Friday, January 06, 2006

Fangirls Unite?

The women in comics rants continue. I have very mixed feelings on the issue.

On the one hand, I enjoy comic books. In particular the DC heroes. I'm a big fan of Aquaman. I like many of the others. I like the books. I read many of them faithfully.

On the other hand, I hate the portrayal of women in comic books. I hate the treatment of women creators and shop owners in the business. And I detest the way some men drool over any woman who reads comic books as if we are their own personal fantasy come true. Some of them even act that way when the woman in question is wearing her wedding ring prominently.

But what can I do? It's clear that there's a festering rage among some women about this nastiness. But if I want to continue to read comic books, I can't avoid some of the crap that spews out unabated. As Lea said, "Previews and Wizard are comics' two biggest print faces, and they're -embarassing-." Wizard I can simply refuse to buy. But Previews is impossible to avoid if I want to make sure I get the comics I want. And I admit I feel assaulted almost every time I go through Previews. I tend to try to only go through it once each month, and write down what I find (hence my flipping through Previews posts) rather than endure it more than once.

And yet, I'm sure there are guys out there reading this thinking, "C'mon, it's not that bad! You're exaggerating!" No, actually, I'm not. I made the mistake of taking Previews in to show something to someone at work. She was convinced it was a catalog for porn enthusiasts. Then there are the guys thinking, "You just have a thin skin!" Maybe. But I don't think so. I'm willing to tolerate quite a lot. Maybe it's time to stop tolerating this crap in the comic book business?

So I suppose I could protest by ceasing to buy and read Previews. And write a letter to Diamond to explain why. And proclaiming it on my blog so everyone else will boycott it too. But then I lose the advantages of reading Previews. I lose the ability to spot new series that I might like by the artwork. So I save my eyes from a lot of T&A, but I possibly miss out on great books. What a tradeoff.

I'd rather just not buy books by known sexist pigs. But I don't know who they are. They are protected by a wall of silence. While I think they should be identified and humiliated, that opens up all kinds of avenues of complication. What if some woman lies? Not all members of the female gender are sweetness and light. Somebody's life could be ruined by a false accusation (a friend in college was hurt badly by a false accusation, and I still haven't forgotten the pain he went through). So keeping it between the victim and the police may be the best idea. And let me make this absolutely clear: I think that any woman who is assaulted or harrassed by a man should contact the police about it. It should never be ignored.

Right. I'm rambling and babbling. And it's clear I need to think about this issue some more. I'm feeling a wave growing, an "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore!" wave. Maybe nothing will come out of it this time, except for another wave of women leaving the industry poorer for their absence. But maybe it really is time for the comic book industry to start to mature from the drooling adolescent phase it's been in for far too long. Maybe we'll get a positive change out of this. Only time will tell.