Today, the president of Dark Horse walked past another female editor and my (adjoining) offices and stopped to call in that he’d just learned that we don’t exist, because someone else (I didn’t catch who) has been going on about how there are no women in comics. In retrospect, I should have asked if that meant we could have the rest of the day off, but it also makes a nice segue into one of my pet peeves.
A lot of the problem with how sexism in comics is addressed in media, and one of the reasons those reports are so easy for the comics industry to blow off, is that the reports of sexism in comics are almost always built around the essential fallacy that there are no–or painfully few–women working in the comics industry.
This fallacy seems to stem from a couple main sources. First of all, when the general news media (and even a lot of more specialized media) reports on comics, it often does so with a conception of the industry that begins and ends with writers and artists on mainstream (read: superhero) titles–who are, in fact, overwhelmingly male (which is a problem, but not the same problem as which it’s often framed).
Second, the same media’s understanding and portray of comics seem to be based largely on the perpetuation of a stock of convenient sterotypes, with little attention to or examination of reality. Even generally comics-friendly articles are often full of astonishment that comics readers (and, to some extent, creators) aren’t all mouth-breathing recluses who subsist entirely on pizza and bondage fantasies in their parents’ basements–and, it should go without saying, all male.
Look, there are absolutely sexism (among other -isms) and misogyny in comics, and in the comics industry, and comics culture, and much of what passes for comics “journalism.” The majority of the creators who get high profile, highly paid art and writing gigs are male. Sexual harassment is rampant at conventions and comics shops (and within the industry, although that’s something I’ve not experienced first-hand). These things are terrible, and they need to be called out and addressed, loudly and persistently.
But not by ignoring the many, many women who make their living and art in comics. Every time we are conveniently erased because some pop-cult page needs an appropriately sensational headline, or some hack journalist or blogger decides to lionize the lady he’s profiling by painting her as a lone Amazon in Man’s World, we fade that much further into the gutters.
This isn’t Man’s World. It’s ours–all of ours.
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