Another day, another new blog of interest

This one is different though. It’s called Gender & Society and is a peer-reviewed journal focused on the study of gender.

Gender & Society is a peer-reviewed journal, focused on the study of gender. It is the official journal of Sociologists for Women in Society, and was founded in 1987 as an outlet for feminist social science. Currently, it is a top-ranked journal in both sociology and women’s studies. Gender & Society publishes less than 10% of submitted papers. Articles appearing in Gender & Society analyze gender and gendered processes in interactions, organizations, societies, and global and transnational spaces. The journal primarily publishes empirical articles, which are both theoretically engaged and methodologically rigorous, including qualitative, quantitative, and comparative-historical methodologies. Gender & Society also publishes reviews of books from a diverse array of social science disciplines.

Here is a sample of a few recent posts:

What do Americans know about abortion and other reproductive health topics?

My encounter with Maria helped to shape my interest in knowledge about reproductive health, because I wondered how many other people shared her concerns and were making decisions about women’s health and well-being with partial information or misinformation. Together with my co-authors, I set out to investigate what Americans know about abortion. We carefully reviewed the literature for the scientific consensus on different aspects of abortion and other reproductive health topics, then we created a survey that asked respondents to evaluate statements based on best possible evidence. We administered this survey to 639 randomly selected men and women aged 18–44 via an online survey.

We found that Maria (who was not included in this survey) was not alone in holding misinformation. Of the 14 items about knowledge of abortion, contraception, pregnancy, and birth in the survey, only four were answered correctly by a majority of respondents. Only one question – whether or not abortion until 12 weeks gestation is legal – was answered correctly by more than two-thirds of respondents, and 17% of respondents couldn’t answer it correctly. (Seven percent mistakenly thought that abortion until 12 weeks gestation was illegal, and another 10% didn’t know if it was illegal or not). Surprisingly, women were no better at answering questions about the health risks of abortion than men. In fact, women were less likely than men to know that the health risks of abortion are less than those of giving birth.

Disney’s ‘Frozen’-A lukewarm attempt at Feminism

Most of the arguments about Frozen’s progressive gender representation revolve around a few key themes and occurrences in the movie. These are: 1) Disney rejects the “happily ever after” heterosexual romance trope in this movie, 2) Elsa is a powerful idol of women’s empowerment with a message of independence, 3) Anna is another strong woman role model who is independent, adventurous, and brave. Is Frozenreally as progressive as these arguments claim?

According to the first argument Disney is mocking its earlier versions of princess stories by portraying the idea of falling in love at first sight as foolish especially since Hans turns out to be a scheming prince. But is the heterosexual romance trope missing? Certainly not. Most of the movie revolves around Anna and Kristoff’s relationship, and we do see it culminate in a kiss. Further, it seems that Anna and Kristoff haven’t known each other for more than two days! Thus, Anna and Kristoff’s relationship certainly falls within Disney’s previous versions of romance.

The next argument is framed around Elsa, who is seen as a powerful and independent woman who learns to love her power instead of concealing it. Yet, her storyline undermines that message. For instance, we see that once Elsa goes into exile, she unleashes her power, which is symbolized by the fantastic ice palace she builds for herself. However, we see shortly after, that her power and independence start to turn her evil. This is evident when she nearly murders two men—by almost impaling one, and trying to push another off the mountain, and when she sends a snow monster after Anna. It is only when she returns to her village and uses her powers for people’s entertainment (by building an ice rink), that she is in fact accepted by people. This is a version of femininity that is soft, safe and selfless; it is about pleasing and nurturing people, and not about building monuments that celebrate one’s power.

The final set of arguments for the progressiveness of Frozencenter on Anna. Anna is adventurous and brave. However, Anna is never supposed to be taken seriously by us.  She seems adventurous because she doesn’t seem to know any better, not because she is a capable young woman. The comic relief most often comes from her being child-like, and not physically capable.

Over the past few weeks, I have been poring through the spate of social media (here, here, here, and here, for example) focusing on debates and tensions between anti-feminism, trans-exclusionary radical feminism, and trans feminism about who gets to count—as women, as feminists, as radical, and as lesbians. The fact that these debates coincide with the latest iteration of the contentious Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival only makes them more timely and salient. During this same time, I learned that some of my own published research (here and here) on cisgender women partners of transgender men had been cited extensively by Sheila Jeffreys in her latest work (here). Within this text, Jeffreys frequently misgenders the partners of my research participants as women and refers to them as “transgenders” or “female-bodied transgenders” (p. 114). Jeffreys poaches verbatim quotes from my research participants and frequently writes “[sic]” in instances where participants use “he” or “him” to refer to their trans partners. When Jeffreys does use pronouns such as “he” or “him” to refer to the trans partners of my research participants, it is always surrounded by shudder quotes. These editorial gestures reveal Jeffrey’s appraisal of trans men’s illegitimacy as men. In one instance, Jeffreys describes the gender identities of the partners of my research participants as “carefully constructed myths” (p. 118). Jeffreys cherry picks my data for quotes to bolster her claims about the hurtful potential of gendered (and especially transgender) identities, omitting all context—particularly that which does not square with her claims.

The Gendered Metropolis

In the course of conducting research for my new book (here), I discovered an astonishing diversity of queer spaces. Researchers, however, emphasize the experiences of gay men, and in doing so, they erase the lives of lesbians. To set the stage, consider the words of sociologist Manuel Castells. “Lesbians, unlike gay men,” he says, “tend not to concentrate in a given territory.” He thinks that they “do not acquire a geographical basis.” Gender differences between men and women are to blame. “Men have sought to dominate,” Castells continues, “and one expression of this domination has been spatial.” On the other hand, “women have rarely had these territorial aspirations.” For gay men – as men – “to liberate themselves from cultural and sexual oppression, they need a physical space from which to strike out.” Lesbians – as women – “tend to create their own rich, inner world and a political relationship with higher, societal levels.” This perspective leads Castells to conclude that “they are ‘placeless.’”

I disagree.

Lesbian geographies exist.

Another day, another new blog of interest
{advertisement}

Disown Dawkins? Sounds good to me!

Via Vice, an article by Allegra Ringo which offers some advice to the Atheist Movement:

A woman was alleging that a man raped her when she was too drunk to give consent, and Dawkins’s immediate response was the mainstay of all conservatives: What if she’s lying? Plenty of Dawkins’s Twitter followers agreed with him. It’s her word against his, they cried. Rape accusations are serious business, they cried.

Yes, rape accusations are serious business. Actually, accusing anyone of a crime, especially a violent crime, is serious business. That’s why we have court systems in place that determine, to the best of their abilities, whether a given accusation is most likely true or false. We have this for virtually every crime. So why are Dawkins and his ilk so preoccupied about false accusations of rape in a world full of false accusations?

The “accuser-might-be-lying” theory inevitably pops up around every rape case. But false accusations of rape occur in only about 2 to 3 percent of cases. That’s roughly the same rate as false accusations of other violent crimes, according to the US Justice Department. Studies in the UK have yielded similar results, but the myth of the always-lying rape accuser persists.

Keir Starmer, England’s Director of Public Prosecutions, stated that rape investigations are “undermined by [the] belief that false accusations are rife.” Dawkins obviously fancies himself the king of reason, yet he buys wholesale into this frat-boy mentality. It’s reasonable to assume an accused person is innocent until proven guilty, but Dawkins is cherry-picking rape cases as the only focus of his doubt.

In a world where women are raped in huge numbers, all the fucking time, and where the rate of false rape accusations are comparatively low, it makes far more sense to believe the victims of rape.  If and when a would-be rapist makes it to trial (and we know that doesn’t happen very often), if they are judged not guilty based on the evidence presented, then people can readjust their opinions. But far too many people inflate the rate of false rape accusations. Dawkins is among those people (he, and other Rape Culture deniers ought to read this article).

Dawkins appears to have adopted the sexism and other forms of narrow-mindeness he purports to hate in religion (plus bonus defenses of pedophilia), proving his own mantras wrong with every new opinion he posts. Read Dawkins’s Twitter at any time for tweets about “objective reality” interspersed with paranoid tweets about Islam, and of course his regularly scheduled uninformed opinions on rape culture. Although he is gradually losing sympathizers, the so-called “new atheist” movement still holds him in too heroic a light. In his time, Dawkins didgroundbreaking work in the field of biology, but his relevance—especially in social matters—is fading quickly. If the new atheist movement wants to move beyond outdated idols preaching old-fashioned discrimination, they need to disown Dawkins—or, at the very least, subtract themselves from his more than 1 million Twitter followers.

Disowning Dawkins is not a problem for me. He had no role in my decision to become an atheist (nor did any of the Four Horsemen; I came into atheism because I took college courses on philosophy and logic in the 90s).  Hell, the only book I’ve read by any of the big name atheists was Dawkins’ The God Delusion and I just finished reading that last month.  I know that many people appreciate Dawkins’ candid words on religion. I think it is nice to see a public figure speak bluntly, without respect for religion.  We need more people like that. Religion is not the force for good in the world that many think it is, and far too many people accord religion and religious beliefs undeserved respect.

That said, Dawkins’ comments about Muslims, his ongoing sexist comments, his dismissal of the severity of child abuse compared to religious indoctrination, and his spreading of Rape Culture myths have resulted in my losing any respect I had for him.  This is compounded by the fact that he’s listening only to his supporters, many of whom are anti-feminists, so-called skeptics (more accurately hyper- or pseudo- skeptics, who demand absurd levels of evidence for ubiquitous crimes like rape; as if rape accusations require the same level of evidence they demand of godbotters), or Islamophobic bigots (like his buddy Sam Harris).  He’s paying little attention to the criticisms of others.  He’s locked himself in his ivory tower and refused to listen to the “little people”.  He refuses to acknowledge his privilege and address his biases and prejudices in an honest way. Hell, with regard to the bigotry he’s displayed, he doesn’t seem to even accept that he has biases and prejudices.

I’m not on Twitter.  I don’t read his blog.  Nor will I. I want nothing to do with Dawkins because of his horrible behavior (which I will still call out as I find out about it, bc it is harmful).  For this atheist, Dawkins has been disowned.  Would that more people would do so.

Disown Dawkins? Sounds good to me!

Quote of the Day-Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a feminist and prominent Nigerian writer with a Master’s in creative writing from John’s Hopkins University and a Master of Arts degree in African studies from Yale. Parts of her ‘We should all be feminists’  TEDx talk were sampled by Beyonce in her song ‘Flawless’ in December 2013.

Quote of the Day-Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Michael Davis: Manara’s Spiderwoman #1 cover is “just” an image

Arist, writer, mentor, and entertainment executive Michael Davis offers his opinions on the ongoing shitstorm at Mavel over Milo Manara’s alternate cover to Spiderwoman #1. Before I get to his comments, I want to address a few things he said at the onset of his post:

I admit I’m a bit of a girly man.

Most of my friends are women. Women raised me, I collect Barbies, and my favorite movie is My Best Friend’s Wedding. I tend to see things from a woman’s point of view, and I’m convinced in another life I was a woman.

I once attended a Barbie convention in—of all places—Georgia, and had the best time. Yuk it up fanboy, and when you’ve had a couple of real good belly laughs, think about this: my Barbie collection is a helluva conversation starter. I have yet to meet a woman who did not think a man who shows a bit of his feminine side was not damn sexy.

Feel free to engage in what for some, will undoubtedly be a jest fest filled with gay, limp dick, and sissy boy witticisms. I’ll spare you the trouble of debating whether or not I’m gay. I am.

To be honest, I would like people to NOT do any of that.  Don’t shame people because they enjoy things you don’t.  Don’t demean another human being or use the sexuality of others as an insult because they don’t conform to your archaic notions of proper behavior of the sexes.  Courtesy of our views on gender, a man who enjoys Barbies or expresses what he deems his ‘feminine side’ is viewed as unmanly.  As if there’s a definition of man that all men are bound by, and that definition excludes certain activities and views.  One of the things I learned after becoming a feminist is that gender roles are stifling.    They prevent the full expression of human nature, by binding us to social constructs on what constitutes proper behavior and they do so for no discernible reason.  No one is harmed by a man enjoying Barbies.  If a man wants to express his feminine side (leaving aside the idea that there’s a “side” to express; I think whatever feminine qualities Davis is referring to are human qualities that exist in all of us to varying degrees), let him.  Who is harmed?  No one.

Digression over.

As a man who embraces his feminine side, I’ve been watching with mild amusement the Spider-Woman/Milo Manara brouhaha. Here’s my two cents: Milo Manara is going to be Milo Manara, and what you see is what you get. Don’t be mad at Milo for doing what he does, that’s just silly. You want to be mad at something, be mad at Marvel.

I’m convinced being mad at Marvel will make a difference. I’m sure of it because I’m also sure Marvel cares. Marvel cares that without even trying they have usurped any and all post-San Diego Con conversations. They care about the massive amount of press surrounding the book. Press, sure as shit, that will lead to sold out multiple printings and mucho bucks for Mr. Mouse and company.

By and large, I agree with Davis here.  Marvel commissioned Milo Manara to create the alternate cover to Spiderwoman #1, knowing full well that his work is erotically charged. That they did so on a book specifically marketed at women, as part of a push on their part to appeal to women readers, places a huge amount of responsibility for the crappy cover on the shoulders of Marvel.  How they could think this decision was somehow congruent with appealing to women is beyond me.  It’s a great example of being tone deaf.  Marvel has been criticized (and let’s be clear here, it’s not just Marvel, they’re just one in a long list of examples) for the lack of diversity in its output.  This attempt to appeal to female readers is a laudable effort at increasing the diversity of the books they produce.   Diversity is not the only area where Marvel has been criticized though-many people, a lot of them women, have criticized Marvel for the depiction of women in their comics.  From the sexualization of female characters to the sexual objectification of same, Marvel has had (and continues to have) a problem with the depiction of women in comics.  It seems they decided to pay attention to one issue women have been criticizing them for, but downplaying or even ignoring one of the other big issues women have been vocal about.   The cover to Spiderwoman #1 is an example of sexual objectification and sexualization of female characters.  That sends a mixed message to readers (remember, women are the readers Marvel is ostensibly reaching out to with its push to create more female headlined books):  “We’re listening to you.  Sometimes.”

“Your concerns are valid. Except when they’re not.”

This conflicting message doesn’t negate Marvel’s recent track record (they currently have 8 books with women as the lead characters, with more on the way very soon, and more, IIRC in the pipeline).  It does, however raise doubts as to how much the company understand the concerns raised by women.  Davis goes on to say:

On Tumblr, Tom Brevoort, the senior vice president of publishing for Marvel Comics, said “the people who are upset about that cover have a point, at least in how the image relates to them.”

I like Tom, but as statements go, that’s pretty lame. It’s the ‘you have a right to be upset over something that upsets you’ line. It’s a non-statement, a safe company line and who could blame Tom for taking it?

Then he added that Manara has been “working as a cartoonist since 1969, and what he does hasn’t materially changed in all that time. So when we say ‘Manara cover,’ his body of work indicates what sort of thing he’s going to do.”

In other words: “Yeah, we knew what we were going to get when we hired him, so deal with it.”

Whoa! Gangsta!

Frankly, I’m impressed that Tom came out like that. You can’t win a war when you’re fighting an army of ‘what I think.’ It’s impossible, so why not just tell the truth and be out?

Everyone’s entitled to his or her opinion and seldom, if ever, will someone’s point of view change on subjects like this. I’m the last person (girl that I am) to reject what any woman sees as offensive but (yeah, but) all this for a drawing?

I was largely with Davis up to this point.  Now he veers off into the all too common isolationist view:  this is just a drawing.  Yes, it’s “just” a drawing, but it’s a drawing that does not exist in isolation. It’s not just this drawing.  It’s this drawing plus Greg Land’s cover.  It’s this drawing plus Greg Land’s interiors.  It’s this drawing plus the sexualized depiction of women in comics.  It’s this drawing plus the problem of T&A in comics.  If it was “just this image”, I doubt the outcry against it would be as huge as it has been.  It’s not just this image.  It’s this image set against a backdrop of the ongoing problem of women in comics being treated as sexual objects, rather than fully realized characters with agency (which itself is set against the backdrop of how society treats women in general).

Davis goes on to say something even more wrong headed, and displays an amazing level of ignorance:

Unless I’m missing something, Marvel is going to make a grip on this, then, like always, the subject will be shelved. That is until the next image of an imaginary character with impossible powers is put into a pose that makes some people upset. Then it’s outrage time again.

I get it.

What I don’t get is where was this level of outrage, this level of media coverage and broadcast saturation was when, not long ago, a woman was threatened with rape because she dared critique an artist’s depiction of some other comic book drawing.

That you didn’t see it means you weren’t paying attention, because there was quite a bit of media attention paid to the rape threats Janelle Asselin received because she criticized the cover to Teen Titans #1 (that’s five different links to media criticism of the rape threats against Asselin).  People rightfully called out that offensive, misogynistic bullshit. Aside from how wrong Davis was about that, he is using the rape threats against Asselin to change the subject because he doesn’t think it’s a big deal that Manara’s work sexually objectifies women.  For someone who claims such affinity with women, he is clearly not listening to their concerns in this case.

Do better Davis. Do better.

 

Michael Davis: Manara’s Spiderwoman #1 cover is “just” an image

Michael Davis: Manara's Spiderwoman #1 cover is "just" an image

Arist, writer, mentor, and entertainment executive Michael Davis offers his opinions on the ongoing shitstorm at Mavel over Milo Manara’s alternate cover to Spiderwoman #1. Before I get to his comments, I want to address a few things he said at the onset of his post:

I admit I’m a bit of a girly man.

Most of my friends are women. Women raised me, I collect Barbies, and my favorite movie is My Best Friend’s Wedding. I tend to see things from a woman’s point of view, and I’m convinced in another life I was a woman.

I once attended a Barbie convention in—of all places—Georgia, and had the best time. Yuk it up fanboy, and when you’ve had a couple of real good belly laughs, think about this: my Barbie collection is a helluva conversation starter. I have yet to meet a woman who did not think a man who shows a bit of his feminine side was not damn sexy.

Feel free to engage in what for some, will undoubtedly be a jest fest filled with gay, limp dick, and sissy boy witticisms. I’ll spare you the trouble of debating whether or not I’m gay. I am.

To be honest, I would like people to NOT do any of that.  Don’t shame people because they enjoy things you don’t.  Don’t demean another human being or use the sexuality of others as an insult because they don’t conform to your archaic notions of proper behavior of the sexes.  Courtesy of our views on gender, a man who enjoys Barbies or expresses what he deems his ‘feminine side’ is viewed as unmanly.  As if there’s a definition of man that all men are bound by, and that definition excludes certain activities and views.  One of the things I learned after becoming a feminist is that gender roles are stifling.    They prevent the full expression of human nature, by binding us to social constructs on what constitutes proper behavior and they do so for no discernible reason.  No one is harmed by a man enjoying Barbies.  If a man wants to express his feminine side (leaving aside the idea that there’s a “side” to express; I think whatever feminine qualities Davis is referring to are human qualities that exist in all of us to varying degrees), let him.  Who is harmed?  No one.

Digression over.

As a man who embraces his feminine side, I’ve been watching with mild amusement the Spider-Woman/Milo Manara brouhaha. Here’s my two cents: Milo Manara is going to be Milo Manara, and what you see is what you get. Don’t be mad at Milo for doing what he does, that’s just silly. You want to be mad at something, be mad at Marvel.

I’m convinced being mad at Marvel will make a difference. I’m sure of it because I’m also sure Marvel cares. Marvel cares that without even trying they have usurped any and all post-San Diego Con conversations. They care about the massive amount of press surrounding the book. Press, sure as shit, that will lead to sold out multiple printings and mucho bucks for Mr. Mouse and company.

By and large, I agree with Davis here.  Marvel commissioned Milo Manara to create the alternate cover to Spiderwoman #1, knowing full well that his work is erotically charged. That they did so on a book specifically marketed at women, as part of a push on their part to appeal to women readers, places a huge amount of responsibility for the crappy cover on the shoulders of Marvel.  How they could think this decision was somehow congruent with appealing to women is beyond me.  It’s a great example of being tone deaf.  Marvel has been criticized (and let’s be clear here, it’s not just Marvel, they’re just one in a long list of examples) for the lack of diversity in its output.  This attempt to appeal to female readers is a laudable effort at increasing the diversity of the books they produce.   Diversity is not the only area where Marvel has been criticized though-many people, a lot of them women, have criticized Marvel for the depiction of women in their comics.  From the sexualization of female characters to the sexual objectification of same, Marvel has had (and continues to have) a problem with the depiction of women in comics.  It seems they decided to pay attention to one issue women have been criticizing them for, but downplaying or even ignoring one of the other big issues women have been vocal about.   The cover to Spiderwoman #1 is an example of sexual objectification and sexualization of female characters.  That sends a mixed message to readers (remember, women are the readers Marvel is ostensibly reaching out to with its push to create more female headlined books):  “We’re listening to you.  Sometimes.”

“Your concerns are valid. Except when they’re not.”

This conflicting message doesn’t negate Marvel’s recent track record (they currently have 8 books with women as the lead characters, with more on the way very soon, and more, IIRC in the pipeline).  It does, however raise doubts as to how much the company understand the concerns raised by women.  Davis goes on to say:

On Tumblr, Tom Brevoort, the senior vice president of publishing for Marvel Comics, said “the people who are upset about that cover have a point, at least in how the image relates to them.”

I like Tom, but as statements go, that’s pretty lame. It’s the ‘you have a right to be upset over something that upsets you’ line. It’s a non-statement, a safe company line and who could blame Tom for taking it?

Then he added that Manara has been “working as a cartoonist since 1969, and what he does hasn’t materially changed in all that time. So when we say ‘Manara cover,’ his body of work indicates what sort of thing he’s going to do.”

In other words: “Yeah, we knew what we were going to get when we hired him, so deal with it.”

Whoa! Gangsta!

Frankly, I’m impressed that Tom came out like that. You can’t win a war when you’re fighting an army of ‘what I think.’ It’s impossible, so why not just tell the truth and be out?

Everyone’s entitled to his or her opinion and seldom, if ever, will someone’s point of view change on subjects like this. I’m the last person (girl that I am) to reject what any woman sees as offensive but (yeah, but) all this for a drawing?

I was largely with Davis up to this point.  Now he veers off into the all too common isolationist view:  this is just a drawing.  Yes, it’s “just” a drawing, but it’s a drawing that does not exist in isolation. It’s not just this drawing.  It’s this drawing plus Greg Land’s cover.  It’s this drawing plus Greg Land’s interiors.  It’s this drawing plus the sexualized depiction of women in comics.  It’s this drawing plus the problem of T&A in comics.  If it was “just this image”, I doubt the outcry against it would be as huge as it has been.  It’s not just this image.  It’s this image set against a backdrop of the ongoing problem of women in comics being treated as sexual objects, rather than fully realized characters with agency (which itself is set against the backdrop of how society treats women in general).

Davis goes on to say something even more wrong headed, and displays an amazing level of ignorance:

Unless I’m missing something, Marvel is going to make a grip on this, then, like always, the subject will be shelved. That is until the next image of an imaginary character with impossible powers is put into a pose that makes some people upset. Then it’s outrage time again.

I get it.

What I don’t get is where was this level of outrage, this level of media coverage and broadcast saturation was when, not long ago, a woman was threatened with rape because she dared critique an artist’s depiction of some other comic book drawing.

That you didn’t see it means you weren’t paying attention, because there was quite a bit of media attention paid to the rape threats Janelle Asselin received because she criticized the cover to Teen Titans #1 (that’s five different links to media criticism of the rape threats against Asselin).  People rightfully called out that offensive, misogynistic bullshit. Aside from how wrong Davis was about that, he is using the rape threats against Asselin to change the subject because he doesn’t think it’s a big deal that Manara’s work sexually objectifies women.  For someone who claims such affinity with women, he is clearly not listening to their concerns in this case.

Do better Davis. Do better.

 

Michael Davis: Manara's Spiderwoman #1 cover is "just" an image

Marvel E-i-c "Male characters not as sexualized as female characters"

Marvel Comics has been seeking to diversify their output in the last few years.  They currently have 8 books headlined by female characters, and several more in the pipeline. Though these women are largely white characters, a few, notably Storm and Ms. Marvel, are not.  It’s clear Marvel is making strides to appeal to female readers (a demographic that makes up around 46.67% of the readership-a fact that I wasn’t aware of).

Marvel has made missteps along the way though.  The most public of those missteps is commissioning artist Milo Manara to draw an alternative cover to the upcoming Spiderwoman #1.

Manara’s alternate cover to Spiderwoman #1

The cover has drawn the ire of many comic book readers and the backlash has been covered by mainstream news sources such as the Telegraph, the Guardian, Elle magazine, Entertainment Weekly, and even a parody by the Onion.  To be clear though, the problem isn’t just with Manara’s art (Milo Manara is a European artist well known for his NSFW erotic art), though there’s an element of that (after all, he chose the specific position to draw Spiderwoman in, a position that is not only sexually objectifying-look at her butt, the readers’ eyes are drawn to it-but anatomically incorrect).  There is also a problem with the art by regular interior artist Greg Land, who is known for tracing and using female porn models for photo referencing.  The problem goes further than that even.

The problem is with the depiction of female characters in comics.

The problem is that women are too often sexualized or sexually objectified (why, one might make the argument that the treatment of women in comics is <gasp>sexist; the preceding was snark for the humor impaired).

Marvel Comics’ Editor-In-Chief, Axel Alonso, recently spoke about this problem, as well as Marvel’s commitment to diversifying its output, especially with regard to appealing to its female readership.

Alonso also explains that, although Marvel has no official policy, the company has been making an unspoken move towards diversity.

“Slowly we have made progress on that front,” he adds. “We believe there’s an audience of women out there who are hungry for this and we want to make sure they get it. This is affirmative action. This is capitalism.”

Someone needs to explain to him what affirmative action is.  A comic book company putting out comics with female characters as the star is a great thing. It needs to happen more.  That’s called progress (or common sense), not affirmative action.

Alonso admits this is an issue: “I don’t think men are as sexualised as women. But the long and short of it is we’re making efforts to change that trend as it exists.” In a recent statement, he explained that the Spiderwoman cover was a result of “mixed messaging” and apologised to anyone who was upset by it.

I get the sense that Alonso has some awareness of the problem, but he still doesn’t fully grasp the outcry against Manara’s art. Especially problematic is that he things that men are sexualized at all in comics.   I’m going to close this post with a comment I made at the above Telegraph article in response to the idea that “men aren’t sexualized as much as women”:

I’ve been reading comics for over 20 years. In that time, I don’t recall mainstream comics sexualizing men *at all*. It’s probably happened once or twice in that time-I don’t claim to have the memory of an elephant, though when it comes to comics, I *do* have a pretty good memory-but overall, female characters are the ones sexualized in comics. Not men. Part of the problem is a lack of understanding of the terms ‘sexualized’ or ‘sexually objectifying’. What happens to male comic book characters is that they’re *IDEALIZED*. They’re drawn with “perfect” bodies, with sculpted forms, with *ideal* male forms (though with some narrow definitions of “ideal”). Comic books, even today, and especially over the 75 or so years they’ve been around, have heavily catered to male readers. Specifically cisgender, heterosexual male readers. Comics as a medium have rendered male characters as male power fantasies, not as sexualized images. The men in comics have not been drawn in such a way as to make readers view them sexually, which is part of what it means to sexualize them. Contrast that with the depiction of female comic book characters (and no, I don’t claim that all female comics characters are rendered this way. In fact, for the vast majority of the history of comics, they were *NOT* rendered in a sexualized manner-you can’t look at Silver Age comics, for instance, and claim female characters were sexualized therein; the problem is a modern issue, and probably more of a 90s-through today issue). The focus on T&A. The use of the artistic “camera angle” to focus the readers’ eyes on a woman’s breasts or butt, often both at the same time (which is anatomically incorrect much of the time). This is where the sexual objectification comes in. When female characters are sexually objectified, the artistic camera angle focuses on specific body parts of women-those sexualized body part-breasts and butts (though legs and bare tummies are objectified as well), to the detriment of the female character. This doesn’t happen to men. You won’t open a page of a comic book and find panels that focus on mens’ crotches or their butts. You won’t see too many pantsless male characters, and art focusing the readers’ eyes on naked male legs. Focusing the readers’ eyes on the shirtless chest of a male character is not sexualization. Comic book artists, aren’t appealing to gay men or women by drawing shirtless male characters (I’m sure they might be in a few cases, but from the creators’ side, the industry is dominated by heterosexual men, and even the most progressive of them likely isn’t drawing in such a way as to appeal to women or gay men; incidentally, I don’t want my comics to do that; I’m a gay man, but I don’t read comics to see sexually objectified men). That’s an idealized male form.
Characters in comics are idealized (the overabundance of which is another problem on its own), but only women face sexualization and objectification. Alonso needs to listen to what female readers are telling him. He, like many people, are viewing this issue through the lens of their experience-their privilege. It’s ok to have privilege, but to overcome this problem, you need to look at this issue not through the lens of your experiences. You need to listen to the complaints and try to view things as women are seeing them. I hope Alonso, and other comic book creators will do this one day. When that happens, the medium of comics, that I dearly love, will be that much better.

Marvel E-i-c "Male characters not as sexualized as female characters"

Marvel E-i-c “Male characters not as sexualized as female characters”

Marvel Comics has been seeking to diversify their output in the last few years.  They currently have 8 books headlined by female characters, and several more in the pipeline. Though these women are largely white characters, a few, notably Storm and Ms. Marvel, are not.  It’s clear Marvel is making strides to appeal to female readers (a demographic that makes up around 46.67% of the readership-a fact that I wasn’t aware of).

Marvel has made missteps along the way though.  The most public of those missteps is commissioning artist Milo Manara to draw an alternative cover to the upcoming Spiderwoman #1.

Manara’s alternate cover to Spiderwoman #1

The cover has drawn the ire of many comic book readers and the backlash has been covered by mainstream news sources such as the Telegraph, the Guardian, Elle magazine, Entertainment Weekly, and even a parody by the Onion.  To be clear though, the problem isn’t just with Manara’s art (Milo Manara is a European artist well known for his NSFW erotic art), though there’s an element of that (after all, he chose the specific position to draw Spiderwoman in, a position that is not only sexually objectifying-look at her butt, the readers’ eyes are drawn to it-but anatomically incorrect).  There is also a problem with the art by regular interior artist Greg Land, who is known for tracing and using female porn models for photo referencing.  The problem goes further than that even.

The problem is with the depiction of female characters in comics.

The problem is that women are too often sexualized or sexually objectified (why, one might make the argument that the treatment of women in comics is <gasp>sexist; the preceding was snark for the humor impaired).

Marvel Comics’ Editor-In-Chief, Axel Alonso, recently spoke about this problem, as well as Marvel’s commitment to diversifying its output, especially with regard to appealing to its female readership.

Alonso also explains that, although Marvel has no official policy, the company has been making an unspoken move towards diversity.

“Slowly we have made progress on that front,” he adds. “We believe there’s an audience of women out there who are hungry for this and we want to make sure they get it. This is affirmative action. This is capitalism.”

Someone needs to explain to him what affirmative action is.  A comic book company putting out comics with female characters as the star is a great thing. It needs to happen more.  That’s called progress (or common sense), not affirmative action.

Alonso admits this is an issue: “I don’t think men are as sexualised as women. But the long and short of it is we’re making efforts to change that trend as it exists.” In a recent statement, he explained that the Spiderwoman cover was a result of “mixed messaging” and apologised to anyone who was upset by it.

I get the sense that Alonso has some awareness of the problem, but he still doesn’t fully grasp the outcry against Manara’s art. Especially problematic is that he things that men are sexualized at all in comics.   I’m going to close this post with a comment I made at the above Telegraph article in response to the idea that “men aren’t sexualized as much as women”:

I’ve been reading comics for over 20 years. In that time, I don’t recall mainstream comics sexualizing men *at all*. It’s probably happened once or twice in that time-I don’t claim to have the memory of an elephant, though when it comes to comics, I *do* have a pretty good memory-but overall, female characters are the ones sexualized in comics. Not men. Part of the problem is a lack of understanding of the terms ‘sexualized’ or ‘sexually objectifying’. What happens to male comic book characters is that they’re *IDEALIZED*. They’re drawn with “perfect” bodies, with sculpted forms, with *ideal* male forms (though with some narrow definitions of “ideal”). Comic books, even today, and especially over the 75 or so years they’ve been around, have heavily catered to male readers. Specifically cisgender, heterosexual male readers. Comics as a medium have rendered male characters as male power fantasies, not as sexualized images. The men in comics have not been drawn in such a way as to make readers view them sexually, which is part of what it means to sexualize them. Contrast that with the depiction of female comic book characters (and no, I don’t claim that all female comics characters are rendered this way. In fact, for the vast majority of the history of comics, they were *NOT* rendered in a sexualized manner-you can’t look at Silver Age comics, for instance, and claim female characters were sexualized therein; the problem is a modern issue, and probably more of a 90s-through today issue). The focus on T&A. The use of the artistic “camera angle” to focus the readers’ eyes on a woman’s breasts or butt, often both at the same time (which is anatomically incorrect much of the time). This is where the sexual objectification comes in. When female characters are sexually objectified, the artistic camera angle focuses on specific body parts of women-those sexualized body part-breasts and butts (though legs and bare tummies are objectified as well), to the detriment of the female character. This doesn’t happen to men. You won’t open a page of a comic book and find panels that focus on mens’ crotches or their butts. You won’t see too many pantsless male characters, and art focusing the readers’ eyes on naked male legs. Focusing the readers’ eyes on the shirtless chest of a male character is not sexualization. Comic book artists, aren’t appealing to gay men or women by drawing shirtless male characters (I’m sure they might be in a few cases, but from the creators’ side, the industry is dominated by heterosexual men, and even the most progressive of them likely isn’t drawing in such a way as to appeal to women or gay men; incidentally, I don’t want my comics to do that; I’m a gay man, but I don’t read comics to see sexually objectified men). That’s an idealized male form.
Characters in comics are idealized (the overabundance of which is another problem on its own), but only women face sexualization and objectification. Alonso needs to listen to what female readers are telling him. He, like many people, are viewing this issue through the lens of their experience-their privilege. It’s ok to have privilege, but to overcome this problem, you need to look at this issue not through the lens of your experiences. You need to listen to the complaints and try to view things as women are seeing them. I hope Alonso, and other comic book creators will do this one day. When that happens, the medium of comics, that I dearly love, will be that much better.

Marvel E-i-c “Male characters not as sexualized as female characters”

Abortion Rights News

 

Politicians love to interfere in a woman’s right to choose.   It’s always under the pretense of “guarding the sanctity of life” or “protecting the life of the unborn”.  There’s never any regard for the woman carrying the fetus.  Never any concern for her well-being. Such is the case, once again in Missouri:

Overriding Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of a measure tripling the waiting period for an abortion is one of several priorities for Republican lawmakers this week during the veto session.

Nixon, a Democrat, was uncharacteristically critical of the bill, saying its lack of an exception for victims of rape and incest was a “glaring omission” that was “wholly insensitive to women who find themselves in horrific circumstances.”

Bill handler Sen. David Sater, R-Cassville, said he’s confident both chambers will override the veto.

“We’ve got the votes, so unless some of the Democrats in the Senate decide to filibuster, it’ll go through just fine,” Sater said.

The Senate passed the bill on a party-line vote of 22-9, one shy of the 23 needed for an override. The House passed it 111-39, more than the 109 needed for an override. The Senate’s missing Republican vote belonged to Sen. Mike Cunningham, R-Rogersville, who was absent because his mother died.

He supports the bill, saying he doesn’t “think waiting is too much to ask of someone before they terminate a life.”

 

It’s far too long if a woman does not want to be pregnant any longer.  See, this is the problem they have:  they aren’t looking at women as thinking human beings capable of making decisions about their bodies (with the informed opinions of their doctors).  THAT, and they think an embryo or fetus is something special.  They’ve no regard for the right to bodily autonomy, nor the right to self defense (the latter is granted by the former) for women.  It’s sickening to see a fucking fetus valued more than an existing woman.

 


 

 

The Dawn of the Post Clinic Abortion

Access to abortion services can range from relatively easy to virtually impossible, depending on where a woman lives.  Some countries (including the oh so democratic and progressive and wonderful and gah gah gag me with a spoon United States) ostensibly allow legal abortions-but anti-abortion activists have been successful in closing many clinics or throwing up tremendous obstacles to this basic right of all women.  Other countries like those in Latin America, Africa, or Asia often have severe restrictions on abortion, or the procedure is outright banned. Thankfully, there are determined people like Rebecca Gomperts who, through the use of modern technology and a strong desire to reduce the suffering of others, have helped women across the globe terminate their pregnancies on their own terms.  In this article, read about Gomperts first attempts to help women obtain the abortion drugs misoprostol and mifepristone (formerly RU-486), the obstacles she faced and continues to face in her attempt to use the internet to assist women in obtaining abortion inducing drugs, and the frustration felt by women around the globe who want nothing more than to end their pregnancies  (you’ll want to kick back somewhere comfortable-the article, well worth reading, is lengthy):

(excerpt)

Gomperts is a general-practice physician and activist. She first assisted with an abortion 20 years ago on a trip to Guinea, just before she finished medical school in Amsterdam. Three years later, Gomperts went to work as a ship’s doctor on a Greenpeace vessel. Landing in Mexico, she met a girl who was raising her younger siblings because her mother had died during a botched illegal abortion. When the ship traveled to Costa Rica and Panama, women told her about hardships they suffered because they didn’t have access to the procedure. “It was not part of my medical training to talk about illegal abortion and the public-health impact it has,” Gomperts told me this summer. “In those intense discussions with women, it really hit me.”

When she returned to the Netherlands, Gomperts decided she wanted to figure out how to help women like the ones she had met. She did some legal and medical research and concluded that in a Dutch-registered ship governed by Dutch law, she could sail into the harbor of a country where abortion is illegal, take women on board, bring them into international waters, give them the pills at sea and send them home to miscarry. Calling the effort Women on Waves, she chose Dublin as her first destination.

Ten women each gave Gomperts 10,000 Dutch guilders (about $5,500), part of the money needed to rent a boat and pay for a crew. But to comply with Dutch law, she also had to build a mobile abortion clinic. Tapping contacts she made a decade earlier, when she attended art school at night while studying medicine, she got in touch with Joep van Lieshout, a well-known Dutch artist, and persuaded him to design the clinic. They applied for funds from the national arts council and built it together inside the shipping container. When the transport ministry threatened to revoke the ship’s authorization because of the container on deck, van Lieshout faxed them a certificate decreeing the clinic a functional work of art, titled “a-portable.” The ship was allowed to sail, and van Lieshout later showed a mock-up of the clinic at the Venice Biennale.

As the boat sailed toward Dublin, Gomperts and her shipmates readied their store of pills and fielded calls from the press and emails from hundreds of Irish women seeking appointments. The onslaught of interest took them by surprise. So did a controversy that was starting to brew back home. Conservative politicians in the Netherlands denounced Gomperts for potentially breaking a law that required a special license for any doctor to provide an abortion after six and a half weeks of pregnancy. Gomperts had applied for it a few months earlier and received no reply. She set sail anyway, planning to perform abortions only up to six and a half weeks if the license did not come through.

When Gomperts’s ship docked in Dublin, she still didn’t have the license. Irish women’s groups were divided over what to do. Gomperts decided she couldn’t go ahead without their united support and told a group of reporters and protesters that she wouldn’t be able to give out a single pill. “This is just the first of many trips that we plan to make,” she said from the shore, wrapped in a blanket, a scene that is captured in “Vessel,” a documentary about her work that will be released this winter. Gomperts was accused of misleading women. A headline in The Telegraph in London read: “Abortion Boat Admits Dublin Voyage Was a Publicity Sham.”

Gomperts set sail again two years later, this time resolving to perform abortions only up to six and a half weeks. She went to Poland first and to Portugal in 2004. The Portuguese minister of defense sent two warships to stop the boat, then just 12 miles offshore, from entering national waters. No local boat could be found to ferry out the women who were waiting onshore. “In the beginning we were very pissed off, thinking the campaign was failing because the ship couldn’t get in,” one Portuguese activist says in “Vessel.” “But at a certain point, we realized that was the best thing that could ever happen. Because we had media coverage from everywhere.”

Without consulting her local allies, Gomperts changed strategy. She appeared on a Portuguese talk show, held up a pack of pills on-screen and explained exactly how women could induce an abortion at home — specifying the number of pills they needed to take, at intervals, and warning that they might feel pain. A Portuguese anti-abortion campaigner who was also on the show challenged the ship’s operation on legal grounds. “Excuse me,” Gomperts said. “I really think you should not talk about things that you don’t know anything about, O.K. . . . I know what I can do within the law.” Looking directly at him, she added, “Concerning pregnancy, you’re a man, you can walk away when your girlfriend is pregnant. I’m pregnant now, and I had an abortion when I was — a long time ago. And I’m very happy that I have the choice to continue my pregnancy how I want, and that I had the choice to end it when I needed it.” She pointed at the man. “You have never given birth, so you don’t know what it means to do that.”

Two and a half years later, Portugal legalized abortion. As word of Gomperts’s TV appearance spread, activists in other countries saw it as a breakthrough. Gomperts had communicated directly to women what was still, in many places, a well-kept secret: There were pills on the market with the power to end a pregnancy. Emails from women all over the world poured into Women on Waves, asking about the medication and how to get it. Gomperts wanted to help women “give themselves permission” to take the pills, as she puts it, with as little involvement by the government, or the medical profession, as possible. She realized that there was an easier way to do this than showing up in a port. She didn’t need a ship. She just needed the Internet.

Gomperts no longer works from a boat. Eight years ago she started Women on Web, a “telemedicine support service” for women around the world who are seeking medical abortions. She and a small staff share a one-room office in Amsterdam on a residential street, where red-and-pink flowers bloom on the balconies of brick buildings. Early in July, I went to visit the space, which has six workstations with computers, a few shelves and a filing cabinet with the sticker “Trust Women.” A large window opens onto a courtyard, where a Cupid fountain bubbles.

 


Wendy Davis, gubernatorial candidate for Texas, revealed in a memoir that she had two medically necessary abortions:

Davis writes in Forgetting to be Afraid that she had an abortion in 1996 after an exam revealed that the brain of the fetus had developed in complete separation on the right and left sides. She also describes ending an earlier ectopic pregnancy, in which an embryo implants outside the uterus.

Davis disclosed the terminated pregnancies for the first time since her 13-hours filibuster — a parliamentary maneuver that required her to talk non-stop to try to run out the time on proposed legislation — last year over a tough new Texas abortion law.

Both pregnancies happened before Davis, a state senator from Fort Worth, began her political career and after she was already a mother to two young girls.

She writes that the ectopic pregnancy happened in 1994 during her first trimester. Terminating the pregnancy was considered medically necessary. Such pregnancies generally aren’t considered viable, meaning the fetus can’t survive, and the mother’s life could be in danger. But Davis wrote that in Texas, it’s “technically considered an abortion, and doctors have to report it as such.”

Davis said she and her former husband, Jeff, wound up expecting another child in 1996. After a later exam revealed the brain defect, doctors told her the baby would be deaf, blind and in a permanent vegetative state if she survived delivery.

“I could feel her little body tremble violently, as if someone were applying an electric shock to her, and I knew then what I needed to do,” Davis writes. “She was suffering.”

<

p class=”story-body-text story-content”>You may remember Wendy Davis from her nearly 12 hour attempt to filibuster Senate Bill 5 back in June 2013.

Abortion Rights News

Feminism isn't that hard to understand

I’ve seen many a comment from people complaining about feminists, or saying “I don’t call myself a feminist, but I support women’s rights”.  What the heck do these people think feminism is?  The definition of feminism, as I understand it is:  a movement or ideology concerned with achieving social, religious, political, cultural, and economic equality for women.  It is not about tearing down men. It is not about removing anyone’s rights.  It is not about giving women special rights.  It is not about women achieving female superiority.  I’d be curious to hear from people who advocate for women’s rights, but reject the label ‘feminist’-why do you reject the label?

Jamie McKelvie:

 

Feminism isn't that hard to understand

Feminism isn’t that hard to understand

I’ve seen many a comment from people complaining about feminists, or saying “I don’t call myself a feminist, but I support women’s rights”.  What the heck do these people think feminism is?  The definition of feminism, as I understand it is:  a movement or ideology concerned with achieving social, religious, political, cultural, and economic equality for women.  It is not about tearing down men. It is not about removing anyone’s rights.  It is not about giving women special rights.  It is not about women achieving female superiority.  I’d be curious to hear from people who advocate for women’s rights, but reject the label ‘feminist’-why do you reject the label?

Jamie McKelvie:

 

Feminism isn’t that hard to understand