Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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Monday, May 21, 2007

Quake, Fanboys, Quake

I mentioned in a previous post that I haven't blogged about the Mary Jane statue because I really didn't care about it. It's not to my taste and I wouldn't buy it, and ultimately that would be the end of it. But I'm fascinated by the reactions to the reactions to it.

A lot of my reaction coincides with Ragnell's post Reveille, which, by the way, I totally named. I also named When Fangirls Attack. I believe I'm entitled to bragging rights here. But I digress.

There is one reaction that will never stop making me laugh in genuine full-throated amusement. This reaction can be summed up as (paraphrased of course):

"You're damaging your cause! You all look like insane militant freaks! No one will ever take you seriously!" I'm sure you've seen it.

Do you know why this is so funny to me? Because I am a feminist.

Come on, guys, do you seriously think the image of feminists as militant, psychotic man-haters is NEW? That caricature dates back at least to the seventies, with Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem and Roe v. Wade.

Hell, go back further and see the kind of shit they used to say about Susan B. Anthony or Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the suffragettes.

It's the same old story. Men and women who don't understand what feminists are fighting for embracing a terrified mental picture of ogreish man-women praying to the bible of Valerie Solanas's SCUM Manifesto every night while plotting the mass-castration of all of the men on the planet.

It's why you get people saying things like "I believe in equal rights, but...", "I'm an 'equalist' not a 'feminist'." "I believe in equality not feminist supremacy."

And guess what? That didn't stop us. Feminists, both male and female, have made countless strides toward the goal of equal rights and fair treatment, of choice and freedom for both sexes despite the dismissal, fear, and mocking from people who don't understand.

This kerfluffle over the MJ statue is hardly going to change that.

In fact, as a feminist who doesn't give a single jack shit about this stupid statue, I think that this whole mess is a fantastic opportunity!

The publicity is enormous! And not just in the blogosphere! (Though the hits for When Fangirls Attack have been going through the roof!) This thing has made the news! People who don't know a damn thing about comics are hearing about this issue!

And you know what this means?

Sure there are people out there looking at all this and shaking their heads, "What are those crazy feminists going on about now?!" Sure, there's yet again another way for feminists to be spun into militant lunatics frothing their mouths over a cause that doesn't matter.

But this time, these frothing militant feminist lunatics are being linked to SUPERHERO COMIC BOOKS.

That pervasive and insulting outsider stereotype of comic book readers as white, middle-aged, virgin men living in their parents' basement has been invaded. Guess who else is reading superhero comics? Crazy, militant, psychotic man-hating feminists!

This is living breathing proof to both the comic book industry and the outside world that women are reading comics.

And yes, this has given that stupid statue more publicity than it has ever deserved, and yes, this will probably make further sales go through the roof. But that's not the point!

The point is now, amidst all the money they're probably making from all this commotion, someone may figure out that, hey, if they make a new statue of She-Hulk lifting a car or just a Kirsten Dunst-style Mary Jane who ISN'T presenting her tits and ass, people would buy those too.

It's funny, because I honestly think that if the opposing side reacted with a simple "I'm sorry it offends you, but I really think it's nice," this would have blown over a long time ago. Instead, they poured gasoline on an open flame. This isn't about Mary Jane anymore. This is about the fact that there are women and men out there who read and like superhero comics but still want a more fair and balanced treatment of the sexes. Who like Mary Jane, Lois Lane, Carol Ferris or Vicki Vale for more than just their ability to flaunt their tits and ass. Who believe that there is a need for change and are finally making their voices heard.

So to a certain group of superhero comic fans: go ahead. Keep using your equivocations, excuses, patronization, disapproval, offended anger, outraged exclamations and personal attacks to mask your thinly veiled fear and dismay. It doesn't change anything.

We. Are. Winning.

28 Comments:

  • At May 21, 2007 3:09 AM, Blogger Toriach said…

    An excellent post. I appreciate your efforts to be inclusive. What I think many of the detractors fail to realize is that for most of us there is no "agenda" outside of wanting super hero comics that we don't have to be ashamed to admit publicly that we read, heroes we can connect with, and images that are not demeaning to anybody.

    Peace
    And
    Long
    Life

    Toriach
    (Is a Finer World too much to ask for? I don't think so.)

     
  • At May 21, 2007 4:31 AM, Anonymous Lyle said…

    No mention of the classic standby strawfeminists Andrea Dworkin or Catherine McKinnon? They were actually mentioned in relation to the statue.

     
  • At May 21, 2007 4:33 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Nah, they didn't shoot Andy Warhol.

    When I mention strawfeminists, I aim high.

     
  • At May 21, 2007 4:38 AM, Blogger Flidget said…

    It's why you get people saying things like "I believe in equal rights, but...", "I'm an 'equalist' not a 'feminist'." "I believe in equality not feminist supremacy."

    Off topic, I have to say I use the term 'feminist' to describe myself when speaking with people who don't have much idea what feminism actually is , especially because the word gets such a bad rap, but I prefer the term 'equalist', particularly when talking to people who actually do know what feminism is about. It's just broader and encompasses other things like racial rights and gay rights.

     
  • At May 21, 2007 4:42 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    It's not like you can't be both 'equalist' AND 'feminist' though. It's the "not a" that gets problematic. :-)

     
  • At May 21, 2007 5:37 AM, Blogger hippokrene said…

    "...a terrified mental picture of ogreish man-women praying to the bible of Valerie Solanas's SCUM Manifesto every night while plotting the mass-castration of all of the men on the planet."

    Sounds like someone snuck a camera into my Saturday night get togethers.

     
  • At May 21, 2007 6:08 AM, Blogger Ami Angelwings said…

    Great post! :D

    I'm also a little tired of ppl making feminist into a bad word :\ A lot of my girl friends run away from even the idea of "feminism" cuz they have it in their minds that it's some horrible terrible thing that means they'll never be liked and have to become lesbians and shave their heads or something e_e

    *shakes head sadly*

    NEWAYS, this is what I kept saying which is that if you like it, fine XD I dun see why it means that ppl who like it must DESTROY the ppl who dun like it >.>;; Or even the reasons.

    I like pineapple on my pizza XD A lot of ppl dun. I dun go "OMG YOU MUST DIE!"

    I just say "I like pineapple." :)

    The ppl who are against the statue have been generally just criticized the statue and the company who made it. :o Their beef was against the statue.

    The ppl who are "defending" the statue, aren't "defending" at all. They're attacking and insulting the ppl who dun like the statue (or in some cases ppl who are neutral to the statue).

    :\

     
  • At May 21, 2007 9:29 AM, Blogger Rational Mad Man said…

    Winning?
    The statue sold out, most people see yopu side for the hypocritical inane and quite frankly lunatic fringe you are, and all your portests did was ensure that when this staue reaches shelves it will sell out again.
    As for your contention that it "proved women read comica" it did no such thing. It mereley proved women will respond to an image circulated on the net.

    The simple fact is Comic companies would be idiots to "put out the types of comics you want" since the ones y'all hate sell great and the ones you praise, dont sell.

    Theres a reason most women wont identify themselves as feminists honey.

     
  • At May 21, 2007 9:53 AM, Anonymous Thom said…

    Winning...so...does that mean the mass castration is imminent?

     
  • At May 21, 2007 9:58 AM, Blogger Rob S. said…

    Pineapple, Ami? Are you NUTS? :)

     
  • At May 21, 2007 12:20 PM, Blogger Ami Angelwings said…

    RMM, what type of comics do "we" want?

    I think the comics I like are much different than the ones Kalinara likes, are much different than the ones another woman would like. :o

    And if you read my reviews, many of the comics *I* like are quite popular :D

    Also some of the ones I like aren't.

    But if you take a reviewer like Neal Bailey from Supermanhomepage or rly, any reviewer, there will be comics they like that are popular, and comics that they like that aren't popular.

    :D

    Ppl like what ppl like XD You need to stop assuming that all women comic readers are some sort of hive mind :\

    *offers hugs* :) I think you and I might share a lot of comics that we like in common :D

     
  • At May 21, 2007 12:21 PM, Blogger Ami Angelwings said…

    Thom, you better get the most mileage out of them while you can :D

    And Rob... WHAT YOU DUN LIKE PINEAPPLE!? XD NOW YOU DIE!!!!!!!!! >.>;;;

    :3

     
  • At May 21, 2007 12:44 PM, Blogger Mickle said…

    Bravo!

    Oh, and you're my hero too.

    Thom,

    They will be detachable - like in that one song - so that we can give the equivalent of time outs.

    Besides, it will make them so much handier.

     
  • At May 21, 2007 12:48 PM, Blogger SallyP said…

    We're touching their stuff...THEIR STUFF! GAAAHH! Women have joined the military, forced them to open up their clubs, and now, have invaded the last hallowed bastion of male privilege...COMICS!

    Oh, and Mr. Rational Mad Man? Please, sir, learn to spell. Or use BOTH hands to type.

     
  • At May 21, 2007 1:15 PM, Blogger Rob S. said…

    Ok, Ami, you've convinced me. I was wrong. I lurrve pineapple, and so should all right-thinking people.

     
  • At May 21, 2007 2:32 PM, Blogger Rich said…

    Great post. Personally I do think the reaction has been over-blown, but so has the counter reaction. Personally I like the statue but won't buy it because I don't buy statues.

    I don't think its demeaning to women either, by its pose or what it depicts MJ doing. Sometimes my wife does my washing (not stood like that, but maybe the basket is on a low table) and sometimes I do hers. Neither of us views washing as a demeaning or sexist act.

    Maybe its just because we Brits are so far ahead in equality of the sexes... :D

     
  • At May 21, 2007 4:26 PM, Blogger Rational Mad Man said…

    Tell myou what amy P you grow up and put on your big girl panties, and ill learn to spell mkay?


    Amy, When i say types of comics you want, I am referring to those comics which avoid cheescake, avoid putting women in skimpy outfits, and actually show women as the "feminist ideal"
    They dont sell.
    Period.
    Try publishing "the adventures of a reasonably porportioned women who wants to be respected for her mind and wears overcoats."

    Noone will buy.
    Put storm, She hulk, and spiderwoman undercover with the swedish bikini team, looking to bust a ring of lipstick lesbian drug smuggling lingerie models and it sells like hotcakes.

    More to the point, titles with large amounts of cheescake dont offend women enough to reduce sales.

    So why should things change?

     
  • At May 21, 2007 4:28 PM, Blogger Rational Mad Man said…

    And rich you are absolutley right, Brits ar much further ahead of the USA in terms of sexual relations, there are the men have already become women.

     
  • At May 21, 2007 4:45 PM, Blogger The Dane said…

    Hey there K. I'm kinda torn here.

    I'm glad that egalitarianism is getting a boost from the quote-unquote militants. I'm glad that the rabid conversation about this one statuette has generated enough buzz to shine any kind of light on the broad goals/desires of the Female Comic Reader (tm). And I realize that if it weren't for the "frothing militant feminist lunatics," this particular instance of The Issue likely never would have generated any heat under the pen of a quiet, reasonable discussion. The fact is, there is a use for loudmouths.

    That said, I think it fair to say that they do their share of damage to the cause as well. While agreeing with the overarching theme of much of what I read in the initial WTF-reaction to the statuette, I found much of the method of reaction distasteful and embarrassing. (Embarrassing to the authors and embarrassing to me as one who shares the opinion that these kinds of sculptures do little to ingratiate a potential female audience to the medium of comics and the genre of superhero fantasy, and do tend to contribute to a continued perspective-skew in regard to the identity of the female human.) I very often find myself frustrated and irritated by the less-than-winsome ambassadors of worthy causes (a category into which many of the feminist-supporting bloggers whose articles are linked on WFA fall—I suspect that this is largely because bloggers (myself readily included) are rarely winsome ambassadors of the causes they trumpet). It's frustrating to see a worthy cause being saddled and associated with cheap rhetoric, imbecilic ranting, and the kind of single-mindedness that courts no ability to entertain perspective shift.

    I've used the example before, but Jerry Falwell. I loathe the man's legacy. He was frothing, angry, and stupid in his presentation of his beliefs. He said things without merit and he said thing that were hateful. He was the worst sort of ambassador for his cause. I was embarrassed by him both for his own sake and for the fact that I call myself a Christian. The man represents nothing of the Christianity in which I believe. Yet for all the damage he did in and to the name of Christianity, he certainly did make that faith a talking point. Because of the loudmouthed and offensive crusade that marked his life, he has presented a pedagogical tool for me. His lackluster example of Christian love and charity allows a marvelous possibility for contradistinction—kind of a Yeah, I know what he said, but that's not exactly what we actually believe sort of thing.

    And so it is with "frothing militant feminist lunatics." They have their uses. They are, essentially, the Jerry Falwells of the feminist cause. The Pat Robertsons of egalitarian principle. As frustrated as I become when reading of their antics, I am calmed by the reminder that even negative publicity can net positive benefit.

     
  • At May 21, 2007 5:00 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Oh, and Mr. Rational Mad Man? Please, sir, learn to spell. Or use BOTH hands to type.

    I would merely recommend he actually read the post. Not just the introduction and tagline. Most of his comments (the selling out statue, shame of being called feminist) are ones I've already addressed.

    As for comics written for women, I think the reviews and comments on this blog indicate that the aspects of comics I favor tend to be ones frequently enjoyed by both men and women.

    the dane: I won't say that occasionally I don't find myself embarrassed by certain people sharing my cause. :-) I'm sure they'd say the same about me.

    Thing is, my own generally friendly/diplomatic style of feminism would be impossible without the crusaders and warriors clearing the way first. The anger has very important results.

     
  • At May 21, 2007 5:05 PM, Blogger The Dane said…

    "The anger has very important results."

    I agree—hence the fact that I'm torn. Really, I just can't wait until the day (if it ever comes) when they won't be needed any longer and more diplomatic discussion is all that is required to make a point worth making.

    *sigh* We're all such animals, people are.

     
  • At May 21, 2007 6:53 PM, Anonymous "Starman" Matt Morrison said…

    Good post.

    I'm somewhat relieved to know that my thoughts on this matter actually got near-universal positive response (and the non-positive responses I consider positive, since I'm offending the right people) when I was afraid of seeming redundant in the face of all the intelligent commentary on this issue.

    You've got the boys running scared, ladies. Don't worry. The real men like having you in the clubhouse. :)

     
  • At May 21, 2007 7:27 PM, Blogger Dorian said…

    "Winning?
    The statue sold out, most people see your side for the hypocritical, inane and quite frankly lunatic fringe you are and all your protests did was ensure that when this statue reaches shelves it will sell out again.
    As for your contention that it "proved women read comics" it did no such thing. It merely proved women will respond to an image circulated on the net.

    The simple fact is comic companies would be idiots to "put out the types of comics you want" since the ones you hate sell well and the ones you praise don't.

    There's a reason most women won't identify themselves as feminists honey."

    Nope, doesn't make any more sense in English...

     
  • At May 21, 2007 10:14 PM, Anonymous Denyer said…

    what type of comics do "we" want?

    Generalising wildly, ones with good writing, credible characterisation, etc. This alone probably explains why a fairly large number of women don't read many cape books.

    --> off-topic drift -->

    Stormwatch is back. Yay!

    Because 'popular' is a very different thing to 'good'...

     
  • At May 21, 2007 11:08 PM, Blogger R.Nav said…

    That pervasive and insulting outsider stereotype of comic book readers as white, middle-aged, virgin men living in their parents' basement has been invaded. Guess who else is reading superhero comics? Crazy, militant, psychotic man-hating feminists!

    This is living breathing proof to both the comic book industry and the outside world that women are reading comics.


    Ha! You're right!

     
  • At May 21, 2007 11:50 PM, Blogger Mike said…

    "Oh, and Mr. Rational Mad Man? Please, sir, learn to spell. Or use BOTH hands to type."

    now now degrading someone's point by pointing out typos won't get us anywhere. And he does bring some points to the table, such as that sales tend to reflect negativly. The fact that he wrote this in an antagonistic way and has points that you dissagree with shouldn't mean we have to engage him in a similar, manner, hell that's how most of this frenzy started.

    It's easier to poke holes in his arguments calmly so as to add credibility to your own.

    I personally wouldn't buy it, but I am annoyed by the seemingly endless string of sensationalist writing without proper justification. On BOTH sides.

     
  • At May 22, 2007 12:00 PM, Blogger SallyP said…

    Mike, I DID say "please". And then he called me by someone else's name.

    It is just that it is much easier to take a person's opinion seriously, when it is presented in a clear manner.

     
  • At May 24, 2007 1:15 PM, Blogger Ununnilium said…

    Some really freakin' good points made in this Websnark post: http://www.websnark.com/archives/2007/05/on_the_other_ha_22.html

     

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