Aaand we’re a day or two late. ぎりぎりセーフ。。。じゃない。
I collected a lot of articles on geeks and gender this summer and wanted to share them here on the blog. Japan Gender Reader will be back soon!
We’re In Your Comics, Queering Your Narratives
Root, with Rhea Ewing. “Midwestern, Genderqueer, and Proud: Exploring Gender in a Middle-America Comics Project.” Bitch Magazine. 31 July 2013.
For one thing, when I was first reading about gender and queer stuff for myself, I saw a lot of stuff that seemed to be focused on the coasts. I even read a few comics or articles of people being like, “Well, you know, the Midwest, that’s where all the people who vote for Republicans live.” That wasn’t really my experience.
There’s a very broad range of experiences. We don’t all run dairy farms or shuck corn, but some of us do. Whether that’s someone from Chicago unpacking race and gender and class, or whether that’s someone from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in the backwoods who’s like, “I’m all alone! What’s happening?” There are really supportive places, too….
If nothing else, better tools to talk about gender. The thing about gender is we’re all saddled with it in one way or another. But we’re not really given by mainstream society a lot of tools to talk about gender, especially in terms of our own experiences when they’re different from the binary that mainstream culture presents it to be.
Charles “Zan” Christensen, ed. Anything That Loves. 2013.
I sponsored this anthology of comics about non-binary sexualities (aka “wibbly-wobbly sexy-wexy”) on Kickstarter, and now you can purchase it! I might do a separate post on this, but I highly recommend this anthology, with comics from my some of my favorite comic artists, Erika Moen and Sam Orchard, and tons of artists I hadn’t read yet.
For all their differences, gay and straight people are often united in their problems with bisexuality. People who follow their hearts wherever they lead, regardless of gender, are still usually met with disbelief and suspicion.
From confessional, personal accounts to erotic flights of fancy to undersea identity politics, this collection of comics invites the reader to step outside of the categories and explore the wild and wonderful uncharted territory between “gay” and “straight.”
MyDearPeabody. “Mark Millar and Todd McFarlane: Ladies, Comics Aren’t For You.” Observation Deck at i09. 10 Aug. 2013.
Excellent debunking of all the “reasons” Millar and McFarland give for why they don’t care about female readership or female characters.
Comics aren’t for women. And if women do like comics, they shouldn’t, because testosterone, and that’s not the right platform for them.
But for those women who do read comics, it doesn’t matter how they’re portrayed. Because women don’t read them, you see, so it’s not necessary to write characters that will appeal to them. So if you’re a woman, and you’re reading comics, first of all, why are you reading them? Second of all, don’t expect anything that appeals to you.
Because comics can’t change. It’s history. They reflect history and how things are, have been and always will be. Comics are entirely subject to the strictures of the genre as set down in the Comics Code of the Brethren Siegel and Shuster, and the code is the law. (Ha, Comics Code, my phrasing is ironic. Sorry, moving on.) Verily, as men have always leapt buildings with a single bound, so shall they continue, and yea, they shall save the hot girl, as is their function and as is her function.
Feminists. Fighter Pilots. Friends.
Victoria Law. “Can a Society Run by Women Still Be a Dystopia?” Bitch Magazine. 9 May 2013.
Yes, and not because misandry. (See also: Ôoku).
Aja Romano. “The Mako Mori Test: ‘Pacific Rim’ inspires a Bechdel Test alternative.” The Daily Dot. 18 Aug. 2013.
I’m a huge proponent of the Bechdel test and its siblings, the Racial Bechdel Test and the Queer Bechdel Test, to gage (the lack of) female/POC/queer representation. The Mako Mori test opens up another narrative about female representation “to live alongside the Bechdel test”:
The Mako Mori test is passed if the movie has: a) at least one female character; b) who gets her own narrative arc; c) that is not about supporting a man’s story. I think this is about as indicative of “feminism” (that is, minimally indicative, a pretty low bar) as the Bechdel test. It is a pretty basic test for the representation of women, as is the Bechdel test. It does not make a movie automatically feminist.
Caitlin Walsh. “Is Gender-Flipping The Most Important Meme Ever?” Junkee. 18 July 2013.
Walsh’s article covers three of the major gender-flip memes that attempt to highlight the sexism inherent in the media: cover-art for contemporary literature, models for comic books and advertisements, descriptions of men and women in the news, and what happens when men experience the cultural baggage women grow up with. But why is this so important?:
In the wise words of Community’s Dean Pelton, sometimes we don’t see our own patterns until they’re laid out in front of us. We, as consumers of media and culture, absorb a lot of sexist, racist, heteronormative bullshit every day, and we never really question it because we see it every day. We internalise it. We expect it. It feels normal — until something fishes us out of our warm pot and forces us to see the steam.
Sophia MacDougall. “I hate Strong Female Characters.” The New Statesman. 15 Aug. 2013.
Possibly my favorite article this summer. So many amazing quotes.
Sherlock Holmes gets to be brilliant, solitary, abrasive, Bohemian, whimsical, brave, sad, manipulative, neurotic, vain, untidy, fastidious, artistic, courteous, rude, a polymath genius. Female characters get to be Strong.
Please note: this is not an indictment of Sherlock Holmes in any of his incarnations, but rather a point that his character is so complex and so well loved for it, but meanwhile,
And even if this less limiting understanding of “strong female character” were the common reading, doesn’t it then become even sadder and even more incomprehensible that where the characterisation of half the world’s population is concerned, writing well is treated as a kind of impressive but unnecessary optional extra?
As a commenter on The Lobster Dance’s Facebook (see bottom for link) added, “Can’t help but think of this when I see that [strong female characters] term:” Hark, A Vagrant’s “Strong Female Characters.” Sexism is over!
What do I want instead of a Strong Female Character? I want a male:female character ratio of 1:1 instead of 3:1 on our screens. I want a wealth of complex female protagonists who can be either strong or weak or both or neither, because they are more than strength or weakness. Badass gunslingers and martial artists sure, but also interesting women who are shy and quiet and do, sometimes, put up with others’ shit because in real life there’s often no practical alternative. And besides heroines, I want to see women in as many and varied secondary and character roles as men: female sidekicks, mentors, comic relief, rivals, villains. I want not to be asked, when I try to sell a book about two girls, two boys and a genderless robot, if we couldn’t change one of those girls to a boy.