#1: Women in Geekland – Nothing More Than Glorified Eyecandy?

Lady Death and her ‘Crusader’

Because no creature of evil can defend against the MIGHT of a Crusader’s sword.

 

So why is it that girls always seem to be dealt the bad hand in video games, comics, anime, and movies?  Heck, that’s an easy one to answer.

It’s because guys make the majority of the market.  We all know it.  But does that justify things?  Should female otaku and girl nerds stand for a community SO used to seeing women in submissive/background roles, that even when they try to place women in a more complimenting role, they just inadvertently press onto them all the stereotypes of the female gender?  I’ve read comics, played games, and watched shows that’ve successfully managed to undermine female achievement through such pitfalls as, “Sentementality,” or “Sexuality.”  …Personally, I think it’s all baloney.

Maybe it’s just because most of these guys (in this world of action figures, special edition trading cards, and cosplay) can’t relate to women.  I mean, let’s face it, alot of anime and video game fans are socially inept.  Or maybe they’re just misogynists who LIKED the big-breasted beauties of the comic/anime/video game universes.

Now…I’m not trying to seem like a crazed femi-nazi…but it DOES get a bit frustrating walking into a comic book store only to earn the suspicious and condescending glares of the guys present there.  My friend and I lament the fact that we, as girls, can hardly EVER walk into these sorts of stores without feeling like aliens.  And what gives?  Women read comics too, and they play games, and they watch anime…granted they are the minority in terms of the marketplace—but does that justify overlooking us?

Others don’t think so.  Through a serendipidous entry into Google search, I stumbled across a winner of a site called Girl-Wonder.org, which is (yes) a feminist site designed to fight misogyny in comics.  Now, normally I shy away from this sort of thing because alot of times I find these places to be a little too extreme…but I think these people are very fair.  They aren’t asking for girls in comics to be made stronger.  They aren’t asking for them to be made ‘ugly’ or ‘intelligent’.  They’re only asking that women in comics be depicted REALISTICALLY.  That means without being objectified, without being shoved unfairly to the side, without being used as tools for violence and degradation

The site mascot, Stephanie Brown, was Batman’s ‘Girl Wonder’.  Her death in 2004 raised a very big uproar among many fans—not so much because she was killed, but rather, how she was killed.  I cannot claim myself to be a Batman reader (as of yet, that is…I plan on getting into the story through those big anthologies they’ve got) but I read background information on Stephanie Brown’s death and read some interesting discussions in the forums.  I quickly realized that what DC had done really was unfair.  As a girl, a budding comic-geek, and an aspiring comic writer, I cannot stand for this sort of attitude to continue.  It’s ignorant and old-fashioned—a trend that hasn’t stopped since the fifties for cryin’ out loud.

If you look at the bigger picture, I think we can all agree that comics have entered a bit of a slump in the past few years.  It’s been largely due to its inability to attract new readers.  These movies they keep coming out with have helped, but the majority of comic readers are still of older age…and male.  They haven’t tried to change their ways.  It’s a stubborness that has fueled the continuous refusal to give comic heroine’s a better deal.

I don’t know if any of you have tried, but jumping into the middle of a long-running comic series is like jumping dead into a hurricane.  Marvel and DC have made it extremely difficult for new readers to get interested in their products because they’re too busy making more comic books for their older readers—the readers who have been reading since they were kids

But that isn’t right.

The long-time readers are beginning to stop collecting, and the storylines and alternative universes are getting so muddled that it’s no WONDER no one new has joined the ship.  So what should Marvel and DC do?

Try marketing to the youth.  Try marketing to the women.  Try spreading to other demographics and revitalizing the industry.  Didn’t I say that the comic business was elitist?  It’s a bitch to get in, and easy as hell to fall out.  Women and minorities are misrepresented in stories.  Themes that had been done to death are recycled for another regurgitated tale of heroism.

How about something new?

Comics have the potential to do so much socially, artistically, hell—ECONOMICALLY.  Some comic creators have already set off doing their own thing, doing just what should be done:  Stopping the stereotypes.  But they don’t get enough attention.  People aren’t hearing about them, because big time comic book companies are blocking our view with their antiquated themes and characters.  It turns potential readers off. 

So all in all, I think the last thing we’re going to have to admit is this:  the big-boys are going to have to clean up their acts and try making their products more universal if we want to see the industry pick up again.

And that means stopping discrimination and eliminating many archetypes.  No more Stephanie Brown’s.  It’s not just good for women, it’s good for comics.  Period.

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