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She Has No Head! – Is It Worth It?

Image for Anita Sarkeesian's "Tropes vs Women Video Games" Kickstarter

I’d like to open today’s column up a bit to your thoughts as I ask the question “Is it worth it?”

And when I say “it” I mean, is speaking out online and trying to move the needle on issues that are sometimes unpopular worth it in the end? We’ve had an excellent (and rather extreme) example lately in the case of Anita Sarkeesian’s Tropes vs. Women in Video Games Kickstarter, which I visited relatively early on and was weighing whether or not to fund (I was leaning toward yes when her Kickstarter went viral). But Sarkeesian’s project went viral and earned an unprecedented $158k+ (against her original $6k goal) primarily because the haters, misogynists, creeps, “ole boys club”, and trolls came out in force against her to a staggering (and frankly, horribly alarming) degree. Thus Sarkeesian’s project became a big news item, earned a lot more coverage, and a whole lotta people (nearly 7k) cried foul in the form of support – and cold hard cash.

In some ways completely unrelated and yet somehow also nearly identical Karen Klein now has a vacation fund” of close to $700k after the abuse she took from kids she monitored on a bus went viral and Max Sidirov set up an Indiegogo account to give her some financial (and emotional) support in the form of funds for a vacation.

So, is the – quite frankly insane (but awesome) – level of support we’re seeing in reaction to these horrible offenses and behaviors worth the original horror?  And perhaps more importantly does the very fact that we’re seeing this play out in this way mean anything?

Surely not only will Sarkeesian’s video series be better and “more” since she’s funded at 2,648% of her original goal. Even if she takes a hefty profit, I expect she’ll do even more good with that money – even if it’s just to keep herself and Feminist Frequency funded as she continues to try to move the needle on these issues.

Of course NOBODY should have to go through this. You shouldn’t be tortured, slandered, harassed, and threatened for any reason, let alone because you tried to use crowdsourcing to fund a feminist leaning project – but this is the reality we’re living in. But the reality also seems to have become that for all the hate that emerges, there’s also this response from so many people that it will not be tolerated. It’s fascinating.

Sarkeesian, with her final supporter total, and a great smile.

I have been through nothing like what either Sarkeesian or Klein have been subjected to, but writing this feminist learning column (and a slew of other things I do) has certainly brought me plenty of  haters and trolls. I’ve been threatened on many an occasion and my name has been slandered across the web (in the most bizarre of places). I’ve been repeatedly threatened with rape, and everything in between from the rather benign “shut up and get back in the kitchen” to stunningly horrible “I hope your family dies.”

I blame nobody getting harassed in such a way for deciding to throw in the towel on whatever it is they were trying to do/have/say/etc. It is mentally exhausting to put up with abuse from total strangers for doing absolutely nothing wrong. I’ve considered throwing in said towel on many occasions, but for me, for now, this is where the “worth it” comes in. For now at least I don’t feel I’m done talking and so if they make me go away before I feel I’m finished and that I’ve done all I can and want to do, then it feels like letting them win. And that’s not acceptable to me. Not now at least. And I feel like what we’re seeing of late with these very public showings of massive financial support against a small but very vocal group of haters is similar. The – “this is unacceptable and you will not shut us up simply because you’re used to winning” – is coming through loud and clear in a way that is innately understandable to everyone – MONEY.

The Kickstarter I’m running now for my own project has been very fortunate to be both successful and well supported without a lot of trolling or hate, but I’ll be honest that it was fear of that very thing that almost kept me from doing it at all. Not only that, but when deciding how to package my book I hemmed and hawed over using the word feminist or not. My book is undoubtably feminist, not because it preaches anything (it’s not that kind of book) but just because I’m a feminist and it’s something I believe in and so of course it seeps into much of what I write (the same way it does here). Ultimately, I fully embraced calling my book feminist, because though it is (inexplicably to me) a “bad word” to so many people, if I, a card-carrying member can’t use the word to describe something accurately then I’m not only not “moving the needle” but I’m not even really trying.

In truth, though nobody enjoys being harassed (and I’m certainly not trying to encourage it) I’ve almost come to a point where I’m happy to see trolls show up on something I’ve written because they generally prove my point better than I ever could. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not made of stone, none of us are, and I don’t speak for others, only myself, and sometimes it hurts no matter how thick my skin has become, but there is some value in seeing your point proved so effortlessly.  Not unlike what happened with Sarkeesian’s experience, my most popular/trolled/commented on column in over three years of doing She Has No Head!, was for something that to many people seemed obvious, seemed like something that didn’t even need to be discussed it was so obvious. Prior to the misogynistic outbursts, many, both trolls (and the genuinely confused) openly wonder why a study or article is even necessary or relevant – “we’ve already conquered this thing you’re bitching about” is something I frequently hear.  But judging from the hateful responses – the one Sarkeesian and countless others have received – it becomes pretty easy to point to that reaction and say, “No. No, we have clearly NOT conquered the thing I’m bitching about.”

But go ahead, bring on the hate. Every time you do it you convince more and more people to join my side. Every time you do it you convince more and more people that there IS something worthy of discussion. Every time you do it you convince more and more people to donate bucketloads of cash to see that the discussions DO in fact continue, that the positive projects find their audience, and get the support they deserve.

I think you can all tell where I stand from the above, but I’d be interested to hear what you all think? Is the response we’re seeing to these things indicative of a sea change? Does it matter? Does it mean anything? Or is it just the nature of social media and a good study of what happens when anything goes viral?

 

 

57 Comments

Doing the right thing is always worth it.

I am glad she was able to reach her goal, and I can’t wait to see this video series. I think it definitely matter, because the more you talk about it, the more it is looked at, and you might even open the eyes of people who never realized these things.

The way oppression continues(as I am sure you know), is that a lot of people don’t want to look at their privilege, and I think it makes people feel uncomfortable when it is brought up, but I think the more you talk about it the less uncomfortable it feels, and the more you want to look at the things you buy, read, and view on a daily basis. When people start questioning things and changing their buying habits based on buying things that don’t have these. It may seem difficult but I think it is worth it, when I have kids, I don’t want them force fed these kinds of things, I know they will get some messages, but I am going to do my best to teach them how to not believe all of them. Wow I have never written so much in a reply to a blog before, but it is important to me as future father.

Being a male bodied person, in this world I think this is more important for me to see information like this, even though I know it is not the job of the oppressed to educate their oppressor, I still learn a lot from this, an I hope that you keep bringing this topic up.

I’d say it’s changing, little by little.

It always seems like the forces fighting for change are never quite as loud as the ones trying to shout it down. Thankfully, in this example and many others, I’m heartened to say, they always seem to show up when it counts.

It’s always worth it, because you win every time you say “this is wrong, and it has to change.” Only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, etc. etc.

It’s a little victory, but they add up.

I’ve read several interviews from Sarkeesian, and I’ve vehemently disagreed with her perception and opinions so many times I’ve lost count. It’s got to the point that any female character that isn’t fully-clothed from head to toe is an offense and should be used as an indictment against the misogynistic video game industry, regardless of their in-game actions or characterzation.

But

But

But, I do think the discussion and conversation she brings up IS valuable and interesting and IMPORTANT, and while her examples may be flawed or her perception not to my liking, the concept of education on this subject through illumination is a definite good thing. So in that case, it is worth it.

I’m looking forward to the video series, for the very least for the discussion that’s bound to come out of it.

You know, I remember reading that ‘No, It’s Not Equal’ article and really liking it. But I somehow missed out on the ensuing trollympics. 528 comments. Wow.

I think the problem is in the lack of empathy and too much selfishness.

When you write an article about an issue that you care about, I think it’s important to at least try to see your perspective. Make an attempt. Not everything is about ME. Instead, a lot of these guys, see an -attack- on their gender that somehow -threatens- their rights. And you best stop caring about the issue, because internet does not approve.

Sadly, I don’t think that the positive response to these kickstarters of which you write is a sea change.
It’s just that there comes a moment when the empathy and/or reason kicks in.
Unfortunately, they usually do, only after someone has suffered too much.

Good on ya, Kelly, and may the supportive comments ever outweigh the nasty ones.

@Jeremy: I haven’t watched Sarkeesian’s videos so I can’t speak to whether she goes too far for my tastes or not. But I think your post is a great example of someone disagreeing with her examples while remaining civil and supportive of the discussion.

Speaking of the “No, It’s Not Equal” article, the biggest mistate was clicking the “Notify me of followup comments via email” button when I posted a comment. Holy hell, I think I’m still getting spammed because of that… I have no idea how you put up with it, Kelly! It is just insane, and I have to respect that you didn’t lock the comments on that column a long time ago… although I wish you had for the sake of my inbox :)

“I’ve been threatened on many an occasion and my name has been slandered across the web”

What, really? Wow, some people definitely have no lives. Sad, just sad.

I don’t always agree with what you write in your columns here on CBR, Kelly, but I definitely find your point of view to be well articulated and often thought-provoking.

I recall another CBR columnist who used to talk a lot about feminist issues in comics to the point where she laid the groundwork for much of the discussion as it continues today. Despite plenty of people wanting to shut her up, she was eventually given an even greater voice in a place that “really mattered”: first at Marvel, then at DC, where she proved (and continues to prove) that women could have strong voices (both on the page and behind the scenes) in stories that would appeal to everyone without insulting or marginalizing anyone .

Whether or not you become the “next Gail Simone” Kelly, know by your predecessor’s example that your future will always be better for you sticking up for your convictions, especially compared to the ones who try to tear you down. :)

As the father of two girls and a comic book fan, I think it’s terribly important to have the kind of conversations you start, Kelly. I want my kids to be able to enjoy comics without having to excuse or ignore negative stereotypes.

My blood doesn’t boil at some of the inequalities the way yours does, but I’m always receptive to the points you make, and I appreciate when you point out creators that get it right. It does make me a more conscientiousness consumer when I can not only recognize junk, but find quality entertainment too.

Nearly seven thousand Supporters. And that is just the ones who put down money, rather than “just” emotional support. Versus how many Haters? Yes, they are extreme, even vile. Yes, one “Die In A Fire” drains you more than one hundred “I really like your work” recharges you. Our brain is wired to focus on the negative, so we won’t get eaten by a tiger.

But if even one other person says “I like this”, then yes, it is worth it.

On a coincidental (and hopefully uplifting) note, when I clicked on the link to Ms. Sarkeesian’s Kickstarter page, Kickstarter also showed me a list of the other campaigns I had recently looked at on the bottom of the screen. The last Kickstarter campaign I looked at (a month or so ago) was hoping to fund a video game called Republique, which had a list of new and intriguing features they were hoping to use the money to put into the game. The one that I remember catching my eye was their plan to “Feature a believable, non-sexualized female lead”.

I’m happy to say that game has been fully funded, and is now in production. Sometimes the good guys win.

Lost in the response to the response to Anita Sarkeesian’s Kickstarter are the arguments that, regardless of her gender or the issue at hand, she isn’t actually that good at what she claims to do.

While you have people who will attack stuff just for the fun of it (regardless of sex, but sex give the unimaginative masses some strong pre-existing insults to fall back on), you also had the people who were complaining about more valid issues with Sarkeesian. Those more valid issues got buried in the ****storm of juvenile/idiotic bashing as well as the blind “You’re misogynist to even question this!” defenses that were raised for Sarkeesian. (And yes, the blind and blanket defense itself drives more people, even those with valid issues against Sarkeesian, to more extreme response.)

** As for examples of what I consider valid issues against Sarkeesian:
She argues about the presentation of women in video games and video game stories, but can show a lack of knowledge about the game’s that she is criticizing. This is bad in general, and worse when the missing information might counter her argument. (And when missing or misrepresented information would counter her argument, it also raises the question of whether she intentionally left it out, rather than just never noticed.)

She appears to follow the “no way a guy can win” belief. While yes, games do make mistakes, there is very much an aura of damned if you do, damned if you don’t. This is not only a rather lazy form of argument (it is very easy to complain about everything), it doesn’t really help anyone because there is never an acceptable thing to do, and ultimately only fans the flames and can make the divide worse.

You can find fairly detailed examples online by other posters if you look, posters who’ve put more effort into it, posters who’ve played the games that I haven’t and can thus better point out issues, and posters who are women who object to Sarkeesian’s opinions.

If people did that to me, I’d fight dirty and make them feel sorry.

Sigh… I meant to toss in a little bit more before hitting the Publish button….

I mostly wanted to say that I think what I posted is itself in general (and not just in reference to Sarkeesian’s Kickstarter and videos) an important issue to consider and discuss, issues that tends to get lost in the “She’s a gurl so her opinions don’t matter, ****** suck, you ugly ****, **** **** ****”/”Men just can’t understand, you hate women to even speak about it, Mansplaining lalalala *ears plugged*” that inevitably develops.

I also want to say that the Sarkeesian examples I put were intentionally general, because as I said in the final paragraph, there are others who can raise specific issues and examples better than I, and have better foundations for it.

It is completely worth it, tho’ I can’t pretend to fathom the boiling viscous hatred pedaled by the bigots. No one should be facing that, but as Cich notes above, lack of empathy and a frankly sociopathic degree of selfishness is an endemic problem. Remember that you are fighting the good fight by having the courage to question things and create positive change. And besides you are Kool!

@Hal: Well, there’s also the shoot-from-the-hip mentality and Internet commenters’ tendency to say much nastier things than they would say in person. (Classically noted in http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2004/03/19/ — Penny Arcade, so you can naturally assume there is cursing — and Krahulik and Holkins’s own wading into Internet feminist controversy is a complicated topic best left for another day, but I think it’s notable that Gabe backed down precisely when it came to the issue of meeting people in person.)

Of course, some people ARE just horrible and are equally horrible in person — that story the other month about professional fighting gamers harrassing female players is a major example.

sandwich eater

July 9, 2012 at 5:48 pm

I’m a guy who loves video games, but I can’t fathom how someone could argue that video games generally depict women in a positive light. There are of course some positive depictions of women like Alyx Vance in Half-Life or the RPGs that let you play as either gender, but overall female characters tend to have very poor characterization compared to their male counterparts. I noticed Anya from Gears of War is in the Kickstarter logo. She’s a good example of what I mean. The games explore the motivations and histories of the male characters, but Anya is just kind of there; we never really find out why she fights or does anything, and the games give us no inkling of what she did before the war. (Of course, GOW has a pretty weak story, but it at least attempts to explore the male characters.) There’s also the other end of the spectrum where the female characters exist solely as sex objects.

Mike Loughlin

July 9, 2012 at 8:56 pm

Keep doing what you’re doing, quixotic as it may seem. If it has meaning to you and has the potential to show like-minded people that the haters & trolls can’t grind you down, then it’s worth it.

The way I view women’s portrayal in comics has definitely changed due to these columns and ones similar to them. I used to pretty strongly believe that most of the complaints were just overly PC people complaining for the sake of complaining. And to be honest, I still believe that to be the case quite often. But seeing the hateful response your columns and similar ones can bring is definitely eye opening. And I’m noticing more and more things like M or Black Widow’s costumes being unzipped to the navel for no reason other than to show cleavage, and the ridiculous “boob and butt” poses, and stuff like that. It’s not that I didn’t notice it before, I just didn’t really care or give it much thought. Granted, I wasn’t anywhere near the type of people that write and post some of the crazy hateful comments. But I was more or less neutral towards the topic, and now believe there is more validity to a lot of the complaints then I had given them credit for.

So basically what this long-winded response is trying to say is that your posts have made an impact.

Is she actually going to get this $158k or whatever amount it is? Would she accept it if it’s actually offered? It’s a nice rebuke of Internet trolling, but really, that’s two or three years salary. I thought everyone agreed that the Internet was full of sound and fury signifying nothing. Do people really lose sleep over “criticism” that is THIS unconstructive? It would make sense to me if this was just a battle of hyperbole, enabled by a few lazy keystrokes, but if this is actually worth that kind of money then I need to reach out to fans of feminism woo. Apparently work is for suckers. So I would say, yes, totally worth it.

Carlos Futino

July 10, 2012 at 6:15 am

Is it worht it for the community? Sure it is. We need someone to step up and say what has to be said.

Is it worth it for the person posting the content? That’s something only the author can tell. It depends on how much abuse each person is willing/able to take for the cause.

In short: I hope everyone of these people keep discussing the controversial issues, but I wouldn’t blame them for giving up.

Standing up in front of a group of people and taking a stand on an issue is a thankless job, IMHO. But an important one. Especially when you take said stand about something that you know is going to touch off a powder keg.

I don’t agree with everything you blog about here – but you always make me think. And that’s just as important. To me the important thing is for us to actually DISCUSS these issues, and not blow them off because we think the status quo is good. We still may not agree, but nothing says we HAVE to. But we SHOULD listen to and respect each other’s points of view.

Thank all being said, when the stories started to break about Ms. Sarkeesian’s Kickstarter announcement on YouTube, my first thought was that she was asking for $6000 to build (or enlarge) own video game collection – which she would then use to complete her project/thesis. That didn’t seem like something that should be encouraged. But the hate and venom that was spewed in her direction made ME do a complete double-take. It was uncalled for. It was ridiculous. And, yes, it made me think that maybe we DID have a problem.

“Prior to the misogynistic outbursts, many, both trolls (and the genuinely confused) openly wonder why a study or article is even necessary or relevant – “we’ve already conquered this thing you’re bitching about” is something I frequently hear. But judging from the hateful responses – the one Sarkeesian and countless others have received – it becomes pretty easy to point to that reaction and say, “No. No, we have clearly NOT conquered the thing I’m bitching about.””

So you’re striving for an internet free of haters and trolls?

Good luck with that.

Feathers McGraw

July 10, 2012 at 9:30 am

@Jeremy: Judging from what you’re writing, you haven’t even understand one bit of her points. She doesn’t say anywhere that all characters should be fully clothed. What she wants is that all characters, male of female, should be treated the same way. If the female characters are half-naked (for no good reason) and the male ones aren’t, that’s what she objects to. I don’t see how thats objectionable, really.

@sandwich eater: Well, SOME RPG’s that let you play as either gender, anyway.

Female Shepard in Mass Effect has identical dialogue to Male Shepard; she’s well-covered and reasonably-proportioned. (And all right, the first two games probably get a tut-tut for having a female-female sex option but no male-male, but from what I understand the third has rectified that.)

Other RPG’s — and particularly Japanese RPG’s — don’t really fare so well.

I’m working my way through Xenoblade; I’m enjoying it and find the female characters to be well-written and well-rounded (at least, as much as any of the male characters).

BUT there’s really no way to avoid having them dress in ridiculous outfits with plunging necklines and bare legs.

The absurd thing is that every character has a unique design for each piece of equipment (armor, helmet, pants, boots) you can put on them — but that they don’t line up from one character to the next. The same piece of armor looks completely different on Reyn than it does on Shulk, and if you move it from one of them to one of the female party members, it not only changes appearance but it somehow ends up a lot shorter and tighter.

On a completely different (but related) topic: Samus, of the Metroid series, is the only real example I can think of of moving BACKWARD. She’s generally been viewed as a great example of a well-defined, non-exploited video game heroine (despite the games, well, rewarding your performance by having her take off more clothes at the end of the game depending on how well you did), up until Metroid: Other M turned her into a weak submissive who follows whatever orders her father figure gives her (and at one point literally transforms into a crying child).

Anyway. That’s more than I meant to write, but I guess that goes to show it’s a subject ripe for discussion.

The latest horrifying response to Ms. Sarkeesian is the online “videogame” in which players do nothing except… punch her in the face, brutalizing her. Which sadly, proves some of the points raised about misogyny. Sort of like proclaiming you aren’t a racist by putting on a white sheet and burning crosses at minorities’ homes.

It’s like every comment reminds me of something I want to write, but I don’t want to write a five-page treatise on gender inequality in the comments section. Oh well. Suffice it to say I’m really enjoying this discussion. Differing opinions and interesting persectives, and so far pretty much everyone’s managed to keep a respectful and open tone.

I think if we make it to 50 comments with nobody trolling, it’s some kind of internet record.

@TJCoolguy

Isn’t it pretty typical that the discussions on CSBG are very civil and interesting UNTIL an article goes to the front page and then all hell breaks loose?

I think if we make it to 50 comments with nobody trolling, it’s some kind of Internet record.

I don’t know about you guys, but when I left an earlier comment on this article, it told me it was pending approval or something like that before it went up. So unless I am on some type of “watch list” (I hope I’m not), I’m assuming that is the case for all the comments, and Kelly is weeding out all the trolls. Which, if I am right, must be a pain in the neck for Kelly.

@Cich: I would agree that that’s pretty damn true. :)

@JoeMac: You’re not on a watch list, and we’re not weeding out all the trolls, but there are “some things” in place to flag some comments. Sorry it delayed your comment, Brian and I try to be pretty quick on letting normal comments that get caught through the filter. :)

K

Thats happened to me — with long posts in support of the writers, so it’s not just a matter or weeding out trolls…

That was happening to me for quite a while if I tried to comment through Chrome, but it didn’t happen when using IE. Lately my comments have been going up right away through Chrome, too.

So you’re striving for an internet free of haters and trolls?

Good luck with that.

You know, I used to hear this all the time for the decade or so I was a CBR moderator, and it always drove me nuts.

The answer to that is no, of course you don’t try to clean up the whole internet. What you do is you establish that your corner of it, whatever it might be, is going to be run in a civil fashion. Yes, there are a zillion other sites out there where you can be a complete douchenozzle to everyone. But my position has always been that people can disagree without being horrible to one another and the fact that I may not care for your favorite DC book is no reason for the two of us to go to war. I can tell you that it is never about content– it’s about presentation. Contrary opinions are never deleted. The foul-mouthed threats and various sexual characterizations are. Life is too short to play games with the twisted little lunatics who think that typing nasty sexual comments or threats or slurs is their God-given right and the natural state of the internet. It’s really no different than teaching middle-school kids; the more attention you give them, the more you react to their bad behavior, the more it encourages them to put on a show.

We have control over our respective comments sections here and those of us with ‘backstage’ access can see the truly vile things that get said to Sonia and Kelly that get deleted, and the amazing thing to me is that they didn’t quit years ago. Trust me when I tell you that it is so much lopsidedly worse for the two of them than it is for the guys that I’m embarrassed for my gender.

Is it worth it? I dunno. I wouldn’t presume to speak for Kelly, but I put in ten years as a moderator here and I thought I did a pretty fair job for most of that time keeping the forums a nice place to hang out. I gave it up when I realized that constantly refereeing idiot disputes every Wednesday morning over whether or not “Joss was just giving the finger to Buffy fans everywhere”– seriously, if these folks had been in the same room saying the things they said to one another, I am certain there would have been fisticuffs– anyway, trying to ride herd on that was poisoning the love for comics and pop culture that brought me here in the first place. That was when it was no longer worth it and now someone else here is doing that job.

Writing for the blog has been, for me, a way to reconnect with that affection for the material itself, to remember that I really do love this stuff. But I don’t love the ugliness that comes with certain sections of fandom and I would prefer they patronize some other corner of the net. Fans wrangle and opinionate and lecture one another all the time. That’s what we do. But I’ve been hanging around with our tribe for the last decade and a half– I think the first con where I had the nerve to actually talk to people was the late nineties– and I know from all the years since then of barbecues and dinners and movie nights and whatever that it really is possible to disagree and even mock the other person’s basic wrongheadedness (I WILL make you understand why the Phantom Menace sucked, Miles, someday) without being so threatened by it that your only response is to suggest sexually violating the person with the different opinion.

This stuff– comics, books, movies, pop culture in general– it’s supposed to be fun. It’s recreation. If someone doesn’t like what you like and that sends you into a paroxysm of fury, you’re doing it wrong. If that fury leads you to stalk and harass people online, you’re a douchebag and quite possibly a criminal, and we really don’t need you around here.

Kelly; your column was a major selling point when Brian spoke to me. I’d been writing for a different site as the lone woman and their ideas weren’t exactly progressive. The fact that you’d just started and I knew you’d be wrangling the feminist stuff freed me up to write. Not only is it worth it, but you do a far better job than I can imagine anyone else doing. You’re calm, measured, and funny too. I’m lucky to work on a site with you and I’m grateful to you for what you do.

It’s not that these attitudes are promoted in video games, or comics, or any other place you can name—it’s that they’re promoted consistently throughout our culture. Battling them in specific arenas is important, but we also need to understand *why* they’re there, and what the barrage from all sides does to the self-image of girls and women, and what it does to boy’s/men’s perceptions of females. It comes from two sources:

1. Traditional societal and religious attitudes: the short form of describing this is to say, “Women have been second-class humans, if not outright property, throughout most of history; and a lot of people have a hard time letting go of these attitudes to see females as equal partners in society, with equal status, rights, and deserving of equal respect.” The *long* form of this… is a very long discussion, so I’ll leave that for another day.

2. The *specific* form of “beauty” touted in society, and the impetus to evaluate women most strongly on their *appearance* (linking worth to looks), has been the growing blob-monster of quite a few centuries—but that blob has expanded exponentially in the past 100 years… and its source is Commercialism.

Look at what was considered female beauty in the Renaissance: what today we would call “fat” women. Then there were the wasp-waisted women of the Romantic/Victorian period, complete with tight corsets, bustles on their butts, narrow skirts, high heels, and ridiculously-complicated hats and hair styles. The 1920′s featured skinny, boyish women. The ensuing decades favored women curvy but a bit plump in arms, thighs, and bellies. Then the youth fad hit full-swing: models grew thinner and younger. Airbrushing, and now photoshopping, can make any woman “beautiful”… but none of the images that typify “beauty” are real.

Look at commercials and magazine ads: women and girls are constantly bombarded: weight loss programs. Weight loss pills, diets, fads. Umpteen kinds of exercise equipment. Remove your leg/underarm/lip/public hair with creams, razors, waxing, lasers! Use this miracle curling iron/straightener, then use *these* products to heal your damaged/stressed/burned hair! Do this for your nails, that for your stretchmarks! Get rid of those unsightly moles! Tummy tucks, boob lifts, boob enlargements, nose jobs, facial peels, face lifts, butt lifts, liposuction! Bleach those age spots! Bleach your pubic and anal skin (it’s quite popular… since so many boyfriends and husbands have been conditioned to see porn stars who bleach those areas of skin, so when their wives/girlfriends have darker skin there, many of them go “Ewww!”). I could fill up this page with “personal care” products and services every company under the sun tries to tell us that we simply *must* have—but the point is, we no longer look into mirrors, we look into mirrors through a microscope, searching for a laundry list of “flaws” that we “need to correct” in order to be considered “beautiful”.

And that’s just the body-marketing… it’s not even taking into account all the clothes/fads/styles/accessories that constantly change.

We are *conditioned* as women to see our main value as “How attractive am I? How good can I look?” We are conditioned not only for that, but also to compare ourselves to what we are “shown” is the standard of beauty (never mind that it took a professional makeup artist 3 hours, plus a guy with photoshop to get it). Further, we are conditioned to flat-out NITPICK our own appearances, to focus in on what we’re told are flaws, to never truly be happy with how we look—because, DUH, if we were, we wouldn’t “need” to BUY products/services to “fix” it! From individual traits we’re born with, to the vagaries of weight and aging, we are continually told all our lives, “You need to fix that—it’s unattractive.”

Males also get conditioned: the media blitz tells them “this is what your woman should look like; these things are unattractive or even ugly.” It serves the dual purpose of getting the males to reinforce advertisers’ messages to females, and getting men to urge women to “fix what’s wrong with you.” Mothers do it to daughters. Fathers do it to daughters. Boys do it to girlfriends; husbands to wives. Girls do it to other girls; women to other women. This whole standard of “your looks are the most important thing about you/fix every little thing that’s ‘wrong’!” has become utterly pervasive in our culture… and it’s starting to really get geared up toward boys/men as well, though they still haven’t felt the full force of it yet. (But males with eating disorders are on the rise, as are the number of men going in for plastic surgery.)

In short, we have become a culture where the surface has reached astronomical value, and the inner person is vastly short-changed.

Yes, I know, there are plenty of relationships out there where “average” or even “unattractive” people are paired, are “loved for who they are and not what they look like,” etc. That’s very true. But stop and think for a moment: even in those relationships, just how many of those people are utterly happy with how they *look*? How many of them still nitpick over their appearance, how many of them are actively depressed/unhappy/resigned/bitter over how they look? How many of them still fixate on various things that “will make me more attractive”? I’m willing to bet at least 95% of the women are like that, if not more. A fair number of men are getting that way as well, though not so many positively *obsess* over their appearance the way women do.

Think of all the “happily married” or “happily dating” women you know. Now tell me: out of all those women, how many of them NEVER complains about her weight, or something in her looks that she wants “to fix”? (It could be wrinkles, stretchmarks, teeth, hair, breasts, butt… the list is endless.) Can you say, “Houston, we have a problem”? (And no, contrary to cultural belief and a butt-load of jokes, it’s not a woman’s natural state to ask “Does this dress make my butt look big?” 10,824 times over the course of her life.)

Yes, there is a certain natural tendency in the species, especially in the young, to first notice someone’s appearance, when feeling an initial attraction—but it’s not 100%. There are still people out there who are drawn, not so much to someone matching a physical standard of beauty, but rather to “How she laughs” or “The way she smiles” or “I love how her eyes dance”—all of which are as much or more an expression of the *person* as they are something to do with a physical attribute. For some, it’s even things like “I love her sense of humor” or “It was her interests matching mine” or even “The passion with which she spoke that drew me to her.” Even with all the media and societal bombardment to focus on the physical, there’s still a lot of relationships out there that started on the non-physical; ones that kindled via the *personality*.

There’s nothing wrong with liking how someone looks. There’s nothing wrong with finding certain physical traits appealing or even sexually-exciting. There’s even nothing wrong with someone’s physical appearance being the first thing you liked about them from across the room. Everyone has some individual preferences, and that’s fine.

What’s wrong is when a society has convinced 95% or more of half its entire population that how they look is *so* important, plays *such* a huge role in how they’re judged, that they must constantly strive for an artificial, ever-changing standard of “perfection… or at least, *some* kind of ‘improvement’” no matter how beautiful they really are… to the point that they can’t even *see* in *themselves* how beautiful they really are.

And the sad thing is, this drive to improve appearance and it’s subsequent nitpicking, actually makes women *less* beautiful—because the most beautiful people are the ones who are the most confident and happy in themselves and accepting of themselves *as* beautiful… the ones who don’t zoom in on their nose being large, or them having a “muffin top” when they look in the mirror… because instead, they see *all* of themselves, inside and out, and love what they see for how utterly unique they are. They see their gifts, their talents, their skills, their intelligence, humor, love of life, insight, compassion, integrity, honesty—the million and one different things that a person might love about themselves, and the unique combination of talents, gifts, traits, and yes, looks, that make this person beautiful, throughout their life and at *any* age.

But people like that aren’t in the market for anal bleaches, or tummy tucks, or anti-aging spa treatments…. so they get short shrift in the media.

Tell me something—just the guys here: don’t you get tired of your girlfriend/wife being needy for reassurance that they *do* look good to you? Don’t you get tired of hearing them go on and on about their weight, or whatever else it is that they nitpick on? I’m sure you do… unless you’re one of those men who *helps* with the nitpicking, because for some reason the girl your with isn’t good enough for you as she is right now, and you want her to CHANGE for you (maybe because she’s gained weight since you first met, or she got stretchmarks during pregnancy, or any number of ways people’s bodies *do* change over time). Maybe she nitpicks on *your* body, too. Not fun, is it?

Far too many of us get trapped in a cycle of nitpicking, and needing reassurance that “I still look good/sexy/attractive to you”. It’s normal to want to know that your partner still finds you attractive; it’s *not* normal to have your entire self-concept wrapped up in it.

It’s even better if you like how you look so much yourself, you don’t *worry* if your partner finds you less attractive now that you’ve gotten some mileage on you… because a lot of real attractiveness is in how *happy* you are with yourself; how confident you are that you, as an overall package, are “Damned sexy and don’t you forget it! And if you’re having any doubts… let me show you why I *know* I’m damned sexy…”

With that kind of attitude, a 350lb. bald octagenarian can be the sexiest, most attractive person you’ve ever met in your life—and you’re one LUCKY dude to have her. :D

@Greg Hatcher

You seem to have misinterpreted my post. I was referring to Kelly and Anita Sarkeesian’s crusade, not the posting rules of CBR.

Kelly says that receiving mean internet comments shows that “No. No, we have clearly NOT conquered the thing I’m bitching about,” suggesting that she’ll continue to write faux-feminist articles until no one is mean to girls on the internet.

@Dennis: “she’ll continue to write faux-feminist articles until no one is mean to girls on the internet.”

How are her articles faux-feminist? They’ve always seemed full-on, straight-up, truly feminist to me.

Kelly, thank you for the work you do here.

Kelly says that receiving mean internet comments shows that “No. No, we have clearly NOT conquered the thing I’m bitching about,” suggesting that she’ll continue to write faux-feminist articles until no one is mean to girls on the internet.

Putting aside the condescending references– “faux-feminist”? really?– I am suggesting to you in return that it’s worth trying. That the fact that it’s impossible to clean up the ENTIRE internet does not for a moment imply that it’s therefore worthless to bother with ANY part of the internet, which is what your implication appears to be. If it’s ever going to get better people have to actually make an effort. Giving it up as hopeless without even trying is just as ridiculous a position as the one you say Kelly is taking. Of the two extremes, I prefer Kelly’s end of it and think it’s worth supporting.

To clarify my point, I guess what I’m trying to say is that I disagree with Kelly’s premise, which I read as, “Is it worth it to put up with stalkers and harassing trolls if you have the chance to accomplish something amazing? Is it just the cost of doing business for a woman writer?”

My feeling has always been that you just shouldn’t tolerate stalkers and harassers, period. All of us here have horror stories, even the guys, though they’re not as spectacularly awful as Kelly’s or Sonia’s. I’m saying that if we all make the effort whever we land on the net to deny the creeps and bullies at least that little bit of real estate, “starve the trolls” as the expression goes, that’s a step forward just for common decency. I don’t see it as inextricably linked to feminist or not-feminist ideas. Jerks are jerks and should be called out as such. Maybe if we quit casting it in terms of gender identity and simply looked at the phenomenon as cyber-bullying, which is what it really is, people would be less likely to tolerate it in any form.

@Dennis,

I don’t think Greg misinterpreted your post; I think you aren’t getting the point of *his* post: it’s not “Oh, CBR is clean, yay us! We’re done now.”

Dennis, a lot of people read things here who may or may not post here… but it’s very very likely that CBR isn’t the *only* place they go on the internet. You may see it as “preaching to the choir” to post about attitudes toward women *here* (I’d argue that), but it never hurts to get people thinking, and discussing, about this *anywhere*—even on sites that are devoted 100% to women’s rights, and the entire readership there are feminists. Why?

Because, in discussing in, people LEARN something. In discussing it with women who’ve experienced direct and/or cultural prejudice and/or active harassment, men learn something. And they can take what they learn, and new thoughts they have, back to other places on the internet, and out into their own lives.

I posted in forums here for years, and at one point served as a Moderator. One of the most important and useful discussions I ever had the privilege to participate in happened right here on CBR:

Someone had started a thread on women’s treatment in comics; during the course of the conversation, the topic shifted to rape. At that time there were a handful of women who were here among the guys… and as we talked about it, a major revelation occurred for both sides: we females talked about what it’s like growing up female, how we’re taught, over and over, to be wary of situations, people, places; how we’re taught to try to avoid getting raped. For me, and many other women, we suddenly became aware of how *much* fear we lived with on a daily basis, a fear so old and omnipresent that we really didn’t question it as part of our worldview—that was Life, that was “How It Is.”

For the men, that was surprising enough, but what genuinely shocked a lot of them was our absolute guarantee that some women somewhere, even some of us when we’d met in person, had had the question float through our heads about them at *least* once… “Is this guy going to try to rape me at some point?” It didn’t matter how nice they were. It didn’t matter how kind, or how they saw themselves. We women are taught to internally question even the nicest-seeming guys—after all, Ted Bundy seemed “nice” to his victims.

And trust me, there were some of the nicest, best men I’ve ever met (online and in person) posting in that thread… and they were FLOORED to learn that women they’d met, women they knew, had had that question float through their minds about *them*. And both sides realized just how different it is to experience Life, to look out from the inside, depending on whether you’re a male or a female.

In the years since, I’ve run across a great example of how men aren’t even aware of the fear women are taught from infancy… here’s a link to the full article it came from, and I’ll follow it with the specific quote:

http://www.theroot.com/views/why-i-am-male-feminist

[Quote]
The following day, I attended a workshop about preventing gender violence, facilitated by Katz. There, he posed a question to all of the men in the room: “Men, what things do you do to protect yourself from being raped or sexually assaulted?”

Not one man, including myself, could quickly answer the question. Finally, one man raised his hand and said, “Nothing.” Then Katz asked the women, “What things do you do to protect yourself from being raped or sexually assaulted?” Nearly all of the women in the room raised their hand. One by one, each woman testified:

“I don’t make eye contact with men when I walk down the street,” said one.
“I don’t put my drink down at parties,” said another.
“I use the buddy system when I go to parties.”
“I cross the street when I see a group of guys walking in my direction.”
“I use my keys as a potential weapon.”
“I carry mace or pepper spray.”
“I watch what I wear.”

The women went on for several minutes, until their side of the blackboard was completely filled with responses. The men’s side of the blackboard was blank. I was stunned. I had never heard a group of women say these things before. I thought about all of the women in my life — including my mother, sister and girlfriend — and realized that I had a lot to learn about gender.

[/quote]

Indeed.

It’s not enough to clean up one corner of the internet (though it’s a start), anymore than it is enough to clean up crime in one city out of thousands. It’s not enough to educate men and women about prejudice and harassment in one place; that education needs to go out to every place. The things both men and women here learned in that one thread helped break down communication barriers, helped make us aware of unconscious assumptions, and gave all of us a better understanding of the problem, and better ammunition to argue against prejudice and harassment, anywhere we go—on the internet and in real life, wherever we need to stand up against gender-based prejudice and harassment.

Or as one of my favorite authors put it, the phrase “Life Isn’t Fair, Just Deal With It!” is total B.S.

Life isn’t Fair, because people do things to *make* it unfair. You can roll over and accept “it isn’t fair”—which means you’ve chosen to actively aid and abet those who make it unfair, by accepting it and allowing them to continue what they’re doing unopposed… OR, you can fight unfairness wherever you find it, and do your part in making it Fair, making it a better world to live in for yourself and everyone around you. No one person can fix it all—but the more people who *do* work on fixing it, the better it will become.

Cich, JoeMac, Kelly: That was really more of a general comment about the internet itself. One of my favorite things about CSBG (if not my very favorite thing, period) is knowing that, with very few exceptions, discussions on here will be civil and respectful. It’s especially striking considering that I often check this site right after checking movie news on Ain’t It Cool News. Coming from a site known for being filled with hateful, bile-spewing, openly hostile commenters to this one is like night and day.

Chris: I had a similarly eye-opening (and emotionally devastating, unfortunately) moment when I was very young. In early – mid high school I had a very close female friend reveal to me that she had been taken advantage of at a party once when she was passed out. I was obviously horrified, but it only got worse when I came to realize that her experience was not uncommon. Not only did several other girls I knew at school have similar stories, but I found out through research that the amount of girls in my then-age group who go through experiences like that was upsettingly high in the country as a whole. That was the first moment in my life that I remember being disgusted in my own gender.

i’m always impressed when there are outpourings of positivity and support like with Anita Sarkeesian and her campaign, the lady on the bus, people dogpiling the dude who made the punch-Anita-in-the-face game, and i feel like there IS some sea change going on sometimes, that maybe, just maybe, people are getting better, more people are standing up for others and speaking out against wrongs or whatever.

it’s amazing what you’re doing, speaking out against this stuff, personally weathering the hate. i aspire to be like you, i wish i had the courage and energy and well-spoken-ness to do the type of work you’re doing and how well you do it.

@Chris Allen

I’m sorry. I just don’t see how crusading to cover up cartoon boobies is going to prevent rapes or make everyone nice on the internet.

Look, I don’t condone the harassment aimed at these two ladies, but I understand why there’s backlash against them. What they do has nothing to do with feminism. They’re not pushing for equal rights for women; they’re attacking other people’s art because it doesn’t look like what they think it should look like. They’re just censors who drape themselves in the flag of feminism to gain sympathy. They produce intentionally provocative columns or videos, get some outrage, get some page views (or Kickstarter windfalls), and go back to their funny books and video games to look for more cleavage to get indignant about. They thrive on the outrage. Kelly admits as much in this column. They get up on their soapbox and call for the removal of boobs from comics and video games and then cite the message board reactions of boob-loving teenage boys as proof that they’re right about boobs needing to be removed from other people’s work.

It’s bullshit.

In fact, numerous studies have shown a correlation between the proliferation of pornography and a reduction in sexual assaults, meaning the efforts of these women to rid the comic and video game industries of cheesecake, if successful, may actually contribute to an increase in rape.

And as far as eliminating meanness on the internet is concerned, I stick with my original sentiment: Good luck with that. Meanness is part of the human experience. People say mean shit; they always have and they always will (sure we could try spraying them with kindness gas, but everyone who’s seen Serenity knows how that turns out). But if you really want the biologically and/or mentally adolescent boys to lighten up a little, you could start by not trying to take away their boobs.

@Dennis:

Dude, you have no idea what you’re talking about…at least when it comes to me. That you want to boil my “crusade” down to “taking away boobs” is just hilarious…and pretty much exactly what I’m talking about when I say bring it on. I don’t write things with the deliberate intention of stirring up hate (It’s time consuming and both mentally and physically exhausting for me) but over-reactions and “miss” reactions like yours help other people see how irrational you folks can be.

As for not talking about things that matter. Man, if that isn’t the oldest damn argument for “please shut up” on the internet I don’t know what is. You just wrote MASSIVE comments (and keep coming back to defend yourself) on a COMICS board, so please stop trying to sell me on none of this “matters” to anyone, it clearly matters TO YOU. Lastly, you have no idea what I do when I’m not writing about comics to further the cause of Feminism (etc), so don’t presume to know that you do.

This is a comics site, so I write about comics here…it’s not rocket science.

@Kelly

“You folks”? Who are me folks?

I never said it doesn’t matter to anyone. I just said it has nothing to do with feminism. Which it doesn’t. It’s censorship. Plain and simple.

As for my “MASSIVE” comments, there are at least a half dozen people who wrote longer comments than I did in response to this column. Should they be embarrassed too for posting on a “COMICS” board, or is it just me… who happens to be the only one who disagrees with you?

I presumed nothing about your activities outside writing about comics. I simply told you what I think about what you write about comics: You’re trying to censor them from the bully pulpit.

There is nothing so sad as a closed mind.

Dennis, you have closed your mind to any other viewpoint than your own. You have closed your ears to what more than one woman has had to say on this topic (and I don’t have a kickstarter campaign; neither do the other women who’ve responded in this thread, who’ve discussed the issue and looked at various viewpoints on it).

If you’ve read this commentary, and the other one Kelly linked to where she got a lot of negative comments, it’s easy to see that she explored her viewpoint thoroughly, gave numerous examples, and presented thoughtful commentary on, not just costumes, not even just comparing male to female costuming, but also comparisons of how the characters are posed, how they’re portrayed, body types of athletes vs. porn stars and models, etc. Reducing all that to “she wants cartoon boobies covered up” is ludicrous, at best; at worse, it’s a clear sign that you haven’t bothered to give any serious consideration to the points she’s made.

You’re also making a lot of assumptions about Kelly, and about me. I can’t speak for her, but for myself, I have no problem with naked people, nor with most porn. I’ve gone naked on public nude beaches, and attended fetish parties in all kinds of costume, or no costume at all, just skin and shoes. I’m proud of my body, I think bodies have a natural beauty, and in the right circumstances and right places, I don’t mind showing it off.

Standard comic books are NOT porn, nor are they supposed to be a porn-substitute. They are supposed to be stories about superheroes. Their general storylines may have shifted from the Golden Age portrayals of heroes who would never say the world “dildo”, to storylines where the characters confront life situations (and maybe even *own* a dildo, male or female)… but in some ways, that gives them an even *greater* responsibility to BE more “true to real life”—a.k.a. the women should be portrayed as realistic heroes, NOT set up to be subservient, stupid, or “pretend porn for teenage boys with a woody who are too afraid to get caught owning real porn to go buy some.”

And the simple fact that you’re so unfamiliar with the concept of a female hero being equal to the male ones, the concept of focusing on her character, her job, and how well and intelligently she does it, rather than focusing on her skimpy outfit, boobs falling out, brokeback poses, and writers making these female heroes either incredibly stupid and shallow, indecisive, and/or dependent on their male compatriots to save them and to tell them what to do and how to do it (not to mention near-perpetual victim-hood), is telling.

Apparently you’ve never been exposed to strong female leads/heroes, so let me give you some examples you might want to familiarize yourself with (warning, some of these are in books, not comics):

David Weber’s Honor Harrington series, starting with “On Basilisk Station.”
Mercedes Lackey’s “By the Sword”, and especially “The Serpent’s Shadow.”
Tamora Pierce’s books—you might try starting with the Song of the Lioness quartet.
Elizabeth Moon’s “The Deed of Paksenarrion.”

And for film, take a look at Josh Whedon’s female leads. In fact, look at Black Widow in the Avenger’s movie: she was absolutely the coldest, most calculating, most capable “functioning sociopath” superhero I’ve ever seen; and even though there was a shot of her in her leather outfit on the street, the writing and performance were so masterful, even the “drool type” guys weren’t admiring her boobs—they were totally sucked into reading her expression and wondering what the hell she was about to break next.

The whole point of this is, the fact that comics as a general medium are stuck in a “pubescent boy’s fantasy” portrayal of women “heroes,” instead of actually portraying them *as* heroes (as you so eloquently just showed, with your description of what comics “are for”)… it’s beyond sad.

People talk about the lessons they learned from comic books; when they do, they talk about heroism, about not giving up, about fighting for what’s right, about saving others, about sacrifice, about compassion, and about justice. Perhaps those heroic qualities were found more often in Golden Age comics than in the “modern realism” presentation, but in a pinch, that’s still what comics are *supposed* to be about: people with extraordinary powers and gifts, using those gifts to help others and to protect the ungifted from being killed/tortured/slain/beaten/robbed/ruled by those who also have gifts/powers but use them to cause harm.

What people don’t stop to think about is what lessons the portrayals of female “heroes” teaches to readers: seeing women first and foremost as sexual objects, seeing them waffle, seeing them *need* male direction/leadership, seeing them portrayed as petty, catty, and often, as victims of abuse—not just from the bad guys, but sometimes from their own “hero” boyfriends. Not very heroic models for young women to look to, and certainly, they don’t give young men *any* real idea of just how strong, dedicated, intelligent, and heroic women *can* be. It’s rare to see the women portrayed as true partners—if it happens, sooner or later they get re-worked to fit the above “weak/silly/stupid/petty/victim” tropes. Part of it is in how they’re drawn (both the costumes *and* the poses)… but part of it too is in how they are portrayed overall.

And that’s a disservice both to the young men, and the few young women, who read them.

@Dennis:

“You folks” is anyone that wants to take more than 3.5 years of columns and podcasts about comics and boil them down to a “crusade to take away boobies.”

I didn’t give anyone else that wrote massive comments a hard time because they aren’t trying to pretend something written on a comics website “means nothing and has nothing to do with Feminism” – they get that it’s all related, and they’re not pretending not to care while they spend good amounts of time writing comments on such an article.

Media, especially in our social media heavy world drives a lot of this stuff, and equal pay for equal work, sexual harassment in the workplace, and rape culture are absolutely tied to things like the hypersexualization and objectification of women in media (including comics) I’m sorry you can’t see that.

There is no way Kelly is crusading against boobies. She’s the one who turned me on to oglaf.com, for Pete’s sake! Not for nothing, but that webcom features a serious amount of boobies!

And that’s why guys who tell women bloggers that they should shut up about women’s issues are the real feminists fighting against censorship.

Calling Dennis closed minded is being generous. Saying he would turn to stone if exposed to intense ultraviolet rays is probably more accurate. God bless you for engaging him, but at this point you’re doing more to encourage him posting the same thing repeatedly than you are to convince anyone you’re right. It’s definitely worth discussing inequality, it’s definitely not worth feeding trolls.

@Chris Allen

You have a lot of ideas about what comics are “supposed” to be, but guess what… Like any other creative medium, comics are supposed to be whatever the creators want them to be.

Sometimes it’s crap. And it’s fine to point out crap when you see it, but it’s a little different when you start tying it to rape. The 1950s were one of the darkest times in our nation’s history as far the First Amendment is concerned and easily the darkest time in the history of the industry. Those who crushed our voices back then used the same specious arguments you and Kelly are making today. “Naughty, sexy comics are corrupting our youths! Making them rapey and violent!”

And you’re right. There is more than one woman (and men too) criticizing comics. It’s become a hobby with it’s own cottage industry much like comics themselves, but I think you’ve spent too much time in that echo chamber and you need to step back and look at some of the charges you’re leveling. Comics are reponsible for rape? Comics are responsible for Republican opposition to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act? Come on now…

Thanks Josh! I have a rule: I only engage people who troll one or two times… enough times to prove trolling to my satisfaction. I also try to give reasoned responses, because whether or not it sinks in with them, it gives *other* readers food for thought. :D

It’s been so long since I’ve been on here that I don’t know who the trolls are anymore, so the “1-2 chances” rule I have comes into play. After that, I ignore them, because it’s a waste of time, and feeding trolls just gives them the attention they crave, to no good purpose. However, sometimes very good discussions with *other* posters sometimes comes out of one of those 1-2 replies that I posted to the potential troll, so it’s not time totally wasted. :D Trolls are their own worst enemies: if you ignore them, they’ll shoot off their own foot, nose, hand, and possibly a few other body parts… then as you continue ignoring them, they either pitch such a fit that moderators ban them, or they get bored and go drag their battle lures somewhere else. In the meantime, you get to tell yourself all kinds of fun jokes about Darwin Awards and chlorine in gene pools, in between having serious discussion with serious posters. :D

Chris, it’s a great rule. I hope I wasn’t making it sound like I doubted your intelligence. I believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt too. Some genuine good discussion comes from the comments to Kelly’s posts, but the comments become tedious when serious posters spin their wheels too long engaging people who are just here to get attention.

My $0.02. I’ll just sit back and enjoy the show again.

Kelly, I love your column. In particular, “No, It’s not equal” was excellent. However, anytime you cover anything that could even possibly be categorized as controversial, reading some of the comments makes me want to beat my head on the wall. But I guess that’s a positive sign. If you only get comments that say “oh yes, quite right,” you wouldn’t be saying anything really important, would you?

To Chris Allen,

I’m not sure you made a direct refutation to this statement by Dennis:

“numerous studies have shown a correlation between the proliferation of pornography and a reduction in sexual assaults, meaning the efforts of these women to rid the comic and video game industries of cheesecake, if successful, may actually contribute to an increase in rape.”

But I take it that you don’t agree with it when you say:

“Standard comic books are NOT porn, nor are they supposed to be a porn-substitute. They are supposed to be stories about superheroes. Their general storylines may have shifted from the Golden Age portrayals of heroes who would never say the world “dildo”, to storylines where the characters confront life situations (and maybe even *own* a dildo, male or female)… but in some ways, that gives them an even *greater* responsibility to BE more “true to real life”—a.k.a. the women should be portrayed as realistic heroes, NOT set up to be subservient, stupid, or “pretend porn for teenage boys with a woody who are too afraid to get caught owning real porn to go buy some.”

Should one assume from this that you believe that “pornified” (my word) comic books cannot have any of the beneficial effects of real porn, or that real porn doesn’t have such an effect either?

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