Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Marvel Editor in Chief: Comics Are Neither Art Nor a Medium for Telling Stories

From Newsarama:

NRAMA: ....How about the Heroes for Hire #13? This has caused some controversy of its own, with some people likening it to a very unsavory recurring element in some more adult-themed manga?

JQ: This one I can answer to. First, I think people are reading way too much into that cover than was ever intended. I heard terms such as “tentacle rape” being thrown around when that in no way is what’s happening, nor does it happen in the book. Those tentacles are the arms of the Brood who appears in the issue and is a major story point, the Brood have tentacles, sorry about that.

Secondly, the concept for that cover, soup to nuts came from a female artist. Thirdly, not being a deep follower of manga, I have no idea what recurring theme people are referring to or concerned with. While I appreciate the sentiment and the feelings that some may have about this, I honestly feel that there is way too much being read into this cover.

Also, HFH is a book that features two strong, lead female protagonist who kick major ass; somehow folks have forgotten to focus on that.

NRAMA: Well, you correctly identified the “unsavory” element we were referring to…just one of those absurd phrases (though it exists).

Now, I should be upset that Joe

1) blames all this mess on someone else (a woman no less) instead of, acknowledging his role as editor in chief

2) implies that since a woman made the cover, it's a-ok

3) acts as if the fact that two of the women cringing on the cover are "two, strong lead female protagonist who kick major ass" makes it all better, rather than worse

And trust me I am.

But you know what really pisses me off the most? That it's apparently so important that he turn a blind eye the to sexism his company promotes that he is willing to insult every person who works for him or buys his products in order to do it. Yes, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, but not when the cigar is dripping white gooey fluid all over the nearly naked breasts of a group of women that show a remarkable similarity to terrified porn stars. The only way that people could be reading too much into this cover is if you argue that comics are not capable of anything remotely resembling allusion, metaphor, euphemism, inference, symbolism, puns, tone, or style. Which, quite frankly, is insulting to the artists and writers and fans that convinced me to give Marvel money in the first place.

Plus, the editor in chief of one of the two major publishers of american comics must be excessively undedicated to his work if he has never heard of "tentacle rape" before. How else, besides being barely aware that there are companies other than Marvel or DC selling comics in America, can you explain the fact that he has managed to stay completely ignorant of something that is just a google search away?

Monday, May 28, 2007

Why I Started Reading Romance

Yeah, I know, I promised this a long time ago, and unfortunately this won't be nearly as coherent or exhaustive as I had wanted it to be.

But I've been researching a bunch of stuff for a series of posts I'm in the middle of writing, and I ran across a review of the first Gossip Girl novel on amazon that I just had to share immediately because it's such a good example of what's been bugging me about all the arguments put forth by adults that see A Serious Moral Issue in their popularity:

This book is in the Young Adult Fiction section at the library. When I was a young adult, I was reading Tolkien, Piers Anthony...

Dear God. That was so funny I forgot to laugh...Piers Anthony as an example of good YA lit? Piers Anthony? Seriously?

...and those books that you could pick what was going to happen next,

wtf is that even supposed to mean?

these days young adults are being forced to become adults too fast. I heard about Gossip Girls from a talk show I listen to everyday. Glenn Beck the host, he was saying how he would never ever let his daughters read this book because it's not for children, and I do consider the 15-up age recommendation to include children.

First of all, a large number of people consider 15-up to be "teen", which would be the point of having YA, and not just children's, lit.

Secondly, regarding kids growing up too fast. One of the things I found really interesting about all the "smut" in the first book is the extent to which it's not only condoned by the adults in the book, but the extent to which it shows adult men putting girls in awkward situations.

Hmmmm.......seems to me that maybe the popularity of the Gossip Girl series is not so much an indication that we "let" kids grow up to fast, but that we are overly controlling of girl's sexuality (and not always in a protective way) and they are desperate for a safe outlet.

I read the book, and I have to agree, it's not anything a young girl should be reading because it has no lasting value whatsoever.

As opposed to Piers Anthony.

It doesn't teach a lesson, the story has no point to it, and the impressions it leaves are hurtful to young psyches.

This I disagree with even more than the Piers Anthony idiocy.

There is a special place in my heart for Piers Anthony, simply because his over the top (and pretty much always insulting towards women) sexual innuendos made it really hard for me to keep ignoring how completely not just male oriented but absolutely derisive of all things female the vast majority the adult scifi/fantasy I'd read was. So I stopped reading it.

About the same time, I started reading romance novels. The first romance novel I remember reading was Perfect by Judith McNaught. Which, if you are familiar with either the book or the author, probably says a hell of a lot about me.

When I first picked Perfect up from the floor in my mother's room (not the store bookshelf) I did so because I was at an age when I would read just about anything if I was bored and because I was curious about this piece of fluff my mom was reading. Most of her reading choices were either related to her work as a primary teacher or had the kind of stuffy covers that loudly proclaimed "real literature!"

Looking back, if it had been just about any other romance novel in pulication at the time, I likely would never have finished it. The first few chapters of Perfect, however, are pretty much all about Julie as a child - and Julie's childhood was like Annie meets Pollyanna meets Seventh Heaven. It was just that perfect mix of "the world is full of awful things!" and saccerine sweet "The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow" type goodness.

And then, all of a sudden, it was all about adventure! Julie gets kidnapped by an evil guy - who we know isn't really evil because we are the all knowing audience - and is forced to try to escape! Which she does, but he ends up getting hurt in the process, and for some inexplicable reason she saves him. Then they end up having sex, which neatly distracted me from the big glaring plot-hole. Because, wow! sex! Hot, steamy sex!

Having read all of three (four?) chapters of the first Gossip Girl I will unequivocally state - to eveyone's shock and several parent's dismay - that sex! is one of the few redeeming features of the Gossip Girl books.

Needless to say, there's all kinds of other books I would rather girls read (with no small number of them being fantasy and scifi), and I can see how younger girls would get very little good out of it. However if I were asked which I'd think was better for teen girls, Gossip Girl or any Xanth novel, Gossip Girl would get my vote every time simply because it does not pretend that, when the question is sex, girls are there for boys enjoyment - end of story. The fact that it's also sex! told from a woman's perspective is, sadly, still so revolutionary (outside of romance novels and "chicklit") that I can't help but cheer whenever I see it

I think I'm one of the few people that likes that this is a teen book, and not just another adult "chicklit" novel. I honestly welcome anything for teens that does not equate sex with violence against women, because far too much of what many parents do consider acceptable for teens (and younger!) does. I'd like something with a little more depth and morality, but - for the moment - as long as it doesn't pretend that girls sexual desire is dangerous or invisible, that sex is always bad, or that violence against girls is sexy, I'm all in.

Anyway, back to the review:

PLUS it's the worst writing I have seen in awhile, I am talking 4th grade level grammar, sentences, and diction.

Finally, something we agree on. And yet, I would argue that this is almost a strategy, since if it was well-written literature, it wouldn't be so easily pooh-poohed and may even generate more controversy than it has. Such as, oh say, Judy Blume's Forever.

The whole book is about rich spoiled teenagers, who have a lot of sex, shop a lot, gossip a lot and have no character what so ever,

Again, I agree. But again, I think it's part of the point of the books. Like a lot of mediocre media for teens, teens aren't expected to see the characters as people, they're encouraged to see them as personalities to try on. A lot of the lack of character development is almost meant to keep all the characters blank slates to a certain degree.

if I were a parent and knew my child was absorbing all this nonsense and thought that maybe this was an okay way to act I would blow my top. What kills me, is that the book has sequels...many of them...and people are either buying them for their children without knowing what they are about which is bad parenting, or their kids are buying them and parents are just turning a blind eye to what is in their children's lives. .......(seriously this is like soft soft porn)

Gee, as opposed to my cousin's favorite show Top Model?

Please. Again, if I had my choice between my cousin reading Gossip Girl or watching Top Model, I'd choose Gossip Girl every time. And, especially in a world were everyone else is watching Top Model anyway, I'd want her to be reading or watching something that has female oriented "soft soft porn" in it, no matter what.

You can pretend all you want that the issue is that Gossip Girl is marketed to teens and Top Model is meant for adults and teens just happen to watch it, but you might want to see how well that argument went over when it came to Joe Camel (TM) before you do.

Things They Don't Teach in High School

When the teachers and the books were talking about the connections between the Suffragettes and the banning of alcohol...

(which, is it just me, or does anyone else feel like the vast majority of the reasons given in high school for the passing of the 19th Amendment was chalked up to either "men as benevolent leaders" or "women as moralizing whiners"?)

...why, oh, why were we never told that better statutory rape laws were advocated for and passed due to the hard work of the Women's Temperance movement? And that the age of consent before then was 10.


No, I didn't learn this until today when I began reading The Body Project by Joan Jacobs Brumberg. Which I'm finding both frustrating (see below) and illuminating (see above).

Resolved, not to talk about myself or my feelings. To think before speaking. To work seriously. To be self-restrained in conversation and actions. To not let my thoughts wander. To be dignified. Interest myself in others more.

(from the diary of a 19 year old, 1892 - emphasis mine)

The one thing about the book so far that I really question is how the author keeps characterizing such statements as indicating that girls in the past cared less about appearance. This passage in particular seems to me to indicate that what has changed has been which part of themselves girls focus on cutting down to size, not that girls in the past were more focused on improving character than girls are now.

This may be true in the sense that there's less focus today on girls being good and on society being moral than there used to be, but when "improving character" is defined mainly as being selfless to the point of silence, it seems to me that the biggest change is the way in which girls are pressured to be objects, not in the reasons why girls do things.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Kalinara Needs to Stop

giving feminists a good name. ;)

(and making me jealous....)

A man telling a woman what she should or should not find sexist is proving he doesn't understand the meaning of the word.


The Mary Jane statue and the Heroes for Hire cover are sexist. They correspond with and promote sexist ideas. The people who can see that are not "misconstruing" anything. They're seeing what the creators, blinded by their own intentions, can not, and they are not wrong to be offended.

Some People

seem to have the impression that Heroes for Hire is not aimed at women.

If the follow-up to a comic that gets ball-cracking-feminazi Karen Healey's stamp of approval* is not "aimed at women" what the fuck is?

(And do you not get that by arguing that we are so invisible as to not even be worth considering when it comes to even comics like this that you are making our point for us?)

You may keep your tentacle porn for all I care, some of my best friends enjoy tentacle porn.

But for the love of baby Jesus and cute puppies everywhere, is it really necessary to turn this into this, much less this?

(I'd argue to keep the 'fing bondage and sexual violence away from rape victims - or at least be smart enough to not consider soft focused depictions of them a selling point - but that puts you in rather a conundrum now doesn't it?)

*well, ok, so the nipple thing. But that hardly contradicts the point. And yeah, H4H is not the same thing as DotD, but one would think that a certain amount of crossover between audiences would be the goal.

For Fuck's Sake

I'm not "looking out for these breaches of egalitarian principle."

I really, really, wish sometimes that I could just turn off this ability to see them. Ignorance is bliss and all that.

For every feminist out there who's giving things a fair evaluation, there are those who operate on assumption rather than evidence—tarring, feathering, and dismissing with a description that becomes so common that it begins to lose all strength: misogyny.

Misogyny kinda goes hand in hand with the concept we like to call "the patriarchy." When employed properly, it's (usually) not a critique of you, or even your work. It's a critique of the system, inasmuch as a hatred of all things womanly tends to go hand in hand with considering "male" the default. Unfortunately for all of us, "properly" does not necessarily equate to sparingly.

When they become especially attached to their role, it often takes some fierce discussion to convince them that they are not seeing what they imagine they are seeing. I'm gathering that a portion of the feminist (note: not female) comic-blogging atmosphere is suffering from such a malady.

In deep contrast to the blindness of privilige, to be sure.

Plus, I'm dying for some examples of the "fierce discussions" that "convinc[ed feminists] that they [were] not seeing what they imagine[d]." Simply because, in my experience, most feminists don't "imagine" that they are seeing sexism. Not so much because we're smart like that, but because it is so pervasive that it's like trying to hit a house from the street with a rock. The problem is more often one of not seeing the shape of sexism clearly enough rather than conjuring it up from nothingness.

I also like the "(note: not female)" bit. It's not so much that I can't see people conflating the two, it's that I can't see people who would conflate the two taking offense at dane arguing that (some!) feminists suffer from a malady.

One of the things that makes the reception of a creative work such a dicey proposition is that I see some feminists praising a specific instance in a book while other feminists revile the same instance. And both groups cite their feminism as the basis for their decision to praise or revile.

Well, knock me over with a feather! Feminists disagreeing - you don't say!

Well, obviously one group must not really be feminist then. Or possibly not thinking straight. It couldn't possibly be that there are several feminisms.

Honestly, I wish Dane all the luck in the world, and I'm fairly certain that the simple fact that he bothers thinking about any of this means that I'm significantly less likely to object to his story than half the crap out there. However, Dane, if you think I'm not going to give you as bad a time - or worse - for your mistakes (literary and otherwise) as I do Joss, then I'm afraid you're sadly mistaken.

But since I'm also fairly certain that you aren't writing your comic as a favor to all of us (since you've never struck me as dumb) I also don't quite get the point of the post. Do you think that unless we honor you the feminist of the year award that we aren't going to spend money on your comic and so it will tank? If so, huh? If not, huh?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Update on the Scary Swarm of Attacking Fangirls

When the writer who inspired this was informed that his post had been linked to by WFA(and I do mean nothing more than informed, "Here from WFA" was the title of someone's post - which, ya know, is generally considered the polite way to give the blogger a heads up) His response was to start out his post with:

Oh God, I got linked to. This will probably not end well.

The commenter addresses this (and other misconceptions) at the end of her response by saying:
Meanwhile, since I think I was perfectly polite, or so I would hope (and if you feel otherwise please do say so and indicate what you felt was insulting), I have to say I'm mildly irritated to be lumped in with a bunch of other people whose comments I haven't even read and who I probably don't know. I've also never Bingo'ed anyone. So ... thanks for dumping your persecution complex on me?

Our blogger's response is:
No, you didn't say I was the bad guy, but your initial drive-by was solely to point out I was wrong and to pose a leading hypothetical proposition. Surely not the best foot forward ;)

Setting aside for the moment the highly debatable merit of calling anything the commenter said in her first comment "a....hypothetical proposition" and noting that "drive-by" was first uttered by the commenter so we'll let than one slide for now.....

.....am I the only one who sees the irony of characterizing this:
Just a drive-by comment on one point: sorry, but you're wrong about the "comics were created for twelve year old boys" thing. Read the vintage Golden Age stuff and you'll see how many ads were aimed at women - I'm talking make-up and brassieres, not just gender-neutral stuff which happens to use women and girls.

Mind you, if anything, I'd think "comics are geared at 12-year-old boys" would make the issue more problematic, not less. Surely 12-year-olds need to be set good examples?
as "not the best foot forward?" Especially when the characterization is being made by a made by a guy who's complaining about other people complaining (through satire! no less). And does so with statements like
Yes, there's probably too much sexism in comics, but I find myself not caring too much one way or the other. Does this make me a mysoginist? I don't think so, but I'm sure that someone out there would lump me in with the Cult of the Oppressive Penis because am now blowing off an issue of grave social import. Whatever. As a white male I'm already constantly informed that I'm personally responsible for all the world's evils, have no culture of my own, and am in general a giant oppressive leeching privileged poopiehead. Now I'm sexist too....
Tip to those who would like to lecture others on how they debate with others - if you are going to routinely call for civility and extreme politeness, it's best to demonstrate such qualities yourself. Otherwise people tend to think you are just being an ass. And for good reason. You know, at least when Hugo talks about civility, he does a good job of demonstrating what it means.

But fear not, there's more.

Our first commenter continues the conversation in question by adding
At the very least, saying....."Oh, and people are going to crucify me for saying that because I'm a white guy!" and then waiting around to get yelled at is a tad on the disingenuous side.

The blogger's reaction:
Disingenuous, perhaps... but I didn't have to wait long, yes?


There are exactly four people who comment on the post in addition to the blogger (on the blogger's own site - there may be more, such as myself - who responded elsewhere). One agrees wholeheartedly with our intrepid blogger. Another is one of the people he is responding to, so the WFA connection is invalid, and the actual comment in question contains no disagreement. Then we have the commenter already discussed. The fourth makes a total of two very short comments disagreeing with the blogger. And, please note, the anonymous commenter who disagrees with him did not show up until several hours after he made that comment. Which in WFA time, (esp. lately) is practically a news cycle later.

So, again, WTF?

Is this like that thing where people perceive a 50/50 gender split to be unbalanced in favor of women? 'Cause I fail to see any yelling, much less anything that would justify the first and last remarks made by the blogger in responding to rabican.

I kind of feared this would turn into namecalling, etc., but it didn't. Thanks for keeping it on the up. I have to admit that I'm kinda done with it at this point; it appears we've both made our case and I do feel enlightened a little more about the issues. Thanks.

I'm glad he's all enlightened now and shit. Let me know when he's enlightened enough to tell the difference between yelling, getting reamed, and people debating a topic that he brought up himself. I suppose I ought to add "waiting until he understands the idiocy of complaining about satire by using hyperbole as a rhetorical device" but my I think that may be expecting too much.

Random Things I've Been Meaning To Mention

- My niece's favorite song is currently the Blue October suicide song. She's three.

- I am still in denial about VM. (And therefore haven't watched the finale - so no spoilers.)

- Someone needs to get working on those hoverboards, bc they're in all the "not too distant future" stories. And that not too distant future is coming up fast. Plus, they are super cool.

- I am addicted to Ice Chai Lattes. Must. Find. Healthier. Drink.

- Nora Roberts has most definitely made a pact with the devil. I don't care that I don't believe in the devil, it's just not possible for someone to write that many books a year and have them be that good. Not without help.

- I'm really scared the HP7 is going to be disappointing. I have slightly better hopes for movie #5.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Well, duh - Beka must not be an Action Hero

Tim Liebe's comment over at designated sidekick reminded me that we really need to look no further than the way White Tiger has been treated to realize that Marvel is so scared and clueless that all they're really doing now is shooting themselves in their collective foot.

One online columnist recently pointed out that the only visible marketing for WHITE TIGER comes from my co-writer Tamora Pierce’s website!

Tamora Pierce is insanely popular among teen girls. She's one of the authors that the kids come in raving about and asking when her next book is coming out without any prompting from parents. The idea that one would not use the opportunity of a new superhero comic featuring a female hero co-written by the current Queen of female action heros in YA lit in order to try to expand your base is just.....seriously, I have no words.

I had assumed that some smart person had at least put ads in Teen People or something similar, as DC apparently did with Minx. How expensive would it have been to put up banner ads on myspace or google searches targeting people who listed or searched for Tamora Pierce or any of her other works? Her most recent hardback, Beka Cooper - which has been out since before Christmas - is listed at #7,180 in books. That's not that far behind the slightly more recent release of Vol. 2 of Runaways at #6,253. (For further comparison, the most recent Gossip Girl is #309 and the one that came out at the same time as Beka Cooper is now at #3,309. Both are paperbacks and cost much less.)

I wonder, if they even bother to come out with a trade edition, are they going to limit the run to those cheap digests and not even bother to do a dump for it? A co-written comic may not sell as well as her novels, but it will sell to teen girls - if Marvel makes sure they know it exists in the first place.

This is What We Mean By Rape Culture

First, you have all read Whedon's latest rant of excellence, right? Good.

Now that I've spent far too much time compiling the list below I'd like to talk about why I believe that the Twain quote about there being "lies, damn lies, and statistics" is never more apt than when it comes to discussions about gender, harassment, and the male gaze.

Amanda recently made the comment on her blog that:

.....I call bullshit on the simple-reversal thing.

For example, a scene: Woman in library reading by herself, man leans over her shoulder. vs. Man in library reading by himself, woman leans over his shoulder.

Simple equation, but most of us could more easily see the former being scary because we’re aware of how commonly men invade women’s personal space to harass them.

Experience isn't something that people need to get over, it's something people rightly use to make everyday choices. While we should never let fear dominate our decisions, ignoring our feelings because they are inconvenient is never good nor logical.

The two posts must hardly seem connected in most people's minds, however. Amanda's example is of man doing something that many women would find threatening, while most women would find Laura's example of a man looking at store displays featuring sexy women to be harmless everyday behaviour. Yet why is looking at objectified women in public considered to be such mundane behavior? Does it really carry no other meaning than "sex is good and healthy?"

Just like the image of the person looking over another's shoulder, we view the situation through the lens of our experiences. Just as we bring to images like the ones below the knowledge that men rape women exponentially more often than women rape men, we also bring the knowledge that men are allowed more freedom when it comes to sexual desire than women are. While the pervasiveness of all this often prevents us from seeing the big picture impact of everyday actions, it's also what contributes to the impact such actions have.

Every instance of such behavior is a reminder that not only men are allowed to look at objectified images of women, but they are often given the right to do so without reasonable boundaries, while women often barred from the same basic privilege. The amount of harm done by such actions is not limited to the crudeness displayed or lack of respect when interacting with actual women. No more than it's all about the way he's looking over her shoulder that makes the image frightening. It's also about the experiences of being denied similar privilege and being forced to participate in the same pastime of looking at objectified images of women, whether you like to or not.

The final score is not thirty-something to nine, it's thirty-something to a fraction. Because, like Amanda's example. mere gender reversal does not equate to equality. Whatever I may feel looking at person-shaped Spidey in peril, I'd imagine most (heterosexual) men see nothing sexual in it at all. Which means that the pairing of sex and violence is not present in those images the way that it is in even the image of Sue Storm being held captive by two men.

I don't dislike the Fantastic Four cover. I just think it carries different connotations than a similar image of a male superhero would. Especially the typical superhero, who would be built closer to a tank and than a movie star. And I think we can all agree that many of my additions to the "sexy men in peril" were highly questionable when it comes to the sexy part. Is Spidey in that cover really in any way sexy the way that Sue Storm is in hers? He's mostly just person-shaped and looking a little graceful and awkward at the same time. There's nothing really objectified about him. Sue Storm, on the other hand has a blank expression, "perfect" body, hands clenched together (not apart and in fists), and knees together as well.

Quite frankly, in some ways I find this cover more disturbing than the infamous Heroes for Hire cover. (With the exception of the needless injustices done to Misty.) Setting aside for the moment the rating of the cover, it is at least honest about what it's trying to convey. To a disturbing degree certainly, but, well, honesty counts for something. But images like the F4 cover normalize the intersection of sex and violence against women in a way that's needed for the HFH hire cover to become acceptable in the mainstream. How many people are going to look at the F4 cover and consciously think "sex! and women in pain!" and yet still absorb the message? What kinds of real life signals do guys miss because they are taught that her posture is womanly rather than deliberately vulnerable? Which brings us back to Dworkin and the question of how a culture that equates femininity with vulnerability and submission can ever properly define rape.

The guy who "can't take a joke" is now arguing that "sexism is a convention of the genre" - in the guise of "sex sells."

If it was just sex that sells, I'd be fine with it all. I'd imagine most of us would (leaving sex in kid's stories for another debate). But it's not just sex that sells. It's degrading sex that sells. It's sex that degrades women that sells. It's sex that lumps sex and violence against women together that sells, and that's something else entirely.

The male gaze does burn. Largely because, as the covers show, it's meant to.

I can't speak for other women, but I didn't buy Super-hero comics until recently not because I don't like action or super-heroes, but because I thought they were more of the "action hero saves damsel in distress" type of story - often with added objectification of women and sexual violence towards women. Other people (Ragnell, Kalinara, and yes Whedon) showed me that this isn't always the case, but I never would have been able to find the comics that don't do this without their help. And I'm still very, very torn between liking the medium, wanting a good adventure story, and wanting to avoid crap like this as much as humanly possible.

Blood is Cumpulsory, but it's Best if it's With "Love"

Let's count the number of covers up on Marvel's site that show women as being both sexy and in peril, shall we? Because this and this have put me in the mood to do so.



>I'm including this this partly because I've always found the preponderance of Superheroines with unbound long hair to be nearly as silly as the number of exposed bellies and improbable shoes. O don't know who she is, but even if she's not a superhero - the artist included that flowing long hair for a reason, and it's not just to improve the composition. That makes Three.

>Yes, she's evil, but she's a sexy evil villain - and we all know why that is. Four.

>So, the other two X-Women look like they're kicking ass, but Rogue looks like she'd looking for a handy boulder. Five.

>I so want to count this, because she looks like she's about to fall, but I'll let that one slide.

>I get that there's men lying (dead)?) on the ground as well as women, but only the women are draped as well as mangled. Six.

>Wolverine may be the one with the claws in his neck, but she's the one who looks scared - and has holes in costume everywhere a normal costume would have more coverage. Seven.

>Again, why do Superheroines so often look like they are scared? Eight.

>Again! Scared! Why are the girls always the ones who are scared! Nine.

>No, I'm not going to count this - but it does rather look like she's expecting something other than what she's obviously getting. That ought to be it's own category.

>Oh, hell yes. Ten.

>I swear, it's like we never left the Victorian age and women are constantly swooning gracefully. Eleven.


>Scared again. Possibly surprised this time. But note how the gals look scared surprised and the guys are angry surprised. Except for the Thing, who just looks comical. Thirteen.

>It still counts when it's women doing the violence. Fourteen.

>This is simply because of the composition, but I still think it counts. Fifteen.

>I wasn't going to coountthis, but then I noticed how her knees are together and decided that it doesn't really matter if that's just her regular suit - because who makes the suits so form fitting? And is it just me, or wouldn't one think that breast armor would cover both breasts together, not each individually? Sixteen.

>They're all rotting away, but they keep enough of her so that we get to see all that nice exposed skin. Seventeen.


>Yay! They're all scared. But only she's half naked. Nineteen. (I somehow lost the link to this one - I'll go back and find it sometime soon.)

>Yeah, 'cause I'd totally have that expression if I just got punched in the face. Twenty.

>Not that these count for either, I just found the juxtaposition interesting.

>I do not get what this is about, but Twenty-One.

>Could her mouth be open any wider, and could they have worked harder to show her breast and hint at her crotch, and again with the unboundhair - while he has a helmet. Twenty-Two.

>Aside from Spider-Girl, are men just incapable of making that :0 face - and women incapable of making any other? Twenty-Three.


>You know, if the wouldn't keep insisting on making so many of the female characters the token girl, they'd worry less about making sure people are sure she's a girl, and then the women wouldn't look any more scared or prettied up than the men. Alas..... Twenty-Five.

>It's really scary that this is really good compared to the cover for the next issue. Twenty-Six.


>Almost missed this one. Twenty-Eight.


One female shaped person, and we see more of her face then all of the guys she's chained up with combined. Thirty.

>Dear God. Thirty-One.

>Scott's doing the :0 face - but again with the sexy hair. When their flowing locks are practically their costume, it has the same effect as their actual form-fitting costumes. Thirty-Two.



>Is this her second or third so far? Thirty-Five.

>I was looking at whats-his-name, trying to decide if he counted or not, when I realized that it's her butt that's blocking part of our view of him. Thirty-Six.

>Now this doesn't count, but it gets a very special honorable mention because it's for kids, and while the boys and older girl all look scared, it's the girl we focus on first and last because of her placement, posture, and sight-lines. Bad Marvel.

>I have of course, saved the best for last. Thirty-Seven. And it's rated T+: 9 and up. (Though I've they've changed it to 12+ but not all of the site is updated.)

Now, let's count the number of covers up on Marvel's site that show men in peril and looking sexy, shall we?

>Ok, maybe - maybe - we can count this. But since the guy in the dominant position looks far sexier, I vote no.

>Aha! One thing you can always count on LKH for is the save the handsome prince plot. That's pretty much the reason she's one of my guilty pleasures. Too bad the comic sucks and Phillips looks more creepy than sexy. The thought was there, though. One.

>I can't decide about this because he's outnumbered, undressed, and not too scary muscled - but he's also not only got that bigass gun, but his symbolic genitals scream power! not pain! And well, gee, if this is Ghostrider - isn't that him up above as well, or is the guy with the bigass gun someone else? Either way - he doesn't really look scared, does he?

>I dunno, partly because I have a hard time finding something with eyes like that sexy but mostly because we don't have a but shot.

>Barely I'm not sure it should, because of the dominating images of strength behind him negate the small amount to which he's sexualized, but ok. Two.

>Call me weird, but I think this counts. Spiderman is so very, very small compared to the image behind him, and he's in one of those awkward pseudo-graceful positions. Three.

>I don't think that there's enough of his ass in this picture for it to count, but I'll do so anyway. Four.

>The way his legs are spread alone. Plus, he's got the :0 face. A very distorted :0 face, but a :0 face nonetheless. Five.

>Meh. He looks as confident rather than scared, but ok - just because his clothes are shredding. Six.

>Spidey's problem is that we're supposed to always remember it's Peter Parker in there. Which means he's vulnerable and human-shaped. Plus he's a spider, so his mere four appendages must try to do the work of the normal eight. I'll keep counting them, but I'm fairly certain the sexiness part is mostly unintentional. Whereas women are pretty much always drawn intentionally sexy. It's the combination of sex and peril that I think isn't always consious. Seven.


>Scott has the face, but he doesn't even have eyes.

>I really don't have a crush on Spiderman, I promise. I think my gudging might be skewed by the fact that it's so refreshing to see an actual male-shaped body after all those tanks. Nine.

>The intent is here but that weird mask thing is just not scary enough.

Note that we can't count this.

Damn. Now I have to go back and count the total covers. And the number that have women on them at all. And the number that don't have men at all. (I remember about three.) And the number of them that have women in peril that aren't sexed up.

Well, for now the final score is Thirty-Seven to Ten. With about half of the sexy men in peril consisting of nothing more than Spider-Man being a spider, and absolutely none of them comparing to the worst of the Thirty-Seven. (Anita Blake wants to, but it really doesn't manage it at all.)

It's too bad I know never want to buy anything from Marvel again, because I like this cover.

Plus this freakin' makes up for a good chunk of those other covers, 'cause Little Red - the perpetual warning to all girls to "stay on the path" or else - looks like she's more than capable of decking that big bad wolf with her basket.

Although, please don't tell me what this 'cause I'm sure I really don't want to know.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Blood is Compulsory

We're more of the love, blood, and rhetoric school. Well, we can do you blood and love without the rhetoric, and we can do you blood and rhetoric without the love, and we can do you all three concurrent or consecutive. But we can't give you love and rhetoric without the blood. Blood is compulsory. They're all blood, you see.

Since I'm doing the procrastination thing anyway, I wanted to share a conversation I overheard the other day at my favorite local cafe/deli:

Well, actually, it was a month ago, so I don't remember the exact words, so I'll have to paraphrase.

The grown-ups at the table next to me are talking about YA books...

Oh, wait, I'm a grown-up.

Let's try that one more time:

I came to gradually realize that the group at the table next to mine are talking about YA books...and they sounded like librarians. So , being the nosy person I am, I started eavesdropping on their conversation. Much of it was blah, but I did find one bit to be both amusing and annoying. They were talking about what books were popular and good for teens. Stephen King was mentioned, and then dismissed by one of the librarians - because they have sex scenes.

If anyone reading this has yet to see This Film is Not Yet Rated - stop and go see it right now. Just go buy it since you can't get it at Blockbuster, Netflix takes forever, and you'll be glad you did anyway.

Aside from raising such good questions as "why is blood compulsory?" it also points out that, while violence is more acceptable than sex in kid and teen rated movies (in the US), exceptions are made for sex which includes violence. Which is an even scarier observation than the ones that led to it, if you ask me.

Dworkin gets lots of crap for having said that all sex is rape, which besides being not true, has to be one of the worst examples of taking a quote and using it out of context. What Dworkin was talking about is pretty much the same thing that John Water's comments on in This Film is Not Yet Rated when it comes to rape and sexual violence and movies. He argues that part of the reason that there are so many BDSM porn sites on the internet is not just due to it being more accessible, but also due to rape, assault, and derogatory remarks being the first type of sex most kids are exposed to when it comes to media portrayals of sex. When rape is how we define sex, how can we distinguish sex from rape?

I'm not sure how much of a direct connection there is between ratings and online porn, but I can't see it being healthy for us to shield teens from consensual sex, but not violence. And I really don't see how it's healthy for them to have seen more fictional depictions of rape than fictional depictions of people having consensual sex. Especially (relatively) realistic portrayals of consensual sex.

Which is why I take issue with the MJ statue as is, and the number of similar items, but disagree with those who argue that it does not belong in comic shops because it is pornographic.

PS - if you want a much better written response to This Film is Not Yet Rated and these specific ideas, go read Amanda's take, which was good enough to convince me to go buy the movie just so that I could see it.


(This is days late because that's what happens when you don't read the regular news)

I'm not sure if I've ever made this clear, but the title, blog address and screen name I use are all taken from two of my favorite characters. I picked them in part because Sara Crewe, Meg, Anne Shirley and the like we're all taken - but also because they happen to be adventure stories, and I had such a hard time finding adventure stories featuring girls while I was growing up.

The True Confessions of an Hourly Bookseller is an homage to Avi's The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. A story about a girl who dresses up as a boy and stows aboard a merchant ship - and then ends up having to solve a murder mystery. I haven't read it in ages, but I have a very clear memory of her being "rescued" in the end, and her choosing to continue her life at sea instead.

Westmark is a series about a kingdom by that name. It was written by Lloyd Alexander, the author of The Black Cauldron series. I picked Mickle as my screen name not just because the more recognizable Eilonwy is both harder to spell and pronounce, but because I always liked Mickle more than Eilonwy. She is not the main character of the story, especially at first, but her character is both strong and interesting, and it's very clear throughout the series that she is not an addendum to the story or a plot point needed for Theo's character development. Westmark is more of a parable about democracy than it is a fantasy series, and Mickle's final act as the rightfully restored Queen Augustus is to step down so that the people may rule. Combined with the nature of her relationship with Theo and her actions during the invasion of her country, the end result is a character who has learned how to take charge when needed, but without letting her strengths and good fortune silence the voices of others.

Avi is still alive and well, but Lloyd Alexander passed away on May 17th. He will be missed, and we were lucky to have him for as long as we did.

I Also Find it Funny

When people say stuff like this:

Debate sex and sexism in comics, sure. I'm all for it. Come out with a bingo card as a shorthand for people too busy to actually listen or consider opposing viewpoints ("oh we're sick of repeating ourselves"), and you're filed along with all the other crackpots who, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, can't change their mind and won't change the subject.

Listen girls, you only get to make jokes if they poke fun at just you, not other people as well as yourself. Most especially when those other people happen to be less emotional and more grounded in reality than you are. (What, me, sexist?) Plus, we we all know feminists aren't funny by definition - so stop trying to be. And completely ignore the irony that you now have bingo!.

PS - from WFA, that evil hive mind of feminist rantings.

Monday, May 21, 2007


CBS has trailers for their new fall shows up (from Lyle) and I so can't wait for September. Mostly 'cuz this just looks sooooooo cool.

I mean, it's like Two Guys and a Girl (and a Pizza Place) - only without the funny. And better yet, this time only the chick is hot!

And really, who cares that their marketing department is apparently unaware of the fact that quarks are a subatomic particles, as long as their set crew can totally copy from college textbooks, it's all good!

Plus, it's called The Big Bang Theory. Get it? The Big Bang Theory. How perfect is that?

I am soooo looking forward to that very special episode where Short Geek learns that Hot Chick has special talents all her own. (No, not those kinds of talents, you dirty boy.) I'll bet puppies are somehow involved. I love puppies.

Who wants to take bets on who she kisses first? I'll bet it's shy boy - but only on the cheek. (No, not that cheek. You're so rude!) And he'll totally freak out. I can't decide if he'll swear to never wash that cheek again, or start praying for Allah to save him from temptation. What do you think?

Sunday, May 20, 2007

I Am Amused

By the people essentially saying "ha! ha! I'm going to remember to buy that just to piss those feminists off!"

(A statement, btw, that does just so much to convince me that you buy such crap for the simple reason that you like looking at pretty girls and not all because you get off on degrading women.)

Dear dweebs, I'm really not so much caring that it sold out. Drop in the freakin' bucket my sweets.

I mean it's sad, but despite false accusations to the contrary, I do actually care about this a lot more than I care about you buying bad art.

I'm not terribly overwrought because I know that you, personally, buy ugly statues. This may come as a shock to you, but I don't really care about you that much at all. Certainly not if you are going to demonstrate such bad taste.

What I do care about is that it doesn't seem to be possible to buy anything but crap like that. I care that I don't get my pinup of Dr. Reid. And that most everyone pretends as if this:

is somehow an adequate consolation prize.

Seriously, people - that's supposed to be sexy????? Wha? Huh? How?

Please do explain. I rather think I'd find the attempt amusing as well.

And needless to say I could do with some humor about now. I'm trying really hard not to take potshots and the people over at Whedonesque who actually do mean well, but can't seem to stop themselves from saying "gee whiz Joss, I'm so glad that you're not shrill like all those other feminists" - over and over again.

Plus, I have a feeling your lame attempts at doing so will give me really good examples of why the idea that that is appealing to women does in fact have more to do with Dua Khalil's brutal, public murder than most people want to admit.

Research, People. It's Called Research

So, not that I don't consider When Fangirls Attack to be feminist - both because it's run by feminists and because, sadly, anything that gives fair and balanced coverage about women is feminist...

And it's certainly true that both of the site creators wrote about the broohaha on their personal blogs....

One can also argue (though I'm not sure I would) that without the hard work of Ragnell and Kalinara this may not have become as big of a deal, since their work has made all those complaints easy to find....

However, Aaron Albert, whomever you may be, When Fangirls Attack did not "[rail] against the statue in a very strong voice, as well as those whose ideas don't line up with theirs."

WFA is a freakin' linkblog, and it links to all kinds of posts about women in comics - including your asinine and inaccurate entry for About.com - without any commentary except for the occasional topic grouping.

If simply doing that is considered to be "railing...in a very strong voice" no wonder we are always told that "you don't catch flies with honey!" No matter how polite we are. Apparently simply speaking is considered to be a rant.

He does have the good taste to see that the statue is not worthy of being called art (albeit partly because he thinks porn doesn't belong in comic shops, which I disagree with). But I ask you, dear readers, how can I not make fun of statements like these:

The lack of women producing comics is a real loss.

Now, where was that post about how harm done against women is constantly being framed as acts of god or nature? Did women not being in comics just sorta happen one day like a tornado?

DC comics is trying to get into the comics geared for girls with their Minx line – ironically most of them are made by men.

I'm not sure ironic is quite the term I'd use. I, mean, it's at least correct, which is an improvement, but the whole phrasing of (in the context of his other statements) tends towards the "gee, how did that happen?"

Wherever you stand on the women in comics issue...

Is it just me, or does that phrasing sound vaguely like "the women question?" What exactly is "the women in comics issue?" I was under the impression that, what with women being individuals and discrimination taking various forms, there was more than one issue when it comes to women and comics. The variety of links found on When Fangirls Attack seem to support on that.

This statue just doesn’t seem to shout, hey girls comic books are your friends!

Just me.

Well no, sweetie, it's not just you. It's also all those "feminist websites" too.

You know, I'd be a lot easier on clueless but sometimes well-meaning twerps like Aaron Albert if they didn't go to such great lengths to pretend that we don't actually agree on anything. Aside from being rude, it also just one more example of men ignoring what women are actually saying while simultaneously taking credit for it having been said.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Ragnell Is My Hero

This is one of the many reasons why.

I just wanted to temporarily come out of my temporary retirement to say that.

Peoples? If you want to try to convince other peoples that something isn't really that big of a deal, perhaps you might consider not spending so much damn time screaming at the people who think that it is. Not surprisingly, it tends to have the opposite effect than what you'd hoped.

(Assuming, for no reason related to logic, that you are being truthful when you say that your intentions really are to help us poor confused, hysterical people out - not to intimidate us into silence.)

PS - I rather think the insane popularity of the new Buffy comics has something to with this. I mean, it's one thing when those silly fangirls ask an annoying question or two at comic conventions, but if Buffy can overshadow the death of the of the likes of Captain America* who knows what horrors await us if we allow these silly fangirls to continue bitching without forcing them to face the consequences. When Fangirls Attack and Girl-Wonder are tolerable as long as they stay out of the way, but what if they don't?

*perhaps not in comicbookland, but my dad heard about the Buffy comic from someone other than me, and I rather suspect he hasn't a clue about Captain America.

update: I (partly) take that back about Buffy. After reading crazy raving hobo's post, I think she's very much onto something when she talks about casual fans being the one's most outraged about the statue. Spiderman 1 and 2 were really popular among the general public. Even more so than the X-Men or any screen incarnation of Superman, I'd argue, because Peter Parker and Mary Jane are much more everyday people kind of characters - that's part of Spiderman's enduring popularity after all.

This statue coming out right around the time the third movie is coming out has brought a lot more attention to the former than we would see otherwise. Which means that a lot of people who identify with Mary Jane and Peter Parker - in ways they don't identify with Superman or Wonder Woman - are looking at something that is quite blatantly objectifying and they are taking that very personally. So they are complaining, loudly and in places where non comicbookland people are listening. This spill into the "real world" has gotten the panties of many members of the often insular comicbookland into quite a twist.

update 2: With that idea in mind, I rather wonder if part of the mainstream outrage is not so much that Mary Jane is doing laundry or that she is objectified, but that the combination and manner of doing so is seriously pissing a lot of people off because it mocks the hard work that (mostly) women do do keep our homes running. Some female/feminist comic fans are arguing that it doesn't annoy them as much as some other stuff because (for example) MJ isn't a superhero herself, so to them it's not undermining women's strength as much as other stuff does. However, such a ridiculous looking statue of MJ is demeaning women's strength in the eyes of women whose authority has its foundation in areas traditionally considered women's work. And those women (currently) outnumber female comic fans.