Comic Book Feminism

June 13, 2013 § Leave a comment

I’ve been hearing a lot of comic book fans calling themselves “feminists” lately, notable since comic books are historically viewed as one of the most sexist of mediums.  A lot of this talk has to do with how much people love the new Captain Marvel, a book with a clear feminist intent, the talk about Scarlett Witch being in Joss Whedon’s Avengers 2, and the characterization of Lois Lane in the new Superman film.  After years of women rejecting the feminist label (mainly due, I suspect, to the lack of femininity in the image of Second Wave feminists) it’s a relief to see women reclaiming the name.

Personally, I’m more of a Moonstone fan than a Captain Marvel fan (you’ll only get that if you read the comics); and similar to the villain dressing up as the hero, readers have to be wary of recuperation, as in, mainstream media appropriating radical ideas and neutralizing of them by expressing them through the perspective of the hegemony.  Didja follow that?  The prime example is “Girl Power” as expressed by the Spice Girls.  Not feminist.

And just because Lara Croft shoots guns, it doesn’t make her feminist.

Confused?  That’s actually a pretty good sign that you’re a feminist.  Third Wave feminism is less than cohesive and less than clear on its goals, but part of that is a reflection of how diverse it is.

We’ll give it some clarity with a quote from comic book writer Gail Simone’s 2011 “letter” to Modern Feminism:

Being a feminist isn’t always easy. It is an ideology that is constantly and deliberately vilified and diminished and mocked. But the central message is so simple that even its enemies have to face the truth of it.  The message is, no one should be limited in what they can accomplish for reasons of gender. It is no different in its core principle than any other human rights issue. Everything else is just a distraction. If you believe in human decency, then you believe in some form of  feminism, no matter what televangelists and pandering politicians try to make people believe. But we have a responsibility to get that message out there both by communication and, even more importantly, by example, by the way we choose to live our lives.

Sounds simple, but like Simone says, not easy, especially in comics.  Gail Simone takes over Red Sonja, staring in July.

“My sword is up here, pal.”


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