Friday, February 02, 2007

Super Follow-Up on Supergirl

An update/follow-up from Occasional Superheroine. This is encouraging:
"The System has to change. And it stands a better chance of changing from without than within. Within the System, you're sort of trapped. I could not do a damn thing for "women in comics" of any value until I was out of that particular System. All the articulate, empassioned bloggers and posters out there who agitate for change is what's going to change this System. Letter-writing campaigns are what's going to change this System. Voting with your wallets is what's going to change this System."
Because sometimes, it feels like spitting in the wind. But I do think we need to get more women into the system, in decision-making roles. We need to put the pressure on from both ends, within and without.

As I've said before, I have no problem with sexy women in comics, but Kara is a teen girl and the rules have to be different for her, especially when the whole role model thing is taken into consideration. And from scans I've seen around the blogosphere, an increasing number of females are being drawn in more and more provocative ways, or so it seems, to the point where underwear seems to be optional. Go too far, and the backlash will be deserved.

I'm against censorship. I love Ed Benes' art. It wasn't/isn't appropriate for Supergirl. Nor was Michael's Turner's style, but I have more problems with his anorexic look than anything else. Freedom comes with responsibilities. Intention goes only so far, if the intent isn't clear or contradictory in practice. I'm not out to vilify anyone, so you won't see insults here, though you will see "What were they thinking?" posts, because even the best intentioned creators and editors can screw up.

I also don't expect to agree with every feminist point, nor do I expect everyone to agree with mine. Here are my hot buttons:
  • Don't tell me what I think.
  • Don't tell me what to think.
  • Don't tell me I'm not a feminist (fill in with any other "type" you wish) if I don't adhere to the entire agenda.
  • Don't label me by things I cannot control (my race, my heritage, the religion I was was born into, the way I look, my sex, my height, my weight, the fact that I wear glasses, the shape of my nose).
  • Don't judge me or make assumptions about me due to any of those or any other labels. The labels I can't control do not define me. They are merely contributing factors toward the person I've become.
That's my brand of feminism.

I don't hold the media responsible for how kids turn out. I hold the parents responsible and that doesn't mean parents should censor their kids' reading. It means making sure they are mature enough for the material and that comes at different ages for different kids. It means being aware of the content of the material.

But be the content violence or sex or language not usually reserved for polite company, there's a difference if the audience is a mature adult or an impressionable child. Comics reach a wide audience and each title has a particular target audience, ranging from wide (everyone) to narrow (adults or teens or younger children) and the content should be geared to that audience. With Supergirl, it means make up your f'in minds already. A book for young people adults can also enjoy? Or an adult title that isn't quite at the Vertigo level of adultness?

It would also help to remember Kara is a teen and there are some ethical issues re: her behavior. Having her date an adult is problematic in a book for teens. It's an issue in any book when one of the couple is underage, but if it's handled properly (Deathstroke and Terra where it was clearly shown to be wrong, back in Titans), it has a place in a book geared to an older audience.

I really hate cutting off any option because it might or does offend someone, but for a company and editor wanting to get more girls/women to read Supergirl, they're going about it the wrong way. Trying to find the one common denominator for we female readers might be impossible, but clearly, the majority of the ones blogging are in opposition to the decisions currently being reflected in the book, which has changed, it seems, issue to issue. Make a choice and stick with it and the audience will follow, with one caveat, and it's a biggie, so I'm gonna use a bigger font.

Good, well-written stories and good, appropriate art.

It really isn't much more complicated than that.

And while you're at it, why not put some ethnic supporting characters into the book, to help that whole diversified DCU thing?


  1. Anonymous5:53 PM EST

    So, what you're saying...and, if you're SHOULD think this...that you're not a feminist, woman. Oh, and make me some lunch!


    But, seriously, great entry. It's funny how blogging (or, really, being involved in a blogging community) challenges your activism, sometimes. I know that I've had to continually turn a mirror on myself during the whole All-New Atom debate that was happening on my blog. Do I say I accept to much and look like an Uncle Tom or do I totally go "balls to the wall" and speak out for little things like a true warrior. And, in the middle of it all, I also had to find my own voice unique to me.

  2. heh

    I've always thought feminism was about choice. About everyone being able to choose the life they want to lead, independent of anything else. Sure, we all make compromises to put a roof over our heads and food on the table, but we shouldn't rely on someone else doing that for us simply because we're one sex and they're the other.

    If someone wants to be sexy, that's fine, provided they have a healthy self-image. It's about feeling good about yourself.

    I agree about blogging and the challenges. So many of my posts are me explaining my feelings and beliefs, to me as well as to readers. But I've found a lot less animosity on comics blogs (really!) than on political ones. Makes it easier to have real conversations.

  3. Excellent points. It seems it comes down to quality stories with quality art. As much as comics companies worry about declining sales, they consistently respond with the same quick-fix tactics. Quality would help.

    Comics should be a quality alternative to other forms of entertainment. And they should respect their audience, every member of it rather than pander to part of it.