Very rarely do I get pissed off about much.
Unless I’m PMSing, and then all bets are off the table.
Normally, I’m a pretty level-headed person and it takes a bit to really shove me over the edge into I MIGHT HAVE TO KILL SOMETHING TO SATISFY MY RAGE.
Recently, however, something was just the right mixture of asshole and stupid to send me into a seething mass of “I hate humanity”.
Over on the Mary Sue there was conversation about ‘vocal minority’ and how we’re being ‘placated’ by the current swathe of female costume changes.
I read the article. I browsed the twitter links. I sat there, seethed, wrote a very nasty blog entry, made it private, and decided not to post it until I got my head back.
f you’re not up on the current superhero news, basically, the Big Two (Marvel/DC) have taken it upon themselves to do a comic book universe wide costume change. Something that has been desperately needed for so long that, to even think about it, makes my head hurt.
I’m totally on board with the changes. I think they’re great. Bit concerned with Wonder Woman’s gauntlets, but I’m pretty sure they’re retractable. On the whole, the new outfits are both practical, representative, and generally awesome that it makes me excited to be able to see them on shelves soon.
So, what had me pissed off?
Well, old boy Erik Larsen, who is part of Image Comics, has taken it upon himself to throw a bitch fit about the changes that have been made to each and every character’s outfit. These comments range from “potato sack”, to “unflattering and shapeless”, to calling out the physics of the comic book world and how they’re broken anyway so it’s perfectly okay to have women in impractical outfits because reasons.
All of these comments, all of these ‘mansplanations’ are stupid, immature, and originally made this post one of those kind that you NEVER post no matter how badly you want too.
I am offended by all of them.
1. You do not lament a 14 year old’s girl costume because it isn’t ‘flattering’ and ‘uninteresting’. Kamala Kahn is the FIRST GODDAMNED TEENAGER WHO HAS TAKEN UP THE MARVEL MANTLE. Not only that, but she is of Middle Eastern descent and that costume is HER CULTURAL IDENTITY. You don’t take away cultural identity. You don’t even appropriate it because you think ‘hey, why not I can do the thing’. You sit there and read the comic because it’s awesome, well-written, and a GIANT leap forward in the realm of representation.
2. You do not call something a ‘potato sack’ because the costume isn’t up to your standards, whatever they may be. In a universe where women are a) drawn stick thin b) placed in obviously sexualised poses c) drawn for the male gaze d) are a product of male fantasy, sitting there and judging both Spider Woman and Captain Marvel for outfits that are both practical and (in the case of Captain Marvel) fitting for a former Air Force pilot AND an homage to where she got her powers, is COMPLETELY OUT OF LINE. Because something isn’t ‘sexy’ or ‘flattering’ DOESN’T MEAN THAT IT ISN’T OKAY TO HAVE. Women are more than the sum of their parts.
3. Don’t even bring physics into this. There is suspension of disbelief and then there is drawing for the 18-34 male demographic. Shut your face with your physics explanation, it is so FAR REMOVED from relevant conversation that relevant conversation is looking around going ‘what happened?’.
But for all of these things, for all of the stupid, there is one that shines above all of them for me. Not just as a woman, either, but as an artist.
In sum: “shoulder guards aren’t sexy”.
I’m sorry, what?
I didn’t realise that my shoulders had to be protected by something sexy. When I was in the Navy I didn’t sit there and argue about the vest I had to wear TO PROTECT ME FROM THE BULLETS. Did I hate the thing? God yes. It was heavy and made my shoulders ache, but I didn’t complain, I just wished it had some kind of shape to it so my boobs didn’t have to be crushed every time I had to tighten the f&^king thing.
Sexy was the last thought on my mind protecting HVAs from terrorists. I didn’t look at my shipmates and ask HOLD ON, DOES THIS VEST MAKE ME LOOK FAT? before I went out on the 12 hour Suez Canal watch.
It’s the idea that, when I sit down to draw, THE FIRST THING on my mind is ‘how am I going to make my female characters sexy today?”
Because, you know, that’s the thing my instructors are looking for when I turn in my homework. THAT’S THE THING that will make or break my grade. THAT is the shining rule in all of animation and comic book art.
How are YOU going to be sexy, female that I haven’t drawn, yet?
Because when I DO, eventually, draw comic books, the obvious stipulation is that my females have to be sexy, clothed in impractical armor, or they won’t get drawn at all.
I am both offended as an artist and a woman.
And so completely done with stupid.
Check it out, you can have any opinion you want. There are people out there, myself included, that dig Wonder Woman’s new look, Kamala’s and Carol’s new outfits. There are also people out there that can’t even with any of them.
That’s fine. Any and every opinion is valid. Even the ones where people say “but it’s easier to..” or “she’s an Amazon [in reference to Wonder Woman] she doesn’t need…”, “symbolically…” .
Yes. With all the things. I respect your opinions. Opinions are what get the conversation ball rolling. But there is a stark difference between an opinion and getting up on your high horse as the god of all things women in comic books and coming down on other artists for their creative direction like King Kong on a really bad LSD trip.
There’s voicing your opinion, there’s voicing your opinion with reasons to back it up, and then there’s opening your mouth to complain that you don’t like what’s going on and can we go back to the way I want things to be? and mansplaining to deflect rather than saying something like “huh, not the direction I thought they would go.” and be done with it.
Change sucks. No one likes it, but it’s here to stay.
The ladies have new duds. If you don’t like them, don’t read the comic books.
It is still one of those mediums that depends very heavily on readership and can be swayed one way or the other.
You remember what happened to the last time Wonder Woman had a costume change?