More Thoughts on Females, Superheroes, and Blogging

It was awfully nice, after watching two well-known comic women I respect going at each other, to see more women blogging.

I was somewhat surprised, though, that most of the new blogs I saw were writing mostly about DC and Marvel. It’s a bit weird to see people concerned about sexism in comics who only talk about the comics genre that’s known to be especially anti-female (in both content and production).

Don’t get me wrong, I was there at one point in my life (only reading superhero comics) and if that’s what they enjoy reading, then there’s nothing wrong with making their voices heard in response. And at least they’re not flat-out saying that since sexism is everywhere it’s no big deal here in a tone that suggests the girlies should shut up now. (That same blogger calls the discussions “navel-gazing”, implies those commenting are likely hypocrites who buy Lady Death, and says “I think it’s nothing more than a big “bandwagon jumping” from a lot of people who don’t want to look like they are part of the “problem.”” Yes, that must be it. People just want to be cool. Methinks that this person is seeing his own motives in others.)

I’m likely to turn people off by saying this, and I’m probably coming off as the annoying adult voice who says “when you’re my age you won’t think that way”, but I hope that they soon find other comics in other genres that they can enjoy without that little voice in the back of their head saying “this would be great if only the artist could cut back on the crotch shots” or “why are the costumes so chilly-looking?” or “I wish rape wasn’t such a popular subject matter.”

At some time in their lives, long-time comic readers tend to find themselves having read so many superhero stories that they’ve seen them all before. At which point, they find that they like comics as a medium, and they read many other things instead; or they find that they get better superhero stories in movies or on TV; or they try to wring the same enjoyment they once had out of the same superhero properties, and they become bitter cranks always talking about how it was better before.

I’d like to see more cross-pollination, with blogs that talk about and link to others talking about all kinds of comics. That way, ideally, we can all learn from and inspire each other in more interesting and thought-provoking ways. The comic market is fragmented enough, with superhero-only stores and a tiny percentage of truly diverse outlets. I don’t want to see comics blogging go the same way.

Maybe I’m reading much too much into this, and it’s just that people notice the people who start around the time they do. Regardless, it appears that there’s a whole new generation of comic bloggers out there — welcome!

Similar Posts: Superhero Comic Sexism – A Futile Fight? § The Next Scummy Comic Publisher § Blog Recommendations? § Thanks, Kelson, for the Premio Dardo Award § Quoted in Powers


36 Responses to “More Thoughts on Females, Superheroes, and Blogging”

  1. Chris Says:

    “That same blogger calls the discussions “navel-gazing” ”

    James Meeley in saying something fucking stupid shocker!

  2. David Says:

    “At which point, they find that they like comics as a medium, and they read many other things instead;”

    Have you been reading my diary again?

  3. Joshua Macy Says:

    It may be too late, or not late enough, as far as comics blogging. I’ve followed most of your links to other at one time or another, mostly to find (with a few obvious exceptions) that they’re not talking about the comics that I read: manga and webcomics. And as little as I currently care about super-hero comics, I care even less about the toils and travails of the comics retailers, distributors, publishers. My friends who are avid readers know squaddoo about book publishers and could care less; ditto my friends who are really into movies. It puzzles me a bit that comics fandom and blogging is so different.

  4. Sarah Says:

    I don’t know, Johanna. I’m no longer college-aged, I consume a lot of more “upmarket” media (art films, modern fiction), but there’s something about a good superhero story that still gives me a thrill. In fact, as much as I really do believe that comics desperately need to diversify in genre, I rarely find a comic of a different genre that I would rank highly in that genre, as considered across media. I keep trying new things, but I keep being disappointed. SLEEPER, for instance: hardly an agony to read, but much of it seemed like warmed-over Le Carre/La Femme Nikita. And I suppose DMZ would be interesting if you had never read any urban dystopic SF before, but as it is, it’s just not very striking. So, when I’m being conservative, I’ll pick up a good superhero comic, which at least gives me a known pleasure, and look for the other genres in other media.

  5. David Oakes Says:

    You know, that “voice in my head” is exactly the reason I read superhero comics. Because while Vicki Vale’s butt was stupid, it didn’t make me feel downright skeevy like all of the “fan service” crotchshots of underage girls. And while rape has saddly become an “in” thing, there aren’t entire sub-genres dedicated to it. Or to “extorted homosexual dating”. Or any other number of sex/violence conflations that are oh so wrong when you where a cape, but somehow excusable if you have big eyes and bleed from your nose.

    Hopefully long-term manga readers will be able to mature enough to realize they like comics as a medium, rather than being a slave to a single format. Or maybe they will find better romance stories in soap operas or TV sit-coms. Because if they continue to dwell on how much worse it all used to be, they are only going to become bitter old cranks trying to proselytize everyone they meet.

    (Saddly the sarcasm has been completely overwhelmed by the reflected contempt/paternalism. But really, I am perfectly happy to stick with a genre where “fanservice” is shorthand for “having to mention all of Firestorm’s incarnations in-story” rather than “upshirt shots of 13 year olds”. Superheroes have no monopoly on sexism or immaturity. And other genres are the “salvation of the medium” only in as much as “diversity is good”, no more, no less. Talking about tolerance by saying “Someday you will grow out of it…” is about as useful as talking about sexism by saying “All men are…”)

  6. James Meeley Says:

    Just wanted to thank you for linking my piece. That way folks can see the full thing and not judge it based solely on your… unique interpretation of it. I’d also suggest checking out my follow-up which you failed to link or acknowledge. An obvious oversight, as I know you’d never attempt to mislead people to thinking I said something I didn’t. Still, I appreciate your interest in my blog and hope that you continue to come around.

    Oh, and Chris, if my feeling that people verbally berating Frank Miller online over a written work of fiction, not only will fail to address serious issues of sexism, but is also little more than showing how online fandom is mostly just “hot air” and do very little to address the actual issues, if it involves more than just “sounding off” from their keyboard, is showing me to be “fucking stupid”, then I hope to God I never become “pretentiously intelligent”. Still, thanks for your insights. I hope you keep coming by my blog, as well.

    [Edited by JDC solely to fix URL]

  7. Joshua Macy Says:

    Wow, James. That’s a really interesting approach to convincing Johanna’s readers that you’re not as big a jerk as Johanna paints you.

  8. Kalinara Says:

    This is an interesting entry. I know I’m one of those blogs that primarily discusses superhero comics (DC in my case). This is because I like them best. In time, maybe my tastes will change (Three years ago, my blog would have probably been entirely Japanese manga based). Right now though, this is what I’m reading so this is what I’m blogging. :-)

    And for the record, (not that he needs me to defend him) I think James is really a nice guy in general. I’d recommend everyone give his blog a chance (everyone says something others disagree with sometimes, and it may not always be the most…diplomatically stated) and not judge on just one issue. :-)

  9. James Meeley Says:

    Well, Joshua, at least I’ll be judged on my own words, not someone else’s take on them. That’s about all I could ask for. Thanks for your insights, as well. Hope to see you around my blog more often. :)

    And thanks for your support, Kalinara. I have been enjoying your views on DC’s super-heroes, myself, and will look forward to more of the same from you. I hope both you and Ragnell keep coming around my blog, because you both make it a lot more fun to do. :)

  10. Johanna Says:

    Joshua, you bring up a good counter-point, which is that people generally do have relatively specialized tastes, and comics are now wide enough that many people do want more limited views of it. Perhaps it’s that most people aren’t like me — they don’t want to read and read about manga and indies and webcomics and mainstream (whatever that means) comics. And yeah, it would be nice to be able to talk about product without talking about the industry behind it… but as long as comics is so weirdly unique in so many ways, the one inherently affects the other.

    Sarah, no disagreement — except that it’s getting harder and harder to find a GOOD superhero comic, in my opinion. (Although I’ll hopefully have a couple of reviews coming today with pointers.) Have you tried Finder, which is simply outstanding in any field?

    David, I don’t understand why you feel compelled to argue against manga in completely unrelated posts, but I think you’re reacting unnecessarily defensively. You’re also ignoring the superhero sexualization of teens as best exemplified by Supergirl’s current costume, behavior, and fetish shots.

    James, thanks for being so predictable: I knew you’d show up whining about how you’d been misrepresented by quotes of your own words. I didn’t cite your followup because you have a long-standing habit of trying to backpedal when called on stupid things you’ve said. That doesn’t change that you said them in the first place.

    Kalinara, that’s fascinating, that you went from manga to superheroes, since I’ve mostly heard people do the opposite. I’d love to hear more about why and how.

    I’d be more willing to give James a chance if I didn’t have his homophobic comments about how gay couples in Young Avengers aren’t suitable for children fresh in my mind. Everyone misphrases at times, sure, but certain people have a history… an apology without “but I didn’t really do anything wrong” self-justification would go a long way.

    But that reminds me… thank you, everyone, for considering the points I was trying to make without pointing out how much better I could have expressed them. This was a troublesome post for me, one where I was trying to work out what I thought as I went, and I thank you for your open-hearted consideration.

  11. Joshua Macy Says:

    Johanna, well, more but more limited views of it (more blogs like Love Manga that deal exclusively with the kind of things I do read) would be one way to go. Another way, though, would be for more blogs like yours that cover enough different things that there’ll be at least some posts about things that I do or might read among all the posts on various things that I’m not at all interested in, or am interested in only as a rubbernecker.

  12. Johanna Says:

    Joshua, I’m not sure I’m getting exactly what you’re saying, but I’m glad to have you as a reader.

  13. Joshua Macy Says:

    Well, let me try again. It seems to me that there are two basic kinds of blogs about comics: those that cover one type of comic to the exclusion of all else, and those that cover a wide range of comics and related topics. Your blog is the latter kind. If the blog is narrowly focused, I’m probably only going to read it if the focus is on an area I’m interested in. A broadly aimed blog I’m more likely to read as long as even a fraction of the topics overlap with my interests.

  14. Johanna Says:

    Oh, thanks for elaborating. Yeah, I agree with that — that you don’t have to be interested in everything someone writes about so long as you’re interested in enough of some of it.

  15. Gail Says:

    Lea and I had a little (unfortunately public) spat, then talked it over like friends and worked it out. How it’s link-worthy, I have no idea, but it’s already resolved, thank goodness. :)

    Gail

  16. Johanna Says:

    Glad to hear it was settled amiably.

  17. James Meeley Says:

    Johanna:

    Well, I know you have your opinions of me and that’s fine. I don’t expect them to change.

    I do think, though, it’s only fair that you not try to take a few “choice words” from me and try to make it out into something I never said. I never said “girlies shut up” or anything of the like. Your extrapolation, while prefectly fine for YOU to want to believe of me, shouldn’t be used as some kind of guide for others to assume your feelings are the correct ones, as you so often do.

    And, in your zeal to link me, you must not have noticed I have a blog counter on my blog. That’s how I knew about this entry, as I tend to check it occassionally. I don’t make a habit of coming here, nor do I plan to. But given your feelings for me, I’d wonder why you’d bother with MY blog. After all, I don’t even have a link to your place there.

    And your desire not to link my follow-up, well, again, you are entitled to your opinions. But I really needed to, because of a mistake I had made, which Ms. Hernandez informed me of. I’m a big enough person to admit a mistake if I make one (despite how you might think differently).

    And, for the last time, my words in Young Avengers were edited. Especially thr first letter, which was less than HALF what I’d originally wrote. If I was of a more suspecious mindset, I’d swera Marvel did it to start a controversy, not just “due to space reasons.” But again, if you want to believe the worst of me for it, that’s fine. I stand by my feelings that sexuality (of ANY kind) does not belong in all-ages material. In fact, I just wrote DC about the fact ASBAR does not denote that the material within it is not suitable for all ages. Because I feel that’s an issue which is much more worth fighting for, than thinking verbally berating Frank Miller online over a work of fiction is going to do one blessed thing to stop sexism in comics.

    I don’t think sexism is “okay” and I don’t think it’s a “joke”. It’s a serious issue. But the decrying of Frank Miller’s “panty shot” is a joke, because it does nothing to address the real issue. Miller’s script isn’t the problem. Men accosting and degrading women at comicons and the like IS. That’s what needs to be addressed. Somehow, I fail to see how fanboy (and fangirls) berating Frank Miller online over a work of fiction will do that. But what do I know? I’m a fucking stupid, preditcable, backpedeling, homophobe, right?

  18. kalinara Says:

    Well, for me there isn’t really much to tell, sadly. It’s more I think that every genre/medium has certain…staples, which after a while can grate on a person. Japanese and American comics are both great, I think, but stylistically and storytelling-wise, they both have particular quirks that are fun for a time but get a little tiring.

    There are a few series I still pick up religiously when I get the opportunity (and/or am in Japan where I can get them cheap :-)) but my attention’s primarily been diverted by the new shiny thing. :-)

  19. Johanna Says:

    James, if I was the kind of person to misrepresent you, then I wouldn’t have linked to your post in the first place. Since I provided easy access to your words so people could see for themselves if I was misinterpreting your points or misquoting you, and since no one has agreed with you that I have, I expect to hear no more from you about it.

    What a weird concept, that you only visit places that link to you. I have a much more varied reading list than that.

    What you still seem to be missing is that atttiudes, images, and behavior all influence one another. Portraying women as nothing but sex objects leads some to think it’s ok to grope them at conventions — after all, Miller’s shown that girls are only there for guy’s observation and pleasure, right? You can’t simply say fighting sexism in one area is great and fighting sexism in the other is stupid. It’s a false dichotomy that doesn’t make sense. But if you’d rather play the martyr than understand that, well, you’re closer to being part of the problem than part of the solution.

    (I can’t be the only one annoyed by men who try to pretend that sexism against women bothers them while making it all about them, can I?)

  20. Johanna Says:

    Kalinara, that makes perfect sense. Reading too much of any one thing usually requires a break at some point, and there’s nothing that rejuvantes you like trying something new.

  21. Michael Eidson Says:

    James, does talking negatively about Frank Miller’s terrible scripts not fulfill our role as representatives of the comics industry, since we read comic books and talk about them online?

    You’re not the only one annoyed, Johanna. It seems Ed Cunard is the only one who can be civil with James when this stuff happens.

  22. Chris Tamarri Says:

    While I’m very much in favor of comics reader diversifying their exposure (especially in the case of bloggers and others who talk about comics publicly), I have to admit that I don’t see anything wrong with a focus on Marvel and DC’s superhero comics when discussing the idea of sexism in the medium. It’s not necessarily that I think those two publishers are especially guilty of sexism–I don’t read enough of their books to making such sweeping statements, and I’ve no idea what goes on in the corporate environment, so I can’t comment on that–but I think it’s valuable to remember that these are the comics that the most people see, both regular fans and the incidentally curious.

    I think it’s fair to approach someone with a complaint against sexual insensitivity in comics and suggest that there are other, more obscure, works with a more enlightened approach, but is it fair that this reader should have to go looking for comics that aren’t offensive? As a straight, white man, I’m aware that disenfranchisement isn’t as pertinent a concern for me as it is for other readers, but I still think I should be able to pick up any given month’s best-selling book, one that will almost definitely be published by Marvel or DC, and be able to enjoy it without guilt brought on by incidental instances of sexism. If we’re worried about sexism in comics, we should start by looking at those who produce the most popular books. Sexism in Frank Miller’s Batman is potentially more detrimental than something similar in an independent book, not because Miller’s work is objectively more offensive, but because it’s collectively more offensive, since more people see it.

    When encouraging people to read more obscure comics, I often say something to the effect of “they offer things that you can’t get elsewhere.” Which is true. But that thing they offer shouldn’t be, simply, a lack of sexism. If we want to identify the most problematic areas, we should concentrate on those with the best exposure…

  23. James Meeley Says:

    “What you still seem to be missing is that atttiudes, images, and behavior all influence one another. Portraying women as nothing but sex objects leads some to think it’s ok to grope them at conventions — after all, Miller’s shown that girls are only there for guy’s observation and pleasure, right? You can’t simply say fighting sexism in one area is great and fighting sexism in the other is stupid. It’s a false dichotomy that doesn’t make sense. But if you’d rather play the martyr than understand that, well, you’re closer to being part of the problem than part of the solution.”

    Johanna:

    I understand that images and the like can have a potential for that, with minds not developed enough to understand fantasy from reality. That’s why I emailed DC about not rating the material in ASBAR as clearly for not all ages (because it surely is not, I’m sure you’ll agree).

    But even you must know that poeple verbally berating Miller online for a written work will do absolutely nothing to further the cause of more equitable treatment for women in this industry, or address the problem of REAL LIFE sexism, either. Especially as I’m sure more than a few of those compalining, have bought every issue os ASBAR so far (and will probably continue to buy them).

    The problem isn’t a written work, but one of people not seeing fact from fiction. Vicki Vale is not a real person. She cannot be sexual harassed or assulted. And what you see done to a work of fiction, does not mean you should to it to someone in real life. I’ve watched tons of horror movies and played violent video games. By so-called “experts” I should be a homocidal maniac, but I’m not. Why? Because I was taught the difference from reality and fantasy.

    That’s the real issue, not how Frank Miller writes a “panty shot” into a comic. As with so much, the real answers start at home, with parents who teach their kids such lessons. I was, which is why I know that what I see in ASBAR isn’t the way it works (or is supposed to work) in the real world.

    There are no easy answers to fix the issue of sexism, which is why decrying Frank Miller online is so pointless. Some people are merely tyring to “clear their conscience” by ripping ASBAR apart in this way. In a few weeks they probably won’t even be talking about this anymore and will buy ASBAR #4 when it comes out.

    If we want a lasting change, we need to taking lasting measures. Berating Miller online is not one of them. Supproting more female creators works, or works that don’t cater to the most base of human instincts, is much more helpful to that end. And, of course, more work done by parents to teach their kids the difference of fantasy and reality is VERY necessary.

    As I said, I don’t think sexism is “no big deal.” But the scene of Miller’s IS, especially when you want to hold it up against real issues of sexism against real women. Let’s work on fixing the real world, before we worry about worlds of fantasy.

  24. James Meeley Says:

    “James, does talking negatively about Frank Miller’s terrible scripts not fulfill our role as representatives of the comics industry, since we read comic books and talk about them online?”

    Sure it does, if you are simply talking about how poorly crafted the work is and why you think it is.

    But for those who now want to lambast Miller as some misogynistic sexual deivant, based on nothing but a work of fiction, I think goes a little too far.

    If Miller had done something to a REAL woman, some form of sexism to a fellow being, then I might see cause to get up in arms over it, but that’s simply not the case.

    As far as I can see, the only problem is the fact DC has failed to denote the materials in ASBAR are not suitable for all ages. Some for which i emailed them and asked others to do the same. A proper rating on the book is something that needs to be addressed. But holding it up as the reason sexism exists in the comic industry? Sorry, I just don’t see that.

    “It seems Ed Cunard is the only one who can be civil with James when this stuff happens.”

    Actaully, that’s not entirely true. But even if it was, is that more a compliment to Ed or a sad statement to everyone else?

  25. James Meeley Says:

    “What a weird concept, that you only visit places that link to you. I have a much more varied reading list than that.”

    Actually, i do check out a lot of places I don’t have linked. Some of them are new to the blogging game and I am waiting to see if they catch enough of my interest to see if I should link them, but I do check other places, especially with the Comics Weblog Update (which I also have linked).

    I don’t check HERE, because, well, I know what you think of me and frankly, I don’t want to get into pointless arguments with you. I did enough of that in the days of the “Great GL Debate” and don’t need a repeat performance.

    As I said, it was only by checking the hits from my blogcounter, that I even knew about this. You’ve made your feelings towards me very clear in the past, that you really don’t want me around here and that I’m not welcome. That’s fine and I respect that. It is odd, though, that you would come to my place knowing how you feel. And it might also be telling that you only link me, when you feel there’s something you can use to berate me over (as I notcied you didn’t link me when I did this entry).

    And please note that I thanked you earlier for linking my actual post. But you did say I implied the term “shut up girlie” which is simply not true. If anything, it was more “shut up fanboy, you know you don’t really care about this, because you keeping buying ASBAR yourself.”

    As it stands, I visit plenty of places that don’t link to me (that’s how I found great blogs like Written World, Pretty, Fizzy Paradise, Zombie Mallet and Title Undertermined). Most of them have since linked me, but that was their call to make. And I still visit others that don’t have me linked (although that might change). But it is very nice of you to just assume that’s the case, simply because I don’t regularly come HERE. I can see now how wrong I was in thinking you’d misinterpret anything I said. And I apologize. :)

  26. James Meeley Says:

    “As a straight, white man, I’m aware that disenfranchisement isn’t as pertinent a concern for me as it is for other readers, but I still think I should be able to pick up any given month’s best-selling book, one that will almost definitely be published by Marvel or DC, and be able to enjoy it without guilt brought on by incidental instances of sexism. If we’re worried about sexism in comics, we should start by looking at those who produce the most popular books. Sexism in Frank Miller’s Batman is potentially more detrimental than something similar in an independent book, not because Miller’s work is objectively more offensive, but because it’s collectively more offensive, since more people see it.”

    Chris:

    I can see where you are coming from, but I’m not sure I entirely agree.

    Yes, the more exposure a product or material has, the more potenial it has to offend. But if said material is properly labeled as not meant for certain sects of the potential reading audience, that really doesn’t seem to strike me as a problem anymore. Because now everyone knows who the product is more intended for and who it is not. There is no problem with Playboy existing, so long as it remains known the material is not suitable to everyone. ASBAR has failed to do that, which is where MY issue with it comes in.

    As I have already said here a few times, I emailed DC over the lack of a proper rating or warning, about some of the material found under the cover of ASBAR. It’s certainly not meant for all ages and tastes. That’s the failure in this, as I see it, not that Miller’s “panty shot” is promoting sexism.

  27. Johanna Says:

    Gracious, James, does the word “succinct” mean ANYTHING to you? How about “brief”?

    If you could write one post without assuming that those who disagreed with you simply aren’t smart enough to see how right you are (“minds not developed enough” is particularly smarmy phrasing), I’d consider it a miracle. Your posts indicate that you have no empathy, no ability to understand the point of view of anyone disagreeing with you, and no ability to summarize. Just looking at your word count makes me tired.

    Here’s an example of short, sweet, and to the point: Miller objectifying women in his work IS real-life sexism. That’s why we have phrases like “contributing to a negative environment of harassment”. But once again, you’re stuck on trying to protect the kiddies, kiddies that don’t even read superhero comics these days.

    Oh, and please learn how to code your URLs so I don’t have to keep fixing them for you. You are right about one thing: the reason I don’t link to more of your posts is because the only time I find you worth reading is when I get entertainment from laughing at you. As for the particular link you added, it’s just you linking to someone else and saying “good job” (only, of course, in a lot more words). If I was interested in commenting on that, I’d link to the original. (I’m still trying to figure out how “I don’t visit your blog, so you shouldn’t visit mine” works out logically.)

    Chris, brilliant post.

  28. James Meeley Says:

    Johanna:

    It’s “breif” you want? Okay.

    Miller’s script is fantasy. Lea Hernandez’s experiences at comicons is reality. One is a problem, the other is not.

    And the “I don’t visit your blog, so you shouldn’t visit mine” logic is pretty cut and dry. Why go to a place where you know you won’t have anything but arguments with that person? You don’t like me (and want me here). Why come to MY place then? You know you don’t like me, so why go where you know I am? Talk about a lack of logic.

    And “minds not developed enough” has nothing to do with superiority, but with maturity. Certainly the mind of 14 year-old is usually not nearly as developed as a 34 year-old one. I’m an adult and know fantasy from reality. That’s why ASBAR won’t influence me in my interaction with women.

    Hope this was “breif” enough.

  29. James Meeley Says:

    “You are right about one thing: the reason I don’t link to more of your posts is because the only time I find you worth reading is when I get entertainment from laughing at you.”

    Remember folks, Johanna is fair and unbaised.

    Thanks for showing the “logic” in why I don’t come here and don’t think you should come to my place, so well.

  30. Joshua Macy Says:

    James, ‘Tis better to be silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt. If you had ignored Johanna’s post, or just left a short comment “That’s really not what I meant, and here’s a link to an update I posted where I explain further”, you’d be much better off, assuming that you actually care what impression Johanna’s readers have of you. And if you don’t care, then what the hell are you doing?

  31. James Meeley Says:

    Joshua:

    You’re right. I’m sorry. I’m out.

  32. Lea Says:

    The posts are back, but now with edits reflecting that Gail and I have talked about our differences.

  33. Ragnell Says:

    David Oakes — I have been looking all over for that comment of yours. I thought I’d found on a livejournal entry and didn’t even think to check comments on already linked posts.

    I haven’t been able to find many opinions similar to yours. Could you do me a huge favor and write out your feelings on the subject in a more elaborate manner? Post it on a website I could link it to on WFA, or just email it to me at ragnellthefoul@hotmail.com to be put on the site.

    Thanks so much.

    Oh, and Johanna — thanks for the link! Especially to Written World.

  34. Chris Tamarri Says:

    Johanna, I’m sorry to use your “house” as fighting ground, but I did want to respond to James’s comments on my own. (And James, you’re certainly welcome to email me if you’d like to privately respond in kind.)

    It seems that James has missed the central issue, or at least granted a tangential aspect more weight than the rest of us. I thought that the central issue was the idea of gender roles in comics, both in the real lives of its creators and as represented on the page (though with a focus on the latter, since most of us are unqualified to discuss the former). However, James, through his frequent mentions of an email sent to DC’s editorial offices requesting some kind of content warning, seems to object to Frank Miller’s Batman as age inappropriate. Above, he said that “[a]s far as I can see, the only problem is the fact DC has failed to denote [that] the materials in ASBAR are not suitable for all ages.” (The italics are mine.) Later he says that “if said material is properly labeled as not meant for certain sects of the potential reading audience, that really doesn’t seem to strike me as a problem anymore.” This leads me to believe that James’s complaint is not that Miller’s Batman is offensive to women (and to men uncomfortable with the objectification of women), but rather to children. He seems to view this as an age issue, rather than a gender issue.

    (And James, I’ve no doubt that you’ll correct me if I’m misrepresenting you; please do.)

    So here’s my question to you, James: If the third issue of All Star Batman and Robin had, on its cover, a message to the effect of “This Material Intended For Mature Readers,” would it, in your estimation, no longer be offensive?

    It seems to me that this is awfully short-sighted. Certainly, it’s potentially more problematic to allow children access to sexually offensive material, since they’re more likely to adopt it as a behavior model, something adults have presumably learned not to do. But does it then follow that material is incapable of offending a reader if (s)he knows better than to follow the example of its characters? My question’s rhetorical, of course, because it makes a ridiculous suggestion.

    I’m approaching this argument logically, but that mindset won’t really help. You have to look at it practically. Marvel and DC’s superhero books are more popular (as measured by sales) than any other company’s or genre’s. If they feature content that is deemed by the majority to be unfriendly to women–and I’m confident the majority of readers would call that Vicky Vale ass shot at least objectifying, if not outright offensive–and go unchallenged, it becomes implicitly acceptable to champion these attitudes in fiction. And if more members of this culture than not see women blatantly objectified without a negative response, they will instinctively believe that such behavior will be acceptable in their own actions. You can argue that we’re better than that, that we’re able to make a distinction between fiction and reality, but that’s a bit of an assumption, isn’t it? Further, it’s an assumption that, sadly, certain women of our culture can soundly dispel. I agree that a book like Miller’s Batman is inappropriate for children of a certain age. But it’s not going to make a bit of difference what they read if they don’t see us acting like adults.

    And I’m out.

  35. Chris Tamarri Says:

    Wow. Sorry. I didn’t think I’d gone on that long. But I was rather… Meelian, wasn’t I?

    Cheap shot…?

  36. Johanna Says:

    >>You don’t like me (and want me here). Why come to MY place then?< <

    Because it’s fun to laugh at you, as I said before. (Which makes me neither unfair nor biased, just honest.) The world, much as you try to make it so, is not two-valued. There are a wide variety of influences and possibilities and reasons to do things. I don’t visit only people I agree with, and I don’t expect the same in return.

    By the way, you’re also wrong when you say I don’t like you. I don’t know you. To the best of my knowledge, we’ve never met. I’m not interacting with you; I’m interacting with your comments online, which may or may not be a valid representation of the whole person. (No, that’s not a slam — that’s a recognition that people are too complex to be understood solely through what they choose to say publicly.)

    Chris, no problem with what you said, until that last bit, which was cheap. (Although “Meelian” forms a good adjective, doesn’t it?)

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