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She Has No Head! – I Was Wrong, THIS Marks The Destruction of Feminism at DC Comics

David Finch Wonder Woman and White Rabbit

A promotional image from Finch’s Wonder Woman and Finch’s White Rabbit from his book The Dark Knight. Not nearly as different as they should be.

How do you top turning a matriarchal female society historically depicted as honorable in your comics into absolute monsters? For starters, you assign creators that either don’t know what feminism means, or worse, do know and are still afraid to use that word to describe the preeminent female hero in the world. In 2012 I thought feminism had been destroyed at DC Comics but I was wrong, because there were further lows to which we could descend.

We have found new depths as a creator (David Finch) assigned to the most important woman in comics doesn’t know what the word feminist means, or much much worse, knows what it means and doesn’t think that Wonder Woman is a feminist, in other words, he doesn’t believe that Wonder Woman believes in equality of the sexes.

You know what I can’t believe? That this kind of thing can still happen in the year 2014.

Is assigning an artist known for his sexualized female characters and afraid of the word feminist and a rookie (his wife, Meredith Finch) with three credits to her name (I can only find one) what Diane Nelson was talking about weeks ago when she responded to shareholders unhappy with the portrayal of women at DC, saying that they would be pleased by the changes in two years time?

I can’t imagine this is what she meant.

And yet here we are.

There are so many problems here it’s hard to know where to begin. But before we start, let’s have some clarity on the word Feminist. Here’s what it means:

fem·i·nist [fem-uh-nist]

adjective Sometimes, fem·i·nis·tic.

1. advocating social, political, legal, and economic rights for women equal to those of men.

noun

2. an advocate of such right

It’s not a bad word. In fact, it’s a wonderful word. It means great and positive things for all people.

Yes, there are outliers that believe something different than this, something more extreme, but there are always going to be outliers and extremists. And I’m sorry that a whole bunch of people in the world want to use the outliers and extremists of feminism to jettison a belief in equality, but it’s simply not acceptable for reasonable people. Not in 2014. Sure, there are nuances to feminism, but I assure you, when the average person calls themselves a feminist it simply means they believe in equality. So the question isn’t why are you a feminist, the question is why isn’t EVERYONE a feminist. We need to change this wrong-headed perception NOW so that instead of people scrambling away from the word feminist, they are ashamed to identify as anything BUT a feminist.

But even if we’re a ways away from everyone being comfortable calling themselves feminists, certainly Wonder Women of all women, of all superheroes, should be allowed to be a feminist and her creators shouldn’t be afraid to give her that label. Wonder Woman of all characters should not only identify as feminist but she should own it and inspire others with it. Hell, she was on the cover of the first Ms. Magazine FORTY TWO YEARS AGO. Ms. Magazine an “American liberal feminist magazine” by definition, more than 40 years ago chose Wonder Woman as their “cover model”…how can it even be in doubt in 2014 that Wonder Woman should be a feminist down to her very core of who she is, what she means, what she represents?

For those still playing catch up, after David Finch and wife Meredith Finch were announced last week as the new Wonder Woman creative team (beginning in the Fall of 2014 with issue #36) they gave a number of interviews including one with CBR where they said several alarming things between the two of them, but most notably there was this from David Finch:

“I think she’s a beautiful, strong character. Really, from where I come from, and we’ve talked about this a lot, we want to make sure it’s a book that treats her as a human being first and foremost, but is also respectful of the fact that she represents something more. We want her to be a strong — I don’t want to say feminist, but a strong character. Beautiful, but strong.”

While I’m sure it was not a calculated comment (and Finch has since offered a well-intentioned but classic non-apology apology via twitter) it’s incredibly alarming that half of the creative team either doesn’t know what the word feminist means or worse, knows what it means and doesn’t believe Wonder Woman is one.

This comment is particularly upsetting because Finch is certainly the more powerful side of this creative team with a ton of experience under his belt compared to his wife’s three comics ever published (I could only find 1 co-writing credit – perhaps the others are yet to be released?). Even so, Meredith Finch is the writer for the book so she surely sets the tone, right? Well, earlier in the interview she claims David Finch is her “ace in the hole” and

“…he’s so steeped in the comic book industry, that if I have a question or I need to know something about comics lore, I have my own personal encyclopedia who lives in my house”

So her encyclopedia of comics lore is afraid to call Wonder Woman a feminist? This should be extremely alarming to anyone that knows anything about the character or dares to love her. I’d be slightly less worried if Meredith Finch had ever said the word feminist or feminism in the interview herself but she actually goes out of her way to avoid the word. In fact, she goes out of her way enough that it almost feels like editorial decree. And perhaps it is. Perhaps she’s an innocent bystander in all of this, simply toeing the company line, and if she is, my apologies to her, but I guess this is the downside of getting to write the most famous woman in comics.

But there’s more to worry about than just the feminism issue, especially if David Finch is her “encyclopedia” on Wonder Woman. David Finch refers to Diana as being human – certainly not accurate to Azzarello and Chiang’s run in which she’s a demi-god and not really accurate to what DC has on their own wiki — that she’s a supernatural being born from clay, bonded with the soul of an unborn child, bestowed with gifts by six Greek Gods, and raised by a matriarchal society of immortal Amazon warriors.

Words shwords, his meaning is obvious, he wants her to be relatable, which is not unreasonable, but it’s just one in a series of damning word choices that should have all of your alarm bells firing.

Women Of Finch

A sampling of Finch’s work with women over the past few years that apparently qualified him for a gig drawing Wonder Woman. Hrmm.

All of this doesn’t even include the fact that these words come for one of the worst choices for an artist for Wonder Woman that I could possibly imagine. David Finch is a talented guy, and DC is obviously a fan given the opportunities he’s been handed, and he undoubtably has a big following of comic fans, but he’s not a good fit as an artist for Wonder Woman if you are interested in her being taken seriously as a warrior and superhero. When it comes to women, Finch generally draws highly sexualized women. Regardless of who they are, his characters tend to look like cheerleaders, damsels in distress, and sexy femme fatales. Wonder Woman is none of these things, nor should she be. David Finch’s first image of Diana (at the top of this post), though better than some bad previous takes (see below), is already full of male gaze with Wonder Woman posing tits and ass out, back arched ridiculously, not exactly a battle tested warrior, more a lingerie model. It’s not a surprise when talking about the visuals in the interview that Finch focuses largely on her beauty. He refers to her as some form of beautiful (and being attracted to her, though again, this is likely just a poor word choice) several times, certainly more times than he refers to her as being strong, powerful, or heroic.

Wonder Woman Finch

Wonder Woman as cheerleader that happens to be holding a sword? Wonder Woman as…big headed, big breasted child with possibly broken leg? Wonder Woman as tiny afterthought moments before a nip slip?

As for Meredith Finch’s one co-writing credit that I can find (Zenescope’s Tales of Oz #2), I read it, and it’s not good. It’s cliché, predictable, stiff, repetitive, confusing, uninspired, and completely lacking in any depth or nuance. Certainly not the kind of story that gets the attention of DC Comics Editors as a possible successor to a critically acclaimed Wonder Woman run. And listen, any writer can write (and publish) a bad story, it happens to the best of writers and it shouldn’t preclude a writer from writing other comics or getting other gigs, especially if they’re a young/new writer who will likely learn a lot as they become more experienced. What it SHOULD preclude a writer from doing is getting to write WONDER WOMAN, which is an extremely high profile gig…like the Porche of comics writing.

And when you hire someone with this little experience you naturally invite questions about their qualifications. The idea that the sole credit on her resume to get her the gig is simply being a woman is uncomfortable for everyone. To be honest, I don’t even want to get into the thorny issue of Meredith Finch getting the job in part because she’s a woman and/or because she’s Finch’s wife – I don’t know that anybody wins in that conversation, but because Finch has so few credits to her name, it begins to feel like DC sees her very “femaleness” as the most important credit on her resume and that is just wrong on every level. I’m obviously an advocate for more women working in comics and normally a woman on a high profile title like Wonder Woman and at a high profile company would be cause for celebration, but I’ve never been one to argue for a woman being hired BECAUSE she’s a woman. That way lies madness for us all. Yes, it IS possible that it’s as simple as Meredith Finch being connected and turning in one hell of a pitch, but to be honest, even in that fantasy scenario, she still doesn’t deserve a solo writing gig on Wonder Woman. Maybe that would warrant a co-writing gig? Maybe???

Part of the problem for me here is that I’m always an advocate for female comic book characters that headline their own books and that need good sales to continue existing as vibrant properties getting appropriate A-list creators. A-list creators ensure a certain level of sales and interest right off the bat, two things demanded for books to stay on shelves in this comics climate. Wonder Woman is an A-list property that deserves A-list creators. It’s why, despite my issues with some of the content and story choices of Azzarello and Chiang’s run I could still appreciate that Wonder Woman had an A-list team that brought her one of her most celebrated runs. It wasn’t for me, but not everything can be, I could at least – even if from a distance – respect the quality level – and thanks to Cliff Chiang’s stunning work it was the best Diana had ever looked.

Now, you could make a solid argument (one I would maybe buy?) for a newer writer with a fresh take, a “think outside the box” kind of writer, if you put A-list (and appropriate) talent on the art side, and that “think outside the box” writer was still someone with solid indie credits, some critical acclaim, and real vision (for example, exactly what DC has done with Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher, and Karl Kerschl on the new Gotham Academy). But that answer is still not Meredith Finch with her three credits at most and from Zenescope no less, a publisher unlikely to win much critical acclaim or quality awards anytime soon. Unfortunately for Meredith Finch, who may be pretty innocent in all of this (I mean, someone tells you they want you to write Wonder Woman, that’s pretty hard to say no to, even if you know you don’t have the credentials), DC continues to be the equivalent of in a dark room looking for a black cat which isn’t there.

For those that want to decry the idea of discussing/deriding/generally bitching about stories that have not even been published yet, we’re not talking about what Finch & Finch have created might create, we’re talking about their on record incredibly wrong-headed approach to the character and how alarming it is, and most importantly we’re talking about WHY DC MAKES THESE DECISIONS. I’m not being critical of the content Finch & Finch have created might create for Wonder Woman, I’m being critical of why DC makes these kind of choices, why editorial seems bound and determined to run off their fans, why they are afraid of feminism, and of Wonder Woman as a character. I’m critical of how this decision tree works…I’d like a publisher of DC’s size and complexity to show even the slightest understanding that they know what they’re doing rather than the aforementioned dark room and black cat that doesn’t even exist situation.

So why does any of this matter any way? Why does one creative team on one comic book matter so much? Simply, it matters because it’s Wonder Woman. I wrote the following in 2010 and it’s remains WHY Wonder Woman simply matters more than any other female comics character:

“Wonder Woman (both the character and the book) keep getting saddled with this heavy burden of being all women all the time, and of embodying perfection.  But because there are seemingly infinite marquee male leads in comics – Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Flash, Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Wolverine, – you can take your pick, and they can all signify different takes on heroes in comics.  But when you boil it down there is only one long running marquee heroine in comics – Wonder Woman.  So she has to cover ALL the bases – and it’s just too much load for any one character (or book) to bear, and she’s constantly buckling under it.”

That’s why it’s so important that Wonder Woman’s creative team be well-considered. It’s why she matters in some ways more than any other single title on shelves.

So, why is an artist known for sexualized female characters who doesn’t know that Wonder Woman is a feminist and a writer with almost zero experience writing, let alone writing comics, the right team for the most important woman in comics?

Someone please explain it to me. Preferably Diane Nelson, because I really would like to know who the hell is running the ship and why they’re steering it straight for icebergs.

91 Comments

Professional right-wing bullies like Rush Limbaugh have engaged in a campaign for years to re-define “feminism” as something that’s a threat to the American way of life and Jesus and puppies and so on. For creators like Finch (or Joss freakin’ Whedon!) to submit to that spin by trying to distance themselves and/or their work from feminism is essentially letting the bullies win. Which superhero comics always taught me was wrong, but what do I know?

As for what’s going on at DC? It’s increasingly looking like Dunning-Kruger is the only reasonable explanation.

Agreed.

Wait…when did Joss Whedon distance himself from Feminism? I’ve always seen him embrace and support it…what horrible thing did I miss???

I want to laugh at DC, but BC says Greg Land is gonna be on the new Spider-Woman book.

Of course, the silver lining is that Finch works so slowly that there’s no way he draws more than a few issues before fill-in artists show up, and he seems to lose interest in books pretty quickly too, so it might not be long after that before the book gets a new team. You have to look on the bright side!!! :)

In a world where “literally” now means “figuratively” and it’s in the dictionary, it’s not surprising that some people have re-defined “feminism.” It’s too long to get into here, but I read an interesting article about why LGBT are “winning” things and women seem to be losing, and the writer noted it was partly due to re-definitions. That sucks.

I think he may be referencing (and completely misunderstanding) Whedon’s brilliant but divisive speech from a couple of years ago in which he talked about how feminism does great things but isms are generally seen as bad and othering ideologies. For example, not judging people based on race is seen as the standard, and anyone who deviates from it is a racist and therefore a bad person. He was talking about creating a world where gender equality is the standard and people who disagree are “genderists” (which he coined to account for the fact that biological sex is rarely the issue when we’re talking about sexist actions). It was about the power of language to shape dialogue but so many people misunderstood and maligned it.

I do wonder how much of this plays into DCs apparent belief that characters are more valuable than creators. Not to say that Marvel isn’t making any mistakes, but they do seem to recognize that giving big name creators and up and coming artists and writers the space to tell the story they want to tell pays dividends, while most of DC stuff seems editorially driven; it’s a top down approach based on what they think people want, rather than trusting their creators to create something people will want to read.

In that context, DC Editorial (as you point out) has decided that this approach to Wonder Woman is the one that people want. I personally can think of maybe a dozen other creators who’s take on Wonder Woman I’d be more interested in.

Bleeding cool says Greg land is going to be drawing Spider-woman.Please give marvel at least some grief for this.

Look, I know you (try to) innoculate against this argument, but at the end of the day we ARE talking about books that have yet to be published. If the books come out and they’re awful, go to town. But the proof, ultimately, will be in the pudding. I just hope all the people demonizing the Finches give the book a fair shake when it launches, and not doom it out of hand because they didn’t like the comments that were made in a short interview months earlier.

BAM. Excellently stated!

I think you should downgrade this from a red alert to a slap in the forehead. It’s not at all shocking that a dude who draws comic books for a living doesn’t know what “feminism” means, and it’s not at all shocking that his wife is tap dancing around the phrase which, as MichaelP pointed out, has been somewhat tainted in the public eye (I also agree with MichaelP that catering to those POSs who are trying to taint it is not cool). I think conflating this with a fundamentally wrong-headed approach to the character is a mistake–any writer who takes on Wonder Woman by first checking the definition of “feminism” is surely destined to write a book about an uninteresting CHARACTER. My hope is that, despite not knowing the definition of feminisim, the Finches will write a truly feminist book–there’s no reason why they can’t, even if there’s not much evidence that they will. :(

Finally, Finch was given his own Bat-book to write solo, so presumably the powers-that-be think adding his wife to the mix is not a big deal. This isn’t one unknown with another unknown, or one unknown with someone who’s never written anything (althought that kinda sounds like Buccellato and Manapul).

My hope is that the book doesn’t suck.

Do you think Finch can draw all of his brokeback and extreme TnA poses from memory? Or does he still need to use copious amounts of porn for reference? And if he is using copious amounts of porn for reference, how does Meredith feel about it? Does she feel weird about her hubby drawing this exploitative stuff every day? Or is she online every morning hitting up her favorite sites and helping him collect his daily “reference” pics?

These are the kind of hard-hitting questions I hope to see addressed in future Wonder Woman interviews.

You know what I can’t believe? That this kind of thing can still happen in the year 2014.

That’s your problem. It’s only 2014 in the rest of the world. At DC, all the calendars say 1992.

It depends how one reads into it. I personally understood it to mean that in recent year’s there’s been a precaution to avoid the old-fashioned incarnations that had her as a feminist preacher. A guideline that seemed to work quite well for the Azzarello / Chiang run.

I posted elsewhere that: I find it feels sexist for Wonder Woman to constantly have to act as the spokesperson for feminism the way she has in the past. If a writer wants to use her as vessel for that, fine, but if not then that doesn’t necessarily cancel her out as a feminist icon.

Batman and Superman seem like feminists to me based on their morals and ethics, as does Wonder Woman. So just because she’s the woman in the group, she’s supposed to be “the feminist one”? Shouldn’t that just be a given? Writers and artists shouldn’t have to be conscious about this when penning her.

Why can’t Wonder Woman be treated with the same amount of gravitas instead of being chained down to serve the purpose of being a flat cardboard cutout Ms magazine mascot based on the notion that her gender must somehow dictate that role in her life for her?

I dunno. This strikes me as one of those areas where the language used is already ‘charged’. Whether we like it or not, or rail against it, or insist on more accurate definitions and connotations… certain words get overly-generalized in the ‘outer spheres’ of cultural awareness.

When someone says they are a feminist, that will instantly pull forth an assessment/judgement from others. Other true, genuine feminists will know instantly what that means, and be delighted. Those who’ve simply been badgered and brow-beaten endlessly about ‘the feminist movement’ for twenty-plus years are more likely to simply roll their eyes and think ‘yet more political activism to tune out’. The same phenomenon exists, in my opinion, with other label-words. Vegan. Liberal. Conservative. Religious. Atheist. Gay Pride/Ethnic Pride/Racial Pride/Gender Pride/____ Pride.

To people for whom such words are an integral, critical part of their identity, it is naturally frustrating when others (outsiders, for lack of a better word) don’t understand what the word actually means to them, or what ‘proper behavior’ looks like, from those who are ‘real’ (Fill In The Blank)’s, as opposed to the fringe and the extremes.

But it’s always the case that extremes get more attention, because they exist solely to demand it.

I think that, thanks to right-wing pundits (well, loudmouths) like Rush Limbaugh using the “strawman feminist” in their intellectually dishonest arguments, the word “feminist” has somehow taken on a negative connotation with the average person. They don’t really understand what feminism entails. It’s like the word “liberal” or “conservative.” They are not, at heart, negative terms. But loudmouths on the far end of either side of the political spectrum have turned them into slander, tainting them by association.

I really don’t know what the solution is. Education? Perhaps, but the loudmouths will always drown out more sensible voices. A new term? “Equalism” or somesuch? I don’t know. That seems like capitulation. I honestly think it’s some kind of unfounded fear on the part of DC’s execs that “If we call WW a feminist, people won’t buy the book.” Sad, really.

I do think that perhaps the whole “feminism” controversy regarding David Finch’s upcoming run on Wonder Woman may have been blown a bit out of proportion, if only because I think readers should actually wait & see what his work on the series is like before pilloring him. If it comes out and it sucks, well, then you should feel free to tear him a new one :)

That said, I was not planning on following Finich on WW, anyway. Once Azzarello & Chiang are gone, so am I as a reader. I am so totally NOT into Finch’s art style, which is ridiculously over-rendered, with an insane amount of crosshatching. That, and all his women look pretty much the same, with ridiculous anatomy even by superhero comic book standards. I really feel that Finch is one of the main forces behind the unfortunate revival of the type of excesses that “hot” artists displayed two decades ago, in the early-to-mid 1990s.

Oh, yeah, I’m also not at all fond of someone whose primary contribution to the Batman mythos is introducing the White Rabbit, who looks like Emma Frost after a weekend at a furry convention.

One thing that sticks out to me goes beyond the comics….are the Finchs the right team to be heading Wonder Woman as DC is trying to get their film franchises off the ground? How can DC pitch a serious WW movie if the current references would be what the Finchs are giving?

Pixie_Solanas

July 7, 2014 at 10:42 am

Any goodwill I had given DC over “Gotham Academy” is summarily rescinded for the asininely-assigned new “creative” team on WW.

A franchise flagship and you’re giving it to someone who’s basically never scripted before and an artist who’s primary claim to fame is a complete inability to keep to any schedule? Bravo, DC.

Pixie_Solanas

July 7, 2014 at 10:43 am

Joss Whedon embrace feminism? Sure, maybe when his female characters aren’t one-note ciphers, sure.

The reluctance to use the word feminist isn’t that much of a red flag for me. As other people have stated, the word carries so much baggage that people who fit the dictionary definition of the term still shy away from it. There’s a whole celebrity interview subgenre of reporters asking young starlets whose work has a feminist bent to it whether they’re feminist, and the starlets refusing the label. So the Finches may well write and draw Wonder Woman as a feminist according to the real definition, even if they don’t write her according the straw feminist definition.

That said, I feel like Wonder Woman is pretty close to archetypal straw feminist in the popular mind (not the straw feminist of the conservative mind), probably because the archetypal feminist draws from her character at least in part. She is outspoken. She’ll fight–literally and metaphorically–against injustice against women. She doesn’t put up with sexist bullshit. She’s like Britta from Community except competent. So even if (or especially if) you have baggage around the word “feminist”, if you’re not willing to call Wonder Woman a feminist, you don’t really get her.

What I don’t get is your argumentation. So Finch is known for depicting sexualized women in superhero comics. Then again WW has always been a predominant male fantasy since her inception. You demand to advocate for equal rights, but before one page has been published an eternal darkness is seen having the Finch’s on WW. Let’s say we all wait for the book to be published, before it is condemned. By prejudice.

I think Whedon’s “distancing” from feminism wasn’t as bad as I was expecting it to be.

I’d say this is more of a potential low point than an actual low point. Based on your previous posting about the destruction of the Amazons, that still seems like the low point.

I agree in that I don’t think David Finch will improve Wonder Woman at all just because he didn’t particularly improve Moon Knight and Batman either and let’s face it expectations on Wonder Woman are practically at zero after the last creative team.

I kind of think the shying away from feminism is more about marketing than anything. And that’s what I think is more insidious and worth exploring: they clearly think some corner of their readership is alienated by calling her a feminist hero (even though as you say Gloria Steinhem proclaimed her a feminist icon and her creator William Marston, for all his kinkiness, created the character because he believed in feminism back in 1942!) So who are they trying to target by soft pedalling Wonder Woman and feminists? What demographic base of the readers are they apparently going after? Someone who won’t read Wonder Woman unless she’s not characterized as a feminist?

I must confess that the vehemence which you go after the Finches leaves me uncomfortable. It feels like an Ad Hominem attack– attacking the people, not the argument. What’s happened is “we’ll put our top talent on Wonder Woman” is “we’ll put the guy who launched Justice League and the New Avengers on Wonder Woman”. It’s an artist driven version of “top talent”, and as with Moon Knight and Batman, Finch brings a co-writer he wants with him. I’m not sure if that’s really worth all the digital equivalent of ink you spend bemoaning Meredith Finch’s three credits.

And honestly, I’m more interested in seeing how the digital only project Sensation Comics with Gail Simone writing Wonder Woman does than anything.

This reminds of the moment during the promotion of “Batman & Robin” when George Clooney said that a thirtysomething man brooding over the death of his parents was narcissistic. However you feel about the statement, it immediately disqualified him as an actor to portray Batman for me. He literally could not get into the mind-set of the character.

If you are not comfortable discussing feminism, then you have very little business working on Wonder Woman. It is more intrinsic to her story than Greek mythology. It is right at the heart of the narrative. To me, Diana of Themyscria is journeying from matriarchy to equality which is the mirror image of the journey that the reader is supposed to be taking. Steve Trevor arrives on an island where the default cultural assumptions about gender have been flipped on their head.

Like grief driving the Batman narrative, the difference between surface and depth is narrative engine of Wonder Woman. She is beautiful, but thematically nothing could be more beside the point.

And honestly, I’m more interested in seeing how the digital only project Sensation Comics with Gail Simone writing Wonder Woman does than anything.

Yeah, that’s something I’m definitely looking forward to. Does anyone know if DC will be issuing print editions, as they have with much of their other digital-first series?

i agree for the most part, ms. thompson, though i believe greg has a greater point as well, in that perhaps the condemnation of meredith is a bit premature. every thing has to start somewhere, even if only the change in perspective david MIGHT experience w/ his wife on board. he may actually apreciate the responsibility of his task at hand and rise to the challenge and surprise a great many, myself included.

oops i meant graeme not greg

I’m a man. I’m a feminist. Here is my opinion, for what it’s worth:

Finch’s art is hideous and sexist. On the other hand, while his comment was tone-deaf, I think it was forgivable given the large number of people who misunderstand what “feminist” means. I reserve judgment on DC’s choice of a writer, since there’s no substantial body of work to judge from. She may be a hack who got her job through nepotism; she may be a brilliant writer waiting for a chance. Time will tell.

While everyone wants Wonder Woman to be one of the Big Three, and the standard bearer for women in comics, I’m not sure that’s been the case since…oh…the beginning of the Silver Age of Comics. To be honest, while I have read a lot of Batman comics, and some Superman comics, I have never read a Wonder woman comic. Not one. (To be fair, X-Men was my preferred franchise as a young collector). To me, WW has always seemed way to retro to be interesting (I’m also not that interested in mythological/magic based characters; I go for Sci-Fi stories).

So while I understand your desire for WW to be at the Vanguard, maybe it’s not really reasonable. I’m not even sure she’s the most recognizable female comic book character anymore. I think Catwoman might be better known.

On a related note: because of this column, I went out and bought the first TPB of the current Captain Marvel ongoing. I really enjoyed it. Good writing. Great character. The art a bit hit or miss at times. The feminist message was a bit heavy handed in the part where all of these 1940′s characters are running around playing Rambo, but Carol’s feminist voice was very believable and sympathetic. I’m looking forward to the next volume.

Either Horn or Land would be worse than Finch, although I am willing to concede the point that Finch’s art is crap. I kinda liked him on Ultimate X-Men to start with, then I noticed all his faces look the same. Male and female both. He seems to be only capable of drawing about four faces. Or is that just me?

I guess the author doesn’t like the Finches. I’ve never been fond of the T&A shows made of any female comic character these days. In that respect: Finch is no different. Still, it’s gotten annoying. How is a female character supposed to be “strong” when presented like that? WW is an Amazon: she ropes, wrestles, fights her own fights and in the Grecian way: was taught personal integrity, rhetoric, analytical thinking, oration, etc. She’s a Princess for crying out loud–and not a lesbian one either, sorry, groomed and educated to run a country. Let’s see how much of her brain is on display. No defaulting to some male character for plan making, no permission from a male character to execute a plan of her making, no rescue by a male character for a plan that fails–no recurring plan failures either boys. She’s not an idiot or a bimbo. Let’s see if the Finch’s can recognize that.

If he already apologised for his comment, wouldn’t it be ungracious to not accept it?

And, my two cents, I don’t know anything about Mrs. Finch but it feels like an attack upon her. Shouldn’t we give them the benefit of the doubt until we read the first issue? We probably can all name some comics where a new unknown creator knocked it out of the park.

T. said it all.

“It’s only 2014 in the rest of the world. At DC, all the calendars say 1992.”

Thumbs up, man. Thumbs up!

As for the meaning of the word “feminism”, a lot of people don’t hear it as “someone who believes men and women should have equal rights”, to them it’s more like “someone who wants to castrate all males”. It’s as if they’re still reacting to the most extreme of all fringe lesbian radicals from the 1970s.

I checked the link you posted where you say Diane Nelson is responding to a shareholder unhappy with Wonder Woman’s portrayal. The thing is that is never said in the CBR article you linked to or the original article on THR. The shareholder said he was unhappy with the portrayal of women in DC comics- as well as Marvel.

Those aren’t quite the same.

@Matt: You’re right, I’ll clarify that in my piece – it shouldn’t say Wonder Woman specifically. My fault.

I think the point stands though.

@Steve: Well, for starters Finch’s apology was a classic non-apology along the lines of “I’m sorry you were offended” which is not the same thing as actually being sorry. His apology said that he was sorry it was interpreted that way.

More importantly, I’ve seen nothing, even in his clarified comments that suggests he DOES know what feminist means and/or is not afraid of the word. Someone assigned to Wonder Woman needs to be fully comfortable with the word.

As for Meredith Finch, I went out of my way to not attack her, she hasn’t done anything wrong. She simply lacks the experience necessary for such an important appointment. What I AM attacking is DC and how they – a MAJOR comics company – make big decisions like these without really considering the effects they have and what they mean to the quality of their line, the integrity of their characters and the love of their fans. They increasingly seem to be a company that skips over doing any due diligence I would expect for decisions of this level.

As for new writers killing it, the only examples I can think of involve writers that already had significant writing experience in other fields and/or solid indie comics credits before making the jump to the “majors.” Scott Snyder is an example of an accomplished prose writer and one with solid indie comics credits (American Vampire) before he began killing it writing big titles for DC. If you can think of any examples like Meredith Finch I would certainly be open to hearing them.

“I’m not being critical of the content Finch & Finch have created”

almost EVERYthing you write here is critical of both Finchs’ previous works. against meredith alone you leveled: “cliché, predictable, stiff, repetitive, confusing, uninspired, and completely lacking in any depth or nuance.”

you have ZERO credibility when you can be that blatantly dishonest.

You’re right, “I’m sorry you were offended” is not an apology. I didn’t click the link, I just read the line in the article, and assumed. You know how that goes.

And in the mean time, I looked up Tales of Oz #2, and I have to say it was pretty bad. This does not bode well for WW..

As a current reader of WW (which I’m sure many of the commenters are not), I will stop reading when the current creative team ends after reading this article. I’ve been reading comics off-and-on for almost 30 years, and this is the best I’ve read of WW. The art is stylistic and not overly sexualized (I take note that it was DC editorial that insisted she keep the bikini bottom, not the writer/artist). The interpretation of the Greek Gods is fresh and thoughtful, and fun to discover. And WW sometimes makes her decisions and takes action based on her female sensibilities, sometimes on her Amazonian sensibilities, and sometimes on her human sensibilities — exactly what anyone would do. She believes in equality, believes in progress, believes in family, and struggles with honoring tradition while not letting it hold you back or hurt someone. I encourage the “serious” posters to check it out. Great job Azzarello, Chiang, and the rest of the team!

In regards to the comments about feminism being a tainted term: That is not a good excuse for feminists to avoid using the term. That so many people misunderstand what feminism is just means that feminists need to be that much more outspoken about what it means. If the Finches are avoiding the term because of the negative connotations, then they frankly have no business writing the book. If they’re not willing to take a stand, then they can get the hell out of the way for someone who is willing.

Never thought Wonder Woman technically was a feminist as the definition is stated here: 1. advocating social, political, legal, and economic rights for women equal to those of men. She comes from the amazon society that believes woman are not equal to, but better than men. While she tends to be less extreme than here sisters, that opinion shows up every once in a while in her attitude.

Kelly, Kelly, Kelly–remember the Sherman Solution:

“If the movie stinks, just don’t go.”

Paraphrased, if the comic book stinks, just don’t buy or preview it.

Besides–you don’t like THIS Wonder Woman, there’s always the upcoming Sensation Comics digital-first series.

Just another example of how DC sexualizes their female characters. Remember Starfire?

On the other hand, I get what Flinch is saying. Yes, there are indeed Feminists who want equality for all and there are the extremists. But like everything else, it’s the extremists that one way or another, label the ideology as such that the idea itself is identified with them. It’s for that reason there’s a growing trend of people who see Feminism and Feminists as this extreme view of women being the top of the game over the men than the supposed call for equality.

It’s true that people who give feminism a bad name are outliers and extremists. But outliers and extremists are often so darn loud that they ruin things for everyone. I can certainly understand why someone would be reticent to use the word “feminist” if they have had any encounters with one of those extremist outliers (you can find a lot of them on the “social justice” regions of tumblr).

So whether Finch’s comment is reasonable boils down to this: When he said “feminist” was he thinking about people who fight for equality of the sexes? Or was he thinking of crazy people on tumblr who spend days arguing about whether trans women are more privileged than cis women? If he was thinking of the former then his comment is terrible, if he was thinking of the later then it is more than reasonable.

Incidentally, this also explains Brett Booth’s tweet at Janelle Asselin that generated so much controversy. His comment sounds bizarre and nonsensical when addressed at a normal human being like Janelle. But it’s obvious that Booth mistakenly though Janelle was one of those crazy extremists who give feminism a bad name. His response is, in that light, overwrought, but understandable.

Well, Diana is certainly not human. And I liked how she was portrayed in the early New 52 Justice League books where she seemed condescending towards Western (patriarchal) society.

But I don’t know that WW is a feminist in the normal sense. She’s from a matriarchal society which is great. But … they kind of behave macho, because Themyscira seems to exist as reactionaries towards a great society consisting of guys like Zeus and Ares. So… now all of a sudden she wouldn’t even perceive herself as feminist, she would probably just wonder why most human women are such pushovers.

Here’s Wonder Woman’s speech at a battered woman’s shelter: “You let him HIT you?! For how long? Why are you cowering here instead of beheading him as we speak?!” I just can’t see her relating.

I’m a big believer in matriarchal societies. Unfortunately they are not very prevalent because historically they’re not as good at killing people as patriarchal societies. The Amazons of myth are exceptions to this rule, but they have also stared into the abyss and become the monsters they fought. Wonder Woman is the best of them, but their values shaped her to the core.

But it’s obvious that Booth mistakenly though Janelle was one of those crazy extremists who give feminism a bad name. His response is, in that light, overwrought, but understandable.

I disagree with that interpretation, but even going with that, Booth continued in the same vein of his earlier tweets well after learning of Asselin’s bonafides.

Ghatanathoah: I don’t think that really explains Brett Booth’s comments.

Jeremy/Rolo: Honestly, what is there to say about Greg Land that hasn’t already been said?

I think that Finch (either one of them) was saying that Wonder Woman isn’t going to be a cause in an era when equality should be a given. She doesn’t save a school bus full of children or battle some super-villain because she wants to prove that a woman can do whatever a man does…she does it because it is the right thing to do! She’s not competing against Superman, she’s battling alongside him! It’s no longer the 40′s when Wonder Woman WAS a cause…that point has been made!

Besides, the whole Wonder Woman/feminism thing rings a little hollow given that Diana is SO gorgeous that it’s practically a power of hers…”BEAUTIFUL as Aphrodite, wise as Athena, stronger than Hercules, and swifter than Hermes.” Captain Marvel isn’t “handsome as Narcissus”! The message? If a woman isn’t beautiful, being super-powerful won’t matter! That’s why none of the Amazons looked like Etta Candy (look her up)! If Diana is to be a symbol of feminism, she should be modeled after Tammy Duckworth!

given actual greek hoplite armor
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fd/Ancient_Greece_hoplite_with_his_hoplon_and_dory.jpg

no she isn’t a cheerleader. It’s an alteration of Greek armor to make it look more like a super hero costume than a warrior’s armor. Granted the sword should probably have been a short sword but comic book artist/wirters aren’t the most acruate

011001010100011101

July 8, 2014 at 4:30 am

There is a reasonable and honest argument regarding Wonder Woman and feminism that suggests one could depict her as more a chauvinist given her history.

I don’t think that is what the creative team is going for here, but it is an honest argument. It is a common aspect of many modern comics to increase the flaws of their characters to make them more human, and for someone like Wonder Woman, giving her a disdain for the male gender’s competence might play out interestingly.

For myself I’ve always felt the beauty of Wonder Woman was that she to some extent exiled herself from such a Matriarchal Chauvinist society for the betterment of the world, sacrificing her place in the world to better help the world. Where as Batman and Superman lost their worlds as it were, and can maintain a fantasy of their imagined idyllic history Wonder Woman’s world still exists, but she cannot truly be happy there, knowing that it is a place of inherent inequality.

I am always excited by a new creative team, and I like to give them the benefit of the doubt, but Kelly makes a strong argument that this is the wrong team, and they have given very little reason not to feel that way. All that said, one could hold out hope that this is (artwork aside) the kind of shift that Wonder Woman could use. To bring more to the fore her uncomfortableness with the weight and meaning put on her by the world she protects.

Wonder Woman is a feminist in the purest definition of the word, but it is also a word that she might not have encountered until entering the greater world, and in that, all the colors and shades that the word is given would influence her as well. That as a political issue, the word feminist is important, should not necessarily be important to any individual person, especially one who is by their nature separate from the word and the world as a whole.

Much like endorsing the idea of more female creators in comics, but being concerned about the woman being placed in charge of a particular comic, there are those who would tar you with a word, or its antithesis for your position. When we expand the idea to Politics, which if one explores the idea of Diana as Ambassador certainly comes into play, wanting female leaders is a feminist ideal, but not all female leaders are deserving of being followed.

Again this kind of tortured complexity may not be what the Finches have planed for Wonder Woman, but one might imagine that such a story could emerge even by accident with a team such as this. It is fair to worry and to voice those fears and to if nothing else remind the team that the world is watching, and for the young writer at the heart of the story that her future in comics may well depend on how she approaches this character, but once said, let us give them a chance, and hope that they will rise to the task and provide a new and interesting take on a character that has too often been left more as symbol than as person in a story.

This is a business decision. DC feels that Wonder Woman depicted this way is better for business than Wonder Woman draw in an Amish outfit. Simple as that. If the public agrees, then they win. If the public does not, then they will make a change. What good does it do DC to publish something that no one will buy?

Besides, there is a history here that many fans actually want preserved. Look how many actors (used to be called actresses) would like to portray her. How many models have posed in the classic Wonder Woman outfit? It’s sexy. It sells and, I believe, many woman enjoy it as well as the men.

Tiamatty nailed it! I couldn’t have said it better myself!

Ninjagodzilla

July 8, 2014 at 7:53 am

Apologies if anyone has asked this already but can you elaborate on the
“Wonder Woman as cheerleader that happens to be holding a sword” comment?

How does she look like a cheerleader?
And what’s wrong with cheerleaders?
Best,

These pictures of females are disgusting I grew up reading DC comics I enjoyed the story lines and pictures but now I wouldn’t let any child read this and look at pictures of females depicted as nothing more than sex objects like we don’t have enough problems in the world jeez when are men gonna get over this nonsense. Maybe since DC comics only seem to want men to read it instead of poisoning young males minds they should consider the comics porn and sell only to adults with a brown cover on it to cover the way they think of women. At least then only adults who believe in the stupidity that women look like that and or act like that can buy that trash. Shame for the kids though to take away their heroes because some stupid artist is a porn artist. DC should be ashamed of itself.

Wonder Woman is positioned as one of DC’s most important and powerful heroes. The Finches will create WW stories where the main character acts heroically and decisively and powerfully, because that’s what you do with a superhero comic. In other words, WW will look, act and talk as a feminist, no matter what the artist may have blurted in an interview. I find this anti-Finch sentiment to be ridiculous, unless people believe the character will be drawn as fearful and passive and unheroic (which would be the worst superhero comic ever).

You know, feminism aspires to make itself obsolete. Someday, when men and women have equal {insert list of adjectives here} rights, and everyone recognizes that this is the way it should be, the label of “feminist” will be meaningless because it’s universal. It would be redundant in that world to say I’m a feminist, because everyone will be a feminist.

But words don’t die easily. As we (hopefully) progress towards that day, the word “feminist” will likely drift in meaning to stay relevant. People have already begun to use it to refer to something other than a simple proponent of equality. The meaning may likely drift further. I think Finch’s use of the word reflects that the word is often used to represent someone other than just a proponent of equality of the sexes. Just because that meaning is not in the dictionary, does not mean it’s not a “true” meaning of the word. Words mean what we intend them to mean in the context of society and a conversation.

Finch’s use was meant to communicate–I believe–that his Wonder Woman will not be an activist for feminism, or a symbol dedicated to a single cause. I do not believe he was saying that Wonder Woman will no longer believe in equality of the sexes. I just think he intends the character to have a more diverse focus than equality of the sexes. That doesn’t mean he’ll portray her as unequal to Superman, just that the stories he’s telling are not going to be about their equality. I’m not sure I see anything wrong with that.

Now Wonder Woman is obviously a high profile character, and feminism still has a lot of relevance as a movement in America (and especially in comics). So maybe Wonder Woman is an important tool for that movement. But I don’t think it’s execrable for Finch to decide that’s not what he’s building with this comic. Not everyone is going to be an activist for feminism. Most of us are just going to accept it as true, and focus our attention on other matters. Isn’t that what we aspire to? A day when most of the world can take for granted the equality of the sexes, and can focus on other problems like poverty, hunger, disease and other suffering?

I think the real criticism here is that DC should be devoting Wonder Woman to the feminist movement, and therefore should be giving her to a writer who plans to use her that way. That it’s not enough to just tell good stories with her, and portray her as coequal with Supes and Bats. That she needs to be thinking about and struggling with the inequalities that women face in America today (who serves the coffee at the JLA quarterly business meetings?). Finch’s comment seems to indicate that he and his wife do not intend that to be the case.

I guess I’m pretty ambivalent about the whole thing, in part because until we see what the writer is going to do, it’s hard to judge. Finch’s art remains ugly, not just because of its sexism; so in that regard I think DC erred. Further, Finch’s art is disgustingly objectifying of women, so again I think DC erred in that regard. But lets see what stories are going to be told, and lets see if Finch can tone down the T&A and brokeback nonsense to which he’s so prone. Then we can judge.

I generally don’t put in my two cents on anything and have no real comment regarding the article but ever since I was a kid, I always found the outfit Wonder Woman wore to be ridiculous. I know, in some quarters, the possibility of her wearing pants drives people batty but what kind of warrior runs around in what is essentially a bustier and underwear. There was a Justice League episode many years back where she was seen in a full black jumpsuit or something to that degree (I’m not familiar enough with her history to know if it was something borrowed from a previous comic incarnation or not) but I liked that look because it suited, in my mind, what a warrior, even one as strong and nearly invincible as she is supposed to be, should be saving the world in. I’ve always had a difficult time taking the popular portrayal of Wonder Woman seriously, as either a warrior or a woman of power connected to such a positive female history as the one from which she comes from. It is my wish that she’ll be dressed a wee bit more practically in the Superman v Batman movie next year, because, quite frankly, she’ll look just plain stupid parading around in her underwear while Batman and Superman are there, all suited up.

Can it be any worse than the current run of WW? I tanked the “New” WW after I was informed that the Amazons like to attack cargo ships, kidnap the crew, use them for breeders then kill them. Okay. Time to move on.

Based on previous idiotic things Booth has done online or in emails, I’m always giving the benefit of the doubt to whoever he’s AGAINST.

Buffy, The Demon Slayer

July 8, 2014 at 9:47 am

I think it is just plain sad. DC Comics need to fire those guys. If your not going to talk to women who live and take care of their families, raise children, work, etc. and respect them. You have no right doing any comic, much less a “Wonder Woman” comics. I grew up with Wonder Woman and Justice League in the 1990′s. Watching the decay and detoration of our culture. First with women, then morals is terrible sad and despiable.

Now, your teaching children, and the next generation of men and women, that it is “okay” to disrespect, sexualize, and even imply acting like we complain about Iraqi and Irani cultures in the Middle East and elsewhere of behaving and taking rights from women. If they aren’t a Playboy Bunny or look like a Photoshopped person or a bikini model, that they should be looked down upon. That is the wrong attitude to have plain and simple. Maybe all of us women and Christians and Jews, should treat you like that and then see how you draw and write stories for that comic book and maybe hire some women there to write the stories so your not offending and teaching sexualization and disrepsect like you are in them.

Buffy, The Demon Slayer

July 8, 2014 at 9:47 am

Women deserve respect too.

@ Nu-D:

I disagree.

Unlike race, gender is a meaningful difference between people. Men and women are not biologically the same. The vast majority of people are pretty happy with that. There is always going to be a difference and it is always going to apply to a very large number of people. That means that there are always going to be a substantial minority that is unhappy with whatever the social contract is regarding gender. That means there will always be people that describe themselves as feminists who want to re-negotiate that contract in some way, or another.

What is now described as First-Wave and Second-Wave feminism were broad-based, extremely successful social movements that substantially revised that contract in very short order. They occurred in conjunction with major technological changes and equally massive sexual revolutions. The automobile made it possible for women to literally get out of the house both to work and have sex. The birth control pill removed the major effect of the later on the former. What a small minority of people wanted (“free love”, economic freedom) went from unthinkable to commonplace in a generation.

Sooner-or-later, there will be another technological change that moves a fringe view into the mainstream by changing the cost-benefit calculation of something for half the population. It is inevitable.

None of that has much to do with most comics. Most of what Kelly writes about is better described as bad business strategy, but Wonder Woman is not most comics. Feminism is at its core.

O.K. I may not be an expert on comics, but I may be the oldest and longest living reader of Wonder Women. I have had a subscription since the 1970′s and I had been reading them since I was about nine years old. Yes, I am a 61 year-old comics fan and proud of it. I have lasted through nearly a dozen major changes in Wonder Woman and I have to say some of them rocked and some left me cold. The latest version: I’m not a fan. There is way too much graphic gore (people eating people for example) which I believe is put in there for young male readers. I don’t like it and I think it wastes space that could be used for better plot lines. The latest version? That she is the daughter of Zeus and now the god of war? Well, she’s been a goddess before (of Truth) and it did not work well. Her creation from clay: That’s O.K. by me. Our culture abounds with semi-divine heroes with strange origins. Her tits out, butt tucked and back arched poses, again, leaves me cold. She is a warrior for the right and should be drawn as balanced, prepared to act. She deserves better art and handling in general.

” Not everyone is going to be an activist for feminism. Most of us are just going to accept it as true, and focus our attention on other matters. Isn’t that what we aspire to? A day when most of the world can take for granted the equality of the sexes, and can focus on other problems like poverty, hunger, disease and other suffering?”

What happens when those “other problems” are particularly gendered and result from an unequal treatment of gender? Feminism provides the toolkit for this, and should not be discounted as something apart from these other social topics.

I think part of the problem with Finch and feminism is that feminism as a category is unstable and deployed by different people for different aims, to the point that feminism as category is exhausted of its political possibilities. I’m thinking of, as an example, Sarah Palin’s attempt to identify herself as a feminist — which is laughable and yet imminently dangerous. Thus it behooves one who truly believes in gender equality to forcibly take charge of the word, use it with pride. Because how else will we take for granted gender equality if everybody just accepts it as true? Somebody has to do it. If Finch doesn’t want to use feminism, then he shouldn’t be working on a feminist project. Step down, I say, and let somebody else who wants to promote gender equality do it.

This is an article about feminism and female characters in comic books so I, as a man, am contractually obligated to share my opinion on the subject. Here goes…

I’d like to see more women’s opinions on these things. I know most of the guys here mean well but I’ve already heard just about all the men’s arguments on these subjects.

Let them talk, get women with differing points of view and have them discuss their perspectives on this. The guys should just listen for a while without voting a particular argument or POV as “correct”. Guys need to learn that they don’t have to be experts at everything! ;)

William Moulton Marston was a feminist long before Ms. Magazine. He created Wonder Woman to be a feminist. He saw that little boys had a glut of heroes and little girls had none. He wanted those girls to be able to read comics about a strong, accomplished feminist who tempered her heroics with compassion. If you’ve ever read any of his golden age stories you can see this theme clearly. They are really amazing and worth seeking out. But in relation to this, it’s the obvious feminist ideals that is one of the reasons she has always been known as a feminist icon. It wasn’t made up recently and easily dismissible. It’s an important aspect of who she is. Gloria Steinem, the woman behind Ms. Magazine, cites his Wonder Woman stories as one of her earliest and strongest influences. Denying Wonder Woman’s feminism shows a ridiculous lack of knowledge about the character.

As for the writer, this will be a difficult assignment for someone with so little experience and only a shallow knowledge of the character. Writing good comics (those worth the cover price) is tough enough for experienced writers, but she is not only a novice, she’ll need to somehow make it compelling enough for readers to overcome their distaste of the porn art and return issue after issue. Not easy. I wish her luck.

“Offense can not be given, only taken.”

I expect a lot of of the people who like to post here will choose to feel offended by that. Have fun.

Nevertheless there’s a nice explication of the position at http://philosophtly.blogspot.com.au/2008/11/offended-is-choice.html

“His comment sounds bizarre and nonsensical when addressed at a normal human being like Janelle. But it’s obvious that Booth mistakenly though Janelle was one of those crazy extremists who give feminism a bad name. His response is, in that light, overwrought, but understandable.”

No @ Ghatanathoah you do know that Asselin was an editor at DC Comics? And that Booth knew this because he worked at DC Comics. It actually makes his behavior that much more assholey. You know what else is assholey? People who refer to “crazy extremists who give feminism a bad name” about women who dare to criticize artwork that sexualizes women and in that case a teenage girl who was given boobs the size of honeydew melons.

@Dean Hacker — but isn’t that exactly what I’m getting at? Over time, when the goals of “First Wave,” “Second Wave,” or “Umpteenth Wave” Feminism are accomplished and normed, the term has to get redefined and drifts into more … radical (?) … controversial (?) … non-normative (?) … ideas. (Not sure what word to select without imputing a judgment). We aspire to gender equality, so that there will be a time when “feminism” is no longer relevant, either because everyone’s a feminist, or the demands made by people who continue to use the term are truly unreasonable (as opposed to “unreasonable” as defined by Rush Limbaugh and his ilk). Feminism should aspire to obsolescence; to a time when we don’t need to worry about whether women are economically/politically/socially equal to men. It may be pie-in-the-sky, but that’s why it’s an aspiration.

These days I don’t have to publicly identify myself as an abolitionist, or even an integrationist. Both have become obsolete terms because the goals–ending slavery and segregation respectively–have been accomplished. (OK, segregation is arguable, but let’s not get off track here). I hope someday the same will be true of feminism; where we don’t have to be constantly conscious of the differences in the sexes in the social/political/economic realm (just in the bedroom, thanks!).

Does that make sense?

I like that the “offence is a choice” explication explicitly equates offense with uncontrollable bowel eruptions. That’s some real good rhetoric /s

Sorry if the metaphor used as illustration distracted you

You might prefer the angle taken at http://tedscott.aampersanda.com/2011/10/01/taking-offense/

“Suppose you say something that (I erroneously believe) hurt my feelings. I then blame you for an intentional affront. But my negative behaviour that comes as a result of this imagined affront I blame on you as well. That is I believe that you determine my behaviour, but I allow myself to believe that your behaviour is entirely at your discretion.”

That DC has decimated and diminished its female superheroes with its “New 52″ initiative is old news. The “New 52″ has been a plague upon DC, and I sincerely hope they realize sooner rather than later what a major misstep it has been. If they don’t, they will be burying their brand before too much longer.

While I totally agree with the basic ideas here, to be honest, I *HUGELY* resent the implication that there’s no good reason for people to have negative feelings about the term ‘feminism’, or the idea that ‘feminism’ is someone The One True Word for pursuing gender justice / equality, or the idea that anyone who believes in gender justice is therefore a feminism (usually a claim made by the SAME people who will quickly dismiss TERFs, SWERFs, etc. as “not real feminism!”, and use that to dodge acknowledging the serious problems feminism has in its history… as though they are single-handedly the arbiters of what is or isn’t feminism either way, and use this in a way that just HAPPENS to always be perfectly convenient for them in the moment).

There are a LOT of women – chiefly trans women, sex workers, and women of colour – who have been SEVERELY neglected, mistreated, harassed, abused or thrown under by the bus by feminism, feminists and/or in the name of feminism.

I have very, very good reason to be embarassed, alienated and disenfranchised with that term, and to have ALWAYS have fears and suspicions about what is meant by it wherever I encounter it.

And I do resent this “There’s nothing wrong with the word feminism and it’s TOTALLY the best word and no one should EVER have any problem with it” attitude, which is itself an example of my (and other women marginalized or harmed by feminism) once again being tossed under the bus by feminism for the sake of feminism’s brand identity

@Natalie

I’m sorry some things here upset you, I understand why they do.

I guess I can only offer that we’re doing the equivalent of Feminism 101 here (and sadly, much of my audience can’t handle even that, if you could see the trash/spam folder right now your eyes would be shocked right out of your head). You’re talking about Masters Degree Feminism (or some equivalent) which most aren’t ready for.

All that said, while I know of many of the problems you mention, I still don’t think that’s the majority of feminists or feminism…I DO consider those to be outliers and extremists and that’s why I mention extremists and outliers in the piece, because they most definitely exist, as they do in any philosophy/religion/group/etc. I’m sure for anyone who has experienced heartache/frustration/hatred/abuse/neglect/harassment and everything in between at the hands of these people it doesn’t FEEL that they are the outliers, but I still do believe they’re the exception and not the rule.

Feminism IS about equality. Not everyone practices it that way, there are always outliers, but it’s what the belief IS about, should be about, and everyone that’s not on that point should be run out of town.

I’m an advocate for rehabbing the word, not letting people wrong about the word take it over.

Natalie, your comment on this thread saved my soul tonight from burning in a fiery pit of rage. I’m honestly happy that someone acknowledged the various people who feminism has thrown under the bus for their movement. (I personally call them Qualifiers). While the article itself was very good and well written the author’s attitude to why some people hesitate at feminism was a little to black and white to stomach. Your comment put into words something I have had a very hard time expressing since I first read this post.

I’m sending you out awesome vibes because you are awesome and speak for all the neglected women of feminism. Thank you.

By the way, Joss Whedon has a point. The gay rights movement and the civil rights movement got it right when they positioned themselves as normal, and their opponents as homophobic and racist. They didn’t label themselves with a potentially divisive word.

Now, I consider myself a feminist, and I fully believe that men and women are equal in all things that are essential (yes, yes, biological differences, blah blah blah, I must be in the minority because it’s my religious convictions that make me sympathetic to feminism, because biological bodies are just clothes to hold our souls, and souls aren’t gendered in their essence).

But maybe it would be better if the women’s rights movement just called themselves normal men and women who believe in equality, and their opponents get saddled with the label of sexist or genderist or whatever. Let THEM get saddled with the -ism word.

@Bill K

Neither of those “essays” are convincing. If offense is controllable, other emotions are also controllable. Both essays find value in the control of emotion. This is preposterous. Being totally rational and without emotion is inhuman. Both essays miss out on the value of emotion, the political possibilities of emotion, the power of affect as Spinoza says, to increase the body’s capability to act.

I recommend reading Sara Ahmed and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick and Sianne Ngai for better arguments about the economies of emotion.

@ Nu-D:

This is officially a dated reference, but I have what I call the “Blockbuster Video rule”. If you ever had occasion to go to a video store with a large-ish group of friends back when they existed, then you might already guess where I am going. Everyone would spread out, find something that they wanted and it was never the same thing. Then, you start talking, building little consensuses that becomes a more general group consensus with which no one is 100% happy. Except, you have The Last Hold-Out. He is arguing passionately against the luke-warm choice that everyone has made and in favor of his own personal choice. Everyone hears him out, but he loses because the luke-warm choice has so much time invested in it. The larger the group, the longer it has taken.

That is an example of forming a real-life social contract over something trivial in a relatively small group.

Culture is a large scale social contract that is frequently about something important. If you cannot get 5-6 friends to agree on how to spend two hours without someone freaking out a little bit, then what are the odds that you are going to get 300 million people in the U.S. to agree on gender roles without some loud dissent? How about six billion people on Earth? Second wave feminism was probably the single most successful cultural movement in terms of percentage of goals achieved and in what time frame. Still, a good percentage of Americans disagree with the changes in the culture that came as a result (http://www.forbes.com/sites/meghancasserly/2012/09/12/is-opting-out-the-new-american-dream-for-working-women/).

So, I think disagreement over gender roles is pretty much a permanent state. Unlike race, it is not an area where you can expect to make progress, weed out the ‘bad’ people and arrive at a Utopian end state even in theory. Good people can have widely divergent views that need to respected.

@Dean Hacker — I hear what your saying, and appreciate the Blockbuster analogy. It seems to me–and maybe I’m wrong–that your one hold-out friend selected a movie that was intolerably bad. Everyone else knew it. Likewise, at some hypothetical magnificent future, when equality of the sexes has been accomplished, there will still be some people advocating for some extreme (and perhaps extremely bad) ideas that nobody is going to accept. They will call themselves “feminists” while the rest of us call ourselves “people.” but the rest of us will call them “nuts.”

I guess my take sort of assumes an objectively “equal” state of society that can be accomplished and maintained, and from which divergence or a change to the status quo would be inherently “unequal.” That is, of course, a simplistic, mechanistic way to look at culture. But again, we’re talking about aspirations here, not realities.

I believe Rene has made the best point of this discussion. There has to be a better term for equality than feminism.

Rejoice….I was thinking about you Kelly when the new variants (http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=53932) came out and the DC people surpirsed me with Wondergirl’s armor. Even though she is a skeleton, I still thought they would have the armor show an unrealistic and unneeded body shape.

This connects to the reactions some people had to the announcement that Gal Gadot would be playing Wonder Woman in the upcoming Superman/Batman movie, which basically was, excuse my language, ‘her tits ain’t big enough’. True, she doesn’t look much like the absurdly huge-breasted figure of WW that appears in video games, but the original WW of Moulton/Peter doesn’t either (and of whom Jules Feiffer said, re his teenage reaction to her, how come her breasts were so small if she was ‘super’ ?). According to Gerard Jones, the audience for WW in the 40s was predominantly male, and in his opinion she was ‘less the model for girls that she’s been made out to be than a way for boys to approach the most frightening mysteries’. (Sorry, that paragraph isn’t particularly coherent but I hope it sparks some discussion.)
The saddest thing, I think, and what keeps WW, despite her long history, from being the great success that her male colleagues in ‘the trinity’ are, is that she has had more revamps and interpretations that any other character I can think of. When a good version does come along (Perez, Simone, for example), the people who follow don’t stay true to it (the horrendous Deodato/Loebs take that came after Perez, for example), and while we should wait until the Finches work has appeared before we criticise it, I agree that David Finch’s past work doesn’t augur well. I realise that I’m talking about WW as a problem to be solved rather than an asset to be maximised, but it’s DC’s attitude to her that has set the parameters of the argument.

Whatever anyone thinks of feminism or the Finches or any other point Kelly and commenters alike are talking about, you are ALL missing the point here.

DC doesn’t give a crap about any of that, they just want a creative team that will portray Wonder Woman how they want her to be seen: as nothing more than Superman’s pet girlfriend.

While you might be unhappy with the appointment of David Finch, I am too, was never a fan of his art, but calling “The Destruction of Feminism at DC” might be exaggerating a bit, especially when you see the what’s coming in the future like Becky Cloonan on Gotham Academy, Genevieve Valentine writing Catwoman, Marguerite Bennett on Earth 2 and Babs Tarr as the artist of a lighter and fun Batgirl than the dark gritty one during Simone’s run. Speaking of Simone, she’s also on a new title, so she’s still with DC. Basically, it’s not all that doom and gloom as some people here are making it out to be, because the David Finch is working on WW. Judging from the last few titles he worked on at DC, he doesn’t appear to stay on one comic for long.

@Dave:

Well, the Catwoman, Earth 2, and Batgirl announcements all came out AFTER this column was published, so…since I can’t time travel it would have been hard to take those things into consideration when writing this column.

That said, while I’m super excited about Cloonan’s involvement in Gotham Academy (and that first image of Gotham Academy is promising in general) and I’m excited to get to try Catwoman again, and the new direction for Batgirl sounds like a welcome one, there’s no net gain here for ladies just from a numbers perspective if you consider just these four books:

Catwoman already had a female writer so that (again from a numbers perspective) stays the same.
Cloonan is a new woman hire for a new book so that’s a plus.
Margueritte Bennett is a plus on the writer side of Earth 2 (but she’s a co-writer only) but Nicola Scott is departing on the art side, so that’s almost a wash creator wise. At the same time Worlds Finest has gone from being about Power Girl and Huntress to being a Superman/Batman title, so I can only really consider that ultimately one for the loss column.
Babs Tarr is huge for Batgirl, but Gail Simone is leaving the title, so again, a wash as far as creator numbers go.

NOW, all that said, it DOES feel like there’s some creative push here to hire more ladies (and notably NEW ladies, which is great) – it’s also notable that if you look outside just these four books the picture looks better (again strictly from a numbers perspective) – for example while Nocenti is leaving Catwoman she’s getting a new title in Klarion and Gail Simone may be leaving Batgirl but she’s doing Sensational Wonder Woman (or whatever it’s called – the new digital book) and that’s got Renae De Liz on covers (and I think De Liz has signed on as an exclusive DC artist? If I’ve got that right surely we’ll be seeing more from her for DC…unless they waste/hide her as DC did with Amy Reeder). I think Cat Staggs is also involved on the new WW title too…so all of that sounds pretty promising overall.

But you know what all these titles save WW have in common? They’re all Bat-related, which shows possible innovative and progressive thinking on the part of Mark Doyle the new Bat-editor…not necessarily the same innovative thinking for the whole DC line.

We’ll see how things go. Any gain on the creator diversity side is good of course, but I hate seeing losses on the characters side too. The loss of BoP and Worlds Finest as female led titles is pretty devastating and I don’t know if Marx is doing anything new with the departure of her work on BoP so we may have a numbers loss there as well? Maybe I missed an announcement though?

Still, though there are good things here, and stuff worth discussion and exploration, none of them override the fact that a creator who doesn’t know the meaning of the word feminist, or worse, is afraid of it, doesn’t belong anywhere near Wonder Woman…which is the point of the article that I am not able to go back in time and modify slightly to reflect these new annoucements ;)

David Finch made one brief statement that lacked progressive consciousness. He apologized for it.He’s not the writer, he’s the artist. Meanwhile, Azzarello wrote three years of truly hateful sexist, racist stuff, and he’s received virtually no criticism for any of it. Where’s Azzarello’s apology? And those two illustrations above look nothing alike. This is just anger at the change in teams, and it’s overwrought, frankly. Particularly since this is a rare instance where DC has actually hired a woman to write the book, yet everyone’s screaming misogyny. Can we get ONE issue before we start accusing them of hating women?

Kelly, no offense but seriously, their book hasn’t even come out yet. I want to know why there’s so much anger at the Finchs. and none at Brian Azzarello, for his horribly decompressed, pun-filled story, one which turned Wonder Woman into a bumbling joke who had to be repeatedly schooled by the men folk? Where she was a supporting character, and where sexism and racism were rampant. He virtually flipped everything to its opposite, giving the book a peculiar right-wing perspective. Where’s THAT campaign?

@James:

I’ve rarely in my life read a comment that SO clearly illustrates someone that did not bother to actually read the piece.

If you’d read the piece you’d know that the original article it references was my criticism of Azzarello and Chiang’s run and that I have not read it since WW #7 in protest of what Azzarello did with the book (specifically the Amazons).

You’d also note if you read the piece that I never accuse anyone of hating women and certainly never say the word misogyny.

You’d ALSO note that I specifically say I am not criticizing work that the Finches have yet to create/publish for WW, but rather DC’s bad, myopic, and continually troubling business decisions.

Lastly, the top two illustrations show almost exactly the same ass out/tits out arched spine posing that Finch is famous for – it’s just one is viewed from the front and one from behind.

But, you know, go ahead and try again with all of this. Good luck!

“I’m sorry some things here upset you, I understand why they do.”

That’s only molecules away from the “I’m sorry you were offended” apology you chastised Finch for.

I wrote about this a few days back. It’s another example of the “Straw Feminist” working so well in decades of media.

http://vbartilucci.tumblr.com/post/90555449532

“And I’m sorry that a whole bunch of people in the world want to use the outliers and extremists of feminism to jettison a belief in equality, but it’s simply not acceptable for reasonable people. ”

That is a classic non-apology. Interesting how those seem to be going around. The issue is not a matter of outliers and extremists. It is not difficult to find hateful language in feminist spaces, policies, or actions. It is common (even present in the above article), and therefore it is reasonable for a person who does not support that kind of hatred and bigotry to distance themselves from an ideology that does.

“I’m being critical of why DC makes these kind of choices, why editorial seems bound and determined to run off their fans, why they are afraid of feminism, and of Wonder Woman as a character.”

DC is not running off their fans. They are trying to keep them. The vast majority DC’s fans are male, so it makes little sense to run towards an ideology that promotes and condones the hatred of them. As for Wonder Woman as a character, if DC were running away from the character they would not publish the book. They are not running away from the character. They are simply not allowing a particular political group to dictate how they tell stories.

You have an option: do not read the book. Taking potshots at creators for what you think they are going to do and attacking a publisher for not publishing stories that fit your worldview does not make you the better person. It only makes you pettier.

@Jacobtk (and to a lesser degree Vinnie Bartilucci)

Here’s why what I said is NOT a classic non-apology apology – because I’m not apologizing for my content or saying I’m wrong.

I”m standing by my position in the article and expanding on it in a way that hopefully explains my position a bit better but does not recant.

At the same time, I in no way want to hurt people or trigger them, and I am genuinely sorry if things I said did that, which is why I say that I am sorry if some of the things upset Natalie and that I can understand her position.

But I’m not apologizing for using incorrect language or ideas in my post because I don’t think I did that, I stand by the things I said. A “classic non-apology apology” is to my mind, more someone does not want to admit they are standing by their position and/or does not want to admit they are wrong, but rather wants to put the onus on others for misunderstanding them, or being irrational, etc.

There’s nothing irrational about Natalie’s comment. I absolutely accept her truth, but it’s not the way I see things and we don’t fully agree on this issue. But we can disagree on some things and I can still be sorry that I upset her and acknowledge that she has a point and I can see her side.

I’m not going to address the rest of your comment because it’s ridiculous and you are a ridiculous person. Please feel free to never come back. Yadda yadda something about doors hitting asses on the way out.

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