Thursday, September 10, 2009

sexism in comics? i can hardly believe it!

It's known as Women in Refrigerators Syndrome: there is a subtle (well, some people think it's pretty damn blatant) undercurrent in mainstream comics wherein they're seen as geek out lit for boys, by boys and about boys. Girls (women, really, but there's a lot of derivatives flying around when it comes to this subject) have no place in the genre and should know their place.

I don't agree with the whole thing. I think there's a vibrant subculture of women in comics, not only creators (such as Gail Simone) and characters (such as my one-time favorite series ever, Strangers in Paradise) but with many of the men who are in charge of things who have plenty, and have shown plenty of, respect for women and their work, ideas, etc. But in saying this, don't get it twisted: I believe that women are shat upon in general by the genre, and I certainly don't think they should be. (I hope that goes without saying, but when we're dealing with comics, sometimes it's better to be safe than sorry.) Women kick ass. Their ideas should be welcomed, embraced, not just accepted, but adopted readily. Female characters offer plenty of fertile ground for multiple storylines, as leads, sidekicks, secondary characters, everything. There's no reason for things to be the way they are.

But it's hard to disagree that there is a lot of truth to the accusation.

Which is why, today, when I read this week's DC Nation, by Dan Didio, I was shocked at the pretty upfront sexist tone to it. As I texted with one of my friends just a bit ago, it's a marketing ploy at best. Let's give him the benefit of the doubt for just a moment. Maybe he just wants to get 6,000 postcards. Maybe he wants to be able to brag about how many people love Wonder Woman. (I certainly don't. I think the book's weak, and I honestly just don't care for her as a character.) But if that's the best case scenario, we have to acknowledge that the worst case one is truly bad: the Editor in Chief of one of the Big Two comic companies have dismissed, in a sexist manner, a serious claim that fans of a character (that he's tried to push on us for years now!) have been making.

That's a dangerous thing to do, as evidenced by some of the comments here in this DC Message Board thread.

I certainly don't want to jump overboard and label someone a sexist, but I do think this is something worth thinking about and, as careful as Didio has been in the past, I would have thought he would choose his words a bit more carefully. For what it's worth, I think anyone who took the time to read this whole entry should send a damn postcard. The info is available at the DC Nation link or here, as well. I'm gonna send one and, like I said, I don't even like Wonder Woman. It's all about principles, people.

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