rape. And I'm sure he's loving all the attention, like any troll.

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  34. Dan – If the comics are already appealing to women it implies that they do not feel unwelcome. Are you suggesting that there are not stories that appeal more to one group than another? What do you mean by “anything intrinsic?” Also, the idea of “tweaking” comics to appeal to women isspecifically marketing towards them, so I am slightly confused by your meaning.

    If you recall, I did not state that the indy industry was more “female friendly.” I stated that the industry is an open source for building up markets that are typically ignored by Marvel and DC, yet female creators appear to lack any interest in that market. Why is that considering that so many female creators apparently enjoy superhero comics, and particularly when numerous male creators have created done so and gone on to work for Marvel and DC?

    Putte – It is true that many manga readers (myself included) read both types of manga, but you would be hard pressed to say the majority do. Most DBZ fans will not touch Sailor Moon. Most Fake fans have little interest in Naruto. Interestingly, most people who enjoy Kill Bill are male, despite the strong female characterization. So I think the presentation and mode of storytelling actually does affect the audience drawn to those books. Of course, if a story is good then it should not matter who the intended audience or the characters are. Also, both titles that you mentioned have predominately female casts. Having virtually no males in the cast and few males in plot-driving roles makes a story diverse?

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  35. toy soldier said - I do not defend positions I do not have. However, I would appreciate giving an example where I stated I thought little of or hated men, which is what the term misandry means.

    OK, I think it is obvious Toy here either didn't even read the post, or he has the communication skills of a mute baboon.

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  36. Dear Toy Soldier,
    I don't hate men. I am the daughter of one. I'm married to one. I'm the mother of two. I've
    been reading comics for over thirty years, including Green Lantern,X-men, Preacher, Hitman,
    Lt. Blueberry and Corto Maltese, so
    I have fairly catholic tastes. What I do object to...is all the rape! Sheesh, can't the writers just come up with something else?
    Oh, and I have a STACK of Harlequin
    romances just for you.

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  37. Dan – If the comics are already appealing to women it implies that they do not feel unwelcome.

    Not necessarily, it seems more likely that women read these stories despite the fact that they're made to feel unwelcome. In any case, what's wrong with making them more appealing to female readers if it doesn't mean they'll appeal less to males?

    Putte – It is true that many manga readers (myself included) read both types of manga, but you would be hard pressed to say the majority do.

    Well, it's true of the members of the biggish anime club I used to belong to, and even more so of the otaku I've met online. You're right in that Dragon Ball fans generally don't enjoy Sailor Moon and vice versa, but that doesn't mean that one group is male and the other female. (And Fake may have few male readers, but Naruto doesn't lack female fans – look around on livejournal.com's slashfic groups.)

    Also, both titles that you mentioned have predominately female casts. Having virtually no males in the cast and few males in plot-driving roles makes a story diverse?

    Obviously not – what I meant was that the female cast was. The point was that more diversity among the female characters in mainstream comics might attract more female readers (and be less insulting to the existing ones.)

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  38. Putte: In any case, what's wrong with making them more appealing to female readers if it doesn't mean they'll appeal less to males?

    Given that the Storm comic written by Eric Jerome Dickey (his novels are targeted to females) has kind of bombed, would that not imply that stories told in that format might appeal less to males? Frankly, stories told to appeal to a “broad audience” tend to be lackluster. I believe that is one of the reasons why Birds of Prey generally reads like “meh.” If Simone focused more on targeting the female audience instead of playing down the middle, she would write a better comic.

    You're right in that Dragon Ball fans generally don't enjoy Sailor Moon and vice versa, but that doesn't mean that one group is male and the other female.

    But most DB fans are male and most Sailor Moon fans are female. I suppose the question to ask is what is particularly wrong with writing for a male audience? In other words, if Toriyama-sensei redid DB, would he have to alter his characters or story to appeal to females? Could the story remain as-is and be considered “female friendly?”

    Obviously not – what I meant was that the female cast was.

    Aside from race, how are the female casts more diverse? Specifically, how are those characterizations more diverse than the women of X-Men?

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  39. I think the reason that series like Strangers in Paradise and Y: The Last Man are always recommended to female readers is not that they're soap operatic but that they have a lot of diverse, non-scantily-clad female characters in plot-driving roles.

    Erm, you might want to scratch "non-scantily-clad" out of that description of SiP, a title that has been derided at times as "lesbians hanging around the house in their underwear". The thing about SiP, however, is that (from my recall) when they do hang around the house in their underwear they look like real people, not sexbots who instinctively put themselves in pin-up positions whenever they stop moving.

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  40. Given that the Storm comic written by Eric Jerome Dickey (his novels are targeted to females) has kind of bombed, would that not imply that stories told in that format might appeal less to males?

    The success or failure of one title never really proves anything. Editors like to point to sales of individual titles to justify creative directions (as Dan Didio has with his "funny books don't sell" edict), but it'd be the same as saying that the box office failure of SERENITY means that people aren't interested in science fiction movies. Individual execution and promotion and timing and a host of other factors affect commercial success.

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  41. (as Dan Didio has with his "funny books don't sell" edict)

    And yet, I can't believe it's not the Justice League does fine.

    I can't understand Didio when he says that. Doesn't he want to make money by selling stuff to the people who like happy funny stuff?

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  42. Aside from that, I would say that the poor performance of Dickey's Storm indicates not only that it doesn't appeal to the male superhero reader, but also that it doesn't appeal to the female superhero reader either. I mean, what exactly makes it "for" women, anyway? How can it be for them if it's not what they want? For that matter, what is it that defines any of these books as "for" male readers? Women, whenever they do buy comics, overwhelmingly buy mainstream superhero comics. Just like men tend to do. Does this not suggest that mainstream superhero comics are also "for" women? And in that sense, wouldn't it be a good idea not to offend them?

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  43. No, wait, that would be too easy of a conclusion to draw....

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  44. Toysoldier: Given that the Storm comic written by Eric Jerome Dickey (his novels are targeted to females) has kind of bombed, would that not imply that stories told in that format might appeal less to males?
    I haven't read it, but there's a difference between deciding, "I know, let's make a comic for GURLZ!!1!" and taking an existing story and changing it so that female characters aren't so frequently sexualised or treated as props in the male heroes' lives. I don't think anyone here is suggesting that they take these stories and turn them into Fushigi Yuugi, but rather that they keep them the way they are and simply treat the female characters with more respect. Take the Kill Bill movies; not to say that they're completely feminist, but weren't the females there portrayed as important characters in their own right? It may be that more men than women liked KB, but a lot of women did like it. Which they might not have if the female characters in it had been pieces of cheesecake for the villain to kidnap and the hero to rescue.

    Aside from race, how are the female casts more diverse? Specifically, how are those characterizations more diverse than the women of X-Men?

    I don't think female casts are any more diverse than male, but since Y and SiP have a high female to male ratio, it allows female characters more screen time, more important roles, and more characterisation. They're seldom defined by their relation to male characters.

    Lyle: The thing about SiP, however, is that (from my recall) when they do hang around the house in their underwear they look like real people, not sexbots who instinctively put themselves in pin-up positions whenever they stop moving.

    LOL! Okay, but they still strike me as being less fanservice-y than the majority...

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  45. I would say that the poor performance of Dickey's Storm indicates not only that it doesn't appeal to the male superhero reader, but also that it doesn't appeal to the female superhero reader either. I mean, what exactly makes it "for" women, anyway?

    That's interesting. Because it seems like a comic book starring what is one of the most recognized leads in Marvel Comics that is written by an author who is known for writing novels that are targeted towards a female audience, the exact scenario that mostly everyone is arguing for here and state that yes, those type of comics would succeed in the market place, yet Storm did not. Why is that?

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  46. I would guess because it wasn't about that character doing the kinds of things that superhero readers (of either sex) like to read about. As awesome as Storm is, she can't really carry a solo book. She was made for team books. And when that solo book's primary purpose is getting the character ready for her upcoming wedding, rather than, say, what she has done so well in X-Men books for decades, it makes sense that it didn't sell. Who would buy it? Dickey doesn't write action novels, he writes chick-lit books. I don't personally see a lot of crossover appeal there. On the one hand you have X-Men readers who know her as a character and want to read about her doing Storm-y things, and on the other, you apparently have an audience who isn't interested in superheroes or the X-Men and so don't care one way or the other about Storm as a character or about her place in Marvel history. Where's the audience?

    Though to be honest, I don't recall anyone here saying such things would sell.

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  47. I think Ragnell needs to set up her own message boards, lol.

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  48. Toy: I guess Ragnell must hate men AND women because she has Monday Misogyny AND Monday Misandry columns. Poor woman hates EVERYONE!

    The point of those columns is for her to point out OTHER PEOPLE'S comments that could be interpreted as one of the "Big M's" and invite debate from posters.

    lost: The problem with the "he got resurrected and she didn't" argument is that usually the writer doing the killing and the one doing the resurrecting are different people and are writing the stories in different time periods. I'm pretty sure Stan Lee and Jim Starlin's intentions weren't to give Bucky and Jason Todd, respectively, a "few bumps on the road to manhood", but to keep them from living long enough to REACH manhood. Who knows? Some writer could resurrect Steph or Lilith or Jade a year or more down the road.

    Dan: You're right. Some books are going to bomb no matter WHO the intended market is. You sound like you've got some ideas on how to target both genders at once in comics. Care to name a few of them? (I'm being 100% sincere here.)

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  49. i love marvel shoujo books, mary jane rocks! if that appeals more to girls the whatver. I don't think the male core will go away be cause Spiderman <3's Mary Jane isn't marketed towards them.

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  50. Okay, but they still strike me as being less fanservice-y than the majority...

    Oh, definitely, that was my point about the poses. IMO, tho, SiP's one of those comics that tends to suffer from overhype. It's good but not the revelation that some SiP fans might praise... same with the sex. Its heroines are sometimes scantily clad (depending on where the current story arc is set) but they're rarely objectified, at least not like in superhero comics. Plus, since Terry Moore seems to like women that come in more than one bodytype, we see different sizes of women in SiP, something that's rare nowadays in superhero comics.

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  51. You sound like you've got some ideas on how to target both genders at once in comics. Care to name a few of them?

    Though not targeted towards me, I think most creators would resent being told what they should or should not write or for whom they should or should not write it for. No creator likes their work to be censored or controlled, and to create a “formula” that would appeal to “everybody” not only does so, but is insulting to the creative process. Let the creator make the decision as to who the audience will be. If it is a good story, and the reader is unbiased, then it should make no difference. And if you find the story does not appeal to you, do not read it. I just think it is wrong to attempt to control how a creator works or what a creator can do. If you want that, then perhaps we need to revamp and enforce the Comics Code Authority.

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  52. I just think it is wrong to attempt to control how a creator works or what a creator can do.

    You make it sound like we're holding guns to the heads of these people going "Write it our way or else!"

    Have you even read anything that we've been posting? We're not trying to control creators here, we're saying simply that if they really wanted to expand in a largely untouched market, they could do this, this or this.

    Most creators aren't consciously anti-women. Most creators, when it's brought to their attention that they've made mistakes, do actually endeavor to improve. A lot of the cliches of comic book fiction, like the cliches of most other types of fiction are just that. They're so common that they make their way into the subconscious. Most creators, I think, do not realize they're doing it and when pointed out, try to avoid/subvert the cliche to make a stronger story.

    There's no threat to creator's creativity here. We talk to get people (readers/creators/and random passerbys)to think more than anything else.

    But again, the point of the initial post was that, there *is* an audience that DC and Marvel could be marketing for but haven't.

    (And Storm was not Marvel marketing toward women, it was them marketing toward what they think women like. Big difference, but unsurprising given the Quesada kerfluffle.

    The real example would be Gail Simone's Birds of Prey, which is written in a way to appeal to women while still having a strong male audience as well. And it sells great.

    Another might be Manhunter, which is lesser known, but very popular among the female and male fans who know and have read it. And it was saved for another five issues by a mail-in campaign.

    So it can be done. And without legions of secret feminazi ninjas holding katanas at their throats.)

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  54. "legions of secret feminazi ninjas holding katanas at their throats"

    Sounds like Rush Limbaugh having a bad Oxycontin trip.

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  55. Storm was not Marvel marketing toward women, it was them marketing toward what they think women like.

    Just looking at the covers, I'd add that it was what they thought women would like but making sure to add "stuff for the guys" stuff that drives women away. It reminds me of the Emma Frost comic.

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  56. Out of curiosity, how would you say "Ex Machina" rates with the female readers on this board? Although it has a male lead who takes a lion's share of the spotlight, it does have intelligent female characters (although one perished recently) and engaging dialogue written by one Brian K. Vaughan. Tony Harris' art is beautiful without getting too cheesecakey. But does the book's occasional strong language and "blood & guts" (see the last page of the most recent issue) drive female readers away, or does it attract them? Personally, I love it, but as a guy I was curious.

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