Posts Tagged ‘Misogynistic Bullshit’
If you’re a woman following the comic book world, you’ve likely heard the angry explosions and venom laced vitriol from the readers, and the condescending, misogynistic (not to mention dismissive, logically fallacious, and flat out avoidance of the actual question) responses from Marvel (as in the Editor, Jo Quesada on his blog MyCup ’O Joe on … yeah… Myspace ~*twitch*~) flying back and forth since the announcement of the series in April. The pitch itself is enough to make my blood boil, but to add the not-at-all-derogatory-or-objectifying first cover image, and I was ready to never pick up another Marvel comic again. Excessive? Take a look for yourself.
Mr. Quesada laid out the pitch for Marvel Divas in a response to this question from a reader: “What’s going on with female Marvel characters? Jean Grey’s been dead for several years now, Shadowcat’s basically dead, Ms. Marvel & Wasp are dead, Scarlet Witch and Songbird have been written out, She Hulk’s been replaced, Storm’s usage is limited… Any comments? Just trying out some fresh faces?”
The reader points out some very important issues. Marvel has always seemed to have more female characters than DC, and the stronger of the bunch seem to have been written out, killed, or disappeared. He lays out a laundry list of minor characters that very few people–unless they were avid Marvel readers–would recognize with the single exception of Emma Frost. What he’s missing here is that the characters that he is point out are, well, not interesting. Not only are they boring, but few of them (with the exception of Ms. Marvel) have the weight or mass interest to stand alone in a book of their own. They aren’t interesting. They aren’t strong. They’re fodder.
Then to make matters worse, he re-posts the “pitch” by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, as though it will sate the reader’s interest in strong, heroic female characters that can stand on their own along with the first cover image:
“This also seems like the perfect time to announce our Marvel Divas limited series, beginning in July, from Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Tonci Zonjic, featuring some of the Marvel Universe’s greatest female heroes in a way you haven’t seem them before. I’ll let Roberto explain:
“The idea behind the series was to have some sudsy fun and lift the curtain a bit and take a peep at some of our most fabulous super heroines. In the series, they’re an unlikely foursome of friends–Black Cat, Hell Cat, Firestar, and Photon–with TWO things in common: They’re all leading double-lives and they’re all having romantic trouble. The pitch started as “Sex and the City” in the Marvel Universe, and there’s definitely that “naughty” element to it, but I also think the series is doing to a deeper place, asking question about what it means…truly means…to be a woman in an industry dominated by testosterone and guns. (And I mean both the super hero industry and the comic book industry.) But mostly it’s just a lot of hot fun.”
“Sudsy fun?!” “take a peep?!” and for the love of all that is holy… “Sex and the City in the Marvel Universe” and “Naughty?” Oh, but don’t forget that it’s “just a lot of hot fun.”
1. First of all, the only TWO references that can be pulled in this situation when using the word “sudsy” are scantily clad girls lathering each other up (think bikini car wash, like most porn directors, or go for bonus points for group showers), or it can be taken as a Soap Opera reference. And you think women who are reading your comic books want to read this…. why?!
2. “Peep?!” The man is a writer. He writes for a living. This word is not an accident. Who is this supposed to entice? Pubescent boys stealing glimpses of hot girls through a knothole in the locker room?! That word alone objectifies those female characters, but hey… that’s just my feminist theorist side coming out, I suppose. How silly of me…
3. SEX AND THE CITY IN THE MARVEL UNIVERSE?!?! This, alone, is enough to make me never want to buy another Marvel comic… EVER. What rationale makes Marvel think this is what women comic book readers want?! Are they preening for NEW readership? So… what you plan to do, Mr. Quesada, is to alienate any intelligent, existing fans who put up with your misogyny in small doses (sometimes not so small) already? So what poll did you take that implied that women want to read comic books based on slumber parties and drinks and non-committal sex? This has to be pandering to the population of women who just want to see Hugh Jackman naked, right? So rather than build on the strong characters you have, with legitimate story lines, with legitimate dangers, you plan on turning these potential heroes into women who are defined not by their deeds, but by the men they are (or aren’t) with? HOW IS THAT EMPOWERING LITTLE GIRLS?! Hortence over at Jezebel makes a very good, as of yet unanswered, point:
Can we just stop for a minute and call shenanigans on this, please? Do you think there’s a series in development that features Bruce Wayne and Peter Parker just chillin’ at the Applebee’s, shooting the shit about a Mets game and calling each other bro? No. And do you know why? Because it would be BORING. Just like a bunch of superheroines bitching about their love lives and waiting around for Mr. Big. The only people who are going to get excited about this series are those who want to see the “hot sudsy fun.”
4. Of course it’s going to have that “naughty” element to it because it’s “just a lot of hot fun!” Are you trying to sell D-list, sub-par hentai, or are you trying to capture a new audience of women readers who will want to try out the rest of your books? NEWSFLASH!! If this is your plan, you’re marketing to the wrong country and crowd, my friend. Those kinds of books have their place, but they aren’t next to Cosmo on the sales rack.
5. If there was a pitfall in your attempt to market this book, you fell in it. All of them, in fact, even down to the name. Divas. Really. Did you choose it because it’s a buzz word among teens and college students? Did you even research what the implications are of labeling someone a Diva?? Did you? I really don’t think so. Go do some pop culture research and then come back and tell me why you think titling your book Marvel Divas was a good idea that would appeal to strong women. Because Divas are strong women? If that’s the definition you’re going by, I think you’re going to be awfully surprised when you do your research.
To make things even worse, Joe Quesada attacked a female reader who was questioning Marvel Divas on his blog:
About the “hating” on Marvel Divas, let’s call it what it really is—criticizing how sexist this book appears to be. If Marvel produces comics that are offensive to female readers, why shouldn’t people “hate” on it? Why would I want to support a company that produces offensive, sexist material? Why shouldn’t everyone speak out against it? While the book hasn’t come out yet, what has been released so far is blatantly sexist. But what troubles me the most is that Marvel thinks people want to read this, and this constitutes strong female characterization. Does Marvel actually want to attract female readers or is the whole point that Marvel Comics are only for guys?
Not only does he NOT ANSWER her question, he thinks that misdirection will somehow shame the reader for even asking the question!
Ashley, while I completely respect your opinion as I do every Marvel fan, your calling Marvel Comics and this particular mini series sexist is a bit extreme from where I’m standing.
I’m going to go on a limb here and assume you’re a Marvel reader. It’s an assumption I’m making based upon the fact that you’re responding to this column. If you’re Marvel reader and truly feel we’re sexist, then why are you reading our books? Now, perhaps you’re not a Marvel reader, then if that’s the case, I’m not quite sure what you’re criticizing if you don’t read our books?
You haven’t read a lick of this story yet!
Oh, so if you feel we’re sexist but still read our books, it’s your fault. And if you aren’t reading our books then you have no right to criticize the blatant misogyny in Marvel. Got it Joe.
You know, I was going to boycott this book. I was going to rant and rave and say that this was the breaking point for me with Marvel. But he did go on to make a valid point– The book hasn’t dropped yet. So here’s the plan, fans…
I’m going to buy this book, much as the cover disgusts me, and I’m going to read the story. I’m going to follow it all the way through to the end and I’ll be filling you in along the way. I have criticized friends and colleagues in the past for basing a judgment on a text or film on the first 10 minutes of reading or watching. How can you criticize something you haven’t read/listened to/seen? In this case, the pitch and image itself is enough fodder for criticism, but what about the story?
It’s possible that the story will surprise me. Hell, if this had been marketed differently I would be the first in line to chant and cheer the release on! The concept can be done, but it doesn’t have to be devalued by turning both the characters and the readers into vapid, emotional heat sinks. If the story is good, and has merit and worth, I’ll be the first to acknowledge it and praise it, the writers, and artist. If it’s bad, you’ll most certainly hear about it here, and I’ll follow it through to the end either way.
So… time to put your pen where your mouth is, Joe. We’re waiting….