Tuesday, September 12, 2006

It's All Been Said Before / Same Old, Same Old

There's something to be said for reading a thing yourself versus reading other people's essays and only seeing a couple of scans of a particular comic or comic arc. This past weekend, while having phoneline and connection problems I went out to the bookstore and the library and I had a chance to read Superman/Batman: Supergirl and I believe Volume of Supergirl.

And I have so many thoughts, about Kara and Karen and how I feel like Powergirl's story is being appropriated; about the mess of Kara Zor-El assasin, and Kara's pain and alienation and feelings of isolation and where she might go next. But the first thing I need to talk about is the cheesecake factor.

I actually need to talk about it. It's almost a physical need. I'm so incredulous at what I saw. It only got worse when I got home and a day or so later I got Greg Rucka's WonderWoman graphic novels. Because there was Diana, powerful, sleek, muscled, athletic and beautiful. She was a wonder woman; noble, self sacrificing, loving, stern, determined. And then there was WonderWoman as I'd seen her drawn in Superman/Batman: Supergirl. And that WW looked like Brigitte Nielsen in Red Sonja. I love that movie almost as much as I love LadyHawke, but at no time did I ever delude myself into thinking that there wasn't significant set up for T&A and that a lot of the scenes played on the fact that the woman in charge didn't look as if she could handle herself. To me WonderWoman should always look like she can handle herself. She's the Queen of the Amazons.

I got back into comics almost without realizing, about a year to 18 months ago, possible a bit longer than that. But I had started by catching up. This is the first time I've looked long and hard at what's current (relatively speaking). And I don't know what to think. I was inspired by the comic blogs of so many eloquent women online. But I don't think I'd ever really seen what inspired them to speak. And now I have. Now it's hit me personally and viserally. And if it seems like I'm about to start harping on 'the clothes' like any other 'comic book femminist'; If it is easy to ignore my points because I'm just another girl talking about T&A and how much she doesn't like it; I suggest you move on, because you'll likely never see my point of view. And I point you now to Dictionary.com so you can look up the words in the phrase; 'Consistent Internal Continuity'.

In Superman/Batman, Clark is being overprotective of Kara. There's something in him that sees in her a precious connection to the past and the future. She's like a daughter to him. She's an innocent. A child. All the power in the world wouldn't change the fact that she's a miracle to him. Those wonderfully corny lines when he thinks she's dead, wherein he talks about her smile, and laughter and her first dance and falling in love are all things a Father would wish for his little girl. Moreover, it shows how lonely Clark is; the unique lonliness of the ex-patriot or the exile. It shows beautifully that he longs to have someone else to check in with about human rituals and talk about how they came to mean anything to him or even if they really do mean anything to him at all. Does kissing really do anything, or is it because he's a male Kryptonian with different erogneous zones, or is he some how stranger and more alien than he thought; just for example.

Everything he wants to show her, and teach her and share with her, is akin to parent to child; this world is now your oyster, let me show you the wonders. They make it clear from the beginning before things even get to the point where she's in danger, that he sees 'A little, lost, Kryptonian girl'. That he doesn't in fact give her up and over to Martha to look after says a lot in how much he wants to be in her life and be there for her and share first hand with her. Perhaps he even regrets (in that way that guilt makes no sense) not being able to be there, right from the beginning, for Kon. And it also shows, I think, that as wonderful as he thinks his parents were, he doesn't think Martha will 'get' Kara, without years of human indoctrination happening first.

And yet, despite all this, it doesn't occur to Superman, the Father, to be overprotective of the gazes Kara might draw, when she's walking around like a hootchie-momma?! I'm supposed to believe he doesn't think about how she's blonde and young and you can see her underwear outside and over her jeans and if some jackass tries something, Kara's still too untested to check her strength and she might hurt a human?! Are you telling me that Clark is too stupid to live and that Batman really has reason to think this girl is bio-chemically engineered to mess with Clark's mind, because Clark didn't take one look at all that skin on the girl he thinks of as an innocent child and go 'Kara, I think you still have a problem with human clothes. Maybe I should pick out your outfits.'

Was the point maybe to show that she's not yet accustomed to Earth ways and Earth clothes? If so, wouldn't it have been more recognizable in point for her to have one black shoe and one red shoe? Wouldn't it have been easier to show her putting the bra on the outside of the clothes? And even then, Kara isn't five. You can let the five year old get away with wearing the Fairy Princess dress night and day for a week. Kara's a teenager who needs to start learning how to blend and fit in. Is the only way for that to happen, is to have her be, unconsciously, an over-sexualized teenager? Is the only way for Kara Zor-El to fit into Earth, and among Earth women, is for her to a Virgin/Whore?

The nakedness out of the capsule-ship is logically required in the story. It is connected to plot in that Kara had exposure to yellow sunlight during her trip and stasis so she arrived on Earth with powers. Showing her hip bones however, is not a plot point. And in fact, there is no way I can believe that Lois-Independent-Femminist-PutsClarkInHisPlace-Lane bought those clothes for her; a high cut leotard with low riding jeans; french cut thongs showing over her jeans!

I realize that a lot of young girls and women do wear thongs and you seen the line of the thong sticking up past their pants. But the women are grown and making their own choices about their appearance. And most of those girls, even if they do think they're making a femmnist stance or any stance at all about their bodies, have more life on Earth experience than Kara and practically are very likely sneaking those clothes out of the house, or don't have anyone at home to tell them better(different).

In a perfect society it'd be instantly recognized that an idiot who hit on a woman when it was unwanted was harrassing her. In a perfect society how a woman dresses wouldn't factor into whether or not a man thought he had the right to touch her without permission or force himself on her. DCverse is not a perfect society. In fact there's a long list of just how many DC heroines have been raped or sexually assualted. DCverse is ripe with powerplays of a sexual and violating nature.

Am I to believe that in a society like that, that Lois Lane would give an innocent and ignorant girl clothes that said 'Come and get it' when said girl hasn't got a clue what the clothes say? Because I don't believe it. And I also don't believe that Martha Kent, who thought about aerodyanmics when she made Clark's costume and being a practical farming woman would put a young girl who's going to be zipping through the air in a skirt. And not just a skirt, but a ruffle of a mini. Not a ruffle attached to a leotard for a bit of girly whimsy but a sash with delusions of grandeur matched with a cropped top. Martha Kent; who knows the kind of enemies her Clark has faced, who knows the kind of enemies her granson Kon has faced, puts one of her baby boy's relatives in that outfit?

No. I don't believe it.

What I do believe is that the artist and author wanted her in those clothes for their own reasons. That this was what they wanted to see. And maybe that explains why WonderWoman, Queen of the Amazons was wearing a star spangled thong. Because what every warrior woman needs in the heat of battle is a wedgie and to have her bare ass cheeks available for scoring.

And if this is what every warrior woman wants, it also explains why Artemis had a bodysuit on that had one leg clothed and one leg bare. Because Artimis as the premier fighter among the Amazons, under the Queen, is just the sort of hard core warrior that needs the rage that comes from having an unplanned wedgie caught up in the crack of her vagina and ass. And if this is what every warrior woman wants, then it explains why Darkseid, a being who has as his personal guard the Furies, would put Kara in long pants, but add 'fuck me now' platform heels like something out of 'When Porn Stars Attack!'. Because Darkseid would definitely want his honor guards pissed off and ready to lop heads and even if Kara can fly and as the girl of steel can't twist her ankle, the unecessary frustration of balancing on those heels, with easy access scarves on her arms so her enemies can pull her closer is just the thing to keep her anger on the surface and her darker nature out and free.

Are any of the men writing and drawing this shit fathers?! Are they uncles? Older cousins? Older brothers?!

There's a time and place for cheesecake. There's a time and place to say that this is a young, fresh, nubile, young woman with no body issues. The time and place, however, is not downtown Metropolis on a young, alien, superpowered, girl's very first shopping trip. The time and place is not on Apokolips in its fight or die atmosphere. The time and place is definitely not while fighting Lex Luthor in his green and purple exo-skeleton, and his various kryptonite jewels while a teeny ass skirt swishes, sways and reveals at every movement. Lex Luther isn't the villian to be stopped by a glimpse of underage poontang.

I've got nothing else to say except to wonder if the artists had never heard of skorts, or hadn't thought of Supergirl in spankypants like WonderWoman or if they really wanted that 'distract them with the bare midrift' look, tights, just like her cousin. These artists are artists, right? They've earned that title? They could flip through a couple of online sites for fashion houses and see design? Or a magazine? Or something, right?

Do they realize what they're saying when they draw/ describe women like this? I'm curious now. I think of 'Eyes of the Gorgan' and 'Land of the Dead' and I wonder. Aphrodite walks around in nothing but whisps of fog and ribbon, there's ample opportunity to be risque and yet the sight of her doesn't make me feel as if someone is trying to disempower me as a woman (or disempower my heroes).

Can someone point me to where Greg Rucka has disrespected women some how? Cause I'd rather find out now than later, after purchasing a very low, very accessible pedastal.

NEXT: (or eventually) Supergirl, Powergirl; A Story Redux.

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