I haven’t had too much time for reading the internets, or anything else, this week. I’m about to go out of town on an epic journey to WisCon – and beyond! (Karen Healey and I are gonna go into writerly seclusion together for about a week afterwards, and then, joy of joys, I’ve got a family reunion to attend) – and, as is usually the case when one is planning a trip and trying to tie up loose ends before departing, everything at work (and elsewhere) has been super-hectic.
When I get some more free time for reading, I’m looking forward to spending some time checking out The SF Bookswap:
We’re a group of readers and writers who love science fiction, fantasy, and horror. We’re frustrated at the lack of female authors represented on some award ballots. We want to bring greater attention to wonderful books and short fiction written by women. And, in doing so, read a lot of great fiction ourselves. We’re dedicated to the idea that women should be able to participate in our genre’s awards process despite lack of resources or funding. We believe in the power of community to affect change.
In the world of books-with-pictures, reactions to that awful MJ statue are still being posted all over the blogosphere. Like many people with some longer-term involvement in the feminist comics fan scene (I feel like a total poseur for typing that, btw. I only started reading comics in earnest a few months ago – but I have been hanging around Girl-Wonder.org since it started up, which I guess does give me an itsy-bitsy measure of cred), I’ve been a little startled by the enormity of the reaction. Betty has some interesting thoughts on the matter in “Why the MJ kerfuffle matters: (probably not why you think),” and I also found liviapenn’s take very thought-provoking:
When a girl or woman picks up “Wizard” and can’t make it 5 pages in without being grossed out by the softcore and the sexist jokes, or when a woman walks into a comics shop and sees statues like MJ, Emma and Supergirl proudly displayed in a place of honor, and when (as you said) she can’t buy JLA without the Peej cover– or when a woman goes to a website and sees misogynist ads with a woman who’s got a lock over her mouth– more likely than not, she’s going to put down the magazine, walk out of the comics shop, and close the website. If the creators and retailers are okay with the fact that, *to the average person*, they look like a bunch of creepy perverts, then fine– they don’t need to change anything they’re doing.
But I don’t think, judging from the response from DC, that they even realize how bad the Peej cover looks. They really just do not *get* that most people, if you showed them that JLA cover without any context and asked them to guess what the comic is about, and who it’s for, would probably guess “It’s about huge breasts, and it’s for men who want specialty fetish porn about huge breasts.”
They don’t realize *how they look* to people that aren’t familiar enough with the superhero comics industry to know that this crap is just business as usual. *That’s* what makes this a big deal.
And Lisa Fortuner has some thoughts on what feminist comics fans should do next:
This little statue has gotten us more attention than ever before. This is not like Batwoman, when the attention was on the company. This time the attention is on the complaints. Don’t squander this. Blog about women in comics. Complain about women in comics. Rave about women in comics. Rant about women in comics. Go to your comic book store and start talking about women in comics. Go to a convention and be visible. Ask about a female character at a panel. Ask about the statue at a panel. Write letters. And when you meet resistance, push back.
Shifting from comics to gaming, I enjoyed Kathy Deveny’s essay, guest-posted at LevelUp, about buying her daughter a handheld gaming system:
…I liked the fact that she was growing up in a world where technology was all around her and that she was absorbing it naturally. I thought it was cool when she hovered around an all-boys group after a birthday party, angling to get her turn on the handheld they were passing around. That was just the kind of boys’ club I had always wanted to crack. So what if other parents of kids her age fretted that violent videogames would turn their children into psychotic kitten killers? I was proud. My kid didn’t want a Barbie; she wanted a key to the kingdom.
Most of you have probably figured out that I harbor a certain strange fondness for Barbies, myself, but I can certainly understand the preference for videogames. I felt a little nostalgic, reading the article and thinking back over my first forays into gaming. I also felt a little angst, thinking about how Deveny’s daughter might feel a few years from now, if her experiences with the “boys’ club” aspects of gaming culture end up being anything like what many of mine were. I hope that little girls will continue to show an interest in gaming – and that mothers like Deveny will continue to encourage them. In time, there may not be a boys’ club to break into.
A more nuanced reason it’s worth watching is that the story is based not solely on women’s relationships with men (though there is still too much of that for my liking), but on the four lead characters’ relationships with each other. They take care of each other, from the film’s beginning to its end. The movie begins with all four women working as prostitutes, but you never really see them prostitute themselves. The first scene has Cody (Madeleine Stowe) shooting a man who is abusing Anita (Mary Stuart Masterson). When the townspeople are going to hang Cody, Anita, along with Eileen (Andie McDowell) and Lilly (Drew Barrymore) rescue her.
As does Rob’s pleasantly surprised take [blog since removed] on television show Jericho at QueerTransGeek:
…I was worried that Jericho really would be just a great big extravaganza of nationalism and conservatism.
I mean, you’ve got the basic premise that the US has been attacked with nuclear bombs, and that some of the only survivors are the plucky residents of a rural town; it wouldn’t have taken much for the show to have slipped into an oblivion of xenophobia and golden-age nostalgia.
But wonderfully, almost miraculously, Jericho never went there.
Ending the week’s internets reading with a little silliness: Have you ever had a question you wished the Brontë sisters could answer? Ask the Brontë Sisters just might fulfill all of your Q&A dreams.
That’s it for my reading of the internets this week, and for a couple of weeks to come. My illustrious co-bloggers will post about some of their own internets reading while I’m away. I won’t disappear entirely, though – watch out for my coverage of the WisCon panels I’ll be attending!