Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Women in Refrigerators

I seem to be on a kick today, oh well. Here goes nothing:

Regarding Women in Refrigerators.

This topic's been going around fandom for years since Gail Simone wrote that essay about the gratuitous violence against female characters. And yeah I can see why that bothers some, but honestly...
It's not misogyny. It isn't. These aren't real women. The writers are telling a story, yes, it's easy to attack the love-interests to manufacture angst for the character. It's even lazy. But honestly, it's not about them being women. It's about them being a love interest. If you watch Alias or La Femme Nikita on television, for example, you might notice that all of Sydney Bristow's or Nikita's love interests also die in gratuitous ways. They do. It's just the way it is.
And they're men.

Now there are some who'll say I'm not a feminist but I am, I believe in equal rights for women and men, for example, however, I don't believe that killing the love interests in comics is the main problem here. The problem is that there needs to be more female (or gay) heroes who have male love interests who can die/be brutalized just as effectively. The problem is that there needs to be more female heroes.

I also liked Alexandra DeWitt. And Steph Brown. These two are often referred to in the Women-in-Refridgerator arguments. Alexandra after all was where the term came from. But the thing is, to me, these two characters should never be used for the same argument. Why?
Because Alex was created to die. Marz saying this has been cited as an example of his misogyny. Which is idiotic. She's *backstory*. Just like Martha and Thomas Wayne. Just like the Flying Graysons. Janet Drake. Ted Kord's dead mother. Jor-El of Krypton. J'onn J'onzz's wife. Hell, even Abin Sur. Her death is a motivator and inspiration for the hero. That's it. The sole difference is that we actually got to see them interact for a few issues before her death. But you know what? That's actually *respect*. Ron Marz probably knew we wouldn't really care about Alex, as we don't really care about the Waynes or the Graysons, but he gave her a little extra time to exist that wasn't flashbacks. (Probably necessary, as Kyle's more repressive than brooding, and therefore not likely to dwell on flashbacks when he can fracture his mind into making a cosmic-events causing Dark Side persona.)

And Alexandra DeWitt was a great character. Smart, funny, mature. She was something of a mentor too, teaching Kyle a bit about what it means to be a Lantern. In fact, the fact that we still bitch about her death now, shows that in four issues, Ron Marz managed to make a character that was truly memorable. In fact, most of Marz's female guest characters were decent. Allison-the-model, for example, was interesting and insightful. The only two females Marz wrote that I *didn't* like were Jade and Donna Troy. Hmm, you know what? I've *never* liked Jade or Donna Troy. The point though is, I've never seen a real misogynist who could write decent female characters. See the Sword of Truth series for evidence of that.

The only similarities between Alex and Stephanie Brown are that Steph was also a minor, female character. That's it. Steph was a hero herself, prominent in Robin, and formidable in her appearances in Batgirl, Batman and other related series and had been for years She had whole issues in which she was the central figure and several dramatic plotlines, like the birth of her child. She was killed in a big Gotham-wide crossover, through events of her own creation. Steph was a force in the Batman universe and could never be mistaken for backstory. It might be said too, that the gratuitousness of her torture,in no ways resembles the very quick death of Alex. (And in the infamous refrigerator scene, we never really got to see anything anyway. It was actually quite tastefully done in my opinion)

The thing is though, we can't shy away from killing female characters just because they're women. That's sexism as well. Honestly, in Rann-Thanagar, if the choice is between Jenny-Lynn Hayden dying or Guy Gardner...Jade better be the one who bites it. It's not a question about female vs. male characters to me right now. It's about whether we lose an awesome, complicated, deeper-than-he-appears character instead of the less complex, less competent, less interesting one, just because the latter is female and killing female characters is "misogynistic".
In summation: Love interests die, deal with it. We need more female heroes, so more male love interests die. Ron Marz is not a misogynist. Using Alex and Steph as examples of the same concept is simplistic and flawed. Sex shouldn't be the determinant for which person dies, the character's personality, complexity, depth and impact should. (If Guy dies instead of Jade in Rann-Than, I will froth at the mouth.) And stop using the word misogynist. These characters aren't real people, damnit.

You wouldn't call Devin Grayson a misandrist (I looked it up!) because she tortures Nightwing on a monthly basis, would you?


  • At December 14, 2005 12:38 AM, Blogger Diamondrock said…

    Your remarks are well thought out, your colors are blinding, and you spelled "refrigerators" wrong.

    Good to have you along for the ride!

    (and help me come up with a title for my comic blog?)

  • At December 14, 2005 12:43 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Heh, you are indeed correct. That'll teach me to type this half asleep without access to a spell check. I'll fix it in edit

    At least I got misandrist right. :-) Hmm, you could always go with my standby choice: "OA needs YOU!"

  • At December 14, 2005 5:28 AM, Blogger Ragnell said…

    No, I'd call Devin Grayson one of us who got a chance to write.

    If I ever got the chance to write Kyle or Hal, those clothes would be torn off so often Witchblade would look prudish.

    And I'm totally with you, Jade had better die instead of Guy Gardner or Captain Comet

    Cool start. I look forward to your next update. May I suggest cross-posting your list of favorites from livejournal?

  • At December 14, 2005 5:35 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Wow, thanks for commenting. And yeah, well, there are quite a few reasons I'm looking forward to Ion. I can't deny that Marz's tendency toward gratuitous bondage and disappearing costumes is on the list.

    I don't really know Captain Comet, but he was cooler in the Rann Thanagar miniseries than Jade's been in her entire career, so I agree.

    Right, good idea. Meant to do that and forgot. :-)

  • At January 11, 2006 4:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Women In Refrigerators was never the male-bashing nonsense some wanted it to be. I asked a question and put the answers up unedited. In some cases, people shockingly hung themselves, in others, they made other points entirely. It's still interesting stuff to me, but more because of how people respond.


  • At January 11, 2006 4:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I would also like to add, just for the record (and I realize you didn't mean to imply otherwise), Devin didn't just get a 'chance to write.' She worked her ASS off for two years and did stellar audition work. She took the hard road and made it in. Just sayin'.


  • At January 11, 2006 4:42 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Wow! Thank you for responding! It really is an interesting phenomenon, you've started with WiR. (I'll admit, a part of me really wants to ask for your autograph right now, even though it's highly impractical to ask over the internet. :-))

    I admit, I never really saw WiR itself as male-bashing (I suppose this entry was more targetting other folk's interpretations of it, though I definitely could have/should have made that clearer.) I've enjoyed reading it a lot, it's definitely a really interesting look at different aspects of comics that personally, I doubt I'd ever have considered myself.

    (And there's definitely no doubting Ms. Grayson's talent from this quarter. Her storytelling style doesn't always suit my personal tastes, but she's very good. I loved her work on Gotham Knights)

  • At August 12, 2009 8:38 AM, Blogger Saranga said…

    So, I've got time to kill in my lunch break and I thought i'd start reading the WFA archive.

    and, A-HA! I wholeheartedly agree with your comments on the WiR phenomenon. They get killed because they're love interests. Women get killed more often because the majority of heroes are straght men.
    Now i think I shall make a mental note to link back to this post. You put it better than me.

  • At August 12, 2009 2:31 PM, Blogger Saranga said…

    umm, I'm wondering if my last comment sounded a little disparaging and rude to ppl who do believe WiR is sexist? apologies if so.


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