I'm watching all of the outrage I linked get described as herdthink, cliquish, and just a general hivemind. Honestly, though, herdthink? Don't these people know anything about comics or communities? Birds of a feather and all that. People with like minds link each other and friend each other and react in much the same way. So, people linking Devil Doll are, on the whole, reacting like she does. Communities build on communities like a chain. You read someone and someone else reads you, you link someone and that someone who reads you also links them and the someone who reads that someone links them and so on. Some posts don't get linked. Some get linked once. Some get linked multiple times and some things become an internet fad in themselves, to the point that ten years and ten thousand links later someone writes a quote on a picture of his cat and everyone laughs, but almost nobody knows the origin of the phrase.
This particular outrage went a long way and through blogs I've never seen before. It's burned fast and bright. I linked Lisa on Wednesday, Devil Doll posted on Thursday and Thursday night and it carried through the movie fandoms. When I got home I had so many links I had to take another day to compile them in a separate post (figured it would be easier if people could link it if they were interested in responses, and that it wouldn't detract from the other discussions). This didn't happen because of follow the leader, it happened because it resonated with a lot of people. A lot of people saw that post and had the same reaction to the pictures, so they linked it. And it travels on.
Its incredible, though, how some things can get people talking. A lot of these are new blogs, but a lot of these are people I read every day. Blogs I constantly monitor, some of them are regular WFA commenters. There's such a range of interests there, and opinions. One person likes cheesecake to a certain point, another thinks its all bad and a third is okay so long as the problem is writing. They post and rant and analyze and argue amongst themselves until something happens, something big, to make a large number of these different voices speak in chorus.
But to some people, all outrage is the same. Even though there are different players using different arguments in each fight. Even though there are alliances drawn and redrawn every day (I watch this every day -- I've seen bloggers engage in bitter fights with and then become the darlings of the Fan Feminist Community over a period of a month), somehow the last three major outrages are proof of a growing hive mentality and my website is somehow the center of this.
When I see people like Kalinara and Livia, who have completely different approaches to their Feminism debate on the same side, I don't call that a hive mentality. I don't call Colleen Doran and AriellaDrake using the same talking point (coincidentally, it was "feminists are not a monolithic entity") a hive mentality. I call it a fricking miracle.
Yes, there's been a lot of buzzing. There's all out rage over stuff I never thought twice over, which I don't mind. I enjoy watching a good fight (though I thought that the deleting of complaints was more offensive than the statue). Its annoying when its coupled with complete and utter ignorance of things I figured were pretty important. Plus there's the trashing of a hobby I love by outsiders. The fans who think that non-American comics are somehow less sexist are getting on my fucking nerves here. Have they never seen an anime or manga-based toy?
That's nothing, however, to the people who go through the links and think that there's a swarm a drones following some Alien Amazon Queen in her outrage. The communities doesn't work that way, not on this scale.
Anyway, the initial shock seems to be subsiding, and I'm seeing more thoughtful responses. I will admit I used to be more thoughtful, though.
I was thinking about it as I answered this person with a link to a previous post.
I think I may be at the point where, if I could muster the energy to sort through my archives, i could answer everyone with a past post, because we're seeing so many things I've seen since I started blogging. I just finished reading Where the Girls Are, which goes over the history of Feminism and the Mass Media from the 60s to the 90s. It all looked so familiar. Same old song, only I experienced those thirty years in just three years it seems with comics alone.
Kalinara and I are the only people who have read every link at When Fangirls Attack as they were posted. No one else knew us in those first couple of days, but we read everything as we posted and even if we were forced to skim we went back and read it.
I read every single link I linked on that stupid statue. I've read every single anti-feminist link I've put on there and I treasure them as I find them. They're conversation builders. People answer them, and rant and rave and rationalize and agree and disagree and keep talking. Someone asked me if I ever ran out of outraged. I told her I did all the time, but I enjoyed a good fight so that kept me going.
But I'm just getting so sick and tired of hearing the same stupid arguments over and over again from people who thinking they are new and haven't been addressed before. People who think they're clever and that such an "insight" will stop others in their tracks. People who are dismissive.
I'm losing my temper with them. I've seen it so damned often. I've seen it from people who have seen it themselves. I've seen the fannishness. I've seen the absurdity. I've seen the hypocrisy. I linked it all and fumed as I did.
When I started blogging Feminism, I got complimented on my patience and my accessibility. Now more often I'm described as crazy, overreacting, and over the top. I'm also getting linked as the feminist poster girl for conversations I never weighed in on. That's weird. I'm losing readers for my focus sharpening (to the point I'm livejournalling all of my non-comics stuff) even as WFA is gaining them. That's weird, because this blog was originally for everything and WFA was born of specialization.
Oh, and for those of you who don't think ranting about Power Girl's boobs ever did anyone any good. I got politically aware through the Fan Feminists I've met and the places my comic book articles were linked. So don't tell me this is a waste of energy. This kind of thinking reverberates into real life, whether you're the one carrying it from fandom to reality or you've taken it from fandom to reality.
They mirror each other. Just as we're in a backlash against the Women's Movement in the political media, we seem to be in the midst of the backlash from Women in Refrigerators still. As the companies and the fanboys get meaner, louder, and more explicit, so do the Feminists. They attack from all sides, so do the Feminists. The companies attack each other, the fanboys attack each other, the antifeminists attack the Feminists who attack other Feminists who attack antifeminists who attack fanboys and feminists who team up to attack the companies. Its become a wild repetitive dance where the music just gets faster and faster and we change partners and costumes in mid-twirl.
Its all the same old song, a little bit louder and a little bit worse each time. Each time you hear the part where they throw us a great female character, its better than before. Each time they then kill her off, its just a bit worse than before. Each piece of cheesecake is just a bit worse than the last. Each part where someone waves their hand and dismisses someone with "Its just a comic book", "Its for men anyway", "You should be blogging about women in the Middle East instead" and "Well, I'M a WOMAN and I'm not offended" is just a little bit louder and a little bit worse than the last time I heard it, and that was the worst part of the dance to begin with.
There's one good point.
As I told someone earlier, I disagree with Girl-Wonder.org members vocally and regularly. But I don't dismiss them. Being dismissed unites people in rage against the dismisser. Douglas, in the aforementioned book, notes how being dismissed by the news media in the beginning of the women's movement drew women of many different ideologies together. They made a common enemy of themselves.
I think that's the driving force behind the recent surge in comic book feminist blogging. The companies are dismissing us. With every fetish statue, porn-inspired cover, male-focused marketing campaign, pink ghetto and closed fridge door they're dismissing women as superhero fans. Then when we stand up and say "We're here! We've been here! And it would be nice if you didn't actively try to run us out of here!" we're accused of asking for special treatment, and dismissed again. After you notice too much of that (and you can't stop noticing it) you either take the hint and leave or (held captive by your love of the basic concepts of the genre, your appreciation for the medium, and your desperate fannish need to cling to your childhood dreams) you decide you've had enough and write rude letters to Peter Tomasi about the lack of female characters in Green Lantern.
At the same time, a hundred other women decide they've had enough, and sent in postcards about the Spoiler.
Now, we have more women who've decided they've had enough. Some are probably taking the hint, while others are sending letters (ranging from the polite to disgusted to enraged) to the helpfully provided addresses.
I like that. That's progress. That means the dance hall's getting crowded, even as (or probably because) the music's getting faster. We haven't hit the breaking point, though. Or we've passed it. I'm not sure I'd recognize the breaking point, but I figure its some point after somebody sends 12 T-Shirts to a major publisher addressed to the most scantily clad female characters, or sends them pink printouts of the resumes of feminist sci-fi novelists, along with what series they'd be best suited to write.
In the meantime, once this outrage dies down and people return to their respective blogging habits, I'll appreciate having the variety back. See, not every WFA link makes it to the major news and commentary sites so many people may not realize it but there are a lot of very different people in the comics blogosphere, even fi they seem to turn into an echo chamber when united through special provocation. Even then, it lasts for a day or so and some of the most incredible things you've ever read come through once people get their heads about them. Some of the most amazingly stupid things as well. The variety returns.