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CSBG Archive

She Has No Head! – The Art of Silencing

So I wanted to tackle this concept today for three reasons.

1. Because there was an aggressive attempt at a really classic form of silencing early on this comments to the excellent CSBG guest post Let Girls Take The Lead by Barbara Slate.

2. Because I, like many out there, AM working hard to create, and I thought it might be beneficial to some people that don’t create (or don’t yet) to understand exactly what is involved in “creating” and why it’s particularly annoying for people to assume we’re not doing that very thing. And—

3. Because I am swamped with work doing that exact thing (creating/running a business) and so this was a timely moment for me to talk about this issue and I’m too busy to think much about actual comics right now, so this felt right.

I got your creation right here, buddy.

I got your creation right here, buddy.

Here’s the offending comment that was left:

“I love how everyone wants comic book publishers to do something to push a socio-political agenda to make themselves feel better. So what if the sales numbers wouldn’t be there? Marvel and DC should lose money to raise awareness.

If you feel that passionately about it risk your own money. Start your own comic book company. Get a kickstarter going. It’s so easy to tell other people how they should spend their money to suit your needs.”

So, to many of you, it’s obvious why this is a classic silencing technique, but for the rest of you, let me break it down. In the simplest of terms, it’s just plainly not your job to tell anyone else what they’re allowed to talk about, or HOW they’re allowed to talk about it. So long as they’re not infringing on the rights of others, you don’t get to critique what they want to discuss or how they want to discuss it.

Telling someone that their thoughts, feedback, ideas, etc., are not valuable unless they also create their own work, “risk their own money,” “start their own comic book company,” “get a kickstarter going,” etc. – is not your right. I mean, sure, you can SAY it, we’re all on the freedom of speech boat, you can say it all you like, but if you care that what you’re saying is empirically wrong and a classic way that people try to keep others from having a voice, then no, you shouldn’t say it.

Let’s break down just some of the problems with this idea:

#1. It immediately disenfranchises people. People that have little free time or limited access to funds are very unlikely to be able to start their own comic book company, or create a publishable book (and more on those challenges a bit later). And blocking people who may have some additional hurdles closes down the conversation – people with these disadvantages should be just as able to talk about what kind of books they’d like to see, what they don’t like to see, why it’s a problem, and to just generally be a part of a community or activism. There isn’t a “minimum level of investment” required to become involved. Or rather, there shouldn’t be. And of course all of those ideas tie back to “fake geek girl” nonsense as well.

#2. You’re also immediately devaluing the opinion of anyone that doesn’t have either the desire or talent to create a comic book or to build a comic book company from scratch. Forget for a moment that both those things are extremely hard to do and even harder to do well/successfully. There are plenty of people that don’t actually even WANT to do those things. Not wanting to be a comic book creator doesn’t mean they don’t deserve good books to read and it doesn’t mean that they don’t have every right to talk about those things – whether it be in a column, forums, a tumblr, or even in their local shop. Not having the desire to write a comic book, or run a small business (a comic book company) does not mean you give up your right to want to read books that interest you or to talk critically about an industry.

And now I want to circle back around to how hard these things are and how long they take for people that DO have the desire to do these things and are proactive about it and why it’s so frustrating to have the “create your own book!” cry lobbed randomly at a person.

Book Spines

One day they will stack far as the eye can see (or something).

I have now run two very successful Kickstarters. One for a superhero novel (The Girl Who Would Be King) and one for Storykiller, novel with illustrations by comic book artists (see below). Though wildly successful in every possible way, they were (and are, since I’m still in the process of executing the second one) Herculean efforts that take more time and energy than you can imagine. Work on the first one, which ran in June/July of 2012 began in February of 2012 and was not “completely finished” until December 2012. Work began on the second in October of 2013, it ran in February 2014 and it will not be complete until the May 2014. And my campaigns are fast comparative to most. But they are a fulltime job, and that doesn’t even include the time and energy that goes into creation – you have to create before you can even consider something as daunting as a Kickstarter. It’s certainly not for the faint of heart, but it’s also just not for everyone – faint of heart or otherwise. AND there are many people that it could and WOULD be for, but who have not been afforded the opportunities and luck that I have, and so they haven’t been able to take the time and energy to do it. It’s frustrating to have people throw around the words “oh, just run a kickstarter” as if that is something done cavalierly.

SK Cover 9

Interior illustrations for Storykiller by Stephanie Hans

More specific to comics, I have an OGN forthcoming from Dark Horse in either 2014 or 2015. And to give you a sense of how long even that process can take consider that I wrote the first script years and years ago and then went back to it and rehabbed it in 2011 while saving up some money to hire an artist to do the pitch. I found my artist in January of 2012. Once she was on board I finished the whole thing and sent it to her in March of 2012. She spent a couple months getting the visuals ready for the pitch and in June of 2012 we began pitching it to comic book companies. We didn’t have any solid responses/legit interest until December of that same year. It took several more months for it to get to the final approval stage at Dark Horse, and it was in May of 2013 when we knew it was a go and June of 2013 – a FULL YEAR after we pitched – when we finally signed contracts and got some payment. As many of you know, unless you are one of the big creators at one of the big companies comics doesn’t pay much – and even then it’s still a fraction of other creative industries like TV, film, and even prose, depending on the exposure level – so my artist cannot work full time on the book, which means it takes longer to finish. So with luck, it will be out in late 2014 or early 2015, based on the speed at which we’ve been moving so far. So NOT even including any of the original creation and writing process for this particular project, it is still going to take between three and four years to birth it into the world.

Does it always have to go that slowly? No. Will it always go that slowly? I hope not. Is it easier for more established artists/writers? I’m sure it is, and I hope it will be for us too someday. Still, this is to point out that this is a PROCESS. It takes time. Especially if you are a new creator just starting out. And it’s terribly offensive when people shout out

“Well, if you want things to be different than why don’t you write your own comic?!?” or “Shut up unless you create your own work” or “Put your own money and time where your mouth is and just do it yourself.”

Because I want to shout: “I AM ALREADY DOING THAT YOU UNBELIEVABLE DOUCHEBAG.”

But here’s why I (generally) don’t shout that…because that guy/gal who says that, doesn’t actually care.

The people who say those things don’t want me to write a comic or start a comic book company.  They only say it because they perceive it will shut me up. Because they’ve used it before and it’s worked. Because it’s a classic silencing technique designed entirely to make people feel bad about themselves. To make them feel like talking critically (or positively for that matter) about comics is not valuable and that they have somehow not earned the right to have an opinion. That there is some magical thing other people are doing that they are not that has made it okay for said douchebag to have an opinion, but not for them.

But it IS valuable. We’re a very small community in the grand scheme of things and a strong passionate community can do almost anything. And it’s up to us what kind of a neighborhood we have. So far, it’s pretty shitty. But I see a lot of clean up going and a lot of efforts being made to confront that and so I want to make sure I’m right up front.

So. To those of you that may have used this technique in the past and may not have realized what you’re doing when you say it, this was a lesson for you and I hope it helped.

To those of you who know exactly what you’re doing and do it because you have small hateful hearts filled with bitterness and rage, well, I don’t know why you’re even reading in the first place, but go away.

And to those of you that talk about comics, positively, negatively, and everywhere in between — don’t stop. Don’t let them shout you down. Whether you create comics and know how hard it is and how damn long it takes, or have zero interest in creating comics and just want to read some great ones – we all have a voice at the table – important ones.

The vast majority of us are here because we love comics, are passionate about them, and want them to be as good as they can possibly be and we come at them from all angles – as readers, as fans, and as creators, but you don’t have to be all things just to have a voice – and don’t forget it.

Now, I have to go, because I have to go run my small business for my writing career, as 1300 copies of my new book just arrived on my doorstep  — in fact, see the nightmare of the picture below and understand that that was an order HALF the size of the one I just received. Woo. Creation.

TGWWBK Shipping Nightmare

 

 

 

99 Comments

Kelly –

It makes me sad and angry, but most of these guys aren’t interested in rational, honest debate (though many of them love to claim they’re the only ones utterly governed by “logic”).

Like you said, the “make your own comics” requirement don’t seem to apply to them. THEY can criticize everything and everyone. Also, when you say that you DO have projects, then they turn the argument around to claim there’s a network of “activists” trying to subvert comics or something. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

Anyone who says anything about women or people of color facing injustice is only interested in gaining “victim” points according to them, however these guys are eager and unashamed about claiming the victim ground whenever it’s convenient to them.

Anyone is who is against something as positive and innocent as “let’s girls be a respected part of our community” isn’t bound to be someone governed by logic. Actually, sometimes I feel like taking advantage of my own straight guy privilege and simply ignore all further discussions about this subject, only because these guys make me so angry.

No critique here, because above is 100% what needed to be said on that. Nice one, Kelly.

Kelly,

First, I want to say that I loved reading THE GIRL WHO WOULD BE KING, and I’m looking forward to reading STORYKILLER.

Second, I understand your frustration with comments like the one you quoted, given the negative tone of the comment, and your background and experiences with the creative process. However, I respectfully believe that it is a valid critique to assert that the large comic book publishers are not interested in pursuing diverse markets perceived (by them) as being risky or non-lucrative, and to encourage creators and readers to take risks (both creatively and financially) and pursue their vision through other means. Such critique, if done respectfully, should not be perceived as an attempt to shut down debate on the topic of pursuing diversity in the comics medium.

Another fun one is “Instead of complaining, why don’t you support the non-(racist, sexist, etc.) books? You just want to be negative!” Because, of course, one can’t simultaneously complain about bad things and support good things. It’s basic physics.

I’ve spoken with Adam Warren (creator of Empowered) and he has expressed the herculean effort it is to get a piece of work from concept to hard reality. I don’t envy you Kelly or him but I appreciate the heck out of your determination and final results.

You know, if you really cared about pushing your agenda, you’d take all that money you spent on making comics and start a publishing company so you could spread the agenda around. I mean, come on, Thompson, that’s just logic. Why publish your own stuff when you could hire others to publish a wide variety of agenda-pushing comics?!?!?!?

And I hate to break it to you, but I think the real reason your graphic novel is taking so long is because your artist is just l-a-z-y. Whenever I see said artist, the artist is just sitting around saying stuff like “Man, that Thompson is such a sucker, giving me all her money like that!” It’s very sad. I think you need to have a long chat with your artist, unfortunately. ;P

Well said, Kelly and well done! It took 5 years to finish our book, “The Bounce”, and that was only a 12 issues. It is daunting to embark on the next project but I’m determined to write something solo next. Reading about your own immersion and the time it took is a great support to those of us who are also trying to create, keep on sharing please!

This made me giggle:
“you can SAY it, we’re all on the freedom of speech boat, you can say it all you like, but if you care that what you’re saying is empirically wrong and a classic way that people try to keep others from having a voice, then no, you shouldn’t say it.”

Bravo, Kelly

Nothing makes me angrier than hand waving from people who have not done the work. Lazy, entitled arrogance is infuriating.

What really pisses me off about the “create your own comic” argument is that it mostly comes from people who don’t make/publish their own comics but don’t need to follow their own flawed advice because they already have the comics they want (or at least are willing to accept).

And thanks for bringing Ms. Slate’s article to my attention, I hadn’t seen it.

Yay, Sonia is going to write something! I cannot wait. Excellent.

Kelly: In all seriousness, I know your Kickstarters are tough, but if this book is anywhere as nice looking at your previous one, doing all that work is totally worth it. From what I can see, Storykiller is even cooler looking than The Girl Who Would Be King, and I cannot wait for it to arrive in yonder mail.

@Reed Beebe

Regarding your second point, I largely agree with what you’re saying, but I think the scenario you’re describing isn’t the same one as Kelly. Supporting and encouraging artists to peruse their tastes is entirely different from attempting to stifle criticism or debate by saying “shut up and make it yourself”.

For one thing, the latter presupposes that every fan/critic is an artist in their field of fandom or wishes to be one. While that’s probably true of every critic in every medium ever (I said it! Come at me critics!), it’s usually a worthless comment to throw around.

Kelly, you are a thoughtful and thought-inspiring writer. Keep doing what you are doing. Because you are doing it right.

@Reed Beebe
The large publishers are best placed to experiment and expand the market and also have the most to gain by doing so, and also the least to lose, so the argument is still just a silencing tactic.

They have the foundations financially and in distribution routes, they have the marketing opportunities (if they would only avail themselves of their full range), plus potentially the “financially creative” leeway to transform losses into tax deductions if something they do doesn’t work out, none of which exists for individuals or smaller outfits without ginormous corporate backers.

Thanks for the thoughtful and insightful column. I don’t believe I have ever silenced anyone in that manner before, but I’ll be more conscious to avoid doing so in the future.

I spent the lat 20-minutes trying to find a “legitimate” reason for making the “put your money where your mouth is” argument; trying to give the commenter on the other column the benefit of the doubt that it was not simply an attempt at silencing, but an actual argument with some kind of merit. I wrote 4 paragraphs or so; but it kept coming back to a gentler way of saying “your opinion is not worth my time.” Ultimately, I deleted those paragraphs because Ms. Thompson is right; there’s no good reason to disregard a person’s opinions just because she doesn’t take actions to further them. (And of course, in Ms. Thompson’s case, she does act on them; so it’s even less defensible).

Hope no one minds if I re-post my response to Barbara’s piece. Well, actually, it was my response to someone else’s response. I’m sure you understand what I mean!

Ahem, here’s what I wrote…

Following on from this reasoning, if you are an avid moviegoer, and you are upset at how women are depicted in the majority of American movies, you should not complain about it. Instead you should just shut up and make your own damn movies even though, y’know, the majority of the public are not actors or directors or cinemetographers or own a movie studio.

In other words, it is a ridiculous argument. You don’t like Marvel or DC’s comics? Hey, just become the next Marvel or DC and make your own! Never mind that none of us have either Disney’s or Time Warner’s money.

And, looking at it another way, what if it was not an issue of gender, but of race or religion? What if Marvel and DC’s line of books were insulting to blacks or Jews or whomever? I guess everyone who isn’t a male WASP should then just go off and create their own comics because major corporations are solely in business to turn a profit and not be worried about sensitivity or diversity, right?

@ Reed Beebe:

There’s nothing wrong, as you pointed out, with observing “that the large comic book publishers are not interested in pursuing diverse markets perceived (by them) as being risky or non-lucrative.” There is also nothing wrong with “encourag[ing] creators and readers to take risks (both creatively and financially) and pursue their vision through other means.”

That was not what the original commenter was saying, however. He was arguing that until you do engage in creation/publication, you do not have the right to criticize the current creators/publishers. (Or at least that your criticism need not be taken seriously).

That’s a different thing altogether.

Continuing the movie analogy, whenever Siskel & Ebert gave a movie two thumbs down, I do not recall anyone thinking that a legitimate response to their criticisms was “Hey, if you don’t like it, then just make your own damn movie!” :)

good ole pal chakal

May 19, 2014 at 3:02 pm

Do what you want. But most importantly, enjoy it.
If other people like it, that’s even better.

Those who are insecure, will always find a way to bring someone down with them.
But also there are people, who are easily hurt or insulted.

Instead, I want to say something actually different.
And I want to do it here, because I hope that you will read it.

I often wondered why the fans are so attached to their characters,
or are so angry at the slight change of status quo?
It has nothing to do with nerdiness (And I was never a part of geek/nerd culture).
It’s because it’s harder to get any comics without the internet.

I can only speak from my own perspectives, on how it is where I live.
You probably have different point of view.

Few years ago in my city alone there were like approx. 10 speciality shops where you could buy fresh hot stuff
from all over the world, in original language (mangas, big two, french comics).
Not to mention that we could buy a load of comics from newstands for a small price.
Utopia, isn’t it?

Well last year they close the last one of these special shops.
Newstands (or kiosks) are one by one disappearring as well.
All I have left are few book stores (with small manga corner), small passage stores, and one “two-feet” comic book “shop” hidden in some dark alley where devil says good night.

The point is, being a comic book fan currently is a huge dedication.
You really have to be a fanatic to be a fan. Thus the frustration.
Also, while there are many things wrong with mainstream comics,
the problem is that the audience is diminishing.
And it didn’t start yesterday. I still remember the interview with Danzig, who was owner
of Verotik comics, who said that it’s hard to keep the business off the old fans, without
the new blood. And it was, hm 6 years ago?

One can produce the best comic ever, but how to promote it?
How to make comic books attractive, because books don’t have
the same problem. Quite the opposite.
I could go on, and probably write the longest post in the history of this blog, but let’s just end here.
And let it be some food for thought for another day and inspiration for another article.

Cheers

Andreas Johansson

May 19, 2014 at 3:04 pm

Actually the “make your own damn movie/comic/whatever”-response is perfectly legitimate to *unconstructive* criticism. Imho.
There wasn’t any of that in the Barbara Slate piece however. :)

Don’t listen those critiques, Kelly. Let them criticize all they want. Critics will always be critics. Listen those who are really worth listening instead. More power to your endeavors!

Haters gonna hate. Simple as that.

That applies to both sides of this discussion too. There are people who only log on to shoot you down and there are people who only log on to shoot down anything DC/Marvel/Whatever does. But IMPE, those people tend to have really sad, unfulfilled lives. Brush that dirt of your shoulder. :)

thank you, kelly, this is what i needed. so often i get too caught up in preparing an opposition to critiques that i let myself lose focus on my own creative goals. congratulations on your successes and i hope they continue and multiply.

Thank you for this post times a really big number, bigger than any number I can think of without consulting a mathematician.

To Ms. Thompson:

“To those of you who know exactly what you’re doing and do it because you have small hateful hearts filled with bitterness and rage, well, I don’t know why you’re even reading in the first place, but go away.”

(Sorry, I don’t know how to quote, so I pulled the old Cut and Paste.)

I desperately want to say, “I love you,” for that quote—I always love it when a writer is brave enough to tell unwanted readers to shove off—but as we don’t know each other I fear it would come across less jokey and more creepy, weird, so I might just instead say: Jolly good show, you! Top marks all around! (And, please, feel free to read that in some horrible Don Cheadle-esque faux Cockney accent.)

To Reed Beebe:

The only reason there isn’t currently a market is because the comic book industry hasn’t reached out for them. Look at manga, where—last I saw—female readership percentages were up above 50%. Do you really think the reason those female readers are flocking to manga is because it’s imported from Japan? That they just love reading things ‘backwards’? The need for excessive Google searches to figure out how to pronounce names is like an interactive mini-game? I’d think it’s because:

A) Manga covers a greater perceived range of genres. The general perception of Western Comics seems to be they’re mainly/only ‘Fights and Tights.’ I’d dare say most females, aside from those already reading, would have no clue about the existence of Stumptown or Lazarus or Rachel Rising. And even those remain pretty squarely in the ‘Action/Adventure’ category. To find an American comic that’s more romance or general slice of life requires some rather active, focused digging. A few weeks ago Ms. Thompson did a piece on ‘Lumberjanes,’ which I would never have known existed unless she did an article about it, and I consider myself reasonably (for a given value of ‘reasonably’) well informed about comics. On the other hand, manga has two major subdivisions dedicated to female readers and even go so far as to helpfully point out, in the name itself, which is for which age demographic. And it’s not as if they can’t find female-friendly portrayals/stories in the male demographic comics either.

And for B) Female characters (and creators) get—or are perceived to get—somewhat better treatment in manga. Of course there’s a flood of evidence toward women getting as bad, if not worse, from manga, but quite a bit of that comes from Shonen (which is mostly childish, little boy tripe anyway, so that’s not exactly a surprise, unfortunate though it may be), but there’re plenty of high profile works in which females are portrayed as, you know, intelligent, interesting, capable, entertaining creatures fully able to accomplish tasks beyond simply propping up or furthering the male’s storyline.

So, unnecessarily Prustian post all to say: The market is there—for women, for racial minorities, for fans of well-developed slice of life stories. It’s just that the major properties have done a wonderful job of alienating those potential fans. For a long, long time. So they have very little reason to trust when a company does put out something that might appeal to them. Add that to the general lack of marketing beyond the confines of comic book store where—surprise, surprise—comic book readers are already gathered to . . . Buy Comics, and I’d say the fault of poor returns on female/minority led books is on the side of the publishers, and not a sign of a nonexistent market. I also might be inclined to say that if they are looking to make inroads with new, neglected markets, they’re going to have to deal with a bit of initial loss, as that’s just the general cost of Doing Business, but I feel I may have filibustered too much as is, so I’ll just skip that bit for now.

I find it strange to see this column here because I was driven off the cbr boards by people like Mikey B, Dan Slott and Stephen Wacker who drowned every nearly every post I put in the marvel sections with personal attacks ranging from comments about my style of posting “you talk funny” to saying that I should get psychological help and the ever popular ‘if you don’t like it why are you reading it’ and ‘if you aren’t buying it you can’t say anything about it’ or ‘just get over it’ when I persisted in saying that I didn’t like a storyline. To Wacker it seemed to be a personal pass time and not just to me. I shudder at the throught of how many fans that guy went after. Heaven help you if you didn’t like something he edited.
I stuck it out for about a year and then they followed me onto the DC boards and the one time I did retaliate the moderator banned me for a week. I found the cbr boards to be a good place to learn how to hate other fans and even pro’s. I’ll skim the front pages for the news but for the most part those boards are toxic places.

I saw that comment, and also thought it was stupid. I do believe that Slate was qualified to say what she said, and justified, too. The fact that someone would tell a qualified professional critic and journal what basically translates to “put your money where your mouth is” is sad. If anyone else here wants to say that someone should work in the industry if they want to say anything about it, then before they say this hateful thing, I would advise that they take a step back and think about it. What kind of consequences would those words have? What if the issue was with a topic other than gender, like ethnicity or religion? Would they still try to silence criticism? I hope not.

Kelly, I want to agree with your, however, I dislike bad arguments, and your article is brimming with badness.

So I apologize in advance for taking you to task.

Your argument about it not being anyone’s job to “tell anyone else what they’re allowed to talk about or HOW they’re allowed to talk about it” would work better if you did not spend an entire article doing that yourself.

You are correct that it is no one’s right to tell someone their opinions are worthless, however, it is also not your right to tell them that. Everyone has the right to share their opinions. You do not have to agree with them, but you also do not have the right to silence them when they say something you do not like.

You argue that “people that have little free time or limited access to funds are very unlikely to be able to start their own comic book company, or create a publishable book.” Most creators are not rich and are willing to sacrifice their time to make something they love. Whether they have the money to self-publish or get the comic in front of a publisher willing to publish it is another matter, but that is one most creators face.

You claim “people with these disadvantages should be just as able to talk about what kind of books they’d like to see, what they don’t like to see, why it’s a problem, and to just generally be a part of a community or activism.” They are talking about them. They are simply being taken to tasking for their bad arguments. If publishers are not creating the work you want to see, you ought to make it yourself. That solves that problem.

Likewise, the argument that making comics being hard borders on petulant. Of course it is hard. Anyone who thinks it is easy has not made a comic. But does not justify not trying, particularly if you think it is important.

I agree people do not care whether you create your own book. Not because they are trying to silence you, but because they are calling your bluff. Your complaint is a perfect political bludgeon. The perfect counter is to ask you what you are doing to solve the problem. Why? Because usually people do what you did: equivocate.
Unlike you, they have no intention of creating, supporting, or buying any of the books. They just like attacking those sexist fanboys. That makes your article all the more ironic. You do create books, yet you still equivocate.

I think the reason is because this not about creating comics or loving them. It is about controlling the community. It is about telling people what they can talk about, what they can draw, what stories they can tell, and who they can tell them about. It is about silencing anyone who disagrees with your opinion.

You should take your own advice to heart: if you care that what you are saying is empirically wrong and a classic way that people try to keep others from having a voice, then no, you should not say it.

So, we’re talking about Rob G. artist of Chew, right? During the whole Image Expo/incredibly white & male picture fiasco thing he went to twitter to give the “Well, if you want things to be different than why don’t you write your own comic?!?” or “Shut up unless you create your own work” or “Put your own money and time where your mouth is and just do it yourself.” rant.

Or did we forget that he was being trotted out as being the voice of reason among other creators and news sites during all that with those comments?

Comicdom – flip flopping since … forever.

“it’s just plainly not your job to tell anyone else what they’re allowed to talk about, or HOW they’re allowed to talk about it. So long as they’re not infringing on the rights of others, you don’t get to critique what they want to discuss or how they want to discuss it.”

No, but you are posting on a public forum that invites reader feedback with a comments section / message board. If you simply wanted to write an opinion piece, maybe this isn’t where to do it? Or, can you not turn comments off? Sometimes I feel like pieces like this INVITE the huge negativity so they have more ammo for the next piece (which isn’t altogether a bad idea). I agree with pretty much all of your article but this.

Free speech applies across the board, not just when it supports your agenda, even if your agenda is “right,” unfortunately. That means, yeah, anyone can critique you.

I made the original post and I find it funny that she’s complaining about silencing when one of the moderators or whatever then went back and deleted another post of mine in the same thread. Or is that not a classic form of silencing?

Terrific article, Kelly! I’ve been a long time reader of it as well as of the “3 Chicks Review Comics” podcast for a long time and as the voices for equality seem to clash with the voices screaming for the status quo, I felt I had to reply. I agree with all your points and as an American born straight, white man, I have never understood why there seems to be so much venom for like minded fans regardless of gender or ethnicity. Don’t we all have a common hobby? Common experiences as “outcasts”? And just from a “caveman” perspective, isn’t shouting down women who actually enjoy these similar hobbies bluntly counter productive for most straight men who’d usually love to find someone of like minds? I’ll never get it.

The closest I can usually figure is that as much as we like to think that our comic book/geek media fan circles are more unique than “mainstream society” or other “fan circles” (i.e. football fans, soap opera fans, etc.), that they are still a microcosm of overall national and even global society. If you took random samplings of people from most places you’d always find a certain percentage who were xenophobic or close minded in some fashion. Thus, even in comic fan circles where we all seem to enjoy stories which reinforce good morals (ideally), you’ll always get people who just don’t get the message. Few things seem more tragically counter productive than a homophobic or racist X-Men fan, for instance.

I can only speak for myself but I’ve always been willing to learn more about how “another half” lives or experiences things, whether as a fan or otherwise. I don’t go a day without checking on “the Mary Sue” and “DC Women Kicking ***” and I’ve learned a lot since then. It’s even helped me get more creative when I plan my own creative projects! To date I’ve only been writing a comic news & reviews column for Examiner.com, but it’s a start!

I like to think that my own personal upbringing as a person and a fan helped me come to some of these conclusions and avoid trying to “shout down”, especially women, who have strong criticisms of the media I enjoy. I only got into comics due to my mother, who despite what some circles suggest was a comic book and sci-fi fan long before an “Internet” existed to tell her otherwise. I always had access to comic books at home growing up because of her subscriptions; while I’ve become more of a comic reader than she has, she’ll always be more of a Trekkie or Star Wars fan than I’ll ever be. I dedicated a Mother’s Day article to her at Examiner specifically because I felt the timing was key, with this unfortunate backlash against those criticizing the norms of comics or media. Considering that comic book sales are lower than everyone prefers and that most newer fans seem to come into the hobby because of some friend or relative in their life who loves it, we do need to try to come together for something positive.

http://www.examiner.com/article/a-mother-s-day-tribute-to-my-mom-an-original-fan-girl

You keep writin’, I’ll keep readin’, Kelly!

To Anon:

This is a blog. On a comic book website. Not the front page of the Washington Post. Even among more traditional newspaper websites, blogs are typically treated with the more lax guidelines of op-ed pieces.

And for the love of Satan’s eternally burning bosom, this is not, Not, NOT a Free Speech issue. I swear, everyone who invokes the concept of ‘Free Speech’ should be forced to not only read, but write out, by hand, in clear, presentable print writing, the First Amendment no fewer than twelve times. I’ll start you out with the highly pertinent bit: Congress shall pass no law… Now unless Ms. Thompson or Mr. Weiland won some election they didn’t know they entered, or the government is for some inane reason supporting this website, the concept of Free Speech doesn’t apply. And even if either of those cases was the case, Free Speech does not guarantee any and all speech. Furthermore it certainly doesn’t exempt one from the repercussions of their speech.

To Paul:

Depending on what you wrote, no. Now, before I go further, I didn’t get to read your post in question, so I cannot prove it was/wasn’t benign, so this is in no way an attack or commentary on your post. However if the post included any instances of name-calling, insulting, flame-baiting, racism, misogyny, hate speech, or other like-minded things, then that is definitively not an instance of classic silencing. It may, on the other hand, have been a means of silencing attempts at classic silencing. Also, if your post (or any other hypothetical post) contained any of the above, it likely wouldn’t be protected under the auspices of Free Speech.

Yeah, I would be posting here complaining about my previous post if it were filled with racism and misogyny. It was the moderator having a hissy fit because he said not to talk about the sales. I pointed out that was full of crap because the article itself brought up sales and the writer basically admitted the books weren’t selling well. That was going against the message and contrary opinions can’t be stated when an agenda is on the table.

Chris: As he mentions above, Paul is the guy who inspired this whole post.

Well, I do agree with the part that not every comic should further an external social or political cause.

The “why don’t you do it?” part? Not so much.

Well, I do agree with the part that not every comic should further an external social or political cause.

Which, conveniently, no one was proposing. The upshot of the original post was “wouldn’t it be nice to have some girls’ comics in the mix?” Not every comic. Just some comics for girls. That’s the radical agenda that made these guys lose their shit, the mere suggestion that maybe we shouldn’t exclude half the population.

Travis Pelkie

May 19, 2014 at 11:47 pm

Actually, in reading the original article, Barbara Slate said that the sales were slowly building up before the line was unceremoniously cut short. IE the quote: “But every month our numbers increased.” So paul, yours wasn’t a “contrary opinion”, but an inaccurate statement of what Ms Slate was saying.

I believe it was Harlan Ellison who amended the old “everyone has a right to an opinion” to “everyone has a right to an INFORMED opinion”. Big difference.

And I think based on at least the anecdotal response to Marvel’s new Ms Marvel (I don’t know the actual sales numbers), when companies respond to serving an under-served market, that market will respond thankfully and with $$$. In other words, if you build it, they will come.

Boy oh boy am I looking forward to Storykiller. TGWWBK is a beautiful book and I bet once I carve out the time to read it I’ll say even nicer things (redfaced shame at the shelf of shame!). (Also the same point with the Bounce — issue 1 was great and boy do I need to catch up on my reading!)

Nice to see that my respectful post, in which I agreed with the author’s premise but also pointed out that there is silencing going on if you disagree with the “tumblr tastemakers” was deleted. Instead of exploring an issue, my comment was deleted, despite not having any offensive content. Nice silencing tactic! Can’t disrupt the new hugbox!

It is important to remember that sales considered independently are irrelevant. The goal is not to create profit, but to create bigger profit than you’d create in your second best opportunity. Stunning that the author, despite the fact she claims to run a business, is not aware of this MOST BASIC concept.

Or is that not a classic form of silencing?

No, because “silencing” int his context refers to a sort of preemptive strike aimed at telling other people what they can and cannot say before</I. they get a chance to say it. You got your chance to speak, and you used it to try to shut down other people. Thus your post was deleted for trying to silence other people.

Honestly, your response here is pretty much the old "you can't promote tolerance unless you tolerate my intolerance" angle: "Sure I tried to tell everyone else they weren't allowed to complain in a certain way, but how dare CSBG tell me I'm not allowed to complain in a certain way?"

Either you think that some categories of complaint are prima facie invalid, in which case you have no grounds to complain when the mods here come to a similar decision about *your* complaints; or you don’t think any types of complaint are prima facie invalid, in which case you should not have posted that they *are*.

The goal is not to create profit, but to create bigger profit than you’d create in your second best opportunity.

Considering that Marvel went bankrupt thanks to the business decisions of the same guy who took over and had these books cancelled, I’m pretty sure they missed their “better opportunity” several times over.

Nice to see that my respectful post, in which I agreed with the author’s premise but also pointed out that there is silencing going on if you disagree with the “tumblr tastemakers” was deleted.

Nothing says respectful like giving your opponents a derogatory nickname. But then, what should anyone expect from the “butthurt brigade.” (And yes, that derogatory nickname means I don’t respect you or your point of view.)

I don’t believe you’re that busy with a business if you have the time and thought to spend reacting to that comment.

Being critical of the criticism is not necessarily an attempt to silence anybody.

“…and the truth shall set them free!”

Awesome post!

@Cylon,

I made this same point on the prior article in response to paul, and I’ll put it here too:

Yes, the sin qua non for for a (for-profit) business is profit margins, but that does not need to be the only value that a business factors when they make decisions about the product they produce. Beyond a certain level of profitability, businesses can and do often factor in non-financial values to their products. Remember, businesses are collections of people, and people have goals other than just making money. It is not only acceptable, but actually moral, for consumers and producers to make business decisions based on non-market values when the bottom line permits (and sometimes even when it does not permit).

This kind of thinking is more common in small businesses and family-run businesses, and becomes institutionally very difficult in publicly traded corporations. The reason is that in a small business the decision makers are usually in touch with the values of the owners; in a publicly held corporation, the decision makers are executing the presumed will of the stockholders, and the law presumes the stockholders are only interested in profit.

It’s one of the major flaws in our system of corporate capitalism; the system makes it very difficult for non-financial values to be implemented in a publicly held corporation even if/when the shareholders want to place value in a non-financial consideration. There are workarounds to this problem, but they are difficult to execute.

Anyhow, to apply it to this example, these are the facts in evidence: (1) There was a line of profitable comics marketed at girls. (2) The corporation (Marvel) axed that line. We will assume, for the sake of argument, that the decision was made because Marvel thought the resources could be redirected to more profitable avenues.

Your argument is that the decision is justified because they could have been producing more profitable comics by redirecting their resources. That assumes that the only legitimate goal of the corporation is to maximize profit. However, consumers (as people and members of a community), have other values and hope to see them reflected in the products they consume. In this case, Marvel demonstrated that it valued added profit over serving an underserved market. This was not a decision that was necessary to stay in business. It’s a valid critique that Marvel was greedy (wanted more profit) at the expense of other values we would like to see reflected in our comics and our society.

Omar –

Deep down, these guys know that they are wrong. Because the best argument they can make is “you’re as bad as I am, haha!” Man, “you can’t promote tolerance unless you tolerate my intolerance” is so wrong on so many levels.

It’s like criticizing someone for rising his arms when he was trying to block your punches. “You say you’re anti-violence, but you tried to block me as I punched you in the face! Hypocrite!” It’s the same as some Christians crying religious persecution when someone dares to say it’s not a nice thing to butt in in other people’s marriage plans.

“Please, tolerate my intolerance!” is simply a logic bomb created by people who want to “win” at any cost.

Ugh. Looks like the website are my comment.

Since Omar included my comment, it’s fair to respond

I am not “butthurt” about diversity. My original comment explained that I was an ally and I did not feel like listing my connections to LGBTQI people (immediate and extended family) or the multiculturalism in my life. I understand privilege and believe in proper representation (the way that people use the “privilege olympics” is a different conversation)

I used the term “tumblr tastemakers” for 2 reasons: 1. It is the biggest, most diverse comic discussion group possibly ever 2. Anything that goes against the tide gets silenced. People on tumblr think that they are doing this in the name of progress, but they are underestimating how quickly people change. I am not advocating “tolerate my intolerance” I am advocating that “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Progress is slow. How far we have come in 10 years is amazing! Aggressive silencing does not embrace debate, it reinforces tribalism. The act of doing it in the name of progress blinds people from their own silencing.

Oh. This one posted. I was banned for politely disagreeing and “disparaging” tumblr. Fun.

RE: Deleted/Banned/Moderated Comments

As I said in the piece, I was away all day yesterday dealing with the rest of my life, not trolling my own comments section selectively banning people. In fact, short of rescuing a few comments from spam/moderation (which happens from time to time for a variety of reasons) I haven’t done anything with this comments section.

I haven’t even had a chance to see what was removed. And frankly, I don’t have time to do that today either.

Maybe Brian will weigh in, but he’s the boss around here and if he sent you to the delete pile he probably thought you violated the “50% Asshole rule” which means if your comment seemed 50% or more asshole, then he didn’t care to have it as part of the discussion. And as I understand it, comments that respond to those deleted comments often get removed as well so that there’s no confusion (i.e. it’s confusing to read comments in which people reference a now removed comment). Though I haven’t seen all the comments, I’m sure since the Asselin debacle in the old CBR forums, Brian is more diligent than ever in the 50% rule.

Rather than crying about the “OMG CENSORSHIP!” maybe best to go back and see if you’re perhaps unaware of how much of an asshole you are on a regular basis in comments.

I’ve seen a lot of hateful things said to women who have spoken out about this issue and of course that is never ok. I also see comments that are not hateful but labeled along with the hate speech that also no right like this for example:

“I love how everyone wants comic book publishers to do something to push a socio-political agenda to make themselves feel better. So what if the sales numbers wouldn’t be there? Marvel and DC should lose money to raise awareness.

If you feel that passionately about it risk your own money. Start your own comic book company. Get a kickstarter going. It’s so easy to tell other people how they should spend their money to suit your needs.”

I don’t see how this comment is an offending one. It is one that disagree’s with the writer. If any honest dialogue is going to happen that can result in something positive has to allow people to speak their minds as long as its not disrespectful.

Silent Majority

May 20, 2014 at 8:28 am

“Rather than crying about the ‘OMG CENSORSHIP!’ maybe best to go back and see if you’re perhaps unaware of how much of an asshole you are on a regular basis in comments.”

I don’t think anyone is doing that, but cool textbook silencing.

Kelly — Just out of curiosity, have you ever responded to the “If you don’t like it, why don’t you…” comments with “If you don’t like what I said, why don’t you get your OWN opinion column on a major comics site?”

…Might be good for a laugh, at any rate!

@Darrell Taylor:

“I don’t see how this comment is an offending one. It is one that disagree’s with the writer. If any honest dialogue is going to happen that can result in something positive has to allow people to speak their minds as long as its not disrespectful.”

Did you read the column? The comment does not simply disagree with the author. The comment says to the author that she has no right to an opinion about the content of comics unless she is engaged in publishing comics.

The first half of the comment is not objectionable (though it posits false facts that the “sales are not there”). That’s an OK point to make.

It is the second half–implying that unless you put your money where your mouth is, you should shut up and suffer in silence–which is objectionable.

Also, I think the same guy, when presented with evidence that Kelly WAS active and engaged in the world of publishing comics, made a flippant comment about subversive activists and compared them to HYDRA.

It seems to work like this: If Kelly isn’t publishing comics herself, she doesn’t deserve a voice. But if she is publishing comics, then she is a hideous activist planning to push her agenda on an unsuspecting world.

Everything I hear when Paul writes his comments is “Go away. Disappear.”

xkcd once pointed out (in alt text) that the worst possible defense of an opinion is "I have the right to say it," because you're suggesting that the most compelling thing you can say in favor of your ideas is that they're not actually illegal to express.

@Nu-D.

“The comment says to the author that she has no right to an opinion about the content of comics unless she is engaged in publishing comics.”

No, it does not. Nowhere does comment state that the author has no right to her opinion, whether she makes comics or not. It says to the author that if she considers the lack of female-centric comics important she should create them herself rather than demand others do it for her.

Arguing in bad faith may make you feel better, but it does not make you right. If you think there should be more female-centric comics, particularly told from a feminist perspective, it is easier to create them yourself. You then do not have to convince an uninterested creator to work on it, you then have total control over the product, and you can use your success to show companies like Marvel and DC that there is a viable market for such books.

It is not as fun as bashing fanboys who prefer to read Batman over Dykes to Watch Out For, but at least the work exists and can find an audience.

You are right that that commentor’s argument does not acknowledge how hard it is to start your own business and publish your own comics. But there is a very simple way to fix this argument. Instead of telling someone to start a comic company that publishes the kind of comics they want to see, tell them to buy stock or otherwise invest in a company that publishes the kind of comics they want to see. Buying stock does not require much writing or artistic talent and you can buy a few shares for not a terrible lot of money. If you are right and there is a large untapped demand for these kinds of comics the stock price should go up and you should be raking in the dough.

There is a difference between making a bad argument and trying to “silence” someone. I believe that the commentor was not trying “silence” you. He was merely making an argument that he mistakenly thought was valid. Making a counterargument does not deserve to have a loaded term like “silencing” attached to it even if there is a flaw in an argument.

In fact, when I looked examples of “silencing” tactics on Geek Feminism Wiki I noticed that that seemed to be what all the examples of “silencing” were. Making a bad counterargument against something. I don’t think “silencing” is an appropriate word to describe that sort of behavior. It conveys the impression that a person is being silenced by force or harassment, not merely that a bad argument has been made against a position they support.

In fact, if you define “silencing” as an attempt to delegitimize your opponent’s point of view then calling something “silencing” is a form of silencing. You are claiming that your opponent’s argument is not legitimate because it is motivated by a desire to shut you up, rather than honest disagreement. This is an ad hominem. Arguments should be considered by their merit no matter what their proponent’s motivations.

The strange part is that the people who tell critics to make their own [expletive] comics have taken the time to participate in an online discussion with the sole purpose of insinuating (or outright stating) that the discussion is worthless. Then what are you doing here? Did you just happen to overhear the article in passing? Do you fancy yourself some kind of bubble-bursting public servant?

What bothers me about that kind of post is not exactly “silencing.” As we have seen above, any troll with a persecution complex will almost immediately turn that word around. Gee Kelly, aren’t you just silencing trolls? Don’t trolls have the same right to speak as those who suffer from social inequality? The less slippery critique is that this kind of remark is aggression parading as passive impartiality. These posters behave as if everyone else is all worked up and they’re sitting calmly with a newspaper and a pipe, when in fact they have clicked their way into a discussion they don’t care about for the opportunity of sniping at perceived micro-hypocrisies. It’s transparent and it’s boring. “Do it yourself” posts should be deleted on sight for their total lack of style. Play nice or troll better.

Ghatanathoah –

“Making a bad counterargument against something. I don’t think “silencing” is an appropriate word to describe that sort of behavior.”

It is silencing when the guy making the argument isn’t really interested in discussion. Dude knows his argument is flawed and is only using it as a weapon in a fight. Because, when presented with evidence that the argument is flawed, the same guy changes his strategy and presents the opposite argument.

Paul: You don’t deserve a voice because you don’t create comics.

Kelly: I create comics.

Paul: You’re HYDRA then! You’re an activist!

So yeah, let’s talk motivations.

@Jacobtk

Here is the exact text of the comment:

“If you feel that passionately about it risk your own money. Start your own comic book company. Get a kickstarter going. It’s so easy to tell other people how they should spend their money to suit your needs.”

That comment tells the author that she should “put up or shut up.” It tells her that her opinion is not worth hearing if she does not create the comics she wants. The implication is that complaining is “easy,” and need not be considered unless you act on it.

That’s the whole topic of this current column. In your words:

“It says to the author that if she considers the lack of female-centric comics important she should create them herself rather than demand others do it for her.”

Your words– “rather than demand others do it for her” — means “shut up.”

This comment states that her opinion has no value unless she creates comics herself. It says, “don’t speak up about the lack of female-centric comics unless you’re prepared to write them. If you are not prepared to create them, then your opinion should not be considered.”

P.S. Please don’t accuse me of arguing “in bad faith.” I mean my arguments and I believe in them.

yourstupidtshirt

May 20, 2014 at 12:43 pm

I wish more comics would address men’s rights and the unequal treatment men get in the legal system, such as prison sentencing and custody battles. DON’T SILENCE ME!

Jeesh…there are some realy smart dumb people on here. This is Kelly’s column people, it’s her opinion people and if you are reading it then you should accept that fact instead of griping. Her opinion takes the primary position here because it’s her column. I know..shocking eh?
So yes, you are allowed to have an opinion but don’t act all offended by Kelly’s opinion when you are coming to her column to read it.

I think there’s something a little hypocritical and one sided happening here.

Absolutely, anybody should have a voice to criticize things. But when you put yourself out there, in a blog or anywhere else, you are in turn opening yourself up to criticism. I don’t feel the suggestion that someone “create something” is a negative one, or silencing, especially since most of the voices I see raised in protest aren’t, in fact, creating anything. But take it a step further: promote something. Spend the time you would take to trash talk whatever DC/Marvel book aimed at a juvenile audience and, instead, talk about something positive. Convince somebody who may not want to read something without an X on it why something else might be worth their effort. That? That’s not silencing, and it’s something anybody can do, without in turn vilifying and making enemies of others. Yet, remarkably, most of the current trend of articles/posts/whathave you regarding comics in relation to one disenfranchised group or another don’t do that. Most harp on how company/comic/creator/fanboy/etc A is mean and awful to some group (which the author usually, but not always, belongs to). This doesn’t educate. It gets people who already agree with you to pat you on the back, and alienates the audience you could have, perhaps, won over to make change.

I wish more comics would address men’s rights and the unequal treatment men get in the legal system, such as prison sentencing and custody battles. DON’T SILENCE ME!

There are plenty of examples of these sorts of plotlines in Big Two comics. Bob Haney created a recurring villainess (Ruby Ryder) in the 1970s Brave and the Bold comics whose gimmick was that the men she used as pawns always ended up taking the rap for her at trial, Doug Moench had Nocturna use the courts to take custody of Jason Todd from Bruce Wayne, Gerry Conway had Martin Stein’s ex-wife falsely accuse him of domestic violence in Firestorm, Bruce Wayne has been framed for lethal partner violence at least twice that I can think of (Madolyn Corbett’s frame-up by suicide in the 1990s and Vesper Fairchild;’s murder in the early 2000s) Scott Lang had a losing court battle with his wife over custody of their daughter in Geoff Johns’s Avengers, and pretty much every one of the awful Teen Titans stories where Roy Harper lets (or wants to let) Cheshire escape capture despite being an assassin who murdered a whole country with a nuclear weapon just because she’s the mother of his child.

Given the dearth of female protagonists in superhero books for decades and the understandable tendency for the hero of the book to turn out not to be an abuser or an unfit parent, there are as many or more stories in superhero comics of falsely maligned male heroes than accurately maligned male love interests of female characters. The balance in the superhero genre actually tips *the other way* from real-world statistics on that one.

Any other ideas for “gotcha” topics, or was that your big move?

Oh, yes, and I forgot Kathy Dare shooting and paralyzing Tony Stark in Iron Man v.1 #242 and then getting off scott free in court by claiming he’d been physically abusive towards her.

For every Hank Pym — and even he was given a “Kang mind-controlled me” excuse for a while in the late 1990s — there are about four “that lying b***h” stories.

@Doorpeddle — harassment and disrespect deserve to be silenced. Reasoned discourse on gender equity in publishing should not be silenced.

I don’t know what the content of the deleted opinions was, but if they were deleted for being harassing or obnoxious, then they were rightfully deleted. If, on the other hand, they were deleted simply for dissenting, then the authors might have a grievance.

But when you put yourself out there, in a blog or anywhere else, you are in turn opening yourself up to criticism.

And when you post on someone else’s blog, you implicitly agree to adhere to their standards because it’s *their blog*.

Isn’t deleting dissenting comments “silencing”?

Given the number of dissenting comments visible on this and the last thread, it seems pretty clear that it’s mostly assholes telling everyone else to shut up who are being shown the door from this privately-owned website.

Omar- it’s weird how you pulled something out of context to make a point that really wasn’t what I was saying. Good job there.

But let’s run with what you’re saying. If someone is sincere in their desire to change something, hopefully their blogpost would be there to open up discourse, not to lecture people on their poor behavior, correct? Wouldn’t it only be functional if, as I say above, you’re opening a dialogue with those who may not initially have your point of view, rather than simply, you know… people who are going to be defensive to a strange degree, because they sycophantically agree with every thought you had in your post? So what would the point be to have “standards” that don’t allow for dissent?

Jimmy – Since the comments have been deleted, aren’t you assuming that they’re just dissenting opinions and not useless trolling and/or harrassment? You know who makes a good judge of what comments should or shouldn’t stay?

The owners of the blog.

Dude. I’m not even talking about deleted comments. I’m talking about the author’s main point in this particular article.

Also, no, I don’t assume the owners of a blog necessarily have a good sense of what is or is not helpful to an actual productive debate. I don’t know them personally, and I do know some people in this world are quite happy to throw out a point of view that isn’t theirs. But again? I’m actually talking specifically about the “lesson” the author of this article says she’s trying to teach.

@Jimmy —

Since the standards here obviously allow for dissent, your argument is disingenuous. Plenty of dissenting comments have been posted in the past two days. Whatever the reason for the deletion of those that are missing, dissent is not among them.

I am honestly mystified at the line of reasoning that leads you to think it is, though. Your basic assumption is that comments that disagree with Kelly’s thesis are being removed. It has been plainly stated that comments that violate the rules of civility, AND those that respond to them, are subject to removal. Unless you believe that only people who disagree with Kelly can be uncivil, it is apparent — to me, anyway — that comments on both sides of this question have been removed, and that comments on both sides are allowed to stand.

I suspect that most of those who have chosen this tack do so because being the victim makes them able to ignore the issue at hand, which is the fallacy of the whole “go make your own comics” position. It’s a pretty shallow position, though; I hope it isn’t yours.

Sandor_Clegane

May 20, 2014 at 1:41 pm

Jackobtk and Jimmy are correct; the article’s core argument is flawed: “If you don’t support my agenda, and make logical arguments that demonstrate the lack of importance of said agenda, or point out that what I want is unreasonable or unrealistic, then you are trying to silence me!”

No. And sadly, because so many of the oversensitive types on these boards agree with the author’s basic mindset, she’s getting the equivalent of “dittos” based on similar experiences of being shoved outside the door of relevance.

It’s because people make better arguments that supercede your agenda. That is typically why such agendas fail – the lack of well-reasoned impetus, a self-sustaining purpose. It’s simple, Darwinian debate patterns. If what you want is for others to adopt YOUR values and you go around saying, “I want more people to like milkshakes”, that’s mostly going to elicit a reaction of, “Go make some good ones, then.” You don’t change people’s minds by telling them they should think and believe as you do.

And the failure of that approach is not on the audience, but the speaker. And besides not working, it’s an abhorrent approach. I’m not in the business of telling people THEY should want what I want.

So yeah – the quoted reaction is both sound and pertinent.

As always, the lack of reading comprehension astounds me.

For the record, I’m neither worried about being silenced nor accusing anyone of silencing me. The entire reason I linked to ANOTHER post with a guest columnist was to bring attention to something I see a lot of, but something that I’m not particularly worried about for myself. Not because it’s not wrong and classic silencing, it is, but just because I have a big voice, my own platform where I can speak, and a lot of experience doing this and support.

My column is more directed toward those who might not realize what they’re doing when they apply this “strategy/reasoning” and more importantly, to people who have had this “reasoning” lobbed at them and let it get to them because they have less experience or less of a platform and venue for these types of discussions. I want to encourage others to not give up when they are shouted down, and for the few people that actually DON’T intend to silence to hopefully help them understand why this type of reasoning is problematic.

As I said in the column, and as others have said, the primary reason this “argument” is a silencing tactic is because it’s a no win comment that doesn’t encourage discussion, it’s an attempt to shut it down by shouting it down, and that’s no kind of discussion.

Also as I said in the original piece, you are of course more than welcome to ACTUALLY say those things, we can all say whatever we want (within reason) you can make these arguments all day long, but if you care about encouraging discussion, and not being someone known for silencing (and called out on it) then you probably shouldn’t use this argument anymore. Why don’t you try something else? Something that doesn’t set incredible and arbitrary guidelines as the measure for the ability to join the conversation?

Disagree with me all you want, kids. I’m long over feeling sensitive or offended about this kind of thing.

@Sandor: Writing a blog post about forum etiquette or gender-representation in the comics world is not an especially aggressive or presumptuous act. And it seems disingenuous to say that there is some kind of “abhorrent” social coercion going on here when many of the dissenters appear to have sought out this thread only to act as if its premise has somehow inconvenienced them.

If we’re being protective of dissent, then there is a larger picture. Posts like this one illustrate the experience of a growing minority in the comics readership. Broadening the audience and the discussion in the long-term may mean that in the short-term we’re going to have a lot of pointless squabbles about who is really imposing upon whom, who is too sensitive, who was here first, who is being silenced, who started it, and so on. It’s worth resisting that impulse.

I’m unsure about the wisdom of deleting posts, myself.

The big irony is that some people come off as far more reasonable than they are, because their angriest and craziest posts are deleted. For instance, maybe some of the more articulate of Paul’s defenders, like Sandor Clegane and Jimmy, didn’t read some of Paul’s earlier posts that I think got deleted, such as the one comparing Kelly to HYDRA.

Besides giving them the opportunity to play the persecuted victim, that they so quickly take advantage of (while always bashing others for having a “victim mindset”)…

@Chris

I am the ‘Anon’ to whom you refer. Not sure why it didn’t take my ID input when I posted but anyway, thanks for a terribly not-thought-out reply.

This is a blog. On a comic book website. Not the front page of the Washington Post. Even among more traditional newspaper websites, blogs are typically treated with the more lax guidelines of op-ed pieces.

Oh, okay. So the value of this work is less in your esteem. Understood.

And for the love of Satan’s eternally burning bosom, this is not, Not, NOT a Free Speech issue. I swear, everyone who invokes the concept of ‘Free Speech’ should be forced to not only read, but write out, by hand, in clear, presentable print writing, the First Amendment no fewer than twelve times. I’ll start you out with the highly pertinent bit: Congress shall pass no law… Now unless Ms. Thompson or Mr. Weiland won some election they didn’t know they entered, or the government is for some inane reason supporting this website, the concept of Free Speech doesn’t apply. And even if either of those cases was the case, Free Speech does not guarantee any and all speech. Furthermore it certainly doesn’t exempt one from the repercussions of their speech.

I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you mean that US laws regarding free speech don’t defend HATE speech. I don’t think anything I said was hateful, and there are a lot of dissenting voices on here that are rational, and are as such defended under your laws. Writing out the First Amendment would do no good as the words themselves matter much less than how they’ve been interpreted in US courts (it’s called legal precedent, it deals with how laws are applied and can change with the times).

Regardless, I’m a Canadian and my free speech is clearly protected under our charter:

Section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms:
2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication.

We can argue about this being a US website or whatever, but all I was saying originally was that I was WITH Kelly on everything except her instance against criticism, or that criticism was somehow part of silencing her. Yes, hate speech is, but that’s hardly criticism, is it?

What exactly did I say that constituted your snarky reply?

One of the things that gets me is this idea that striving for diversity and equality is somehow a negative “socio-political agenda”

Brian from Canada

May 20, 2014 at 4:03 pm

@Nu-D: Your comments are a perfect demonstration of the problems of the Internet.

Interpretation is individual. What you see as an attempt to attack or silence, others see as a counterargument made in good faith of discussion. To me, Paul had a point: the big two are driven purely by profit — with far less room for losses these days because the companies that own them are watching them much more closer than ever before; instead of making demands of them to publish books that they see no profit in, it might be better to produce your own comics for the market in order to demonstrate the profitability in doing so.

The big two have long had a history of copying trends in other media (blaxploitation, kung fu, director’s cut DVDs) and then retrenching back to the core superheroes whenever their business begins to find itself in a market that’s shifting downwards. Barbie was used as a prime example of a popular girl’s comic, but Star Comics — the line that spawned it — was lost to retrenching and Marvel did a lot of retrenching the mid-90s when they had bankruptcy issues.

(DC, for their part, ran a manga line that just didn’t prove profitable enough for the publisher to continue with. It’s not like they didn’t try; they just couldn’t get that spark to draw into the line in droves.)

For ME, I see four things going on here:

1. A series of articles and threads on CBR that essentially demand the big two – and DC in particular – put more x in their comics because it’s acting as a barrier to audience y if they don’t, and it should be a perfect attempt right from the get go. (The original article was not quite demanding, being a fair criticism of a missing component of the output, but it did also suggest that the publishers should be publishing more girl-aimed comics because it should be done sooner than later.)

2. An expectation of corporate responses that don’t realize the different realities of the business world. Corporations are not simple entities who can make decisions on the fly; there has to be market research, investment in design and planning, hiring, production arrangements, etc. So even if DC and Marvel wanted to do something, it wouldn’t be immediate — and they have owners that are now scrutinizing every action for maximum reward. And it’s a lot easier to do something in film and television because (a) there is less back story to deal with in a new series, and (b) Hollywood DOES now have a component of the press that’s focused on agendas. (Just look at Doctor Who: there were more articles berating the choice of another white man in the lead than those praising the choice of a very talented actor.)

3. Exasperated responses by those who are trying to go their own way and finding it difficult. It’s NOT easy to get something published: it’s a labour of love. And to make it profitable in big numbers is much, much, much harder. (Big names sell, but smaller names are having a harder time of it there days.) Yes, work with a bigger company would increase their exposure but (a) we’ve seen lack of exposure with entities closer to the core and how bad it can hurt and (b), more importantly, you would lose ownership of your own ideas if you went through a big publisher. There are pluses and minuses that not everyone is considering. PRAISE THOSE WHO TRY, but please do not berate the big ones for not going after something that, in the past, has burned them before and thus made them more cautious than they were then.

and, most importantly, I see:

4. A quick-to-react component of the responders who take any contrary opinion, no matter how wrong, as fact-less, silencing or downright anti-[insert group here]. This, in turn, is leading to hurt feelings, harsher words, and charges of “agenda”s overriding discussion of points. The knee-jerk dismissiveness of anyone who’s postings disagree with your own is becoming more and more commonplace and somewhat hurtful.

There are examples on BOTH sides of the argument — Paul’s and Kelly’s — over the big two’s response vs your own that can be used, but the balance between them (and thus the best way to shift towards another side) is being lost amongst those who refuse to accept that there are two sides.

(In the last thread, Kelly used the success of the Twilight GN to counter me as an example of how girl comics can sell, but my original argument was that it wasn’t an original content series that was being inspired by the success of that branch of teen fiction, emphasis on original and series. Anyone can point to the success of Game Of Thrones in prose and TV, but while a Game Of Thrones GN would sell in huge numbers, fantasy is a general failure in comics, proof that x doesn’t always lead to y.)

[And, note to Kelly: I meant City Of Bones, not Divergent, as a perceived box office bomb. It wasn’t Vampire Academy weak (though I preferred the latter to the former as a movie and so did my kids and my students) but it wasn’t leading Hollywood to rush another sequel into production.]

Despite the perception of the original article that spawned it (or misperception, depending on your point out view), THIS article is a wonderful example of how difficult it is to get a labour of love into release. Having more interest from the big publishers might open more doors and make it easier, but we need those first few to make them see it’s worth answering the knock.

For what it’s worth after a quick peek into the trash folder, there is a whole lot of fake names/fake accounts/duplication nonsense going on.

And you all know that is both forbidden and a quick way to find your comment in the trash.

Now back to book packing for me, carry on.

Brian from Canada

May 20, 2014 at 4:35 pm

@JokersNuts: the negative aspects of the social agenda are, in my perception, a result of:

1. The initial criticism that the core universes of the big two and the publishers themselves are inherently sexist/racist/homophobic/etc. because of the existing offerings, and therefore need to be shown how wrong they are.

2. When new initiatives are made by the publishers, they aren’t creating new characters who resemble that missing part of the audience and work to connect that audience to the greater one of comics, as we saw in the past, but instead replacing existing core characters with versions that are more (for lack of any word) diversity-friendly. That scares readers who don’t want to see characters they’ve loved for decades to be ruined in the names of pleasing someone else because “you’re a straight white male and therefore (insert agenda here)-ist.”

3. The expression of fear on some fans’ behalf that the already financially weak publishers may teeter into closure or a reduced capacity as a result of continued failure in lines that they didn’t find profitable before. (DC’s increased losses led them to being moved to LA while Marvel’s owner has a history of shutting down or paring severely any branch not reaching expectations.)

and, most importantly…

4. The recognition that the push for comics improving their diversity is coming from all sides at large volumes, with criticism that the companies are moving too slow. It’s harder and harder to perceive of an initiative to respond to any of these requests as being anything but catering to groups with an agenda to “take down the bastion of white male nerdom,” no matter how much it isn’t.

You’d be VERY hard pressed to find comic fans who doesn’t think we need more female-friendly books in American comics. (American, because the manga available in North America is female audience-focused.)

You’d be VERY hard pressed to find comic fans who doesn’t think that a great variety in representations is wrong for the big two.

They just want it to be more “Hey! What about these types of characters” instead of “I’m [group x]! Where’s my representation? Are you anti-[group X]?”

Brian from Canada

May 20, 2014 at 4:39 pm

@Rocket Red: as a fellow Canadian, I must tell you that you’re delusional in thinking the Charter protects all freedom of expression. It doesn’t. Cyberbullying is raising a lot of questions as to what is acceptable speech on the Internet, and there is a case in Toronto of a coach suing a parent over comments made in a forum about their hockey team.

@Kelly: having helped a friend ship out product from their home, I wish you the best of luck in getting it done quickly. All those of you who have Kickstarter productions sent to your home deserve our praise; may you see your furniture uncluttered with boxes once more! :-D

Yeah, tone arguments are bollocks.

Brian from Canada –

Responding to 2.

Introducing any completely new character in the Big Two universes, and making the character “stick”, is very difficult, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation of the character.

Looking at Marvel, you have a sort of diminishing return as the decades succeed one another. The blunt of major characters was created in the 1960s, a good portion in the 1970s, fewer in the 1980s, very few important characters in the 1990s, fewer still in the 2000s and 2010s.

Years ago, Tim Callahan wrote a nice article comparing the Marvel/DC Universes to pantheons. The major niches are already filled: Apollo is the god of the sun, Ares is the god of the war, etc. It becomes harder to come up with new Greek Gods, when the major concepts have been taken.

Likewise with the Marvel Universe. The young hero learning the ropes? There are already many of them running around in the MU. Spider-Man is the template, and there is at least one more per decade (Nova in the 70s, Speedball in the 80s, Darkhawk in the 90s, Gravity in the 2000s). There is a diminishing return here too, as every new character is less important than the one that came before.

If Robert Kirkman had created Invincible for Marvel, inside the MU, it would not have lasted 100+ issues. Because at Marvel, that spot is already taken. It would not have mattered if Invincible were a young gay hero at Marvel, I think. It would have attracted a few more readers, scared others away, but gay Invincible would still have been overshadowed by Spider-Man, Nova, and the rest.

All of that to say that Marvel and DC are sort of doomed when it comes to diversity, if you restrict them to creating completely new heroes.

Replacing existing core characters with new versions is the only way to introduce diversity, even though that isn’t an ideal solution either.

Kelly, you’re over this bothering you yet you think it’s ok to start with the personal attacks? You’ve now basically called me a douchebag and an asshole. I think you took more offense to the fact that I made a joke on the other column about not knowing that you were actually engaged in the process of trying to make your own comics and thus effect change. I was a little smartassed about it and made a crack about not being aware of the secret movement and saying “hail hydra!” which someone commented above saying I was comparing you to a subversive organization. I wasn’t. It was a joke meaning you’re engaged in something secret. That seems to have pissed you off the most.

You see, YOU injected yourself into this conversation. YOU are the one who seems to have taken it all so personally. I’m astounded by the ego in the article you wrote above. I wasn’t talking about you in my original comment. I wasn’t referring to you at all. You hadn’t commented yet. I was referring to the article writer and the general tone of the comments up to that point. I stand by it. I don’t at all want you to not be published. If you can get something published, more power to you. It should be published on the merits of your writing, not just to say “hey, we published a female writer who writes strong female characters! Look how progressive we are!” That’s what my point is about, and I don’t like the little cliques and groups that gather in message boards and comments sections and pat each other on the back.

So, you got an entire column’s worth of material from assigning motives to a comment that wasn’t directed at you, either personally or by implication. Why such outrage because I didn’t know what YOU were doing with your time and effort? This whole thing stinks of you wanting to be morally superior and counting on sycophants to back you up. I can picture you getting pulled over for a speeding ticket and trying the “DON’T YOU KNOW WHO I AM??? I HAVE TWO KICKSTARTER BOOKS!”

Brian from Canada

May 20, 2014 at 6:58 pm

@Rene:

While I agree there is a pantheon of sorts within the two universes that act as central myths, some more important than others, I disagree on the concept of diminishing returns through the decades.

Those who are considered core characters (Spider-Man, Captain America, Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, The Fantastic Four, Wonder Woman, Batman, Superman, The Flash, Green Lantern) are considered core because they founded the basic rules upon which the entire universe are based on — and therefore its difficult to conceive of the universe operating without them. The few times they do leave, like “Heroes Reborn,” the countdown begins until their return.

But the others are NOT considered essential because they CAN be retired for periods of time. Today, it’s anathema to most Marvel fans to consider a universe without active part of Carol Danvers, but Ms. Marvel was a nightmare for Rogue from Avengers Annual 10 until Kurt Busiek returned her in Avengers (vol. 3) 1 as Warbird. Dazzler appeared from time to time with Longshot for an issue in Mojoworld but that was it until recently. Iron Fist was essentially absent for a decade until Heroes For Hire brought him and Luke back to a lead role.

And this is caused by three things:
1. Expansion of the universe in good times and retraction in bad times,
2. New writers wanting to focus more on their new characters because they get royalties for each appearance, and
3. The revival of lost characters only when writers now decide they want these to be their team fillers.

The last point goes specifically aimed at X-Men, Avengers and Justice League: take the A-listers you want to play with, add in a B-lister or two you personally love from the past, and then some new characters/recent ones the publisher wants to push.

It’s very rare that a group of characters who lose their books get rallied together to form a new one to try again.

Kirkman’s Invincible COULD have survived at Marvel, but we don’t know: it all depends on how much support the publisher will give them. Blue Adam isn’t getting much support, Miracleman isn’t showing up… but Moon Knight was allowed to keep coming back despite poor sales each time.

IF you put the new, diverse character in a spot where they can’t be cancelled or pushed out immediately, then they have a better chance of being remembered enough by the next writer or being protected by the publisher. Make them an Avenger under the wing of a lead character like Rhodie and Sam were for Tony and Steve respectively.

OR if you want them to be a replacement version, don’t remove the old. Jaime Reyes as Blue Beetle doesn’t stop Ted Kord from being a different Blue Beetle who he can meet up with. Ray Palmer was a different Atom than Al Pratt, and Ryan Choi was a separate Atom than the first.

That’s part of the reason why the new Ms. Marvel works so well as Marvel: she’s becoming her own hero with her own powers while not trampling on any part of the legacy Carol Danvers had in the role. Thus, she can focus on who she is as a person that’s different from Carol.

Compare that to the new Wally West or Alan Scott and it does slap in the face of the reader who expects some continuity between characters of the same identity — with the big difference being “diversity” claims. Or compare it to Luke Fox over David Zavimbe in Batwing (“Luke was always my first choice”) or Miles Morales for Peter Parker (who wants to be Spider-Man without being part spider).

It’s a difficult balance, I’ll admit, but for many I think the problem is that it’s not seen as an expansion — as some of the characters are — but rather a replacement that offers little immediately visible change other than the new character being “more diverse.”

(And for the record, in case anyone thinks I’m a hater, I **love** Jaime Reyes as a character, as I do the original Static [not New 52 one… ugh]. The new Ms. Marvel is growing on me, and I think Simon Baz is not getting enough love. Plus, Stargirl is a strong character in her own right too — and I loved the James Robinson Starman series before it.)

@ Brian From Canada

I’m not delusional, I’m just not a knee-jerk reactionary. I watch the news just like you apparently do, but don’t see a threat to my freedom of speech in the anti-cyberbullying legislation. Again, ‘freedom of speech’ has always been limited (hate speech, pornographic, threatening, etc.). I’m not doing any of those things.

I’m not gonna read 86 comments, so I’ll skip that and post my own thoughts on why “Your opinion about (X) doesn’t count unless you make (X) too;” it’s completely hypocritical! How many songs have they wrote/played/produced? How many movies have they directed/acted in/added CGI to? How many tiramisus have they made that legitimized their complaint about one they had at a restaurant? I mean, are we just supposed to accept whatever trash is served to us until we try to do better? Yeah, these people are either dishonest jerks or lack any sort of self-awareness. Not sure which is worse.

Brian –

Regardless of political leanings, I am a typical comic book fan, with a typical fan’s dislike of reboots. I was not very interested in the new, gay Alan Scott, because I already have a firm mental imagem of the older Alan Scott, I don’t need a new one. So yeah, I understand that. However, I was also not very interested in the new 52 Superman. So, at least I am consistent.

T. said something interesting in another thread. That the outcry over a reboot seems to be far less if some of the character’s superficial traits, like race and sexual orientation, are kept the same, even if other major changes are done. People will cry about Wally West being now bi-racial with more or less the same personality of the old Wally, yet they accept a Superman or a Huntress that is completely different from the old, but still white.

It’s hard not to see a political component to these outcries.

Brian –

Responding to 1 now.

I understand that people don’t like being called racist or sexist. “She is saying Marvel and DC are bigots! She is saying DC wants to put women in their place, just because they published a cover that is all about Wonder Girl’s tits.”

I do think that is an over-reaction and a misunderstanding of the position of people like Kelly.

Maybe I’m too optimistic, but I think that old school racists or sexists are a marked minority in most of modern Western societies. And most people recognize that.

Conservatism has changed. It reminds me, of all things, of the old guy in WINGS OF DESIRE saying that modern Germany isn’t a nation any longer, but that every German person is their own nation now. The modern Conservative isn’t necessarily a defender of a specific race or gender as being superior, they’re just defending themselves.

Conservatism is no longer so much about conformism or tradition, but about extreme individualism. It’s less about an active desire of putting women or people of color down, and more about a lack of empathy, of not caring if those other people are suffering injustice, because life apparently is a race of all against all.

So the passionate defense of free market capitalism, of free speech with no limitations, of strength, of success, of self-sufficiency.

Am I misrepresenting the other side now?

I’m opposed to all of that stuff. I’m a believer in empathy and in the spiritual communion of all human beings. I am a “socialist” in that sense. I believe in loving one’s neighbour and in helping the disadvantaged. I believe that all of society gets better when minorities gain more rights. Compassion isn’t something to be mocked, in my worldview.

Believe me, it’s never my intent to imply that people who disagree with me are “bigots”. Or that Marvel/DC are inherently racist or homophobic or sexist. The way I see it, true racists and sexists are things of the past. The fight now is against extreme individualism, against people that just don’t care.

As usual, great post Kelly.

@Mark_S: Yeah, I saw what those guys you mentioned did, and experienced it myself once. They got away with it because of who they are. The only time I ever felt bullied at CBR was when I posted on the Spider-Man board. I avoid it now.

Brian from Canada

May 21, 2014 at 2:31 pm

@rene:

If conservatism really was extreme individualism without any consideration for the other, we wouldn’t have had the flap over Duck Dynasty earlier this year.

There is a difference between conservative values and unsympathetic individuals, but the conversation from a portion of the other side no longer makes that distinction. Worse, the lack of distinction ALSO comes with a lack of empathy — as witness by the constant ridiculing of conservatism, particularly in the American press when it comes to groups like The Tea Party.

In the Bush era, “liberal” was a dirty word. Now, it’s “conservative” and “traditional.” Anyone who defends the institutions of old as having value is being called misogynist, racist, sexist, etc. without the bother of asking why those institutions may be defended. America is trapped in a cycle of “with me or against me” that is personified in the partisan politics of its two party government, and it’s beginning to spread into everything.

With Hillary most likely to be elected in 2016, the focus will shift from race to gender, but comparison of how one group has it versus another, and how much it should be changing just because of one elected position will occur. If you find that cynical, that’s fine, but I find a lot of the resistance now is coming from those who are just plain tired of opinions of how things HAVE to be being given without consideration of how to realistically change it.

And that’s a problem. It’s one thing to finally accept others in a singular franchise like the White House, it’s another to look at the various institutions in other industries that are far more varied and dictate that the best expansion is to destroy.

That’s part of why I disliked the article about Cassie’s chest size. That first article (the one supposedly about the cover as a whole — and NOT written by Kelly) was an accusation of sexism, and the forum that followed made that fact even more emphatic. It was meant to shame DC and nothing more; no suggestion of how the general fan base as a whole can help the company realize that modifications in the way some characters are depicted might become more valuable in the future.

But Kelly’s article was about how girl comics are a missing component from companies that have gotten good sales from them in the past. It was a far better opinion article because it wasn’t accusatory, it was actually good in that is was an article that suggested change.

However, I experienced the same lack of empathy from other posters when it was suggested my noting of certain flaws in the argument — that the examples were licenses, not original content, and the original content based on trends in other media isn’t being transferred over — were called “fantasy” and “factless.”

It is not fantasy to state that DC and Marvel’s focus on the male audience has opened the doors for other companies to fill that vacuum. Filling that vacuum seems to have been Paul’s suggestion, though his was worded in a way that seems to have been thought of offensive. WHY must it be considered silencing to suggest it might be better to show your argument from outside rather than inside, given the current commercial climate? It’s not like DC and Marvel are actively pursuing new concepts, they are both struggling to get their old ones into other media at the moment.

You want me to believe that society is better when minorities have rights. Rights isn’t the issue here. No one is stifling the ability to tell stories by women and/or about women and/or for women — manga proves that as do works at other companies. No one is saying there shouldn’t be celebrations of those minorities.

What IS being said, however, is that minorities should not be celebrated because they are REPLACING the previous type. Character x isn’t better now because they are black or gay — you could have just as easily created a new character who approaches the challenge their own way and gets accepted for who they are instead of who they aren’t anymore.

When Illinois school boards are suggesting minorities be hired over those who may be more talented based on skin colour (because, apparently, the reason minorities aren’t doing well at school is now blameable on the teacher’s skin colour), that’s not people who don’t care — that’s an agenda that pushes a reverse racism.

I was one of a number of teachers who were pushed out of positions because we suggested that, in a female-dominated industry such as teaching, the existing women’s issues committee should be joined by a men’s issue committee — but, apparently, boys are just unruly and male teachers don’t have any issues except that they are sexist in the opinion of the majority. That to me is inherent sexism, just as there is inherent distaste for homosexuals and unmarried teachers where I work. (One principal told me I could get a position if I got hitched, while they told a gay teacher that she’ll never feel the real connection to kids.)

So long as people are identified as part of a group OTHER than just humanity, there will be institutional distaste because identity is identified in opposition to “other.”

To Red Rocket:

I’ll tell you exactly what you did to earn my snark. Ever since CBR retooled their boards I’ve read an endless line of whinging—quite incorrectly—about the ‘abuse’ of Free Speech, and instead of reading your post with due care, or taking time to weigh my response, I skimmed over a few buzzwords and flew off on a tangent like some unmedicated loon, making a wonderful ass of myself and—worse—dragging you into my damage. I’m sorry. Nothing you said deserved that kind of puerile, reactionary nonsense. Although that’s pretty obvious. All I can do is apologize and promise to take better care in the future.

@ Chris

No prob, soul brutha. Takes a big fella to post like you did. If you ever need a kidney (the little one) you can have mine.

I get where you’re coming from, though. By the time I get a few comments deep I’m frothing at the mouth. If there wasn’t such a big part of me that WANTS to see more female comic fans I’d skip these articles altogether because the comments are going to give me a heart attack one day.

“You see, YOU injected yourself into this conversation. YOU are the one who seems to have taken it all so personally. I’m astounded by the ego in the article you wrote above. I wasn’t talking about you in my original comment. I wasn’t referring to you at all.”

Wow, so a whole article about how you are attempting to silence people and your response is “SHUT UP I WASN’T SAYING YOU SHOULD SHUT UP”. If you were trying to miss the point, well, perfect score. One-hundred percent.

“suggesting minorities be hired over those who may be more talented based on skin colour”

Are you deliberately implying that there is an objective level of talent by which teachers can be judged prior to hiring, or is that just sloppy writing?

Oh great, the hack plugs her books and same time shames people about comic books when there are real problems and actual women being oppress like today’s rabid feminists. Oh well, it’s all in the name of clickbaits.

“That’s part of why I disliked the article about Cassie’s chest size.”

Who decided it was about that?
Doesn’t the writer of the article have any say in what her article is about?
Or should it be left to people reading it to single out the only part they are interested in and pretend the rest is just “window dressing”?

continuing from my previous comment
in the article in question, Janelle Asselin stated “The problem is not that she’s a teen girl with large breasts”

and went on to suggest the problem was that DC was aiming too much at the “exact same demographic: Males 18-39.” (which puts all their series, to some extent, in competition with each other) rather than trying to target other audiences (developing\nurturing the markets if necessary) in order to appeal to a wider readership and get more sales overall.

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