Given that this weekend is New York Comic Con I’ve decided to stray a little from gaming and focus more on Comic Books, specifically women’s portrayal in them. Not unlike gaming culture, more women are reading comic books but are not being represented accurately or fairly.
The over the top sexualisation, objectification and violence which happens to these female superhero characters, has been documented throughout the years by people such as Gail Simone in her writing on women in refrigerators. It’s not just these factors which make me wonder why the comic industry hates women, there have been too many examples.
Their marketing techniques are rarely aimed at women and when they are it tend to be demeaning and downright sexist. As you can see from the article it’s not just a specific age group either it’s the female gender as a whole. When they do create good strong female characters we hardly ever see them. For Thor’s sake we have had to create a test that prevents comic writers from portraying us as just objects! It is a constant uphill battle to be a female comic reader these days and this article explains why better than I ever could.
I think what has tipped me over the edge is that in light of all of these failures Comic Con’s where supposed to be a safe haven. But that was all shattered when New York Comic Con announced Mike Tyson as the Special Guest of the convention. NYCC had claimed that it was striving to create a safe and welcoming environment for women and then they announced that a convicted rapist was going to be the guest of honor.
Paul Anthony Short, a women’s rights activist, feminist,accomplished author of The Memory Wars who writes good, strong female characters and a friend of mine described the situation surrounding the controversy best:
“Inviting a rapist to be a guest of honor at a comics convention, given the issues surrounding sexual harassment, women’s rights, and female representation in geek culture is an insult to everyone who’s ever suffered from sexual assault, particularly those who’ve had to watch their attackers go unpunished or be treated like they’re the victims in the media.”
I think that it’s moments like this that make me feel that yes, the comics industry does hate me. If they didn’t, we would have seen more significant change by now. Yes, they may be trying to employ more female writers and yes they are trying to make a more diverse range of characters but it’s actions and issues like these that set those things back a dozen steps.
What I want from the comics industry, as a fan and a woman, is to at least be acknowledged. It’s great to have more female writers and creators but it isn’t enough when I feel marginalized by the comic industry itself, especially Marvel and DC because they have the most pull when it comes to audience and media.
Will I, or women in general, ever get this recognition? Only time will tell but I hope we do, sooner rather than later.