Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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Sunday, December 18, 2005

A Sex-skewed look at GL relationships

As I've mentioned in a previous post, I occasionally toy with thinking about what the DCU would be like if the principle characters were of the opposite sexes. I came to many conclusions, but one actually surprised me, so I'll post it here.

Kyle Rayner as a woman would not work. It's not his personality that's the problem, he'd probably make a charming female character with very little alteration to his personality. The problem is that the sheer amount of time he ends up tied up/tortured/gratuitously beaten in occasionally disturbingly suggestive ways would have the feminists in an uproar if he were female.

Especially in terms of his relationships.

I mean take Kyle's relationships as they are now and just switch the sexes involved:

Okay, so you start with "Kyla Rayner", a freelance artist given the ring after "Holly Jordan" went nuts and/or gets possessed by the Parallax spirit. She has a very supportive boyfriend named "Alexander DeWitt", who ends up in her fridge.

So far so good.

Now, under mind control, "Kyla" ends up attacking the Titans. She manages to expel the telepath from her mind and starts hitting it off with "Donald Troy". It goes relatively well until he catches a nude male model in her apartment posing for "Kyla's" painting. He starts to go on a rampage, where upon he brings up Alex-of-the-Fridge.

Hmm, a bit disturbing I think. It can be scary when a guy is yelling at you like that. And the jealousy's unnerving.

Okay, they reconcile, she gets to meet his son, and things are going well. But naturally circumstances intercede. Don's ex and son are killed. He also ends up breaking up with her and ultimately dating a sexy weapons specialist.

Well, that's not too bad. Reads the same either way. The jealousy's the worst part and the yelling's not as forgivable in a man as it is in a woman.

But now we have Jade"Jadeite"? "Jonny Lee Hayden", or something like that. I like to keep my naming schemes consistant. Anyway, "Jonny" begins his tenure by barging in and insisting on being allowed to stay at "Kyla's" apartment while she's still dating "Don".

Okay, already there's a few warning bells. Barging into someone's place and insisting on staying there is cheeky when you're a girl, not so much for a guy. Now anyone who's read GL knows how the relationship goes. They get together, she becomes Ion, he gets a bit freaked out by this but is reassured by a haircut. She restores his powers. Resurrects the Guardians/Oa. Yay.

But her little assistant is attacked, and that in combination with the culmination of being a god, having one's heart yanked out in 3000 years ago Atlantis, and having the JLA's souls stored inside, and other factors lead to her going out into space for a while. "Jonny" comes along at first, but eventually chooses to go back whereupon he ultimately cheats on her.

Okay, pretty hateful regardless right there.

Anyway, she comes home to find this and a fight takes place in which she says "I never thought you were such a-" And then is slapped before she can finish. She apologizes.

...See, there we're getting into troublesome territory. With sexes shifted, what was just a hateful move from a woman who couldn't wait becomes a bit more disturbing. Regardless, "Kyla" leaves, lets "Jonny" keep the apartment.

Now what's interesting to me is that if I just read the above story outline, and forget the original comic. I actually start to get worried. I mean, if I saw a female friend, after the death of her boyfriend follow that pattern, I'd be really really worried about her. "Don" isn't bad, as much of his behavior can be excused because of grief. But "Jonny" is pretty hateful as he is. And it seems like the woman has entered into a self-destructive pattern. It's only a matter of time before she dates a real abuser. She seems to be heading in that direction.

What I find absolutely fascinating about this is that the thought never occurred to me reading the comic. Everything I've described here happened in the comics. The pattern remains in the comic. But it was only when the sexes were reversed that it started to occur to me how fucked up it was.

It's interesting to me, because domestic abuse for example happens both ways. But the female-abuser is not something our society is incredibly adept at comprehending. We immediately assume that the guy is weak or emasculated which of course is not the case. But blaming the victim is even more obvious in this case. Now comics have done a lot of new, modern stories before, and I'd actually be very impressed if a good writer chose to tackle the topic of female-to-male domestic abuse. I doubt they would, but if they did, Kyle with his pattern, and his fixation on dominant women, would be a logical choice for the writers to use. If they'd decided to go that route.

I don't exactly know what I'm getting at in this post, it's more an observation of myself that I found particularly noteworthy.


  • At December 18, 2005 2:56 AM, Blogger Ragnell said…

    Actually, Kyle would be easiest to use since he's a Green Lantern and likely to be exposed to an alien race with extremely dominant women who might be sued to being stronger than the males. They could avoid the "effeminate" argument entirely with someone from say, Boodika's race.

  • At December 18, 2005 3:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The Pheonix area has 13 homes for battered or otherwise abused women. No men or boys over 12 are allowed in any of them. Thats kind of screwy for guys who get it or women with sons they don't want around abusive men.

    This all came from the heads of one of the homes who came to my Phi 101 class to speak. She and her consort, when asked why there aren't any places for men said they didn't know and that having to turn away obviously hurt women just because they want to protect their sons is growing in number.

    Thats what this article reminded me of. It's not really what I wanted to sleep on tonight but such is my fate for reading and thinking.

  • At December 18, 2005 3:17 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Thanks for commenting.

    Yeah, the cultural double-standard is rather scary.

    Which actually might be a reason to have a story like that. Or at least why a story like that might work.

    The editors probably wouldn't go for it though. Comics audiences are still primarily young men after all. Though personally I think men would appreciate a well-written story. And more are familiar with abuse than we think anyway.

  • At December 18, 2005 3:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I personally think people just get more and more pc. Like if you had the "man abuse womam" scenario people would treat as a sad commentary. If you had it reversed the editors fear a rebutle of angry letters saying why is it always a woman being the bad guy or some such insanity.

    It's also probably some of what you said. They just can't really accept it happens. I had a friend (had because we stopped talking) who got hit by his girlfriend. We always told him to leave but he loved her to much. Then I see the exact same thing happen to my female cousin and she had the exact same reason.

    Sometimes it just wears you down how truely strange and disheartening humanity can be.

  • At December 18, 2005 3:46 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    It is disheartening. And pervasive. Like I said, I didn't even think about it at all until I mentally reversed the genders. And that's without changing any behavior.

    Actually I think if done well, it could be really good. Especially if it emphasizes that most abusers aren't one-note evil people. They're human beings who've lost control over themselves somewhere along the line and only really feel like they have it back when dominating another.

    I think all those Lifetime movies do a disservice when they portray all abusers like cartoon villains. Because they're not. There's a reason why victims stay and it's not just fear. See, whatever it is about the person that made them fall in love...that wasn't faked. That's still there. There's just also all that pain and anger and self-loathing that cycles around in there as well causing them to hurt others.

    I'm not saying an abused victim should stay with the abuser of course. If someone's being hurt, they should get help. But when you forget the humanity in people, the problem becomes dehumanized. It's like...why is she still with Snidely Whiplash when he's so evil. Is she stupid? And that's not fair to anyone.

    I don't know, I think a real good portrayal would take all of this into account. I think in a real portrayal you should be able to pity as well as be angry at the abuser. Maybe if they did that, it would work. I don't know.

  • At December 18, 2005 4:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Well when a guy smashes a girls teeth in with a beer bottle and a girl hit a guy with the side of a tennis racket it's kind of hard not to think of them as evil. Both those are true by the way.

    Three other quick things:

    I was trying to sleep and this topic kept creeping back in and then with the changing of genders I got to Sand who theoreticly can be either. Then (and this will haunt me forever) I realised you posting him and The Thing is the only logical pairing. Sands body is sand (duh) and probably coarse. Not extremely but you know not something you'd likely rub sensitive areas on. Ergo Thing is the only one who could! Thus creating a scenario where rock monster Sand needs loving, and even with a male ident can readidly accept by changing genders or just adding on a new opening!

    Yes my mind is completely gone, and I am rather disgusted that i could create a scenario like that.
    But I hope it helps to quell those slash urges!

    Number two I created a post on my Blog refering to your "Lead Pipe" and which character is the ultimate never give up one. Found at here.

    "Lastly I forgot to mention:
    She has a very supportive boyfriend named "Alexander DeWitt", who ends up in her fridge.

    So far so good."

    Was a hillarious quote.

  • At December 18, 2005 4:45 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Yeah, I'm not really good at expressing myself. Certainly that sort of abuse is undeniably an evil act. It's just that humanity is more than just that aspect. If you blind yourself to the rest, you run the risk of losing empathy with the victim. (If he's so evil, why does she still think she loves him.) I don't want it to seem like I'm excusing abuse. I'm not. It's terrible.

    And actually Sand's body seems to replicate flesh well enough that no one knew he wasn't cured for years. So I'd imagine he wouldn't have any trouble having sex. My theory is that what it is is that the carbon bases in his cellular structure were transformed/replaced by silicon.

    But if he were really coarse, he wouldn't have been surprised by sinking into the Earth.

    And I'm glad to have amused you.

  • At December 18, 2005 1:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    In the case of my friend his girlfriend had her good days. But by and large she yelled at him, and was just a bad person. Now my cousin on the other hand, her husband refered to her as whore and would address her as such in front of my family. He kicked her out of the house many times to which she's always come and stayed with us. I recognize they're still people, and they were always nice to me, but they hurt people I care about. That makes me angry but I have to repress it because they don't want any one to confront the abusers.

    Oh well I took up more then enough space on your comments board. It's just this is a subject that I readidly see and one that make me angry.

  • At April 30, 2007 9:48 AM, Blogger Matthew Perpetua said…

    Wouldn't it be Kylie Rayner?

  • At November 25, 2010 11:03 AM, Anonymous Sildenafil said…

    indeed, there no many abuse case in which end been a women the aggressor, but in comic world anything can happen, take as example She-Hulk, she hit anybody.

  • At February 08, 2012 8:58 AM, Anonymous viagra online said…

    hahaha what a nerdy point of view... anyway I always enjoy the ideas in your post.


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