Monday, December 10, 2007

Gosh. I Feel Almost Necessary.

"And those particular fans who pop up on WFA periodically to denounce and decry feminist fans, female fans and the hive vagina? Well...think about it this way, would they be so vocal or so adamant if there wasn't the element of threat involved. If, on some level, they didn't think we might win."

That's the gist of a post by Kalinara explaining that, no, she and others aren't about to give up on superhero comics or the mainstream, and they're not going to stop protesting, either, because it has an effect.

And this because Tamora Pierce wrote about creating a new, establishment-free market, inspired (according to her) by the Elizabeth Bear column I praised last post as well as my own post on the subject. There's a flurry of posts besides Kalinara's that say much the same: nobody's going to give up their favorite characters, in fact everybody loves mainstream comics, despite how much complaining goes on.

Well, okay, and honestly, that's about what I expected.

The thing that strikes me about Kalinara's post, however, is the conviction that creators and fans responding to charges of misogyny and sexism is a sign of progress, and that the naysayers fear the Woman Power. This may all be true.

But that sort of thing goes both ways.

When I discovered the existence of WFA and the various controversies going on at the time, it seemed to me that there was quite a lot of sentiment on the order of Changing Society For The Better By Weeding Out Comics Sexism So That Nobody Could Have It. Since then, there's been a bit of discussion, prompted by critics of fangirl feminism, along the lines of Wait, That's Kind Of Repressive Talk, There And How Are You Defining Sexism Anyway, and sure, while some posts along those lines have been combative, if not downright hostile, it seems to me there's been a subtle reorganization: Okay, Have Your Sexist Crap But Give Me More Stuff That Doesn't Piss Me Off. The "changing society" bit hasn't gone away, but it seems to me to be less prominent than it was.

Someone gripes about a statue or something, someone calls for its elimination, someone else says "you're trying to remove anything sexy", someone else says "no, we don't actually want to remove the sexy", and so on. Stances shift as these details get hammered out.

Even those of us who are labeled as being "against" feminism have our place. Without resistance, any stance or philosophy becomes unthinking dogma. Without dissent, flaws in a philosophy go unrevealed, unchecked. And if, for example, Brian Bendis having to speak up and defend himself against charges of misogyny is a sign of the power of the feminist movement, then it certainly must be a sign of the power of the dissenters when someone like Mad Thinker Scott is routinely labeled as a troll and his arguments dismissed without even discussing the merits of his statements. Doesn't that indicate every bit as much a sense of fear that he might be right after all?...


kalinara said...

The key difference, anon, is that Scott is perceived (though I don't think it's necessarily true) as an advocate of the status quo rather than an advocate for change with regards to feminist concerns.

Since most people who are perceived as anti-feminist are arguing for the status quo (as opposed to making things MORE anti-feminist) the reaction is different. Essentially, as we tend to see it, if you guys get your way...things stay the same. That's not a threat to us, that just means it'll take longer to get results.

Whereas, in contrast, once things change, it's very difficult to revert them to what they were. If not impossible.

You can see this a bit with regards to different arguments, "We're not trying to take the sexy away." We're trying to argue that the status quo won't entirely change as a reassurance. The opposite argument is, then, that we ARE trying to change things.

But yeah, that's what it comes down to. As a lot of us see it: if you win, we're inconvenienced and annoyed, but it's by nature not permanent. We just regroup. If we win, well, then the effects are much more long-lasting.

Thus, as I see it, it's not comparative. YMMV, naturally. :-)

Anon, A Mouse said...

That's an interesting point, and to some extent I'd be inclined to agree. I'm not sure if I completely buy the idea that it's difficult or impossible to "revert", since I've heard some people reference old classic comics as examples of the good kind of non-sexist comics that brought them in (and they'd like to see more of)(and then turn around and point at comics from the same era as a reference for how much worse they were). Shifting perceptions and morals play a large part, I think, in how these things are interpreted through the ages, and I believe things are a bit more fluid than many people think.

On the whole, however, I can see where you're coming from. Still, I submit that comparing reactionary anti-feminist statements with trollbaiting Scott may be more apt than you realize.

This depends a lot on what the actual motive IS for going around and saying stuff like "Oh, just ignore [_fill_in_the_blank_], he's just an attention-seeking troll/misogynist". On the surface, that's a call to end the discussion not on the value (or lack thereof) of his arguments, but by slapping an arbitrary label as an on/off switch.

There's only a couple reasonable motives I can see: either it's just people deliberately trying to yank Scott's chain, in which case they're trolls, and deserve any lack of sympathy and respect that happens as a result; or they actually don't want Scott to be able to present his ideas, for fear they might be seen as reasonable and thereby accepted.

I'd certainly be willing to accept that it's the former reason that's the truth, but if so, then I'd have to point out how that's an ironic tactic coming from folks who (I presume) would absolutely detest it when someone says about a feminist that "they're just a cranky fat lesbian" or something similar from the Utterly Dismissive Catalog and Gift Idea Book.