Mindy Newell: Martha Got Me Thinking Again!
I listen to feminists and all these radical gals – most of them are failures. They’ve blown it. Some of them have been married, but they married some Casper Milquetoast who asked permission to go to the bathroom. These women just need a man in the house. That’s all they need. Most of the feminists need a man to tell them what time of day it is and to lead them home. And they blew it and they’re mad at all men. Feminists hate men. They’re sexist. They hate men – that’s their problem. – Jerry Falwell
“Because feminists never disagree with each other. ” – Martha Thomases
That’s what Martha Thomases posted in response to my column last week at the League Of Women Bloggers site on Facebook, where she and I both share opinions and work with other women (such as Trina Robbins, Corrina Lawson, Kate Kotler, and Heidi MacDonald) in the comics and blogging industry.
Martha (whom I have known since I wrote for DC back in the ‘80s) wrote what I think is a brilliant rebuttal last week. So brilliant that I am here to respond. And no, this is not going to become an ongoing issue between co-workers at ComicMix. You are not going to be reading about a “cat-fight” between Newell and Thomases on Bleeding Cool or The Mary Sue or Geek Mom or at The Beat. Because despite the title of Martha’s rebuttal (Girl Fight), you’re not going to see us going at it ala Krystal and Alexis in the swimming pool on Dynasty.
I think that is exactly what is so cool and brilliant about Martha’s column is that it’s a direct stab in the eye to all those who think that “feminism” is one gigantic single-celled amoeba of a socio-political movement.
In other words, just because I can’t get all that excited about Spider-Woman’s ass sticking up in the air on “that” cover doesn’t meant that I don’t agree with Martha about the many shades of feminism. We do come in all shades, in all sizes – some of share opinions and political leanings, some of us don’t. Martha mentioned “Republican Feminists” – click on the link in her column and it leads to a page about First Lady Betty Ford. And First Lady and matriarch of the Bush political dynasty Barbara Bush said. “I hate abortions, but I just could not make that choice for someone else.”
Martha posted a comment to my original column that included the following: “We don’t celebrate the sexuality of “ugly” women (as judged by society). For example, Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids isn’t feared for her powerful sex drive. Instead, we laugh. And that movie deserves credit for acknowledging that she has a sex drive at all. Usually, only “beautiful” women (as judged by society) get to do that. ”
Yeah, we laughed, Martha. McCarthy raising her foot up against the wall of the airplane at a 90o angle as she came on to the air marshal (played by her husband, Ben Falcone) was funny (as well as impressive). But what about the scene where she comes to Kristen Wiig’s home and beats her up over feeling sorry for herself? “Get over it!” she’s telling Kristen. “Embrace yourself! That’s where it starts!” In other words, I think Melissa McCarthy’s real power is in her ability to make people accept her as a fully realized adult woman with a brain, and, yes, a libido that demands to be satisfied.
Yes, she’s overweight by some people’s standards. So what? In the past, buxom, voluptuous women were the ideal – think of the Flemish baroque painter Paul Reubens. And modern painter Lisa Yuskavage’s beautiful and erotic portraits of “fat” women have been exhibited at major art institution around the world, including the Royal Academy of Arts in London, the Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporaneo in Mexico City, and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia.
In response to her critics, who have accused her of painting “pornographic” crap, Ms. Yuskavage said, “it’s actually a reclaiming of power and the ability to depict women in all their forms. ”Melissa McCarthy does the same thing with her acting and comedy, forcing us to accept that “rubenesque” women are sensual and sexy and comfortable in their own bodies.
Leslie Tane, the author of the article on Ms. Yuskavage at www.BeautifulDecay.com, said “The essence of female power is not that women must be desexed, it’s that women can decide how they want to be seen – sexy, silly, powerful, maternal, erotic, masculine, intelligent, profound – any combination of these, and much more. ”
Yeah, I know. Lisa Yuskavage didn’t paint Spider-Woman. A man known for his erotic portraits of women painted her.
So the question is: If Lisa Yuskavage had painted an erotic variant cover for Spider-Woman #1, would there have been such an uproar?
I really wonder about that.
And one more thing….
I’ve been wondering why the owners of Twitter – hmm, since Twitter is on the NYSE, it would be Twitter’s Board of Directors and the company’s prime shareholders – haven’t blocked ISIS (ISIL, IS, whatever) from using their application to post their barbarism? Why are they enabling the publicity these monsters are using to “up” their sociopathic and psychopathic “membership” list?
I’m certainly not saying that using Spider-Woman’s derriere on the cover to promote publicity is the same thing. But Marvel’s got to be digging it, despite “apologies” from Axel Alonso, the company’s editor-in-chief – which by the why made stories in The Hollywood Reporter, Yahoo Lifestyle, and various websites, i.e., more publicity. There’s no doubt in my mind – nor should there be in yours – that Manara’s “variant collectible cover” is going to increase sales.
So maybe we – Mindy Newell, Martha Thomases, all us commentators and bloggers, all us pundits – it even made the “Bullseye” feature in Entertainment Weekly – would have been better off ignoring the whole thing.
Then it would have been just another cover of another comic book.
If a woman had painted that SPIDERWOMAN cover, it might have still put the noses of some people out of joint. Again, we don’t all share a brain.
And if a woman editor had assigned Manara (or someone else) to paint an erotic variant cover, someone might have objected.
And if the story inside had an all-female creative team, there might still be feminists who didn’t like it.
However, none of those things are true.
If they were, it would be an impressive improvement in the status of women in the business of comics.
And, yeah, we should get together and hammer these issues out over drinks and nachos.
I’d love to, Martha!!!!!!! Maybe this weekend?
Margaret Brundage‘s covers for Weird Tales were often condemned as borderline pornographic (by the standards of the day) – even before she was revealed to the readers to be a woman (she signed her work “M. Brundage”, so it was assumed she was male).
That’s really interesting, Mike. I suppose the complaints arose because Margaret (“M”) Brundage wasn’t acting in the proscribed manner a woman was supposed to act like in 1934?