Mindy Newell: I Am So Tired Of This Bullshit
Just read Emily’s column (which is here) about her, uh, misadventures as a woman who loves comics.
Next year will mark twenty years since I first wrote Jenesis for DC’s New Talent Program. And for the last twenty years everything that Emily said last week has been said ad nauseum by me, Kim Yale, Mary Mitchell, Jo Duffy, Marie Javins, Gail Simone, Joyce Brabner… and the list goes on. Every woman involved in the comics world – writer, artist, colorist, letterer, inker, reader – has experienced the overt and covert misogyny typified by Emily’s experience in that comic book store. Every one of us has been on a Women In Comics panel once, twice or more during our professional lives. We’ve all talked about changing people’s attitudes, fighting the good fight, gaining respect. The faces on the panels, the faces in the audiences, they all change, but in truth, nothing changes.
It’s all the same old guano, just ladled out of a different tureen.
I’ve always said that the comics world is a microcosm of Hollywood, and we’ve all heard or read the stories of what it’s like to be a woman in Hollywood: the struggle for respect, for work, for equal pay (well, maybe except for Meryl Streep). But now I’m thinking, maybe I’ve been wrong. I’m thinking right now that the comics world is a microcosm of American society.
After all, this is an America in which a female law student is called a whore on a nationally syndicated radio show because she wants to be able to get birth control pills through her insurance plan. An America in which the House of Representatives just voted for the 33rd time to repeal the Affordable Care Act – “Obamacare” – which improves women’s access to maternity care, covers birth control without the need for a copay, and bars insurance companies from continuing to discriminate against women. An America in which women in the military who are raped are told to “put up and shut up.” An America in which women are told to hold an aspirin between their thighs – Bwha-ha-ha! That’s a humdinger! – to avoid pregnancy.
And it ain’t just comics or Hollywood. Female nurses – that’s me, folks – make 86.6% of what their male counterparts make, even with the same experience and education. And women in general still make $0.77 on the dollar compared to male earnings.
So what do you do about it? Don’t vote for Romney, that’s for sure. No way is he gonna improve women’s rights.
But what about in the comics world? We’re not quite at the level of law or medical school, where female students now dominate the classrooms, but women are more prevalent than ever in the field, as readers and creative folk. And most of them, I am willing to stake money on, are involved in comics because they love comics, not because their boyfriends or their fathers or their brothers dragged them to a comics shop or to the San Diego Comic-Con.
In other words:
I am woman,
Hear me roar,
In number too big to ignore….
Sorry, I forgot, this is the post-women’s liberation era.
Seriously, my advice to Emily and every other woman out there when confronted with a misogynistic geek?
Laugh at ‘em.
And watch their paraphernalia –
Well, to paraphrase George Constanza:
“The water was cold! It’s shrinkage!”
TUESDAY MORNING: Michael Davis Post-Con
TUESDAY AFTERNOON: Emily S. Whitten Post-Civil War
If I might channel my inner Michael Davis, the solution is to make our own. Don’t rely on DC, Marvel, Dark Horse, et al to hire women. They will only do it when it makes sense to their bottom line. When we create our own (and support other women who do work we like), we’ll simultaneously create more opportunities for women to do more.
BTW, did you mean the Emily column you linked to, or this one: http://www.comicmix.com/columns/2012/07/10/emily-…
The second, RogerK.
There’s cause for serious hope. Small steps, but important ones. A survey of full-time employees aged below 30 actually shows women are literally out-earning their male counterparts. Now given the 2008 brick wall it’s quite possible that the men aren’t getting what their older counterparts received and women’s pay remained static, but these days more women are attending and graduating college then men.
So the IDEA of equal pay for equal work is being put into practice at a faster rate. I think it’s like gay marriage; it’s happening and it won’t be stopped.
As for the old-boy network in comics and the rest of Hollywood, well, inbred sophistry is endemic to the industry. Martha’s advice (posted here above or below; who the hell knows?) is very well-taken although I’m essentially opposed to separatist movements. Marvel does seem to have a lot more women working for them these days.
My point wasn’t to be separatist, but to stop waiting for an invitation. If you have something to say, some story to tell, tell it.
That’s true of all art forms. Comics is unique in that it’s sequentially collaborative — not to say there aren’t one-person projects; MoCCA is full of ’em. My sentence structure was awkward and misleading; my bad.
First, you linked to the wrong column..the link is to a column about Emily reading web comics. Second, just sticking with comics for a second..I’m sorry..I chalk it up to extreme laziness and idiocy in a disappointingly high percentage of comic shop owners and employees…Just try talking to them about “Silver Sable” and “Heroes for Hire” and other smaller titles versus big crossovers and big titles…Luckily, I have a very smart comic shop owner near me who makes virtually everyone feel welcome…To make it a misogynistic issue is absurd and increasingly frustrating..and I won’t even touch the rant against America for now
The link was fixed, and thank you Roger and Jerome for pointing it out.
As for the “rant against America” — since when is employing your first amendment rights AGAINST America? The United States is a work-in-progress; we can use all the suggestions we can get and we SHOULD be able to discuss them in public without one’s patriotism being called into question.
Jerome, it wasn’t a rant against America, it was a rant against the current Repugnicants.
Well, Mindy, it seems as though Jerome seems to conflate “Republican/Conservative” with “American.” So, it’s pretty easy to understand his confusion.
Excellent points. However, I have one correction….do you mean it has been _thirty_ years since Jenesis? I say that because I remember reading that story back in 1983. :)
Here we go…Repugnicants? Really? When one side labels the other in such a manner as to invalidate their opinions simply because well, they dare to have different opinions..no true discussion can happen…and sorry, Mindy, but you are the one who decided to go from talking about the comics industry to it “being a microcosm of American society” and then cherry picking incidents that make women seem oppressed, as if we’re under Taliban rule or something…I get tired of the outrage meter constantly being turned up to 10…More women are in college than me..Who cares? Rush Limbaugh made a stupid statement!…Women live far longer..So what?! We’ll convcentrate on how repealing Obamacare is part of a “War on Women” rather than the 832 other things people find wrong or potentially dangerous about it!..And getting back to comics for a second, it is ironic that you have a picture of the “new” Captain Marvel..I for one liked Carol Danvers as Ms. Marvel/Warbird…She had her own identity and was being hyped as Marvel’s Wonder Woman and was, yes, sexier looking…It infuriates me when people bash comics for portraying women heroes as a physical ideal…I don’t see people clamoring for Danny DeVito to play Superman or Jim Parsons to play Thor, do you?
The artwork accompanying Mindy’s piece was my selection, JM, partially because I had just read her not-debut second appearance in the latest issue of the Unconscious Spider-Man and her dialog reminded me of a kinder, gentler version of our columnist. (OK, Mindy; that’s just a joke!) I thought it was appropriate to the theme, eye-catching (hey, that’s important) and a whole lot less subtle than the art I used to illuminate my column today. I could write a book on why I chose that cover. But I wouldn’t publish it.
Yeah, the outrage meter is up to 10. It doesn’t bother me in a by-lined column, but I agree that there’s way too much of it these days. My response has been to take MY outrage meter down to about… well… nine…
Danny DeVito as Superman? I’m there, as long as Tim Burton doesn’t direct it. As for portraying women as an ideal, yes, you’re right: we get no criticism when we portray men as an ideal, and just about the only men I know who look like Superman or Batman who are comics fans are actors. Trust me, I understand where you’re coming from: I edited American Flagg! AND Black Canary.
Jerome, just so you know, I voted for “Pappy Bush” and I liked John Huntsman a lot. I call the current crop of Republicans “Repugnanticans” because they are inflexible, parochial, close-minded, disrespectful to the office of the President of the United States, and, btw, showing way too much hints of racism for my taste. They have forgotten that they were elected to uphold the Constitution of the United States, not Grover Norquist’s “No Tax Raise” pledge. Richard Nixon started the Environmental Protection Agency and Ronald Reagan raised taxes. Eisenhower is responsible for our interstate highway system, i.e., the infrastructure that was crucial in making America the economic powerhouse of the world. All these men would be run out of the Republican party as it is today.
And I did point out that there are more women in medical and law school these days than men. And there are more women in college these days then men, you’re right. But the economic fact is that those women will still be earning less than the men, with the same education and experience, will earn less over the course of their working lifetime.
Finally, you seemed to have missed the point of my column…that there will always be “misognynistic geeks” in the world who want women to stay “barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen,” and that my advice to my fellow women is to laugh at them and get on with your life and career.
You tell’em, Mindy! However…I’ve never had the pleasure of being on a panel with you — and I bet it would’ve been fun — but I’ve been put on many a Women in Comics panel with mainstream women artists and writers (even, in certain cases, the WIVES of male cartoonists! — what’s that about?) and I’ve had the sorry experience of being the only one on the panel who spoke up about sexism, the others being too afriad of losing whatever pathetic gains they may have made in the industry, so I’ve had the experience of women who in private have complained to me about the treatment of women, but up there on the panel they’re saying there’s no sexism and everything’s fine. Thank YOU for speaking up!
Yeah, well, I’ve paid the price, Trina. People don’t like people who speak up. In comics OR nursing.
But I can live with that.