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He Has No Head! – Your opinion is invalid

manara1001 (2)

Oh, you know it’s true!

You know, I’ve never met Kelly Thompson. I’ve emailed her quite often, tweeted with her occasionally, received packages in the mail from her, reviewed her work, and read every single one of her columns for Comics Should Be Good! and listened to almost every single one of her podcasts (I think I may have missed one or two). Woman1I have read some of the rape threats and some of the death threats against her, but I know I haven’t read the worst of them because they get deleted before they get that far (we can read comments that haven’t been cleared yet, which is why I read some of them). I have disagreed with her and pissed her off once or twice, but like a lot of the people I “know” on-line, I think we have a fairly good virtual relationship. I keep bugging her to go to a convention in the West so that we can meet and have a beer, but she just stays in New York because she thinks it’s just that awesome.

I bring this up because Kelly writes things that I would never write and should never write, and I’m glad she’s doing it. She has staked out a position on this blog that encompasses “female issues in comics” – the name of her column is based on that, for crying out loud. She doesn’t always write about this, but she does quite often. I know she doesn’t want to write about it, but crap like the Infamous Manara Cover keeps coming up. And, inevitably, she gets lots of comments. They’ve gotten better, but they’re still probably more negative than positive. I don’t know how Kelly does it, frankly.

I rarely comment on Kelly’s posts, because I don’t have much to say. I don’t write often about so-called “controversial” issues, because I don’t care enough about it. I also don’t write about it because my opinion is invalid. Yes, you read right. My opinion, like a cow’s, is moo – it just doesn’t matter. Why doesn’t it matter? Woman2Because I’m a straight, white, American male – I am, I can say with confidence, a member of the least oppressed group in recorded history. I have never – NEVER – felt discriminated against, oppressed, judged unfairly, or made to feel less than human in any way whatsoever. Almost wherever I go in the world, my view of that world is the “norm” – the measure by which everything else is judged. Now, if I leave America, it’s the world view of whatever ethnicity is the dominant one, but it’s still generally a straight white male view, or at the very, very least, a straight male view. I went to Egypt and didn’t feel out of place. I went to Venezuela and didn’t feel out of place. I went to Barbados and didn’t feel out of place. I’ve been to North Philly and didn’t feel out of place. I go through life with the casual confidence that comes from knowing that I’m on top of the heap. I have never worried about cops pulling me over even if I’m not doing anything wrong. I have never been whistled at because I’m being reduced to a binary “hot or not.” I’m not apologizing for that, because I can’t help it, but it’s still true.

Which makes me the wrong person to write about Milo Manara’s cover for Spider-Woman #1. I saw it, thought, “Well, that’s kind of ugly,” and moved on. It didn’t have any effect on me whatsoever. I was a bit disappointed because I know Manara can do stuff like this:


… but it didn’t have any other impact. It did on Kelly, and so she wrote a column about it. You will notice, since many commenters didn’t appear to actually read the column, that she doesn’t have a huge problem with the Manara cover (I can see why you might miss it – it’s not like it was in the title or anything), because she knows who Manara is and what many people know him for. But she had an opinion about the general thought process at Marvel that led them to hire Manara to draw Spider-Woman in a pose that they had to know some people might find a bit overly sexual. Woman3Maybe they didn’t care. But they had to know it would stir the pot. Whatever, right?

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I read the comments to Kelly’s posts, because they’re always fun to check out. Nothing brings out the opinionated like a challenge to the dominance of the straight white male paradigm. And boy howdy, Kelly’s posts almost always deliver. Now, many people agree with her, which is nice. But those that don’t bring up the old chestnuts:

Kelly has gotten several nice female-led comics, but some still have to be cheesecakey and aimed at horny dudes.

Yeah, if only there were more comics aimed at horny dudes. I mean, the drop in the bucket of female-friendly comics is just crowding out the ones that appeal to horny dudes. Where will horny dudes find comics that satisfy them?!?!?!? This is an idiotic argument. If you can’t find a superhero book that appeals to men and need Spider-Woman for that, it’s not that you’re not trying hard enough, it’s that you’re not fucking trying at all.

Spider-Woman’s pose isn’t that unusually bad.

That’s not a bad response, actually. It’s a question of subjectivity, and while wanting anatomy to work the “right” way in comics is generally a fool’s errand, you can argue the merits of whether Jessica would have her ass that high in the air and her buttcheeks spread out as wide as she does in Manara’s drawing. I think it’s a terrible drawing, but then again, I think most of Manara’s covers for Marvel have been pretty terrible, as it seems clear he’s phoning them in for a paycheck so he can continue drawing beautiful art in stuff that matters more to him.

Spider-Man has been posed like that, so why not Spider-Woman?

Bwah-ha-ha-ha!!!! If you can find me a drawing of Spider-Man with his ass that high in the air (from that perspective) and his asscheeks spread that wide, I will pay you one shiny dime.*

* Note: I will not pay you a dime.

If you don’t like it, you don’t have to buy it.

I’ll get back to this one.

Manara is a European artist, and we Europeans aren’t a bunch of prudes like you uptight Americans.

Woman4Yeah, Manara is European, and we’re all a bunch of prudes, even though Kelly wrote that she specifically owns some Manara porn and presumably doesn’t have a problem with it. I’ve often noted that if Marvel wants to get into the business of producing comics with naked people in them, they should just nut the fuck up and do it. This ridiculous attempt to have it both ways is obnoxious.

Men read female-centered books all the time, so why can’t women read T & A books?


You didn’t respond to my stupid comment very nicely, so I’m not going to read anything you have to say.

I’ll get back to this one, too.

Those are generally how the comments break down, and I’d like to respond to those I didn’t already. First of all, if you’re reading comics for your hot chick fix, I worry about you. I hear rumors of some vast series of tubes, I think, or maybe it’s kind of like a net of some sort, where every filthy thing you can think is … caught? Because it’s a net? If only there was some kind of computer program where you type in something you wanted to find and it would just come up on your screen! Man, someone could make a few bucks if they could invent something like that. All I’m saying is, if you’re buying comics and taking them home for some … alone time, maybe you should think about … utilizing something else, because I’m afraid you’re a bit creepy. I read superhero comics for the thrill of the heroic (which is why I don’t read a lot of superhero comics anymore) and the fun of people fighting evil. I certainly don’t read them for Power Girl’s boob window or Zatanna’s fishnets or Black Widow’s unzipped leather.

The “If you don’t like it, you don’t have to buy it” criticism is linked to the “I read female-centric books, so why can’t you read male-centric books?” and even the “You didn’t respond to my criticism nicely, so that invalidates everything you said” response. Yes, it’s very true that if Kelly doesn’t like it, she doesn’t have to buy it. And yes, it’s true that men read female-centric books all the time (Lumberjanes RULEZZZZ!!!!). And yes, I will even grant you that Kelly is occasionally dismissive when she responds to criticism (not all the time, but every so often). The question is why she brings it up even if she’s not going to buy the book and why she is dismissive of people criticizing her. Woman5Very often, people bring up criticisms that she addresses in the very post, so those people are just there to whine about something a woman wrote. They are not interested in engaging with Kelly, and I think Kelly knows that, so why give them the time of day? I also think that Kelly suffers a bit from having her columns appear on the CBR front page a lot. Yes, the publicity (notoriety?) is neat, but as anyone who’s ever had a post go to the front page can tell you, a lot of people who don’t read the blog regularly show up and make noise. So if you’ve never read Kelly’s column before and don’t know where she’s coming from, you might think she glosses over things. But she’s been saying the same things for a while now, and I imagine it gets tiring starting at Square One for every post. If those people want to come over here and bitch, they should probably read more than just that column.

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Kelly doesn’t need me to defend her, though, as she’s perfectly capable of doing that on her own. What is really amazing is that one commenter thought the response to Manara’s cover should have been written by a man, presumably because of course Kelly was going to bitch about it. Well, I don’t know about that – Kelly is not a monolithic representation of women (although some commenters think she is), and her column has always been just her opinion. I am acquaintances with a straight, happily married woman who loves looking at Playboy Playmates. I showed the Manara cover to my wife, and she shrugged it off. Every person responds to things differently – I know, what a concept. But here I am, a straight male, and I’ll tell you why it’s important even if Kelly – or anyone else for that matter – doesn’t have to buy it if they don’t like it:

This is just another stone in the mountain under which women are crushed.

No, on its own, the Manara cover isn’t that big a deal. But it’s part of the bigger problem, where a “minority” (yes, I know there are slightly more women than men, but we’re talking about power relationships here) is bombarded with images that perpetuate stereotypes about them. Why, for instance, does Scarlett Johansson have to be slinkier than Chris Evans in this poster:


The only reason is that she’s a woman. If that’s the only reason, it’s a shitty one. No one is going to see Captain America to see Scarlett Johansson be slinky. They’re going to see it to watch Cap and Black Widow and Falcon kick ass. Yet Johansson is the one who stands all sexily, even though Evans is pretty damned good-looking too, you know. As you might have noticed, I’ve been dropping covers into this post. They’re all from the last few months, and while none of them are egregious as some covers we’ve seen in the past and I did cherry-pick them, they all have things you would never see on a “men only” cover. There are never men who are sheltered from harm by other men or women, as Dagger is in the first cover. Men rarely wear clothing that doesn’t cover them and protect them from the bad guys – I guess the equivalent of those bathing suits that so many women wear would be shorts, but no superhero wears shorts, so why wouldn’t women cover up their legs? You never see a male superhero being rescued by a female one. Yes, it’s gotten better, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Women deal with this shit all the time. ALL. THE. TIME. If you’re a sports fan, remember when Michael Sam got drafted and ESPN showed him kissing his boyfriend?


Remember how a bunch of straight people freaked out? I’m sure that all our hip readers are perfectly cool with it, but let’s say, for the sake of argument, that as a straight man, you were a bit uncomfortable with seeing two dudes kissing. It’s not a terribly enlightened attitude, but I get it. You saw that image for a few days, for a few minutes, and then it was pretty much gone from the media. Now imagine being bombarded with that image every day for hours on end for your entire life. That’s what it’s like to be a woman. Yes, many women are in charge at magazines that tell other women they need to lose weight and become gymnasts in the bedroom to keep their man. Woman7I get that. But that doesn’t mean that being shown those images every day for years and year doesn’t make you a bit grumpy about it. If Kelly is a bit dismissive of people who just don’t get that, that’s not really her problem.

Do I get a bit bummed out that straight white men on commercials and a lot of sitcoms are wildly buffoonish? Sure I do. But I have literally thousands of options for entertainment that don’t show men as buffoonish (and I don’t watch a lot of commercials anyway, because DVRs rule!!!!). I can’t say anything, because at the end of the day, no matter how buffoonish those men are, we’re still the ones making the fucking rules. You know all the commentators on the news channels talking about the Ferguson situation? All of those people were white. It didn’t matter if they were on Fox or CNN or MSNBC – they were all fucking white. What the hell do they know about it? How can they say that people shouldn’t riot when black people in this country are told every day that they’re not as important as white people? Frankly, I’m surprised there aren’t more riots. How can men tell women they’re overreacting when women are told every day that they’re not as important as men and they’re really only sex objects? And don’t fucking tell me that shit doesn’t happen in today’s enlightened age. Just going through my Facebook news feed over the past few days, I found a story about a woman who got death threats because she suggested that maybe women shouldn’t be treated so poorly in video games, while here’s a story about how performance reviews for women overwhelmingly mention personality flaws more than those for men, where they tend to focus on the work. This is insane. So I don’t think Kelly is going to shut up any time soon, nor do I think she should.

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It’s interesting that she gets many more positive comments than she used to, which is nice. I’d like to think that more people are becoming aware of what it’s like to live a different life than they do. I can say that I never used to think about this stuff at all. I don’t think I was a douchebag, because my parents raised me well and I’m just not naturally a douchebag (although I’ll let people who know me tell me I’m wrong!), but I never really thought about my position in the hierarchy and those who weren’t white, straight, and male. Over the years I’ve become more aware of it, and I’ve gotten angrier at people who don’t understand their inherent advantages. It’s willful stupidity, and it’s kind of sad.

So that’s my rant. I like a good rant every once in a while!


I usually avoid opinion articles nowadays (or at the very least the comment section on them), even when I might likely agree with what is being said (if past history is any indication), as they’re usually more frustrating than they’re worth, but I want to say that I appreciated reading this one, Greg.

Greg Burgas, one of the good straight white dudes

As another white, male, straight guy, I am constantly amazed by guys that don’t realize or don’t admit that they have huge social advantages as compared to women.

But you know, I don’t think most people are stupid or evil, but I do think most people are very selfish. And that tremendous selfishness manifests as people insanely defending every bit of advantage they have.

Also, political polarization, one of my pet peeves. A lot of guys that would post something to defend the Manara cover or defend Orson Scott Card or something, they are probably guys that treat women well in real life, and have no problem with gays. But, you know, politics! “If those lefties are badmouthing it, then goddamn, I gotta defend it! Even if I don’t care for that style of art or for Card’s opinions, I can’t let those PC lefties have the last word on anything!”

Hopefully this is the endless train wreck that finally dooms comics.

I don’t agree with Kelly Thompson most of the time, you (and her) are spot on this time

Great piece Greg. I’ve always enjoyed Kelly’s column, most criticism seemed to be from people that really didn’t take the time to read or think about them.

Black Widow isn’t standing that way in the poster just ‘cos she’s a woman. Didn’t you see the movie? Her entire side story was about trying to find a toilet.

Mr. JR: Thanks.

Jeremy: Ha! I don’t know about that. But I can learn a thing or two now and then!

Rene: I’m a bit mystified by some political opinions, but I try to stay out of that minefield.

VDM: I doubt it. And hey, I love comics!

Adam: Thanks.

Jeremy: It’s always weird when I read a criticism and think, “Didn’t she address that in the column?” and then find that, yes, she did. It’s bizarre!

Caanan: Mystery solved! :)

I feel like McFarlane’s cover of Spider-Man #8 is worthy of an imaginary dime. That said, Spider-Man is one of the most illustrated comic characters of all time – there must be a frame of him from just about every imaginable angle by now.

Drancron: Ah, yes – I think I owe you a dime. Man, that’s a nice ass. But what’s up with that leg? That’s just so wrong.

The worst part of the Manara cover is just how awful it is, compared to his actual skill set. The first time I saw his art was in Endless Nights, and while I don’t like porn comics, his work was gorgeous. The SW cover is lazy, undetailed and boring. I don not think, however, that all his Marvel covers have been subpar

Yeah agreed, it’s really not that hard to consider the viewpoints of others you know. Try it sometime, fellow straight white dudes. :)
R.E.: more positive comments appearing lately on She Had No Head, might just be me, but I’ve gotten kinda tired of agreeing with a column/article and then seeing a bunch of negative/hateful replies. (Disagreement is different, and fine of course.) So occasionally I’ll leave a comment (like this one actually) just to state agreement with a point made in the article or whatever. Maybe more people are doing the same? Or maybe more women are going on to comics websites and found a column that they can relate to?

I don’t understand the need/ desire to buy a drawing of a ‘sexy superhero.’ It’s a drawing. It’s not real. It’s weird.

Black Widow’s pose on that poster is also weird. Maybe if she was photoshopped with earphones in rocking to ‘I’m Happy,’ I could understand. But she’s not, so it’s weird.

Real women are nicer. People who buy ‘sexy superhero drawings’ should meet some.

I only buy “sexy” variant covers if it is Deadpool mocking sexy variant covers.
Also, my first thoughts were, “That Spiderwoman art is awful because it’s awful and Marvel is full of idiots and douchebags for putting awful art on comics as well as inviting criticism”
Of course, now I realize they are probably double douchebags since they knew the cover was going to piss people off and were probably looking forward to all the free media coverage

I think Greg makes a lot of good points (as is often the case).

But part of me feels more receptive to the argument because it’s written by a straight white male. I’m not sure I would quite as receptive if it this was written by a women. I like to think I would be, but I’m not sure.

I think my doubt raises an important consideration. Even if Greg thinks his opinion is moot on this issue, we’re conditioned to more readily accept it.

Something that gets missed is that a lot of people are tired of being lumped in with assumptions made about them which, yes, IS a prejudice. Not many are seen denying the COLLECTIVE of white males having advantages but they take umbrage at being assumed that they as individual parts of said collective are one and the same. You don’t know my life or what I’ve dealt with personally. You assume because I’m X it’s all easy and then dismiss my opinion out of hand while decrying the same treatment. THAT’S what gets people worked up about Kelly so often. She makes blanket generalizations, attacks people (though some deserve it for attacking first AND with inappropriate comments), and in one instance got so badly caught in a losing argument she edited her piece to reflect a brand new one and locked comments. The white Jewish kid down the block doesn’t have the same life as that white Irish kid or even the other white Jewish kid. We’re not some homogeneous hivemind. Yes, on average as a collective it is inarguably easier but let’s not forger that the individual PERSON isn’t necessarily the same and to say thibfd like oh your opinion isn’t valid because you have it so easy and make assumptions you belittle themselves and your own arguments and how people still get shocked that calling an entire segment of the population a “problem” or painting them with the same broad brush might actually make some people get defensive (and it’s gotten to the point you cannot have a negative opinion on the internet without being accused if some ism or another) and take offense to it. We ALL deserve respect and when we start valuing opinions as worthless solely based on our prejudices assumptions of the speaker we shut down open discourse and reinforce the walls we should be trying to tear down.

A lot of good points are made here. I lived in Italy for many years and I can assure while everyone knows who he is a good number of women consider him a pig.

Just be grateful he wasn’t inspired by this panel http://bbsimg.ngfiles.com/1/6300000/ngbbs43145c328dc6c.jpg

From someone who claims is not a douchebag, you sure intentionally called others for being douchebags. Interesting.

I’m not going to go as far and disconcern myself with your self-shame, but I did find it fascinating how guilty you are for being a white, straight man(as somehow is bad being anything else). For starters, I am a minority. My parents are immigrants, Mexican born. And I have seven sisters, and since we are debating about social status(whatever that means), I think I can bring a unique perspective into this conversation. Heck, I may be the only Mexican-American to comment here, but that would mean I’m special, and I’m rarely that conceited(try living with nothing but women in your household).

For the record, I don’t think no one disagrees with what you said. No one has a problem with what’s going on about the status of women and minorities. Research is well documented, and I as a psychology enthusiast, I can briefly explain the troublesome numbers regarding women — and minorities. But what people have a problem is how you feel the need to abide with your premise. Have you heard of the Ultimatim Game? Well, if you haven’t, you should know that people in general don’t have to do much work being on a computer than in a first-person view. There’s not a lot of work involve when you just type what is in your mind, because not a lot of non-verbal cues are being presented, and in case you haven’t noticed: non-verbal cues is more important than our communication. But since is easy to judge someone for saying ugly things on the web, is easy to presume that he/she has a problem. That’s just for starters.

The next thing I have to say is that while I appreciate your concern for my people, or try to sympathize what my people go through, trust me: we Mexicans could not be any prouder living here. We love this country; I love this country. A lot. Heck, I’ve been called racist from my own people for challenging in-group favoritism. But that don’t mean I believe I have more of a right to challenge my people than say someone like you. After all, white people are the majority, and if you said the slighest thing that makes it look bad about minorities, understand is not we who are going to call you out, but your own people. You see, cultures are different, from you and where I come from. I’m a typical guy, I consider myself American than Mexican, so assimilating in this culture of ours is a big deal to me. Just because I am bilingual don’t mean I have a dual identity, or am a hyphenated American. It just means that I happen to have Aztec blood. And no, I can’t fly, or have Hulk powers. It just means I feel comfortable in my identity; my people feel comfortable in their dual identity. Understand culture and socio-economic status are two different things. You don’t need to show us you care, because you don’t live in our neighborhoods. Remember that.

And lastly, I come to CBR because I like the diverse of opinion. In fact, I think I may have in common with you guys than you realize. I think you have smart, cool, “hip” editors. Understand that minorities, especially Hispanics, don’t read a lot of comics. Is it because the lack of diversity in the medium? Of course it is. But if we truly loved comics, and had a passion for it, we would be conforming like we do to American sports. You see, I have no problem with writers or publishers(like Marvel) who do make diverse comics. Take All-New Ghost Rider. If you have a problem with stereotypes, that book is as stereotypical as they come. But want to know the secret? That’s how our neighborhoods look like. Understand if you want to understand how we live or how our neighborhoods are, you need to visualize and see what we see everyday. You need to be accurate. That’s not nothing bad, because it is accurate. And other stereotypical cues? Religion, God, family, and hard working. You know why stereotypes exist? Because it tells us what a group belief is, not what an attitde is. Remember the difference.

In an age like the internet I can understand why white, straight males need to feel guilty. Don’t forget. We Mexicans have Spaniard blood, we ain’t that innocent either. But do you see us feeling remorse? Heck, illegals are running around thinking our country owes them something for crying out loud(lol). Don’t think by thinking otherwise, or portraying stereotypes, we feel disenfranchised or alienated. If we believe in God, shouldn’t you acknowledge that? It tells us you’re listening. Trust me. That’s a universal plus, everyone likes it when they’re listening.

Take care, and don’t feel bad or feel the need to explain everything. After all, we’re all humans — and have a little Batman.

as a hetero normative white male, i just want to say thank you for posting this.

Franky, you are the type of poster he’s writing about!

Greg, have you never been made to feel less than human because of your weight?

This IS hilarious.

Greg, I’m missing the point about the Michael Sam picture.

‘Now imagine being bombarded with that image every day for hours on end for your entire life. That’s what it’s like to be a woman.’

Can you explain this for me? Women are like homophobes being forced to view a chaste image of two men kissing?

Allen: It’s interesting that you’d admit that, and I respect that you did. You’re right – we are conditioned, and it’s tough to break it.

CJB: Sure, of course you’re right, but it just doesn’t happen. I too get a bit grumpy when I read something about “white men” being racist, sexist jerks, because of course not all men are, but the point is that if someone says that about “white men” and I get grumpy about it, I recognize that the person saying or writing that has probably endured far worse. Words will never hurt me and all that. Kelly seems to get attacked because men speak up and say, “Well, you’re just over-reacting to something,” which is ridiculous – she’s reacting to something that those men don’t understand. A Jewish man can speak to discrimination against Jews. An Irish man can speak to discrimination against the Irish (to use your examples). We can discuss racism and sexism and any other kind of discrimination, but some people, no matter how well-meaning, simply won’t understand it.

JIM: Ha, that’s interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever boycotted someone’s work because they’re not a nice person, because I might never buy anything ever again, but I find that interesting. And I’ve always loved that panel!

Franky: Hmm. Maybe I am a douchebag.

I don’t know where you got the idea that I’m guilty about being who I am. I even wrote that I’m not going to apologize for being who I am. My point is that being who I am has offered me advantages that others did not get, and I need to recognize that. That’s all I’m saying.

bairdduvessa: No problem. I like a good rant every once in a while!

Carl: Damn. Ouch. Kick me in the stomach, why don’t you. But no, I have never been made to feel less than human because of my weight.

Drew: Thanks. I try to entertain!

Big Bear: Not at all. I’m saying if you’re a straight man who’s uncomfortable with two men kissing, you rarely have to deal with it, because it’s still not very common to see in our society. Women see things that make them uncomfortable and deal with things that make them uncomfortable all the time, yet men get angry at them when they speak up about it. I just used Michael Sam because I know that a lot of straight men don’t like seeing two men kissing. But if they are (and, as I noted, it bothers me not even a little bit), they can easily escape it. Women can’t escape being told they’re sex objects and being told they’re not worth as much as men.

This is phrased in a way that makes me uncomfortable, and I’m not even a part of that demographic. I DO see your point, but outright calling someone’s opinion “invalid” is just…wrong, to me.

That said, a couple thoughts. Or, well, one thought really, just split into two parts: Yes, there is at least ONE cover out there with Spider-Man posed with his ass in the air. There’s a key difference (he’s not the focal point of the shot) but he’s featured very prominently in a pose almost exactly the same. . But the difference between the Spider-Man cover where he’s posed a lot like that and the Spider-Woman cover is that men aren’t sexualized nearly as frequently as women. So while the cover doesn’t bother me, I can totally understand how it might bother some women.

We had some pretty bad flooding here in southeast Michigan recently. My car has been out of commission for almost three weeks because of it. However, driving through neighborhoods (in my rental) with enormous piles of stuff being thrown out from flooded basements made me realize that I didn’t have it so bad. At least my car was covered by insurance. The vast majority of the people with flooded homes didn’t have anything for that. Many people lost quite a few of their possessions.

The point is that it’s easy to get wrapped up in your own shit, but if you take the time to look around, it’s not hard to see that there are a lot of people worse off than you.

oh my god gross, other greg! i could barely get through this posting once you mention masterbating to a funny book i thought i d test the ol’ hypothesis as they say. well closest to me ive got a deaths head #6, superboy #139, sgf lois lane #52, kamandi #20, reggie and me #27, smefthos-c master of kung fu #16 and metal men #53. hhrm..i ve gone back and read the rest of what you wrote. i too am a white, guy and strait like a jacket so i know what you re going through. thank you for the interesting disection. from now on i m gonna call you just greg. that milo ma na ra dolphin herd pixture sure was neat as well, so thanks for that. i m gonna go pleasure myself to either kamandi or deaths head i ll catch you latre.

I will whistle at you, Greg. Even if there is a disappointing lack of diversity in your examples of fap fodder, you straight white Anerican male you.

A little off-topic but sort of on it: I remember when Marvel released the X-Force: Sex and Violence mini-series there were people (I am assuming some of us straight white males) that were annoyed because there was no nudity in the book. Which I found kind of strange. But this does relate as it seems to show the mind-set of some of these guys that seem really resistant to a better presentation of females in comics. I mean, I get it. I was once a loner kid and comics were “my” thing. My escape. I knew the rules of the place and I felt at home. At the time (late ’80’s, early ’90’s), you didn’t see a lot of women at comic shops.

So comics for anyone past the age of, say, 12, in those days were a safe haven, free from the trials and tribulations of life. If any of them were like me, you were often awkward around girls and probably rejected regularly. So, growing up pre-internet, we had the women of X-Men, Justice League, etc. Surrounded by the safety of the male characters (I’m just reading this comic for Wolverine. Is there a Rogue character in here?) For me, that didn’t last past adolescence. I read super-heroes because I live the spectacle, the mythology and the weird timelessness that can only exist in this medium. But for others, their life may still be defined by those days. Or at least some part. And now they are being told they have to let the same people who rejected them into the clubhouse. Not only that, but the rules have to change to accommodate the new members.

Please understand, this is not a blanket statement/analysis of all ,or even most, of the white straight male comic reading population. It’s just an idea and I could be completely wrong about their views. Which is kind of the whole point.

By not posting on female topics because you think your opinion is invalid (and I disagree but that’s not what I want to get into) you are choosing to take a positive force out of play and not countering some of the evil shit that is out there. You are actually helping the misogynists. All the bad guys need to win is the good guys to sit on their hands and stay out of the fray…

SageShini: There’s a little bit of hyperbole in the title, but I do think that in this day and age, where so many people have outlets for their opinion, that there’s a belief that everyone’s opinion about everything is valid. I don’t agree. I read experts who study things and take their opinions about things a lot more seriously than I do a politician’s, for instance, who might have an opinion on the same topic but is trying to appeal to a base. I don’t think that my opinion about these things is totally and completely worthless, but I also don’t think I have the knowledge and experience to make it as valid as others’.

s!moN: Have fun!

dnwilliams: Yeah, sorry about that. Those were just the women who leaped into my head. I didn’t want to spend too much time on it! :)

Drew G: I totally get your point. Unfortunately, too many of those kinds of boys never grow up. That’s a bigger issue.

Steve: Well, usually I don’t write about these kinds of topics because other people are far quicker than I am, honestly, and usually when I read their thoughts, I have nothing to add to the conversation except, “Yeah, that’s a good point.” I’m better, I think, at focusing on reviewing comics and their content, and while I will rant about social issues every so often, I just think other people do it faster and better than I do.

Greg, if this was the kind of forum that permitted Recommendations I would post 1,000.

I saw the variant cover and didn’t think much of it, not really a style I’m interested in, after I saw the article by Kelly, I took a long look at it, a bit graphic in my opinion, especially when the book is rated for teen+, anyway I’m not buying it. I’ve read articles by Kelly in the past and honestly didn’t finish the one in question, but I’m shocked that she receives threats of death and rape, how terrible. What’s the point?

mcb1955: Thanks!

Clifton: I’m not sure if she received them for this specific column, but I know she has in the past. You’re right – it is terrible.

I know someone has already claimed the dime, but Spider-man #14 is a close facsimile.

Terrible-d: That’s not bad. I don’t think it’s as close as issue #8, though!

jeez our society is messed up

this social media allows all the worst aspects to congregate and promulgate. Its fucken terrible

And its going to get worse people.

Its like the Anti-life equation is real for fucks sake

Did Darkseid hit send already?

I have been a fan of Kelly’s articles for years, and agree with maybe 90% of what she writes. The Spider-Woman cover is terrible. Bleah. I also agree with a lot of what you write.

I don’t agree, however, with the idea that one shouldn’t opine on a subject due to some notion of privilege- varieties in perspective are important, and different people see different things. My skin color is the least interesting thing about me (I burn in a computer monitor). It sure would be sad to whittle down the multiplicity of voices to only one.

I have a problem with the oversexualization of comics as well, and that (along with stories that don’t make sense) have turned me off of a lot of superhero books.

Hmm… as a fellow white dude — though queer — and as an academic working heavily in feminism, I have to say that the oft-repeated, and well-intentioned critique of “The big problem I have is the anatomy, not the sexualization” is a huge derail too. Manara’s cover is not produced in a cultural vacuum (I’m pretty sure I type this sentence in every comment I write on CBR) and to disregard the sexualization is extremely disingenuous. Yes, the anatomy is shitty, but that’s not really the point, is it? The point is that her ass is split in two, open and inviting. It’s not a pose of power or heroism; it’s a pose of sexual invitation. It disregards her heroism and power. The idea that an image can be sexually inviting is not inherently a negative thing (after all, nothing wrong with sex!) but it’s that as a rule, women are depicted as sexually inviting through their pose and costume. It’s not much a stretch to link this to the frequent rape apology: “she was dressed like she was asking for it.” Ugh disgusting.

“It’s a variant” is also a derail. Who cares about the low availability of the physical copy when the digital version can be infinitely distributed to the end of time? That derails from the necessary and important discussion about how women are continuously depicted in media.

I think I’d much rather read Kelly’s articles (and do) than this thing riddled with SJW whining. I thought I’d wandered into tumblr for a minute.

“SJW” is my favourite insult ever. So I fight for social justice? Wow. What a horrible thing for somebody to do.

matthew: Is that what it means? Social Justice Warrior? I didn’t know that. Yeah, that seems like a fairly weird insult, given that everyone should fight for social justice.

Another opinion piece by another anglo white man talking about comics. Thanks God we now have so many opinion pieces on comics by anglo white women. SUCH DIVERSITY.

SJW is an insult because it’s used to describe people who exaggerate things into larger social problems than they are and read discrimination into everything.

Not that I’m defending its use here, but if you take it at face value, you’re just avoiding the meaning, not the insult.

It’s like calling someone a Jesus Freak. Sure, you might actually think Jesus is really awesome, but you know how the term is meant.

Dan: I’d just never heard it before. I get that he was using it somewhat sarcastically, but I really didn’t know what it meant.

I know (or knew Kelly…it’s been a long while) in real life. We studied Comics together in College. She is an awesome human and I disagree with her often enough. However, usually she brings a well informed, strong opinion on Media Arts. I have often been swayed by her thoughts (more people should have this ability). When it comes to feminism there is rarely a time we disagree. AND I am another privileged white male. Greg does a fine job of addressing much of this from an honest and appropriate perspective. Thank you. As Greg points out our opinions in this context really has little value beyond supporting feminism. Until, feminism has been achieved…again feminism is equality…not domination of one perspective (which seems unlikely to exist anyway). No one is taking away anyone’s toys…even those who hate. If that actually worked to change the perspective of hate, I would support that.

“…but some still have to be cheesecakey and aimed at horny dudes.”

Who the hell reads mainstream comics to get their naughty-bad-fun jollies these days with all of the (literally) hundreds of terabytes of free hardcore internet porn?! Seriously, people who use this argument to justify the still highly prevalent sexism in comics must not live in the same world I do.

Saul: Some of the people commenting didn’t go so far as to say that they masturbate to superhero comics, but they did say that with all the “female-friendly” comics out there (all, say 8 of them), why can’t Spider-Woman be aimed toward dudes who like to look at naked chicks? I think it’s ridiculous, but it’s one argument they used.

I sometimes wonder where Americans get this creepy, offensive idea that we Europeans put more sex in our media than they do. If I compare a film from Sweden (my homeland) with the average lowest-common-denominator Hollywood fare, it’s not the Swedish one that’s going to have gratuitous sex scenes and underdressed female characters.

European movies usually are more frank about sex, IMO. But to my mind, they feel less exploitative than the usual American movie. Usually because they also are less male-oriented and less puritanical. Puritanical is not the same as sexless, puritans are often obsessed about sex, but also ashamed of it. The usual European movie’s take on sex feels more natural. Also, when you look at the ouvres of the main European directors, a lot of their movies have female characters as fully-developed protagonists. That is more rare for American directors.

Note: I’m not European, nor American.

Chris: It’s been a long time since I’ve been all that hip to American movies, much less international ones, so I can’t speak to the differences. I’m just pointing out that more than a few commenters mentioned that in response to Kelly’s post.

Rene: Like I wrote, it’s been far too long since I’ve been able to pay attention to European cinema. I tend to think you’re right in general, but that’s about as far as I’m willing to go because my knowledge of current European movies is almost nil.

I like most of this post, but I vehemently disagree with Greg’s whole argument that: “You shouldn’t come to comics to see erotica. There’s tons of porn, just watch that instead.” That argument completely fails to understand how a large portion of fans think or what they want.

Greg, what you don’t seem to understand is that these fans do not have a GENERAL preference to see scantily clad women, and are satisfying that general preference in a massively inefficient manner by reading comics that contain occasional cheesecake. These fans have a SPECIFIC preference to see those SPECIFIC CHARACTERS being scantily clad. This is because they like these characters. They don’t want to see boobs in general and are satisfying that desire with Power Girl’s boob window. They want to see Power Girl’s boobs specifically because they like Power Girl. No one else’s boobs will do. (And yes, I do know just how hilarious the sentences I am writing sound out of context).

Why is this the case? Why are there fans who must see Power Girl’s boobs and will not be satisfied by Jenna Jameson’s boobs? Allow me to introduce a concept called “demisexuality.” A demisexual is someone who is only sexually attracted to people they form a strong emotional bond with. There are very few people who are purely demisexual, but most people have a little bit of demisexuality in us. Most of us would find someone we have an emotional connection with much more sexy than a stranger with the same body shape.

This is why so many people find scantily-clad female superheroines attractive. They form emotional bonds with these characters when they read about them. These emotional bonds make the characters much sexier than anonymous porn stars in pin-up magazines, about whom we know nothing other than their appearance. And that is why porn will never be able to replace cheesecake in comics. Boobs are sexier when there is a person behind them.

I think what prevents people from understanding this is the constant use of the word “objectification.” There is this idea that when fans want to see a scantily clad superheroine what they actually want to do is remove her personality and identity and convert her into an object for sex. I’m sorry, but objectification theory is wrong. It is completely backwards. It does not accurately describe how human beings think. Most people don’t want to see superhero cheesecake because they don’t value the character’s personality. They want to see it because they DO value the character’s personality.

This means that there will always be an incentive to sexualize characters. It doesn’t matter how strong or well developed a female character is. Someone will want to see her boobs. In fact, making her strong and well-developed will just make people want to see her boobs even more, because they will like her even more. And the more likeable a character is, the sexier she will become.

@ Greg

Well, all I’m saying is that I think using that argument says more about the people who use it than the articles Kelly posts. Seriously, if someone’s dumb enough to make an argument that nonsensical, we should be laughing them out of the comments sections every time they show up. That kind of statement immediately invalidates any other points they could possibly be trying to make, and I think they’re deserving of our harshest ridicule. Those “horny dudes” they bring up simply don’t exist. I’m not saying horny dudes don’t exist, it’s just that the closest they’re willing to get to being titillated (hah) by their comics is the hentai they look at on their laptops.

Personally, I think the only reason these kind of sexist portrayals of women still exist in comics is because they’re easy to do. There are tons of broke-back poses that I’ve seen in comics that came out just this year where the basic image can be traced (hah) back to the same Jim Lee X-Men poses from 1991. There’s a lot of “reference material” in terms of these poses that can be lightboxed to save time in this current era where we, the comics audience as a whole, demand much more detail heavy output from the most popular artists. Also take into account how much we criticize popular artists who can’t put out more than 8 issues a year, and it’s easy to figure out why the same broke-back, upskirt, buttshots, etc. are recycled.

You have this culture of massive demand for high output, so artists re-use stock “hawt chick” imagery so they can meet deadlines, and because the audience up until a few years ago was mostly straight males, no one said boo. Because they didn’t get any criticism for this behavior (or at least, not much), these artists became subject to a little behavioral tendency I learned in driver’s ed: re-enforcement of a negative. they acquired negative behavioral tendencies, and because nothing bad seemed to happen from it, they inferred what they were doing was perfectly acceptable. It went on for so long that it’s become so ingrained, it’s going to take time to root this sexism and laziness out.

That’s why we have to be patient and understanding of artists when they slip-up. And that’s also why we need to ban-hammer the fuck out of the neck-beards who troll people like Kelly when they correctly point out these problems of sexism within the industry.


Y’know, it’s funny that I’m about to seriously approach your counter-argument having just read your comment after typing up my previous post (which should be modded soon).

I understand the logic that people want to see Power Girl’s boobs because they like her character; having an emotional connection to someone or a character does make them more attractive, I’ll admit. But that still doesn’t justify why she’s constantly portrayed in cheesecake poses all of the time. The cheesecake doesn’t have to exist within mainstream published comics. If you want to see Wonder Woman doing Playmate poses (in about as much clothing as well), then stop looking to the comics to have those images and look online for some fan-art of her. A) it’ll probably show more of what you want, B) it may even be better drawn, and C) the actual comic appearances can focus on serious portrayals of the characters where you don’t have this miss-match of Power Girl supposed to be taken seriously in her comics appearances while at the same time we’re getting nothing but buttshots and boob windows from her.

There is an Internet rule (I don’t remember the number of the rule) that says that every fictional character there is, you can find risque pictures of them online.

Ghatanathoah: I’m not going to argue with you – if you say so, I’ll accept that. I don’t necessarily agree, but that’s just me. But I will point out that we’re not animals – we might be conditioned the way you say, but anyone can overcome their conditioning.

Saul: I agree that it’s easy to do, which is too bad. It’s also why it would be nice if artists weren’t quite so defensive about stuff like this – I get that no one likes to be attacked, but if they listen to the sentiments behind it, maybe they’ll realize that they could easily change if they made an effort.

@Saul Goode

I think that having attractive characters in some sort of narrative structure is even better for a lot of people than having them in sexy pinups. Take Adam Warren’s comic, “Empowered” for example. It started as a series of sexy pin-ups and eventually turned into a comic because Warren and his fans liked to add continuity to the pinups. This is also why hardcore porn hasn’t completely driven softcore porn off the market, softcore porn tends to have stronger stories, acting, and characterization, and a lot of people are attracted to that.

That being said, I completely agree with you that we should not be tolerant of sexy poses and costumes if they seriously detract from the narrative. I’m okay with Power Girl, She-Hulk, or Wonder Woman constantly wearing fetish suits into combat because those characters are so powerful that it doesn’t hamper their fighting ability at all. But I really hated it when they gave Huntress that belly-window because a non-invulnerable character needs some sort of protective clothing to believably survive the fights she’s in.

@Greg Burgas

I agree with you that we could probably recondition people to have different sexual preferences. But I don’t see why we need to recondition anyone because I don’t see there being a problem. I mean, surely it’s a GOOD thing that people aren’t just attracted to characters because of their bodies, and that giving a characters a personality makes them sexier?

I agree that shallow people who are only attracted to people for their bodies are terrible human beings and that they should probably try to recondition themselves to be more attracted to people’s personalities. But the argument I am making is that these fans are NOT shallow.

Ghatanathoah: Well, that would mean I agree with your premise, and I’m not sure I do. :)

I’m just making a more general point. Whenever anyone talks about things that we’re conditioned to do (like men claiming that they’re not built to be monogamous), I always think that it’s a cop-out. We can easily overcome prejudices or conditioning or even biological determinants. I wasn’t specifically talking about your point.

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