Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

All Women are Me, Damnit

I get asked sometimes why I care so much about something as "minor" as feminist issues in comics. Why does it matter? Why don't you find something else? It's designed for guys! What would it be like if a guy tried to tell romance novelists that their men were portrayed badly?

Why can't you just ignore it? Why are you making a big deal about nothing? Why are you so angry?

And so on. And so forth.

I've realized, and this is not intended to be an insult, that most men have no idea what it's like to be a woman.

(DISCLAIMER: Despite the title, the following is not the universal experience of all women. This is very specific to MY experiences. We're not actually all the same.)

Let me show you what it's like for me. With a page from Flash #35. A page that was written by a man, even. Which doesn't make it any less true.

Click to read please. It's important.

See that woman there is Linda Park. Linda Park is an investigative reporter with a will and aggressiveness comparable to Lois Lane. She has a tremendous sense of self and doesn't yield to much of anyone. Her relationship with Wally has always been as much, if not more, on her terms than on his, and she's not afraid to reach for what she wants or to smack down an insult.

And see all those comments there? See what they're saying about her as they get her ready for a new position? See how she's upset, clearly angry, but she's not saying a word?

In fact. She never does say anything about it. She doesn't kick their asses. She doesn't put them in her place. She just goes to do her job, does it tremendously well, then goes undercover and saves Wally's ass. There is no retribution for being picked apart to her face.

That's what it's like to be a woman. Every day.

Every day, there are unspoken rules. For work. For home.

"Keep your hair and clothes neat, don't look sloppy."
"Dress professionally for business, preferably a suit." Those apply pretty evenly for both genders, right? How about these?

"Don't wear a suit with pants. Pants are mannish. Wear a skirt."
"Don't wear that skirt. It's too short. You'll look like a slut."
"That skirt's too long. You'll look dowdy and frigid. You have to be attractive to be listened to."
"Wear heels, they highlight the legs. But not too high. Too high is promiscuous. An inch or two. Never tower over the men."
"Hair shouldn't be too short. You'll look butch. Intimidating. Your co-workers feel threatened. Short and fluffy. Or long. But worn up. Long hair loose is unprofessional. It'd better be conditioned and blow dried."
"Wear make-up. No make-up means you look plain. No one listens to the plain girl."
"Too much make-up looks slutty."

"Don't be too pale. You look vampiric. Tan."
"Don't be too dark. Use powders, lighten up."
"Don't be too boring. Exotic is good."
"Don't be too ethnic. Ethnic is intimidating."

"Don't stare directly into a man's eyes. It's challenging."
"Don't look away, he'll think you're not paying attention."
"Look up through your lashes. Properly made up. But don't be obvious."
"Don't be a bimbo. They're not going to listen if you don't give them a reason."
"Don't be too smart. It's a threat."

"Don't look slutty. You could get raped."
"Don't dress too stuffy. You look frigid."
"You're too fat. Lose weight."
"You're too skinny. Men like curves."

"Don't say a word about how fucking angry this whole public dissection of your appearance makes you or you will lose this fucking job and you kind of need it to fucking eat."

Okay. That last is probably a bit more venomous than I intended.

That's what it's like though. Every. Day.

And what happens if we don't cooperate? We might never be hired in the first place. We'll probably get a "strong recommendation" for our future attire. If not outright written up for "unprofessonalism". We could even lose our jobs.

Like our skirts or heels or makeup or perfectly coiffed hair have anything to do with how well we do our jobs.

You know what's worse though? Random people will walk right up to you and think they have the right to talk about this stuff to your face! "Oh honey, you'd be so pretty with a little make-up." "Is your hair real?" "Lose some weight, you fat bitch!" When you're a woman, people think they can just say this. And if you get mad, you're the irrational one. "Sheesh, what's her problem?"

It's just as bad if you do look the way they want. There are men out there who honestly believe that because a woman is attractive to them, they can leer and say horrible things, they can even put their hands on her. If she dares to get upset, then it's "whore", "bitch", "cocktease". "Why are you dressed like that if you don't want anyone to look?!"

And it can very easily escalate to worse. Have you heard of that Waitress movie playing a few months back? The director of it, a woman named Adrienne Shelly was murdered, because a nineteen year old got angry that she confronted him about the noise he was making in the apartment below hers. He was "having a bad day". He hung her from her own shower rod, because he was "having a bad day".

Could that happen to a man? Maybe. But not as likely.

You know what my first reaction to this story was? "Why in the world did she go and confront this guy on her own?!"

Yeah. My first reaction wasn't to condemn her fucking murderer, but to condemn the victim for expecting the man she encountered to be a fucking human being and NOT take his anger out on her.

I'm not saying this is true for every woman of course. We're all different. But I know a great many women who are in the same boat as me. We live with this every day. And we even read comic books!

So we get angry.

We get angry when a wonderful, complex character like Power Girl's worth is reduced to her breasts.

We get angry when female characters of equivalent experiences are written as making rookie mistakes to make the men look better.

We get angry when rape and violence against women are sensationalized to the point of being the lead draw for the fucking story.

We get angry when we see strong women reduced to mere T&A, presenting every orifice to the (straight male) audience's eye.

We get angry when female characters are belittled and disrespected and treated as disposable.

We get angry at costumes that cross the line from cheesy and fun to outright ridiculous obstacles to crime-fighting.

We get angry.

And sometimes it's justified. Sometimes we may be overreacting. But you know what?

It's worth it.

It is FUCKING worth it. Because we may not be able to do a whole lot about the belittling and the objectification, that ever-present possibility of violence that we see every day in our lives. But this?

This is fixable. This is something that we can fight. Women in television, books, movies, music, video games, comics...every little triumph we make here goes a little way toward fixing the bigger picture.

I'm not writing this to condemn men. I'm not trying to say "only men are to blame." Women also do their own part in oppressing one another as well, after all. This is something bigger than that. This is society. This is something built by generations of traditions and ideas that are indoctrinated into us from birth and passed down to our children. It's something that we're all a part of, even when we don't realize it. This is something that we do to ourselves as much as each other.

But I'm an optimist. I believe with all my heart and soul that this can change. That every little bit, every tiny triumph means something at the end of the day.

That's why I care.


  • At July 03, 2007 8:03 AM, Blogger Rich said…

    "But I'm an optimist. I believe with all my heart and soul that this can change. That every little bit, every tiny triumph means something at the end of the day.

    That's why I care."

    And that's why you'll make things better.

    Honestly, this post is worth a thousand about statues and covers and whatever.

    It's an important post and deserves to be read by as many people as possible.

    Folks, start your linking.

  • At July 03, 2007 8:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This isn't said anywhere near often enough.

  • At July 03, 2007 8:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I've said it before, and I'll say it again - A-freakin'-men!

    This ordeal has been on my mind as of late. I've been looking back at my college writing, and it amazes me how much of this twisted, self-defeating thinking is just engrained into your brain as part of being a woman. It's appalling (and embarrassing).

    Everyone needs to read this. Everyone.

  • At July 03, 2007 10:01 AM, Blogger SallyP said…

    Hallelujah and amen.

  • At July 03, 2007 11:04 AM, Blogger Ragtime said…

    Very well put.

  • At July 03, 2007 11:27 AM, Blogger Seth T. Hahne said…

    I hesitate to say anything because it's obviously a fiery issue, but I do have a small critique to offer (and it's probably something of which you're aware). But first, let me say that I agree with you and think you have every right to be angry. I'm not saying that to be patronizing or to mitigate whatever ire my critique might inspire (if any). I really do honestly feel you on this issue.

    Partly because your experience matches my experience. And I thing many of our experiences.

    The thing I wish to say is that the grass really isn't all that greener on the other side. Maybe a slightly more verdant shade of brown, but not by much. The problem is that we are all governed by the arbitrary rules lorded over us by society. We, both men and women, have sex roles to fulfill and if we stray from what is expected of us, society reacts and there are consequences. Most of the examples have ramifications for men as well.

    If I wore a skirt (no matter how long or short) to the office, I'd probably be out on my ear. High heels? Nope. Make up? Long hair? Purse? Jewelry? With the exception of jewelry (as there is a certain type that is generally considered mannish), none of these are things that men can indulge in without society's understanding of sex roles issuing its condemnation.

    I'm not saying this to take away from your anger, but to expand it. We, everyone of us, live under the thumb of artifice. Every implication that a woman needs to be "womanly" is likewise an implication that men need to be "manly" - and both terms are pretty much entirely crafted through nothing less arbitrary than cultural whimsy. I think you've touched on this before, when I asked why you include homosexual issues in the links on WFA.

    So yeah, be angry. Be angry for us all. I am.

  • At July 03, 2007 11:33 AM, Blogger Simon (formerly Johnny Sorrow) said…

    A huzzah from me, too. A damn fine piece of writing, kalinara.

  • At July 03, 2007 2:44 PM, Blogger ShellyS said…

    I'm answering on my blog, rather at length, actually, because I agree and because my experiences differ greatly and because my husband faces similar issues because the issues aren't always gender-specific. They're a people problem.

    Still, discussing the issues is a good thing. Excellent post. :)

  • At July 03, 2007 3:25 PM, Blogger Centurion said…

    Just felt like tossing my 2 cents into the lot, not that it takes away from such a strong statement (strong in the good way).

    I know when I had long hair people didn't think a whole lot one way or another out loud.

    I was pressured to cut it shorter for a job interview, meaning long hair isn't acceptible.

    When I had it cut back really short everyone said I looked better. I don't really care about hair, but apparently men are not supposed to have long hair if they want to look good.

    There are times I miss having long hair, but then I go outside in the heat of the summer...

  • At July 03, 2007 5:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    holy shazam. right on, sister.

  • At July 03, 2007 5:47 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Thanks, you guys (and gals)!

    the Dane:

    I don't disagree. I think in the end it's all connected. The stupid statue and cover, that fan who complained about Kyle Rayner crying over his dead mother... Men are "this". Women are "that". And if any of "this" crosses over to "that", things get very uncomfortable.

    "Womanly" is an insult. Means weaker, more emotional, less intelligent, less competent, and that says a lot about how our society views women. As well as the poor unfortunate guys who don't fit the ideal of manhood.

    It's not good for anyone.

  • At July 03, 2007 7:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    That was masterful. Can't say much else besides braveau. :)

  • At July 03, 2007 8:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    At what point do you start to filter things out though? I'm not trying to be a troll or start a war, but after reading and re-reading your post, some things started to bother me. Someone might say to me, "You know, that shirt makes your skin look splotchy", or "those glasses make you look piggish" - there's a certain point where I go 'Oh, okay,' and go on about my day. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, of course, we do not always want to hear it. There is always an avenue that you can take when dealing with a “toxic” personality. Often times, we feel we have to deal with them; maybe because they are co-worker, maybe because they’re a family friend. I believe the best way to deal with these type of people is directly. I think there comes a point where, if you’ve reached your max tolerance, you have to say to a person ‘I don’t appreciate your comments,’ instead of suffering them. You bring up an interesting point about work. The work place is full of toxic people - people who feel its their duty to inform you of your fashion mishap, or let you know you could lose a little weight. Take advantage of your Human Resources department - they are there to help with these kinds of issues! They will not use your name, and it is sometimes easier to let them deal the problem, versus you potentially hurting someone’s feelings.
    As far as wardrobe is concerned, every business has their own dress code. Just like you cannot run into your job screaming obscenities - nor can you dress inappropriately. If your employers policy is “business casual” you know you can’t wear a mini skirt and a tank top - just like I know I can’t wear my Justice League of America satellite era shirt and pajama pants - that just won’t fly. It’s not personal - it’s policy.

  • At July 03, 2007 9:21 PM, Blogger kalinara said…


    Thanks for replying. Anyway, at this point everything gets filtered through. That's a part of it really. There is almost never a single incident that is a set off, most single incidents are laugh-off-able, whatever sorts.

    The whole point though is that it's never a single incident. Especially not for most women. The one person who goes "Smile! You look better when you smile!" is usually maybe the third or fourth in line after many many other unsolicited comments. It gets old. And really, unless you're willing to make a scene or alienate someone, you really HAVE to let it go.

    People have a right to their opinions, sure, but people also seem to think that if the person is a woman, they have the right to push that opinion onto the woman. And just because you "filter" it or "let it go" doesn't mean it didn't happen.

    As for dress codes, it IS true that every place has expectations. But I'd say in general, if you look at men and women working the same job, the expectations for the woman's attire will be more strict than the man's, and definitely impacts how coworkers interact.

    Even if the dress code doesn't SAY skirts as opposed to pants in many jobs, doesn't mean it doesn't have a severe impact on how even your boss interacts with you. (And depending on the job, it's very likely that you'll get a "strong recommendation" that you switch your attire.)

    Heck, I've heard stories about DOCTORS getting heck for the amount of makeup they're wearing. Too much or too little. Because apparently THAT is what is important when a woman is trying to fix people.

  • At July 03, 2007 10:43 PM, Blogger Jeff said…

    Dress codes for men are easier because our clothing is so much more constrained in choice. Khaki's or slacks and a collared shirt. Tie and jacket if formal. That's it. There is no room for creativity. Everyone agrees with that. With women's clothing, there are so many more choices and variables that someone will find something that offends their sensibilities, regardless of how little it has to do with the job at hand or professional appearance.

    It's not fair that women get judged on their appearance so much more than men.

  • At July 03, 2007 11:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…


  • At July 04, 2007 12:07 AM, Blogger Amy Reads said…

    Hi Kalinara,
    Yes, yes, and Thank You For Saying It, Yes.

    Huzzah, Friend, and Well Done.


  • At July 04, 2007 1:16 AM, Blogger L. R. Jonté said…

    WOW. That rant was brilliant! It was better than... um... CHOCOLATE COATED SEX!

  • At July 04, 2007 2:08 AM, Blogger Seth T. Hahne said…

    Lies, Lisa. Lies.

  • At July 04, 2007 7:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Just ... fuck yeah.

  • At July 04, 2007 8:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    I've heard men say "But I've been told to smile by women too!" and then immediately qualify it with "By older female relatives when I was a kid" and not see how that totally validates the whole power-dynamic argument.

    But I wonder if any man, working in a front office, has had a female customer come up to him, grab his face and turn his head and loudly demand if that pimple on his neck is a hickey, and what was he DOING last night, wink/nudge?

    --Yes, that really did happen to me once.

  • At July 04, 2007 9:16 AM, Blogger S Bates said…

    Lovely post! A few comments (which are probably going to come out sounding sooo wrong).

    I've realized, and this is not intended to be an insult, that most men have no idea what it's like to be a woman.

    And often, reading stuff both online and offline, I get the impression that a number of women have no idea what it's like to be a man. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I have no idea what it's like to be black. Or gay. Or a Muslim. Or to be a New Yorker. Or hundreds of other things.

    When you're a woman, people think they can just say this

    And the same goes for men. Not the exact same things, of course. But 'Lose some weight, you fat bastard' or 'God, you're skinny' or 'What's up with your hair?' or 'Why are you wearing that shirt?'. And so on.

    Having said that, us men get away with a lot of things. Our list of unspoken rules is much shorter (who comes up with these unspoken rules anyway? Where do they originate? Society? Huh?).

    So I'm with The Dane. Be angry. Be angry for us all.

    if you look at men and women working the same job, the expectations for the woman's attire will be more strict than the man's

    Really? Where I work, I get the slightly opposite impression, although that may be due to women having more choice then men. Having said that, where I work (a professional engineering company) there are significantly less women than men. I guess it depends where you work.

    But I wonder if any man, working in a front office, has had a female customer come up to him, grab his face and turn his head and loudly demand if that pimple on his neck is a hickey, and what was he DOING last night, wink/nudge?

    That hasn't exactly happened to me (I don't work on a front office for starters) but I've had something similar happen. And yes, it's bloody embarrassing.

  • At July 04, 2007 9:45 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    who comes up with these unspoken rules anyway? Where do they originate? Society? Huh?).

    Unfortunately I think society's really the only thing we can blame. It's just sort of programmed in, unconscious and consciously, all of us. The exact rules are different for everyone and vary based on the times, but some form of them I think exist for everyone.

    I wish there was some one person to blame though. Then we could fix a lot of things with one well-placed smackdown. :-)

  • At July 04, 2007 10:33 AM, Blogger Gordon D said…

    I linked to this post yesterday, and all I gotta say is... I don't think I've ever heard it articulated so well.


  • At July 04, 2007 11:17 AM, Blogger Tamora Pierce said…

    I've never seen the Whittling--"You're not [this, this, and this], and you are [this, this, and this], and none of it is satisfactory or appropriately feminine"--laid out so well.

    And you're right. Whether it's comics, the paper mirror, or any other medium, it can be fixed. It can show people there is a different way to proceed, and thus, it should be fixed.

    A truly mighty piece of writing!

  • At July 04, 2007 12:56 PM, Blogger Swinebread said…

    This one of the reasons I've abandoned mainstream comics.

  • At July 04, 2007 1:13 PM, Blogger Unknown said…

    "And often, reading stuff both online and offline, I get the impression that a number of women have no idea what it's like to be a man. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I have no idea what it's like to be black. Or gay. Or a Muslim. Or to be a New Yorker. Or hundreds of other things."

    Yeah. I'd really like to read those rants too. No sarcasm. I seriously want to understand better about how it is for people who are different from me. People are the most fascinating thing ever.

    But I'll take a large helping of that chocolate coated sex too, if I can get it in sugar free. Sounds yummy.

  • At July 04, 2007 1:50 PM, Blogger Leslie said…

    Just wanted to say thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this. This needs to be said and you are right on.

  • At July 04, 2007 1:58 PM, Blogger Siskoid said…

    You know, it's bizarre.

    The comics-related blogosphere is repleat with posts about especially sexist or racist panels from the Golden and Silver ages, where they are the object of derision. "Ha, ha, look how backwards we used to be."

    When we laugh at those and find them "quaint", there's an implicit point of view that we are over it, that society has moved on and that those stories would not be acceptable by today's standards.

    And yet what we get from some comics is worse. Let me just say it: Those are bad comics. When I see a comic get lauded on the blogs, how often is that comic considered insensitive to gender and race issues? Very often the opposite. Manhunter, Nextwave, Invincible, Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane are good comics, and they don't demean or objectify women. Comics that are poor at portraying women - Justice League of America, Supergirl, etc. - have loads of other things wrong with them. Sometimes the writing is good, but the art is bad. And a lot of objectifying art happens to be be bad art overall (which means, yes, a cover can ruin a whole book).

    Though I know 90% of everything is crap, I'm a little disturbed that this is the way "badness" has chosen to represent itself in 2007. I suppose sexism has always been around, but now that writers have added sexual violence in the name of "realism and edginess" to their tool box, I find myself longing for the days of the Comics Code. I feel weird just typing it. I'm a staunch opposer of censorship, but a lot of this stuff is just puerile and irresponsible. I don't believe in morality standards, but the level of sex and violence has just risen to the point of being offensive and infantile.

    The only way to get better is to allow yourself to be criticized. In other words, readers should speak up, either vocally or with their spending. What I don't like in the industry right now is the way editors are brushing off criticism. DC's kind of winning on this front (if we have to name a winner, or at least a lesser loser) between Quesada's "you're reading too much into our Hentai cover" and DC soon reworking Supergirl as a real girl. It at least looks like SOMEone's listening.

    So keep talking.

  • At July 04, 2007 3:53 PM, Blogger Rob S. said…

    Great post, Kalinara.

  • At July 04, 2007 4:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    That was beautiful, well phrased and absolutely on the spot. I've been thinking some of these things myself, but never been able to put them down in words - but you just did it, and better than I could ever hope of doing myself. Thank you. This deserves to be read by as many people as at all possible.

  • At July 04, 2007 8:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Oh! beautiful! Thank you!

    For every time I have endured bullshit...

    and had to...

    And every time I have said something, and suffered the consequences,


  • At July 04, 2007 9:36 PM, Blogger Ami Angelwings said…


    Everything you said is very true. :) But also it's sad that it's very true. :(

  • At July 05, 2007 12:19 AM, Blogger McBangle said…

    Awesome post! Thanks so much!

  • At July 05, 2007 1:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I know I'm just reiterating most people's vibe here, but I truly felt like standing up in my cubicle at work and applauding until someone asked me why so I could show them this. I feel relieved and united with womankind everywhere to remember I'm not the only one dealing with this shit. Thankyou.

  • At July 05, 2007 3:18 AM, Blogger skullduggery said…

    I read the comic page you posted ... and I like what the writer (whoever it was) was trying to do there.
    My first thought as I was reading it though was ... who would actually be saying ALL of these things?
    It didn't seem real (which I know, doesn't matter in the overall scheme of things).
    It just seemed like an agenda piece. Which again, I'm not disagreeing with what that particular page was trying to say --- it just reminded me a little bit of the end of Saving Private Ryan ... and I thought it was an OUTSTANDING movie ... and then the very end of it came and I felt like the director/screenwriter was trying to beat me over the head with their message and it really detracted from the movie and kind of ticked me off because I felt like it was so heavy-handed.
    This page wasn't heavy-handed (and didn't tick me off), but it is pretty clear there is a specific message there.
    All that aside ....
    Everything you said is true.
    The thing is ... (in most cases at least) you can't change the 'old guard'.
    You absolutely have to change the kids. That is where the major focus should be.
    You can also try to change the younger generations (those who have not achieved 'old guard' status yet).
    Kids are the best hope. They are easier to mold. They are looking for guidance. And they are the future after all.

  • At July 05, 2007 3:22 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    The thing to keep in mind, in the scene in question, Linda's just taken an anchor job. She's being made up for the chair, so one can assume the bits of dialogue are instructions to her and her makeup artist.

  • At July 05, 2007 7:23 AM, Blogger Nancy Lebovitz said…

    One more for the list of art offenses: women who are supposed to be good fighters, but whose skills come and go so that the stereotypes are still semi-intact.

    In Pirates of the Caribbean 3, the female lead is supposed to be really good at hand-to-hand, but when the male lead keeps grabbing her arm to get her attention so that he can propose to her during the big fight scene, she suddenly has no ability to shake him off.

    As for unwanted street comments, there are also plenty of guys who think they're entitled to not be snapped at or insulted no matter how annoying they are. They call this "being polite".

    At this point, I have two comebacks, neither of which have been field-tested yet. One is that those comments are like spam or telemarketing. The other is "How can you tell what you're doing if you're unwilling to accept normal feedback?"

  • At July 05, 2007 8:57 AM, Blogger Unknown said…

    Excellent post! I don't have anything really to add to the commentary because most of the points I'd make have already been made.

    I'm glad you're an optimist, though. In the end, optimists who dare to act will carry the day.

  • At July 05, 2007 9:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I remember reading this page when the issue first came out, and being forced to pause, and think, and reread it. I am in the chorus of those lauding your essay, but thank you, also, for bringing the pretty much forgotten Messner-Loeb run on Flash to the attention of your readers. I'm pretty sure that's his writing (with art by, I believe, Steve Lightle. I may be wrong on that).

    Though similar in many respects, Linda Park was originally set up as a kind of reverse Lois Lane in one respect: while Lois traditionally was smitten with Superman and constantly tried to uncover his secret identity, Linda--along with the rest of the world--knew Flash was Wally West, and found him to be an insufferable grandstander. But scenes such as the one you share here helped to show her as more than a two-dimensional variation on the Lois/Iris West theme. Wally and Linda's growing respect and then affection for each other took years to develop--a great journey.

    Again, a great essay, and thank you for also shining a light on Bill Messner-Loeb's deft character work in the title.

  • At July 05, 2007 11:42 AM, Blogger Scott (The Mad Thinker) Anderson said…

    And it can very easily escalate to worse. Have you heard of that Waitress movie playing a few months back? The director of it, a woman named Adrienne Shelly was murdered, because a nineteen year old got angry that she confronted him about the noise he was making in the apartment below hers. He was "having a bad day". He hung her from her own shower rod, because he was "having a bad day".

    Could that happen to a man? Maybe. But not as likely.

    I don't know if you know this, but men are murdered nearly 4 times as often as women are. 79% of murder victims are male. A study out of NY found that wives kill their husbands more often than husband kill their wives. Men are more likely to be victims of all violent crimes except rape and men are over all more likely to be victims of violent crime.

    Desipte what people believe about violent crime and gender, it is clearly men who are getting the worst of it. So yes, men have been killed because someone was having a bad day. Although you might point to comics and say they increase the rate of violence against women, may I point out that "beating up bad guys" suggests that beating up guys is a way to solve problems and that men are far more likely to be the objects of violence in comics than women are?

  • At July 05, 2007 1:16 PM, Blogger Unknown said…

    Scott --

    You also need to look at the context of the murder statistics you cite.

    Would a man have been hung from his own shower rod for going downstairs, knocking on the door, and asking his neighbor to keep it down?


  • At July 05, 2007 1:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Absolutely 100% on target. I've seen this same situation in education, theatre, and the corporate world. Even among friends. Women, we are just as guilty as men when it comes to this. It is a social epidemic, and the sooner we get past the "physical" and start looking at who people are based on their actions, we will strive to be a better people. Think of it as individualism , not only feminism.

  • At July 05, 2007 2:24 PM, Blogger Scott (The Mad Thinker) Anderson said…

    Umm, are you suggesting there might have been good reasons to kill the men? That men really are 4 times as a worthy of murder as women? That the murders of the men had a dignity to them? Are you asking me to catalogue a series of vile murders perpetrated against men to show that male murders are also bad? What are you suggesting?

    Plenty of men have been killed for minor reasons, like the two who were shot over the 4th of July for making too much noise. While it is true that the vast majority of people killed are involved in criminal activities, of those who aren't killed in relation to criminal activities, men are still more likely to be murdered.

    Is it the shower you are bothered by? The hanging? That was how the guy tried to make it look like a suicide. Are you suggesting that the murders of men aren’t covered up? What? And mightn't I note that the vast majority of lynching in the US were and ARE done to men? If it’s the shower that bothers you:

    I know that there is a belief that women are more likely to be victims of violence, but it just isn't the case. I’m really astonished that you’d down play the murder of men as if somehow it’s just not as important as the murder of people like you. Really.

  • At July 05, 2007 9:05 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    I would like to clarify that my point about Ms. Shelly's murder actually doesn't have to do with the statistics of violent murder between the sexes.

    My point had to do with my reaction, and the ingrained fear that most women in this country have drilled into their heads from birth. (i.e. don't walk down the river at night, don't wear too-short clothing in the park, don't make eye contact with a man at night or else you could be raped/murdered).

    Regardless about whether it's true that women are murdered more than men, the truth is that women have the possibility of violence as an idea ingrained in us from so young that when a woman IS careless enough to wear something too skimpy or to walk in a certain place at night, or does confront a strange man by herself that it in some sense becomes HER fault if something bad actually does happen to her. Not the person who ACTUALLY murders her.

    That reaction is what's specific to womanhood. If Ms. Shelly were Adrian Shelly, I'd think "Ack, poor guy, murdered by some psycho just because of a 'bad day'."

    Not, "What in the world possessed her to confront that man alone?"

    I DO think it's less likely that a man would have been killed for such a small complaint as the volume from the apartment, but that's just my personal opinion which can't really be proven or disproven, since motives and instigators are rarely a detailed part of crime statistics. You may very well disagree.

    I do know that my immediate instinctual reaction would have been different. And that's my point.

  • At July 05, 2007 9:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It's not just strangers who feel entitled to critique women's appearances, it's also close family and friends. My mom and bubby (grandmother) both tend to critique the appearance of myself and my sisters much more extensively than they do the appearance of my brothers. I don't think the intent is malicious, and in the case of my bubby, she really is trying to prepare us for how the world really works. Meaning: Oh, yes, you are going to be judged more harshly on your looks than is fair, but you'd better be ready for it and not leave any openings for attack.

    0__0; Oh, how far we've come.

    When I want to get dressed up, this can be useful, otherwise it's somewhat exasperating.

    And Scott, if you're still reading this, hijacking threads is *not cool*. It's even somewhat pathetic when the statistics you're using are WRONG. The majority of spousal homicides are men killing their wives, NOT women killing their husbands.

    Across the board, women are far more at risk from domestic violence from their boyfriends and husbands than vice versa.

    The leading cause of death for pregnant women is -Homicide-. (Can you guess who the leading perpetrators of said homicides are? I'll give you hint, look up.)

    The overall homicide rate in this country is skewed toward men. Also true is that men are far more likely to be involved in violent crimes (gang wars, armed robbery, etc.) Much of this is violence perpetrated by one group of men on another group of men.

    So why the hell are the men in this country so much more violent than the women? We're not that different, and since the over all homicide rate has been decreasing with time, it's not some intrinsic 'men are born violent thugs' phenomenon either.

    Rather, I think it's again social messages that are so ubiquitous that we barely register them anymore. Women in this country are just as likely to enjoy an action packed epic movie or comic book as men are, but at the same time we get very different messages within the entertainment and from the world at large.

    Girls are taught at a very young age that hitting is always wrong; that if you don't agree with someone you need to talk and make compromises with them. Carried too far, this emphasizes girls making -sacrifices- rather than genuine compromises.

    Boys, on the other hand, are taught that to be a real man you need to be able to slug out anyone who disagrees with you and always be the bold action adventure leader ready for a skirmish- and oh, yeah, you're not really supposed to hit other people in Real Life because it's wrong but as all Real MenTM know talking is only for women, sissies, and fags *wink* *wink* *nudge*nudge*

    Looking at this, I think I've given your threadjacking dribble far too much time, but since I've already typed it...


  • At July 05, 2007 9:28 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Hey guys, while I appreciate the discussion, I'm going to ask that you take the murder statistics debate to another blog since it's rather tangential to the topic at hand.

    Feel free to drop the link in these comments though.


  • At July 06, 2007 1:42 AM, Blogger DivaLea said…

    From one disobedient woman to another: WIN!

    Thank you for framing it so well, and through a prism of experience instead of convenient hot-and-cold acquisition.

  • At July 06, 2007 2:39 PM, Blogger Elisabeth said…

    Well said. I know that men can be just as constrained by gender expectations, but I honestly don't think men have to deal with it on a day to day basis like women do. Sure, a guy might look at "300" and feel bad for not looking like Gerard Butler, but there's probably a woman at his elbow assuring him he looks fine. Whereas I ride the train home and constantly get told to tan or asked if I dye my hair. By strangers. (I identified with that part of your blog, if you didn't notice. :P) I'm made to feel crap by men (and women) on a daily basis. Its the way it goes. But I do hope that will someday reverse...

  • At July 07, 2007 4:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Reading your post has been an excellent start to my weekend!
    I am fighting the same battle in Belgium.
    I'm certain we'll get through to society one day :-)

  • At July 07, 2007 10:00 AM, Blogger Scott (The Mad Thinker) Anderson said…

    I love how you think you are blaming the woman when you thought, "What in the world possessed her to confront that man alone?"

    You blame the woman in the same way that we blame the guy who climbs into the tiger cage for getting killed by the tiger. We don’t blame the tiger because the tiger is just doing what tigers do. They can’t help but to be bestial killers. But the guy should have known better.

    So when you hear that a woman confronted a man alone, well, what was she thinking? Doesn’t she know what guys are like?

    You think you are blaming the woman, and in a sense you are, but only because of what you believe about men. Imagine if you changed your question above to "What in the world possessed her to confront that African-American alone?"

    You’d see that as racist, wouldn’t you?

    So what does "What in the world possessed her to confront that man alone?" suggest to you?

    Remember when you said that if someone found something offensive then it was offensive. Period. And the person who found it offensive wasn’t wrong but was pointing out what the speaker was too blind to see in his own sexist motivation?

    Guess what!

  • At July 07, 2007 6:10 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Scott, the sexism of that statement is also my point. If you actually stop and read my post in its entirety instead of assuming it's an attack on the male gender, I think you'd realize that.

    My point was that I, and certain women like me, ended up raised with and internalizing the idea that men are violent and scary and will hurt us. That doen't of course mean we can't have male friends, but it means that if we're walking down a street at night, we're probably not going to wave to the man coming from the other direction.

    It IS blaming the woman though, because the assumption that all men are violent takes away the responsibility of this particular man not to kill this particular woman. It places the responsibility squarely on the woman's shoulders. Don't dress in this skirt, you'll be attacked. Don't walk in the park at night, you'll be attacked. Don't drink an unattended drink, you'll be drugged and attacked. Don't confront a man alone, you'll be attacked.

    By extension, if a woman does any of these its her fault.

    Men then are "just being men". They're robbed of any particular personal agency in this equation of course. It makes men a scary "other" to fear.

    It's an attitude that is tremendously harmful for both genders and I don't deny that. It's also an attitude that's been ingrained at birth and thus unconscious at the best of times.

  • At July 08, 2007 11:31 AM, Blogger Scott (The Mad Thinker) Anderson said…

    Scott, the sexism of that statement is also my point. If you actually stop and read my post in its entirety instead of assuming it's an attack on the male gender, I think you'd realize that.

    If you post was just about how you were raised and felt, I could see it not being an attack on the male gender. However, when you site example of nasty things that you say really happen and then top it off with “And it can very easily escalate to worse.” you are saying that it is easy to get men to explode into murderous rages and you pluck a story from the papers to prove it. You are talking about how your fears of men are unfounded. You give evidence that men really are irrationally violent beasts that direct their rage at people like you. Your opinion was “ Could that happen to a man? Maybe. But not as likely. You aren’t talking about how you’ve internalized your irrational fear, you are justifying it. If you hadn’t prefaced the story with “And it can very easily escalate to worse.”, I might agree with you that you were just talking about how women are held responsible for rapes. But you did preface the story with that phrase, and you did tell the story making it sound as if this was a common thing. It could “easily” happen. Maybe it’s even “likely” to happen to a woman. And you don’t think that saying men are easily provoked into murderous rages against women is an attack on men??? Really? If I said that Blacks or Native Americans or any group was easily provoked into irrational murderous rages, you wouldn’t see that as me attacking that group? Because I’ve got news for you. If you ever see me say that any group can be easily provoked into a murderous rage and I use a news story to prove my erroneous and biased assumption, you can bet that not only am I attacking that group, but I’m trying to control that group too.

    My point was that I, and certain women like me, ended up raised with and internalizing the idea that men are violent and scary and will hurt us. That doen't of course mean we can't have male friends, but it means that if we're walking down a street at night, we're probably not going to wave to the man coming from the other direction.

    I love how you make it sound as if it’s “society” that is spreading this fear of men, when it is you, dear. You are the one who said it was easy for men to explode into murderous rage against women. You said it. You can see it in your post. “And it can very easily escalate to worse.” And you toss out story to prove how monstrous men are. When I point out that men are far more likely to be murdered, you still insist -- without evidence -- that it is really women how are the most common victims of this easily inspired murderous rage.

    Oh, then you claim to be the victim of the very bias that you’ve been spreading.

    Remember when you said that those sexist people were blind to their own motivation? Well, now that you’ve admitted to being sexist, perhaps you’d like to open your eyes to your own motivation. Think about what you hoped to get people to do and to think and then ask yourself, “Why did I say that it was easy to get men to fly into murderous rages against women and use a story of a bizarre murder to prove my point?”

    Think about it and you’ll come to an answer. You’ll think about how Blacks were said to be murderous rapists and what goals the people who said that had. You’ll think about how Native Americans were called murderous rapists, and what goals the people who said that had. You’ll think about how gays were called child rapists and what goals the people who said that had, and you’ll realize that you weren’t trying to prove that men are murderous rapists to show that men haven’t been held responsible for their actions. You’ll think about your goals and how slandering men might help you reach those goals.

    And that’s it for me. Anything else on this topic, I’ll put on my blog and I’ll let you know if and when I’ve done it.

  • At July 08, 2007 3:37 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Honestly Scott, (if you remain to read this reply,) if you really want to read this post as an attack against men, you're more than welcome to do so.

    I personally think you're stretching in your interpretation. For whatever reason, you appear determined to read this post as a misandrist attack. I'm not going to conjecture why that is and I don't really care to know. Subsequently, I'm not terribly interested in further reading your take on the subject, but if you'd like to drop a link here, you're more than welcome to do so.

    I know what my intent was when I wrote this post and I'm reasonably confident in its expression. I stand by and am even proud of my words here.

    You can interpret that in any way that you choose, naturally.

  • At July 08, 2007 6:50 PM, Blogger mlj said…

    Initially when I started reading this post, I thought - hey, cool, stand up for the women! But reaching the "shower-murder-story" (and yes I realise your point in writing about it, as you have clarified beyond misunderstanding), I sort of couldn't help but think that the problem is in YOU, me and every other girl that imposes the unwritten codices that we all go by in our everyday lives with out even stopping to think.

    I was brought up by a mother who savoured the 70es in her youth, fighting for womens' rights, equal pay, burned her bras and stood up to the inequalities of society. They were united, then, the women. In our individualistic society it's dog-eat-dog, and women tend to be the worst enemies of women themselves, belittling others who are doing better than themselves.. or, actually, who are different to themselves...

    We all need to realise that although we are living in a society that has been "pre-programmed", we still as individuals have the power to change that. Instead of berating our 'sisters' out there (I told you, I was raised by a feminist!), we should take a good long look at ourselves and use our abilities and knowledge to help each other. Screw all the unspoken rules. Be good to one another, and forget about what everybody will think of you if you dare to wear a skirt that's an inch "too" short or to... whatever.. Point is - be true to yourself.

  • At July 09, 2007 7:34 AM, Blogger Scott (The Mad Thinker) Anderson said…

    Yeah, I know I wasn't going to post here again, but seriously, you think the reason I see androphobia in your post is because there's something wrong with me?

    You know, I’ve read thousands of posts. I’ve read hundreds of When Fangirls Attack posts. I’ve read many of your posts. And I don’t recall ever thinking “Wow. This person is an androphobe.” So I don’t think I’ve ever been determined to see androphobia before.

    But when you post that men can easily turn irrationally murderous and that their murderous rages are directed to the group that you belong to and then link to a story in an attempt to prove that men can easily turn irrationally murderous, I’m sorry, but there are only so many ways to read that. Are you honestly trying to suggest that the paragraph above isn’t saying that men easily become irrational murderers of women? If the idea that men easily become murders that are trying to murder the group that you belong to isn’t androphobia, what is?

    You are honestly suggesting that the reason I think you are an androphobe is because I have some agenda? Really? It’s not your suggestion that men easily become murders that are after the group you belong to; it’s me.

    Can you think of any group of people that you might say "These people easily become the killers of the group that I belong to" where what you were saying wouldn't be seen as an attack on that group?

    When women find something offensive, it’s offensive. Period. And they are seeing what the sexist person is too blind to see in his own motivation, but when you say that men easily turn into woman-killers, and I point out that that is androphobic, it’s because I’m determined to see androphobia. Gotcha.

    I know what my intent was when I wrote this post

    Ah. And when you find something sexist in a comic and point it out, and the guy who wrote or drew the comic says that he knows what his intention was and that it wasn’t sexist, you’ll say what?

  • At July 09, 2007 8:19 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Scott. As usual, you're plucking from my responses and creating a framework of an argument I never stated.

    In fact, I specifically told you

    "if you really want to read this post as an attack against men, you're more than welcome to do so."


    "You can interpret that in any way that you choose, naturally."

    I never said you should consider my intent at all.

    My exact words were "I know what my intent was when I wrote this post and I'm reasonably confident in its expression. I stand by and am even proud of my words here."

    In other words, you are free to read my words and think I'm androphobic or misandrist.

    I in turn am equally free to think that my post holds itself up adequately against your accusation.

    I acknowledge that you're offended. I don't have to agree that your offense has merit.

    Or to be more blunt: I acknowledge my post is offensive. I just don't care.

    And you are more than welcome to complain about my obvious disrespect and blindness to your point on your blog.

  • At July 11, 2007 1:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Great work, Kalinara! I love the focus on comics and tv and movies: new stories can shift hard stuff. Sadly, these points seem to need to be said again and again...

    Especially with the Scotts of the world around. I'm wondering how he'd stack up on Anti-Feminist Bingo: check out hoyden about town's version:

    I have to ask those of you who fall in the 'but patriarchy hurts men too' version of events (which is actually discussed later in Hoyden's post): does this change the fact that it hurts women? And don't you think there's something significant in the fact that it's *only* when women get up and say that things should be otherwise that men start claiming their hurt? I'm not trying to deny it - not at all, I think the version of masculinity dominant right now gives men a rough trot - but the fact that it mostly comes out in response to feminist posts would seem to really just prove Kalinara's point.

    Oh, and not to be link-heavy, but this might be an interesting read for some:

  • At July 11, 2007 7:56 PM, Blogger Mickle said…


    Kalinara's point is that your mother/aunts/co-workers don't send you scare e-mails about fictional date-rape drugs; urban legends don't tend to be about men doing things alone at night and/or engaging in sexual activity, and so on and so forth.

    Kalinara isn't talking so much about what is statistically likely to happen to us as she is talking about how we constrain ourselves illogically because of what we are taught to fear.

    Not that the real stats aren't useful to know - obviously they are, but you're pretty much doing the equivalent of pointing out that most murders do not cross racial lines when the topic is cross burning and other forms of intimidation.

    Useful to know, but very much not relevant to the specific topic at hand.

    kalinara - fantastic post, btw. Have you checked out the summer issue of bitch? It's all about risk, what's real and what's not, how we change our behavior according to risks - real and imagined, etc.

  • At July 11, 2007 9:50 PM, Blogger Volcano Todd said…


  • At July 18, 2007 8:45 AM, Blogger Scott (The Mad Thinker) Anderson said…

    Here it is:

  • At July 30, 2007 11:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Great entry!

  • At August 01, 2007 3:09 PM, Blogger Never That Easy said…

    What an amazing post: I hope you don't mind that I've linked to it, as well.

  • At August 01, 2007 5:15 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Thanks! I like being linked. :-)

  • At August 16, 2007 11:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…



    I love it when feminists bitch about problems caused by women and tr to blame it on male sexism.

    Theres a reason its caleld bitching.

  • At August 22, 2008 4:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I love this post. Nearly all of your points ARE true for MOST women out there and it hasn't been said enough or with the anger it deserves. I know I, for one, am sick of my boyfriend saying that I come off as too abrasive around his friends when they make a sexist, stupid comment. They are used to women who will bow their heads, smile, and giggle politely instead of standing up to that man and telling him that he's a dick head. Women need to unite and stand up to the amount of sexism we are faced with on a constant, daily basis. Thank you for writing this.

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