May 15, 2007

Johanna Draper Carlson, Superhero Comics, and the Hegemony of Sexism

Comics blogger Johanna Draper Carlson is attracting attention by belaboring what may seem to be an obvious point: superhero comics are written for and marketed to boys, not girls. She has been saying it again and again, and seems to think that discussing sexism in superhero comics is a waste of time.

Quite naturally, Carlson's point of view is undergoing much rebuttal.

I read Carlson as saying, "Of course superhero comics are sexist, silly! That's a fact of life; you can't change it; and you're a fool for even trying." What she is arguing is that the hegemony of sexism is inflexible and irresistable.

I wonder how old she is I think it is a near-certainty that she was born after 1970, and there's a reasonable shot she was born after 1980. I put the line at 1977; which would you take, the over or the under?

I say this because I was born in 1959, and the changes I've seen in my lifetime convince me that while sexism retains its hegemony, despite the feminist movement, it is most assuredly not inflexible, and that fighting it can change it. Which is why noticing and calling out the sexism the increasing degree of sexism in superhero comics in recent years is important.

And while crotch shots of Green Lantern are a fun and funny way of making the point, sooner or later what needs to happen is that feminist artists and writers need to produce superhero comics of their own, chock-full of the stuff that jazzes them about superheroes and at the same time consistent with their own values, to be put on their Web sites, self-published, and so on, so that the stuff is out there waiting for the lightning bolt of popularity to strike it. (This may well be happening off my personal radar.)

(via Glaurung)

Posted by abostick at May 15, 2007 01:58 PM

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