03Bp1
Well, well, the debate over Josh Tyler’s mild statement We Don’t Need More Female Superheroes is getting a few ladies riled up. Dodai at Jezebel’s hackles are raised right up.:

First: I’m a woman who hates Julia Roberts. I hated that hooker with the heart of gold movie, found it to be condescending and nauseating, and I am not looking forward to seeing anything she does in 2009. By the by: Selling yourself on a street corner while waiting for Prince Charming? Not cute.

Second: I loved Wonder Woman when I was a kid. I had Wonder Woman underoos! A Wonder Woman swimsuit, which I wore with roller skates! I wanted to spin around and have my outfit change, I wanted to chase bad guys and kick ass, and I still do. I love Coffy, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, The Fifth Element, Resident Evil, Underworld and all kinds of stories in which a female — possibly wearing tight leather pants — is powerful, gorgeous and super-human in her strength and ability to drop-kick a fool.

Third: There’s nothing sexist about wanting a female superhero; there is something sexist in assuming that all women only want to see Sex And The City-type movies, that women are a monolithic block who all act the same way and want the same things. Women are multifaceted with varied interests. I never played with dolls as a child and I know I am not the only one. Why can’t the next generation look up to Wonder Woman, Catwoman or She-Ra the way my sister and I did? Why is Carrie Bradshaw the only acceptable alternative? And since when is it a man’s place to tell women what they do and do not need? Dude. Give me my goddamned Christopher Nolan-directed Catwoman and shut the fuck up. Is anyone with me?


Mariah Huehner, for one.

::deep sigh:: Yeah, we’ve all heard the one about how women like romance and “love” stories and guys like exploding things with cars that go Zoom!. ::yaaaawn:: What an amazing bit of trite, obvious, stereotypical, gender categorizing. Can’t someone PLEASE come up with something new? Because women are not a hive vagina. And while I may like a story about love or relationships, I ALSO LIKE STORIES ABOUT THINGS THAT GO BOOM! These things are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Nor does my uterus decide what stories I like. This constant need to label women a certain way (and men, too, though due to the male perspective being dominant and default “neutral” it has a different result)just works my last nerve. Also, the guy quoted in that article is WAY not up on his comic book history. Apparently he hasn’t read any of Trina Robbins work on the subject, but Wonder Woman’s audience has often been comprised of women. I’m not sure where he got “never” from. I also don’t know who the “most women” are that he thinks we should poll about what movies they’re looking forward to in 2009 because the “odds are that it will be something starring Julia Roberts.” I’m looking forward to a lot of movies that do not star Ms. Roberts in any way. While I may be more interested in a project due to my respect of the actor/director/writer involved, the story has to grab me. Otherwise I don’t really care who’s in it. And Ms. Roberts hasn’t been in anything I looked forward to since Mystic Pizza. This is what happens when you base arguments on sweeping generalizations made about an entire gender. They are crappy and bad and full of holes.


In short, to generalize…generalizations suck.

1 COMMENT

  1. Josh Tyler can be reached here: http://www.cinemablend.com/features/About-Us-296.html#Josh%20Tyler
    Take a look at his mug, and send him a note. I was going to say that he looks like he knows a lot about what women want, but I’m sure there are other people with better vocabularies and turns-of-phrase who can do a much better job than I can.

    For the record, my wife also watches and likes action movies. Gasp! I knew I was in trouble when I watched her reactions while watching “Aliens” with her. I’m guessing Mr. Tyler wasn’t old enough to watch “Aliens” at the theatre like we were when it first came out; hopefully with time (and a few hundred e-mails) his opinions might mature a bit.

    (Also for the record, the only Julia Roberts movie I really liked was “Notting Hill”; it was kinda interesting watching her play an actress starring in roles that seemed as insipid and ridiculous as some of the roles she’s had to play in real life. Kind of classic in that play-within-a-play form that was described in my high school English classes.)

  2. Well, at there is an argument, but it’s pretty absurd that it comes up as much as it does so hopefully we can one day understand people exist on a spectrum of rich complexity and don’t fit well into nicely labeled boxes for our stacking pleasure. Maybe I just had a better role model: Mom.

    Raised two kids by herself, worked for UPS, loves to dance, beat-up at least two men since I’ve been alive (for very good reasons), once had to put down a german shepherd with her bare hands after it attacked her and loved the Coco by Chanel gift box she got for Christmas.

    And mom’s favorite movies: Predator, Gladiator, and Child’s Play (the idea of a homicidal doll in red shoes is the funniest thing she has ever heard).

    In short, if try to generalize my mom, she’ll punch you in the face AND beat up your dad.

  3. My mother — a woman in her 60s — and I squabble over who gets to use the computer to play GUILD WARS.

    Generalizations are so much fun.

  4. How about this as a hypothetical generalization:

    “A lot of women do like adventure-stories but they don’t obsess about them as much as men do, and that makes women a less dependable market for purveyors of said adventure-stories.”

  5. Gene, you are kidding right? Women don’t obsess over things they like? Have you ever read this blog?

    Maybe I am taking all this so personally because the more I read all these generalizations the more I feel like a freak of nature. I guess I am. I’m lucky to have found a place in decent society.

  6. “This is what happens when you base arguments on sweeping generalizations made about an entire gender. They are crappy and bad and full of holes.”

    As feminists’ statements on men and masculinity demonstrate regularly.

  7. Joe, there is a significant difference between observation and expectation. Generalizations that tell me how I should think or how I should act are bogus for either sex. Observations of actual differences and similarities are far more worthy of study and may not give any of us the answers we like.

    For instance, 99% of all rape arrests are men. That’s an observation. However the statement “All men are rapists,” is an expectation and stupid.

    Of course there are differences between men and women. There are differences between people from New York and people from LA. How many of these differences are caused by social forces? Even some of our most cherished beliefs may be more influenced by social factors than is generally believed. For instance, in the eloquent words of Barbie, we all know that “math is hard” for girls. But then . Even a cursory study of social anthropology shows that many things that are believed to be innate human behavioral traits in one society or another are just learned behavior.

    A stronger society is one where emotion-based, restricting generalizations are not used as rules of law to hold anyone — male, female or whatevs — back from using whatever abilities they possess to make things better for everyone.

  8. Has anyone ever read a catfight story written by a woman?

    Wonder Woman would be much less attractive for writers of B&D fiction and porn if she weren’t an Amazon, but if she weren’t an Amazon. . .

    What Tyler is saying is that the publishing world doesn’t need more heroines written by men to appeal to a stereotypically male reader. He could have said it better.

    In this particular instance (Rambeau as the Black Panther?), having Rambeau change her identity again would make the character a bad joke.

    SRS

  9. Maybe Monica’s gimmick should be that she keeps stealing other hero’s names.

    First Captain Marvel.
    Then Photon. (although she may have been Photon first, I dont remember)
    Now Black Panther

    Coming soon… Monica is Spider-Woman, War Machine and Dr. Doom.

  10. “Maybe I am taking all this so personally because the more I read all these generalizations the more I feel like a freak of nature. I guess I am.”

    As am I, Mariah, Rachel Edidin, Samantha Robertson, Shawna Gore, and the majority of my non-comics-reading female friends. It’s easy to defy expectations when expectations are that we’ll flock to Sex in the City or Julia Roberts films …

    For the record, I bemoan the fact that there’s no She-Ra equivalent for girls growing up today. She was my first big hero as a child, helming her own TV show and action-figure line … which sadly is more than we can say for the current incarnation of Wonder Woman. At least I didn’t have to grow up with Bratz.

  11. Heidi asks:

    “Gene, you are kidding right? Women don’t obsess over things they like? Have you ever read this blog?”

    Some women do, but it’s my personal *observation* that numerically they aren’t as significant *market-wise* as the women who will simply go to the newest action-movie because it’s the Newest Film Out to Get the Hollywood Hype-Treatment. A lot of men also will see the new Keanu Reeves (or whoever) film simply because it’s been heavily hyped, but I think men tend to really follow the adventure-films of even B-level stars more intensely.

    Remember, my hypothesis is statistical in nature– even though I’m basing it purely in my own observations– so it shouldn’t be taken as any sort of essentialist statement about feminine 0R masculine nature.

  12. Steven asked:

    “Has anyone ever read a catfight story written by a woman?”

    I’m not sure I get the relevance of the question, but sure. In fact, one of the first costumed heroines out of the gates specialized in catfights.

    From Don Markstein’s stellar Toonopedia:

    “Miss Fury wore a costume that showed very little skin. Instead of the equivalent of a bathing suit, she wore a panther skin that covered her from head to foot, with only the lower part of her face exposed. Readers looking for a little kinkiness in their action stories weren’t disappointed, tho, as the feature abounded in whips, spike heels, female-on-female violence, and lingerie scenes — and besides, that panther skin fit very tightly.”

    http://www.toonopedia.com/missfury.htm

    Its author, Tarpe Mills, was a woman, about whom Trina Robbins has written quite approvingly.

    So what was the relevance, again?

  13. Way to throw in a lame straw man there, Joe.

    I find it interesting that when women say, “But I’m not like that,” Tyler’s response is “You’re an exception! My generalization is true!” How many exceptions do you have to have before you realize your generalization is not working? How many women have to tell you “This is what I think, and it’s not what you think I think” before you realize that you can’t dictate to half the population what is going on in their adorable little minds?

  14. Incidentally, is there market research that’s looked into the gender balance in action movies’ audiences?

  15. “Gene, clearly, “Beatle-mania” doesn’t mean much to you.

    Or the legions of terriyfing Twilight worshipers.”

    Neither of which have anything to do with the idiom of adventure-stories.

  16. Gene, you assumed I was referring to comics and cartoons. Wrong. I was referring to prose stories in which beautiful women fight and shred each other’s clothes. The story ends with one woman dominating the other or both collapsing, exhausted. The sole point of the story is to titillate a male reader. I doubt that such a story would be read by a woman, or written by one. There’s no point.

    There’s no point in arguing against a heroine written as a character in a prose standalone story; the story would succeed or fail on its own merits. If she’s a comics heroine, though — “Costume design? Uh, let me think. .. Do you have any samples?” And “How big do I want her bust to be? Well, she’s 5’4”. That’s not tall enough? Hey, she’s my character!”

    SRS

  17. Joe, please identify this hypocrisy and double-standard.

    What I meant by your comment is that no one here or making the arguments against Tyler’s position was making so-called “feminist” statement on men and masculinity. Your bringing it up as evidence of the fallacy of their arguments is, in rhetorical terms, a straw man. You are arguing against an argument that has not been presented in this discussion.

    Gene, superhero movies needn’t be exclusively adventure stories. Would you say that The Dark Knight is an “adventure” story? I wouldn’t. At the same time, there is a fair amount of action in Twilight, and it’s not just there so girls’ boyfriends will take them to see it, I imagine. And what about LOTR? There are women mad into that/

  18. Katie Moody, you hit the nail on the head, as did Gene with his BUFFY and XENA examples. Those were all from the 80s and 90s. Those kinds of stories and those kind of heroines ARE NOT BEING PRESENTED any more. Maybe it’s a backlash against political correctness, maybe it’s sexism, maybe it’s something in the water. I would be FAR more interested in finding out WHY this is true than arguing straw men until the cows come home.

    Boy do I have a monster of a post coming on.

  19. Steven,

    You are determined to give my Google finger a workout today, son.

    “Gene, you assumed I was referring to comics and cartoons. Wrong. I was referring to prose stories in which beautiful women fight and shred each other’s clothes.”

    I don’t think your distinction is valid, but if you want catfight stories by women for women, you might check out this website, which, like the Superheroines Demise to which Heidi linked last year, is perhaps not work-safe:

    http://www.tinadiane.net/page1.html

    Now, the website represents itself as the compilation-work of a woman. I don’t know that Tina D really is a woman, or a man, or a transgendered individual (though there’s a reprinted news-article on the site that claims she’s really a woman). The site has copious reprints of comics-scenes, movie scenes, and stories written by fans. Some of the author-names are male, some are female, some are neutral. I tnink it’s at least a fair chance that some of them are by women, but you may disagree.

    I don’t think you’ve noticed that your assumption that no women would be interested/titillated by such stories is a generalization.

    Hey, Heidi, does Steve’s generalization suck as much as mine?

    At least mine was hypothetical.

  20. Was the original article not a statement on women and femininity?

    And was it really an attempt to “dictate to half the population what is going on in their adorable little minds”? Looks like a straw man the size of Godzilla.

  21. I think Lara worked fine in the first movie, and she even had a little characterization which furnished as a soupcon to her mammary assets.

    I haven’t been able to read any of the comics-stories ’cause I always thought the art sucked, but a good Lara comic is not unfeasible. Jo Duffy used to turn out some decent stories for CATWOMAN in addition to/in spite of the attractions of the Catskill Mountains.

  22. Joe, I’m still not seeing where the double standards and hypocrisy are. The original article was a statement on women and femininity, yes. And many women took offense with it because the author is defining their tastes based on generalizations and then, in the comments, marginalizing their points of view because it does not fit in with his thesis.

    What I wrote was a bit of hyperbole, admittedly, but it was how women read and interpreted the article. That may not what the author was attempting, but it is, in effect, what he achieved. Many women, myself included, who have read this article had this reaction — that Tyler was trying to tell women what we like or are expected to like — and we found it very condescending. That is not a straw man, it is a matter of interpretation and of nuanced reading comprehension.

  23. Heidi said:

    “Maybe I am taking all this so personally because the more I read all these generalizations the more I feel like a freak of nature. I guess I am. I’m lucky to have found a place in decent society.”

    You could also consider it proof of uniqueness.

    “You are a chiiiilddd of the universe,
    “You have a right to be herre–“

  24. Joe, please. Either you’re trying to co-opt a discussion that’s not about men or you’re being deliberately obtuse. I know for damn sure I didn’t write anything to do with generalizing men or masculinity…(in fact, I pointed out how this sort of gender generalization is ALSO bad for men). It’s troll like behavior and it’s pointless and entirely counter productive. It’s a serious waste of my time and Jennifer’s to even be engaging with you. I know the internet is full of people who like to say contrary things to get a rise. It was old when I was in pre-school.

    Gene- I think that anecdotal evidence in this kinds of discussion is always dicey. While many of the women you may personally know are not obsessed with adventure stories, many are. And it can hugely depend on what you define an “action-adventure” story to be. You don’t feel Twilight is, but it does actually have those elements. Just like it has horror and fantasy and romance. LOTR is a grand, sweeping epic, that has many die-hard female fans. As does Harry Potter. They both have a lot that could be called “action-adventure”. Buffy, Battlestar Galactica, Lost, Xena, and others all have devoted female fan bases. No, I don’t have any actual numbers to give you. But the success of those shows is simply not built around an entirely, or even primarily, male viewership.

    From my experience as a woman I think women are just as inclined to become “obsessive” with things they love as men are. What things they may obsess over will vary from woman to woman and, this is important, what she has been conditioned to love. This is also true of men, btw. Most girls wouldn’t know if they really love pink and dolls because that’s all they’re given from an early age. And that’s certainly all their presented via the media. Maybe they do only love pink and dolls…and maybe they like pink and dolls AND Aliens and comics and swords. My point is that very few people actually fit any of these gender generalizations for them to be used so frequently as generalizations.

    Ignoring social conditioning, or social pressure, or the way we gender so much of our media to children is a big problem. It’s what leads to generalizations about what we like to the exclusion of anything else. That’s my primary problem with the article. He leaves no room for variety, and any time a woman says, well, I like those things, they’re an exception. I don’t think they are. I think we have decided they are exceptions based on how they’ve been used to create convenient marketing and ad campaigns, and because it suits what we WANT to believe to be true.

    I mean, honestly, I don’t know too many guys who just like action go BOOM! movies exclusively. They like lots of movies, including ones with ::gasp:: love stories in them. This kind of unreasonable adherence to outdated gender stereotyping is tedious, and shows a total lack of awareness of reality.

  25. Gene, sure and I consider uniqueness a thing of beauty to be nurtured. Unless you are the Unabomber, of course.

    I want to be different, like everyone else!

  26. Gene, you haven’t provided evidence that you’ve actually read any of the material that you’ve Googled. You’re simply looking at descriptions and claming that I’m wrong. (Women write lesbian erotica, but the stories are erotica, not catfight porn.) In any case, the stories listed are written pseudonymously, with the vast majority appearing to be written by men. If one argues that people can be found to do anything for money or to satisfy a warped perspective, sacrificing dignity and self-respect in the process, I’ll agree with that. A sellout is a sellout is a sellout, whatever the gender. If the story doesn’t have a point, it’s not a story, in an artistic sense.

    SRS

  27. I see that Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple has appeared in movies and on TV with various degrees of success, and of alteration to fit the video format. The “Murder, She Wrote” TV series was mildly entertaining with no attempt at titillation. Joanne Fluke’s Hannah Swensen has starred in a series of prose culinary mysteries that I’ve enjoyed, but I doubt that she’d ever appear in a comic book. The character’s environment, her situations, and the character herself aren’t visually stimulating.

    A heroine can be found on TV or in recorded movies to satisfy anyone’s taste, but the same can’t be said for comic books. If one compares comics fiction to prose, TV, movies, and cartoons, the comics seem to be generally inferior in any aspect where they directly compete. When comics have notably succeeded, it’s been in the form of instruction manuals, underground comix, or as artworks (MAUS) which don’t attempt to compete with other formats.

    SRS

  28. “Gene- I think that anecdotal evidence in this kinds of discussion is always dicey.”

    Sure, that’s why it’s a hypothesis. Or is that “an?”

    By the same token, though, your experience may not be any more broadly indicative than mine.

    I don’t suppose I could convince you that guys tend to be more broadly obsessive (no pun intended) and women, more narrowly obsessive? That guys are maybe more likely to keep with everything in, say, the Marvel Universe (at least back when that was possible) while gals tend to be more selective? (Y’know, the way they tend to be when, well, choosing guys.)

    No? Oh, well, just a thought.

    If you care, I’m not supporting the original article-writer in the least. I’m glad there are more girl nerds.

    I just have low expectations for their fruitful multiplication.

  29. Gene-

    That’s fair, my point is that basing all of your hypothesis only on your experience is limited. I freely admit that my experience is not everyone’s, and that I’m also using anecdotal evidence which can be dicey. To my knowledge no on has bothered to find out what women actually watch. They mostly just assume based on what we’ve been culturally conditioned to believe is true.

    Well, it would difficult to convince me of something if I’m just supposed to be based on your say-so. I don’t mean that negatively, I wouldn’t expect someone to be convinced based on my say-so either.

    I would say my experience, if we go by the other women who have also posted in this thread (and the men who also know women who like these things)…not to mention the women who commented at Jezebel, and on my blog post, that it’s not narrow. Is it narrow compared to the millions of women worldwide? Maybe. I haven’t polled them and neither has anyone else. Which is why the generalizations that state that most women would watch, say, SATC are pretty ridiculous. Maybe white middle class (or above) women who live in an urban setting are more likely to watch…I don’t know. But that’s not all women either, or even most women.

    I just don’t think we really know what women, as a collective, “tend” to do. We assume. And then we say anything outside the assumption is an exception. We don’t really know that. I have no idea if women are more “selective” in their obsessions than men. That seems like it might have to do with what you believe “selective” interests to be. Is an interest in fantasy stories selective or broad? Because I love LOTR, but I also love Terry Pratchett and George R.R. Martin’s work. They are not interchangeable and differ in the ways they tell a fantasy story. I also like science fiction stories…from William Gibson to BSG, to Asimov, to The Left Hand of Darkness, to Snow Crash. Aside from some cyberpunk leanings, they are not interchangeable either.

    I’m not trying to be difficult, I’m trying to get at what your definitions are. Because I understand that you aren’t agreeing with the original article, but you are willing to make certain generalizations without providing your definitions. What your definition of a broad or narrow interest is, helps me understand where you’re coming from and where we may differ.

    I’m glad girl nerds exist, too. And I don’t have low expectations for us multiplying because we’ve always been here. Whether other people see us or not.

  30. I don’t suppose I could convince you that guys tend to be more broadly obsessive (no pun intended) and women, more narrowly obsessive? That guys are maybe more likely to keep with everything in, say, the Marvel Universe (at least back when that was possible) while gals tend to be more selective? (Y’know, the way they tend to be when, well, choosing guys.)

    Wait, so you’re trying to tell me guys aren’t at all selective when choosing girls?

    I’m trying really hard to not read anything further into that comment.

  31. I think comicbook people, both men and women, defy many gender generalizations and I don’t think either sex has really much love for the majority of their own sex, even though we can get a bit defensive… anyway, was really relieved to read Mariah and Dodai’s thoughts. I like how they think. I’m very optimistic about the future, and having us all become comic lovers can only be a good thing.
    And maybe it’s just because of all the gender talk lately but it seems to me, well… Heidi’s been doing a great job here showing the variety of readers and I’m glad more emphasis has been placed on that -what she is doing here can only be a good influence on the industry I would think… I know sometimes things get a little passionate as we all miscommunicate and weed through our issues, but it’s great we’re willing to talk about it and in the end it’ll all hopefully be good for our comics as well.

  32. So, female audience aside, straight men have no interest in female superheroes if they don’t remind them of bondage? No fetish porn = no male audience for women with superpowers? Wait, really, Josh?

    So then I was imagining all the men who really liked Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Xena.

  33. Comic book geeks, help me out– who are some female superheroes who would be well-suited to the dark and gloomy trend in superhero movies? Katey Rich ended her piece with “Comic book geeks, help me out– who are some female superheroes who would be well-suited to the dark and gloomy trend in superhero movies? Or which ones are there in general who deserve their chance on the big screen?”

    Thera Pitts wrote “Women in comics are complex, strong, smart, beautiful, sexy, adventurous and perfectly lovable. If only the movies based on comics would portray them as such. [. . .] Boobs and explosions are the most guy friendly combination imaginable, as long as there’s a good story to go with the boobs and explosions, men will watch. So what are the studios hesitating for?”

    No good female characters come to mind, and that’s because the (super)heroines in comic books appear in stories principally aimed at male readers. Chicks who “kick ass” have been around for years in comics, ever since Claremont’s X-babes, but they’re just reverse stereotypes. What Tyler was reacting to was calls for films with reverse stereotypes, which are no more desirable than negative stereotypes.

    If the writer works to give his female characters some depth and dimensions, and doesn’t just toss them in for the purpose of writing pure formula fiction, with the women serving either as love interests in need of rescuing or as alpha males with female forms, then reading their stories should be as pleasurable an experience as reading about any male protagonists. It’s a matter of not being uninterested because of the premise or the genre generally (I’d have to be paid to read a Regency romance).

    That’s been done in comics. I point again to Englehart’s “Avengers” material in the ‘70s and ‘80s, in which the women were at least as complex as the men, and perhaps even the dominant ones in their relationships (Wanda-Vision and Mockingbird-Hawkeye). Firebird served as Henry Pym’s savior when he crumbled under emotional stress. I’m not aware of any treatments of heroines matching his in the last 20+ years, for whatever reasons, including editorial preconceptions about what will sell, or an absence of interested writers.

    Rich and Pitts wouldn’t be having problems with entertainment, really, if they weren’t insisting on movies as the format. In any case, Wonder Woman is the opposite of what movie producers should be looking for. Once a person finds out what Amazons actually were in Greek mythology, the character concept crumbles.

    SRS

  34. Hey, I’d just like to point out this comic I wrote called “Catfight” that I did five years ago, and also that I’m female, and while it’s not prose, I’m sure I could go find a catfight story in a women’s erotica anthology pretty quickly. (Even quicker if it was a queer one.)

    I’m not going to pretend to speak for all women, or even all straight, white young women with nerdish tendencies, but dudes who keep posting all that generalizing crap in this thread, please stop acting like you speak for all men, because I cannot tell you how many gay dudes I sold the latest Buffy to today. My first boyfriend made me watch “When Harry Met Sally” with him, which I protested, and plenty of others have been the one to ask me to watch romantic comedies, or read romance stories, or go shopping. (Which I hate. Carrie Bradshaw can suck on her shoe fetish.) While I’m the actual demographic of Sex & the City, in my 20’s and living in NYC, I find it totally condescending; my mom loves it, despite being 60 and living in the suburbs, and finds it incredibly easy to relate to. We share freakin’ genes and we can both kick back with Lynda Barry & Marjane Satrapi comics. But we can’t watch the same movies or TV shows, or read the same prose books. It’s almost as if we were two totally different people…

    I know that lots of women do like those movies; they must, or they wouldn’t be made. Still, I know plenty of women who’s rather watch Alien, Coffy, or Faster, Pusseycat! Kill! Kill! with me. I find myself enjoying movies less and less because of the boring female characters out there, and I want something better for my $12. So don’t go acting like the status quo can’t be changed with one good movie that does well at the box office.

    Also, dudes, please stop trying to convince us ladies that there is no sexism, or that it’s justified for whatever reason, or that we’re overreacting to something. It’s very unflattering.

  35. “Hey, I’d just like to point out this comic I wrote called “Catfight” that I did five years ago, and also that I’m female, and while it’s not prose, I’m sure I could go find a catfight story in a women’s erotica anthology pretty quickly. (Even quicker if it was a queer one.)”

    As I pointed out, MK, erotica isn’t porn written for males. Erotica deals with personalities and isn’t a barebones description of physical humiliation and domination.

    SRS

  36. As I pointed out, MK, erotica isn’t porn written for males. Erotica deals with personalities and isn’t a barebones description of physical humiliation and domination.

    Where did you point that out again? Because I see no mention of you saying that anywhere in this thread. What I do see is you saying of catfights that “the sole point of the story is to titillate a male reader.” You can’t have it both ways, so which is it? Or is your point just that catfights aren’t erotica, but porn, and you wanted to make sure we were using the right terminology?

    But I think a better question would be: how is bringing up catfights at all relevant to a discussion on there being more superheroines?

  37. MK, I wrote “(Women write lesbian erotica, but the stories are erotica, not catfight porn.) “

    If you want to search far and wide for prose stories all about catfights (check out the Wikipedia entry on catfights first) that are erotica and not porn, go ahead, but you’ll be wasting your time, I assure you.

    The point I mean to make is that a woman who respects herself, respects others, and holds her own writing ability in high regard would have no interest in anonymously writing a catfight story that had one woman humiliating another or both humiliating themselves to entertain a male audience.

    I see little point in having a superheroine fight simply to show that she can fight; if the writer is going to create a real character, not a prop in an action sequence, or a girl in a catfight story, she will write scenes that give the heroine some depth and complexity.

    SRS

  38. I see little point in having a superheroine fight simply to show that she can fight; if the writer is going to create a real character, not a prop in an action sequence, or a girl in a catfight story, she will write scenes that give the heroine some depth and complexity.

    Did you read someone here say “I want more female superheroes, but make sure they don’t have depth or complexity!”? I still don’t understand what you’re getting at.

  39. Wait, I think I got it now, re-reading the comment where you brought it up. You were trying to give an example of a type of story some men enjoy only for the fight, without requiring characterization or much of a story. I think with the intent to say that many male-written/drawn woman vs. woman stories aren’t too far removed, often being drawn in a cheesecake-y manner? Am I correct? Your responses get really confusing at times, like your statement that you were really only referring to prose catfight stories, not comics at all.

    Anyways, regardless of why you randomly brought up catfights, it seems your conclusion was: “What Tyler is saying is that the publishing world doesn’t need more heroines written by men to appeal to a stereotypically male reader. He could have said it better.”

    Here is where you could not be more incorrect. Josh Tyler explicitly states:

    “So go ahead, make more movies about female superheroes. Just don’t make them with an eye towards entertaining women. Make them for men.”

    How you confused that for meaning the exact opposite, I’m not sure.

  40. Mariah said: “I’m not trying to be difficult, I’m trying to get at what your definitions are. Because I understand that you aren’t agreeing with the original article, but you are willing to make certain generalizations without providing your definitions. What your definition of a broad or narrow interest is, helps me understand where you’re coming from and where we may differ.”

    OK, to be more explicit than I was before, I’ll define an “interest” here as being an affect for a desired thing that is essentially the same subjectively for anyone who possesses it, no matter whether an outsider rates it as “broad” or “narrow.”

    Now, Tyler’s mistake is to presume that because he doesn’t see much evidence of such an interest in female consumers with regard to action movies and/or superheroes, that interest is so negligible that it might as well not exist– hence, the SEX AND THE CITY remark.

    I say that the interest exists, and that it certainly isn’t negligible to those that have it, but that my impression is that female consumers are more “narrowly” selective in their consuming than are male consumers, at least where adventure stories are concerned (and yes, I do think that the only way one can judge the reception of a genre is to concentrate on stories that are closer to an archetype of “pure” adventure than are TWILIGHT and THE LORD OF THE RINGS– though the outlines of such an archetype would require a book or two to expatiate.)

    How do I define “broad” and “narrow?” Sort of like the observed habits imputed to a majority of dogs and cats. Cats eat what they need and stop; dogs wolf down whatever they can get.

    It’s because a statistically-superior number of dogs/guys will wolf down whatever they can get that Steven Seagal even still has a career, IMO.

    I’ll stop there till I see if I’ve made myself any clearer.

  41. Kate asks:

    “Wait, so you’re trying to tell me guys aren’t at all selective when choosing girls?

    I’m trying really hard to not read anything further into that comment.”

    I’m being a little facetious, but I think it’s possible that the formula of “hogamous hygamous” and its reverse might apply to gender reading-habits on some level.

  42. “hive vagina”

    Come on, that’s funny. Just say it out loud. That’s funny.

    Also more should be made of the fact that Reg Hudlin is using Monica Rambeau, because it reduces the already-slim chances of Warren Ellis and Scott Immonen bringing back NEXTWAVE.

  43. this is all sorta bs. a lot of these comments just go back and forth, without really looking at the deeper issue. That is, as long as comics are written by middle-aged white dudes, they’ll never be any interest from the rest of the population that aren’t white dudes to read comics. Doesn’t matter if its a girl superhero, a black panther, or a blue beetle; comics are written from one perspective, to make the safe sale to the same perspective, white guys. Better stories involves taking a risk, and as long as they can remain profitable, there is no interest in branching out to new readers and writers. If you’re a woman and you want to read more woman superheroes, you’re going to have to write it yourself and hope you’re good enough that people will support you. Complaining on the internet does nothing. Let’s make some new comics people, we deserve better.

  44. Tyler starts from the bizarre premise that men will only be interested in other men and women will only be interested in other women. Strange.

  45. Gene:
    OK, to be more explicit than I was before, I’ll define an “interest” here as being an affect for a desired thing that is essentially the same subjectively for anyone who possesses it, no matter whether an outsider rates it as “broad” or “narrow.”

    Something about that definition seems contradictory. Are you saying that a group of people must agree, subjectively, that their desire is the same for something regardless of how it is defined generally? I’m not sure how something can be the same subjectively for everyone who has an interest in it. Subjectively, they will differ almost by definition. And that doesn’t address what I asked.

    I gave the examples I did for a reason. If I only read sci-fi then perhaps that would be a “narrow” interest, but then it’s varied within the interest. I also read “fantasy”, horror, and other genres of fiction. So I have an interest in “Fiction”. That would seem like a broad interest, which then takes specific or “narrow” focuses sometimes. I’m relatively sure you’ll find the same in either gender. Individuals will vary. Which is why I think generalizing like this by gender is just too rife with problems, and needs to be re-thought. I’m not seeing any evidence that would logically conclude with the idea that women are more “narrow” in their interests than men. I think individuals may be, but I”m not seeing any clear indication of this being a gendered phenomenon.

    Does having elements of another genre preclude something from also being action-adventure? Aliens is sci-fi, but it is also, and I would think equally, action-adventure. LOTR is fantasy, but I fail to see how it is not also equally an action-adventure story. I agree that Twilight isn’t equally action-adventure as it is horror or romance, but that’s not true of many of the other examples.

    You still haven’t really given me what your definition of a “pure” action-adventure is. For instance, an example might be Die Hard, which is definitely seems primarily action-adventure to me, while having less significant elements of suspense and a few other things. Is it more action-adventure than LOTR? I don’t know that you can compare them since the stories have clearly different intents, different character archetypes (besides hero/villain) and discuss different themes (although persevering over extreme adversity could certainly be seen as similar). But that’s also true of Alien/Aliens. And Ripley is arguably as iconic as John McClane.

    Also, for reference, IMDB classifies Die Hard as Action/Thriller. LOTR is classified as Action/Adventure/Fantasy. Aliens Action/Horror/Sci-fi. Kill Bill Action/Crime/Thriller. And The Dark Knight is Action/Crime/Thriller. I’m not saying that IMDB is the gold standard in classification, but it’s an example of how most films are mixed genre and not “pure” to begin with. And how broad the definition of “action” clearly is. How “pure” genre something is, is the only thing that might be subjective since I suspect different viewers will have different definitions of what ratio of action to adventure something may have.

    I’m just not sure you’re allowing for you own prejudice in your definitions. Nor am I sure why the definition you’re choosing is the “right” one. Or even the universally used one. It still seems like an assumption that is not based on evidence or examples that are consistent or even verifiable.

  46. Mariah said:

    “Are you saying that a group of people must agree, subjectively, that their desire is the same for something regardless of how it is defined generally? I’m not sure how something can be the same subjectively for everyone who has an interest in it.”

    Tyler originally threw out the notion that women’s and men’s interests were so distinct that there was virtually no overlap. This facile demarcation raised objections. I suggested that perhaps men’s interests with respect to the genre of adventure-stories might be more obsessional than that of women, which might explain (though I didn’t say so at the time) why male readers have statistically continued to outnumber female readers in the last 20 years. Heidi and maybe some others objected to my saying women might not be as obsessional as men about this particular item, so in the piece you quoted first, I’m allowing that no one can actually measure differences in anyone’s intensity of obsession. That’s what I mean by saying that they are “the same;” if Heidi and I are both Buffy enthusiasts, then there’s no way for an outside observer to say whose subjective obsession is greater, so they are objectively “the same.” That observer might still comment on patterns of consuming to prove operational differences, though.

    Gee, this is getting kind of Kantian. I better break it into two sections.

  47. “If I only read sci-fi then perhaps that would be a “narrow” interest, but then it’s varied within the interest.’

    Well, what we’ve been talking about here has been comics-reading patterns, right? That’s what I for one was originally talking about. So reading just SF as a genre could stand in for reading just superheroes as a genre, which is what I imagine we’re still talking about in a post relating to the need for superheroines within that genre. So my “broad obsession” theory would apply to a reader who samples a lot of stuff within the genre he/she favors, while the theory of the “narrow obsession” would apply more to the reader who picks and chooses only what he/she thinks will be the best. I have certainly observed male readers who choose not to read broadly and/or indiscriminately, and female readers who do. But I think where superheroes are concerned, female readers may tend to focus more on what they deem (rightly or not) the cream of the crop.

    W/o asserting this as anything more than an anecdote, I will say that whenever I’ve seen fans complaining about feeling like they couldn’t drop a title even though they didn’t like the current team, they’ve usually been male readers. Does this argue the kind of gendered difference you think doesn’t exist; that male readers have more of a need to get all the continuity, all the time? I think it might, but you pays your money, etc.

  48. Lastly:

    Agreed, no genre is “pure” in execution. One could say that DIE HARD hews closer to the archetype I have in mind, but in addition to calling it a “thriller” I might also term it a “melodrama,” and this would be a divergent strain in DH that one doesn’t find so much in the film version of LOTR, where many of the melodramatic strains of the novel have been eliminated for time’s sake.

    However, I do believe that DIE HARD hews closer to the archetype of a “pure” action-adventure story because the melodrama-aspects are in my judgment subsidiary to the adventure-elements. This is something I can’t say with regard to the aspects of LOTR THE FILM, which still devotes a great amount of time to exploring the world-building aspects of the novel. Because these have a very different appeal than the big battle-sequences, I would judge LOTR to be much more “mixed” in its appeal.

  49. I think most people, even in your “broad” category, who sample many things in the same genre…arguably sample things they “believe to be the best”. I don’t know anyone who picks up something just because it’s “action”, they have to be interested in it in some way. If you substitute “believe to be the best” for picking up things that particular artists or writers do, that might work…but that’s something both men and women do. My point is that your definitions here don’t work for gender generalizations as they can be easily attributed to both and can’t be attributed more to the one or the other without relying on assumptions. And many of those assumptions appear to be based on cultural beliefs and stereotypes rather than proof.

    The reason I picked other examples is that comics is already a “narrow” interest because it’s a specific artistic medium that involves many different genres and stories. Fiction is more broad, with sub-genres. And can includes forms of fiction from lit, to film, to comics. Superheroes could be a broad interest…but more in film than in the actual format of comics, since books like The Dark Tower, Buffy, and Fun Home appear to reach outside the realm of comics and have a more “mainstream” appeal than even superheroes in certain respects.

    Your basic argument seems to be that, based on your observation, men are more likely to read anything in a given genre they like, and women will only read certain things in that genre. I find it odd that you’re gendering it. Wouldn’t it be as accurate to say that some -people- will read anything in a given genre they like, while others only read certain stories that they like and not pick up anything? Beyond your anecdotal assurances, I don’t see any evidence that more women are inclined to this behavior than men.

    My point is that your anecdotal evidence is no more valid than mine. That’s it. You are choosing to gender your assumptions, for whatever reason, and I don’t. I don’t believe making gender assumptions helps anyone, or accomplishes anything, beyond furthering problematic stereotypes for either gender. And it usually results in bad storytelling being aimed at both because of those assumptions.

    As for LOTR and Die Hard, well, as I pointed out…your definition doesn’t match what IMDB’s is. Or my own, for that matter. So while I understand and respect your definitions, they aren’t mine. So I hope you’ll understand that I choose not to define Action/Adventure, pure or otherwise, by your interpretation of it. When discussing “purety” of genre you’re talking about subjects that are far too subjective. You view pure action/adventure as not having equal elements of melodrama. I think it depends on the story, the viewer, and your interpretation of the values of each.

  50. I’m being a little facetious, but I think it’s possible that the formula of “hogamous hygamous” and its reverse might apply to gender reading-habits on some level.

    Both are equally outdated and idiotic, if that’s what you mean. But I’m guessing that it isn’t.

  51. “I don’t know anyone who picks up something just because it’s “action”, they have to be interested in it in some way.’

    That may be one of the nubs of our disagreement, for I know and have known many people who buy things according to their genre because they’re particularly obsessed about the levels of quality WITHIN THAT GENRE. In other words, they’re willing to kiss a lot of frogs to find that princely discovery that means something to them– and which they might want to claim to have discovered first to like-minded seekers. I’ve come across female readers who are that way with regard to this or that other genre, but I don’t think there’s a significant number of female readers who concentrate upon the action genre in that manner.

    Not sure I follow your reasons for bringing in prose fiction, especially since there are whole book-series that are pretty clearly designed to appeal more to one gender than the other. I would admit that Longarm westerns and Harlequin romances are not overly ambitious, but are you sure that they’re only suiting a need that is culturally determined? I’m not so sure, though I’m happy to admit that there’s lots of overlap between perceived cultural boundaries (like female fans who like catfights!)

    On “purity” of genre: I go by what I consider dominant elements, rather in the manner that biologists judge a platypus to be a mammal even though it lays eggs.

  52. Mariah,

    I gather from the following quote that Heidi’s pretty much with you on the “culturally determined” biz:

    “Of course there are differences between men and women. There are differences between people from New York and people from LA. How many of these differences are caused by social forces?”

    Now, I think this is a false parallel. Of course one is going to say that “social forces” are dominant in charting the differences between two groups which are theoretically distinguished only by the places in which they live.

    It’s not so easy, though, when one is dealing with two groups that are spread across in varying propotions amidst one another from the Arctic to Zimbabwe. This is also a question more profound than whether girls should like pink and boys blue: it asks wnether transcultural elements– largely biological since these may be the only gender-elements definitely not dictated by culture– have any mediating effect upon cultural responses.

    I do appreciate that you are insisting on proof of any claims of such influence. And I’m with you in saying that such proof would have to be backed up by a lot of evidence, though I’m sure we can all cite examples of partial evidence (like the old “give the toddlers a choice between dolls and trucks to see if biology trumps culture” experiment). Does such partial evidence prove anything definitively? No, but it’s worth keeping in mind as a possible refutation to the counter-argument: “*All* gender differences are culturally determined.”

    This act of mental jugglery, of keeping one possibility in mind without regarding it or its opposite as determinative, is probably beyond a lot of people, such as one of the previous posters here, one JupiterPisseous. But I think that the game is worth the candle.

  53. Wonder Woman has the iconic recognition to make a salable movie, and I have a good candidate to play her, assuming she’ll agree to dye her hair brunette — Laura Prepon (who has already switched from redhaired to blonde). She’s tall (nearly 5’11”) and imposing enough to be a believable WW, will turn 29 in March (so she could appear in multiple films), and has developed as a dramatic actress (“October Road”) after doing comedy (“That ’70s Show).

  54. just throwing this out there…would anyone be interested in an unexpected female hero? more of a darker and heavier appearance than the “typical superheroine?”