More on Black Panel Sexism

In a followup to the controversy over the San Diego Black Panel, Pam Noles elaborates on the sexism demonstrated.

What clouds that panel is the ignominious treatment of a female audience member by certain of the panelists. For me, the secondary stunner was the message delivered by the level of gender-based creator cluelessness on display by another panelist’s wearying myopia. And the continued attacks against her and anyone else who has expressed doubts? Not helped the cause much.

She analyzes how the panel was created and how its panelists were chosen:

A panel with blurbage claiming to be “the definitive panel for what’s up in black content” but does not have powerhouses such as Kyle Baker or Keith Knight as participants for example, or dip into the alt world to snag David Walker, maybe, is not “the definitive panel for what’s up in black content.” Nicely played hype, though. There’s nothing wrong with hype.

This was a panel with a specific, corporate focus and mainstream (read: superhero) leanings. Compared to last year’s track of black programming, this was not a panel diverse in content; a majority of its participants have spent the bulk of their career in comics working on the capes for DC, Marvel and Milestone.

Noles actually talked to the woman who was belittled by the panel (one of whose representatives, Reginald Hudlin, has continued insulting and dismissing her in his online comments about the event):

One thing she told me was it’s not that she doesn’t want to read superhero books, it’s more those books routinely do not provide her with the type of content or storytelling she wants. She hung on for a while before finally giving up and turning to Vertigo….

Hudlin’s ignorance of the content of works in the realm beyond capes and his lack of perception is absolutely no excuse for his later calumniation of this woman. She was no more a “nutcase” than any other fan who stepped up to the mic during the panel. Just because Hudlin didn’t know what she was talking about and was unable to clue in to where she was coming from doesn’t mean her question lacked validity. Just because she asked her question without first letting the love gush does not mean she was out to bring everybody down.

She ends with advice that all male creators should take more note of.

It is a coward’s approach to say men can’t write women [as Hudlin did]. It is a lazy approach to say only women can write women. It is ridiculous to imply we have to wait a generation or nine before we get a woman in a position to write a woman. It is wrong when the white folks say can’t deal with the coloreds. It is wrong when a black comics ProBoy says to a black comics FanGirl he can’t do women and that’s just the way it is for now.

18 Responses to “More on Black Panel Sexism”

  1. Paul O'Brien Says:

    Well, I’ve never believed that men can’t write women. It’s an excuse used by lazy hacks who think it’s easier to redefine “good work” downwards, rather than rectify their deficiencies.

  2. Craig Says:

    It’s too bad there wasn’t an audience member prepared with a list of male writers that actually have the know-how in regards to sympathetic characterization of and dialogue for women and girls in comics. This panel was obviously not interested in anything other than hyping product. Too bad.
    I think there needs to be a strikeforce of likeminded creators and fans to bombard these lacklustre panels with the issues that need to be discussed. Let’s speed up all these shortsighted so-and-so’s to the present day, where everyone has a right to quality comics.
    Then again, we could always just wait for this volume of Black Panther to be cancelled and let Reginald Hudlin go back to his ‘groundbreaking’ Hollywood work. Will there be a House Party 4…?

  3. Sarah Says:

    Seriously, how would Hudlin respond to white creators who justified having no minority characters with the argument that they just can’t do colored folk, and they don’t plan to bother trying?

  4. David Oakes Says:

    I suspect that Hudlin would claim – insist, even – that White writers *can’t* writes Black characters. Which is why Black writers need to be given more jobs, so that we will have more “honest depictions of Black life”, or some such. Saddly tokenism is something to aspire to, if you have no representation at all.

    (I am just wondering where DC is going to find any Kryptonian writers. Or Martian. Or…)

  5. James Schee Says:

    David, from Krypton, KY and Mars, PA of course!:)

    Seriously though it does seem like a rather stupid thing for Hudlin to say. If he wanted to say that for him the female characters he writes are supporting characters, and he only treats them as such. I could give some slack, not agree but at least understand.

    To say that he can’t write women, or that only women can write women. Well that is just stupid and quite a bit insulting to not only women but men as well.

  6. Sarah Says:

    You’re probably right, but–“Yeah, well, Reginald, there just aren’t many minority writers–because we only choose on *merit*, you know–so you’ll just have to wait three generations.”

    *rolls eyes*

  7. Sabrinaset Says:

    I dunno, Sarah. However Marvel chooses who their writers are, if they *DID* pick them based on merit… well, Hudlin wouldn’t be there.

  8. Sarah Says:

    (I was thinking of the brilliant remarks Didio passed a few weeks ago about women in the superhero gig.)

  9. James Mathurin Says:

    Just thought it might be a laugh to actually put what Hudlin said, rather than repeating that whole “Hudlin said all white people are racist” nonsense from a few months back:
    “In answering her question I said positive images of black women in comics was important to me because I want my daughter to have characters to relate to, so I try as best I can but the real answer is for more black women to write comics”

  10. Paul O'Brien Says:

    “However Marvel chooses who their writers are, if they *DID* pick them based on merit… well, Hudlin wouldn’t be there.”

    In fairness, Hudlin did get good reviews for co-writing BIRTH OF A NATION with Aaron McGruder.

  11. Johanna Says:

    Birth of a Nation wasn’t very good, though, and it especially wasn’t good comics. (It was a better movie storyboard, which is what it was originally intended to be.) And when you’re illustrated by Kyle Baker, that covers a lot.

    James, when write writers say “I don’t think I can write minority characters very well, so I’d rather minority writers write them”, they’re justifiably raked over the coals for copping out. How is this any different?

  12. James Mathurin Says:

    “James, when write writers say “I don’t think I can write minority characters very well, so I’d rather minority writers write them”, they’re justifiably raked over the coals for copping out. How is this any different?”
    Well, I don’t think Hudlin said he can’t write female character, or can’t write them well. Seemed he was just saying he did the best he could, but that more representation would be the best thing. Doesn’t seem a cop out to me.

    To me, it’s similar to remarks I’ve heard from Tony Issabella about writing Black characters, and no one attacked him for that (justifiably so, IMHO)

  13. markus Says:

    @James Mathurin
    Is that what Hudlin said or what he claims to have said. Because, uhm, if it’s the latter and absent documentary evidence it’s just another recollection that happens to differ from other recollections and you’d be wildly overstating your case by putting it as “what Hudlin said”.
    (Unless of course you meant “what Hudlin said about his recollection”, that’d be just misleading.)

  14. James Mathurin Says:

    A bit confusing, but ‘what Hudlin said he said’. I wasn’t there, so I can only offer second-hand accounts, but Dwayne McDuffie also commented:
    “Rza said the dumb shit. Reggie said something to the effect of because he has a daughter, this topic is particularly important to him, he’d like to see black female heroes and he does write about them but he’d rather hear those stories from black female writers “

  15. Ginger Mayerson Says:

    Reggie said something to the effect of because he has a daughter, this topic is particularly important to him… which reminds me of Quesada’s remark As a father of an only female child I would want all doors open within whatever field my daughter decides to one day choose.

    I’ve been wondering about this – are women in comics, women in society, and justice for everyone only important to the guys who have daughters? Does having a daughter really give RH and JQ some kind of leg up on the issue? It sounds like having a daughter makes them an expert on women in the same way that having a Toyota Corolla makes me an expert on the Japanese automotive industry. I find it odd that two guys with daughters have made the must clueless statements about women lately, although I give RH more of a pass than JQ. I really wish they’d quit waving their daughters around and hear what women are telling them, which is that we’re not in the comics industry because it’s still the boy club. And as an interesting note to support that statement: the number of women in U.S. orchestras only increased when they starting holding the first rounds of auditions behind a screen. Just FYI, y’all.

    Meh, even I’m getting tired of this issue and it’s far from over.

  16. Johanna Says:

    Fatigue and distraction can be some of the best inadvertant weapons of the privileged. Pitting opponents of racism and sexism against one another has a historical precedent as a strategy keeping white male privilege alive.

  17. Mister Fanboy Says:

    I missed this panel at Comic-Con and have clearly been living under a rock as I’ve missed this hub-bub about the comments. I have to say that I am dismayed that powerful men in the entertainment business still don’t “get it.” I thought we were past the days when men claimed that authors should be gender-similar when writing characters. It reflects more poorly on those that said it, and BET as well, than the person who posted the question. She didn’t deserve to be treated that way. If I was on that panel (and of course I wouldn’t be as I am not a working creator, etc.), I would want to know more from her. I would have taken her out to lunch to try and find a way to create comics that appealed to her. Unfortunately, Hudlin has just reaffirmed a stereotype about how African-American men ca be disrespectful toward women.

  18. Ragnell Says:

    (I was thinking of the brilliant remarks Didio passed a few weeks ago about women in the superhero gig.)

    (Psst, Sarah, wrong Editor — it was Quesada who made those.)




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