Yesterday’s twitter dumpster fire over writer Chelsea Cain quitting twitter  after harassing tweets, led to a very popular hashtag called #standwithchelseacain that saw people from every level of comics taking a stand against twitter harassment and abuse.

It also led to cool things, like this drawing by Declan Shalvey with colors by Jordie Bellaire:

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and a SALE on this We Love Fine t-shirt with the  Feminist Agenda slogan from the cover of Mockingbird #8.wunl988cdd1_feministagenda2_pnk-1000x1000

 

I should note that the shirt comes in the Pantone Color of the Year Rose Quartz (more or less) so it’s stylish as well as trend setting.

Elana Levin wrote about the matter for Graphic Policy:

Mockingbird, Midnighter, Ms. Marvel, Squirrel Girl, Nitehawk, Silk and Luke Cage and Iron Fist are the future of superhero comics. They are embraced by an underserved audience who thought mainstream superhero comic books weren’t for them until more were made with them specifically in mind. The new line of superheroes from Lion Forge Comics sounds a lot like the future too.

In fact, socially relevant superheroes are also at the core of superhero comics’ legacy. Jack Kirby, Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster, William Moulton Marston, Elizabeth Holloway Marston and Olive Byrne where all Social Justice Warriors in their day. Doubt me? The feminism of Kirby’s work can best be seen in the blog Kirby without words. Or read “A People’s History of the Marvel Universe.”

Sexists who are complaining about comics being feminist don’t even know the history of comics. The sad truth though is that there are currently plenty of regressive comics that are made just for them. So even if they don’t want to acknowledge the true power of the medium they still have plenty of sexist, racist, homophobic dreck they can pick up at their local store.

 

I should also note that a kind of “Chelsea Cain truther” movement has sprung  up demanding to see screen caps of the harassing tweets or suggesting that they should have been ignored. After I posted my story yesterday my own mentions blew up with dedicated truthtellers devoted to an endless quest for justice demanding to know what the problem was. After reading these tweets, really, I can’t imagine why anyone would feel bullied!

For the record, when someone says they have been harassed on Twitter this is about 99.999999999% on the believability scale.  It’s like saying, “Oh it was raining yesterday and I got wet.” or “If the Cubs win the World Series, people in Chicago will be excited.” These are not claims that we seriously need to investigate. And to suggest that Cain was making this up is another variation on the “Lying Woman” myth that you see everywhere these days.

Furthermore, Chelsea Cain can quit twitter over anything she wants to and it’s not up to us to judge her motivations. (According to the Truthers she was just trying to get attention for her now cancelled book.)

That said, as a snoopy journalist, I was curious myself. I’ve made screen caps of these tweets and removed identifying handles. Interestingly enough, other tweeters were caught in the crossfire, probably after mentioning Cain or Mockingbird:

 

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This “variant edition ” of the cover was also posted:

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So let’s not pretend there wasn’t a campaign of gaslighting and insults being thrown at Cain. Many of the people involved in this were tweeting at me yesterday, and it’s annoying. I’d call it more harassing than abusive, but it’s twitter bullying couched in concern trolling. Because you know, in movies when the bullies come around they can say “I’m going to wreck your bike unless you give me $20!” or they can say “That’s a nice bike. It would be a shame if something happened to it.” Both are bullying. Both are the work of cowards  and if Cain was sick of it and wanted to move on that’s her prerogative, and it’s our prerogative to stand against bullying. 

Cain is still active on social media, just not on Twitter. I hope she hasn’t been driven away from comics entirely by the peculiar assholes who inhabit the comics space. Why and how they exist is something I’ve given a some thought to over the last 20 years, because I’ve had many, many, many run ins with them. Probably too much thought. But for me the best way to change something is to understand something. I’m hoping that #standwithchelseacain is just the start of making comics twitter a friendlier, more productive place.  I also hope the Cubs win the World Series. One of these will be a miracle.

 

32 COMMENTS

  1. As a lifelong male reader of comics that helped to teach me right from wrong and, as you have stated, the ideas behind social justice before the term “SJW” was coined, I’m embarrassed by this story and readers who can’t see the logical fallacy between the stories they claim to read and love and their own actions in the real world. For get the gender or race or sexual politics behind any of this. What ever happens to be a decent human being who respects other people’s ideas and opinions, even if they are different from yours. It’s possible to disagree with someone and not be an asshole, but comics social media everyday seems to be more and more of a microcosm of our current political climate in this country.

  2. Heidi, I wanted to thank you for following this story. Chelsea Cain wrote a damn fine comic, imo; it was totally my jam. And this kind of treatment, writing her directly to say those things after her book’s already been cancelled? That’s not criticism; that’s kicking someone when they’re down, and she didn’t have to take it if she didn’t want to. Good on everyone who’s been standing by her, though; that speaks to a strong community.

  3. Such BS. That comic was as good as Fraction’s Hawkeye, hands down. There was nothing preachy in it. I’m male, never did the comic feeling like pandering SJ, to me. It was a hard sell because Mockingbird remains a c-list character. In the shop I work at, I found a lot of folk didn’t even know who she was – on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. she was only ever referred to as Bobbi, so some folk didn’t even make the connection. I was on board for the series from the start, I love Bobbi as a character since she flipped Hawkeye over her back and asked him to marry her. BUT this series wasn’t just a chance to connect with a old favorite, it was SO WELL WRITTEN, even the art was perfect for the tone of the series. The series cleverly used all of her backstories from Ka-Zar and the Huntress, to make her story make sense. If Kurt Busiek had written it, people would have called it brilliant.

    I hope this kinda drudgery doesn’t affect the new Hawkeye series.

    It’s odd though… do you think Jane Foster as Thor isn’t getting attacked as much because she’s written by a man? (I realize Jane is still getting attacked, just not at this level)

    This is nuts. I miss the old days, when the internet wouldn’t set one’s blood to boiling every day.

  4. And what Erik says above is SO TRUE! As a lifelong comic reader I too learned about treating people equally and about “social justice” from comics. The heroes we read about and love and adore they are all SJWs, they wouldn’t condone any of this type of behaviour. Superman and Batman, they’re feminists, you bet… Man, I’m steamed up. Gonna go buy another Mockingbird #8 t-shirt.

  5. ” The heroes we read about and love and adore they are all SJWs,”

    Holy crap there’s a massive campaign opportunity for Marvel and/or DC here.

  6. Folks who engage in this sort of behavior absolutely should be called out on it and where possible held to some sort of accountability. Though, the last point is a lot harder to realize in any real sense. The part of this I am seeing glossed over a bit in the comics press and I think is worth calling out and discussing is: It is “comic book people” doing this, This isn’t the case of this writer facing abuse and the comic book community riding in like a white knight to save the day, but, this is a case of the fanbase engaging in entitled and abusive behavior and a small subset of the community attempting to combat this sort of behavior. Ms. Cain herself, I believe, stated that she had never faced this sort of abuse before being involved in the comic book community. I make this point because this isn’t an isolated incident. I think a case can be made that comic book folks are among the most toxic online and this is a story that surfaces again and again. This is more the norm than not. I think this battle is an interesting microcosm for the overall debate happening in the US right now. An aging majority seeing a demographic and value shift and bringing unable to deal with it. My condolences to Ms. Cain and family. no one should have to go through hell to write a damned comic book.

  7. Thanks for posting these stories. The industry and community needs it.

    I don’t understand why trolls troll.
    I don’t understand victim blaming.
    So frustrating.

  8. How do you even stop this? Calling out trolls and engaging with them is an endless battle that can never be won. They don’t stop, they have nothing to live for except bullying and attacking and they multiply.

    An infestation of cockroaches and rats in the sewer. So frustrating.

  9. Hi Harold,

    Not sure if that was directed at my mention of community, but I should have qualified that, since as you said, these attacks came from within, as it were. And it’s sad. All I meant was that the number of people standing up to this sort of harassment and saying “That’s not okay!” *does* seem to be growing, and that’s the good I was trying to highlight in a real mess of an issue.

  10. Calling her a “psycho bitch” (which I read initially as definitely directed more towards Mockingbird than Cain herself, though the one guy pressed the issue onto Cain) is the only thing that can even come close to resembling some form of harassment. The idea that Chelsea Cain was endlessly harassed enough to quit Twitter compared to what Leslie James went through this past summer is laughable. Being called names is really shitty, but harassment? Come on. This very website has called many other far worse. Stating “maybe Mockingbird failed because people don’t want to be lectured?” is a valid criticism. You can agree or disagree with it all you want, but it’s valid, and it’s stated in a way that’s not rude to the author in the least. If Chelsea Cain was called, well, whatever the white equivalent to the n-word is, pejoratives about a woman’s vagina, or whether or not she should be raped, then that’s harassment. People complaining about the book’s take on identity politics or whether or not is lecturing is just that: complaining. It is absolutely not harassment, and to call it as such essentially lessens what actual harassment towards women can be and can do to them, and it allows less critical discussion of what comics are or should be. I want to hammer this home: Just because you disagree with someone doesn’t make their opinion harassing or a form of harassment. If they sat there and tried to doxx her or threaten her with shit like rape and other horrific things, like what James suffered, then we’d have a real discussion. This is hand wringing of the highest order.

  11. Are you talking about Leslie Jones? We’re not in position to validate her harassment as real, she’s not the first one and sadly, not the last one. No more excuses, please.

  12. Some miss the irony that Len Wein and Neal Adams created Bobbi Morse in 1971 (long–I’m sure–before most of the misogynist asshats were born) as being every bit as good as any man, and better and smarter than most. The character was created a superb,, trained fighter with a PhD. Only an idiot would write her as anything but a Feminist, and Ms. Cain is by far the opposite.

  13. @Adrian B: Thanks for the link, but I don’t see how it “refutes this entire article”. All I see it refuting is Heidi’s claim that the harassing tweets were organized, instead of just being run-of-the-mill twitter harassment. Which is pretty damning in and of itself, really.

  14. From Chelsea’s post:

    “I think the larger cultural story is important. People are trolled. People are ruined. And trolls get away with it, because they can take down anyone, if their ire is raised. There is still a vocal segment of the comic book readership that is dominated by sexist jerks with Twitter accounts. Twitter is still a highly flawed platform that nurtures a culture of bullying. ”

    agreed on all counts.

  15. I’m a self-identified SJW. If standing up for being nice to people is bad, then I’m a bad guy.

    If Chelsea Cain felt threatened or bullied or whatever, then she gets to quit Twitter and say she felt bullied. It doesn’t matter if some man feels like the messages didn’t pass their bullying test. What matters is how Cain felt.

    Fuck the men who want “proof.” Nothing will be good enough for them.

  16. Interesting thread from Dan Seitz. A highlight:

    “So let’s talk for a minute about Marvel and Disney, because harassment, and Marvel’s response to it, may be risking the company.”

    Another::

    “And if one of these scandals makes the NYT? Forget it. Disney will fall on Marvel like the wrath of God.”

    He adds that “Disney doesn’t need comics to sell Spider-Man jammies.”

  17. Joe: Yes, there is a growing perception of the core comic-book audience — the superhero fanboy audience — as toxic and getting more toxic. Now that perception has spread beyond fandom and into the mainstream media.

    As Dan Seitz tweeted, the parent companies of Marvel and DC aren’t gonna be happy when the comics managers have to explain that, “Our audience is aging white dudes who call women whores on the internet.”

  18. “Let me be clear: I did not leave Twitter because I was trolled; I was trolled because I said I was going to leave Twitter. ”

    Drama Queen…

    It’s not hard in this day and age for a person of to make themselves look like a martyr. All it takes for someone to become a martyr. is thin skin (be feminine) and a huge sense of self-righteousness. Cain should have claimed to cry at some of the comments. That would have rallied more White Knights to her defense…because we all know…
    deep down…
    deep down…
    the truth is….
    women are weaker than men…and cannot mentally defend themselves from on any level…including criticism…especially criticism. They need protection.

    “What ever happens to be a decent human being who respects other people’s ideas and opinions, even if they are different from yours. It’s possible to disagree with someone and not be an asshole, but comics social media everyday seems to be more and more of a microcosm of our current political climate in this country.” I made a similar post regarding an article about the Ghostbusters reboot a few months ago. I think the days where two sides had mutual respect are long gone, if they ever existed. Economic inequality is contributing to social fragmentation. People relate to people outside their social group less and less.

    I said this before,,,why does anyone think the introduction of Identity Politics is going to help the comics industry…or any creator …?

    “Choice of theme is based on how much relative power a ideological movement has.

    When you are weak and fighting a cultural hegemony you promote free speech, the right to be different, rebellion, nonconformity and open debate.

    “When you are powerful you shut down free speech, pillory people for thinking differently, cast rebellion as evil, conformity to one ideal as the only good and shut down debate like your life depends on it.” Where do affluent women, minorities, and LGBT people fit…are they weak…(are they getting killed and imprisoned) or are they strong? Can anyone make the argument that the typical SJW is weak? Do weak people get extensive news coverage ? Do weak people win legal battles?

    “As Dan Seitz tweeted, the parent companies of Marvel and DC aren’t gonna be happy when the comics managers have to explain that, “Our audience is aging white dudes who call women whores on the internet.””
    Twitter is a reputable source…for drama and rumors….the kind of things women seem to be more interested in, than men, in general.

    It comes down to a He said She said situation
    http://thatgrapejuice.net/2016/10/tearful-azealia-banks-breaks-recounting-alleged-assault-russell-crowe-video/

    When both sides are doing something wrong…why would anyone try to use something as ugly and divisive as this to sell comics?

    Some of you think “Identity Politics” should be brought to the films It worked so well for the Ghostbusters reboot. Alienating over 50% of the potential audience by accusing them all of being racists and misogynists is a surefire way to sell a movie in this day and age. Alienating over 50% of the potential audience by accusing them all of being racists and misogynists will increase empathy amongst people. Deadass.

  19. Going forward, we need to have much more honest discussion about power.

    Any female creator who wants to use feminism to sell their comics will need to put forth a convincing empirically rigorous argument that shows how most women around them have no power.

    One of the reasons why I think there is a lot more political polarization, in general, is that there is a lot more power among groups of people… Political polarization cannot last long when one side has much more power than the other…

    Money Trumps everything…but feminists these days are convince that all our problems are due to Bigotry. Class is taboo because if we could talk about class, we’d realize that many feminists are idle affluent women with trust funds trying to convince us that they are oppressed….quick, make Google make a job for them because…that’s easier than getting developing the skills that would make Google want to hire them.

  20. “Dan Seitz
    @theta1138

    filmmaker, Internet comedy writer, advice columnist, juggler, tech nerd, begrudging Ubuntu user. Opinions my own.”

    Totally qualified to talk about social problems. He protects himself from accusations of lying by calling them “opinions”…interesting. Genius, actually.

  21. ebgrjh: Aren’t you due at a Trump rally or militia meeting, or something similar? Maybe a GamerGate summit? Or a Dave Sim fan club meeting?

    Oh, but then you’d have to turn off your computer, leave your home, and possibly run into a woman. I know that would terrify you.

  22. It’s not okay for me to make speculative Ad hominem statements on here, when I run out of the ability to reason, but it is okay for you to make speculative Ad hominem statements on here because you have a strong woman you can hide behind and I don’t. I get that. But do you have to rub it in?

  23. ‘”ebgrjh:” said: “Any female creator who wants to use feminism to sell their comics will need to put forth a convincing empirically rigorous argument that shows how most women around them have no power.”

    Sure, “ebgrjh,” as soon as you provide us with a convincing empirically rigorous argument of your credentials as a social critic and expert on gender issues and pop culture. We’re waiting!

  24. “What ever happens to be a decent human being who respects other people’s ideas and opinions, even if they are different from yours.”

    Nerd pride’s “don’t care what other people think, be yourself instead!” happened to it, that’s what.

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