It occurs to me that people who are only acquainted with me on Tumblr might get the wrong impression about how I feel about comics. After all, a great deal of what I’ve reblogged lately has been articles decrying the anti-feminist everything about the DC reboot. So I thought I would lay out my perspective on the matter, for anyone that cares. This is also to help me articulate what bothers me about these things and why they are wrong.
Main point: The DC reboot pisses me off so much because I want to love comics.
I really, really do. I am a fan of sequential art and what can be achieved in storytelling with that format. I am a fan of superheroes. I love a lot of male superhero characters. I even fangirl over some of them. It’s been problematic for years that there weren’t very many female superhero characters I could really enjoy, but A) my main era of actually reading comic books was at a less socially conscious age and B) I liked the male characters enough to ignore what was going on with the female characters (whether I should have or not). The DC reboot, though, has changed that. The way female characters are being treated in this reboot is something I cannot ignore, something that infuriates me, for two reasons.
1. They’re destroying the female characters that were less problematic before the reboot.
This one is probably the one that bothers me the most as a writer and artist. Why are they changing things about perfectly good characters? The offenders here are the Batman girls and Starfire.
The female characters in Batman have always, I feel, been less problematic. Aside from Ivy, they’ve had less revealing costumes. Harley was sexy in that full-body clown suit, but she wasn’t throwing herself at the reader; her character was not about sex. It was about obsession and how you can be attached to someone who does nothing but hurt you. Hard to feel that in herredesign.
Catwoman- yes, she wore a catsuit, but at least it was somewhat practical, since she was a burglar, and it (at least usually?) wasn’t a catsuit that was missing bits, unlike other characters. She wasn’t willing to change who she was or stop doing what she enjoyed for Bruce, and that unresolved romantic tension made that ship. She was an interesting character and an interesting not-quite-enemy for Bruce in ways that had nothing to do with her physical appearance. Now she’s being advertised primarily as sexy by her book’s writer, her catsuit is half coming off, and she’s having sex with Batman at the end of her first issue (which is a problem because of the change in character and because of the pornshot nature of the ending panel, not because she’s sexually active).
Annnd Starfire. I’ve seen a lot of places talking about how this Starfire is supposed to be sexually liberated. I’m not sure where that argument originated, but Starfire was already sexually liberated. Her whole culture promoted polyamory in a way that sometimes included sex, and that was equally acceptable for both males and females. The change in her character has not ‘sexually liberated’ her. It made her into a woman who uses people as sex toys, because she has no emotional connection with them whatsoever, even the ones she’s theoretically in a relationship with. How is that putting her on a level with men? If I saw a male character written that way, I’d think he was disgusting. No matter how stereotypically attractive his appearance was, I wouldn’t be attracted to his character. I’d consider him prime hated villain material, since he’s clearly accustomed to treating other individuals as less than the sentient beings they are and has difficulty understanding emotions, which is, well, a bit sociopathic. Why is anyone supposed to feel any different about that same character as a woman?
2. It has gone to a level that cannot be ignored in favor of the male characters.
This is pretty simple. When I was reading through my dad’s comics, if I didn’t want to see women treated as sexual objects, I went and read Batman and skipped the issues of the JLA that featured Wonder Woman in favor of the ones with Black Canary (hooker costume aside, Canary is pretty awesome). And we’re told to vote or not vote with our dollar- buy the comics with strong female characters, don’t buy the ones that super sexualize or objectify their characters.
Where am I supposed to go now? I love Batman, but now Catwoman and Harley have this ridiculousness going on, and even if the pornsex and the costume falling off was in Catwoman’s comic, it’s going to intrude on Batman. Harley doesn’t have her own comic (as far as I know?), so Batman is where she’ll be showing up. Even if they do a good job with Batgirl (pleasepleaseplease), there are still going to be these glaring problems. Starfire? Not her own title- she’s in Red Hood and the Outlaws. Again, even if I like the male characters there (don’t know so much about them, to be honest), I can’t just read them and somehow ignore Starfire’s barely clad ridiculous proportions asking to have sex with a friend of the person she’s supposed to be in a relationship with.
And I haven’t seen anything that gives me an indicator there will be good options for female characters in this reboot. If someone has, link me. Please.
That’s my opinion, for what it’s worth (which, to the comic book industry, is apparently nothing).
Let’s see.. Rainbows? Check. Robot Unicorn? Check. Beloved at least slightly queer no matter what they say I mean Robin come on people superhero? Check.