WIR (huh) What is it good for?

(A surprising number of things, actually)

There’s this Women Write About Comics Carnival and as I am a woman who has been known to write about comics from time to (all the) time I really want to contribute. The thing is, they’ve got a theme and it’s Women in Refridgerators, 13 years later.

For those who aren’t familiar with the concept of Women In Refridgerators, it’s the brain child of that champion of women in comics, Gail Simone. As the story goes, one day Gail noticed a pattern, whenever things got too good to be true for our doughty (super) Hero something terrible would happen to heighten the drama and spur him into action. Frequently “something would happen” meant the violent beating, rape, or death of a female member of his supporting cast. A mother, an aunt, or, as in the most famous example from Green Lantern (vol. 3) #54, a girlfriend. The list of characters is long and it’s scary and it’s one instance where my particular brand of “how I got into comics” works against me.

You see, I’m very much a Jenny-come-lately as far as comics goes. I bought my first X-Men comic in 2006 and I’ve read a lot since then, but since I’ve missed so much, I’ll probably use something like Wikipedia or UncannyXmen.Net to catch up on the backstory of anyone I don’t recognize. Which means I get spoiled for everything, which in turnt gives me a layer of distance from those traumatic events. I know they happen before the more visceral experience of reading the books. It’s a necessary thing, but it means that I can think of precious few examples of seeing this trope in action where it actually affected me.

So, I have no huge dramatic story about how I read The Adventures of Suchandsuch #Number and the death of female protagonist seared my young soul to the bone. I do, however have my usual level of righteous indignation over the way women in comics (both characters and creators) are treated.

Because Women In Refridgerators is only a part of the problem. So’s cheesecake and every single thing that fails the Bechdel test. You see, there’s this faulty assumption in not just comics, but the larger nerdy community that there just aren’t that many women to offend, so it doesn’t matter if you do. This is blatantly wrong, of course, but being blatantly wrong has never stopped a perception from damaging anything.

I came to my decision back when the furor over Starfire went down. It came from an exchange I had with my buddy Tim on Twitter. It went like this:

We had it right. It’s not enough for us to be indignant and to speak out. It’s not enough to confront the writers and editors over this online, in the letter pages, and at cons. The only way to change the comics industry is to become the comics industry.

I accidentally reread part of Mira Grant’s Feed last night and one part stood out at me in the context of this situation:

You could tell the ones who were genuinely young from the ones who’d had all the plastic surgery and regenerative treatments money could buy, because the young ones were the ones looking nauseated by all the human contact around them. They hadn’t grown up in this political culture. They just had to live with it until they became the old men at the top of the hill.

~Mira Grant, Feed p. 483

I genuinely hope that this is true of us in the comics industry. That nerdy women are coming into our own and as our generation rises to the top of the heap we’ll be able to shed the nauseating focus on violence towards and sexualization of women. I hope that this happens, but hoping isn’t going to get us anywhere.

So I shifted a few projects around on my “to write” queue. I’m not as ready as I’d like to be and everything’s in a very early stage, but I’m talking with collaborators. We’re working on it. Because I can’t just sit around and hope anymore. I’ve gotta work towards change.

That was the end of post, but if you’ve still got an earworm from my terrible pun in the title, here’s what I’ve been hearing for the last hour while I wrote this:

24 Comments

Filed under Books, Comics, Feminism, Ponderings, Writing

24 responses to “WIR (huh) What is it good for?

  1. Pingback: Roundup three | women write about comics

  2. See ya on creators’ panels in a couple-five-ten years, yeah?

  3. Pingback: Master Post: Women In Refrigerators 13 Years Later | women write about comics

  4. Kelly

    Alright, I’m going to correct you on a couple of things. The first & most powerful is that WIR is bullshit. Yes I am a long time comic book reader (more DC then Marvel, but frankly the new reboot is annoying me so I’m dropping a lot of titles) & yes I am incidentally female, but most importantly I’m aware of critical thought & that’s why I know for a fact WIR is sexism.

    WIR is the perfect storm of Cognitive Bias & reporting bias, feeding into Expectation Bias. WIR is neither correlative nor causative as a list, it exists just to try and shame writers who are predominately male into giving female characters “Plot Immunity.” now having said that a lot of people will disagree & start pointing to the WIR list as evidence… Its not evidence of anything but bad things having happened in comics to female characters.

    However if we actually look at the list it includes such “fridgings” as
    – Jocasta (deactivated – more than once)
    – Betty Banner (abused, changed into a harpy, multiple miscarriages, dead)
    – Shrinking Violet (lost a leg in Giffen’s Legion)
    – Snowbird (child and husband murdered, insane, dead)
    – Wildcat II (dead)

    These are some of my favourites because they best encapsulate the subjective nature of the list & at the same time show cases the sexism of the list. Jocasta has been deactivated more then once, that’s good so has the vision.

    Betty Banner became the Harpy & then died, that’s a shame Bruce Banner was just beaten as a child, grew up emotionally stunted, became multiple different versions of the hulk was separated from the hulk, shot to another planet where he was depowered by a degree & then came back to earth as a monster & oh his wife died, came back & then wanted nothing to do with him.

    Shrinking Violet lost her Leg in Giffens Legion? That’s nice Lightning Lad loses his arm, has it replaced, then in Legion Lost he is killed in a bloody fashion & then inhabits the body of a dead teammate who himself had become the very villain who killed Lightning Lad.

    Wildcat 2 died… That’s nice how many Dr Fates died from that same Era? What about Northwind becoming a bestial monster incapable of thought or compassion? What about Starman going bonkers, or any of the other mishaps of that eras JSA related characters?

    Last but not least, Snowbird: Child and husband murder? So it’s a travesty for women when a female character is killed to motivate a male character, but it’s also a travesty for women when male characters are killed to motivate a female character? Heck if that’s a qualifier for fridging, then Spiderman was fridged by the death of Gwen Stacy & Kyle Rayner was fridged by the murder of his GF.

    Do you see how stupidly reactive & intellectually dishonest this list is. If I built a list using exactly the same evidential standard then the list would include every single male character ever. The evidential standard is so low that any female character who was sidelined for even a second is on it.

    If anything what this list shows us is that if you look at it objectively rather then with the “oh no, we must protect all fictional female characters from those nasty men” goggles on, women in comic book fiction are actually equal to there male counterparts. It also shows that people both male & female will stupidly protect women against negative consequences until the cows come home, but when the same thing happens to a male character as a female readership we shrug our shoulders an say “so what.”

    We have to accept that the negative consequences of actions or inactions are a prevalent & important part of serialised fiction & WIR is just an attempt to shame comic book writers into giving women “plot immunity” by pretending there is a trend in comics where women are unduly targeted. Fact is if we calculated the negative consequences, men would make up the majority of the list, not women.

    So as a female long time reader of comics (how long time of a reader you ask, I own a complete run of Infinity Inc, ‘nuff said), I ask all female readers including Gail Simone (if someone would pass this on to her) to stop talking rubbish. WiR is a sign of just how entitled and pampered we are by society as women & demanding “Plot Immunity” & pretending there is some sort of woman hating trend in comics just portrays us a bitter & self entitled. Or failing that lets add a couple of other fridgings to WiR, here are my suggestions
    – Oracle (depowered, striped of Tech based technopathy powers, beaten by the joker, possessed by Brainiac)
    – Black Canary (mentally violated, severely beaten to a pulp)
    – Knockout (killed in a mindless fashion to motivate scandal)
    – Vixen (went crazy, becomes a villain)
    – Lady Blackhawk (mentally controlled to be the sex fantasy of a super villain)

    Guess who wrote all those plots? Gail Simone, in the pages of Birds of Prey & those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head.

    Rosie the Riveter would be pissed with how stupidly we are all acting.

    • Whether you agree or disagree with the creation and methods for compiling the list, WIR is definitely deserving of credit for inspiring more conversation on the topic of how women are written in comics. It also helped by creating a structure for talking about what fans and creators see as real problems (i.e. – was she or wasn’t she “fridged”).

      I do think it is dangerous to ascribe any complaints by female fans as a demand for special treatment. Most requests to be treated in a “special” or “different” way are in actuality demands to be treated equally. Does anyone really want to see their favorite characters given immunity from hardships? Where’s the dramatic tension in that? Personally I’d just like to see writers keep female characters relevant by not constantly killing them off / not having sexual attacks be commonplace / and not using their stories, their hardships used solely as motivation for male characters. There are no lack of male characters with long running titles to read, and often their trials are part of their larger ongoing story and not the end of it as it is for so many female characters. That may be considered a “special request” but it wouldn’t be if there were more female characters’ stories being told. Then maybe it wouldn’t be reason to complain every time one of them is killed / goes crazy / faces adversity.

      • Kelly

        “WIR is definitely deserving of credit for inspiring more conversation on the topic of how women are written in comics.”

        Not really. It would have had a positive influence if it had been a fact based concept, but its not. The methodology is non existent, the hypothesis under developed & the conclusion was left up to a group of people who can’t tell the difference between “asking a question” & “stating a fact.”

        All it’s really done is shown how socially pandered to, we women have become in society. If it had at least been a solidly written fact based piece, it would have had some legitimacy as a conversation piece: Unfortunately it doesn’t, since every conversation about it seems to be some iteration of the following

        Oppositional View: Wow this list is inaccurate, I can’t believe people believed it.

        WIR View: no, it shows a negative trend, because us women are totally victims of the evil male comic book patriarchy. (editors note: Yes I am employing hyperbole a little here)

        Oppositional View: Um, actually no. It asks a question & then provides a really low evidential standard to back it up. Its called “stating the question,” its a technique of using asking a question in such a way that people agree with your hypothesis without actually looking to closely at it, by bringing in a heap of redundant/superfluous data.

        WIR View: No its totally a trend. Look at all those raped & killed women

        Oppositional View: Actually the list mainly contains female characters who have just been inconvenienced by narrative, but no more then men. The rape is actually really low on the list. In fact there have been almost as many male characters raped in comics over the years, but those aren’t listed on this list, as this list is neither correlative nor causative.

        WIR View: *stunned look* but, but.

        Oppositional View: In fact even if there were a specific trend towards killing off female characters specifically due to some sort of hate by male writers, this list still wouldn’t show that trend.

        WIR View: Why do you hate women?

        See the general problem is that a conversation based around objectively poor logic & zero data is not really all that helpful to anyone. When it comes to “data sets” there is a saying we use that goes “junk data in, junk data out” & WIR is most certainly a prime example of this theory in practice. You’ve put in junk data & now you are getting the junk results you expected to get, because you never actually put in any REAL data.

        “It also helped by creating a structure for talking about what fans and creators see as real problems”

        Sure & we can all stand around arguing about whether or not that ship fell of the face of the earth or was in fact pulled under by giant sea krakens… But unfortunately real data shows that neither of those things happened, said ship just sailed over the horizon. This is what is meant by “junk data in, junk data out.” You end up arguing over two completely inaccurate conclusions, even though you don’t have either conclusion because your data is completely made up of junk data, so your conclusions are too.

        There are only 2 types of surveys, correlative & causative: WIR is neither, hence it cannot be a survey, its just words on a page, lacking in any meaning.

        “I do think it is dangerous to ascribe any complaints by female fans as a demand for special treatment.”

        Of course it’s a demand for special treatment. When you take your fault conclusion from a faulty non survey & then demand social change for a conclusion not backed by reality, that is demanding special treatment. Its like if I for what ever reason assumed that you were getting the something I was not (even though I have no evidence, nor even any reason to believe this to be true) & then kicked up a stink demanding that I get this thing I think you possess… This is demanding special treatment. I’m demanding that I get something that you do not have & I demand it because for whatever reason I believe you have something I don’t.

        Again this comes back to the junk in, junk out statement.

        “There are no lack of male characters with long running titles to read, and often their trials are part of their larger ongoing story and not the end of it as it is for so many female characters.”

        Sure & there are many who unceremoniously get shit canned before there time (if, you’ll excuse my language). In fact there are entire stories that are predicated on a male character dying, or being seriously inconvenienced.

  5. I think where we disagree isn’t so much on the methodology of WIR (I can agree that it is no way scientifically sound, nor can you make definitive statements based on the list), but that it is a catalyst for meaningful conversation. See, we’re even discussing differing opinions on cape comics right now, because of this list! Do you really think that my opinion (or yours or anyone’s) is truly invalid because of why it began in the first place? It doesn’t have to be a one sided conversation of people who support or disbelieve in the list’s accuracy as you imagine in your arguments with the “WIR View”. By your standard, each of your counter views are equally invalid because they don’t site any more facts, studies, numbers than a person that thinks WIR is infallible. Saying there have been almost as many male characters raped in comics over the years has even less validity than pointing to the characters that are on WIR because you don’t even state as many (or even less) examples. I am not saying that can’t be true, but if it is, I’d like to see that list. I’d also like to see what the ration would be for male characters that have had rape or sexual assault written into their origin stories versus female characters. It doesn’t help your argument to say “as many” without including context.

    Here’s where I’m going to go and make a bold, non-emotion based statement and say it is not a matter of opinion or conjecture that female characters are treated differently than male characters in cape comics. If you want solid statistical proof, just look at the number of female characters with solo titles. It is literally 0 for Marvel, and a paltry 6 for DC, 7 if you include Hawk & Dove. This is a small percentage of their overall line of books and reflects a lack of interest in telling the stories of female superheroes. The lack of solo female titles also affects the significance of their stories. For instance, when you state that just as many male characters die as female characters, I’d even argue that more male characters probably die! But it’s not simply how many; it’s how many of a whole, and why. When Batman dies, his books don’t get canceled. When his back breaks, he doesn’t leave comics for over a year. When Cap gets killed, he is replaced (and his book and story continue) and he makes a triumphant event worthy return. Even when male characters are killed, or their books canceled, you have about 40-50 other titles staring white male superhero stories to read. So yeah, call it special treatment to want female characters to stick around longer. When one of their books is shit-canned, it’s a greater percentage of the overall female solo titles than when a solo male character leaves the shelf. It’s only made a special request by the circumstance created by a system that is unequal to begin with.

    You may think women are pandered to in greater society, but that is a different conversation in and of itself (and one I might disagree with). When it comes to comics, publishers could definitely stand to pander to the other half of the population. Maybe then readership wouldn’t be in the toilet as their 18-34 male demographic continues to dwindle.

    • Kelly

      “I think where we disagree isn’t so much on the methodology of WIR (I can agree that it is no way scientifically sound, nor can you make definitive statements based on the list), but that it is a catalyst for meaningful conversation.”

      I’m sorry but no. Meaningful conversation is meaningful: Arguing that something is a trend because I was saw a list of thing that failed to show a trend is not meaningful, its myopic & that’s what people using WIR as a basis for an argument are doing.

      “See, we’re even discussing differing opinions on cape comics right now, because of this list!”

      Not really. We are discussing how idiotic WIR is; me from the stance that its idiotic & everyone else form the stance that it’s somehow magical.

      “Do you really think that my opinion (or yours or anyone’s) is truly invalid because of why it began in the first place?”

      It doesn’t matter how the idea started if said idea was not followed up by legitimate inquiry, which has not happened here. If anything this list just shows that some of us female comic book fans need to stand back & gain some objectivity.

      “By your standard, each of your counter views are equally invalid because they don’t site any more facts, studies, numbers than a person that thinks WIR is infallible.”

      I don’t need to apply facts, studies & numbers, as I’m not making a positive assertion. Until WIR supplies there data I literally cannot refute it. If I told you to refute the existence of a snickle snockle, without first supplying you any evidence for said mythical creature, you literally cannot refute it, because I’ve given you nothing to refute. WIR is the same: No correlative data has been supplied, so no refutation can be made of that data, as that data was never supplied.

      “Here’s where I’m going to go and make a bold, non-emotion based statement and say it is not a matter of opinion or conjecture that female characters are treated differently than male characters in cape comics. If you want solid statistical proof, just look at the number of female characters with solo titles. It is literally 0 for Marvel, and a paltry 6 for DC, 7 if you include Hawk & Dove.”

      The amount of female based solo books has nothing to do with sexism. It has to do with what will sell & what was well written. For instance I did not purchase X-23, an to be fair I doubt you did either… An I didn’t because it was poorly written and didn’t interest me. That had nothing to do with gender.

      As for comparing the amount of solo titles, you’ve made the same reporting error that Gail did in WIR. You numbers are not correlative. It’s the equivalent of me asking you to find out how many vehicles are parked in our parking lot & you’ve just gone outside & only counted motorcycles… You’ve got data, but you didn’t get the right data. Sure Marvel has 0 female as the stat of solo books at the moment but Marvel also only has 2 male characters starring in solos: An essentially every team books with female characters in it.

      That’s not sexism, that’s just the market supporting what the market can support.

      “When Batman dies, his books don’t get canceled. When his back breaks, he doesn’t leave comics for over a year. When Cap gets killed, he is replaced (and his book and story continue) and he makes a triumphant event worthy return. Even when male characters are killed, or their books canceled, you have about 40-50 other titles staring white male superhero stories to read.”

      Again that’s not an issue, since solo books are actually the minority of what Marvel produces & are not the only books DC is putting out. So yeah, X-23’s book bites the big dirt nap… And? I’ve still got plenty of female comic book characters to read about, including X-23 (in the pages of Avengers Academy, had I not dropped the title when it got reallly ddddddddddddddddddeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeccccccccccccccccccccccccooooooooooooooooooommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmpppppppppppppppppppppppprrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeessssssssssssssssssssssssssseeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeedddddddddddddddddddd). The only thing that has changed is that she couldn’t support her own solo book (what with her being the least interesting character to ever get a solo book).

      The fact is that Marvel is not doing anything very well at the moment, the fact that they have no female solo book is not a problem, it’s a symptom of the real problem: Marvels creative bankruptcy. Marvel is now only bringing out books for there frothing at the mouth fanboy crowd; this is why marvels books are now all about there three franchises (really 4 lines as I include FF as a franchise), with literally no other book outside of those 4 lines.

      As for the broken Batman’s back thing, I’d like to point you back towards WW. When Diana had to leave her own title, she was replaced by Artemis. So you can’t say it doesn’t happen. The main difference is this, if a female character is killed off, its not due to a story line, its because the title did not sell.

      “You may think women are pandered to in greater society”

      Oh no, I don’t think it, I know it. I know for a fact that society panders to my wants and needs to a disproportionate degree, all due to my gender. Heck society knows it as well & statisticians have proven it demonstrably: Its not a hypothesis that is in dispute anymore: We are pandered to in the western world.

      “When it comes to comics, publishers could definitely stand to pander to the other half of the population”

      They already do, but they really shouldn’t, since we might make up 50% of the general population, but we most certainly do not make up 50% of the comic book reading audience (specifically in the cape and cowl set). We’d be lucky to make up 15% of the market share.

      But the fact remains that they already pander to us, Its just that as a social group we tend to fixate on the few things we can call negatives, rather then on the many positives, that well outweigh the negatives. The fact is that even when we demand things like more female characters, that doesn’t ever translate into more sales; because we don’t actually want the things we demand, as we enjoy being able to complain, more then the we enjoy following through.

      Heck I’ll use Catwoman as an example. Catwoman generated a lot of needless negative hype when it first came out & a lot of women complained that it should be changed to benefit them. Yet since issue 2 there has been a distinct lack of the things they complained about in issue 1, yet the sales for all subsequent issues have tanked… Because we enjoy complaining about how we are being excluded, much more then we do from actually being included.

      Unless of course you are telling me you own every issue of X-23… Because I sure as hell don’t, because I don’t base my buying choices on the gender of the main character or the gender of the writer: An when we get right down to brass tacks I doubt you do either.

      So in the end our demographic complains about a few negatives & then when we are supplied with what we were complaining about we don’t bother to follow through. An that’s why male readers are starting to wake up & telling us to shut up; because they are right. If we continue to tell the industry one thing & then act in a way that is contrary to what we asked for, why should the industry listen to us, what possible benefit is there: I swear we really are our own worst enemy & nonsense like WIR is at the top of the list of silly from our demographic (that and silly statements about the breast size of female characters, along with the supposed skimpyness of costumes & then insinuations about sexism).

      • “An that’s why male readers are starting to wake up & telling us to shut up; because they are right.”

        Wow. I missed that memo! I’ll go back to quietly being the pandered to / ignored fan (I guess women are lucky enough to be both).

        But yeah, you’re right about one thing. Meaningful (or even coherent) conversations can’t really be had here when one cedes “WIR facts are made up so I can make ones up, too!”. It’s a special brand of circular argument to admit your own statements are based on non-existent data. I never once referenced the WIR numbers, but the ones on the solo titles are based entirely on last months’ solo releases from Marvel and DC. But I guess we can just overlook the facts that don’t support our arguments, right? Oh and having one option for a female solo title is a great courtesy on Marvel’s part, it was very rude of the entire female fanbase to not pick it up in droves.

        Seriously though, I won’t continue to engage in a one sided conversation. Feel free to continuing arguing against a problem that you vehemently believe does not exist. It’s a lot like telling someone standing in the rain that they don’t need an umbrella – you may truly believe that, but good luck convincing the soaking wet person!

  6. Kelly

    “Wow. I missed that memo!”

    There didn’t need to be a memo: When we say we want one thing & then we function in a way that is the polar opposite of what we said we wanted; that it going to be an issue. When we say, we want more female comic book readers in one blog entry & then in the very next blog entry we call all comic books sexist rubbish akin to rape/exploitation porn (even when its contrary to evidence) that is us acting contrary to our own supposed desires. When we say “we want more female characters” & then we don’t purchase a female solo book & it gets cancelled due to disinterest & then we complain about it being cancelled usually with the excuse of sexism, rather then poor writing, that’s an issue. There didn’t need to be a memo since it’s completely obvious & more n more male readers are starting to wake up to our continual double talk & are getting to the point where they are calling us on our rubbish (at which point to many of us go cry because instead of looking at the validity of our own claims, we go on the attack, usually with rudimentary shaming language & appeals to motive).

    Like I said, we really are our own worst enemy. We say one thing & then function in a way contrary to our own stated intent. As for comic books pandering to us, they already do. There are comic books for all sorts of people: Okay, to be fair there aren’t much in the way of any good comics right now as both DC & Marvel have totally forgotten how to write… But I’m sure that as soon as someone smacks them around the head a few times, they’ll bounce back.

    “I’ll go back to quietly being the pandered to / ignored fan”

    Except you aren’t being ignored. I honestly don’t know how you can say you are being ignored. There have been & are still solo books about female characters, we make up a considerable amount of the characters in both major comic book universe & the narratives are written in a way that doesn’t discriminate against either gender. So there is no way that we can argue that we aren’t being fairly represented. It might not be being “pandered” to specifically, but we are certainly being treated like an equal partner to the male readership.

    “the solo titles are based entirely on last months’ solo releases from Marvel and DC. But I guess we can just overlook the facts that don’t support our arguments, right?”

    Except that argument isn’t valid either as “absence is not the same thing as exclusion” & this can’t even be considered absence, as we are clearly represented: We just aren’t being represented in a rare barely used format by one company, nor as plentifully as male solo books are in another company (but by no means lacking in the number of solo books in the latter example).

    So as you can see your point is clearly not valid. The only way it becomes valid, is if you start including special modifiers to the statement, like removing the majority of books from one company due to some nonexistent reason: that’s known as special pleading.

    Special pleading is a form of spurious argumentation where a position in a dispute introduces favourable details or excludes unfavourable details by alleging a need to apply additional considerations without proper criticism of these considerations. Essentially, this involves someone attempting to cite something as an exemption to a generally accepted rule, principle, etc. without justifying the exemption.

    In this case you’ve excluded all titles that are not solo titles & essentially yelled “Ah ha, there are no marvel comics containing women: SEXISM!” It doesn’t work even on a cognitive level, since there are still plenty of comic books that fairly represent us as a gender. There are no marvel solo titles involving women because the majority of solo titles were recently cancelled due to low numbers & haven’t yet been replaced with new books (which take months to green light). There are also no solo titles about ethnic minorities for Marvel right now either, doesn’t make Marvel racist, any more then it would make them sexist.

    “Oh and having one option for a female solo title is a great courtesy on Marvel’s part, it was very rude of the entire female fanbase to not pick it up in droves.”

    Actually I was just using X-23 as an example. There was also Ghost Rider which was cancelled during the same time period, which was a solo female focused book… An before that there have been countless other solo books about female characters who have been cancelled due to low numbers; such as Ms. Marvel, Spider-Girl, Arachne version of Spidergirl & countless others. An I’m going to bet that you don’t own a single issue of any of them (I think I have one old rat eared coverless issue of Spidergirl somewhere, but that’s about it), because the truth is that we don’t choose our comics by gender of the character, but by interest in the writing or narrative… An neither do the majority of the female comic fans, contrary to what we say.

    “Feel free to continuing arguing against a problem that you vehemently believe does not exist”

    LOL. I’m sorry but that’s like you coming to me & saying “no, the world is flat, but I’ve got no evidence & now I’m not going to argue with someone who doesn’t also believe that there is a problem with ships sailing off the edge of the Earth”. That’s emotionalised subjective logic & I’m afraid in a discussion about objective fact (either paradigm A exists demonstrably, or it does not exist demonstrably), it has not place. I’d also like to take the time to apologies if you found that offensive, but you seem to be looking for ways to be the victim, rather then recognising the fact that “pleading the case” is not the same thing as possessing a logical argument.

  7. The minute you stated that female fans deserved to be told to “sit down and shut up” is the exact moment you validated every opposing opinion and lost any respect for your own views. Good luck convincing anyone to change their mind with that approach, I’m sure it’s been very successful so far.

    Since you have only shown an interest in continuing circular arguments and perpetuating a false dilemma, I just have one question. If you are truly happy with the state of women in cape comics, what are you afraid of losing? Would more female characters being utilized, more three dimensional depictions, and more diverse portrayals truly diminish your enjoyment of comics? From the sounds of it, you aren’t terribly impressed by what’s being put out right now anyway (poor Majorie Liu taking the brunt of your criticism), so really, what’s at risk here for you, as a fan?

    Sadly, I’d also like to state that I truly hope you are not actually a woman (haven’t seen proof yet, so that claim must be false, right?), and if you are, I’d kindly request that you stop using “we” when discussing women in comics. It’s very brave of you to defend the tired and hostile views you share with many male readers under an anonymous moniker, but for the sake of those on the receiving end of your sweeping generalizations about comic book fans and women in general, it would be great if it was made clear that your views are just one of many opinions that are not shared by all female fans.

    • Kelly

      “The minute you stated that female fans deserved to be told to “sit down and shut up” is the exact moment you validated every opposing opinion and lost any respect for your own views.”

      I never said sit down… LOL.

      Unless it somehow escaped your notice, i am a female comic book fan… An yes, i 100% agree with us shutting our mouths when we are saying something self entitled & in opposition to reality… for the sake of our continued contribution to the industry. I mean we’ve really become “the comic book fan who cried wolf” over the last 2 decades.

      “If you are truly happy with the state of women in cape comics, what are you afraid of losing? Would more female characters being utilized, more three dimensional depictions, and more diverse portrayals truly diminish your enjoyment of comics?”

      Facepalm. There’s nothing to lose by doing any of those things, theres also nothing to gain by specifically doing those things either. Those things not happening isn’t a sign of sexism, it’s a sign of Marvels creative bankruptcy.

      Sure there could be more solo books with women in them, there could also be more solo books about ninjas, Australians, Aztecs, strippers, monkey assassins, anthropomorphic ducks who are also super heroes & any number of other things that aren’t being represented to your personal degree of preference… But that’s not an actual reason to publish those books: Because as has already been pointed out absence is not exclusion, especially when there isn’t even an absence.

      Companies do not publish books by quota, but by what they think will sell (an unfortunately marvel doesn’t think anything but there big 4 can sell)

      “Sadly, I’d also like to state that I truly hope you are not actually a woman (haven’t seen proof yet, so that claim must be false, right?), and if you are, I’d kindly request that you stop using “we” when discussing women in comics”

      LOLwhat. I’m sorry are you really trying to appeal to motive me? Really? LOL, did you really run out of legitimate arguments so fast, that you had to fall back on appeal to motive? Oh wow, this is why we get no respect as comic book fans: Because our views are completely ungrounded in fact & then when people who are less self entitled refute them completely our only defense is “well you must be male, because you are mansplaining & only a man can disagree with my view.”

      In fact do you remember that last post I posted where I wrote & I quote: “are getting to the point where they are calling us on our rubbish (at which point too many of us go cry instead of looking at the validity of our own claims, we go on the attack, usually with rudimentary shaming language & appeals to motive).”

      Because that’s exactly what you did there. Your view was challenged & instead of arguing against the refutation, you immediately went on to attack the user (me), with both rudimentary shaming language (the “you are not one of us” statement), along with a “appeal to motive” (you are obviously not a real woman).
      Feel free to refute any part of the statement to which you disagree with & back it up with some sort of evidence, but basic, primary school level name calling & throwing of baseless accusations doesn’t make your position any the less demonstrably wrong.

      “It’s very brave of you to defend the tired and hostile views you share with many male readers under an anonymous moniker, but for the sake of those on the receiving end of your sweeping generalizations about comic book fans and women in general, it would be great if it was made clear that your views are just one of many opinions that are not shared by all female fans.”

      LOL, I’m sorry did you just try to pull an appeal to majority there? Oh goodness this has just got funny. You do not & cannot take the “well your views aren’t shared by the majority of [insert group A]” argument; as truth is not determined by numerical consensus. The truth is true in spite of people’s personal preferences. So the truth is that WIR is not accurate, regardless of how many people quote it a universal truth.

      Its also true that we are not being hard done by comic book publishers. Same goes for any of your other claims. If something is not true, then it’s not true… It doesn’t magically become true if you get enough people to agree with your view: That’s basic epistemology.

      Sure I’ve got the advantage of working in an academic library, while working my way through a Bachelors Degree in Library & information Services & not everyone’s going to have that kind of background; but I expect a higher level of cognitive reasoning ability when it comes to something as simple as not using logical fallacies to back a hypothesis.

      In the end, when we get right down to brass tacks & the bottom line, we really can’t play the victim card anymore. If we want to be taken seriously as equals within the industry (as either fans or contributors) then we have to be able to stand behind our statements & take the chance of having them refuted by cold, hard, uncaring logic, with out immediately falling back into childish name calling habits: An that means that when something bad happens to a female character (or her title) we don’t start yelling about sexism, or pretending that there is a negative trend that victimises us.

  8. Again, I won’t continue to engage in circular arguments. You can’t argue with someone that doesn’t know the difference between opinions and claims of truth. The one area where I really can’t argue with (your opinion and personal experience) you continue to avoid:

    -What would YOU personally, as a fan, lose from more female characters being utilized, more three dimensional depictions, and more diverse portrayals in comic books? (Please elaborate why these requests are detrimental to you personally, and not a tangent on marketability. That’s avoiding the question.)

    -If you are a woman, why speak anonymously? (Interesting that you would equate this to shaming when I was using this as an example of creating a false dilemma. Without proof, how can I trust your claim to be true? Never said you were a man for having a differing viewpoint. I’d just like to see some proof from someone that claims a right to speak for a group that I belong to.)

    P.s. – Women make up half of the population. Monkey assassins? Not even close. Which group is worth trying to get as customers?

    • She’s got you there CBC: Every point you brought to the table she utterly destroyed, Kelly seems to be spot on. I’ll definitely have to give due consideration to the idea that female readers get more out of complaining about comic books then actually reading them, because it certainly made me laugh when she brought it up.

      As for the lack of female solo title from Marvel i’m going to have to agree with Kelly: Thats not a sign of sexism, its a sign of crappy editorial oversight, in exactly the same fashion that no solo titles about any non big-4 franchises is an editorial oversight.

      As for not saying she was a man due to having a differing view point, you kind of did, in exactly the same sentence where you tried to demonise men for sharing her common sense point of view. Heck Kelly makes my POV look practically cosmopolitan next to her no nonsense, take no prisoners approach, something i can appreciate.

      • Ooh yes, what makes you laugh is certainly the most important thing to consider in matters of representation and fairness. Good job, hero!

  9. Kelly

    “That would YOU personally, as a fan, lose from more female characters being utilized, more three dimensional depictions, and more diverse portrayals in comic books? (Please elaborate why these requests are detrimental to you personally, and not a tangent on marketability. That’s avoiding the question.)”

    They already are presented as 3 dimensional characters, across the board, from essentially every single comic book producers. I’m not sure how you got from your previous position of “not enough female solo titles” to “poor treatment.”

    This logic you are utilizing is exactly like the logic WIR is utilizing. You are insisting a detrimental social bias that just doesn’t exist, in the form of a presuppositional claim (without ever supplying any data for your positive statement of intent). You must first prove your claim to be demonstrably true before you can move on to finding ways to fix the problem. If no problem exists (as is the case here), then by definition there is no problem to fix.

    Sure Marvel currently has no female solo titles, so what? How is that Sexism? Fact is that even when they did have female titles you weren’t purchasing them, were you. Neither was I, because I didn’t care for there narrative, just like I don’t care for the narrative of many other titles. In fact I’d take a guess you aren’t purchasing any of the female solo titles DC is putting out right now… Because I’m not either… But it doesn’t mean that they don’t exist.

    “If you are a woman, why speak anonymously?”

    I’m not speaking anonymously… I’m speaking with my name, on a system that requires my e-mail details, which in turn has an incomplete dossier on me that is publically available. Just because you can’t back track it doesn’t mean its some how anonymous, its just not being shown here, because its not a capability the interface uses. No of which changes the fact that you tried very hard to make a baseless appeal to motive: Nothing is as slimy as someone trying to win an argument by logical fallacies, its so childishly sophomoric.

    “Without proof, how can I trust your claim to be true?”

    It doesn’t matter if I’m telling you the truth about my identity or not, as that is once again a logical fallacy: That’s am attempt at making a red herring statement, where you try to throw your opponent off the topic in the hopes that they will be distracted from the current point; usually because they are being intellectually decimated .

    Objective data doesn’t suddenly change to some other sort of objective data based on any aspect of my identity: 1 + 1 always = 2, not because I may or may not be in possession of a particular genital configuration, it = 2 because it demonstrably = 2.

    The fact is that WIR is not a causative nor correlative study, its just meaningless scribble taking up valuable bandwidth. Like wise your claims which have been demonstrably refuted have been refuted demonstrably… I could be a fairy penguin & have refuted your claims & the objective refutation of your stance wouldn’t suddenly transform into something else due to my new species designation as a penguin.

    “Women make up half of the population. Monkey assassins? Not even close. Which group is worth trying to get as customers?”

    It’s a good thing I didn’t say they did. But as has been pointed out, fiction is not written by quotas, nor should it be. Its not fictions job to accurately portray the universe, if we did comics wouldn’t exist, because the amount of people that exist in the real world with super powers is 0%. No one writes by quota, nor should they.

  10. @Claire: It certainly made me laugh. An its fun to consider that just maybe a large amount of the complaining done about female representation may actually be done by a particular subset/minority of female readers who can garner more attention from complaining about faux sexism such as a cancelled title, then by actually paying for and reading the title. Which in turn would be pretty counter intuitive to what those women say they want (which i’m assuming is a larger female audience).

    Also the part where Kelly apparently turns into a fairy penguin was pretty LOLsworthy too. She is right though, objective fact wouldn’t change based on any particular aspect of ones identity. Thats kind of what objective means. It means that it doesn’t require a subjective world view, that the thing in question always is or isn’t based entirely upon it being or not being a particular thing.

    As for the stuff about representation and fairness, i’m going to have to say one thing: When has the comic book industry ever had anything to do with fairness? If the comic book inudstry were fair Captain Marvel would have been a popular mainline character for the last 20 years & Marvel wouldn’t be stopping DC from calling his book The Adventures of Captain Marvel. Fairness has nothing to do with the publish industry, no matter what section of it you’re in.

    As for representation, female characters are well represented in both Marvel & DC. Sure marvels got no solo titles at the moment about female characters, but thats because the titles they did have failed under there own power, as they should have (aint no safety nets in publishing).

    That doesn’t make female character under represented, as there are plenty of female characters across both major companies. For better or worse, that is representation. An even with the oft complained about Catwoman issue 1, or Starfire costume, that representation is pretty equitable across the board.

    • Yeah super fun! It’s super fun to come into other people’s spaces and laugh at them! Especially when they’re exhibiting vulnerability and admiting that they don’t feel fully comfortable in the communities, products and fandoms that inspire their hearts and minds! Wicked sweet.

      This isn’t some “objective”, sterilised debate. This is real live women talking about the fact that we are affected by the state of this media genre. ‘Having fun complaining’ is not some hilarious light joke, it’s an asshole depiction of human vulverability.

      • “It’s super fun to come into other people’s spaces and laugh at them!”

        Except i wasn’t laughing at anyone, i was laughing WITH the funny analogues & mental images Kelly painted. Because they are incredibly humorous.

        As for the not feeling comfortable in our community, now i might start laughing at you. Thats a weak sauce excuse of “i feel threatened, by the big scary men:” come off it, we’ve long ago moved past that sillyness as a society, or i’d thought we had.

        As for this not being an objective debate, of course it is. Either WIR is objectively accurate or its not (and i think at this point its clear that its not). Any appeal to emotion is exactly the same kind of “subjective logic” that Kel’ already mentioned. Its intellectually dishonest & a hail mary manuever around logical debate.

        I’d have to ask Kelly her opinion, but that last paragraph you wrote is exactly what i’m assuming Kelly meant when she spoke up about particular women playing the victim card.

        If your feelings a re hurt by that information, you really have to ask yourself, why were your feelings involved at all? In the end the fact remains that WIR is not factually accurate & women in comics are not being mistreated, under represented or misrepresented in the medium in general of comics, or the specific case of super hero comics (barring specific works like The Boys, which shows no one in a good light).

  11. Kelly

    @Night Owl: That most certainly is one example of the self martyring victimhood i had previously mentioned. An yes you got it right when you said both “Its intellectually dishonest & a hail mary manuever around logical debate;” an when you said “If your feelings a re hurt by that information, you really have to ask yourself, why were your feelings involved at all.”

    Appeals to emotion are used as a way to short circuit logical objective discussions like this one. If i were to tell you that 1 + 1 = 3 & then you point out that it actually =2, i don’t suddenly start making claims of feeling threatened by the number 2 because that would be silly. Same goes for this discussion: WIR is not a legitimate study on anything, lacking for data that is either Correlative or Causative. At this point there is no defensible way that WIR can be used as an example of anything. Unfortunately long held personal opinions are not self correcting, especially when you have a specific invested interest in them being right. For example if you’ve been using WIR as a prime example of a trend in comics, an you’ve been writing blogs around women being mistreated in comics, using that asa a basis & it turns out to be not only wrong, but not even a valid example of a study, that makes all your other statements based on it look extremely questionable. Like i said up the page: Junk data in, junk data out.

    By the way Night Owl, i liked your Deviant Art account. I like that city nightscape shot.

  12. Kelly would have no reason to paint analogues or mental images if she wasn’t meaning to compare the WWAC WiR carnival members (such as Erin, the OP) to them. That’s laughing “at”, as well as laughing “with”, dude.

    Don’t presume to tell me whether or not I should feel threatened by “big scary men”. They aren’t relevant to this discussion, but nevertheless.

    You’re bad at this. Why are feelings involved? Because humans have feelings, and comics are nothing without humans. Comics are designed to inflame or engage feelings – they’re entertainment. If they do so more or less than they meant to, that doesn’t have to be kept a secret.

    • Kelly

      “Kelly would have no reason to paint analogues or mental images if she wasn’t meaning to compare the WWAC WiR carnival members (such as Erin, the OP) to them.”

      Actually I think you’ll find that I didn’t name names at all, or even suggest that I was talking about anyone here. So if you found that my analogue of the female comic book reader who is more interested in complaining then reading comics, struck to close to home, that’s all on you. Maybe it struck close to home because you think maybe you’ve been guilty of it yourself: goodness knows I have from time to time been extremely guilty of it… Luckily I’ve got a few very smart people to metaphorically smack the self entitlement out of me, with cold hard facts. Nothing is as cleansing nor as frustrating as self reflection, I think niche said it best when he said:

      Nothing more necessary than truth, and in comparison with it everything else has only secondary value. This absolute will to truth: what is it? Is it the will to not allow ourselves to be deceived? Is it the will not to deceive? One does not want to be deceived, under the supposition that it is injurious, dangerous, or fatal to be deceived. … Do not allow yourselves to be deceived: Great Minds are Skeptical.

      “You’re bad at this. Why are feelings involved? Because humans have feelings, and comics are nothing without humans.”

      But we aren’t discussing comics predominately, we are discussing a faux study, upon which some people are building further statements. So if that first stone is placed on shifting sand, then the rest is just a house of cards.

      You adding in emotional logic has no place in that discussion. The same way that me adding in emotional logic to a maths formula has no place in a discussion of that maths formula… Because while humans have feelings, and math formulas are nothing without humans, there’s still no reason to add in emotionalized logic to a discussion about objective facts. You can try to use emotionalized logic to explain why emotionalized logic should be used, but again you’re stuck right back where you started.

      We do not make appeals to motive when some one points out that we get a math problem wrong, nor should we use them when someone points out we got a cognitive hypothesis wrong.

  13. Pingback: Roundup three | Women Write About Comics

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