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Over the last few months concerns around women and comics, particularly comics from the big two have been getting industry attention.
For years people and sites like When Fan Girls attack, founded by Kalinara and Ragnell and run later Maddy and Caitlin, GirlWonder.Org, Sequential Tart, and others have talked and talked and talked about the how the representation of women in comics, both from the creative side and the content side, is problematic.
In the last year there seems to have been change in this conversation. The participants in the dialogue are growing. The dialogue and issues moving from rumblings of a few to the roar of many.
There was the showdown at SDCC between Kyrax2 and DC which had people talking about women and comics and sites that had never talked about it before discussing gender issues in comics.
More and more the dialogue and debate is moving out of sites like mine which critics deride as representing a “vocal minority” to other sites like Comics Alliance, CNN, Jezebel and the Beat who wrote a few weeks ago about New York Comic Con:
The New 52 has been a success at getting outliers interested in comics again. But looking around the Javits, at the ocean of non-white faces, and of female faces, it became VERY clear to me that all the angry blog posts begging for more diversity in the comics isn’t just a few loudmouths—even though they are treated as such by the big companies. It’s the reality of the world. Reaching this audience through inclusion might just be the most important goal for the mainstream comics industry’s continued survival.
And now today on Wired’s GeekMom where Corrina Lawson just nailed it.
You need to go read the whole thing, but I’m going to pull out this:
We’ve reached a tipping point where this idea of “superheroes are only male adolescent power fantasies” is going to be challenged and, eventually, proven a myth. It wasn’t always so and there’s no reason it should be that way. Superheroes are a mythic fantasy about taking control to do the right thing. There’s nothing inherently male about that.
DC said with the reboot that they wanted to push past the boundaries of their current audience, yet the majority of their content so far says otherwise. It was a perfect storm in which many of these women, myself included, said “enough is enough.”
But I object to the idea that somehow, well-written and well-drawn female characters who look beautiful and powerful at the same time will suddenly make the male audience run for the hills. Women read a ton. They love male characters. They’re not asking for a radical changeover. They”re just asking, as Busiek said and Hudson said in her article, that the two major superhero companies stop actively trying to drive them away. The movies, especially Marvel’s movies, do a great job also appealing to the female audience.
I don’t see why that’s so hard to replicate in comics.
If there was a major corporation that said “you know, our audience is just white people, we don’t have to listen to any concern of minorities because they just don’t buy our comics, we want the white consumer” I don’t think that would go over well at all. But because it’s women, it’s somehow more accepted. It shouldn’t be.
Again you have to go read this. But she’s right. You know she’s right. I know she’s right. Hell I’ve been saying the same things for the past year. Others, as I’ve said, have been saying it for YEARS. But of course when you say these things there’s pushback, derision, and outright anger. Just last night after there was a link in my site from the CNN story, I had this posted on my blog:
Women have their pop culture niches, men have theirs. If you are drawn to ours fine, but don’t come complaining about our world because it wasn’t made for you, because IT WASN’T MADE FOR YOU. Make your own crappy comics that nobody but women will read and see how loudly we don’t care.
And that’s one of the mild ones.
But Corrina is right, this is the tipping point. This is the time. This is it.
We’ve 51% of the Goddamn world and I think we’re more than just a “vocal minority” in the readership.
Change can happen. Change has happened. But there needs to be more. So help tip it.
Be a “Loudmouth”. Raise your voice. Let the companies know you don’t want crappy portrayals of women or art that objectifies women or being told that you don’t matter. Write letters. Speak out on line. And vote with your pocketbook.
As Corrina says “Enough is Enough.”