The last few weeks have been, as ever, hopelessly rough on female creators, critics, and fans. Following an article in which writer Janelle Asselin critiqued a cover of Teen Titans and pointed out that Wonder Girl’s breasts were drawn as big – if not bigger than – her head, Asselin has been receiving threats and insults on a daily basis. These have ranged from disagreements right on through to threats of violence, rape, and other horrors. It’s been awful.
Watching on, the only thing I’ve felt able to do myself is listen as various members of the community – including Heidi, Rachel Edidin, Gail Simone, Marjorie Liu, Jules Rivera, Jennifer de Guzman and so many others – have recounted their own tales. This is one of those situations where the best thing to do, it feels, is shut the hell up for once and listen to people who actually know what they’re talking about. And hope that you learn things that’ll help you be a better ally for women in future.
On that note, We Are Comics is a simple idea. Set up by Edidin last night, it’s a Tumblr where anybody can send a photo of themselves with a bio of who they are, why they love comics, and why they think comics are for everyone. This is a project open to absolutely everyone, and I’d encourage anybody reading this – especially male readers who are thinking “I want there to be something I can do, something active” to put in five minutes and submit their support to this.
Let’s offer a look at the people who read and love comics, whoever they may be. Submit yourself if you’d like – but the most important thing is that you scroll through, read the stories, and start to think of fans as individual people rather than as “the fangirl community” or whatever. Everybody here has a different story, a different reason why they got into comics, and a different feeling on what they’d like comics to be.
Comics are a diverse community, even if it doesn’t feel that way sometimes. There is a place for ANYONE here. And despite any claims that not all men are trying to exclude women from comics – there ARE some men out there who are doing it. That’s the worry. The role that men should possibly be playing right now, as I see it myself, is to shut up about ourselves and just listen for a bit. Offer some support to the women who’re trying to break into and make the comics they love, rather than offer defiance, defence, or anger.
I think that starts with letting comic fans speak for themselves, rather than deigning to speak on their behalf. So I’m going to shut up now.