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Comic-Inspired Ranting. Longer than holy I dunno what.

March 5th, 2009 (11:57 pm)

current mood: snarkbeast

So the beau and I played Left 4 Dead for like 3 hours again the other day. I am getting really good at nailing those hunters, even though smokers still elude me, the sneaky snake-tongued jerks. I still struggle with the two-toggle controller, and my aim is, shall we say, slow, and not particularly accurate. I finally earned the Brain Salad 100 headshots achievement though. ^_^ Bla bla bla video games.


Then I read the new comic book he got, which is called Empowered, and stars a "loser" superhero, her "loser" ex-thug boyfriend, and their "loser" ninja friend. It's well drawn and cleverly written... but the whole thing is blatantly cheesecake-y. It's supposed, I think, to be a parody of the hyper-sexualization in most superhero comics, but because it is such, it relies on a lot of pandering to stereotypes for its humor. Some of it really is funny, and I do think the characters are rather well-done, and the relationship between the two mains is actually very tender and cute, but the whole thing just gives me the same depressed feeling I get from reading ANY superhero comic. That unsatisfied feeling that comes from there being absolutely nobody in the whole comic I can directly relate to, OR look up to, OR at least ogle (and let's face it, reading comics makes one feel as though there should be something to ogle, since so much of the imagery is geared toward that, just that none of them are men is all).

Apparently, nobody remotely like me in looks or personality is eligible to save the world or even be a sidekick, also, women all look the same and wander around naked and with personalities that come from a tiny set of pre-packaged tropes, also, men, while always sexual aggressors, are never actually sexually available, and finally, female bi/homosexuality is okay and even encouraged but male bi/homosexuality is terrifying and only able to even be mentioned as a joke, and never never shown. There was one scene that showed a lot of promise, some guys started kissing (even though one of them had a brick for a head, I'll take what I can get) but then goddammit they wouldn't SHOW anything when one of them went down on the other one. Gods, comic artists are such sissies.

It bothers me when guys complain that girls don't participate in the comic scene much, but for shit's sake, why should we, when the absolute GULF is so blatant as to be ridiculous between how much men get pandered to in comics and how much women do? Comics are just NOT designed for the female gaze. Until we get some women comic creators (and what woman would subject herself to that kind of scorn and scrutiny, no matter how much she enjoys the genre otherwise?), I don't think we're ever going to have much to look at when it comes to comics. And gods forbid you're a gay man and you wanna read a comic book. Fuck. Tits, crotch, and bare ass all over on the girls (all of whom look remarkably samey, and it's really a good thing they usually have different hairdos or you wouldn't tell many of them apart), skimpy outfits, bondage, and fetish everything, but heaven for-fucking-bid they show a manchest, a bulge, or, save us all, some PENIS (well, every once in a while you get manchest, but it's so fleeting and non-sexualized that at that point I want to shout "does not even out, give me more!"). Because really, let's face it. Visually, superhero comics are all about sex, no matter how good the story is.

It's the same complaint guys have about porn, "well, gee, why don't girls like porn, they must be prudes..." no, we're just fucking bored of looking at bouncing tits 24-7, if we wanna do that we'll fucking look DOWN for shit's sake, DUH. And the constant female moans are distracting, where are the man grunts and the deep-chested dirty talk? If you want to get US excited, take off your pants, show us your dick. CHEEZUS, how difficult is it to figure out? We gotta put up with it from you, expected to freaking play sexpot all the damn time, and see all these images that, while not aimed in our direction, hint about sex, and what, you think we never get going from that and desire a follow-up? Or do guys think girls never actually want sex, or what? Nobody knows what the hell any of you even wants. The least you can do in return is quit teasing and put the fuck out.

Yeah, I said it. Because here's the thing. That is my flavor of feminist anger. When I feel the burning pit of rage in my tummy is when I think we're going about this equality thing the wrong way in some respects. Let's turn men into sex objects, says the rage. I'm all for it. It's about time female sexuality was as acknowledged and pandered to as male sexuality. Now, most feminists agree with me that having female sexuality and freedom to be acknowledged, and as comfortable in society as that of males, is important. However, few of them think the way to go about it is to turn the tables and have men be just as sexualized, objectified, and consumed as women. But shit, what way could be better? You know it's the only way they're ever going to understand. As it is right now, boys read things like Empowered and think that's the way it is and should be, and that any women who would object to that is just "over-sensitive," "a prude," etc., the same old tired shit.

Think how they'll whine and squirm when it's happening to them. How they'll protest, how they will cry "sexist bitches, you hypocrite women, you're all so meeeeean!" And you know what we'll say? "Aww, you hyper-sensitive prudes, aren't you cute? You're just jealous cuz you're not a hotty hott hottie like Captain Speedo here, admit it. You guys and your testosterone, it makes you so vulnerable, it's kind of cute. You just need to get laid. Lose a few pounds, you'll bag a lady in no time. Now take off your pants, turn around, and move a little to the right. Yeeaaaaah." Next, watch how quickly men STOP doing it to women once they realize how much it fucking sucks to be treated that way. And then we'll all knock it off and live sexily ever after, or something.

Okay, yeah, that's the snark talking. That's only my opinion on days when I really am sick of the constant imagery being shoved in my face, and especially of the way men are totally blind to it even if you spell it out for them like they're in kindergarten. Even stories "for girls" in comics are still written and drawn by men, still full of stereotypes of both sexes, and still full of, get this, cheesecake and sexualization of only the girls. One of the manga I like the best is Inu Baka (Crazy for Dogs), because, hey, I love dogs. One thing that keeps it from being THE best is endless shots of the female characters (all of whom are very young, very thin, and very conventional-pretty, btw, oh surprise) posing all sexy in sexy clothes, but none of the male characters. None. In a comic for girls. Because... what, girls are all supposed to be lesbians, or what? I'll never figure it out.

Do I deny them porn, comics, stories catering to their sexual tastes? Nope. But when EVERY SINGLE SOLITARY ONE out there does, even the stuff that's supposedly geared toward women, well, that's when I'm ready to break shit.

And it bothers me a lot that Empowered is shown as really insecure about her body because she has a "big butt" which makes her look "chubby." As a girl who very much IS chubby, actually for REAL chubby, I find that a base insult. If you have ever read a comic book, you already know what she looks like, so I'm sorry in advance that I'm even bothering to tell you. Blond, long hair, pouty lips, long torso, completely flat stomach, pronounced waist, big but pert tits, huge bedroom eyes, wide hips, round bottom. I just described every female superhero in existence, simply change hair color and length (and, rarely, skin color... could we please talk about lack of racial diversity in comics next?) to get your favorite. Now, given that she's got a body possible only for about 1% of the world's population (and it's mentioned also in the comic how much work she has to do, with exercise and starvation dieting, just to "not feel totally hideous in the super suit"), is it realistic for her to feel so towards her looks and behave so towards her body?

Certainly, actually. I myself understand this all too well, because when I was thin and conventional-pretty, I was convinced I was an ugly fat blob, because that's how the world is set up for all women to think, if we don't hate our bodies completely and savagely punish them to try to atone for the sin of being human, it is an absolute miracle. But it's sad, and sadder yet that it's a running joke among all the characters, something that is brought up to marginalize her and make her feel bad. I suppose I ought to feel compassionate towards this because I understand it, but actually I think it is because I understand it, and the comic artist clearly does not, that it bothers me so much.

So. Yeah. Superhero comics get a big BOO from me, and it's really too bad. I love over the top characters and storylines. I love dramatic visual presentation. I love being able to see and read a story in that way that's only possible with a graphic novel. I love fantasy, and to a lesser extent sci-fi. I love magic, superpowers, heroes, saving the world, that hint of romance, and yeah, I even love sex and sexy scenes. I love most of the elements of comics, but even so it's damn near impossible to find a readable comic because comic artists keep doing the same damn tired things every time when it comes to giving me someone in the story I can fucking get behind, either to cheer OR even just for the gratification of watching said behind.

That's why women are only fringe participants in your world, comic scene dewds. Comic artists: they're never going to get it, they're never going to get with it, and yet they whine that me and women like me claim to be geeks but aren't totally wowed by their stuff. Why should I be wowed when, stylistic trends aside, your drawings are mostly identical to those of the artists at every booth in the convention? "Ah, here we have a scantily-clad thin girl with big breasts bound and pouting... and ah, here it is again, this time bound with tentacles instead of rope, ah, here's one in chains..." I just saw the same thing fifty-seven times, so sorry I'm unimpressed. If it was something I was into, I might be, because it would be cool to have more than one example of my taste out there in the world, would be damn neat to see a convention full of stuff catering to what I like, in terms of entertainment or hell, in terms of anything really. Yes, light bondage IS a kink of mine, but I see no bare-chested dude aiming a throbbing penis her way in this shot, so you just left out the part that actually makes it kinky to me, whoopsie on your part. I don't give a shit what SHE'S doing. Later I'll just have look up some gay porn if I wanna stick my hand down my pants, it's the only venue unafraid to show me some nekkid menz.

If they're honestly aiming for a fanbase that includes more than their army of squealing white fanboys who jack off to their stuff as often as they actually read it, then I guess they'll need to start actually, oh I don't know, doing something to actually cater to a wider readership.

But since I think most of them don't like to draw stuff they can't comfortably whack off to themselves while the ink dries, I think they'll just have to look around and whine for the rest of eternity.

If I could draw well, holy hell you guys the feminine-gaze porn you'd see from me. No. Joke. And occasionally maybe I'd do a comic that has a story that doesn't center around endless shots of everybody's ass. You know, just for flavor.

A girl can dream...


Posted by: nobody (faevii)
Posted at: March 6th, 2009 03:25 pm (UTC)

"most of them don't like to draw stuff they can't comfortably whack off to themselves while the ink dries"

Heh, I think you've nailed the cause of the problem perfectly. *sigh*

Posted by: sugar_for_sugar (sugar_for_sugar)
Posted at: March 8th, 2009 03:34 am (UTC)

I don't know whether to lol or headdesk.

Posted by: Swan (princess_ostara)
Posted at: March 7th, 2009 12:15 am (UTC)

"If they're honestly aiming for a fanbase that includes more than their army of squealing white fanboys who jack off to their stuff as often as they actually read it, then I guess they'll need to start actually, oh I don't know, doing something to actually cater to a wider readership."

What? But that would mean... actually doing something different. *shudders* <--- sarcasm ;)

Posted by: sugar_for_sugar (sugar_for_sugar)
Posted at: March 8th, 2009 03:36 am (UTC)

But don't you see? The guy that shoots kitten beams, THAT'S "different!"

You take away the boobs and the butts, or add some penis/manchest/manbutt, and they just won't SELL! It's not like women look at that stuff! We're all prudes! Their precious precious livelihood will fly out the window... plus their DM will kill their halfling mage out of spite.

(which is just as well, because everyone knows half-elf bards are better!!!!)

Posted by: Pietoro (Pietoro [])
Posted at: July 8th, 2009 07:05 pm (UTC)

I love you. o_o
I totally understand what you mean about the rage!

Posted by: sugar_for_sugar (sugar_for_sugar)
Posted at: July 9th, 2009 02:14 am (UTC)

And after reading your latest blog post I think it is safe to say that I love you, too! And I thank you for the awesome links in it too.

The Rage is difficult to contain some days...

Posted by: dreamy_polysemy (dreamy_polysemy)
Posted at: July 9th, 2009 01:13 am (UTC)

Hey, I'm a lurker at Shakesville (where I saw your link) and on LJ generally. Fantastic post, love the tone!! Righteous anger FTW. I was a huge comics fan when I was a kid - like, the nerdy kind that had boxes full of comics in plastic and binders full of cards. By the time I was old enough to figure out why I was the only girl in the group that played X-men during recess, it lost its shine for me, so I soooo empathize. Its like, growing up to realize that your fandom didn't actually want you anyway. Not fun. Anyway, I'm adding you as a friend to keep watch for more awesomeness, unless you mind, of course. =)

Posted by: sugar_for_sugar (sugar_for_sugar)
Posted at: July 9th, 2009 02:06 am (UTC)

LOL, I'm glad my rage is good for something!

I don't mind at all, I hope I end up being worth the watch! ^_^ Welcome aboard. I love making new friends, online and otherwise.

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