The Geek Girl What Rules’ Greatest Hits – #10 Comic Book Obsessions

(Originally posted at Media Gauntlet)

Why, yes, I am a masochist, thank you for noticing.

After the resultant foo-for-all that came up after my “women in comics” post, which in turn resulted in my forming my own damn Livejournal community to discuss comics (women_n_comics at livejournal.com ), I’m almost afraid to keep discussing them. Even my bitchy, sarcastic ass can only take so much “ZOMG! YOU HATE COMEEEEEKS!!! YOU ARE TEH EVUL!!!1ELEVENTY-ONE-THOUSAND!!!!!!” Or my other favorite response, that I’m a prudish, frigid bitch. Those of you who have seen my burlesque act can just keep that snickering to yourselves, all right? But here I am, opening my yap to talk comics and bring gender identification into it again. I am a sucker for punishment.

So, those of you who come here from LJ know I posted a link to pictures of the new Mary Jane maquette being done by Sideshow Toys. For those of you too lazy or impatient to click the link and wait for it to load, I’ll describe it here: Mary Jane is wearing tight, ripped jeans, a seriously boobie-licious shirt, and a pearl necklace; she is bent over at the waist like she’s waiting for an enterprising young man and doing laundry by hand, barefoot. Now if I have to dissect why this is offensive to those of us who own both breasts and a brain, I am going to respectfully request that you put down your copy of Maxim, Stuff or whatever almost-porn* idiot fodder you read and back away from me slowly. Running only triggers the beat-down instinct.

Seriously… BAREFOOT? DOING LAUNDRY? PEARL NECKLACE?

Okay, give me a minute to let the aneurysm pass.

All right. Are you seriously telling me they couldn’t have found a less “OOO, Do me NOW!” pose to put her in or have her doing something that’s not “women’s work?”

And, again, I feel like I have to defend my views. I am not opposed to cheesecake. I am not opposed to the display of breasts, thighs, asses or anything else. Hell, I display mine often enough. And I LIKE girls. I like them a lot, dating them whenever I get the chance. I object to, well, this blatant objectification. I object to their being depicted as passive, weak, servile and sexually available to anyone. These women, some of whom are serious ass-kickers, get depicted as disposable T&A and that bothers me. And I’ll tell you why. (You there, in the back, quit rolling your eyes.)

Men and women are not so different as the pop psychologists and advice columnists would have us believe. Women are not from Venus, Men are not from Mars. We pretty much have the same motivations and goals out of life. Now, how we feel “allowed” to achieve them by societal conditioning is another thing entirely, but the underlying motivations are pretty much the same for the species. But I digress. And believe it or not, there is a point that makes sense coming up.

Can you, as male or female comic fans, tell me what attracts you to one comic superhero/character over another? I mean, the women are all busty, tiny-waisted babes and the men are all musclebound He-Men, so what makes you like one more than another, even to the point where you’ll stay loyal through periods of shitty writing and art?

It’s the characterization of that hero, the way their personality is created and comes out through the art and writing. Maybe you lucked into discovering them during a particularly good run. Maybe they were peripheral to another favorite and then they got good writing. But, yeah, it’s the characterization that gets you, hooks you, and makes them someone you identify with. Otherwise, why not just collect bikini-beer-babe posters?

I have a massive crush on Nightcrawler. I’ve had a massive crush on Nightcrawler for years now. But, why Nightcrawler? Why not Cyclops? Or given my sexual orientation (or lack thereof), why not Kitty, Rachel or Emma Frost? Why not Wolverine? Why not Storm? Why Nightcrawler?

Because there is something in the way his character is written that appeals directly to me. I LIKE Nightcrawler. I don’t just lust after the drawing, I really like the personality and character that come through the writing and drawing. And I daresay its the same for the guys. Why do some guys really like Mary Jane Watson, while other prefer Emma Frost or the Black Cat? It’s not differences in body type, because there are none. It’s because there are facets of their characters and personalities that come through with good art and writing that appeal to them.  It’s not all about boobs and butts, no matter how hard people work to convince you otherwise. And doing so demeans men as well as the women it objectifies.

Basically, guys, what the comics industry is saying to you (and what a lot of male and female comic fans are bleating like the sheep they are) is that you are animals who think entirely with the little head. Plot, art style, characterization, it all means nothing because you will salivate like Pavlov’s dogs at the sight of TEH BEWBIES! ZOMG!! regardless of any other aspect of the comic. And, while I am tempted to agree with that sentiment in my more cynical moments, I know it’s not true the majority of the time. Or else Kitty Pryde wouldn’t be as popular as she is. Or someone would try to convince me that Greg Land really is a good artist (not gonna happen).

I’m not out to destroy comics or even to take away your birthdays. I just want an art and media form I love and have loved for decades to quit ignoring a major part of their fanbase. There’s more of us Comic Geek Girls out there than you realize and we’re really getting sick of being dismissed, ignored, and condescended to.

*If you’re going to read porn, then read porn for fuck’s sake. Own it. I love Hustler. Its my favorite porn mag and, when I buy my copies at the newstand, I march in like Germany invading Poland, get my magazine, smile broadly at the clerk while paying (hell, if s/he’s cute, I’ll even flirt), and then saunter down the street whistling with my sack of porn.

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6 thoughts on “The Geek Girl What Rules’ Greatest Hits – #10 Comic Book Obsessions

  1. Hey Mick,

    It’s the European nerd talking again. And yeah, I’m going to be pedant about European trash again 🙂
    I really am no reference at all for American comics. I mean the only stuff that attracted me at some point was Judge Dread (for some cryptic fan reasons when I was fond of Alien Sex Fiend way back when the Goth was already dead but Manson wasn’t on the chart yet) and Lobo. I don’t have to explain Lobo from what I heard we’re on the same wavelength about him. The picture of Lobo with his own legs laying on his shoulder saying “gotta find a stapler” will still make me giggle in the tomb. So I’m not the guy who’s going to shed a new light to your geekitude about Marvel and DC comics. But I hear you about the macho vision of female characters.

    And (that’s where the rambling is heading) I wanted to point at French/Belgian comics, usually referred as Bande Dessinee for their more balanced vision (at least some of them) of female characters. As a kid I enjoyed stuff like Yoko Tsuno or Laureline et Valerian. Both of these series had very positive female hero where TEH BEWBIES weren’t the focus. In the case of Laureline it even managed in the latest episodes to play with the sexiness of the character without objectifying her. It reminded me of your bragging about how you can boost the sales at a convention booth and how it doesn’t make you a “bad feminist”. Yeah empowered females, using their sex appeal, without any “I was abused as a child” frigging back story or other diminutive crap like that… I’m not sure where I’m heading now but anyway… Just wanted to say your vision of sexism makes totally sense to me and I like how you write about it and talk about it. Keep on the good stuff, you’ve got talent !

    PS: What’s with the website logo ? The one I see in my Firefox tab ? Looks vaguely like a Volkswagen logo but it doesn’t make sense.

  2. That’s the WordPress logo, and it is one that I have no control over.

    Yeah, I’ll always like Lobo. The only European comics I’ve ever really read are a few French comics like Crevecoeur, and a bunch of bondage porn from Gods know where. Mostly Italian, I think.

    Since most of my experience is with American comics (and the stray British comic) that’s where most of my focus is. I’d love to see comics from other places, but when you CAN get them, they tend to be prohibitively expensive.

  3. “they tend to be prohibitively expensive”
    I hear you ! I started to be less and less interested as the prices went ballistic in the 90s. I mean when a 60 pages hardcover BD reaches the price of say two or three novels, I’ll choose the the novels which will keep me reading a few days rather than an hour…

    Oh another nice series is La Quete de l’Oiseau du Temps by Loisel (Time Bird Quest). Just in case you visit a Euro comic freak and can squat his/her library 🙂 It’s prime heroic fantasy with a sexy female hero who’s got brains too.

  4. I make a couple of trips up to Vancouver, BC every year and save up to pick up one or two French graphic novels each time. I’ll keep that one in mind.

  5. Yeah, this is a repost of something I wrote when it was happening. Hence the “Greatest Hits” part of the title.

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