Tagged: women in comics

John Ostrander: Twenty Years Gone

It was a lifetime ago. It was just moments gone by.

Tuesday will mark twenty years since my wife, Kimberly Ann Yale, died.

I’ve been working on a column discussing the passage for some days but haven’t been satisfied with it. Sometimes you try to say something and can’t find the right things to say. I’ve come across an old column I wrote ten years ago. Just about everything I wanted to say I said back then so, if y’all don’t mind, I’ll just reprint it here.

Today is Thanksgiving and a hearty Happy Thanksgiving to you all. As it turns out, it’s also the birthday of my late wife, Kimberly Ann Yale, who would have been 54 today. This is a day for stopping and giving thanks for the good things in your life and so I’ll ask your indulgence while I remember one of the best things in mine, which was Kim.

For those who don’t know her, never met her, how do I describe her to you? My god, where do I begin? Physically – heart shaped face, megawatt smile, big blue eyes. Champagne blonde hair which, in her later years, she decided should be red. That decision was pure Kimmie. She looked good, too, but she also looked good bald. More on that in a few moments.

She was buxom and damn proud of it. Referred to her breasts as “the girls” and was fond of showing them off. She was about 5’8” so that when she was in heels we were about the same height. Basically had an hourglass figure although sometimes there were a few more seconds packed into that hourglass than maybe there should have been. We both fought weight problems and I still do.

All that, however, is merely a physical description. Photographs could tell you as much and more and still tell you so little about Kim. Not who she was. Kim was an extrovert to the point of being an exhibitionist. She was sometimes flamboyant; I have described her as the world’s most innocent narcissist. She loved the spotlight but with the delight of a child. Yet, she also loved nothing better than to be in the corner of a tea shoppe or coffee house, drinking her cuppa, writing in her journal, totally absorbed into herself and the moment.

She also genuinely loved people. Loved being around them, hearing their stories, telling her own. She had one of the world’s great infectious laughs. If you were in a comedy on stage, you wanted Kim in your audience. She got the jokes, too, including some the rest of the audience missed.

She loved music, all kinds of music, and could talk knowledgeably about it for hours. Hell, Kim could hold forth on almost anything for hours. She loved classical, the blues, rock and roll, soundtracks to movies – everything. She loved movies, she loved books, she loved TV. She adored Doctor Who; we, in fact, met at a Doctor Who Convention.

She loved comics and she loved the idea of women in comics. At many different Cons, she would chair the Women in Comics panel and, in Chicago especially where she did it for several years, people learned to come because it would often be one of the most interesting, thought-provoking panels at the Con. She was part of the early organizational meetings that resulted in Friends of Lulu and their annual award for the best new female comics creator is named for Kim. She would have been very proud of that.

How do I describe our relationship – what we gave to each other? One example – she brought cats into my life, I brought dogs back into hers. She made me more of a cat person; I brought out the dog lover in her.

Other things she brought to me – her love of Westerns and of the Civil War. I had dismissed Westerns as “oaters” and “horse opera” but Kim patiently took me through the best ones, showed me the difference from a John Ford western and a Budd Boetticher one. Without Kim, there never would have been The Kents or my Marvel westerns, Blaze of Glory and Apache Skies.

On our honeymoon, Kim wanted to go to Fredericksburg, Virginia, so we could walk some of the Civil War battlefields in the area. I was a little dubious at first but went along because it was important to her. My god, I learned so much walking those battlefields. I don’t know if you can understand those battles or the War without doing that. We would later add others like Shiloh and Gettysburg to the list. Amazing, bonding, illuminating moments.

Kim and I worked together as co-writers on several projects, notably Suicide Squad, some Munden’s Bar stories, and a tale of Young John Gaunt that ran in the back of GrimJack during its final year at First Comics. I think Kim was a finer writer than I am. I’m at heart a storyteller and I’m mostly about what happens next; I turn a good phrase and I know plot, character, theme and so on but Kim was also into the composition and the polish on the story. She would go over and over things while I’d push on. I wish she had written more on her own; at the end of her life, so did she.

Kim also introduced me to the fabled “Bucket of Suds,” a wonderful bar in Chicago that was the nearest earthly equivalent I know to Munden’s Bar and to which we, in turn, introduced many folks from the comic book community, especially during the Chicago Comiccon. The owner, Joe Danno, was a mixologist and could invent a new drink on the spot in addition to creating his own cordials. The Bucket not only served drinks but, for many years, served home made pizza, burgers, breadsticks.

Joe also created his own catsup, mustard, bar-b-que sauce, and hot sauce. Want to see our esteemed editor, Mike Gold, both drool and cry at the same time? Get him talking about the hot sauce and the bar-b-que sauce, neither of which is available any more. (Oh, the humanity!) I set a scene in an issue of Hawkworld at the Bucket and got photo reference for our penciler, Graham Nolan, which he used wonderfully well. I later obtained the pages and gave them to Joe who proudly had them framed up over the bar.

Joe got older and the bar’s opening hours became more erratic. Kim by that point, was also sick with the breast cancer that would kill her. Joe finally announced that the Bar was closing and said there would be a party the closing night. Kim desperately wanted to be there – it was right around her birthday, as I recall – but she was too sick by that point to make the trip. The bar closed and Kim herself died the following March.

Kimberly wore her heart on her sleeve, both politically and personally, and it was an open and generous heart. She identified so much with underdogs. She was a PK – a Preacher’s Kid – and her father was an Episcopal chaplain in the Navy as well, so she was also a “Navy Brat.” She would move every few years to another base somewhere else in the country. Sometimes it would be a great place and sometimes it was one where she was treated horribly but one thing she learned was not to form really close friends because, in a few years, she or they would move on to another base and would be gone.

Yet despite all that, her heart was not bitter or closed. She loved meeting people and she did make friends even though her heart did get hurt time and again. What people thought of her mattered to her and sometimes that could hurt. I tried to explain to her that, in fact, while everyone had a right to their own opinion, not everyone’s opinion mattered. Some people were just assholes. Some were nasty assholes. Some had agendas. Some were misinformed. Kim understood all that or at least her head did but it hurt nevertheless. It’s hard when you lead with your heart.

Kim died of breast cancer more than ten years ago. I won’t go through all the particulars of that time, other than to note that it was mercifully swift and that she fought with her customary determination, élan and brio which she documented in a brave series of columns that she wrote for the Comic Buyers Guide.

There are a few grace notes to tell in the space we have. As a result of her bouts with chemo, Kim’s hair did fall out so eventually she shaved her head. She considered using a wig but eventually opted for temporary tattoos at her temples. I remember the butterflies.

In her final weeks, she let go of more and more things that simply no longer mattered. She let go of old angers, she forgave, she reconciled. As her body failed, ultimately her spirit became more clear. I’ll not say she went quietly into that good night; she was very clear about wanting to die in her own home and when circumstances forced us to bring her back to the hospital for pain management, she rebelled. Drugged up, she still tried to take the tubes out of her arms. She wanted to go home and, finally, we brought her home.

Yet, all of these are also simply random facts about Kim and cannot capture her. There is only one way that I know to do that – through story. We had three memorial services for Kim after she died – one at our church, one in New York for those who knew her from the comics industry, one back in Chicago for family and friends there. Stories were told at all three and, for me, they were the centerpieces of the memorials. Mary and I still tell them, recalling Kim’s foibles as well as her virtues for, as I have said before, I prefer Kim’s foibles to many other people’s virtues. They make her human. They make her alive.

I think that’s important for anyone who has lost someone who was loved. Don’t just remember – tell the stories. So that’s what I’d like to do with the comments sections this week, if you have time – tell stories about the lives of people we are thankful we have known, those who are no longer here. If you have a Kim story to tell, that would be great – I’d love to read it. If it’s about someone else, that’s okay, too – Kim would have loved to hear it.

That’s who Kim was – a person of story.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

A few additional thoughts.

Kim was a geek back when it was not cool to be a geek and the triumph of geek culture would have floored her. The Star Wars prequels and now the new sequels and stand alone stories; the whole Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies; the return of Doctor Who and the dawn of the superhero movie. She would have been in NYC with me for the premiere of the Suicide Squad movie; Kim would have seen the three-story tall Squad ad in Times Square, screamed and swooned and then laughed with utter delight. I can hear it in my mind’s ear.

She’s missed a lot. She is missed a lot.

I have a new life and a partner that I love and treasure – Mary Mitchell. Twenty years is a lifetime; twenty years was just a moment ago. Kim is still a part of my life and will be for the rest of my life and that’s as it should be.

So long as memory lives, so do the ones we loved.

Martha Thomases: Diving Into Diversity


Famous Lesbians of Comics

One of the most exciting developments in the comic book industry in my lifetime has been the increased diversity, both in content and in creators. It is no longer a given that only straight cis white men can be writers, artists, or heroes.

It’s something we champion here at ComicMix. Many of our contributors (including but not limited to this person, this person, and this person) discuss these issues on a regular basis.

I really love this. As a reader, it means I have a lot more different kinds of stories to sample. More stories means a greater chance to find something I like, or something that challenges me, or something that shows me something I haven’t seen before.

As a writer, it’s something I find more difficult.

When you are part of a minority group, whether through race, religion, ethnic heritage, sexual and affectional preferences, gender identity, body type or otherwise, you pretty much know how straight cis white guys see the world. Almost all of our art, music, writing, cinema and entertainment is from the perspective of straight cis white guys. Cis straight white guys are the default perspective in modern culture.

So, as a white woman, I feel comfortable and confident writing characters who are white women and men. As a Jew, I feel pretty comfortable writing about Christians as well as Jews. My problems arise when I try to write characters who are different from me in ways I might not fully understand. For example, I’ve been attracted to women in my life, but I have no idea how one acts on that attraction because, for me, it’s never been strong enough to go for it.

It’s not that the stories of people who are not either the default acceptable types or their female counterparts are not worth telling. I’m just not sure I’m the person who should tell them. It’s all too easy to stereotype someone who has different experiences than I do or, even worse, use them as archetypes and not real people. This article, although written about improv comedy, shows the how easy it is to unconsciously limit and even demean someone when you see only her differences, not her humanity.

The pitfalls arise, in my opinion, when the person in power sees those who are different only from this perspective. To use my previous example, I might be able to imagine, broadly, what being a lesbian feels like, but I don’t have any idea about the myriad obstacles and bliss in a dyke’s daily life. It would be all too easy for me to think my lesbian character is all about breasts and labia and coming out, and not how she thinks about getting the rent together every month, or whether a vegan diet is a good idea, or if she should make a play for the cute and possibly straight woman in accounting. She should be a fully-rounded human being, not just a contrast to the default assumption.

Does this mean I should avoid writing lesbian characters? There isn’t one single answer to that. It might be that I lack the skill. It might be that I should ask a queer friend to read what I write and point out where I’ve missed the point. It might be that I should just assume that, among my characters, there are queer people in roughly the same proportions as the general population, and let it go at that. In my real life, I know lots of people without knowing who they would prefer to have sex with. The same can be true in any fictional universe I create.

This might be useful things to consider as a writer. What about as a producer, someone who is, essentially, a gatekeeper about what amusements are available to the public? How does he consider the responses his audience might have, and whether that response is what he meant to convey? In this example, a video game company created a game that attempts to show a former soldier fighting organized crime in a fictionalized New Orleans in 1968. One would expect criminals at that time and place to be racist as all get-out. Does using the language that those people would have used add to the gaming experience or distract from it? What if it only distracts black players?

As we continue to explore this brave new diverse world, a bunch of us are going to make mistakes, some well-meaning and some no so well-meaning. If your mistakes fall into the latter group, you might think you’re a brave truth-teller fighting political correctness, but I think you’re an asshole.

For the rest of us, we’re going to have to take the criticism, absorb it, and see if we told the story we wanted to tell in a way that was understood the way we wanted. If we made a mistake, we have to try harder.

Every piece of entertainment cannot be all things to all people. Every story, every movie, doesn’t have to represent every possible experience. All people should be able to easily find stories with which they can relate, that make them laugh (and cry) in recognition.

Molly Jackson’s Brunch – With a Side of Comics!

Marvel Women

I was out with some friends for brunch this past weekend. Brunch is a standard weekend event in the NYC area now, and it seems like a month rarely passes where I don’t have brunch plans on the horizon. The unannounced purpose of this brunch was to get to know a friend’s new girlfriend. So of course, I bring up comics as a get to know you topic. (Brunch tip: One always needs go-to conversation topics for brunch outings.)

She gave me a sad, but not surprising answer to my query. She said as a child, she found comics disappointing because there were no female writers creating stories and the female characters, dressed in very revealing costumes, didn’t represent her at that point in her life. This exact argument should be familiar to anyone who has read almost any article about women or minorities in comics, ever.

Of course, I immediately began rattling off graphic novels with female creators, important social topics, or just amazing storytelling. Afterwards, when I was on my way home, I realized that I keep this running list of graphic novels to recommend to people who specifically complain about lack of diversity in comics. A list for those people who can only think of Gail Simone when you quiz them about women in comics. Gail is great, but there are so many other women in comics; in part because of all that she has done.

Now I suspect the people I’m talking about aren’t regular readers of ComicMix. Frankly, if you tune in here on a daily basis, we’ve totally sold you on diversity in comics. Yay us!  But now comes the hard part. Teaching others that yes, there is growing diversity in comic creators!  Right now is the potential for a boom of diverse creators in comics. As the political climate affects change, fans are becoming more focused than ever on who are the storytellers. However, just because it is getting better doesn’t mean it’s a solved problem but we can make it better through our voices and our wallets.

With our dollars, we can continue the trend of well-rounded and well-dressed that is building thanks to Batgirl, Faith, and Ms. Marvel.  We can encourage female creators like Amy Chu, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Jennifer Hayden, Amy Reeder, Gail Simone, Mags Visaggo, or the many more that I’ve run out of space for.

So the next time you are in a crowd (or out to brunch), ask the question about comics.  See who says comics don’t represent them and then show them that they can.  Encourage reading comics written by diverse creators and together, we can show publishers that diversity matters.

Mindy Newell: On The Road Again

Denver Comic ConMy parents were not the types to do “stay-cations.” In their lives together they travelled around the country and the globe by car, by cruise ship, or by jet, although they never did make it to China or India as a couple. My mom wanted to go there, because, I think, my dad had been stationed in the CBI (China-Burma-India) theater of operations during WWII, and he would claim he had had enough of Chinese food to last him the rest of his life. This explains why we are the only Jewish family I’ve ever met who never went to a Chinese restaurant on Christmas, but actually I think it was because he didn’t want to dredge up old memories, the rotten kind.

Anyway, I don’t remember where they were, but on one vacation they met Muhammad Ali, who was gracious enough to take a photo with them. (I wish I had that photo to post, but I have no idea where it is these days.) This was sometime in the early 70s, and the country was not yet out of Vietnam, so I was a bit surprised to find out that they admired Ali not just for his boxing, but for his stand against the war. This was because at that time I was still a rather bratty kid who thought her parents were two of those middle-aged “love it or leave it” types who swallowed every lie coming out of Washington.

That picture was my first inkling that my father and my mother were individuals, intelligent people able to see past the bullshit and form their own opinions. Did this mean they were going to go out and march against the war? No, they weren’t that radical. But that war sure pissed them off. (A decade later, I first learned of Eisenhower’s warning about this country’s “military-industrial complex” in his farewell address to Congress in a conversation with my dad shortly after they returned from a trip to Washington, D.C., where they went to the newly opened Vietnam Memorial.)

Speaking of traveling, this weekend, Friday, June 17 through Sunday, June 19, I’ll be a guest at the Denver Comic Con, put on by the Pop Culture Classroom, a non-profit organization that was founded in 2010 as the Comic Book Classroom. Their aim is to enhance kids’ education and reading ability through the use of comic books and related media.

I really, really love their mission; I know it’s hard to believe for many of the younger fans, but once upon a time reading comics was not considered by any standard to be “cool.” If anything, it was generally thought of as being a sign of moronic ability, of the very opposite of intelligence, of an early-warning system to detect juvenile delinquency and a future that would definitely include time in the Big House. I know that my own parents, although proud of my early reading skills, were worried enough to consult with my “Uncle” Max – he wasn’t really my uncle, but our families were that close to warrant the moniker – who was a principal in the then-noted New York Public Schools System (yeah, hard to believe, huh?) and who told them not to worry, “the important thing was that I was reading, not only reading, but developing a real love of the written word.” And besides, how many 5-year olds could tell you that the Earth was “93,000,000 miles away” (thanks for those Editor’s Notes, Julie [Schwartz]) or could tell what the word invulnerable meant? Or that Metropolis and Gotham were actually synonyms for the word “city.” (I remember puzzling that out and then thinking it was funny and weird that Superman’s hometown was really just called “City” and that Batman’s turf was actually named “City City.”)

So come look for me in Denver – home to Peyton, brother of Eli – and say hi. I’ll have a table in Artist’s Alley (which is kind of surprising to me, to be honest, because I’m definitely not an artist; stick figures is what you’ll get from me, and not even good stick figures) and I’m on a bunch of panels, including one dedicated to Wonder Woman, who’s celebrating her 75th anniversary this year – damn, she looks good for her age! – and one called “Superstars of the 70s, 80s, & ‘90s.” which made me laugh, because I never thought of myself as a “superstar,” and then made me look in the mirror and wonder about a facelift – or at least Botox. And five more, including “Women in the Industry Today.”

Which is kind of sad, in a way, because at my very first convention, in Chicago, which is where I met BFF Kim Yale and her hubby, Johnny O., I was on a panel about “Women in Comics,” and that was 30 years ago. As pal Martha Thomases says, when is there going to be a panel about “Men in Comics?”

But don’t worry. I still have a lot to say.

Don’t I always?

Mike Gold: Breasts & Politics & Comics, Oh My!

Diary of a FemenTime to hurl a hand grenade.

Some portions of the modern American feminist movement – which is not and has never been a monolithic force – conflate sex with sexism. Others in this movement think they are two different things. To me, it’s all about choice and, as Margo St. James said, “call off your old tired ethics.” At the very least, stop telling consenting adults what they can and cannot do with their own bodies, lest you be thought of as a Republican.

For those still with me, I’d like to bring to your attention a graphic novel published in Europe two years ago but just made available digitally by Europe Comics called Diary Of A Femen, by artist Séverine Lefebvre and writer Michel Dufranne. Europe Comics describes the story as “A fascinating album (we call ‘em graphic novels out here in Americanland) that helps us understand the inner workings of the controversial feminist organization… Five female characters combating stereotypes.” The story is based upon the real and controversial Femen movement(s) and the creators’ involvement with some movement members.

And, check this out, boys! It’s got naked titties! Whereas that might alienate some of its potential readership here in the States, I maintain that breasts are not inherently sexist and, hey, maybe those boys will learn some important stuff. I know I did, and I’ve been a fellow traveler with the feminist movement for, gasp, about a half-century.

Sverine Lefebvre

Sverine Lefebvre

Diary Of A Femen is about a young woman named Apolline, and it is her story. It is not the story of the movement and certainly not of feminism in general: this is a story about a real woman who endures the real travails of life. As such, the first 12 story pages detail the routine life of a young, attractive woman and, despite all outward appearances, that routine is pretty dreadful. If you’ve never fully understood the day-to-day meaning of being a sex object – being objectified by people (notice I didn’t say “men”) who are so accustomed to the societal perception of women that they don’t understand how they’re at fault. Apolline has a routinely bad day, but this time she decides to check out an organization that purports to change that.

Their mission has real meaning to Apolline, filling a hole in her life she knew was always there but hadn’t done anything about – as of yet. Joining a Femen meeting to see what it’s all about, she is warned that by becoming an activist she will take on the very, very real risks of losing her job, her friends, her family and, possibly, her freedom. She takes on these risks and goes through the intensive training one must go through to be a functioning street activist. She then joins the group for public protest… and that is where the proverbial shit hits the fan.

Apolline comes off very, very real, and what happens to her and the decisions she makes are equally real. So is the activist training, planning and risk-taking; I found that to be surprisingly accurate. And her story might not end the way you expect.

This is a very worthy book that tells a fascinating story in profoundly professional terms. So call off your old tired ethics, buy Diary Of A Femen, download it onto your computer or tablet, and read it with the intention of learning something. You will.

And yes, kids. It’s in English.


Martha Thomases: The Big Cons

women cosplaySo far this summer, it has been my privilege to only go to one comic book convention, one that was conveniently situated in my home town. I may have to go to more, because that’s what the job is, and I’m okay with that.

It’s become so much easier to be a woman at a comic convention. Sure, the lines at the bathrooms are a drag, but that’s a small price to pay for being an accepted, sometimes even welcomed part of the crowd. As I write this, I’ve read several accounts (none of which I can find now, naturally) that suggest that attendance at the major shows is at least 50 percent female.

They need us. All of them: show organizers, retailers, other exhibitors. Without us, they make so much less money.

A lot of people have done a lot of work for decades to get us to this point. We should thank them and savor their success.

And then we should try for more.

Among the women who work in comics that I’m linked to online, this article made the rounds last week. It tells how women in the tech industry, infuriated that so few women were ever asked to speak at industry conferences as anything but tokens, and what women decided to do about it. They want full parity with men on all panels at conventions and conferences.

So do we.

Quite often, convention programmers will say they don’t know any women in the industry, nor do they know how to find them. The women in the link are assembling such a list.

Women in comics are doing the same.

I realize that it will take some time for women to get equal seating on panels with men. Comic book companies are going to have to send more women. Convention organizers are going to have to invite more women. They’re going to have to think about including more women on panels of general interest, and adding women to those who star in spotlight panels.

It might not be possible, at this exact moment, to get as many women writers and artists who attract fans as men. I get that. It’s kind of circular: If women were hired more frequently, there would be more top-tier women creators. And I think that day is closer than most imagine.

However …

There have always been a lot of women working in comics. We are in the legal departments and the licensing departments and the marketing departments and the international publishing departments. We know a lot about the business of comics, and we have a lot of interesting stories to tell about the backstage part of the business.

More recently, there has been an increase in the number of women working for distributors, libraries, and opening their own stores. Again, lots and lots of good conversation.

Just because it’s going to be difficult doesn’t mean it’s not a worthy goal, meriting our time and effort. We’ve shown that women add to the fun of a convention, and add to the bottom line as well. We should use the power of our purses to push for more.


Molly Jackson: Long Road Ahead

Long Road AheadDo you ever think that the mark from all those face palms will just become permanent? I’ve started thinking that is a really possibility. Here is why. Last weekend, Gen Con made waves with their Writing Women Friendly Comics panel. Originally, the waves were made from the fact they left women off the panel.

However, once female comic creators were added to a panel, it proceeded to get worse. Many attendees reported that the panel moderator Bill Willingham (you know him from Fables) spent the entire panel interrupting panelists and attendees to share his own views. From what I could garner from attendee reports, Willingham “played” devil’s advocate by channeling a misogynist.

Diversity in comics isn’t a new topic by any means. Every day, a new story or opinion piece comes out about how the diversity issues need to be addressed. Comics has been dominated by cisgendered, straight, white men for a very long time. These guys did create some fantastic stories for a really long time. They did a good job keeping the industry going when times were tough. However, the industry and fans are changing. People want to see more viewpoints from a diverse group of creators.

I used to think that change was happening around us. In some ways, it is. But that change is just us figuring out how we were being ignored. Now that we are speaking out, a brick wall seems to be falling into place, slowing change as these companies and creators try to figure out what is happening.

Fans need to keep speaking out, with words as well as with dollars. Go searching for minority creators and check out their wares. Support creative teams that are diverse. The only way to continue this fight is to speak the language of the companies.

The truth is, everything I’ve just said has been said before and probably more eloquently. This fight for equality isn’t a new one. I just wish it we didn’t have to fight for it anymore.

Martha Thomases: Wonder Women and the Men Who Don’t Get Them

Conan O'Brien San Diego Comic Con

I wasn’t at the San Diego Comic Con last week, but I kind of feel like I was. I watched Conan O’Brien every day. I read updates on line. I watched movie trailers from panels I probably couldn’t have got into. It was just like being there, except I didn’t have to wear underwear, I could knit, and I had a cat on my lap.

Still, I missed seeing my friends, and people who aren’t exactly my friends, but we know each other well enough for them to hug me.

And I missed seeing a comic culture that, finally, accepted women as true fans. Instead of raging about Twilight fans (which is my last memory of SDCC), or bitching about cosplayers, the reports I read from SDCC 2015 were remarkably cheerful and inclusive and accepting. Crowded, and with long lines for the bathrooms, but full of good will.

And then I read this. Two veteran Hollywood reporters lamenting the “fact” that movies today are all about women heroes, and that the “real” men can’t catch a break. Never mind that nothing they say is even remotely factual.

Look, I get it. They’re old, and the movies they grew up with are no longer fashionable. In some ways, I share their feelings. I love John Ford westerns. I adore the free-wheeling movies from the 1960s and 1970s, before movies cost so much that the marketing departments took over the studios. But my nostalgia for my lost youth doesn’t blind me to the fact that those movies, for all their brilliance, for all their art, ignored the existence of most of their potential audience, and denied the experiences of people who weren’t white and straight and conventionally beautiful.

At the same time, the United States women’s soccer team won the World Cup and Serena Williams conquered Wimbledon. Now, I generally couldn’t care less about sports, but even a curmudgeon like me was excited to see talented, motivated women win.

In parallel to the ridiculous old men who wrote the piece in Deadline linked above, there were men who used the occasion to bewail Selena Williams lack of “femininity.” These ranged from the Newspaper of Record to the ungovernable Twitterverse.

To me, Serena Williams looks the way Wonder Woman is supposed to look. She’s a big girl, with solid muscles because she needs her strength. She dresses for competition the way I imagine a super heroine would dress, in clothes that allow her a full range of movement and provide support where she needs it.

Serena Williams is not the only woman with a body that’s heroic. There are body-builders and gymnasts and runners and swimmers and soccer players, too. There isn’t just one kind of strong body for women, just as there is no one kind of strong body for men. None of them look like the tits-and-ass fantasies of too many artists, but I think that style of art is losing popularity.

In times of change (by which I mean, forever), some people will always get upset. They will be threatened by the change and worry that they will lose something, whether that something is power or privilege or just stories that they like.

(I’m like that, sometimes. Move a favorite television show to a different time-slot, and my world falls apart. Even knowing how to use the DVR doesn’t make me feel any better.)

People who are not powerful know there are no guarantees in this world, that there is no stability, no permanent comfort. It’s those who are complacent in their wealth and power and privilege who are surprised. At best, if we find ourselves uncomfortable in these positions, we can hope to have empathy. At worst, we can dig in and be jerks.

(Last week, I was kind of a jerk. I’m sorry about it, and I appreciate those who cared enough to educate me.)

Relax, uptight men. Most movies still focus on heroes who are white and male and straight. So do most comics. No one makes you pay for any stories about women or people of color or queer folks.

But some of us want those stories. We’re going to tell them and watch them and read them.