As a feminist and a creator, one of my greatest fears is making something that fails my own belief system. It’s a deep, vast fear and when it gets ahold of me.
But in writing all sorts of material I’ve learned this— sometimes you have to let that material out of you. Not for consumption. Not for production. Not as an end product. But for you to do battle with.
We live in a society that creates the background radiation of our lives. Even if we’re feminist, we live in a patriarchy. Even if we aim to not be racist, we live in a world where whiteness is privileged. These are just two examples out of many, many more.
So, I’ve tried reframing my fears. Instead of worrying whether or not I will produce a work that takes agency away from my female characters or that handles ethnicity in a heavy handed way, I’ve accepted that at some point I will produce work that does realize my own fears. I will, probably, do these things. Or something equally problematic to my own core beliefs.
But I don’t stop there. No, these are the internalized demons I must face for myself. It’s a hard place, to stare unflinchingly at yourself, at your own unrealized assumptions. But it’s necessary work.
We’ve all been exposed to so many tropes, so many clichés, so much prejudice over the years that often those are our knee-jerk creative reactions. We have to acknowledge that. And then we must work through those tropes, those clichés. We have to realize that our “natural” inclination to sideline our female characters for male ones is a result of mass amounts of media consumed that do just that.
Confronting your own prejudices can be terrifying. Then again, fighting your way through them might be liberating.
When Strangers Click, a 2011 documentary about online dating.
It reminds me of that famous Margaret Atwood quote: “Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.” It also reminds me of something written by one of the mods of Sex Worker Problems: “Misandry irritates. Misogyny kills.”
I mean, it’s just true.
“Misandry irritates. Misogyny kills.”
That’s it. That’s it right there.
We [Fraction and his wife, Kelly Sue DeConnick] were pregnant at the time, and while I was out there I started to realize that if I had a daughter, there would come a day when I would have to apologize to her for my profession. I would have to apologize for the way it treats and speaks to women readers, and the way it treats its female characters.
I knew that if we had a daughter, because I know my wife and I know the kind of girl she wants to raise and I know the kind of girl I want to raise, she was going to look at what I did for a living and want to know how the fuck I could stomach it. How could I sell her out like that?” Fraction continued. “That conversation is still coming, and I’m bracing for it in the way that some dads brace for their daughter’s first date or boyfriend. I became acutely aware that I had sort of done that thing that lots of privileged hetero cisgendered white dudes do. ‘I’m cool with women, and that’s enough.’ It’s not enough. It’s embarrassing to say, because we somehow have attached shame to learning and evolving our opinions, culturally, but I became aware that there was a deficiency of and to women in my work, and all I could do at that moment was take care of my side of the street.
Writer Matt Fraction on his role on expanding the profile of female characters in the Marvel Universe. (via goodmanw)
I love this quote. If only all male creators (or just “men”) who think of themselves as “cool with women” would have similar realizations.
I think mainstream American Superhero comics lag a little behind other expressions of teenage life in culture, and if you do that, you’re risking writing comics that appeal to the parents of teenagers rather than the teenagers themselves.
In terms of blocks, I suspect a good chunk of it comes out of comics being a visual medium. Text is a great obfuscator of content. You can read a book, and your parents will never know that it contains matter they’d have trouble with, because they’re never actually going to read it. But comics, being visual, are transparent. At a glance, they can judge it — and so often judge it at a glance, without actually reading it.
So you walk a line. I started “Young Avengers” with the scene for a number of reasons, but one of them was certainly seeing if Marvel would let me do it. If I weren’t able to write that, I’d have had to bow out of the gig, because there would be no way of doing anything I thought worth doing.
Marvel didn’t even raise an eyebrow.
I think the biggest blockade to the creation of the content is creators not choosing to create the content.
IS CREATORS NOT CHOOSING TO CREATE THE CONTENT.
IM LOOKING AT YOU, JJ.(via kawaiiabetic)