Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
Last week I opted to talk about the awesomeness that was the new Lumberjanes comic instead of the disgusting madness surrounding a well-reasoned critical piece written by former DC Editor Janelle Asselin about a comic book cover. Frequent commenter Dean Hacker called me Zen. We all had a good chuckle.
Apparently you cats DO. NOT. WANT. ME. TO. BE. ZEN.
Because the world and it’s worst denizens have made it impossible to be Zen with the continued onslaught of sexist bullshit. Absolutely deplorable behavior in the wake of Asselin’s article – and when I say deplorable behavior – I mean things that run the gamut from the appalling posting of a woman’s picture in forums so that she can be further objectified to the alarming yet highly common and terrifying rape threats, to people trying to hack into bank accounts, which…good god man! And all of this because a woman didn’t like a comic book cover you liked. We also had last week, amidst this storm, a sexist t-shirt telling women to get their ladybits out of men’s comics.
Here’s a peek:
(sidebar: I wrote this piece last Tuesday as I’m out of town, but yes, I saw the follow up on this shirt from the t-shirt company. It’s still a “shit shirt” [patent pending on that term?] and while I don’t like the shirt with the genders reversed either, the truth is that one [hating men] is basically an aberration in comics and thus relatively harmless, if annoying, while the hating women shirt pictured [and highly profiled on the site] is indicative of a deep sexist problem in our community, a community that has a lot of problems with sexism and women feeling safe and welcomed…so let’s have some context there and not act like we don’t know the world we live in, okay? This “OMG! Double Standards!” makes you look SUPER EXTRA DOUCHE-Y, guys. That said, I am not calling for t-shirt makers to be strung up or shirts banned, [nor have I seen anyone else do so] they have the right to print whatever stupid shirt they want, the same way that others have the right to respond to said “shit shirt” in the form of op-eds – why people continue to miss this part of the whole “it’s a free country” thing is beyond me.)
ANYWAY, the good news is there’s already an awesome “answer” T-shirt by comics colorist Jordie Bellaire and Steven Finch, so once it’s officially released, demand your stores (and such) stock that puppy, and vote with your dollars…and your chests?
Anyway, it was seeing this fantastic shirt, and reading excellent pieces by Greg Rucka and Jill Pantozzi in the aftermath of this newest sexist bullshit that made me feel like I had to jump into the pool. Both pieces are wonderful, and if you haven’t already read them, make a point of it.
My heart swells especially at Rucka’s piece, since he’s not actually a journalist (as Pantozzi is) and is not a woman. We need more and more of our allies – which I believe are the vast majority of the comics creating and comics reading community to begin taking public stands. I can’t do better than Andy Khouri’s exceptional and passionate piece on Comics Alliance that includes a plea to men to begin standing up to this inappropriate behavior in every walk of life. Greg Rucka can’t just man the dude side of the public ship all by himself, guys.
But it’s not just men that need to speak up and stand out, make their affiliations know, it’s women too. It’s all of us that need to come together to stamp out bad sexist antiquated behavior unworthy of us all and our industry. It holds all of us back. I’m a huge fan of Andrew Garfield. I think he’s a fantastic actor and though I don’t know him personally, he seems like a hell of a guy, but good on Emma Stone, for calling him out recently when he made some likely innocent but wrongheaded comments on gender.
I don’t believe Garfield is sexist, I think he probably just hasn’t spent a ton of time in his life worrying about gender roles. He probably also hasn’t been challenged on these issues. Some may think that it would have been better for Stone to be polite and not challenge and potentially embarrass him in public, to pull him aside after and ask him what he meant and explain what is wrong about it, but he is SPIDER-MAN talking to a huge audience of CHILDREN. An audience of young boys and girls who IDOLIZE him, not just as a superstar but as a superHERO. If Spider-man thinks that sewing is “feminine” and “for girls” then a lot of kids are going to as well. It’s problematic for him to – accidentally or otherwise – indoctrinate them as to what is acceptable when it comes to feminine and masculine types/behaviors/activities/etc.
Again, a harmless mistake on his part, but one Stone was dead right to call him out on, and I suspect that Garfield is man enough to agree to that after the fact. Understanding what he was saying to all those kids, and what effect it might have had if left unchallenged, I think he would (and maybe he will publicly if asked about it?) agree that he simply misspoke and she was right to call him out, to address the mistake immediately so that even if it wasn’t completely corrected, the kids could see that his OPINION was not FACT.
None of us are perfect. We’re all absolutely fallible. We come to the table with our own prejudices and blind spots and in many cases what we come to the table with is made worse by our experiences and environments, both those we choose to put ourselves in and those we do not. We all have privilege. The educated person, the civilized person, the BEST person, is not afraid to admit to those blind spots, confront those privileges and learn from them to become even better.
That all sounds rather positive, and encouraging, doesn’t it?
Yeah, but I’m not that Zen today, I wish I was, but today is not that day. So today I’d like to end with a direct response to this absolute nonsense left for Janelle Asselin in her survey (and first published by Khouri with her permission in his piece):
“Women in comics are the deviation, the invading body, the cancer. We are the cure, the norm, the natural order. All you are is a pair of halfway decent tits, a c*nt and a loud mouth. But see, it doesn’t matter how loud you get. It doesn’t matter how many of your lezbo tumblr and twitter fangirl friends agree with you and reinforce your views. You can be all “I’m not going to be silent about misogyny so f*ck you!” all you want. In the end all you are is a pathetic little girl trying to effect change and failing to make a dent. You might as well try to drain the ocean of fish. That’s the kind of battle you face with people like me. We won’t quit. We won’t stop attacking. We won’t give up. Ever.”
Here’s my very public response to that – published under my own name and not cloaked in the cowardice of Internet anonymity and not intended for anyone except people that share the cowardly and disgusting views on display in the above:
Sir, it’s YOU in comics that is the deviation, the invading body, the cancer. You look around and you see more that look like you — likely straight, white, and male – but you cannot see inside them. You assume they are like you inside, but they’re not and one by one they are slowly joining our cause in part because you have made the alternative option so disgusting that they can no longer sit idly by. Many of them didn’t really want to get involved (hell, I hear that, neither did I), but when faced with the disgusting alternative – that the loud minority will proclaim this battle already over and count the silent majority among its grotesque numbers – they’re being forced to speak up.
Our cause – one of simple equality – is joined daily by comics creators and readers everywhere. The aberration is the creator that says, “No, I have no interest in equality. That’s not for me.”
You see, the cancer is inside YOU. You are broken and wrong. You are filled with hate and sadness, and the core messages of our superheroes are long ago lost on your cold dead heart that seeks only to destroy that which you don’t bother to understand.
If women were the only ones standing up and demanding equality – if those of us with tits, cunts, and loud mouths (nothing wrong with those things, son, though you try to use them as insults) were the only ones standing up, you might be right – we might eventually be defeated. But we cannot be defeated because we are not alone. We have an army of good people of all genders, races, religions, and sexual orientations standing with us – including many of the likely straight white males that you mistakenly think are on your side. You are very very loud, but we are LEGION.
It doesn’t matter if you never stop attacking, if you never give up. We will simply DROWN YOU THE FUCK OUT. We will drown you out until all that you have is your tiny dark little hole in which you can try to pretend you matter. We will drown you out with the work we create, the community we build, the diversity we encourage, the variety we celebrate, and the simple fact that the only constant in life is change.
Fight it all you like, it won’t matter. The world was once full of dinosaurs like you that refused to accept the simple facts of change. But nobody is very afraid of dinosaurs any more.
So bring it, yo. We’re not worried. We’re just getting started.
Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.