Saturday, July 08, 2006

Promises, Promises

(I'll address comments sometime soon -- I've gotten some good ones on old posts even. In the meantime, I offer this meager piece of writing as an apology)

Green Lantern Mystery

Kevin Church, Writer, Editor, Photographer, Smut-Merchant, Muckracker, Interviewer, Perpetrator of Far Too Many Trangressions to Mention in a Month of Mondays, Cruel Taskmaster, Carrier of the Handbasket to Hell, Joker, Smoker, Midnight Toker, and All-Around Fun Guy sent me a present this week.

And it has me worried that my memory is going.

You see, I know the Green Lanterns very well. I can usually easily distinguish them, and tell you the differences, and tell you when a story is off or a personality doesn't work. I have a very clear picture in my head of all of the human Green Lanterns. If I had talent, I could draw them myself. But Kevin managed to stump me.

Kevin found a picture, somewhere on the Internet, of a Green Lantern I can't place.

He looks very familiar, though, and the most distinguishing features are prominently displayed. I should have no trouble identifying the superhero in question but I can't. I've racked my brain over it, I've looked at my records, my back issues, my archives, my private... art collection, and studied each lantern closely. I can't make a match.

But dammit, he looks so familiar, I just can't place him. Please, help me out.

Can you recognize this Green Lantern?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Steve Trevor -- In Uniform

I can see where you're coming from here, Diana. He never listens, you're not planning on marriage and he's unfit for the institution himself... But he's so damned cute, fun and charming you can't bring yourself to just blow him off.

And he gets the pilot's hat instead of the fast-food worker hat. That's a major plus.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy Independance Day!

What better way to celebrate the Fourth of July than with vintage war propaganda? Above is the last panel of All-Star Comics #16 -- a single-issue World War II Propaganda Extravaganza from 1943.

Hello Again, Hal

Since Scipio blogged about gender issues today...

Monday, July 03, 2006

Monday Misogyny

The Damned Depressing List linked at Newsarama.

The reaction?
Which list does "my childhood" go in?

Inward Looking

Looking back on my last two or three days weeks of posting, it strikes me that I may have become just a tiny bit self-absorbed.

Just a tiny bit.

But I don't get our society's condemnation of self-reflection. I think it's important to examine our inner selves. Our motives. Our feelings. Internal focus helps you, and it's not hurting anybody else. I can't imagine the the instance where someone would be so lost in their own moody troubles that serious harm might come to another person as a result.

I mean, you'd have to be a complete and utter moron to let that happen.

So We Only Get One Question

The night before Kalinara left for HeroesCon, she asked me if I wanted her to ask Dan Didio anything for me. I had three questions, and told her one was infinitely more important than the other two.

Why was this particular question so important?

Because I was absolutely convinced that no one at DC had even had the idea to do this.

See, I'm a big believer in ingrained cultural sexism. I think empathy and respect, these need to be taught. Our culture simply isn't set up to teach empathy to women. Everything is masculine, everything is for boys. That's why "sissy" and "throw like a girl" and such as insults. When we're raised, we're taught to identify with the masculine. That's where the traditional values of society are placed. You need to teach yourself to identify with the feminine. You need to teach yourself to value the feminine viewpoint.

That's why I stories are set up that way. Male heroes, the story revolves around them.

And I really don't understand why having this viewpoint shaken puts people on the defense. I mean, that's what Feminism's for, to shake the narrow viewpoint that centers on the male. To focus on the female for a change. It's not considered a revolutionary philosophy anymore, but really it is. The point is to change the basic wiring of society. To make Women the Norm. It's not anything against men. It's just to introduce another way to view things, a way that doesn't center on men.

So, when I see the unconcious cultural sexism, I like to call it out. I like to single out cluelessness and make people think about it. Because if you're dealing with a good hearted person, I really think they'll go "Wait, I didn't think about it from that point of view," and think differently from that point on. It's revolutionary in a little way. Sometimes it puts someone on the defense, sometimes I get caught up in my point of view, sometimes we lose our tempers, but sometimes.. Sometimes it works.

And I don't think comic book writers are bad people. I just don't think they've looked at it from the other angle. We all get stuck in our boxed stories, our rotes, our formulas, our viewpoints. Rather than be defensive, we should welcome a fresh idea!

But I digress. My point was, I really don't think that Dan Didio or his massive creative writing factory are bad people. Not at all.

I really honestly figured that they'd just never thought of what I had. And I figured, if we got it out there, it might just happen because no one had thought of it before.

So, being unable to go myself, I asked Kalinara to prove it for me. And, like the wonderful friend she is, she used her one chance to ask my question:
"Will we ever see Major Force beaten by a woman?"
It's not that there's anything wrong with the concept of Major Force as a psychotic misogynistic villain. It's a fair idea, and it works.

Nor do I have a problem with Alex DeWitt's death, or the Green Lanterns being angry and white-knight about it -- because that rings true. Men react that way. Especially heroes.

It's not even that we have this horrifically misogynistic villain who specifically seeks out female characters and hurts them, not because he wants to get at them personally but because he thinks that is the best way to hurt their male relations, and he's not a Wonder Woman villain.

Because that's a kickass concept for a Wonder Woman villain.

And to be honest, while he's just too perfect as a Wonder Woman villain, he does work elsewhere. He can be a Green Lantern villain fine without bothering me.

No, the problem, is that every time I have seen him up against a female character -- He Has Won.

I saw him fight Wonder Girl in Battle for Bludhaven, and he beat the crap out of her.

He fought a depowered Arisia in Guy Gardner: Warrior and killed her.

He fought Alex DeWitt in what is possible the most one-sided fight in Green Lantern history, and, while she put up a fight (a better fight than Cassie Sandsmark did), she had no chance at all.

To be fair, as far as I know, he's never been up against Wonder Woman, Queen Hippolyta, Artemis, Supergirl, Black Canary, Huntress, Batgirl, Power Girl, Manhunter, Donna Troy, Lady Shiva, a live Katma Tui, Brik, Boodika, Soranik Natu, or even Jade. He's never to my knowledge fought a fully-powered, fully-grown, non-civilian woman.

Because he's Kyle's villain. He's Guy's villain. He's a generic Green Lantern villain and there are no female Green Lanterns on Earth. This I understand.

But here we get back to the proper structure of the story, and the payoff. The sexist jerk who offends/hurts/threatens a female character in Act I needs to have his ass handed to him by the same female character in Act III. Not by her boyfriend, or her brother, because that's the male protector fantasy. No, it has to be by her.

And if she should die in Act I, well, if the villain's actions are based on misogyny he still needs to have his ass kicked by a woman.

I've got no problem if a writer decides to write his characters equal, treat his female character the same as his male characters and not make a distinction -- as Ron Marz seemed to be doing in Witchblade when he wrote Sara as Kyle. Kyle's has his victory, when he was personally insulted, taken by the guest star. No problem.

But when you introduce a villain that is marked as evil because he is sexist, a sexual predator of some degree (the sexual harassment in Witchblade #89), you've just brought the inequality of gender into it. And to complete a satisfying story to a female viewpoint, that inequality needs to be refuted.

The Sexist Asshole in Act I Must Have His Ass Handed to Him By a Woman in Act III.

Because if it's just a man, then it's the fulfillment of the male fantasy alone -- the WhiteKnight Protector and the injured female becomes a prop.

Even women, though, get raised with the male viewpoint and need this shaking up sometimes. I was truly surprised when I first realized it, but it fell into place and explained some of my vague disappointment with some stories.

So, I didn't figure that by not understanding this little rule I've outlined, and by being used to the typical White Knight Protector cycle, that the writers were bad people. I figured they genuinely had never considered this. So, a simple, innocent question might change things.

How did they react? According to Kalinara:
Well, I asked during the lightning round, so it was kind of funny because it was all "Yes! No! Ehhhhnnn! (buzzer noise)" then I asked and there was a very obvious stall.

Like in the old cartoons...the record getting pulled off?

And there was a sort of group stutter and Rucka says something like "Uh...sure...why not? Just...might have to wait a few years..."

And Didio recovers and quips something like "beaten by a woman? Sure! He can be just like the rest of us!"

It's sad, but I get a vain, self-centered pleasure out of being right -- even about things like this.

Besides, this is Greg Rucka who answered. He probably started plotting it in the back of his head with Sasha or Renee or Kathy right there because we know he lives vicarously through them. And I just have to wait and I'll get to finally see this jerk get beaten to a bloody pulp by a superheroine for all his stupid sexist little comments. And it will be immensely satisfying.

I am a bit disappointed, as this does mean that Kalinara's hypothesis that Phantom Lady will get to hurt him in Battle for Bludhaven #6 is wrong.

Oh well, it'll come. Maybe it'll be a resurrected Katma Tui or Arisia. That would be downright awesome. Or Soranik cutting her teeth on him. Or Brik -- Hehehe, I'd like to see him just try and hurt Brik.

(Of course, this is no excuse not to keep calling out the little things like this. If anything, it tells us it works.)

In the meantime, we get to see him piss off Hal Jordan.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

First Carnival of Feminist Science Fiction and Fantasy Fans

Ragnell the Foul, vainly and ridiculously wearing all of available Lady Monster traits for this event, adjusts her twin-tailed red and white striped jacket underneath her borrowed wings. She perches her tophat on the mass of hand-me-down snakes between her vintage antlers, and hops onto a makeshit, outdoor stage. She clutches a shiny new brass-tipped cane in her shiny new brass-clawed hands and before you have a chance to ponder the symbolism of this artifically amalgamated abomination, she speaks.

Step right up, folks, step right up. Welcome to the First Edition of the Carnival of Feminist Science-Fiction and Fantasy Fans! We have a lovely show today, full of many fine writers and a few artists!

First up, the featured fight of the evening: Magical Goth Princess Pretty Karen vs. the Giant Robot of WEEE. Enjoy!

Our next act, Kalinara, takes us Where No Woman Has Gone Before:
One thing though, I was always disappointed in the treatment of women. I mean Deanna Troi? She was there to bang male aliens like Riker did the women, but with idiotic babble about romance instead. And Beverly Crusher's main purpose was to be the will-they/won't-they love interest for Captain Picard.

And Raqua gives us something "for all female Star Trek fans, because most of the time, we never get what we want on the show."

In an old Looking to the Stars column, Matt Morrison offered the following send-up of "Get Your Girlfriend into Comics" articles:
Now, I know there are some people out there who may object to the idea that you should enter any relationship looking at the other person as a fixer-upper opportunity. They'll tell you that attempting what I describe here makes you no better than those women who clip articles like "How To Trick Your Man Into Taking You To The Opera" out of Cosmo. But let me tell you something. Most of these people are alone and unhappy, so who are you going to believe?

Breena Ronan shows a Must See Video, then relates it to video-game genderbending:
After listening to Joss, I have to make the connection between his comment that strong women characters are valuable for men as well as women, and the phenomenon of men taking on female avatars when they are gaming. For some reason, research shows that women gamers rarely switch genders when gaming. Because games are so populated by male avatars, women frequently play games with male avatars , but when given the choice they rarely choose gender bending.

For those of you who skipped watching the video and went straight to the text, Mr. Loodyvillanopolis kindly transcribes that speech for you and the Divine Goat has made livejournal icons out of the highlights!

And now, I must pause for some important information. Those of you who are unfamilar with the basic tenants of Feminism (which makes me wonder how found your way to this tent) are welcome at the show. Browse at your leisure, but I must caution you against pestering the performers unecessarily. They do not suffer fools lightly. There are simply too many fools to waste the time with them! Karen, after finding herself surrounded by pests, offers this helpful primer for anyone interested in actual discussion. For those who aren't interested in anything worthwhile and simply wish to be annoying, she has a few words:
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.

Unsure why the lady in the previous booth is so angry? Well, next up is a gentleman who might be able to clue you in:
Recent discussions about objectification of women in comics have tended to bring up the corollary question of whether men are equally objectified in comics, and if that isn’t “just as bad.” I think we’ve all seen the remixed covers by now that feature the Green Lantern’s Power Battery among other heroes’ attributes. Alas, it is but a dream, a hoax, an imaginary story. Truly it takes more than spandex over muscles to bring the objectification even close to in line with the way that women are presented by default (two of the most important words to remember in discussions such as this) on the comics cover/page.

Jeff tears down The Realism Defense:
In addition to simply being glossed over, all of these examples of sexism in RPGs also get defended by portraying critics as valuing “political correctness” over “realism,” a defense that’s especially pernicious because it goes outside the game to make claims about the world in general.

Over towards the ADD Theater, Shannon sounds off on would-be "allies":
The idea that we somehow need 'allies' that can only be satisfied if we are silent drives me batty. The whole point of allies is to stand up for people when they are exhausted from dealing with the issues or talking among their group to help soften attitudes.

Tekanji takes us through the ups and downs of gender in the CG movie Ark:
So, I finally got around to watching the movie Ark today. The first half hour or so got me really excited. The rest… well, let’s just say that the movie could have benefitted from an education regarding Women in Refrigerators.

The rest of the article is cut for massive spoilers that will ruin your ability to ever watch this movie if you read them. That being said, if you have already seen the movie or never intend to see it, please read on.

Behind this curtain, you see 100 Little Dolls contained in one woman! Note that they speak in unison as they respond to an article on female gamers:
One of the main points of his article is “that the majority of games we play don’t enforce sexual stereotype, gender biases or sexist principles”—that rather, instead, our conceived notions that video games are just for guys has been fed continuously by the media. True enough that the media treats geek girls as anomalies, but are the majority of the games out there asexual (?), or rather, unbiased, instead of being in favor of men and masculinity?

Moving along, take note of the Aquarium. Inside, you'll find the Amazing Drama Turtle questioning the Feminist_Fandom livejournal community as to personality differences between male and female villains.

Diagonal to the Aquarium, Alianne ponders the complexity of villains:
Well, I've never really been content with most non-anime cartoons because the villains in most of them are evil simply because they are. There is no complexity involved and reality isn't that simple. Take the story snow white, for example. The evil stepmother decides to do away with the princess because said princess is prettier? I mean, come on! What happened to them killing the current heir to get the throne for themselves. That reason, I would have accepted but for something as superficial as beauty? Evil for the sake of having someone to be evil.

Over in the concessions area, you'll see comics artist Lea Hernandez generously offer four grants to talented female webcomickers:
In order to foster women publishing independently, with economy, and as owners of what they create, I will award FOUR grants annually, of a year's free hosting at, to women making a regularly-updating new or existing webcomic of any genre or style.
The recipients will have unlimited data storage and bandwidth, the ability to choose to support their work with ads, and a storefront for selling merchandise.

In response to criticism of this gesture, you can see a defense by fellow artist Colleen Doran, along with a little personal information on how she got into reading and drawing comic books,

As longer as we're looking at professional comic book creators here, earlier this month writer Gail Simone weighed in with her views on Fan-Fiction.

In an exhibit with no actual man-on-man action (I'm sure those of us seeking it know where to find by now, though -- this is the Internet after all), Lis Riba muses on yaoi/slash fanfic written by women for women.

Jess McCabe is reading an erotic graphic novel with an interesting premise:
The book concerns Dorothy (from the Wizard of Oz), Alice (in Wonderland) and Wendy (from Peter Pan) - all grown up, the three characters meet in a hotel and embark on a sexual adventure. Part of this involves retelling their stories - the ones we are all so familiar with - as tales of sexual awakening.

Jenn finds a dismissive reaction to her criticism of a truly worrisome new comic book character:
I was incredibly disheartened to read this treatment of the criticizing voice of the Great Ten. This paragraph ignored the bulk of the criticism, which has been levelled primarily at the characters of Thundermind and Mother of Champions. The use of the phrase "mislabelled as a misogynistic creation" and the sentence referring to MOC as a Divine Mother archetype not only makes it sound like critics like me who firmly believe MOC to be a sexist caricature are speaking out of our asses (i.e. haven't done any research) but suggests that we couldn't possibly have said anything worth repeating.

Here's a basic single-issue comic book plot:
GA #54, the short version: Green Arrow and Black Lightning are looking for evil Doctor Light. Evil Dr. L. is conveniently only a few blocks away attacking Kimiyo Hoshi, the good Doctor Light. Evil Dr. L steals Kimiyo's powers and flies off cackling. Green Arrow finds Kimiyo in the hospital and is attacked by Mirror Master and Killer Frost, and runs off to fight them. Kimiyo is left bleeding on the floor and never seen again.
Except for the last line (which in a serial medium like comics happens), it doesn't sound so bad, right? But a brief synopsis takes quite a bit out of the execution. Marionette explains exactly what was wrong with the execution, up to and including the points that may need Trigger Warnings for sexual assault survivors in Incandescent: Losing the Light

Next door, Valerie examines another single issue, one that involves an actual sexual assault:
"Squadron Supreme" #4 is all about the rape that made Edith (Inertia) a warrior. Because when yer dealin' with women there has to be a reason, and more likely than not that reason guessed it, sexual assault.
I strongly advise everyone to continue reading the comments, at least to this point.

Alau offers thoughts on discovering that she tests as a "Catwoman" personality. (And this person better answers her question about Wonder Woman)

Collie covers a lot of ground in this post on objectification, body image, clothing, inequality, gaming, comics, sports, and more:
If we had to pick one word to describe superhero men, it'd probably be "strength." Male supers are taller, stronger, shown with wider shoulders and narrower waists than normal men. Their abs are ripplingly developed, their jaws are square, their upper arms and thighs are well muscled. Those things may make them seem sexier, but it doesn't reduce them to sexual icons — they are active, and their muscles underline their power within the world. In effect, they are presented as exciting ideals to identify with, rather than as sexual toys.

If we had to pick one word for superhero women, though, it would not be strength — it would be "sex." Women have impossibly huge breasts (sometimes larger than their heads), strangely long and usually bare legs which are lengthened with high heels and slender or bare hips, large full lips, and imposing masses of unruly long hair. This might be fun in the bedroom, but it's likely to get them killed in a fistfight. Heck, were I a super-villain in such a world, I'd keep a minion working in the emergency rooms of all the local hospitals. Their sole job would be to record all the athletic women coming in with broken ankles — as possible super-heroines who'd fallen off their heels in a fight!
In addition to a mind that puts Paula Von Gunther to shame, she has pictures to go along with her many other points!

Though not directly in response to Collie's minor mention of hosiary, but still close enough that I can't resist giving them neighboring stages, Stephanie Chan stands up for fishnet stockings:
I wanted to wear all black! I wanted a black swimsuit, a black jacket, black buccaneer boots, and fishnet stockings. I don’t know why, but Alex Toth’s Black Canary absolutely captured me.

I must admit Black Canary captured me too, particularly what she stood for in her unusual outfit. So much so that I dedicated my first weekly feature when I joined Stephanie at Blog@Newsarama to explaining the feminist significance of this panel:

Next up, you see Liz's mixed reaction to the third X-Men movie:
First Mystique, then Rogue, then Jean, it’s like the raging anxiety about women being in touch with power had to hammer itself right off the movie screen. I enjoyed X3, but it pissed me off, especially the end!

Just across the fairway, Mickle lets you know what Eva Peron has in common with Jean Grey:
However, ALW didn't think that a musical with a woman as the lead, rather than just a lead would work (for whatever reason). He didn't think her husband's character was really the right one to pull it off either, so he created Che, Antonio Banderas's character.

She finished just in time for another act at the same booth as the first X3 review: LeGuin, Boys’ Own Adventure, and the Fine Art of Genderfucking
This book was written in 1968.

And nothing else written since has carved such a significant place for itself in both popularity and sheer genderfucking.

I repeat: this book was written in 1968

Elizabeth answers the above:
Lemme see. Okay, very few modern books period (nevermind SF novels, nevermind feminist SF novels) have entered the canon to the extent that The Left Hand of Darkness has, so frankly I think that's a straw man. If you set up a definition of success that more or less only includes TLHoD, it seems to me a little disingenuous to then disallow Joanna Russ for being less accessible than Le Guin. I think there's an unexamined catch-22 in that argument: Russ doesn't count because she's not popular; she's not popular because she's offputting; she's offputting because she's radical.

The normally political Maia geeks out for us:
So in honour of the greatness of Joss I've made a list of the top 5 most feminist episodes of Buffy, and just to show I've realised it wasn't all destroying phalluses and overturning stereotypes I've also listed the top 5 least feminist episodes of Buffy.

The author of this Chris Lightfellow story describes it best in her submission email
I wrote this 'fic to get a better grasp on the character Chris Lightfellow, from the video game Suikoden III, and to play around with ideas of how she (one of the few female knights in her country) might feel about gender roles in her society. Please do _not_ confuse the game character with her manga incarnation, as for the manga her spine was removed to make room for heaps of insecurity, daddy issues, and enlarged tear ducts.

Constance Ash of Deep Genre relates a ballet to Buffy the Vampire Slayer in a multi-part series that forces me to fudge the nomination cut-off, from Part IV:
In a sense, Mina is a foremother of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In Buffy it is the male characters who are changed into monsters by sex. In the place of the Brotherhood of True Men who destroy Lucy in an ecstasy of voluptuous force, Buffy slays these monster males – or, on occasion, transforms them.
The whole series is brilliant.

Ariel shares some thoughts stemming from a presentation she made on Racialized Trafficking of Bodies in World of Warcraft:
I’m happy my first presentation to a big group (outside of the classroom) went so well. I closed by saying although I believe video games in many ways are sexist, racist, and classist, it’s okay to both critique and enjoy them, and that I’m optimistic people like us can demand games become more progressive.

With all of these lovely submissions and nominations, I wasn't sure whether to include something from this very blog, or if the analysis of the panel earlier was sufficient. It felt unfair to hog two posts on the Carnival even rationalizing it as "two different blogs". I broke other rules such as the date restrictions with stretchier rationalization ("It's the first one," I told myself, "Technically everything ever written falls under your submission period). I agonized over it, and as I am a shameless attention seeker who loves to see her own writing -- and I do write at more than one blog -- I chose to do the unforgivable and offer a second sample of my humble efforts, a stream of conciousness scribbling that touches on why I personally felt an event like this was needed. My sincerest apologies to those of you who submitted more than one nomination and saw it cut out. Takes off top-hat and bows her head apologetically

And with that, (Replaces Tophat) our unfortunately short show draws to a close. I'm more than pleased with the turn-out, especially as this was the first-ever carnival. My When Fangirls Attack partner Kalinara has graciously decided to host the Second Carnival of Feminist Science Fiction and Fantasy Fans at Pretty, Fizzy Paradise on July 18th, details here.

If your craving for thought-provoking reading is still unsatisfied, there are other venues of feminist reading out right now. The Second Erase Racism Carnival has been up for over a week now. And the Second Carnival to End Sexual Violence is up at Abyss2Hope. And the big one, the The Mainstream Carnival of Feminists is expected on the Fifth of July. Bitch|Lab hosted the previous edition and if you haven't seen it I urge you to drop by.

Hat comes off again, takes a bow.

I'd like to thank everyone who submitted, nominated, and spread the word about this Carnival. And I'd like to thank you for reading. Please come by again, and please, feel free to link this and the future editions whereever applicable.

After another slight bow, the monstrosity replaces her hat and hops down from the stage.

((EDIT: In my sleep deprived state this morning, I left out 4 wonderful posts that had been on my list -- My apologies for that. Merc Wanderer's Chris Lightfellow fanfiction, Valerie's review of Squadron Supreme #4, Constance Ash's piece on vampire ballet, and Shannon's article on Allies are edited in as of Sunday afternoon. Sorry!))
((And, for those of you wondering, this is why I skipped my regular Saturday feature on this blog. Figured it more than made up for it.))