Sunday, December 18, 2011

Do Women Have to Get Naked to Get Into Comic Books?

Most of my friends know that I am a huge geek and a feminist. When both of those collide. You get rants like this blog.

I don't consider myself really a part of the comic book industry, but kind of sort of. I have been a comic book consumer for years and have just recently gotten into the creation side recently with my boyfriend/ partner. I've attended comic book conventions, shopped at comic book stores, and co-started a webcomic. I also have a vagina and I'm startled by the lack of other vaginas in the comic book industry. And I'm not talking about the ones being drawn in comic books. There are plenty of those. I assure you. I'm talking about the lack of female comic creators and their teams. I'm talking about comic book store owners. I'm talking about comic book patrons. We need more vaginas in the industry.

There was an article from a few months ago claiming that DC's number of female staff members for the New 52 dropped from 12 to 2. Upon further research it seemed like they just shifted to different areas and are still on different teams. Or something. I really don't follow DC too much. I like Batwoman and that is about it. And maybe the reason why I'm not so fond of many of the big titles is their exclusion of strong female characters that are more than big tits and ass. Now, don't get me wrong, tits and ass are great, but I enjoy characters that are more than that.

Maybe this is art imitating life that imitates art. Or however you want to structure that phrase. In 1989 the Guerrilla Girls launched a campaign that educated the public that at the Metropolitan Museum of Art 5% of the artists were female, and over 85% of the nude artworks were of females. I'm really sure that the statistic hasn't changed much, and I'm even more sure that the same statistic is true of the comic book industry.

My experiences at comic book shops haven't been much better. I get treated like I don't know anything about good comics. Most of the male employees assume that I haven't read all of the same comics that they have read, if not more. And the same is true at comic book conventions. This almost makes me want to lose faith in the entire industry that I hope to be a bigger part of. But. . .

The comic book industry is dying. Many people may not want to admit this to you, but it's true. Well, kind of. The traditional paper comic book industry is dying. The internet is taking over. Specifically, webcomics. If you do go to a comic book convention I invite you to attend one of the many panels that they have. This last year at a convention I attended about 10 panels ranging from writing for comics, religion in literature, creating comic books, real-life superheroes. At every single panel the topic of the future of comic books came up, specifically free webcomics and how to monetize on comic books in the digital age. The feelings about this were unanimous. Webcomics are where it is at. And that is extremely exciting.

Having researched webcomics and being a general patron of a lot of them (and also being on the creative side of the internet) I see a lot of women in the webcomic industry. Not just in the actual creators, but there are a lot of dynamic, strong, female characters. What I enjoy about being an independent creator (and by that I mean that we are not supported by a huge company) is that I can do whatever the fuck I want. We can choose our creative partners, choose what content we include and exclude. I am the editor. And I retain a majority of the profits and the "rights" to my work. A lot of people recommend that we try to get on with Marvel or DC and that is truly not the avenue I ever see myself choosing. And I think that a lot of women in the webcomic industry feel this way. The big guys of the industry have excluded us and chosen our equally-talented penis-equipped brothers instead of us. And we made new opportunities for ourselves. And the big companies were very late in transitioning to the new medium of digitally based comics.

And I am perfectly okay with that. I say let the big companies die. The internet is an equal opportunity platform. We have crowdsourcing, kickstarter, self publishing, etc. We are learning to monetize on these things and make a name for ourselves. Now, this isn't necessarily exclusive to women. Men are a big part of this new industry. Many of the most popular and well known webcomics (Penny Arcade, Sheldon, etc) are as far as I know mostly male creative teams. And thats fine. Because women are slowly taking over the internet. Not just as creators, but in the form of awesome characters! I'm very excited to be a part of this new digital frontier.

And with that I want to let the traditional comic book industry know this. I'll be stopping all of my subscriptions from my local comic book shop. Except Batwoman. From now on I will be spending the money I would have spent on the male-dominated media on non corporate female supporting media. I'll be looking for fellow vaginas at all of the comic book conventions. I'm going to spend my money on them now instead. Until you can convince me that you support my sisters, I won't be supporting you.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

I'm the crazy feminist that frat boys and Pat Robertson warned you about. . .

You can blame this one on Josh. He told me that I should start blogging again. And he is the 10th person this week that told me that I have a way with words. As I start to write this I'm suddenly aware that most of my blogs are about the same thing: feminism. And by that I mean feminism that is of Nazi-istic proportions. So, that being said, here it goes.

There are a few events that have happened lately that I need to get off my chest. So a few weeks ago (fueled by a few more drinks than I care to admit and/or remember) I was playing pool at a bar with a few friends of friends of acquaintances. The cast: Josh and I on one team. Josh's friend and his friend's friend's girlfriend on another team. She went to make a pool shot and a guy walked by and slapped her ass. Apparently this sexual harassment happened quite often because she just rolled her eyes and disregarded his actions with a look of shame. Being a very outspoken person and the alcohol in my blood being even more outspoken than I am, I yelled at him. Very loudly. Me: "Hey! What the fuck! What the fuck did you just do? You don't treat a woman like that! That is someone's sister, girlfriend, daughter! You tell her that you're sorry!" Douchebag: "mnmmnsorrymnnmm. . ." Me: "No, you look her in the eye and you tell her that you're sorry for that!" Well, the guy hung around the area still being an extremely disgusting human being and I recall telling him to get the fuck out. With more expletives than usual. And then she ended up telling me that that was the nicest thing everyone has ever done and every single statistic about abuse/hatred/low pay/rights violations/etc. . . ran through my head and I cried and made sure she had my phone number if she needed anything. It was an extremely emotional event.

Not even a week later I was walking through WalMart and two guys walking past me decided that it was acceptable to make kissing noises and say "Hey Pretty. Hey Pretty." to me. In my pre-menstrual cycle hormone surging state I yelled at them. Douchebag: "Mmmhh mmmhhh. Hey pretty mhh mmhh pretty" Me: "What the fuck did you just say to me??!" Douchebag: "I was just calling you pretty" Me: "No! You don't fucking talk to women like that. You don't know who the fuck I am and you don't talk to me like that!" The douchebag then walked away as I told him to fuck off and keep walking.

Even though the two events are completely separate I know that they are connected. And I'm not talking about they are some type of conspired events to drown my ever shrinking faith in humanity. I'm saying that both of the events are indicative of how our society and culture treats women. Men have created a world where women's self-esteem (or lack thereof) has been torn away and broken down and men seek to gain control of us by telling that us that we can be more womanly by gaining men's attention, however degrading it is. Even though a man may violate your life-given right to personal space and safety, if he sees you as a sexual conquest then you should feel proud. Any ill-received attention is still attention. And if you're entire sense of self worth is reliant upon how the world rates your attractiveness, then it is accepted as a compliment. Sexism is a social disease.

I am going to admit that I'm a hypocrite. I wear clothes that I like that make me feel good. I wear make-up. I don't consciously do it for attention or for compliments, but I do it for some sense of self-esteem. While writing this post I realized that every time that I described the latter scenario previously to friends I mentioned that I was wearing very casual clothes and had no make-up and wasn't trying to attract attention to myself. Even though I could go on a rant for days about how when someone is raped/ abused what they were wearing has nothing to do with deserving how they are treated. And I could cite cases where a rapist is let go of charges because the victim was wearing something too "revealing" and deserved it, that they were basically asking for it. And I realized that in describing my looks that morning that I was justifying that same argument. Part of changing our rape/abuse/harassment culture is part of identifying how we see any situation from every angle and see things on a personal and global level. Anything that happens to me happens to every other human being on this planet and vise versa.

I'm going to end this blog post with a lyric and a music video of Amanda Palmer's song Ampersand.

"I have wasted years of my life
Agonizing about the fires I started
When I thought that to be strong
You must be flame retardant"

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Marrying Kind

So, it has been a while since I've posted a blog. I realize that. And I'm sorry. I'm going to try and start posting a lot more regularly. And here is my first post topic in about 6 months: marriage. . . and divorce.

I think I had really known it for a while. And it took a really beautiful wedding for me to realize this. But I'm not the marrying kind. Like a self-hating-in-the-closet homosexual, for the longest time I was in denial that I didn't really want to get married. Maybe it was too many Disney movies growing up. You know, the Cindarella-esque story all women are told through mass culture to expect to happen as we get older. We like a guy. And we date a guy. We hold hands. And then the respectable thing happens and we get married to said guy. I think I tried convinving myself that I wanted to get married, but deep, deep, deep down I knew. I'm not the marrying kind.

Don't get me wrong, for the "right" reasons, marriage can be a wonderful thing, I guess. I'm really not sure. I don't think I've ever seen it. Ever. My parents got divorced. My friends got divorced. Their parent's got divorced. Strangers got divorced. Bosses and co-workers got divorced. And strongly fighting the socially acceptable "Awww, I'm sorry", I force myself to congratulate them and say "Good for you!". If there was ONE thing that my previous relationships have taught me it's that if you're not happy, change your situation. Leave. Break-up. Get a divorce. I may not understand the capacity for marriage, but I understand that one thing.

As I have just demonstrated, I'm not an expert on these things. Like Jane Goodall in the wild observing monkeys, I can examine marriage for years, but unless I grow up as a monkey I will never know what it means to be one. Other than the benefits (which would probably be my only reason for ever getting married. That and all the free toasters, apparently) I really don't think I will get married. Having been in a relationship for nearly three years now with an amazing human being who makes me a more complete and better person, we see absolutely no reason to get hitched. We've entertained the thought and have come up with elaborate plans, but we both realize that it would kind of be a waste of time and money.

Obviously something about marriage doesn't work. Maybe it's because marriage was originally (and still is for some people) a way for men to control a woman's life, sexually, politically, and financially. Maybe it's because we feel like it will relieve a desire to not die alone, which when you think about it, marriage really doesn't promise that. Or to let women act out the essential Disney fairytale of looking like a prostitute/princess for a day. Regardless of how jaded some might be to the idea that marriage is about romance, love, and good feelings, these things can happen outside of marriage. I promise you. My best theory for why marriage doesn't work is because all of our lives we are told of these roles and expectations that we are supposed to fill as marriage partners. And more often than not, the male takes on the superior role. And some "feminist" Christian women will tell you that women leaving the home and not being the sole caregiver of the home and family anymore is the reason for the failure of the institution of marriage (and all of the other ills of the world). I think most of the problem has lied in the stereotypes that women and men are meant to fill within the idea of marriage. That women, regardless if they stay home or work outside the house, should be the good domesticated wife. Cook, clean, raise children. When instead, this really should be a shared effort.

But, there is hope for marriage, yet. And this change will have to come from men and women. Men should be raised to see women as EQUALS in all aspect of life. At the job, in the office, at the home, out in public. And women need to get out there and realize they can have it all. You don't have to choose a home life or a work life. You can (and should) ask your man too cook and clean for you every once in a while. Or, if you are intrinsically not happy with marriage, to feel like you can leave. There is so much male propaganda about how marriage is awful (enter that awful 90's show with the grumpy man and the red head) and you never have sex again, and how women just nag and complain. Stop complaining and leave! Be liberated! Get a divorce!

If marriage/love is ever going to succeed we need to stop defining gender roles within the institution and let ourselves just love. Or maybe we should completely demolish the idea of matrimony and give the world some non-hierarchal anarchy love! Just let it be free. There really is no other need for marriage other than to fill some old, traditional, male-chauvinistic, Hallmark card sense of love. Which, I don't really think exists. Women don't need a hero to rescue us and bring us back to their castle. And men don't need an exclusive prostitute to make dinner every night. If marriage is going to exist in a modern world, then we are depriving ourselves the opportunity to evolve without out it and find a way to express ourselves without defining ourselves with sterotypes that eventually destroy us and keep us from reaching our full potential.

If you are married and are reading this and you think that I'm completely wrong and that marriage has made your life fulfilling, good for you. Congratulations. Mahzel-Tov. I'm truly, deep-down happy for you. But that doesn't mean that your reasons for getting married will need to be a reason I would ever need to. And I would also invite you to really examine the reasons behind why you got married. Behind the "love" and "grandeur" I'm sure there is social pressure and a fairytale.

But, who knows. Maybe like the libertarian author Ayn Rand taking government benefits near the end of her life, I will get married eventually to a husband with benefits.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Imagine All the People: A Lesson From A Week Without Politics and Religion

I remember once in high school a teacher made us all do an online test to gauge where our political beliefs stood on a chart. Liberal. Conservative. Anarchist. Communist. To visually imagine it he made us stand in the room where we ended up on the chart. Needless to say, I was standing very far away from all of my classmates. If any historical entities were standing there in the classroom, I'd probably be shoulder to shoulder with the Che Guevara. Nothing much has changed since then, but because I'm borderline addicted to politics I just have a different perception about the world now. So if you haven't already guessed I'm a bright-eyed optimistic liberal. To a fault. And my spiritual beliefs have evolved past anything even recognisable. And my beliefs about the universe evolve every day. I'm not scared to say that what I learned growing up was wrong. I'm not scared to say what I said yesterday about my belifs are wrong today.

Things have become extremely heated in the area of politics and religion. I could go on for days about why I belive that it has, but that is a different blog post. I become very heated about it as well, because it would seem like I'm surrounded by people who have a lot to say about politics but only research as far as their t.v. remote will let them. Having realized that this constant obsession with politics doesn't make me a happier person I decided to take a week off from everything religion or politics. And for me that meant turning off the car radio because all I listen to is NPR. Not checking more than half of my e-mails from which mostly come from NOW and other feminist organizations. Not being tempted to tell redneck racist losers at the next table at dinner that they're redneck racist losers. Not going on a million rants about Osma Bin Laden/ Barrack Obama/ George W. Bush/ etc.. The latter was especially hard because it was announced that Osama Bin Laden was killed fifteen minutes before I officially stopped talking about religion and politics.

You might ask me what was the point of it all. Well, here is what I learned:

1: Religion and politics encompasses anything and everything. If you start talking about something and want to figure out how it started, eventually it leads back to something religious or politically based.
2: After giving up this addiction (and politics truly is) I realized that I can live life without being glued to political articles. Politics will still go on without me.
3: If I don't agree with something, I can do something about it. Write letters to politicians, organize, fundraise, protest, etc. but talking about it doesn't do much more than make enemies.
4: To love people despite their beliefs. Or maybe because of them. Like in high school, I sit very far away from everyone else in the political and religious arena. Most of my friends and family are on the opposite side of the room. It's so easy for me to say that I hate Republicans and Conservatives, but they're all my family. And I love them. And I think that if we all realized this, there would be a lot less hateful political rhetoric and a lot more problem solving.

"Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber." ~Plato

Saturday, March 12, 2011

You probably think this blog is about you. . . Part Two.

This is a not so very short soundtrack set to all of the not so long relationships and not so much relationships of my past (and present). At first I was going to put names to these descriptions but then I realized that I probably shouldn't. You know who you are. So here it goes.

If my life were a movie then this song would be in the background during every moment of heartache and dissapointment.

Back when I was a younger, and much more nieve, I was in a relationship with a certain person. Shit happens. And so did this relationship. I've made my peace with everything. And I know now that you have to dig through a lot of trash to find treasure.

I didn't ever really have that many "crushes" in high school, but this was one of them. And I don't really know how to explain it, but with this song.

This one isn't necessarily about a relationship in the boyfriend/ girlfriend way, but a very good long distance friendship with a certain person.

A long, long time ago. In a high school far, far away. . . I had a crush. And looking back I see how insane my evidence for a supposed "perfect connection" was. I actually just lol'ed. But, this is one of the songs that reminded me of this certain person.

So once upon a not too long time ago (well, it feels like a long time ago) I was in a difficult relationship. And thats why I'm not in it anymore. And that is all that really needs to be said about that. But here are a few songs that explain how I felt in that relationship and how I felt to finally get out of it.

So. . . this one is about a girl. Well, maybe more than one. As much as I always told the people around me and her it wasn't like this. . . it kind of was. It was kind of if Ghost World had a Fried Green Tomatoes vibe to it.

Well, I'm in a relationship now that I plan on being in for a while. And before it developed into what it is now, there was this song. And it still makes me think about him. And it still makes my heart jump. And so does he.

There is something you should know about me. . . A soundtrack. Part One.

This blog post has been a long time coming. I've told a few people about it already. You may be a part of this and not even know it. I will mention a few people by name. Some people will remain anonymous. Not necessarily for their protection, but maybe for mine. To be honest this started as an idea that I heard about and thought of attempting and then it became something bigger. And bigger. And then even bigger than I even thought it would become. So here it is, some sort of soundtrack to my life. In several different blog posts, I will attempt to explain some of the songs and then there are some songs that certain lines really explain themselves. These could be something that you could read each post individually without the others and understand it. But, as you'll soon find out, I'm more than the sum of my parts.

Half Jack by The Dresden Dolls
You were bound to find out sooner or later. I'm in love with the Dresden Dolls and Amanda Palmer and I can relate to many of their songs. This one especially. This is one that needs to be watched/ heard in it's entirety to understand it.

Heather by Heavens
Ever since high school one of my best friends loved this band and said this song reminded her of me. It's actually very accurate. And a very good band.

Disintegration by The Cure
This one isn't so much a song describing me, but one of those quintessential "goth" songs that had a very huge impact on my life.

Hold On by Tom Waits
What would a soundtrack to my life be without Tom Waits?

Lucretia My Reflection by The Sisters of Mercy
This song is another one of those "goth" songs that don't necessarily "explain" me in any way, but the song had a huge impact on my life. And after much contemplation on the issue, this is my favorite SOM song.

Older Crowd by MC Chris
Ever since I was about the age of 16 I hated anyone my age or younger. And now that I think about it, most people older than me too.

Girl Anachronism by The Dresden Dolls
And I'll leave you with this favorite by The Dresden Dolls and Amanda Palmer.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Am I A Modern Domestic Goddess?

So I recently read a news article about a survey that said young women don't have certain "domestic skills" anymore such as cooking, cleaning, sewing, etc. As a young women who knows how to do all of those things and more, I agree. And disagree. I agree that fewer young women know how to do things like that, but I disagree that those are exclusively female tasks. Although I'm not certain of the entire depth of the survey taken, I assume they didn't survey MEN to see if any of them had "domestic skills". I can tell you right now that in my household the man does most of the cleaning and some of the cooking (and he even does his own laundry) , while I take out the trash and do most of the cooking. I knit, scrapbook, paint, etc. My boyfriend even admitted to me that he knows basic sewing skills. Maybe fewer women have those "domestic skills" but I'm sure a lot (or atleast a few) more men have those skills now than 50 years ago. As a self-proclaimed feminist bordering on femi-nazi the thought of having the life of a 50's housewife makes my stomach turn. But there is a certain charm to it all. Maybe it's the kitschy-ness of it. Maybe it's because I love working with my hands and appreciate a handmade life of sorts. (Side note: When I think of the term "domestic goddess" it conjures up an image of a petite white female in heels wearing a slim fitting dress under a clean apron adorned with pearls dishing out dinner for her husband who just came home from work. But when I turn the coin and try to think of what a "domestic god" might look like I am drawing a blank. Any readers thoughts on this?). The authors of the article challenged themselves to come up with what they thought were modern skill sets that they were good at. So here is mine:

I'm a fast reader.
I can change a tire. (I've changed more tires than changed boyfriends)
I know how to tie a tie.
I can brew a great pot of coffee.
I remain relatively optimistic about things.
I can multi-task with great efficiency.
I'm good at setting up technology/ figuring things out.