Another comics link for today -- Karen Healey's new column, Girls Read Comics (And They're Pissed). I haven't found many people who share my so-low-I-nearly-stormed-out-of-the-cinema opinion of Sin City, so this is a joy to read. Healey's writing is perceptive, funny, educated and educational.
I'm angry that Stephanie Brown gets a sexualised torture and no memorial. I'm angry that the default costume for women is to show as much tits and ass as possible. I'm angry that a talented artist like Greg Land stoops to using porn stills to depict a teenage superheroine or that the women he draws are so airbrushed and glossy that they're facially indistinguishable. And Frank Miller? Oh, don't get me started on Miller. Or rather, do, but only if you don't mind the phrase "weasel-fucking rat-man".(later)
Reading a comic should not make me want to cross my arms over my chest and lean away. I shouldn't have to struggle to come up with female superheroes who are strong and capable without being objectified. I demand from superhero comics what I demand from every other medium of cultural expression: women who are subjects, not objects. Women who have agency. Regardless of whether women are or are not readers, we deserve better than the depiction of our gender in those comics. (more)
Note that this is not a column about hating skimpy costumes in comics, but a column about the varied and sickeningly common instances of sexist tropes in superhero comics, superhero comics fandom, and the industry of superhero comics. (more)
The print readers of Lynn Johnston's long running comic strip won't be able to see this latest feature; blinking!
I'm going to use that previous post as the first example of a technique I'm calling Defensive Parenting. It's the strategy employed by carers who are recieving charges of deficient parenting by other parents/relatives/people in the bus queue. It's a perfectly legitimate technique, one I employ myself when the need arises, but I felt it needed recognition. You'll find it can often be identified by the phrase "Oh, but only..."
"Oh, but only so I can give Junior his three a.m. feed and my wife can sleep through a little longer."
"Oh, but only when we're going out."
"Oh, but only because we're renovating the bathroom again and I can get in another coat of paint during a Wiggles video."
Defensive Parenting is indispensible when faced in the supermarket queue by another parent who you just know has read all the same books and magazine articles as you and who raises an eyebrow at the new dummy/pacifier you've placed in your trolley. "Oh, it's for me," you can say, "It's the only way I can get to sleep at night." And your toddler will pat you comfortingly on the cheek before he reaches for a packet of his favourite all-natural lollies.
Witness this conversation between Brian Michael Bendis (Marvel comics writer) and Joss Whedon (comics writer, film maker, creator of cult tv shows) devolve into a competition over how little TV their kids watch. Hilarious. Tune in next week when they will armwrestle over breast vs bottle feeding and disposable vs cloth nappies.
BENDIS: See, for me right now, I love being a father more than anything in the world. And watching “Sky High” with my child ties for our worst moment tied with having to sit through “Garfield.”
WHEDON: Ah. Well, see, my child hasn’t seen any movies yet.
BENDIS: Ah, okay. How old or young?
BENDIS: Ah, see, my kid loves movies. She’s three and a half and she loves them.
WHEDON: Ah, well, he hasn’t seen any TV at all except for one concert and I showed him a couple songs from “The Little Mermaid.”
BENDIS: She doesn’t know the TV works. It only works for movies at night.
WHEDON: Ah, right. We’re just starting to get him in on it.
Abbey watches TV*. She reads comic books** too. At two and a half she's probably beyond salvation.
*I can't help myself. I have to cover my bases in case I'm visited by any judgmental backseat parents. The only TV Abbey would watch that is not specifically for preschoolers is the Antiques Roadshow. Even then, if she gets too excited over a Georgian table, I switch it off.
I was recently (gently) berated for not writing more about Abbey on this weblog. That's my excuse for the following tale.
Abbey picks up a book I've just borrowed from the library. She opens it up.
"No pictures. Just words," she observes. "I'll read it to you." Abbey makes herself comfortable while I thaw something vaguely resembling bolognese sauce for dinner.
"One morning," she begins, "Dad went to a meeting." Turns the page. "To see some friends and play games." Turns page. "One morning she woke up!" Abbey gasps, "And she turned into a beautiful butterfly." Closes book. "That's the end of the story."