Archive for the 'Gender Issues' Category

05
Aug
14

Ladies and Gents: Your New Disney Princess

I had another post I was working on, but this came into my Facebook feed so it gets precedence because, well:

 

Can’t wait to see her in the Disney Parade of Princesses or whatever they call that gridlock several times a day on Main Street.

 

Back with more substantive things later.

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17
Jul
14

Female Thunder Gods, Black Avengers and Other Things That Seem to Scare Comic Fans

We’re about to get super-comic-book-geeky here so, you may want to grab onto something and hold on.

I’m not 100 percent certain, but the world might be ending.

image via BleedingCool.com

First, Marvel Comics announced that Thor, god of Thunder, will be a woman.

Then, as if that wasn’t enough for one week, they announced that Captain America will now be…..black. Yes, Sam Wilson aka The Falcon aka just about the coolest part of Captain America: Winter Soldier will be taking up the mantle after Steve Rogers somehow got really old and is more concerned with his Depends than what the Red Skull is doing.

OH DEAR GOD PLEASE STAY OFF THE INTERNET AS IT EXPLODES.

Listen, I’m no fan of change for the sake of change or PR stunts. I’m not bothering to buy the “How Wolverine Dies Until The Next Movie” series going on right now. And honestly, they can talk about how neither of these things are stunts, but we all know things will go back to normal when the new Thor, Captain America or Avengers movies come out. Just like Wolverine will come back from the dead the moment Wolverine 3: Even More Wolveriney or X-Men: Seriously It’s Only About Logan comes out down the road.

But I don’t get the knee jerk and, frankly, ridiculous reaction to either of the above changes.

Let’s assume for a moment they are both well written. I know, that can be dicey in comics, but indulge me. Isn’t story the ultimate determination as to whether something is worthwhile?

We all knew Cap was coming back when he was shot and killed in the comics because it was before the first movie. But writer Ed Brubaker did such an extraordinary job making Bucky (Cap’s former partner) transition into Captain America that when Bucky left the role (died, sort of) it was actually a bummer.

When it was announced that Barbara Gordon was returning to her role as Batgirl, we weren’t sold. She had been defined by the events of The Killing Joke and been in a wheelchair for so long it was who she was to fans. In fact, in many ways her struggle to overcome her disability and the wheelchair were an excellent thing for kids to see.

But Gail Simone came along and absolutely nailed Babs in her return to crime-fighting and (more importantly) walking that we forgot about our misgivings.

What is it about change in comics which makes us upset?

In the recent instances, it’s hard not to see the push-back in purely racial and gender terms and it seems as if a lot of the issues people have with it is that they immediately assume it’s the “PC-police” forcing a change.

I actually understand that thought as once upon a time, I thought it too. When Blue Beetle (Ted Kord) was brutally killed and replaced by Jaime Reyes, I wondered if it was driven solely by political correctness. I wondered the same thing when The Question died of cancer and was replaced by Renee Montoya.

image via Wikipedia

I’m not proud of my gut reaction, but I want to be honest about it to make a point.

Something about it seemed unfair. I can’t tell you what it was, only that it happened. In so far as The Question, that was likely in part to my love for what we did when I worked on the Justice League animated series. Seeing him replaced bugged me and that might be why.

But I ask myself why I disliked the idea of Beetle or Question or even Firestorm (who died in the dumbest way possible) being replaced and I don’t have a rational answer. I didn’t love any of the characters save Question (and again, for personal reasons) and none of them were comics or characters who drew big numbers on the sales racks.

And I have no rational reason because, if I’m honest about that time in my life, the reason wasn’t rational. I think I was upset on some level because I was watching three traditionally white, male characters get the brush off in favor of a different gender or color.

Again, I’m not proud of that, but I think looking back on it that it’s true.

And I can’t help but wonder if that’s true of many people reacting to Falcon-Cap and Fem-Thor.

image via ABCnews.com

Certainly if you read the comments (never do that) it’s there in subtext if nothing else.

Why is that?

I mean, not to get even more geeky here but Norse gods have always been mutable (hell, gods in general – Zeus anyone?) so Thor being a woman isn’t insane from the mythology. And honestly, if Captain America is the representation of the US as it stands, it makes sense to me that he isn’t a blond-haired, blue eyed white dude.

And who better than Wilson, his long-time partner (now that Bucky/Winter Soldier isn’t a choice)?

I have no explanation as to why changing a race or gender riles comic fans up. It doesn’t do that to me anymore (especially once I read the rebooted characters). I’m not sure why it ever did.

But I think it’s time to get over it. I think it’s time for readers – particularly white, male readers who have been the bulk of readership for a long time and get pandered too far more than we should – to let go of it.

If the story is good, the story is good. What does it matter if  Thor a woman? Or Ms. Marvel is a Muslim or Superman of Earth-2 is black?

The stories are either good or they aren’t.

And speaking of stories, let’s applaud comics for trying anything new. After all, there’s no new story to tell, just different ways to tell them. How can you make the same superhero nonsense fresh? Shake things up.

Too often that mean rebooting the universe *coughcoughDCcoughcough* and changing little or reverting things to status quo regardless of past stories *coughcoughMarvelcoughcough*.

image via Marvel Comics

So Thor is a woman? He’s also been an alien and a frog,  used to turn into a crippled mortal with a cane and at one point was a construction worker.  Cap’s been replaced at least three times I can think of in his own comic, and according to Marvel mythology, was several different people in the 50s and 60s.

Who cares if we change up who is holding Mjolnir or the shield? This could be a good jumping off point for stories as it was for Batgirl, Bucky-Cap and Ultimate Spiderman (currently Miles Morales).

That’s what will matter .

The stories are either good or they aren’t.

Hopefully these stories will open up opportunities for creators to put together more original female and minority characters like the aforementioned Ms. Marvel (on of my favorite books right now).

Meanwhile, maybe this is a chance for some new takes on old stories.

And if you don’t like it, oh well. As you can say about the weather in some states: wait five minutes and it’ll change.

Meanwhile enjoy the ride and stop bitching for once. We have two new heroes to follow. Let’s see where they take us.

27
May
14

It’s not about you

So I’ve been letting this site whither a bit, and I didn’t mean for the first post to be heavy but here we are anyway.

Here’s hoping this is viewed in the spirit I intend it to be: to open up dialogue and help us understand each other a bit better. To help us get past the issues which roadblock us from solving our problems both personally and from a wider societal view.

It took me hours to write this and I don’t even know if it’s ready to go out into the universe, but here goes.

I’ve kind of avoided commenting on the whole #YesAllWomen hashtag thing for a number of reasons, not the least of which is I felt that, as a man in a patriarchal society, this was perhaps something to be observed and considered but not commented upon.

So I watched the posts come, written in some cases by friends, and thought and considered and remained silent.

Then I searched for the hashtag to widen my understanding of what was being said and…. well, I was disturbed.

I was disturbed by the stories women were sharing which, while we all know they happen, we rarely confront face to face. I was disturbed by the endless stream of them, the entirely too frequent incidents  that these women were sharing.

More than anything though, I was disturbed by the guys.

Listen, I more than anyone understand the nature of twitter and twitter trolling. Hell, internet trolling. I don’t read my comments on Bleacher Report anymore because I can only have hate spewed at me for so long before I start regretting things I type.  I’ve been told hateful things on twitter and they pale compared to some of my fellow writers.

I say this and yet I was stunned by the response some men (not all) were having to the #YesAllWomen hashtag.

That’s why I’m writing this.  Because I have something to share with my brothers. Ladies, feel free to stay, but this one is for the fellas.

It’s not about you.

Let me be clear, I get the initial visceral reaction to something like this. Generalities get thrown around in discussions of racism and sexism and as a white male it can feel like everyone is pointing a finger at you.

But it’s not about you.

My wife and I are both passionate people and we argue about a lot of things. There are topics where I feel attacked on a personal level no matter what she says. I have to remember one thing….

It’s not about you.

Listen guys, you have to stop taking this personally.

Wait, check that. You SHOULD take this personally but not for the reasons you have been.

None of this is an attack on you as an individual, but you have responsibility in it.

Let’s separate these two things. First of all, the majority of women are not pointing their finger at you, calling you a rapist.  I’m sure there ARE some but we need to stop judging the whole by the fringe. Just like I shouldn’t judge conservatives by whatever idiocy comes out of Joe the Plumber’s mouth  or all liberals from what whackadoodle junk passes for Bill Mahr’s latest rantings, you shouldn’t judge every woman by the one pointing a finger at you.

If you do, you’re missing the point. Whenever we get caught up in the extremes we’re missing the point.

And pointing out men died in the Santa Barbara shootings, while tragic and true, is also missing the point. Because there wasn’t a 140 page manifesto about eliminating the male gender save for breeding purposes or Youtube videos complaining men weren’t sleeping with this guy.

While this man killed other men, his hatred of women was his motivation. If you focus on the death of the men as a rallying cry to dismiss what these women are saying, you are missing the point.

In this case, you’re missing the point that while you, personally, haven’t assaulted any women, WOMEN GET ASSAULTED.

You know women who have, even if they haven’t told you about it. I know a lot of women who have. I’d never say who-it’s not my story to tell-and there are women who haven’t told me but I suspect were. Many, many women have.

Forget the old saw about “these are mothers and wives and sisters” because the real statement should be “these are people.” People who a nutjob hated so much he ranted about wiping them out and then decided to get a head start.

The point is that, while none of them are shooting anyone right now, he is far from alone in his thoughts.

The whole #YesAllWomen is about that. Saying #NotAllMen is missing the point because more then enough men are.

Listen, intellectually you understand sexism or racism or any other inequity but as a guy you can’t possibly understand it fully.

Once, quite some time ago, I got into a debate on twitter (SHOCKING) about race. A gentleman I very much respect wrote a very good article about race and how it’s approached in our society. One thing I took issue with was the idea that white people-especially white men-cannot fully understand racism.

We argued and debated in the way you do on twitter (with less putdowns) until the light went on for me about what he was really saying. It’s not that I didn’t understand racism on an educational or intellectual level. Of course I did. What I didn’t understand-indeed could never understand-was racism as an actual occurrence.

Nobody was ever walking across the street to avoid me. No old woman would see me in a hoodie and avoid me. And even if a woman did avoid me on the street, that was about gender, not race.

I will never understand what it is to be a black man in America. I just can’t. And I will never understand what it’s like to be a woman in America. I can intellectually understand what they go through. I can cite history of the suffrage movement and women’s rights and all of it but I will never understand how it feels to be whistled at, leered at or attacked as many women are.

And before you say “men get attacked/judged/leered at” please remember:

It’s not about you.

There is absolutely a discussion to be had about societal expectations around men and what it is to be a man. What Hollywood and sports and culture tell us is the right way to be a male. Heck, Joe the Plumber clearly equates his maleness with his gun….which good Lord let’s not dissect that frightening metaphor. I think there are things such as father’s rights and the emasculation of men which should be talked about as well.

But this isn’t the place, and attacking women dealing with their issues with those discussions is missing the point and on top of it, part of the problem. You’re marginalizing their issues, reinforcing the same damned problems they are fighting against.

If you want to raise awareness about domestic abuse against men, I will fully support you in that. Unless you use it to try an downplay the very serious issue of violence against women.

Which brings me to the second point here-we, as men, have a responsibility to change this. Not just by not being jerks to women, but to actively support women in their rights as human beings. Forget equality because it’s not even about that. It’s about treating people like people.

Shocking, right?

We may not actively discriminate against women, but we passively support a system which does. And before you start typing that angry rebuttal, please remember:

It’s not about you.

It’s not about accusing you or making you wrong. It’s about a society where the game was rigged a long time ago, where things were institutionalized before most of us were born. Now, sure, the majority of men on the planet didn’t actively make this mess, but just saying “not my fault” is never going to fix it.

In fact, it’s pretty much what we get on our kids for. Just because you didn’t actively make the mess doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a hand in fixing it.

No, it’s not our mess, but we’re the ones who have some power to fix it. While we might not have magical powers to fix everything on a global scale, we can change the world locally.

We can do it by teaching our sons AND our daughters to treat people like people. Not objects, not goals, not things to win. Just people.

And to broaden the scope a bit, we should do this across the board. It’s not just about gender. It’s about race, sexuality, age, on and on and on.

Because it’s not about you. Or me. Or any one person. It’s about us. All of us across this whole country, across this whole world.

It’s not about you, but you can fix it. You should fix it.

We all should.

#YesAllWomen isn’t about pointing a finger at me or you. It’s pointing a finger at an issue. #NotAllMen is a reaction which, frankly, is missing the point.

Might I suggest #AllMenShould?

As in “All Men Should Work to Improve the World?”

That seems like a much better way to go.




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What I’m Into:

Reading: Dead Beat by Jim Butcher Listening to: The Heist, Macklemore Watching: Damages