Sunday, April 29, 2007

Letter to a Construct

Dear ,

Who are you? What do you really stand for? What do you want? And how do you want society to be in the future?

Are you gay?

...I'm gay so I don't look at them the same way a straight guy would...

And would that be gay as in a gay male? Because:

I don't know if you've seen "Chicken Run" but one of my husband's and my favorite quotes from it is muddies the waters quite a bit.

Of course you could be gay and have gone through a commitment ceremony and prefer to refer to your partner as your husband. But then you also say.

My gay roommate and I were having dinner with

And while I'd pass no judgements if you're in a polyamrous triad, gay, straight or bisexual, I'd think you'd use more honest language to describe where you're coming from. I also think you'd have some slightly better thoughts and more of awareness of sexuality and feminism and thus more understanding of the points I was trying to make in my post about the indoctrination that comics may be having on youth and how it shapes their views on sexuality.

Instead you've been all hung up on rape, even though rape was a footnote in the post.A footnote created to dispel the notion that women might not be averse to rape of a female character used as an impetus for the male character's storyline. A footnote that was created to show that I had thought about various arguments that might be given about how rape affects female comic readers - but that was placed as a footnote because the point of my post was about the comics and how they might shape the sexual underpinnings of young minds.

You showed up in my journal with statistics about rape going down. "BTW, the increase in the amount of sexual imagery that has flood our society since the 1980s doesn't seem to have caused sexual assault."

But that distasteful display was not cushioned with information on what kind of rape was reported; marital, incest, childhood molestation, stranger, date assault, etc...

* You didn't show up with any information on whether various counties and districts and communities change the charge from rape to assault or aggravated sexual battery based on what was done to the victim.

* You didn't show up with information about how often the various precincts believe rape is reported or not reported.

* You didn't show up with information about what counted as sexual imagery and how that varied from sexual imagery depicted in the past.

* You didn't show up with information about whom that sexual imagery was and or is made accessible for.

You brought up a quote: "sex offenders generally had less adolescent experience with erotica" - which would have been relevant to my post only in that it related to sexual sanctity transgression and formative exposure. Was that meant to prove my point that certain resources other than those deemed 'erotica' do have an affect on people with no regard for other people's personal space or sense and space of self?

I don't know.

Why don't I know?

Because again and again you hammer in about rape. And then, while discussing rape. You talk about finding the positions heroines are placed in as confusing to you when they're described as humiliating, servile and cheesecake.

You: This presupposes that the poses are servile and humiliating.
You: Why would wanting to have sex suggest being servile?

We're discussing heroines in action as being drawn as if capturing the bad guy were not the point. And you seem to have swallowed the point that what these heroic female figures really want to be doing is sucking cock somewhere.

I can't deal with you. And I highly suggest the people in my journal trying to reply to your restated confusing, and often incomprehensible ramblings stop dealing with you also. You don't think you're a troll. And maybe you're not. Maybe you're a Golem. Maybe 'Male is Right. Rape is Down. Women want Sex." - Are all that can fit into your mind. Maybe you've been sent out ill equipped for your mission, whatever that might be, and you shamble along, spouting out nonsense words and numbers as a distracting frustration from real and true points of discussion - topics that could use more minds mulling them over and twisting them about to be seen from many different povs.

So up to a point, you've succeeded. I hereby wash my hands of you. And I'm likely to ban you from commenting in my journal, simply because when discussion happens I want true discussion; Thinking discussion.

I point you to The Designated Sidekick's very poignant post where he manages to capture some of what I was thinking of about boys and comics and mentalities when I posted my entry. I point you directly to his wonderful phrase of 'looking for social cues'.

Perhaps DS can grunt a few phrases at you and properly translate what I and those commenting in my journal have spent almost a week trying to scrape into the thick hide organ you call your brain.

Someone else commented to my two most recent posts and I still don't agree with how they've absorbed my point or interpreted my words. But as irksome as it was to try and find common ground, they were coherent and respectful. It made a huge difference in how I perceive them and their future presence anywhere on the net.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

WW#8 - It burns us, precious. The Gail must fix it, precious!

I was going to respond to Ragnell's Wonder Woman squee. But my disjointed thoughts are just too much to put in someone else's journal.

My confusion should be home-stationed.

Or something.

I think I'm still in La La Land from reading WW#8. And I don't mean Hollywood.

But WTF Bad Storytelling Much?

It seems needlessly convoluted and unexplained and some parts needlessly over explained and preachy and caricature.

But three things stood out beyond all the rest.

1 - The Spoiler seems unbalanced to me and I wonder how the other Amazons don't notice the situation, is quite frankly, crazy. Crazy ass. Crazy ass crazy wtf, stupid, wtf, bbq? Huh??

2 - WW's relationship with Nemesis just...

Moving aside from the cracks about her not knowing how to answer a phone - which just makes me go: "This woman knows Batman. Batman is all about the gadgets. So is Mr. Terrific. This is a woman who hangs out in the WATCHTOWER. Little doohickeys everywhere. And yet this bullshit about her lack of tech no how persists???!"

Ok, maybe I can't just leave it aside, and that makes it technically 4 things that bug me.

So, 2a - Nemsis and WW? The whole 'Pervert/Birthmark' exchanged cemented the dynamic for me.

WW, to me, is a confident, sexy, in control, goddess of a woman. I mean if I ever met a WW, and she even just wanted to be my friend, far less someone to watch my back - I'd be a happy melty puddle on the ground. And then of course I'd do my best to be mature enough to stay her friend.

The WW in WW#8 doesn't have that. It's like watching a 15 yr old strive towards WonderWomanHood. It's her book, but it's the male character who's being suave. It's the male character making jokes about birthmarks and liquid glue and WW's own power and personality.

It's not being written, to me, as Nemesis dealing with his awe of WW. It's reading like WW being in awe of this normal, mortal man.

Now, I don't know what the boy's got going for him. But he ain't no Batman and he ain't no Ted Kord and he ain't no Mr. Terrific and quite frankly the list of purely mortal men Diana knows who can deal with incredible odds is long. Very long. And that's not counting the villains.

Why is it her book but written as if she's the guest star? The guest star, wide-eyed ingenue who's full of potential and who has connections, and an enemy of her own, but the story really isn't about her.

It made me think of Supergirl, actually. And Supergirl's 16. So I guess my personal impression of the situation is off by a year.

3 - Finally, my last wtf impression. The Amazons. They're here. They're formidable. They will whoop your ass! All while showing off their femoral arteries so one shot can have them on the floor bleeding to death? WTF?


Blades strapped to bare thighs, and loincloth's showing bare thighs and ...what?

These are warriors. These are avatars of some of the most kickass goddesses ever. All these women do (and by the way, all the ladies and chicks and little ladies shit by the men - was that on purpose? Sexism on purpose to show how little reguard the world of men has for the Amazons?), is train and kick ass all day long. They train, they learn, they kick ass all day long. Kunfu martial artists in fictional movie universes only wish they could kick ass Amazon style. And yet?

Bare thighs?

Seriously? SERI-f*cking-OUSLY?

They're not all WW and impervious to bullets y'know. They're just kickass. Kickass but sensible. Because true warriors don't flaunt weak-spots and hope the other side is too dumb to take a shot.


I need to find Greg Rucka's WW run and read it again. It will soothe my soul.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Are Comics 4 Color Porn?

I've followed a couple of links around since the month began and I have two or three posts for it now. I posted the first; re: women, friendships, danger and WiR. This one, is all about my confusion in the unspoken sexual directives of porn and how that plays into the comics industry.

In this journal post, I've a question to ask you. You being fellow comic readers, specifically any men reading this.

This month is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. And the 5th was 'Blog Against Sexual Violence Day'. I have an entry in my personal journal up about that. And it's footnoted in the prior post.

But in following the links around about this, a particular mention caught my eye. Pornography - in particular in reference to yet another harrowing account of a cell phone video taped rape.

Is there a general consensus that these boys, and others like them, learn to devalue women as human beings through watching porn?

I admit to having some conflicting thoughts about porn. I think the industry needs stricter oversights and that it should be more than just a few companies who look after the health and welfare of their actors; that there should be industry wide compulsive testing, health updates, maybe a check-up just before work for the day to ensure the actors don't have problems that will be exacerbated by the work, etc. I don't hate the end product of porn or the workers, but as sex positive as I am, I do dislike the industry and all the mistakes that could have been and should be foreseen and taken care of ahead of time.

But since I don't see porn as the great dark sexual evil, or rather the end product of porn as a great evil, I thus don't think the women in porn necessarily feel devalued as human beings. I don't think there isn't a feminist in the bunch and I don't think they're betraying any women's rights causes. Treating sexuality as something to be catered to and something to not be ashamed of, seems healthy to me.

However, I'm an adult and I've actually sat down and worried these thoughts out. I've read the blogs and journals of a couple porn stars; heard their complaints and their praises and seen interviews. I've read books on the subject. I've done my best to have an informed opinion.

When I hear about the cell phone rapes, and how the footage is passed around and how the boys involved are both dumb enough to think they won't get caught while showing off the evidence and apparently titillated enough by their own - whatever- at being on tape, I find myself looking at 'Porn is Bad' in a different light.

For impressionable young human beings, just figuring out their kinks and not even knowing if they have any fetishes, while bombarded constantly by ideas and unrealistic ideals of who and what they should be - porn isn't going to help them.

But are these new breed of rapists rooting around in their parents private belongings and finding porn? Or is there something closer to home that devalues women and praises machismo, anti-heroes and raw treatment of scantily clad heroines and villainesses.

Yeah, I mean comics. And no I'm not now saying comics are bad and evil.

In fact I think before anything else influenced those boys to treat girls as their objects of sexual fantasies to be used and thrown away, that some other twist happened in their brains. And that's something for sociologists and psychologists and parents to worry about.; especially not just for those boys but for others who might act on such impulses in the future.

But comics as a reflection of the current times? Comics that objectify a sixteen year old girl; which make it seem like a super heroine really wants it, cause look how she flaunts it? That I can agree with.

That I can place a finger on. Super Heroes and Super Heroines are our modern mythology 1. And modern mythology hasn't been talking about fearsome and awe inspiring goddesses. They've been talking about how one rape changed the universe; Persophenone Sue Dibny. And the redemption of the rapist's sense of self and personal honor.

Hundreds of years have passed and yet we're not only not imagining anything new. We're still stuck with a cadre of men, possibly well meaning , but with no higher thought processes, who demand that their personal heroes (or anti-heroes) help mold the concept of modern civilization.

What do I mean?

Well what sort of message does it send when a comic book is devoted to a rapist recovering his sense of personal honor? Not a good one. I repeat - Not A Good Message. His honor and his pride and his martyrdom sets up a mode of thinking - not even a role model - but a mode of thinking that places women as superficial unreal fluff! It's a message there for anyone to read, child or adult, fanboy or browser.

Are comics promoting the very thing that people (women) bitchsmack porn for? Do comics and porn share the tropes and fetishes and fantasies of sex and sexual situations as something established and continually built on?


Don't believe me? Wondering how do they fit together?

  1. Women in suggestive poses.>

  2. Women as objects to be looked at.

  3. Women as symbols to fight over or fight for

  4. A confusion over signals; What suggests 'availability'

  5. Virginity / Innocence as a prize for men.

  6. Lack of innocence means you're tainted.

  7. Good girls don't do that; they first have to cross to the dark side or be tricked into crossing it.

  8. Once a good girl says she likes it, she's not a good girl anymore.

  9. Bad girls are very tainted; It's the bad girls who are; sexually aggressive, available & promiscuous. - easy

  10. A confusion of violence with strength; women just want a caveman/bad boy.

  11. A confusion of fantasy /fantasy symbols with reality; good girls want to be tricked, bad girls are there to be used.

Does any of this sound familiar?

Does it sound like the reason female fans have problems with how female characters are presented?

Does it sound like a situation wherein men reinforce their ideas about sex and sexuality and demonstrate again and again an utter cluelessness about real violation. So much so they use it as impetus for the male character? 2

I'd say it does.

1 - While modern mythology has also been talking about how the The Lady of Maidens can't order coffee - that is another post. That'll probably be the third post brewing in my mind in regards to a female writer having so much difficulty with an iconic confident woman. There are things to consider as to whether she couldn't find the icon inside herself, or whether she wasn't personally strong enough to stand against the flow from TBTB, or from the artist she was working with. I'm even suspicious enough to wonder if it was always a set up to get a different writer even more interested in taking on the job.

2 - Rape Fantasy

Let me get this out in the open now.

Does it exist? Yes.

Do women have them? Yes.

Do women actually want to be raped? NO!

Then wtf does it mean????

What it means is that there are enough women in the world who feel that only 'bad girls' are sexually aggressive and say what they want and so the only way women who think of themselves as 'good girls' might have a particular raw and aggressive sexual experience is if they fantasized of being put into a position where it was not their fault.

But it's RAPE you say. Women are just trying to confuse us!

Actually, in a fantasy, a woman is always in control. It's her head after all! Her thoughts. She could decide in the middle of things to grow claws and disembowel her attacker and then suck the juices from his still beating heart while enjoying her after-tremors.

Or the person in her fantasy could be her husband or lover who's aware it's a game.

The point is, her fantasy, her fantasy reality, her power, her control. Rape fantasy isn't about rape as much as it's about the internalized misconception of whether or not ordinary, down to earth, 'good girls' can enjoy or explore raw sex, or kinky naughty things.

So, just because a woman could have a rape fantasy, doesn't mean she'll enjoy looking at the 4 color pages and seeing another woman, forced against her will, violated, threatened, fearful for her life - or that she'll think anything cool about it.

I could compare this and say 'I'm sure there are men who have castration fantasies and that doesn't mean....'. But it wouldn't be a fair comparison. Men don't have the weight of society approved castrations in their mind all the time. Men don't worry about people holding them down and being helpless and violated, scarred for life, etc. Men don't worry about being attacked as a tool for someone else's fantasy or being used as a prop for some one else's misplaced now twisted to sexual aggression.

So please don't bring up that men have 'bondage fantasies too' or 'being helpless fantasies' etc, etc, etc.

Because the majority of men don't have ages of history of being 'the property of the most important male in their life' as part of the current consciousness. And the men who do have an inkling of something similar - Black Men - would kick up a fuss about images of other black men in bondage or being abused.

So to relate the footnote back to the original post. If in 'a boy's power fantasy', the world is his oyster and every woman in it; if there are constant images (sculptures, dolls, artwork/posters) of Super Heroines presented in a manner not deserving of respect.; then how does that boy add a mental note about the integrity and power of the ordinary young women in his life? Teen boys already battle a near constant bombardment of 'sex, sexy, hot, breasts, beer, bikinis, wet skin, mini/teeny skirts, and R-rated' that no doubt make it difficult to see a woman as anything but a collection of body parts that lead to that 'real good feeling'. If first come comics, then comes tv, then comes porn, how much more reinforcement do they really need to see women as nothing more than walking, talking, joy juice making property? (And then get into the comics industry and start the cycle all over again, unconsciously or not)

After all, we female comic fans are continually told how men are visually stimulated and like 'eye candy'. So I'm asking, how are young men supposed to believe in strong, confident women, when their first instances of visual stimulation come from heroines (the supposed strong ones) bent and curved and slinked in servile, humiliating, awkward cheesecake poses? How are they to overcome the establishing fetish of what happens to comic book super heroines?

I (and others) will keep asking questions, over and over again and pointing out the discrepancies, for both the young women and the young men of the future.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Am I Bitter or Am I Property?

There are so many posts brewing in my head or sitting half written as I try to take enough breaks to get my point across without stretching into endless babble. This was one of them. It got kicked into overdrive by the news that the female character in Planet Hulk, who'd taken the time to accept the character, has been killed. And was in fact created to be killed in order to give Hulk something to angst about.

Yes, that's right, this is my: Women in Refrigerator Post.

I've been thinking about it for a very good while. But I couldn't find the words to explain my confusion about it all. Because I hadn't taken it for granted that 'the gf' gets it in the end. My conscious memory of a dead girlfriend is Jean Grey. And she just keeps coming back.

But pushing past that, among the various other swirling thoughts in my head; aside from the group thoughts involving mythology and how the destruction or fear of destruction of family/loved ones is a normal goad for the hero; my mind's been going to Xena and Gabrielle.

Gabrielle got captured, got in trouble, etc often enough. But she's a side-kick. She's support cast. She did her best to take care of herself in the beginning and learned to take care of herself more over time. But danger to Gabrielle always raised the stakes.

From there my mind went to Batman and Robin, specifically Jason Todd, and how his death became something that further goads the Dark Knight on his mission.

And then I had this thought - what would happen if we could get through to male writers about creating or promoting female characters just for the sake of the male character's angst. Would they actually get it once we got them to listen? Would they see the imbalance?

But then I realized we'd probably end up with something like this:

Mike Sherman's eyes went wide. He felt his stomach try to convulse, breath wooshing out his mouth. The knife in his torso burned like fire. Across the room he met his wife's gaze. And then he looked down to see her clenched fists.

Her clenched glowing fists.

Darkness came in spots, but that was long enough for him to see Julia wipe the floor with the thugs. Strength in her every movement, powerful, graceful - they didn't stand a chance. Should never have stood a chance.


He blinked open eyes he hadn't realized were closed and reached out to with a smile at her in approval.


Darkness. The dull weight of his body.

"I love you, Mike."

And then there was darkness and something spectral leading him on.

Maybe I'm bitter? Would it not be a turn around situation, wherein the male pov is still represented as superior, the woman seems weak for waiting until someone she cares about was injured and the male is more heroic for dying with 'class'.

It's a good thing I didn't try to think of how they might turn a rape back towards the male pov.

Still, there's the imbalance again, the unfairness, the trivialization of women (which I will discuss in yet another brewing post). Why aren't male characters represented as weak for failing to protect people who depend on them and love them? I like Spiderman's story as well as the next Spiderman fan, but that kind of scenario isn't what I'm thinking of. The Death of Uncle Ben is heavily weighted in 'actions have consequences'.

I'm talking about girlfriends dying. Not side-kicks, not people who know the risks in a real and gritty way, but girlfriends. Girlfriends that are somehow easily replaceable because they're not a family member or team member and who seem to come with the ready made excuse that either they weren't the main characters true love or worse that they were.

It's like those stories about a boy and his dog. One dog dies but it's more than possible that if the right smart, caring dog came along, the boy's heart will be healed and all will be well until the next time we want to pluck said boy's heartstrings.

Gwen Stacy replaced with Mary Jane. Lassie replaced with Benji. Alex replaced by Donna Troy.

I've read that heroes are so powerful that it's hard to believe they could ever actually be in jeopardy and so placing people they love, weaker people, in peril , ups the stakes. And also that people the hero cares for are more personal than the city, or the earth or the galaxy or even just one office building.

But there has to be something more. There had to be some element that's not being owned up to1. Because if the person in peril was the hero's male best friend; I think writers would be the subject of a whole lot of wank on various message boards.

Heck, I think if the person in peril was a fellow hero, a male hero, who was somehow weaker than the main character of focus or more susceptible to the villain's powers we'd still see fuss. And I think the fuss is all in male perception. The industry doesn't think their male readers would want the shock of thinking 'But I'm an accountant/barista/college student/ work in retail, does than mean I'm weak!'

And yet it seems quite frankly a logical choice to me, to up the stakes by having a team mate or hero work partner be in danger. It'd be someone well liked, someone trusted and still someone put in danger by their very association to the hero. Isn't that easier than the second option, which is to come up with intelligent ways villains could overtake the hero? If it really is too difficult for the writers to think up trials and tortures for the main character or to even believe the main character would take the destruction of a building or town or city or world under their protection personally, then why not throw some of the friend/men folk in danger?2

While I personally don't believe in a memorial in the Bat-cave for Stephanie Brown, I begin to see clearer why her supporters don't want her to be just another Woman in the Refrigerator. Cause she's not even a good WiR subject at that, since Bruce doesn't seem to think of her at all, not even as a goad. To set up the dynamics of comicverse so that a murdered woman is a goad to justice, and then ignore Stephanie Brown must seem the ultimate jockstrap slap in the face.


1 - Women as property. So that a violation of the chosen woman in a man's life is violation of ownership and not just the woman in danger. It's a territorial challenge.

2- Yes, I'm well aware that at least one person is likely to give me an example of a male character who had a male friend put in jeopardy. I ask it not be related to that friend's race, religion, or sexual identity, however, as those are different sort of 'make the hero feel helpless' topics. I'm discussing direct threat and action. Also Batman in Emperor Joker doesn't count since it's not a direct threat against Superman, given that he wasn't told/taunted about it. Actually, Batman/Superman don't get any exception at all. They raised children Dick together. They're practically married.

Friday, April 6, 2007

So there it is

What the heck is up with ComicSpace.Com? I've asked this question more than once and I still don't get it. Yet, I've now joined anyway. Maybe it'll help me keep track of webcomics and webcomic authors I like better than my very faulty brain.

Anyway: Comicspace.Com. Me. InkedWillow.

Now maybe I'll be posting something with more substance later.

xposted: personal journal

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Thoughts On Wonder Woman (Meme Style)

My Wonder Woman

Is vegetarian.
Likes omelettes for breakfast.
Likes two tablespoons of coffee in her spiced milk,
But believes caffeine is an addiction,
This doesn't stop her from indulging in a latte every now and then.
Tries to straddle the line of modern woman and living myth.
Is best friends with a Minotaur.
Is closer friends with several women yet isn't actually a lesbian.
Is bisexual,
But she's aware than most mortal women don't see themselves that way.
Feels personal betrayal keenly but betrayal of a cause more so - to betray a cause is to betray morals is to betray the self.
Has fought fears and daemons in Hades.
Has been the personal champion of the King/Queen of the Greek Gods.
Knows that battling with Ares keeps her sharp.
Dislikes the truth that Ares as conflict does keep Man's Modern World evolving.
Has wondered if one day she too will have a daughter who will try to champion peace and a better way.
Was blessed by the goddesses and Hermes.
Wonders is she'll ever find someone not intimidated by who she is and what she can do.
Has fought more foes than Circe, Giganta and Tigress
Can strategize with the best of them (Batman, Mr. Terrific)
But doesn't think that needs to make her come across as hard as they do.
Thinks that a lasso of truth ends the need for unnecessary violence,
But still trains in hand to hand and with sword and shield.
Is a skilled warrior,
But also a savvy diplomat.
Killed a man to save the world,
Wishes she didn't have to.
Knows she has to gain mankind's trust all over again.
Remembers Hermes telling her that mortals are fickle in their adoration.
Meditates when she's tense,
But communicates with her patron goddesses when she's in need of true guidance.
Sees herself as a part of the world.
Wonders how many times someone will try to derail her message of peace by trying to destroy her.

My Wonder Woman is here, on earth, because the Gods are awake and watching, sometimes interfering. She is Prometheus in a new age; she's come to give us 'fire'/knowledge and to counter-act the meddles that would sway our choices.

You know who would write my Wonder Woman? Diane Duane.

Sunday, April 1, 2007


Comic book writing:

Panel Desc

Gives me writers block and possibly upset stomach.


I don't want to loose my flow man. If not I might forever be stuck with Frank Miller's Remix stuck in my head and No. Just. No.

*attempts to poke brain through skin and cranium*