Saturday, July 04, 2009

Marvel Divas: Women in Comics Pt 2

Part 1 looked at the cover and title of this book. Part 2 now examines RELATIONSHIPS.

The reason i am writing this is that i really find a lot of the issues that are present in Divas are symptomatic of the whole industry. Women are treated as "different", and they just happen to like books that are meant for boys/men. This is the same in gaming - games are for men, games for girls are for... girls. This doesn't need to be the case and i am unsure why both these industries are going in this direction. Anyway, more on that later, focusing on relationships + divas.

Apparently any book that wants to entice the female readership has to have lots of relationship stuff. Divas lays this on heavily. Whether is it is Angelica lamenting ex-boyfriends, the women gossiping about the men currently wooing them, or their "how we met" story where they were looking for love (which was funny! more of this!), it is all about the relationships.

I do like relationships, i enjoy knowing how the capes interact. But i like it as a side note. I read comics because i like seeing the baddies get theirs, super-villains plotting, all that stuff.

I don't think that just because the book has four women in it, it needs to be all talk talk talk. I would love to see more than a page of these women doing SUPER things. Otherwise, why am i bothering to read a book written by a dude, about women, when i could read the same premise anywhere else? If i wanted this, why am i not watching "Sex and the City" (snerk)?

And the thing is, this book, it seems to play on the "bitches be crazy" stereotype. Voodoo asks Photon to stay the night, she takes off (literally, flies away in her bra and panties), bitches be crazy, and then she spouts to her friends "I want to move at my own pace, not at the pace of some MAN!". I have to say it, honey, if you like men, they are going to be involved in "the moving at your pace" -- they have to know what the pace is. YOU HAVE TO TELL THEM. (sorry, this isn't the reaction the book wants me to have -- "YOU GO GIRL, DON'T LET A MAN ASK YOU TO STAY AND CUDDLE WITH HIM!".)
Similarly, Mr Moneybags wants to pay for Felicia's office space, she gets mad (and doesn't say "you are taking over interactions that are mine", she just blows her top at him), bitches be crazy. Because honestly, these men are left in the dust, scratching their heads.
Granted, we see it from the point of view of the women, and their friends are supportive "gawd, how could he DO that?" but let's be honest, if we are dudes reading this book, we realize that Voodoo and Moneybags are left totally confused, and these women don't SAY WHY THEY ARE MAD. Because you know, he is a businessman, and would not be open to a business proposal. You let this man sleep with you, but you literally try to scratch out his eyes when he tries to support your business.
You sleep with a man, and then take off when he says "why don't you sleep here". Come on, this is nearing high school drama.
Perhaps we are framing this conversation vs the Firestar announcement. If this is the case, then it doesn't take away from the fact that these women are portrayed as overly emotional.

Tiresome. They say they don't want to be the "damsel in distress"... I would be okay with this if there were the friend who were the voice of reason, who said "what did you expect these men to do? They are people too!".
I feel weird defending the men in this book, but i feel like the depictions of the women are weak and a bit stereotypical. Felicia leaps at the man she is in love with (his words) with claws out, for goodness sakes. I feel like this is heading towards a "and then the characters grew up" subplot, in that they realize they were being a little much... but then that is "women are so emotional" and that is just... *headdesk*... i painfully painfully dread the makeup scene, where these women say "I'm so sorry i freaked out baby". I DO NOT WANT THIS. THESE WOMEN BUNCH BADDIES IN THE FACE AND THEY ARE ALL BASKET CASES THAT I WOULD YELL AT, WERE I FRIENDS WITH THEM, WHICH I AM NOT BECAUSE THEY ARE FAKE AND NOW I AM IN CAPS LOCK AND CANT EXIT GRACEFULLY.

Sorry, was i being too emotional there?

We don't need any more "women are hysterical". No more fake births, no more teams of "crazy" women being called the "hysteries" or whatever it was... no more, please.

Why do they have to act this way? Why?? Why do we have to have the "sorry i was so emotional" scene later? Because you KNOW it is coming. This book isn't showing the lives of women, this book is showing the lives of men, putting up with women. Everyone has gone through an irrational moment, but these are grown women, not high-school teens. By virtue of being comic heroes, and ageless they have dated more men than anyone living. Come oooooooooooooon.

I think this concept could be a goldmine. This is a GOOD premise. These women could ask, and explain all the funny things that female fans joke about! Do they wear bras? How does Firestar's clothing not burn off her? Where do you even get these costumes? Do the guys like the women because of their super identities or for themselves (haha, Felicia, who only likes Spider-Man and not Peter Parker). The list is endless. Ask any female comic fan.

Further, with the everyday lives of heroes, there is also some... well... hero-ing! I thought that the Ms Marvel book balanced this well, she went on a date, worried that he wouldn't call, fought some crime... all in a day's work. Maybe the purpose of this book is all the talking, and they think that the readership will be turned off by fighting? If so... where are they trying to lead these new readers? And current readers are waiting for fights that never happen? I enjoyed the 1 page of Photon/Cpt. Marvel/Monica fighting the vampire. Honestly, i liked the hookup with Brother Voodoo (tho, he is big time now, i don't know how that will go), but the flying off is ... sigh.

What i am trying to say here is - the thing that makes superheroes different from the women in Sex and the City is that they are SUPER. There are other mediums that do the "4 gal-pals" better, and you have to play to your strengths. Your strength is what makes these women different from the rest of the world, not what makes them the same. yes, some funny relationship stuff is good, especially when the dude is also super. THAT is different. I want to read about that. Giving one of the characters cancer to create melodrama -- i do not want that. (Because Firestar is too stupid to think about preventing her own cancer, when she has had warning signs before. Makes me want to punch things. Also, she has endless eye makeup that makes her tears black, and is unable to wipe her face)

Yes, some women enjoy hearing about the relationships of the characters in the books that they read. But that doesn't mean it has to be the only thing.

These women seem to have lost their, well, FIRE in this book. They mope and complain, when they could be SO MUCH MORE. They are becoming caricatures of themselves. I mean, really, CANCER? REALLY? That was done in Sex and the City. Just in case anyone was keeping track. So in this book we have gossip, men, Cancer.
Next issue, shoe shopping? Oh wait... Cancer. Shoe shopping to cheer her up?
Get her some Wolvie blood, she will be good as new. Then the shoe shopping.

I want this book to be good. I love Hellcat, I love Firestar. Really, what women want out of a book is just not to be patronized. I don't need a hammer that is coloured pink to know that i am allowed to use it. I just don't want to feel embarrassed for a character when i read about them. I don't want to feel that i am not welcome... I want to feel that the characters are treated like people, written like people, react like people... and don't look like this:

We don't need to have relationship-heavy, melodramatic, all-female cast books. They can be fun, they can be funny, but they don't need to try so damn hard. Someone get Kathryn Immonen, stat. Cuz man, the Hellcat trade was amazing, and funny, and kooky, and wonderful. Everything i want this book to be. Still 75% of the book left. So you know, anything could happen.

This entry was a bit more rambly than i meant it to be, but it says what i want it to say.

Next, Marvel Divas: Women in Comics - Please take your boobs out of my face.


Brinstar said...

This sounds like every single possible stereotype about women in relationships that men could possibly put together, vomited up in comic book form. Who is the target audience? Women comic book readers? If so: why the creators insulting them with this trash? Women who read comic books already put up with so much ridiculous misogyny in the storylines without having to be subjected to even more of this nonsense in such a patronising way (e.g. they make comic books targeted to women, but THEY ARE DOING IT WRONG).

Twyst said...

It is tricky. They are trying. I sincerely believe that this writer doesn't think that it is sexist, and doesn't see the problem with the work. That doesn't dismiss it however.
And yes, i am totally baffled by who they think the audience is. I really think it is for dudes, but they have tried to market it to women.
The book could have been worse. But that doesn't make it better.
I hope to gods that it gets better. Srsly tho, if there is the scene where Black Cat and Photon go to their dudes and say "sorry i was so emo", and i will rage.

Brinstar said...

They get points for trying, but if they are genuinely marketing this to women, they need to actually market the book to women instead of paying lip service -- pretending that they're trying to court women comic book readers -- but then actually targeting dudes.

Twyst said...

Agreed, fully. It would help a lot to know who this book was for, because it seems very unsure.

I posted elsewhere:

1 - the solicit said "let your inner divas out, fellas"
- so it is for dudes

2 - the cheesecake cover
- so it is for dudes
- also turns off female readers

3 - the talking about relationships
- so dudes think this is for women

4 - the "hot fun"
- trying to get men to read it, but no hot fun = wtf
- also turns off female readers

5 - the last few pages with firestar melodrama
- so this is for women?

6 - the title, Divas
- not sure who wants to read anything about a Diva.

7 - the women being emo basketcases who react to situations like they are teenagers
- so this is for .... ?!

8 - Joe Q telling people not to read anything marvel if you think it is sexist
- wtf srsly, do you not want anyone to read it?