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"