Who Cares What She Does — Make Her Nekkid!

December 29th, 2011

[ “Ker-pow! Women kick back against comic-book sexism

UK-made, female-driven anthology Bayou Arcana is causing a stir for more than just its haunting images and storylines.” ]

Bayou Arcana, means New Orleans and Louisiana, one of my homes.  It’s almost impossible to imagine New Orleans without Coco Robicheaux, who died last month, who was the embodiment of Bayeau Arcana if there was a living one.

One of the most interesting things about Bayou Arcana is that the writers are all male and the artists are all female, so how the female characters look is decided by women, not men.

This is a group of creative people who are positively pushing back against the long running, ever growing trend  that leaves women out of the various sets of the sf/f, supernatural, horror, movie, comix, print and game worlds.  Here’s a pull from the long story about the many different gender bias and sexism in these areas, particularly in comix, in the U.K. Guardian linked to above:

[ " As far as the wider comic book culture is concerned, many female comic book fans have stories of being ignored, harassed, or treated with hostility in comic book stores, and there's certainly persistent gendered bullying online." The planned petition comes in the wake of another earlier this year which expressed reader outrage at the lack of female writers and characters at DC Comics, which owns rights to characters such as Superman and Batman

The proportion of female creators in its comics plunged from 12% to 1% when it relaunched its entire line of superhero titles.

More than 4,500 fans called on DC to "do something about these appalling, offensive numbers or you will only continue to see your sales numbers plummet".

DC insisted it was taking their concerns "very seriously" and pointed to writers such as Nicola Scott, Felicia D Henderson and Gail Simone. It also highlighted female DC characters such as Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Catwoman and Batwoman, who was reinvented as a lesbian.

Comics bloggers such as Vanessa Gabriel say, however, that both DC and Marvel – which together dominate the market – have been slow to do more than pay lip service to female readers. " ]

Another fellow who is doing his bit is here, in this blog post, Fantasy Armor and Lady Bits:

[ " The brilliant tumbler feed Women Fighters in Reasonable Armor has inspired me to add my two cents to the discussion.

Why does my opinion matter? I’m an armorer. I make actual armor that people wear when they hit each other with swords. When making armor I have to strike a balance between comfort, protection, range of motion, and appearance. My experience has made me more than a little opinionated on the subject of fantasy armor.

I intend to set the internet straight. See below for how to do it wrong, how to do it right, and why you might care. " ]

Women alone can’t change the way women are expected to appear in these fields, which in turn then, makes it so easy for the men in the field to dismiss them, harrass them and otherwise remove the agency of half the world, giving them only one role and one role — sex object.   As with making a culture of rape socially unacceptable everywhere, men must be a part of the push to change that. These developments are a part of that, which is heartening — a good way to close a year and open a new one.

4 Responses to “Who Cares What She Does — Make Her Nekkid!”

  1. Samon 30 Dec 2011 at 12:39 am

    *rofl* We’re supposed to believe that making a female comic book character a lesbian is motivated by a desire to stop portraying women as sex objects in comics, as opposed to, uh, say, a blatant grab to pick up more teenage boys as readers?

    Hey, DC, here’s an idea if you want to put your female characters on an even footing with male characters… how about a female character whose sexuality is *utterly unimportant* to their character, plot-lines and indeed never mentioned at all?

  2. Saharon 01 Feb 2012 at 10:06 am

    I find it fascinating, as a woman and a sci-fi/supernatural lover, that women always have to be sexualized. The other interesting thing that I noticed is that if a woman is anywhere near feminine, she will not be taken seriously by the sci-fi community. I myself am no bombshell, but I like fashion and sci-fi – and have been told that I am not a ‘real’ fan. As a writer, I am trying to figure out what a ‘real’ female character would look like, and strangely enough, I find it very hard. I look forward to the day when we will have strong, non-overly-sexualised but feminine female characters… Until then, petition on and for all your writers/illustrators, write/illustrate on!

  3. Constanceon 01 Feb 2012 at 4:09 pm

    All we can do is push back in whatever way we can, to present women as authentic, fully developed (irk!) protagonists, whether in a world of superheroes, fantasy or mundane. It’s not only the genres that so often resort to nekkid and rape as the only qualities that distinguish female characters, or to provide motivation for the male characters.

    Love, C.

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