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The PA Report - Dealing with being a woman and a comic book writer, and the fun that ensues

DogDog Registered User, Administrator, Vanilla Staff admin

imageThe PA Report - Dealing with being a woman and a comic book writer, and the fun that ensues

Women tell these stories to each other, and they tell them to you at the bar at E3, and you ask if you can write about them, or if they're going to write about them, and you're usually told no. They don't want to deal with the comments, or being labeled a certain way, or to be seen as a trouble-maker.

Read the full story here


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  • dcsobraldcsobral Registered User regular
    Your hate "male"? I assume "mail", of course, but given the topic the typo is kind of funny. :)

  • Ben KucheraBen Kuchera Registered User staff
    I've already edited it, but that's a pretty amusing typo.

  • aberdasheraberdasher Registered User regular
    I would hazard a guess that most of the reason people in general, not just men, do this kind of thing isn't necessarily out of blatant sexism and the belief that women are inferior, but envy. The culture we're in suggests that people should be really good at one thing, and someone having more than one talent is something to be jealous of, but someone being the best at one thing is not. So if someone is beautiful and sexy but ALSO professionally successful, you attribute the professional success to the beauty because it's mostly impossible (not always) to attribute the beauty to the professional success. Though just a conjecture, this seems to hold generally as most exceedingly intelligent athletic guys are also hated on by sad normal people who then claim that they're just "nerds" and the intelligent men are "jocks" and thus worth looking down upon, because clearly they couldn't be BOTH smart and hardworking to the extent that they eclipse others (also works going the other direction with jocks making fun of nerds who can be athletic). So really, sexism is an issue, but I would wager that like things such as racism and classism, it originates from obvious differences which delineate groups exacerbated by envy towards the hated group rather than any true belief in a distinction between the properties of said groups.

  • IgnignoktIgnignokt Registered User regular
    "My hate mail rarely involves the penis of the sender. For some reason it's important for people to talk about their penis when they send hate mail to the opposite gender."

    I take those two sentences together to mean that you don't get much hatemail from women, but when you do it references their penises.

  • StannisDaMannisStannisDaMannis Registered User new member
    As a female writer, you can talk about this issue, raise awareness, make people see how tough it is to be a woman, and call the industry sexist and belittling women all you want. But that wont do shit.

    People like being mean to people on the internet. Only way to stop that from happening is either create laws to inhibit free speech of the internet, or brainwash all humans into being nice people[specifically men]

    OR you can carry on with your life and do what you like to do without paying attention to the trolls. Most people who are famous, and have a big haters crowd would tell you that much. Ask Justin Bieber.

  • moranarmoranar Santiago, ChileRegistered User regular
    @STANNISDAMANNIS so you mean people don't shit in public only because the laws forbid it. Not because we're afraid of everyone else's disapproval. Changing the minds of people can be done. It's hard work but it can be done. I refuse to believe that we have no hope for basic human decency on the internet except regulation and law enforcement.

  • Mr. SkipMr. Skip That guy. Registered User regular
    @aberdasher Some people are just dicks. The sexual assault threatening types. Some people don't get it when there is something to get, and some people will argue that sometimes there is nothing to get. Sometimes.

    @stannisdamannis, People speak out to target the "don't get it when there is something to get" part. True, there will always be dicks on the internet, but if you ran lower the encounter rate, it is a positive thing.

  • mrthewhitemrthewhite Registered User regular
    @MORANAR I agree with you. Laws do some work to dictate what people do or don't do but I think the majority of the work is done by societies acceptance of an action.

    I know personally the reason I haven't murdered anyone has nothing to do with it being illegal and everything to do with my basic belief that it's wrong. I think based on how I was raised I would still feel it was wrong even if the law went away tomorrow.

    Unfortunately the anonymity of the internet means that it's harder to apply that social pressure but you can do it, inside individual forums and groups.

  • mpurekampureka Registered User regular
    @aberdasher - Your logic is predicated on the idea that all women in business are beautiful and sexy. Bad news, sir, but most of them are relatively ordinary folks, rather like how most of the men in business aren't exactly GQ material.

    That doesn't seem to stop the haters though. In fact, they're entirely likely to take it as an opportunity to heap on additional insults.

    It has nothing to do with jealousy - at least, not of success.

  • Conniption-FitConniption-Fit Registered User regular
    edited June 2013
    This is only tangentially related, but I need to get it off my chest. If game/comic/movie/pop culture sites want to take an enlightened stance on this issue they need to get some consistency going or they're going to be hypocrites. I am not talking about this site, but I have seen others where they champion this or the trops v. games etc. and then later in podcasts or even their writing, will use Rape as short hand for consumer abuse, or battered wife to describe a consumer who returns after being treated poorly.

    This is bad too, sorry. Being the victim of domestic abuse is complex scary and harder to walk away from then switching console platforms. This framing of the argument makes it sound as if its the victim's fault for being abused because its the same as someone who is too stupid to walk away from a bad product. I hope I am clear on the point I am trying to make, as a joke it depowers the victim, not the person who should be depowered, the perpetrator of the abuse. Same with Rape jokes, they don't tend to make rapists look bad, but serve to make victims feel as if their plight is not worth being mindful of.

    Good racism jokes make racists look like morons, but the humor above accomplishes nothing like that. I am probably painting a huge target on myself for posting this, but I don't care. The point is, all you sites out there finally waking up to the idea of equal rights and treatment, walk the talk. Don't just link to an article and dust your hands off and then continue your own shitty tone which in turn builds a shitty tone in your audience. At the risk of sounding trite, be the change, but really be the change, don't just link to the change.

    Conniption-Fit on
  • xaoxao Registered User regular
    @Stannisdamannis

    "As a female writer, you can talk about this issue, raise awareness, make people see how tough it is to be a woman, and call the industry sexist and belittling women all you want. But that wont do shit."

    This isn't entirely true. I don't expect shining the Flashlight of Truth into some of our society's darker corners to change the opinions of jackasses who threaten women with sexual assault. What it can do is make the mostly-decent human beings among us aware of the problem. If the preponderance of society at least aspires to decency we can foster an environment where it's unacceptable to make a "natural assumption" that a woman achieved her position through unsavory means.

  • Fixer40000Fixer40000 Registered User regular
    edited June 2013
    Assuming the wife of a man working at the same company got the job because her husband made it easier is sexist.
    Assuming the son of a man working at the same company got the job because his father made it easier for him is... I don't think we've got a single word descriptor for that one.

    Not as if it's an old concept. We all know the motto "Not what you know but who you know." If you're working in a difficult industry to break into and someone sees someone in a relationship or related to someone else working there they'll assume they got a favour.

    I don't think this is purely questioning someone's worth dependant on their own gender. People make a lot of unfounded assumptions about people. Half the reviews about After Earth call it a Will Smith vanity project to promote his son.

    Edit: I took out some possibly innuendoed slang :)

    Fixer40000 on
    Have left PA forums.
    If this community believes that hating someone based soley upon their gender is acceptable and understandable, I have no interest in being a part of it.
  • Conniption-FitConniption-Fit Registered User regular
    @Fixer40000, but while everyone shrugs at Will Smith and says well look at that, people actively attack this woman. The difference might be the magnitude of response.

  • Sigma_100Sigma_100 Registered User regular
    @Fixer4000:

    The term you're looking for, I believe, is "nepotism", though to be fair nepotism isn't necessarily always about a father-son dynamic, but instead about family ties in general

  • SoldancerSoldancer Registered User regular
    edited June 2013
    @Fixer4000 "Assuming the son of a man working at the same company got the job because his father made it easier for him is... I don't think we've got a single word descriptor for that one."

    Yes, we do actually! (Isn't English fun?) It's called "nepotism." I still think women have a harder time of it. I just think it's more systemic and ingrained to question a woman in her position (for any reason) than a man who "might know someone important." Don't even get me started on "sleeping your way to the top."

    Anyway, the more articles like this written/linked to, the better. Eventually if we raise awareness on geek culture/industry sexism to a certain level, the exposure will start hitting people who may actually start changing their behavior OR be called out on their behavior by people they know. Hard to do with the internet, but I imagine these sorts of people are likely to brag about their sexism in some way. Maybe I'm overly hopeful, but I'd like to think that someone might start changing their acceptance into "Dude, NOT cool!"

    Soldancer on
  • CalvinballCalvinball Registered User regular
    edited June 2013
    @Fixer40000

    Deconnick explicitly addresses the point you make. She mentions how her husband was HER +1 at an industry party in which he was able to land a job. Yet no one has ever publicly questioned whether he's "earned" the jobs he's gotten. Rather than take them for what they are (a married couple working in the same industry) people make the "natural assumption" that the woman must have ridden on the coattails of the man who earned his place in the industry.

    Calvinball on
  • teknoarcanistteknoarcanist Registered User regular
    Wait, wait, wait, are you telling me you're NOT supposed to include your penis in e-mails? When did this start?

  • VolVol Registered User regular
    edited June 2013
    @SolDancer English is fun, but it's tricky for some people. Nepotism would be the son getting the job because of his father. ASSUMING the son got the job because of his father was what Fixer4000 was referencing, and I don't believe there is actually a word for that specifically, though I'm not a master of the entirety of the English language.

    Sadly for this issue I have my doubts that spreading the word really helps. Decent people already think this kind of thing is pathetic, and thanks to anonymity the people that do it tend not to care if social pressure comes down on them, or worse, enjoy it. Hopefully there will be enough pressure from various sources that this mindset will fade from the culture in general, but the internet will always be the refuge of the twisted.

    Vol on
  • Fixer40000Fixer40000 Registered User regular
    @Soldancer @Fixer40000 Nepotism is the concept of favourtism where really we're going for the negative connotations of assuming that the position was granted via Nepotism. I think perhaps the correct term would autoantinepotistism.

    I love that word already.

    @calvinball I do believe sexism was involved here to a degree but autoantinepotistic attitudes certainly played a role. Comic books are still a male dominated industry as well (quick bit of google fu shows M/F writer ratio is about 14/1), and if you were to see a board room filled with old guys and the one young guy is the son of one of the directors, and the son actually got the father his job, wouldn't mean the incorrect "natural assumptions" were based entirely on ageism unfair as they may be.

    Gender flipped example, I know a London fashion house where it's nothing but women working there except for one guy that's the husband of the owner. So you know how he got that job.

    Okay, I just made that anecdote up but as you read it, sounded plausible didn't it? :)

    So yeah, I don't think it was just sexist attitudes at work here but a whole bunch of incorrect assumptions and attitudes in the melting pot.

    Have left PA forums.
    If this community believes that hating someone based soley upon their gender is acceptable and understandable, I have no interest in being a part of it.
  • SoldancerSoldancer Registered User regular
    edited June 2013
    @VOL Excellent point, I do believe I misinterpreted that. I should have figured, as she even mentions nepotism specifically in the article. At any rate, I was trying to be fun, not snarky! I'm sorry if it didn't come across that way. Stupid channel-poor text converations!

    I agree with what you say about the internet's anonymity hampering change. It will always be the last outlet for the socially inept, by which I mean people with ANTI-social, not A-social tendencies. I'm just hoping that larger social behaviors begin to change, even in some small part due to awareness spread through any medium, including online.

    In short, I want a social construct in which it seen as socially backward to complain, "Who did she know/sleep with to get her job?" at it would be to say, "She only got her job because the hiring managers needed someone black to make the team be diversified."

    Soldancer on
  • VolVol Registered User regular
    @Soldancer Personally I see snarky as fun, but I didn't think you were trying to be rude. Apologies if I came across wrong too, text isn't exactly an ideal medium for tone.

    I'd like to at least think that social pressure shuts this down a good bit in meatspace. There are still areas where the real world has lots of room for improvement, but I hope that most people are wise enough to keep this kind of thought process to themselves when face to face with someone.

    Unfortunately the sad truth is that while it's stupid of people to automatically assume it's the reason, especially in cases like this with so much evidence to the contrary, there are still cases where sleeping your way into a job is done. I had a frie... acquaintance, from high school that freely admitted that the only reason she had her job was because she was sleeping with the owner of the company, and she had no idea what she was doing, at work. While it's not nearly as prevalent as some people like to pretend it, sadly, does occur.

  • MachinesMachines Registered User regular
    Hey Ben, if you're ever having a slow news day, how about a hatemail article? Bonus points if you read out your inbox with a serious tone.

    On-topic: I had no idea comic books were such serious business, or that people actually get this much flak in the industry. To keep your job even if it brings this level of spite to your screen every days says a lot about your character.

    @Soldancer
    It can't ever be seen as backward to complain about this, until it actually stops happening. I'd argue that surpressing people talking about it will just make neopotism a bigger problem. Of course baseless accusations still aren't polite, but this is a snake with two heads if you know what I mean.

  • E-gongaE-gonga Registered User regular
    In my defence, I talk about my penis in most of the e-mails that I send. It's the main reason why I haven't had a job in the last twelve years.

    I believe penis envy is the other contributing factor.

    ---

    In all seriousness though, I do worry that I may be, unintentionally, sexist. The previous sexism article - the one that was locked from discussion for various reasons - made me worried about my own writing. I'm working on my first novel, and I kill a female character in the first chapter to motivate the main (male) protagonist. It's actually the catalyst that launches the story. One of my main female characters is a self-described ditz and the other one, though clever and independent, does fall into an unrequited love with a man.

    I consider myself to be a liberally minded sort of chap. I support same sex marriage, I provided support / raunchy jokes to a transgender friend in college (his were raunchier, mind), and in general I like to see women advance in male-dominated industries like gaming, comics etc. But now I'm worrying that this is some sort of underdog mentality, and that I'm actually being sexist by supporting women in this manor?

    Hell fire.

  • SoldancerSoldancer Registered User regular
    @e-gonga I think that being aware of the possible ways sexism can sneak into your work is a good thing. And I've said before in other comments on this site that I totally think there is a time and place for certain things that can be interpreted as sexist, such as women in sexy outfits, a damsel in distress, etc. The reason they often get called out is not because inherent sexism I think, but rather because they are so often seen as the default.

    In other words, it shouldn't be weird to have a strong woman protagonist instead of one in need of rescuing. I'll be the first to admit that it's a tough line to walk, though. Just because you have a woman in need of rescue doesn't mean she can't fend for herself or is inherently weak, but it certain doesn't help to dispel the overall social construct of "damsel in distress."

    Anyway, here's some interesting things you might read and consider:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bechdel_Test
    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/StuffedIntoTheFridge

    Cheers!

  • raykremerraykremer Registered User regular
    These kinds of things are always dangerous ground to tread.

    For one thing, absolutely sexist industry practices exist, sexist entertainment product exist, and sexist guys writing e-mails and comments exist. But on the other hand, these don't really represent the majority.

    Are there not a lot of women in game production and comic writing? Sure. Do some of these companies actively look to hire women and have trouble finding applicants? Yep. Just because we want to see equality doesn't mean an equal number of women are actually interested in that kind of career. More power to the ones who are, though. Do character designs and artwork for games and comics objectify the female form? More often than not, sure. We're also talking about artists who generally are teenage boys trapped in a man's body serving an audience of the same. We can hate it but we can't change human nature, and sex sells. Sexist hate mail and board comments? I know people get extra sensitive when it's a gender issue thing, but trolls have always been a vocal minority while the decent people are the silent majority.

    Also, because taking a stand against sexism is a great way for men to prove they are good people and not male scum, when there are not real mountains to be had you can be sure somebody's looking for a molehill that can be transformed into a mountain, which is problematic because it distracts from the genuine mountains.

  • OMMadOMMad Registered User regular
    It's sad when smart, intelligent readers like those found in the PAR comment threads defend attacks on one's sex or race because that's status quo. Deal with it, man. Suck it up. Strange considering how so many of us were on the shit-end of the bully-stick back in our school days and wish we could have somehow fought back. The people on forums like this one, RPS, hell even Cracked (much to my surprise) prove that we aren't douche-bags by default.

  • E-gongaE-gonga Registered User regular
    @soldancer Woo! I'm not a sexist! I passed both tests!

    Suck it, women! No wait, I didn't mean... no! NO!

    ...seriously though, thanks for the links. They made for interesting reading. I feel a lot more confident about my plot now.

  • Fixer40000Fixer40000 Registered User regular
    @E-Gonga Don't worry, I PMed you a link that proves you are a sexist :)

    I wouldn't worry too much about trying to avoid specific tropes. The stuffed in the refrigerator trope is gender neutral (I think the link below has a couple of examples) but has a handful of gender flipped examples, but has been seen as sexist because of the number of female characters which have been killed.

    Just write what flows naturally.

    The trap you can fall into is the one that sees every female character you write as a representation of your own opinion of women, and becoming so afraid of being seen as sexist you give them no negative traits or remove all sexual characteristics from them which end up making them no different from the male characters - which apparently is also a sexist trope.

    So instead of writing a character as a woman, write them as an individual that happens to be a woman. Instead of writing them into situations based on their gender or some sort of gender roll, think about their character and how they personally would act in that situation. If you're avoiding making them do things specifically because you think they'll be seen as sexist just because it's happens female character in that situation, consider that making that decison based soley on her gender... is in fact also sexist.

    The important thing is to know, you can't possibly please everyone and by trying to do so you have likely already lost.

    Lastly, whatever you do, don't take Samus, one of the most confident, competent, badass space bounty hunters in the galaxy and make her an insecure woman yearning for the approval of a male commander.

    That's generally seen as a bad move.

    Have left PA forums.
    If this community believes that hating someone based soley upon their gender is acceptable and understandable, I have no interest in being a part of it.
  • robotoborobotobo Registered User new member
    @E-Gonga A friend of mine is an aspiring comic writer and recently wrote a blog post about trying to avoid sexism. You may find it an interesting read.

    http://www.theschemehatchery.com/2013/03/all-my-ladies-in-the-front-say-yay-uh/

  • SlaignSlaign Registered User regular
    Three cheers for Kelly! Her work on Captain Marvel is awesome. She worked hard, got into an industry she loves, and started churning out the kind of characters and stories she wanted to see. I haven't followed her closely, but I've never seen her harp on the costumes and art in comics. She just creates the kind of things she wants to see, and lets other people get up to the business of creating what they want to see. And hot damn, she does it so well. She's a success because she's incredibly talented.

    @Aberdasher

    Sure, people attack others because of jealousy. But those attacks are often based on sexism. Further, like Ben pointed out, the attacks on women are generally more severe and disgusting. It's not motivated by jealousy *rather* than sexism, it's motivated by jealousy *multiplied* by sexism.

    @Stannisdamannis

    I have to disagree. As has been pointed out by others, part of making people not do things is making it clear that it's not okay. Once sexists find it harder to find an audience for their idiocy that won't turn on them for it, they'll stop spouting their BS. They stop spouting their BS, it stops being perpetuated. This is how society evolves.

    @Mpureka

    I think you're wrong to say it has nothing to do with jealousy. At least, much of the time. Sure there are times when someone is just so blatantly misogynistic that they will attack a woman for being a woman. A lot og the time, however, these people are attacking because they feel insecure, and they refuse to believe a woman is more successful than them based on her merit. This is both jealousy and sexism.

    @Fixer4000

    You're failing to see the major point by concentrating on a single example. Sure, in this case it could be that a fear of nepotism was a more prominent contribution, but that hardly applies to the broad amount of sexism women are exposed to. This is but a single example. We can either systematically go through each example and try to disprove sexism as the cause, or we can look at the sheer volume of this problem and acknowledge it's roots.

    @Vol

    I don't think you can just write off the ability of the ignorant to be decent. You wouldn't know it by the internet, but I really do believe people are generally good. I doubt the guy who wrote the offending comment that inspired this article is a total unrepentant dick to his family, friends, and children. It's possible, I know people like that, but they are generally the exception. More likely, he's generally a decent sort but he just has some skewed, antiquated, ignorant ideas knocking around in his head.

    @E-conga

    Be aware of tropes, not afraid of them. The problem with tropes is their nature as the default. Your story will be more interesting if you don't rely heavily upon them, but they are tropes for a reason. They work. Where sexism with tropes comes into play is the idea that a female character is useful for nothing but a sex object or a damsel. If the only women in your story exist only as a ball in the game the men are playing, you should re-evaluate.

    Look at the women you admire, and try to represent them. Make them an important part of the story, not just supporting characters. Make them competent. Make them have their own goals and desires, independent of what the main character needs from

    Not every female character needs to be an icon of female empowerment, independence, etc. It becomes a problem when you have no female characters that are people of their own.

    In general it's a good idea to make sure you aren't creating characters with a "default." People feel comfortable writing what they know, and for that reason people tend to start with a default character template that's like them. Most characters created by white straight men are white straight men. Then they only deviate from that when they need to exploit a trope. Making a character black when they need someone urban, or making a character female because they need a damsel.

    Good luck!

    @Raykremer

    I don't even really know how to respond to that. There are women out there, all over multiple male dominated industries, saying this is a problem. They're telling you it's driving women away from these fields. They are telling you they get more volume and more hateful and more violent comments aimed at them than their male colleagues, and people like Ben are confirming this.

    I can't fathom that your response is that they are making mountains of molehills, that this is just how people are and we shouldn't even bother to try to change it or get upset about it.

    I just... that's so disappointing.

    ...

    Whew! Feels good to have an article on PAR I can really dig my teeth into! Been a couple weeks since I've really felt like joining the discussion, excepting the recent comment locked article where there was no discussion to join.

    Maybe I went overboard, but what can I say, I love talking to you folks! (Okay, okay, you got me. I just love talking... :-P)

  • lostedenlosteden Registered User regular
    @E-Gonga One way the Women vs Tropes videos fail to take an extra critical step is how they don't tend to address the wealth of underlying reasons why a trope is so prevalent. It's great that they get us talking about these things but I wouldn't let yourself get too concerned about using the death [murder?] of a character to motivate another. It's used a hell of a lot because there are so few things in life capable of affecting a person as much as the loss of a loved one. If we're honest, this happens just as much to fathers, brothers, mentors and so on as it does to mothers, sisters and partners so it's kinda disingenuous to suggest that it's an issue of sexism when it happens to females. The real issue that does need to be addressed on that count is the lack of female protagonists and interesting characters in fiction and thankfully it seems like that is happening, though perhaps not as quickly as we'd like.

    We can then talk about how as a story-telling device you can easily see its over-use and argue that it dehumanises certain characters by primarily using them as a plot device rather than fully appreciating their worth outside of their relationship to the main character etc. if we want. But then again this also sidesteps the fact that the trope is hugely effective [particularly in certain genres] in setting up a motivation the can't easily dismissed as unwarranted or even ridiculous. I'm not saying that revenge should be allowed to give any complex hero an unambiguous justification for killing sprees but it certainly lends a more relatable mindset than others.

    Writers and critics should be careful to discern between lazy application of tropes by people who can't be bothered to come up with genuinely differentiated storylines for their generic explosion / drama / joke vehicles and those who create interesting stories that work judiciously with such tropes to take an audience some place engaging.

    So yeah, there shouldn't be anything to worry about, E-Gonga, unless your piece when taken as a whole generally gives off the idea you put less thought into putting some life into your female characters than your men. After all, shouldn't we be concerned that placing too much significance on deaths of women compared to those that happen to men is kinda demeaning and 'damseling' of them in itself?

  • A Concerned CitizenA Concerned Citizen Registered User regular
    Good response by her to her "critic". Thanks for not closing this off Ben I think the discussion here has been very responsible and enjoyable, I think you did us a disservice by not expecting the same in the TvW video, but I do believe that would have had a much more negative reception as well considering what she had experienced in the past.

  • lostedenlosteden Registered User regular
    On another note, it's good to see Ben making it clear that he kinda feels bad he hasn't been sent more dicks in his inbox, heh.

  • iamnamelessiamnameless Registered User regular
    Every time I want to enter a discussion about sexism and gender issues, my speech centers collapse as soon as I read some of the stuff written by my fellow men. I feel like there is really no hope. After many futile attempts at having an argument, I am ready to concede that I understand absolutely nothing about the issues women face, but I'm genuinely ready to bash the skull in every possible sense to the next bro who says that gender issues no longer exist.

  • PangurassuPangurassu Registered User regular
    edited June 2013
    @LostEden: All he has to do is ask! We're nothing if not helpful, around these parts.

    For srs though, Kelly Sue killed it here, and I'm looking forward to seeing what she writes after she's "figured out a way to contain [her] outrage enough." I halfway hope she doesn't figure that part out, because it's good to see people spitting fire over this. It would be more productive though (albeit slightly less cathartic) in the long run to not make the real target audience more defensive than necessary.

    Pangurassu on
  • SlaignSlaign Registered User regular
    @Losteden

    Wonderful breakdown of tropes. Thank you. My issue with those videos has always been the adversarial, two concepts enter, one concept leaves nature of the "Tropes vs Women" title. It's an important topic to discuss, it's extremely important to me that female characters be treated with the same respect male characters get, these are the characters to whom I can relate, and I want them to be real, great characters in their own right.

    That said, tropes are not in opposition to women. It's not a case of tropes must die in order to foster good female characters. I'd be interested to see any story that doesn't apply a single trope. I don't think it can exist. If it does, it will create a trope of it's own.

    I've always been afraid that accusations of sexism would scare people off from doing things like pin-ups, sexy costumes, damsel characters, characters motivated by the death of a female loved one, and the list goes on. These aren't inherently sexist in isolation, the problem comes from the mindless stuffing of all female characters into those boxes as if they are the only roles women can take.

    I like a good pin-up and I'm not ashamed of that. Sometimes a movie or game about a man who will do anything to save a woman he loves is really good. A story about a man crushed by the loss of his lover can be great.

    I also hope that artists feel free to draw pin ups of men for the people who like that. I for one am extremely likely to enjoy a story with a female character at the lead, and if she's saving the man (or woman!) she loves, or avenging him (her!) that's a perfectly acceptable jump off.

    These tropes aren't sexist, they are gender neutral at their heart. In the modern world, gender is not the reason these tropes work. They can work wonderfully regardless of the gender of the characters involved. What's sexist is the mindless application of these tropes. The idea that she must be a damsel because women aren't strong enough to be heroes is sexist. The idea that she must show more skin than she covers to interest a reader is sexist. That doesn't mean a damsel or a vixen can't work.

    So I was sad to see E-gonga represent an example of a creative person shying away from tools in his toolbox out of fear of sexism, but I'm happy to see you and others so eloquently explain why he shouldn't be afraid, just mindful to use his tools properly.

    Bravo.

  • lostedenlosteden Registered User regular
    edited June 2013
    Thank you, Slaign. It's always gratifying to not be misunderstood when I try to make the basic point that the best way to deal with this ongoing 'battle of the sexes' [which is probably more accurately described as a conflict between progressive and conservative philosophies] is to try to curtail the excesses of both and keep the discussion pointed towards the elements of a balanced perspective everyone can agree upon. The most frustrating thing to deal with is of course people's natural predisposition to connect everyone they think is on the other side of the fence to them and use the same argument against all of them.

    The truth is I find the prevalence of generally unequal treatment and frequent outright abuse of women horrifying and indefensible. I can only begin to imagine how exhausting, if not soul-destroying, dealing with near-constant belittling societal presuppositions about oneself must be. That said, in our overwhelming desire to find solutions and ways to change perceptions we can't let ourselves get carried away and get too 'liberal' in assigning causes and prescribing treatments for our cultural consciousness.

    I think the predicament Kelly Sue faces has been broken down quite well already here- it an awkward blend of people's (sub)conscious jealous suspicion of nepotism in every line of work and the still prevailing sentiment that comic books are a Boys Club. The latter is the real issue and one that'll only really get better as gradually more women make their mark. It's ignorant and petty thinking to presume her husband is her more significant other in the industry but hardly unfathomable given there are so few female writers, let alone [Chief]editors.

    Everyone who is an unusual outsider for whatever reason will never escape unfair questioning of why and how they got to where they were and will almost always have to go the extra distance to cut past their 'otherness' to show what they can do. The most that more open-minded of us can do is help them stamp down on the dicks that get in their face.

    And perhaps help them take a breath and calm down a little... cos I really don't feel like it helps our cause when we sidetracked by suggestions that real life violence against women has anything to do with isolated mercy killings in videogames... Or that there's much to be done about Kelly Sue's specific case here of grumbling envious jerks when more needs to be done simply getting women the chance to make and sell their comics and thus change how they're treated in the industry themselves.

    losteden on
  • Fixer40000Fixer40000 Registered User regular
    @Losteden well said.

    Have left PA forums.
    If this community believes that hating someone based soley upon their gender is acceptable and understandable, I have no interest in being a part of it.
  • dewordedeworde Registered User regular
    @E-Gonga
    Frankly, being made to question your art while you're making it is a good thing, as long as it doesn't paralyze you. Firstly, at *WORST*, by thinking about that stuff, you'll be better able to defend it when someone criticizes it for being sexist. See Rich Burlew on an interesting discussion on the Order of the Stick boards about the disparity between male and female appearances.
    Secondly, best thing to do would be to take each of the characters you're worried about, and strip them down to "Who are they" and "What are they in the story for?"
    If the answer to the first ISN'T a person that you're actually interested in writing about (for example, could you base a future story around that character?), and the answer to the second IS "To get the hero from point A to point B in a timely manner", then you've got a character who's job at the end of the day, is to support and enable the hero, and once that's done, can be shot in the head with a clear conscience. If all of your female characters are like that, try tweaking one of the characters you do care about to be female. Not the hero necessarily, as that'd be a fairly major change, but one of the characters whose "Who Are They" is more than just "Girlfriend who dies to make hero go vengey" or "Wise old woman who gives hero his coat of mysterious smacking".

  • dewordedeworde Registered User regular
    @E-Gonga
    Critically, if that actually makes the story worse, then there's a *reason* for that. And that makes the decisions you make about writing a better story, rather than just going down the path of cultural consistency. The former's probably going to produce a better story.

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