Now, I've already had men patiently explain to me that a female creator anthology is sexist and wrong and means that females are being forced into a ghetto. A ghetto of GIRLS!! (Where cooties must surely reign.) I admit a female fronted major event for the sake of a female fronted major event makes me a bit skeptical, because let's be honest: it's a major event, and that can't be good. But I'm willing to reserve my cries of righteous indignation and flaunting of my oppressed minority status until I get more than a one sentence blurb. I'm also not unaware that all of the key players in Siege, as identified by the "Origins of" special, are 100% white men, unless we're giving Loki shapeshifter credit. That and Blackest Night is featuring an "Ex-Girlfriends in Supremely Practical Space Swimsuits" corps. Maybe I shouldn't think about this too much, as this isn't what this post is about.
But as I was reading this interview with Marjorie Liu about the Women of Marvel promotion (warning: link leads to IGN and may therefore produce spontaneous rage) I was struck by one of her pretty well articulated points.
So when you ask whether or not the "Women of Marvel" comics are a step in the right direction, I don't know how to answer that except to say, of course, I think it's wonderful -- so that those outside the industry realize there's already a strong female presence.
And that's just it. There are already vaginas in your comics. Women do read superhero books, and they aren't a foreign language that needs to be taught very carefully to anyone lacking a Y chromosome. Women don't have any trouble identifying with male characters: if they did, they'd be pretty well out of luck across the fictional spectrum. Women may have trouble identifying with Greg Land drawings, but that's something else entirely. But the point most blatant marketing ploys miss out on is, well, that the medium itself isn't inherently sexist, and you don't really need to change comics/videogames/whatever to include more shopping and cooking and boys or whatever that mysterious xx ingredient is that will make women finally understand.
But fan culture is hostile to new readers of all kinds, even when new readers are desperately needed for business to continue as usual. This is where I draw on my own singular experience: not trying to speak for everyone with girlparts ever. But comic shops, I've found, are not always female friendly places, and the internet itself is littered with sandwich-making demands. If you ask the question: are comics sexist?, you're liable to spark almost as much rage as Bendis retconning Wanda. I've been told in polite tones that I should "celebrate" the fact that women even exist at all in comics, because, you know, it's unreasonable to expect them to make up half of the fictional population. (I know I can't think of a real society comprised of approximately 50% females!!) But, uh, here, lemme quote from a recent discussion I had with a guy about comics and sexism!!
I don't know about that. And for a thread about sexism towards women that was quite sexist towards men. Most women I know don't get into Cap, Iron Man, or Thor. They do like the X-Men. Especially since it went all crazy. ( I honestly don't care about Pixie, Dazzler, or Psylocke going shopping yet that's what's there) Men generally relate better to heroes than women. And heroes are what sell Marvel's books.
To be fair though, the reason that 90% of the time women are not effective leaders as men is because they get to wrapped up in stuff emotionally. That's the most women's psychology... I'm just saying that most women who come under intense stress become emotional and a develop fractious mind set where they don't always make the most logical decisions. Not all, but most. Therefore it makes sense that Phoenix, Wanda, Storm, and She-Hulk all flipped out if they are being written as women are most of the time. The difference is that their "flipping out" was amplified due to their powers.
My response to that was: "So, do Asian people have a special bone structure that makes them better able to do martial arts?" I then think I said something along the lines of "we inherit a continuity from times when sexism was obviously pervasive: you can't say it's just fate that the characters we've got left over from the golden age are by and large white men." This resulted in:
It's only a problem if you make it a problem. Maybe women should stop whining so much.
That was when I figured everything out. If women didn't complain about sexism, it wouldn't exist! The reason most women don't read comics isn't the mainstream fanboy stigma. It's not that comic fans themselves perpetuate gross and offensive stereotypes. It's that women have tiny, over-emotional brains that can't comprehend real heroes. After all, the hammer is Thor's penis: how could a female possibly understand something as deep and nuanced as two people punching each other. It's out of my vocabulary, but I appreciate the mansplanation.
The truth is, there are many places on the internet where comments like those would have resulted in a righteous smackdown, but not on this particular comicbook forum. Women have safe spaces, but there are still large swaths of internet nerd culture that hold to the golden rule of tits or gtfo. But I can't help but think that this Women in Marvel promotion, even if atrociously handled, could be a positive if it'll get certain segments of the population to realize that women have already infiltrated. They are reading your Captain America comics and getting their emotions all over them, and some of them have already made Steve and Tony gay for each other. If you make ridiculous generalizations, I will post them in my livejournal and you will be mocked retroactively. Because I am pretty sure retcons are the elemental weakness of comics fans. If a woman can't even buy the comics she's written without getting asked if they're for her boyfriend, I don't think editorial is our final boss.
I regret that I'm not loud, I regret that I'm not offensive, I regret that I don't give idiots a piece of my mind when it's what they deserve. Because I can't make Marvel publish the Foggy Nelson: Werewolf Hunter ongoing that features in my wildest fantasies, or make sure Namor always wears as little clothing as possible. But I can tell idiots on the internet exactly why they're idiotic, and even if it won't register through their preternaturally thick skulls, I'll at least have the satisfaction of knowing stuff like this didn't go unchallenged. Because that's the scary thing: it often does.
Meanwhile, in a less serious post!!