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When comics and feminism collide
Previous | Next by mike 24 May, 2007 - 5:09 AM

This is reposted from my livejournal at Ben's request.

This morning I awoke to an interesting post on the hipsterbookclub. Intrigued by the topic, I posted a reply.

Original Post

So there's a post on the Slave Labor Graphics LJ by the editor, Jennifer de Guzman, partially about feminism in comics but mostly about the outrage behind a recent comic book cover from Marvel which features what looks like the tentacle rape of a group of women with big, partially exposed breasts.

Seeing as the HBC is working on an update with graphic novels, I thought this might be an interesting thing to mention. We aren't writing anything about superhero comics and the like-- at least, not really-- because we're focusing on graphic novels such as Blankets and Persepolis. These, of course, are books that are praised for bringing the medium up a notch or two. At the risk of making this question sound highly weighted, I wonder what you think the Marvel cover does to the medium, if anything at all.

So I said

Here's a tricky question: How do you advocate against a false binary, when that advocacy reinforces said binary?

If you believe that comics are a medium and not a genre then you should be able to call out Marvel’s bullshit without wondering how it’s going to reflect on the medium. Like how you could call out Jerry Bruckheimer’s bullshit without worrying how it’s going to reflect on movies.

A few weeks ago a friend ([info]disembodiment) asked if I though a woman who knits is pro- or anti-feminist. I replied that keeping an eye on such issues only reinforces that certain acts are feminine and others masculine. By calling someone anti-feminist for knitting is simply reinforcing the false idea that there’s anything feminine about knitting.

So, to answer your question: No, I don’t think the Marvel cover does anything to the medium, because as far as I know it’s only people who already read comics who are talking about it.

The problem starts when national news outlets pick up the story and start asking silly questions like “what does this mean for the future of comics” which implies that comics are some centrally manufactured and regulated business. A concern you’d think major news media outlets would be sensitive to, since they’re constantly being grouped together as “the media” under the same false implication.

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