Let’s talk about how some men talk to women in comics
Last week I wrote this piece for Comic Book Resources about the new Teen Titans #1 cover. The point of the piece was hey, there’s a broad demographic DC *could* be hitting with this book but the cover is certainly not made for that potential demographic. Instead, it’s more of the same-old, same-old.
An artist who works for DC named Brett Booth was very upset by this critique for reasons I can’t quite define. He didn’t draw the cover. But he was infuriated by what I’d written. A fan of his drew me into the conversation about the article by calling me a “self-professed journalist chick” which… yeah. Anyway, you can read some of the conversation via tweets here.
Here are some other tweets he posted about me without my twitter handle:
I see, the only way I can refute your argument is to not use logic, biology, google and also I can’t have a penis. Sounds fair.— Brett Booth (@Demonpuppy)April 13, 2014
@FlashCWFans Yeah, extremists in any groups seem to ruin it for everyone:/ my wife was not pleased with her accusations.— Brett Booth (@Demonpuppy)April 13, 2014
@FlashCWFans It’s the immediate personal attacks. She was wrong. So instead of either admitting it OR simply ignoring it she attacked.— Brett Booth (@Demonpuppy)April 13, 2014
— Brett Booth (@Demonpuppy)April 13, 2014
You can read my Twitter feed here. I’ve deleted nothing. At no point did I launch personal attacks. I’m not wrong about that cover. I’d love to see what kind of biology equals the breasts Wonder Girl is sporting as a 17-18 year old (pretty sure that “biology” includes silicone when they look like that). I honestly don’t understand why Brett Booth has taken everything I’ve said so personally. But I do not appreciate that he then thought it was okay to, what, imply I’d never been to a comic store? On top of everything else.
But I do think it’s indicative of what it’s like to be a woman online. You see, Booth was SO not the worst of what I got. I got delightful comments like these:
@gimpnelly So how many decades ago did you work at DC? Were you a coffee girl?— Sean (@SeanRtchfld)April 13, 2014— RyanJoseph (@RyanAJoseph)April 11, 2014
Both of course implying that I’m not a real professional in this industry. Which is still by far not the worst of what I got. I was called a whiny bitch, a feminazi, a feminist bitch, a bitter cunt, and then the rape threats started rolling in.
You see, I’m also doing a survey about sexual harassment in comics. (If you’d like to take this survey, you can find it here.) And so as soon as the angry fanboys started looking me up after the CBR article, they discovered this survey and started answering my questions and using the open box at the end to write in all sorts of awfulness. I’ve gotten all manner of bullshit within the survey now, but at least the ones with the rape threats or other asshole comments tell me which responses to disregard. If you really want to “get me” and prove that sexual harassment doesn’t exist in comics, I don’t know, maybe it’s better for you to answer honestly about how you haven’t been sexually harassed. Because certainly sending me rape threats proves my point, not yours.
Some of them decided to just tweet at me, like the handful who decided to tell me I was creating the impression that there was sexual harassment in comics when there just wasn’t. When the survey was posted on a blog, one of the comments included “If you have a entrenched ideology then it’s nigh impossible to be objective, and according to Ms. Asselin’s Twitter tag, she’s a self described feminist.”
Let’s talk about that for a second. Feminist is not a bad word. People who think feminism is a negative often run in two very different directions - either they misunderstand what it is or are outright misogynists. Feminism is defined by Dictionary.com as “the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.” If it’s an “entrenched ideology” to wish to be treated as an equal human along side men, then so be it. I must be a horrible person for assuming that I had the right to be treated as a person instead of only a brood mare suitable for objectification and cooking.
I’d also like to talk about the fact that so many people misunderstand the point of the survey. I’m not trying to find out *if* there is sexual harassment in comics. I figured that out a long, long time ago as I was repeatedly groped on convention floors and sexually harassed by freelancers and coworkers. It was reinforced by the fact that I literally know less than a handful of women who have NOT been sexually harassed in comics, and nearly a hundred who have. Sexual harassment is a problem in comics. That point is not up for debate. The point of the survey is to better understand the experiences people are having. If you haven’t been harassed - awesome! I want to know about that. If you have - I’m really sorry, but I also want to know about that.
There are too many people, including professionals, who think it’s okay to condescend, harass, berate, etc. women in comics simply because they’ve espoused a belief that revolves around women being treated more as equals. I want women and girls to be seen as an equally promising demographic for comics as males; I want major companies with an easy opportunity to reach out to women to not feature art that is disgusting and objectifying; I want women to be hired as much as men to create comics; I want to not know so many people who have been violated in an industry I still love despite it all.
At first I wasn’t going to talk about the rape threats because honestly, most of the women I know with a solid online presence get them regularly. This is just a thing we are forced to deal with. And I didn’t want to make it seem like it was a bigger deal than what’s happened to them for years. But I realized once I posted about the rape threats in passing that men I know and respect were stunned to find out this was happening. Let’s be real: if these men who are actually decent human beings don’t know how often this stuff happens, what hope is there for the men who are harassing me online?
And that’s the thing I feel like a lot of these internet assholes miss. I’m not saying men are the worst thing ever or even that men in comics are the worst thing ever. I’m so lucky to have a lot of amazing people in my life, male, female, and non-binary, who constantly support me. There are men in comics who understand how not to be a condescending asshole. But right now, the problem is that too many other men think that they are in a crowd of like-minded men who are super sick of this feminazi bullshit. The truth is that you are on the losing side. Women in comics aren’t going away. Even if you continue to talk to us like this. Your threats and insults do nothing more than make me want to stick around and shout even louder. So thank you for that.