Why bother? Why do we post and comment and Tweet and argue? Why is the issue of “NEED MORE LADEEZ IN SUPERHEROES” a quest, at times quixotic, at times demoralizing and demeaning and depressing?
Why is that the simple request that 51% of the population be recognized a problem? Or that they when they are drawn the default isn’t sexed up and not objectified? That they have representation in the creation of the content? Not domination, not elimination of others or tokenism, but simple recognition that inclusion and diversity are a THING that matters and that there is a world beyond all male, all white, all the time.
Why is when someone points these things out that they are attacked? Told to “burn in hell forever”? That they have a “problem” that is best solved by them being sexually accosted?
I’ve thought about this time and so many times again over the last few weeks when I saw a post that Kelly Thompson did on superhero costumes turned into a story about that post into a cesspool. A cartoon that Amy Mebberson and Jill Pantozzi brings comments that can fill a bingo card for cluelessness (from both men and women) which was breathtaking in it earnestness. How when Anita Sarkeesian touches upon these same issues in gaming, she is attacked and trolled with a level of viciousness that is sickening.
And then I saw this quote below from Joss Whedon it made me happy.
Why do you think there’s a lack of female superheroes in film?
Toymakers will tell you they won’t sell enough, and movie people will point to the two terrible superheroine movies that were made and say, You see? It can’t be done. It’s stupid, and I’m hoping The Hunger Games will lead to a paradigm shift. It’s frustrating to me that I don’t see anybody developing one of these movies. It actually pisses me off. My daughter watched The Avengers and was like, “My favorite characters were the Black Widow and Maria Hill,” and I thought, Yeah, of course they were. I read a beautiful thing Junot Diaz wrote: “If you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves.”
Why? The first reason is a simple fact. It’s a man saying it. Because sadly we know that when a man says the same thing a woman says it has a higher chance of being HEARD by the man. Secondly, because it reiterates and validates all the arguments that have been made and knocked down and sliced and diced by others. And third because that line by Junot Diaz nails so much of why, just why, it all matters.
He isn’t the first to say things like this but we need more people who realize that this stuff matters.
As Dwayne McDuffie said, “You don’t feel as real if you don’t see yourself reflected in the media […] There’s something very powerful about seeing yourself represented.”
That’s why female representation matters for comics, for TV and movies. Even though when you bring up this stuff to others in the industry they seemingly shrug and say “oh well”. Even though you will be called a bitch or worse in the basement of the internet for simply discussing these issues. Even though it feels like you’re just shooting a water gun at forest fire sometimes.
Today you take a win. Be glad that there are others who are same minded. That change is hard but still a possibility. And you pull out your water gun and go off to another day.