misogynistic bullshit

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Why when a new ongoing is released for a strong female lead, and with a strong female writer on board (Marjorie Liu) – why does it HAVE to come with objectifying imagery?  Do they not know what they’re doing?  Or do they just not care?  These are the kind of releases that lead me to giant columns asking whether Marvel is just stupid or cloaked in misogyny.

Because I have to tell you…it’s upsetting.  It upsets me greatly to realize that in the year 2010 (2010!!!!), Marvel does not think they can market a book with a strong female lead and a strong female writer without using sexist imagery that horribly objectifies their lead.

And that they’re willing to make a character like Black Widow look like she doesn’t know how to dress herself.  Does she not know how to use a zipper?  Does she not know how to purchase clothing for herself that can contain her massive breasts?  Does she have so little confidence in her ability as a fighter and hero that she thinks she has to try to distract people with her zipper unzipped to somewhere below her tits?  Does she have such low self esteem that she thinks people will only like her if she runs around with her top unzipped?  Why do I have to keep talking about this? I am so sick of this crap.  One of the worst things about this image is that if the zipper was simply zipped up to a more reasonable level…this cover would be awesome.  What a waste.

Is this what I have to look forward to in Marvel’s ‘year of women’?  Cause if so, I’ll fucking pass. Thanks Marvel.

Oooh!  How original!  A calender featuring hyper sexualized fairytale characters.

I honestly do not know how you sleep at night Mr. Campbell.  As a fan of much of your early work (I loved Gen 13 with a passion…misguided though it may have been) but you have fallen so far in my eyes.  You’re a hell of an artist…and it’s a real shame to see you wasting your talent on something (so many somethings actually) so beneath you, and so devaluing to women…and really, to little girls.  Because this image?  This is THE LITTLE FREAKING MERMAID.

Crap, I’m sorry.  That was really unprofessional. I’m sure you’re a really nice guy. And far be it from me to say what you should and should not be doing with your talent, but I just hope you realize what you’re doing.  For someone that works in superhero comics…it’s really unfortunate that you have chosen to use your powers for evil instead of, you know, good.

spidergirl

My friend Josh sent me this link to Marvel’s “Women of Marvel” Halloween Costumes and said he thought it would be good “fodder for my blog”.  And he’s so right.  But I must be tired of fighting this unwinable (not a word) fight because all I can come up with is REALLY MARVEL? REALLY!?!

Actually, I tried, but even exhausted, I can’t just say nothing.  I know we (I’m speaking for all women everywhere here – so that should tell you how tired I am) do sometimes like to dress up like sluts for Halloween – it’s a nice opportunity to get our slutty selves out there with less public shaming, cause it’s Halloween and well, anything goes!  And we can just pretend tomorrow that it didn’t happen!  But c’mon Marvel, do you really have to stoop to the absolute lowest freaking common denominator?

First of all, a superheroine costume is pretty slutty to begin with – all skin tight and ridiculous – it’s not like you actually have to make it sluttier.  I mean, until now I wasn’t even sure it was possible in some cases.  The Spider-girl costume is perhaps the most disgusting, because, I don’t know, she’s SPIDERGIRL.  I mean, I’ll give you the Emma Frost/White Queen costume, because frankly, compared to some of Emma’s outfits that costume is actually pretty tame (although SUPER tacky – Emma would never be caught dead in that shit).  BUT WTF…AN AMERICAN DREAM COSTUME?  That’s barely even a real character!  And that’s not remotely HER COSTUME!

I’m sorry, AM I SHOUTING?! IT’S PROBABLY BECAUSE I AM INSANE WITH RAGE.

Ahem.  Yeah, “American Dream” barely a real superhero…I mean, even comic nerds that see you in this costume are going to be all…”Really?  American Dream?  She’s uh…so…uh…minor. Where’s Storm, or Jean Grey, or She-Hulk, or Ms. Marvel, or…I mean the list is endless.”  So those of you who don’t know about superheroes, you might want to stick with Hooker Spider-girl, or Working Girl Black Cat, which, though completely fucking ridiculous, are at least superheroes people will actually recognize…sort of.

rogue wtf

From X-men Legacy Annual #1 – which promises a BOLD NEW DIRECTION!

Bold new direction my ass.

Looks like the same old misogynistic bullshit to me.

I mean, SERIOUSLY?  I am so tired of this shit.

Just because a girl got some control of her borderline deadly skin touch, does not mean she’s all, “OH, YOU KNOW WHAT? I WILL SERIOUSLY UNZIP MY NEW OUTFIT TO SOMEWHERE BELOW MY BOOBS…FOR THE ENTIRE ISSUE!”

C’mon people, it’s shit like this that makes me wonder why the hell I’m still bothering with superhero comics.

Also, as I’ve discussed before in my Catwoman post this outfit is like physically impossible.  I know comics require a certain suspension of disbelief, but this is the kind of crap that just pushes me over the edge – that zipper would have to be governed by otherworldy forces or some kind of magic to stay in that position for one panel, let alone the whole issue.  The pressure of those massive boobs on a zipper?  Just going to unzip the whole damn thing. Which is maybe the point, which is even MORE annoying.  Also, there’s a difference between an outfit designed a bit low cut or showing some cleav, and one that the character actively CHOOSES to wear ZIPPED DOWN TO THEIR STOMACH.  C’MON!!!!

Hey comic book artists!  These are the kind of things that make people think you’ve never touched (or even seen?) real boobs. Get a freaking clue.

This crap keeps setting us back.  Marvel, please take a note, are you ready?  UR DOING IT WRONG.

the sound of music

I’m not generally a big fan of musicals – which is good as a lot of them – especially the older ones of course – tend to be pretty anti-feminist and anti-progressive in general.  However, a few musicals from my childhood have slipped through the cracks and remained good memories for me – Grease 2, A Chorus Line, Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, West Side Story – I know it’s an unusual group – but gimme a break.  Anyway, The Sound of Music has always been one of those fairly pristine happy musical memories.

No longer.

And man do I wish I could go back in time and NOT catch it again on television this past weekend. Ignorance is bliss and all that.

I mean, we all know those ‘I Am Sixteen Going On Seventeen‘ lyrics are a feminist nightmare, but the choreography in that scene has always belied the true nature of Liesel and Rolfe’s relationship – a far more interesting and intelligent girl hoping to seduce a rather dense and shy boy.  And so I was always able to pretty well rationalize away the ramifications of that song – in my own mind at least.

However, I had completely forgotten (or deliberately blocked out?) the fact that ‘How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria‘ – a somewhat lighthearted and silly song sung by the nuns early on, is also played while Maria walks down the aisle dressed in shockingly virginal white.

Really movie people?  REALLY?!

So I mean, I’m not exactly making a big leap here when I say you’re suggesting that you solve a problem like Maria by marrying her off?  Considering this movie was made in 1965…ugh.  The insult is then further exasperated by including a shot of the nuns looking on almost hungrily from behind the gates (bars?) of the abbey as Maria gets married.  SO, not ONLY do you solve a problem like Maria by marrying her off – but we want to make sure to further reinforce that women are nothing if not married – either to a man or to God (and by the wistful looks on the nuns faces – preferably a man) by showing seemingly desperate nuns looking longingly into the ceremony?

As if that was not enough, one of the only scenes with Maria (that isn’t singing) post wedding, is when she tentatively tries to advocate for the children singing in the Salzburg Music Festival – at which time she is immediately shut down by her husband.  And unlike the brash outspoken ‘fight the good fight’ woman she was as a single governess – a woman who would never step down from what she believes in – as a “happily” married wife she literally steps back, puts her hands behind her back, and lightly bows her head in acquiescence to Captain VonTrapp’s orders.  Shortly thereafter she sings a bit of ‘Sixteen Going On Seventeen‘ with Liesel in which they both longingly sing about ‘belonging to a man’ – good role modeling Maria, good role modeling.

All this to say DAMN YOU FEMINISM FOR RUINING THE SOUND OF MUSIC FOR ME!  Damnit!  I’m never going to be able to watch this shit with a clear conscience again.

And here’s the real question – if I have kids someday – do I put them in front of it?  I mean, certainly once they’re old enough they can choose what they want to watch – but when they’re young enough that I’m choosing for them – do I want to corrupt their little minds with these antiquated ideas – that they may not even realize are ridiculous and antiquated until far too late?  Damnit I say again.

Completely Unrelated Sidenote: I cannot believe how gorgeous Austria is and it has now shot up to the top of my travel wish list.

I wanted to blog about this both because it’s crazy and because I’ve been getting so involved lately in blogging about comics and their continual misogynistic portrayal of women (which for some reason go hand in hand – yay world!), but there’s been a lot going on and I haven’t gotten to it.  However, I see today that Jezebel and io9 did it (and better than I could have hoped to anyway), so I’m just going to link to them.  Make sure to follow the link so you can read about the following:

1.  Contests that women are ineligible to enter (what is this 1909?!)

2.  The L.A. Times being so freaking out of touch with youth culture (and comics specifically) that they should be taken out into the street and shot.

Yay world.  You go.

I know I’ve stayed pretty clear of politics on this blog, and for good reason, but the one-two punch of American politics of the last two days has left me reeling – first the amazing highs of Obama’s DNC speech on Thursday and then on Friday the utter ridiculousness of the lows of Sarah Palin’s nomination to the second most powerful seat in the country…simply because she’s a woman.

And so I step away from my writing (I’m doing horribly by the way – still need to write like 190 pages by Tuesday) because I feel the need to at least say something – or more accurately – to link to people who are REALLY saying something about this horrible development. So here are a couple excellent links to articles and blogs about Sarah Palin and her complete and utter lack of experience and ability to be elected as the Vice President…one tiny McCain heart attack away from being the leader of the free world…

As a woman, a woman who loves Obama, but truth be told was originally pulling for Hillary, I am OFFENDED by McCain’s game of trying to trick us “silly women folk” into voting for a bitch just because she’s a bitch. Don’t assume McCain that because I’m prettier and younger than you that I don’t know the difference between voting for a strong and responsible candidate who can maybe begin to make a difference in this ailing country of ours and voting for woman simply because…”Hey look! I’m a woman too!” So insulting. This is a condescending slap in the face to all women everywhere and we’re WAY too smart to fall for this, especially when you actually alert us to exactly what you’re doing in your speech Ms. Palin…don’t ever dare to compare yourself to Hillary Clinton again. You’re not remotely in the same league.

A great account by an Alaskan – very informative

Daily Kos has an ongoing list of the reasons why Palin is unqualified, some of them are just Republican things that don’t necessarily make her unfit (unless you’re like me) but it’s still worth a read if you’re trying to learn about the total unknown that is Palin

The VP Choice That Lost McCain The Election

The Worst Vice-Presidential Nominee in U.S. Histor

Palin:  You’re no Hillary Clinton

And if you need to be inspired after all that insanity, go back and watch Obama again:

Barak’s DNC Speech

superfolks.jpg

So this is my first book review of 2008. The year in which I am not torturing myself to read a book a week, and I have to say, I’m really enjoying reading again, mostly because I don’t feel so pressured, it’s also of note that I’m getting a lot more done that isn’t reading – so it’s good on all sides.

Adam lent me this book, Superfolks by Robert Mayer (which he has not read) thinking I might find it interesting, both because I love me some superheroes, and also because my novel (and my in-progress second and third novels – part of a trilogy) are basically about a superhero. I think he thought it would be helpful and constructive to read, and that I also might enjoy it. He’s not wrong. I did enjoy it. But it also totally enraged me, and in the end, despite the fact that I concede my rating may be a bit unfair considering that it was originally published in 1977, it only gets 2.0 stars. Here’s why.

The Good: It was enjoyable in a fluffy way. I can appreciate that Mayer was doing something innovative with superheroes for his time. It reads easily and the hero/superhero David Brinkley is likable enough (despite the misogynistic aspects) but he’s also not too sticky sweet and perfect, he seems very three-dimensional.

One of my favorite parts of the book was a little detail that if Brinkley used his powers of ex-ray vision for non-superhero reasons, like looking at an interns boobs through her tight sweater, then he became instantly clumsy, and that despite the consequences, he often abuses the power and as such is often running into things and falling down. It was a funny bit and an element that would make Superman as Clark Kent more believable in his civilian disguise.

I was very interested in the idea, that was unfortunately only touched on, of Brinkley’s inability to perform sexually as his superhero persona, and the other more psychological ideas about the realities of being a superhero that were explored, it was all very interesting, but unfortunately not really fleshed out thouroughly.

There was a brilliant (also pretty unexplored) idea about villains (powered or not) that all went to the same boarding school (The Winthrop School For Boys) to be trained to be villains – Lee Harvey Oswald being a current (though deceased) alumni and martyr – it was funny and creative and I wish it had tied more into the overall plot, rather than just being a wonderful little side note. The overall conspiracy/plot was also quite clever, though it made for the most dull reading in the book.

The Bad: The title is terrible. Who came up with this title? The title really does not pertain at all to the story. David Brinkley lives in a world with superheroes and supervillians, yes, but the story does not focus on other heroes at all – there are vague mentions of them – mostly in an effort to create a sense of the world that Brinkley lives in, and I think two super villains and one superhero (retired) make fairly brief appearances. The book is also not really about people with super powers in general or as a comment on society, or science, or the future, or anything, so I can’t figure out the reason for the title choice. The Incredibles, with its five minute newsreel footage at the beginning, which brilliantly sets the political and social stage for that world is more about “superfolks” and how that effects them and the world, than this entire 240 page book.

We never know our “hero’s” superhero name. It’s annoying. He is often referred to as Indigo, but later it is suggested that this is just a code name for him by respective governments. You never know for sure. I’m certain Mayer had a reason for doing this, but I’ll be damned if I can figure out the reason. It only served to frustrate me.

There are little tricks that Mayer uses, which I’m sure many readers like, but which left me a bit cold. Tricks such as using famous names for normal people and normal people names for famous people, for example, Jane Doe is a famous movie star and Gloria Steinem (one of our most powerful women in reality – so of course she must be “brought low”) is described as married with children and wearing a smelly housedress and an extra 30 distasteful pounds. There are a lot of name drops like this and initially I thought it was a bit clever, but it gets old fast.

It’s also not clear what stage he has really set for his world, it’s not the real world, or any other pre-established comic book world (i.e. Wonder Woman exists, as do Batman and Superman, but so does Snoopy the Flying Ace and The Lone Ranger), so but I can’t get a sense of what it’s supposed to be like with any accuracy.

People in Mayer’s book also behave in ways pretty contrary to the way we do in 2008, and I suspect contrary to the way people behaved in 1977, and QUITE often in a borderline pornographic way, but there is no set up for why that is acceptable in this society…did something go horribly wrong…or right…to make people act this way? It came up too often to be ignored but not often enough that I accepted it without reservations…especially with no “historical” explanation. The little in-jokes may have been inventive and inspiring or chuckle inducing in 1977, but in 2008 it left me kind of bored, and without a clear sense of the world in which the in-jokes existed I was left frustrated.

The Ugly: The 1977 publication date is hugely at issue in this review because there are many 2008 socially unacceptable things in the book that were probably the norm in 1977. The same way I bristled at the N-word being used occasionally in Matheson’s I Am Legend (fitting that Will Smith got the lead in 2007 – it’s nice when things come around like that) I bristled at the black/white separation here and the way it was handled. I know I cannot expect things like that not to exist in what is essentially a period piece but it’s also hard to just accept it. And this brings us to my major issue with the book, especially in the final pages…

Spoiler Alert

Women are without a doubt second class citizens in this book.

They are sex objects and wives and mothers and that’s about it. They are certainly not superheroes, the best they can do, apparently, is be a hollow version of Superman’s ‘Lois Lane crack reporter’, in the form of Peggy Poole, who is really not as much a reporter as a vehicle for Brinkley to remember his youth and past sexual desire for her. Women can also be whores, as evidenced in the form of Brinkley’s ex-high school sweetheart Lorna Doone, who also operates simply as a vehicle for Brinkley to remember his youth and past sexual desire for her, though as a whore she is now sad looking and unappealing. Boy we women cannot win. What time period is this set in – the 1500’s? Jesus.

I understand it’s 1977, but really? I mean, Charlie’s Angels was on the air then (1976 – 1981)…I’m not saying that it was a groundbreaking show and the angels certainly used their looks to their advantage in every single frame and they were ultimately taking orders from not one, but two men (one of who lived inside a speaker phone no less) but at least they were the stars. They weren’t sidelined reporters and whores, and little housewives, they were private investigators, and spies, and models, and athletes, and they were smart. You know what else was out in 1977…a little show called Wonder Woman…oh yeah, and this show you may have heard of…it’s not like women weren’t on the rise…they were stepping up and were showing, especially during the late 1970’s, that they were NOT just the little wifey, the powerless sidekick, the whore, the sex object. And these shows weren’t even particularly innovative and revolutionary, but rather mainstream, so I have to say that ultimately Mayer’s book is buried in the opposite of innovation and forward thinking. It’s like he decided to do a superhero novel, which was super innovative for the time, and then decided that that was quite enough innovation and quit.

As if to add insult to injury, the end of the book is like a giant punch in the vagina of all women.

Seriously. In literally the last pages of the book, our “hero” allows his old flame Peggy to give him a blow job…he justifies the fact that he allows this to happen while his wife is literally in labor with their third child, by saying that “he didn’t ask for it or instigate it” and that he “deserves it” for saving the world (yet again). Whoo. What a hero. Someone hold me back from this awesome specimen…this golden example of man. Blech. It turns out that it is actually his apparently gay sort-of-one-time sidekick that is blowing him (his eyes were closed) and so he chases him out of the room when he realizes the mistake, and ‘hyuck-hyuck-hyuck’ we can all feel okay that he didn’t actually cheat on Pamela (his wife) with Peggy (his old flame) because it was really Peter (what’s up with the P names?) and he of course didn’t want that. So we are supposed to overlook the fact that our hero wanted it to happen and that he thought it was happening and allowed it to go on, but since it technically didn’t happen the way he wanted with the person he wanted then it doesn’t matter and all is well. Hahahaha! Isn’t life grand? Totally annoying.

And that’s not all – the WORST offense by far is that at the very end of the book Brinkley is basically losing his super powers (as he was in the beginning) and is lamenting the loss of them and of his lost heritage, but his wife has a baby BOY in the end, and SURPRISE, there are very strong hints (i.e. ridiculous hard to deny proof) that the son will have his father’s power. I guess those two little girls of his didn’t get anything. I mean what a surprise, why would they? Girls should pretty much be drowned like unwanted kittens at birth, or farmed out as strippers and whores, or maybe sold into the slavery of marriage, or oh, I know, they can be “crack reporters” that get captured all the time, so that heroes can have someone helpless to rescue.

BLAH! ANGER!

I’m disappointed in my man Grant Morrison for writing the intro to this and praising this book so much. I’m angry at Stan Lee for saying, “You’ll never look at superheroes the same way again” – he’s right, I can’t. And I’m more disappointed than ever.

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The really funny thing is that I have never written anything about Burning Man – but I did once use the phrase “hunka hunka burning man rage” in an angry misogyny related post…I guess I’ll have to be more careful with my phrasing…

  

i’ve been debating all day whether to write about this article i read in the New York Times today or not.  i guess i decided to write about it.  but i still feel conflicted. 

here’s the problem, i’m a smart girl, i’m no genius but smart enough most days and while i’m more informed about worldly events than the average American (and apparently more educated considering i can point to not only North America but several other continents – not to mention actual countries too – on a map) i have been doing a piss poor job of keeping involved in current events, politics, world issues, etc.  i get my news mostly from the internet, clicking on stories that interest me.  i don’t regularly read any newspapers and i refuse to watch American news reports which we all know are really entertaiment news programs anyway.  as such i feel like my information is a bit limited and part of this is deliberate.   like many educated people i suffer from a strong desire to know these things and be involved, but also like many people i feel overwhelmed quickly.  i can only read about a war that i have no interest in (and if it were up to me we would not have ever gotten involved in) so many times before i give up in frustration. 

i think it’s a combination of things, but mostly there are not enough hours in the day for me to work my job, submit (and write) short fiction, submit my novel, re-write my novel, re-draw and re-tool my graphic novel, work out (which always seems to get lost in the shuffle), engage in my relationship, and also both care about and do something about things like female genital mutilation in Egypt (or anywhere else for that matter).  so all i end up feeling is frustration. 

on one hand it is my choice to not do anything about it, to instead focus my energy on becoming a “successful” writer.  on the other hand if people like me don’t care (there seem to be so few of us out there) then who will do anything?  *sigh*  it’s depressing.  in my mind there is always going to be ample time to care about such things when i quit my full time job and become a “full time writer” because then i will have all this magical free time that used to be used up on writing…but we all know that is a myth.  there will never be any extra time.  maybe this is why i get mad when people tell me they are bored.  please, give me your extra time that you have to be bored, because there are plenty of things i’d like to do with your “i’m bored” time.

okay, enough of the rant.  please read the article below, and if you’re a better person than me (i hope you are) consider getting involved.  there must be something that can be done.

these men are cowards.  they are afraid of change and more importantly they are afraid of the power of women.  they hide behind religion because it is hard to attack religion without being called all sorts of things, but what they are too cowardly to realize is that they are hiding behind man’s interpretation of God’s word and man gets things wrong all the time, this is no exception.

and speaking of getting things wrong…how is female genital mutilation the same as circumcision?  it’s not female circumcision it is female castration.  

it is female castration and it has to stop. 

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/20/world/africa/20girls.html?_r=1&ref=todayspaper&oref=slogin

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this is a picture from the NY Times article of some of the men who defend the tradition of genital cutting with the words, “we support circumcision!”  you are cowards.  you are all cowards.   

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