Tits or GTFO – Listen Up, Nerds: We’ve Got to Do Better

Why A Criticism of a Comic Book Cover Doesn’t Mean

Feminists Want to Ruin Comics Forever

If you’re not already aware of the resulting shitstorm from Janelle Asselin’s commentary regarding the 16-year-old Wonder Girl cover from the relaunch of Teen Titans, here’s a quick re-cap. Asselin, a veteran in the comic book industry, criticized the depiction of Wonder Girl’s breasts and thighs, pointing out they aren’t anatomically correct. She claims far-reaching implications for teen girls, the targeted readership. Her critique overall isn’t bad. She presents valid issues regarding the anatomy of a 16-year-old girl, the coloring, the shading, and the setting and random placement of props that make the new cover of Teen Titans disorienting.

Asselin also touches on the fact that the team’s placement is, well, wonky. Robin, the most recognizable of the Teen Titans, is relegated to the background, while the breasts are presented front and center. Raven, who isn’t known for her sexy outfits, is stuck in the middle of the background, almost as an afterthought. The cover truly is poorly executed, especially for an Issue 1 relaunch of a title that DC just doesn’t seem to know what to do with.

However, according to male comic readers, artists, and trilby-sporting “nice guys,” Asselin’s critique is just another example of feminists ruining their club.

As a woman who has been writing about geek and pop culture for almost ten years, it makes me so angry that in the past decade, we have had to become accustomed to rape threats (which Asselin has received) or various insults, simply because we also choose to seek refuge in a subculture dedicated to the things we love. It is unacceptable that we’ve had to desensitize ourselves as women in the industry, that we’re unable to calmly discuss something without being told we’re on our periods, or that we simply just don’t deserve equal treatment because “girls don’t exist on the Internet.”


courtesy of Themarysue.com

I grew up on a steady diet of Star Wars, science fiction and horror literature (and Pink Floyd). My family has entire dinner conversations comprised of quotes from various movies that we love. My fiancé and I got into a relationship because we both love geek culture. My bonus kids are knee deep in Skylanders, Star Wars, Angry Birds, and Teen Titans. Sassypants, age eight, has told us repeatedly, “I don’t mind being a nerd. Being a nerd is cool. You and daddy are nerds, and you’re the coolest people I know.”

However, this latest blow-up over a basic issue that we all should be able to discuss civilly makes me want to shelter Sassypants from the very kindred spirits who should be her cohorts. The way her brethren are behaving ISN’T cool. It’s horrific. How sad, that while an eight-year-old girl is discovering her identity, she isn’t welcomed by the tribe she chooses.

As a female in the industry, I am aware of the cheesecake; of the fact that it’s still funny to make fun of fat girls in cosplay; that Felicia Day had to change her tone when she was sponsored by Microsoft; I’m aware of the fact that if I express any feminist views, if I draw attention to something problematic, then I’m a “Jabba the Hut feminazi” who is intent on destroying the boy’s club.

If I praise Wonder Girl for being beautiful, and say there’s no problem with overtly sexualizing a teenager, then I’m one of the boys, and I’m allowed to sit at their figurative table for a day or two. If, on the other hand, I call out the issue that natural breasts, especially those on a 16-year-old girl, just don’t look like that, then I am seen as a humorless, ugly, overweight, disgusting, smelly, breeding cow.

As a mother figure, I am acutely aware of how unacceptable it truly is for us to continue to trivialize these issues.  If Sassypants decides that she wants to dress as Starfire at a con, why should I fear that she’ll be sexually harassed? Why shouldn’t she be able to enjoy a day among her peers without worrying that some men will assume she is asking for physical contact simply because her outfit consists of a breastplate and a short skirt?

One thing that comes up countless times in the comment sections of these articles is the so-called “devil’s advocate.” This is the guy who, in the course of white knighting, tells us women that it’s unreasonable to use the general term “men” because that paints ALL men as misogynistic twerps. That makes us harpies. It proves that they are RIGHT when they say that ALL women in the industry want to take away their rightful ownership of nerdom.

This isn’t helpful.

This is, in fact, very problematic.

I have noticed that when I interview a female artist, I don’t hesitate when asking questions at all, but when I interview a male, I hold back, often to the detriment of the article. The reason is simple: I don’t get rape threats from women. I’ve never been at a convention where a woman has told me that I look disgusting and no one would want to screw me. I’ve never gotten an email from a woman who told me they found where I live and they will come and dismember me as I sleep, with an attachment of my apartment on Google maps.

I guess what bothers me is that yet again, we’re trying to have a meaningful discussion on the Internet about sexual harassment in geek culture, and the salient points are derailed because we’re all tumblr-pseudo-feminist bloggers. Even if we make a valid point – that men in geek culture need to do better–it’s minimized because we’ve all gotten our periods today. And remember, it’s not really ALL men that do this, so it’s okay to ignore it.

And that leads to comments such as these:

“Treat people the way you want to be treated with respect, how hard is that? Sounds like a bunch of feminists from Code Pink jacked this thread. They think they have more entitlements than men.”

“Ah, these comments are a great example of feminists who endlessly complain about their ‘plight’ yet will never do anything about it. Stop complaining about everything and go do something about it, no one wants to hear your shit.”

“Very nitpicky, the cover is fine, the guy is a really good artist and he’s just giving fans what they expect, sexy super heroes, even if she is a teen, she is still in the realm of super heroes and its sorta expected. I honestly cannot really make out the proportion problems she states in the article, its just stylistic.”

Men of nerd culture, do you remember what it was like before it was mainstream to obsess over the X-Men? Remember how excited you were to be able to find someone who shared the passion of tabletop RPGs, of painting Warhammer figures, of sharing Magic cards?  Remember how you felt when you realized you had to hide your passions from people for fear of being victimized? Remember how, while it may have only been one or two of the athletes at your school that picked on you, you constantly used the term “Jocks” to talk about people who insulted you?

We can determine the identity of the people who harass us most. For women, we get harassed mostly by men. In my case, ONLY men. Men are the reason I’m afraid to go to cons, I’m afraid to take a young girl like Sassypants to a comic book store, that I’m afraid to write about geeky gaming stuff and attach my name or face.

Women like Janelle Asselin are the reason why I’m NOT hiding anymore. Strange things are afoot at the Circle-K, and we have a chance to change it. You want to stop hearing women whine about unrealistic body parts? Start calling out the dickwolves who perpetuate the stereotypes. Instead of attacking women in the comment sections, why not point out, in reasonable terms, why misogyny is just not cool in a culture that is supposed to be inclusive? I’m not expecting you to white knight me. I am expecting you to treat me as an equal, just like I treat you when we meet up in PvP matches. I am expecting you to do better.

I expect you to raise your children correctly, so that when Sassypants becomes an adult, she isn’t afraid to cosplay at a convention because the prevailing mindset is that simply wearing a costume that might contain a skirt or v-shaped neckline is her “asking for it.” I expect you to teach your son that superheroes protect everyone. I expect you to tell your son that Wonder Girl is someone to look up to, not because she is physically attractive, but because she is strong, fierce, and knows that the other guys in the Teen Titan squad – the family members that she chose, just like the nerdy ones that Sassypants is choosing – have her back.


Al Miller
Resident nerd, glitter goth, and reluctant adult, Al has been writing about the things that make her heart sing for over a decade. She also handles the social media management for The Flounce. Need to have some questions answered or maybe discuss some PR for your upcoming indie game or geek culture project? Want to see if you're soulmates and discuss pizza toppings? Questions about pitching or contributing? email at allison@theflounce.com No dick pics, please.
  • http://www.theflounce.com AlexisO


  • tinylights

    We’ve got to do better. And we have to continue this conversation. It can’t just happen after a woman in the industry gets threats for posting a critique. Or after a woman comes out that a well-known writer sexually harassed her. There is still a long way to go.

    As for the commenters who say it’s just a sexy superhero, it’s expected, and all that jazz, that is just not very creative. Sexiness is not about giant (fake) breasts on a teenager. It’s not about the skimpy outfits. It’s not about boob windows. So, guys in the comic industry, if you don’t want to do better to be a decent human being, how about doing better and being more creative and original? I guess it’s easier to just be terrible as a human, as a writer, and as an artist.

    • Val0ciraptor

      Sidenote: I loved the article you (I’m pretty sure it was you) linked to on exjaners forum. This article: http://comicsalliance.com/sexual-harassment-online-rape-threats-comics-superheroes-lessons-men-geek-culture/

      • tinylights

        That wasn’t me but it is a good article. I did have plenty to say on it though.

    • botenana

      Yea, I think that is what bothers me. The same people are usually say “oh it’s par for the course” are the same people who say “oh, not ALL men are like that” and it is infuriating. It’s apathy, plain and simple. You nailed it on the head: It’s easier to keep up the same BS standards than point out something that might need changed.

      • the_mouse_

        At what point in hell’s history did SUPER heroes become “standards”? Do the (admittedly few) teenagers that have Wonder Girl’s physique need to wear burqas so they won’t offend anyone’s insecurities? This is a honest question: Are you joking? I’m not sure who you think sets the “standards” of beauty (I wasn’t aware there were any, just a million different tastes with overlaps and divergences) but I assure you that entertainment focuses much more on ideals than averages, and that is neither an injustice nor a crime. Where the hell do you get off being righteously offended at what others find attractive?

    • the_mouse_

      I have no idea why you find it appropriate to tell other people what they should find “sexy”. I don’t hear a lot of complaints about Fabio on the cover of every trashy romance novel, and the above-mentioned interpretation of Wonder Girl has a physique that, while very far from average, is no further from average than Fabio’s.

      As an experiment to contest your claims about what isn’t sexy, I would like you to do a google image search of “trashy romance novel covers”. How many instances of skimpy outfits and large breasts do you see in these covers targeted at female consumers?

      Do you feel at all ridiculous for calling into question whether someone is “a decent human being” based on what they find attractive?

      >We’ve got to do better.
      Yes, you really, really do.

  • JulaiOhMy

    “They think they have more entitlements than men.” Hahaha, find me one woman, anywhere, who thinks that. Go. I’ll wait right here. Great article!

    • botenana

      Oh, but don’t you know? We are entitled to having dates paid for, to stay at home and breed w/out getting a job, of refusing to have sex when someone has been such a nice guy to us….

      typical r/mensrights BS. It’s crazy what men feel entitlements are vs what women tend to feel they are. That’s how I was able to determine what people meant by male vs female privilege.

      • JulaiOhMy

        No, I’ve never heard any of that! I’ve just been too busy stitching all these samplers and readin’ my Bible. (Not the sexy parts, of course.)

        • botenana

          You know, I got my hair to poof at eight inches, which is two an a half more inches closer to god than I was before! Make sure that cross stitchin’ floss is only cotton. Those Wilson bastards started blending and didn’t tell no one, rendering all those Leviticus ones I did unusable.

          • JulaiOhMy

            Ahahahahah! I love a woman who insists on floss integrity!

  • messilydressed

    “I expect you to teach your son that superheroes protect everyone.”

    If I ever spawn a male child, I will teach him exactly this…

    …which is funny, because I was struggling to articulate this as I sat on a panel last week about sexual assault and that best I could come up with is “bodily autonomy should be taught in children’s coloring books.” But this is a message I think any child, regardless of gender, can understand.

    Great article!

    • botenana

      Thank you very much. You are right -ANY child can learn from this lesson. It’s been hard for us with the bodily autonomy conversation. Wiggles is an affectionate child and swoops in and randomly kisses or hugs his sister, however she’s at the age where she’s not wanting the affection. It’s been quite an interesting series of conversations teaching him to make sure it’s okay, and then making sure that Sassypants does the same thing as well.

      • messilydressed

        Wiggles and Sassypants! I love it!

        Yeah, me and my little sister had the same problem. She was the random kisser and I was having NONE of it. My parents laughed because they thought it was cute… I’m sure if I brought the issue up to them now, they would see nothing wrong with how they treated the situation.

        • botenana

          I think that’s normal for the generations. My mom overheard the conversation one night on Skype and she was very confused as to what was happening. When I explained it she gave me one of those “Ooooookaaaaaaaay” looks she reserves for my brother and sister-in-law and moved on.

          I think her fear is that we’re eliminating affection, but I wish she could see how much more receptive Sassypants is now that she gets to determine WHEN her brother is allowed to touch her. As tinylights said, it’s very simple and age appropriate, and it makes the hugs much more genuine when Wiggles says “Can I have a hug” or Sassypants goes “Hey, dude, give me a double high five.”

    • tinylights

      I’ve read so many great articles about parents teaching their toddlers body autonomy and consent. It is quite simple to teach young children consent in age-appropriate manner with things like, “make sure you ask them before you hug them” and other things.

  • Val0ciraptor

    I was just talking about this topic this morning! While I’ve never had a problem with nerd culture personally (probably because I’m as mean as a wet badger getting a root canal), hearing about this type of ish really makes my blood boil. I feel for these women that can’t enjoy the things that they love without some d-canoe jumping down their throat.

    So…I guess one more thing we could do is stand up for other girls and women in nerd culture. I mean, if you’re a vocal individual with a take-no-shit attitude and comfortable with that.

    • tinylights

      Standing up is a great way to help.

      Even if someone isn’t as vocal or comfortable, just spreading the word helps. You don’t need to throw your voice in the mix if you can’t or don’t want to. But share the articles, follow women in the comic industry and share what they say, share their experiences. It does help.

  • http://theflounce.com Ali

    I think the topic of women + comics is especially interesting right now as we experience a surge in comic-based TV & movies. As someone who’s not in the comic book circle, I’m curious how the transition from page to screen is affecting the portrayal of female characters. General question for those of you who are comic readers – how do you think it’s going on the show & movie adaptations?

    • Soulsweeper

      I mostly read Marvel comics (especially in Ultimate universe), which includes Iron Man, Avengers, Spider-Man and X-men. Honestly, it’s a very hard question. These comic series tend to be super long, with lots and lots of branching storylines, alternate universes, crossovers etc. They’re also written and illustrated by different people, which means that it’s all very fluid. Most of the time, I enjoy portrayal of women in Marvel comics, but some writers and artists are certainly worse than the others. Some duos create realistic, interesting female characters with their own storylines and agency, only to have someone else diminish their roles (and double breast size, coincidentally) in the next installment.
      As for movies, I think they’re ranging from ok-ish to great in that regard. Some characters tend to be fall into stereotypical love interest/damsel in distress trope, while others are pretty awesome. However, I’m happy to say that screenwriters/directors seem to be inspired by the best comics, rather than the worse kinds.

    • tinylights

      As a long-time comic book reader, I can (and have to) understand that the show & movie adaptations will never do justice to my favorite characters.

      DC’s animated universe has actually done an amazing job, ever since the 90s. Sure, there was an overabundance of Batman and Superman, but Batman:TAS had some great, well-rounded female characters. Batman Beyond introduced Maxine Gibson and gave us an older Barbara Gordon that still kicked asses and took names. Justice League gave us Hawkgirl and Wonder Woman and then JLU gave us so much more, including Shayera’s/Hawkgirl’s friendship with Vixen despite them being in love with the same man. These animated series have done these characters right.

      As for the recent live-action adaptations, I personally would love to see MCU get some more female superheroes in the mix. Sure, we got some pretty awesome female characters, but they still tend to be side-lined. As a huge X-Men fan, I really wish the X-Men movies could be moved into the MCU and actually follow something from the comics instead of just planting characters wherever. And fucking up classic storylines (*cough*DOFP*cough*) just so there can be some more Wolverine-wanking.

      • Soulsweeper

        Regarding X-men, I think Evolution did the best job with characters. I’d love to see a reprise, ideally aimed for an older audience and based on something from Ultimate X-Men.

        • tinylights

          I liked Evolution. It was fun, it had the characters I loved, but I always wanted it to be more comics versus high school shenanigans. (ETA: I did like the later seasons of Evolution more because it did feel more like the comic books.) And of course, I love X-Men: TAS. (Jubilee will always be my first X-love.) However, since those two, it seems like the Marvel’s animated shows, especially with X-men titles, hasn’t been reaching the audience it needs to.

          As a huge fan of the Ultimate universe, I would love to see a comprehensive animated form of that universe. Plus it isn’t so big that it would be an impossible task to actually stick close to comics. (And introduce Miles Morales!)

          But as seen with Young Justice, shows can be great, appeal to female audiences, and still get cancelled too soon. So what can be done? How can great shows like Avatar: The Last Airbender get the life expectancy it needed but other shows get cut too soon? Network issues, marketable toys, the appeal to both kids and adults?

          • Soulsweeper

            I agree, which is why I’d like to see something that would keep great characters, but introduce more mature themes to the story. Wolverine and the X-men did a fairly good job with the latter, but not with the former. It felt like basically a one-character show with some extras. It’s not even that other characters didn’t get enough screen time, they were simply bland and indistinguishable from one another, at least when compared to distinct personalities and charisma of Evolution’s and TAS’s characters.

            As for good shows getting cancelled, I choose to blame it on poor marketing and distribution decisions, because alternative is too depressing to even think about. I think it does make sense, though. For example, if you have a show appealing to adults, but choose to air it only during working hours and completely ignore other modern means of distribution (like Netflix etc.), the show might still get a big cult following, but people will pirate it. Unfortunately, this doesn’t translate to profits. This is how I was introduced to some of my favorite franchise, and now I can’t even get that stuff legally, because it’s no longer available or had never been available at all in my region.

  • Soulsweeper

    Funny, I’ve just read about the same issue on XOJane, written by Janelle herself. It’s not a bad thing, though – it’s great, actually, because this shit needs to be out in the open and we have to talk about it whenever possible.
    For a long time I used to be enamored with geek culture, believing it to be more inclusive, accepting and, all in all, better from the rest of the world. Boy, was I wrong. I still meet great people (including men) through fandoms, but I’m no longer inclined to treat every stranger as a potential friend. We may have many great conversations and then I see them posting shitty comments about feminazi in the internet – BAM, the charm is gone. I tend not to get involved in such discussions, but perhaps it’s time to change that.

    • tinylights

      A random (male) stranger started talking about the Superior Spider-Man with me in my comic book shop and walked a few blocks to continue the conversation. It was a great conversation with both of us having differing opinions.

      After it ended, my first thought was “that was awesome” and my second thought was “and well, that could have been an awful conversation.”

    • botenana

      Yea, I just saw the IHTM that Janelle did. I am so pleased that she got a chance to give her POV in a space where she *should* be protected other than when she talked about it on her blog and twitter. Her piece is a great first-hand account as to why the conversation needs to continue happening until it’s not needed.

      A lot of sites have been commenting on this – The Mary Sue, Ask Dr Nerdlove, Comics Alliance…

      because it’s bullshit that we have to deal with it. Your second paragraph is why I also shy away from a lot of events I used to go to with open arms. MTG nights at a local game store? Nope. Doctor Who nights at a comic book store? Nope. Absolutely infuriating. I’m very sorry your experiences have been negative, but I agree now is a great time to get involved. Drowning out the neckbeards, pointing out the logical fallacies that we’re feminazi’s, and ignoring the idiots in pursuit of our love is the best revenge.

      That, and ganking a killscore from the highest ranked Hordie on your server =D

  • Andrea A

    I’m not a comic girl, except for like Ghost World, though I’m a lover of many things geek like Star Wars. and I am well aware of how scary it can be to be a woman on the internet that criticizes the status quo. and I really appreciated your take on this. my cousin-sister is a huge comic nerd and gamer and her perspective is that misogyny is often worse in geek cultures because there’s a long tradition of geek guys feeling rejected by women and thus blaming all women for the rejection and seeking solace in a weird dochitmy of fictional women they can objectify safely (as in, fictional women don’t speak back) and hatred of real women. it’s sad, in a way, because if they’d let go of that, they’d find women just as brilliant and just as interested in them as in geeky endeavors. and maybe they could let go of these objectified versions of women that they’ve clung to for so long.

    • Soulsweeper

      That’s a great analysis. On the other hand, you also get lots of typical dudebros, since some geek stuff is getting more mainstream, thanks to movies and/or games.

      • Andrea A

        oh that’s true. damn the dudebros!

    • botenana

      Agreed with your cousin-sister’s theory. The worst confrontation I have EVER had was from a guy I used to play D+D with. He developed feelings. As soon as I was clued into what was going on (because I’m a nerdy guy, no WAY someone is interested in me, if they are flirting it’s just to make fun of me), I had several talks with him where he said he understood that it wasn’t going to happen.

      And then the cruelty started. And then I tried to talk to him privately but I apparently was a whore and a whole list of other things.

      Because I didn’t want to date him.

      • Andrea A

        gawd. I know that type well. I’ve often been called a whore or slut when turning a “nice guy” down. um, if I were suuuuuuch a whore, would I be turning you down? wouldn’t I be jumping on any penis that moves? sigh. the logic.

  • Lisa McColgan

    Back in them 90s, I was a zine girl. I bought comics as well, although I was more into the weird indie stuff like Beautiful Stories For Ugly Children. Sarah Dyer’s Action Girl was important as well; she made a concerted effort to get girls and women into comic stores and into the discussion. Through her, I got into Alison Bechdel and Roberta Gregory (also outspoken about the portrayal of women superheroes).

    But I’ve held back on voicing my opinions in any sort of internet forum, precisely because of my fear of being attacked. And that sucks and it’s not fair. Thank you for writing this.

    • botenana

      Thank you for sharing. I hope some day you WILL be able to jump in on the conversations and not be judged simply for gender.

  • The Pale Mare

    PREACH! We are the change! I won’t give up what I love because some jackass thinks his XY has more of a right to nerdom than my XX.

  • http://postable.com/katyb AnathemaD

    I got into what I guess you could call “nerd culture” only over the past few years. I’ve always enjoyed fantasy and sci-fi (I’ve really always enjoyed any book, almost), but I started to get more into it, started watching sci-fi movies and TV. I started reading webcomics, got some graphic novels and fell in love. but I feel like I’ve hit a wall now, I don’t know where to go from here. I’d like to get into comics, but I don’t know where to start, and the thought of just browsing like an idiot at a comic book store stirs my social anxiety more than usual.
    things like this are discouraging to read, because people who have always loved this stuff, people who grew up with it, are being rejected and THREATENED for just existing in this space that they have every right to, and it makes me so sad that it’s so hard just to gain access to things that make us happy. I’m glad when people with a voice in this arena use it, because this is an area where I don’t feel qualified to talk.

    that was a jumble of words. sorry. I have feelings.

    • botenana

      Feelings are appropriate to have.

      First and foremost, don’t let stuff like this discourage you from seeking out the things you love. The beauty about any sort of subculture or hobby or like is that they can be picked up at anytime, with no prequalifications.

      There are good stores out there, and I hope you find some. What I recommend is just stopping into a local store during the week. On weekends these places are slammed with tourneys and if you have SA, you won’t feel nice. A side effect of being a girl is that most of the time you get ignored. Usually the owner will say hi and help you out with recommendations.

      What graphic novels have you started with? Any particular comic books peaking your interest?

      • http://postable.com/katyb AnathemaD

        the area where I live just doesn’t have a lot of stores, and the ones we have require a special trip. so I’ve been putting it off and putting it off even though that logically I know that once I get there, it likely will be a pretty good experience. and even if it’s not, there’s a gelato place right next store, and hey, gelato!

        Blankets and Habibi were my first graphic novels; my interest was sparked because Habibi was on a list of Best Novels of the Year, and I’d never seen a GN on a list composed of regular novels. Blankets was on the shelf next to it, I read the first 20 pages at B&N, bought them both, and was basically hooked. since then, I’ve read various stuff; Asterios Polyp, Daytripper, Persepolis, Ghost World, Marbles, and so on. I’m working through Sandman and the Fables series. I just read March Book One. but basically, my problem is I’m limited right now to whatever happens to be on the shelf at Half Price Books (which isn’t much), what I already can tell I will like and can order from Amazon, and free webcomics. I’d like to expand, but it’s frustrating, and comics are $$ so it’s hard to just chance it. my library has approximately zero comic books, too.
        I love comics and graphic novels, but for the price and effort, it’s so much easier to just pick up a book instead; even if the book isn’t spectacular, it usually takes me more time and therefore feels like it was more worth it even if I might have enjoyed the comic more, because the comic is more of a risk. so part of my problem is my dumb brain.
        hah. I realize I’m an idiot who causes a lot of my own problems with bizarre rationalizations and stupid anxieties.

  • llamacas

    Thanks for the article. The amount and escalation of the troll harassment that happens online seriously freaks me out. A person can get upset but its like this THIS THISS is what led you to get so upset and felt your “community” was being infiltrated that you lashed out so intensely.

    Keep speaking up and don’t let the jerks (as scary as they may be at times) scare us to shut our mouths or stop doing what we want to do.

    I will ride my bike at night and wear my short skirt and travel alone and let you know when you say something shitty…

    • botenana

      Also, do you happen to …. french the llama?

      • llamacas

        lol – I had to go to search the internetz to look that up. I’ve never heard that phrase before.

  • Pingback: An Open Letter to Jay Mohr: Why You Can't Call Us Bitches - The Flounce()

  • the_mouse_

    I couldn’t find any statements in your article that invite or even allow a meaningful dialog. The entire piece consisted of asking why you can’t discuss any issues without being harassed, which seems to be a pattern in your writing. What does that leave to discuss for anyone who isn’t bent on harassment? Let me try to start a discussion anyway. You state:

    “I guess what bothers me is that yet again, we’re trying to have a
    meaningful discussion on the Internet about sexual harassment in geek
    culture, and the salient points are derailed because we’re all
    tumblr-pseudo-feminist bloggers. Even if we make a valid point – that
    men in geek culture need to do better–it’s minimized because we’ve all
    gotten our periods today. And remember, it’s not really ALL men that do
    this, so it’s okay to ignore it. And that leads to comments such as these:”

    At which point you include the following comment in your list of conversation killers:

    “Very nitpicky, the cover is fine, the guy is a really good artist and
    he’s just giving fans what they expect, sexy super heroes, even if she
    is a teen, she is still in the realm of super heroes and its sorta
    expected. I honestly cannot really make out the proportion problems she
    states in the article, its just stylistic.”

    This commenter directly addresses a prior critique, and gives ample rationale for his or her opinions. Later in the piece you state: “You want to stop hearing women whine about unrealistic body parts? Start calling out the dickwolves who perpetuate the stereotypes”. So, rather than engage that opportunity for dialog, you completely discarded someone’s opinions when they were respectful enough to explain their thinking without ever dismissing your own opinions due to your gender and stated ideology. What happened to the meaningful discussion you said was being denied to you? Agreeing with your stance as a matter of course and “calling out” anyone who doesn’t agree is not what I would call “discussion”, meaningful or otherwise.

    Let me run with the Wonder Girl topic, even though you seem to have made up your mind on that topic. The average onset of puberty for girls in the US is 11 years old, and most girls’ breasts finish developing between 15 and 18 years old. So a 16 year old girl is perfectly capable of having breasts as large as ANY 30 year old. Did this artist render her breasts well above average? Yes. Are they anatomically incorrect? Only if millions of women are also “anatomically incorrect”. And her butt and thighs? These are muscular areas that can be enlarged with the right exercise. This is not Couch Potato Girl, it is Wonder Girl, no? Here’s a link of a real teenager with an equally if not greater lower body physique, if you’d care to come back down from your high horse to reality for a moment:


    It seems odd to fault super heroes for being far from average. After all, they’re SUPER, not average. Both male and female super heroes have extremely idealized bodies, far removed from an average physique. Entertainment and art are not required to represent, pander to, or flatter the average, nor do I see any reason why they should. Protecting the egos of people threatened by the ideal is a cowardly way of running away from reality.

    Here’s an idea for you: maybe no one, male or female, is telling you what you can and can’t be interested; maybe no one is telling you that you don’t deserve or shouldn’t immerse yourself in geek culture; maybe, just maybe, people are telling you that it is disrespectful and outrageously egoistic to expect that other people’s original art and other’s cherished entertainment will conform to what YOU think they should find attractive. You seem to have a lot of expectations of men, and you say that “I am expecting you to treat me as an equal”, but your idea of being treated as an equal doesn’t sound very equal to me. Why should anyone not only accept your values and tastes without question, but CHAMPION them for you, when you are utterly dismissive of theirs? You can do better. Really, anyone can.