Sunday, October 01, 2006

It's especially not funny when an outsider says it.

I hate to see mainstream Feminists discuss comic books. I mean, I used to wish they would, back when I first started blogging, but then the Batwoman thing happened. Then I was willing to pay to get them to shut up. Because the idiotic stereotyping would start. You'd realize just how much they ignored not only the feminist comic book readers hanging around reading them (who were commenting in comment threads), but the very good Feminist comic book bloggers hanging around. I don't mean the criticism for aiming comic books at adolescent boys, but the assumption by the bloggers and commenters that only adolescent boys read comics. The same assumption the companies and professionals are making that's causing the sexism that they are blogging against.

Those blanket insults towards readers really made discussion of the issue over in the larger community impossible (well, that and having to explain things about comic books to a bunch of people who've never read them or spoken to anyone who read them).

One joke, in particular, makes me rolls my eyes. It happens to be in every thread, on every feminist post about comics that leaves the comic book community. I saw it today:
Hrm. And, comic book nerds wonder why they can’t get laid…
Sigh.

And I bet they don't even wonder why Feminist comics bloggers don't comment on their posts.

14 comments:

  1. I remember reading one commenter saying that it is impossible to gleam meaningful social commentary, especially regarding gender issues, from superhero comics, because it's a genre rooted in male adolescent empowerment fantasies.

    Some time later the same writer praised a novel by Orson Scott Card to the skies and saw all sorts of "complex meanings" in it, as though much of contemporary popular sci-fi doesn't have similar origins.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think it's partly because comics (at least outside the popular indie stuff) still are classified as "low-art," and are just susceptible to being quickly written off with over-generalized, stereotyped quips (I remember being pissed off at a Daily Show gag at video games being for losers). The overwhelming negative stuff (that usually is more prominent) just reinforces their preconcieved notions of an industry and audience that's monolithicly sexist. And the question is if there are positive examples strong and persuasive enough to convince them there's progress been made. I do think an outsider perspective is important, because if it still looks ugly from the outside, can you say a significant progress is being made?

    It just reminds me of this article. If DC and Marvel don't change, and the advice is to move on to other genres, then superheroes are going to dwindle to a niche genre with the same bad reputation. If the industry is built to pander to boys and guys (having to go by the Wizard guide to work in the mainstream), then nothing short of a major change in the industry would be convincing for outside critics. They'd probably agree with a critic like Adorno about a mass/pop culture being an industry that enforces a biased ideology, and comics being just another example of that. Something like Birds of Prey or Spider-Girl would be marked as outliers, since the majority of the industry is still seen to be built to express this ideology.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Did you notice that was a Wizard blurb? It's not even comics!

    ReplyDelete
  4. If it makes you feel any better, I feel like mainstream Feminists also ignore romance, putting it in the same "low-brow" category as comic books.

    Which is pretty stupid, considering that both romance and comics feature some of the most powerful female characters in modern fiction today.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Imagine the outcry if someone said something like this:

    "Hrm. And, agressive feminists wonder why they can’t get laid..."

    Stereotypes like these are BAD, havn't people gotten that into their heads yet?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Wait, wait, wait! You mean comic book nerds CAN get laid?

    Oh, I've wasted my life...

    ReplyDelete
  7. Imagine the outcry if someone said something like this:

    "Hrm. And, agressive feminists wonder why they can’t get laid..."


    Wait! - so I've been imagining all the times someone has said that so and so is a feminist because she can't get a man?

    Whew - that's good to know.

    For a moment there I thought there were stereotypes about feminists too! Sexual ones even!

    Stereotypes like these are BAD, havn't people gotten that into their heads yet?

    Some people have, for the most part anyway, but unfortunately being smart about one thing doesn't mean you are smart about everything.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Argh, yes. It's just another case of being told "superheroes aren't for you". We get enough of that already. As if women aren't supposed to have adolescent power fantasies too. Giving up superhero comics to the guys is just Not An Acceptable Option.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Giving up superhero comics to the guys is just Not An Acceptable Option.

    It's too much like surrender, and we feminists don't do surrender anymore.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I find a LOT of the mainstream feminist sites VERY exclusionary, smug and narcissistic. It feels just like I've wandered into a good ol' boy hangout, and I'm not welcome. That's why I stick to the fringe groups who are focusing on a specific complaint. I guess our groups just aren't big enough to attract "fashionable followers" - those people who show up to a protest just to look cool. They can't get the exposure they want from fringe groups, so they stick to the mainstream, where they can internalize the exclusionary and narcissistic values of the patriarchy, and practice their more subtle prejudices in a safe space.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Mickle, thank you for that link. That regender engine is a scream.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I just put my site though it, and found that "Bob Dylan's performance of his song 'Isis'" becomes "Bobbie Dorothy's performance of her song 'Isidro'." Which kills me. But my name didn't change along with everything else -- probably because it's also a verb and would screw things up.

    Sorry for the threadjack, but I had to tell someone.

    Isidro.

    Heh.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Boy, it must suck to take it at both ends: from the feminists and the comics community. :-(

    [I'm sure when I'm more awake, I'll realize there's some wrong with that sentence...]

    ReplyDelete
  14. I think being a comic book geek actually *helps* me get laid, because The Boy thinks it's cute or something.

    Honestly, and seriously, Ragnell; your blog is some of the hardest hitting, most thought out criticism I've seen given to comics, let alone feminist criticism, but the entire way through its underlined with your love for the medium and your respect for it and its potential. Don't let them bring you down, even if they can't apparently see you.

    ReplyDelete