Friday, April 06, 2007

Make it stop

I saw Ragnell's mention about Blog Against Sexual Violence Day. If you want to get technical, it was yesterday, but I've come out of retirement for this one post on the subject.

I'm not big on having special days to address a particular issue any more than I am in favour of having a specific day to be nice to other people. But maybe that's just my anarchist streak, and I don't like being told what to do.

Anyhow, I got to thinking about all the women in comics who had been sexually abused and realised that in real life how many close female friends I'd had who had been sexually abused in some way. Now of course there are lots of women who haven't told me that they had been abused, but I have no way of knowing whether this was because they haven't chosen to tell me, or because they haven't been abused. And then there was the one that confided in me that she had reported she had been raped to the police when she hadn't, as a way of getting attention from her boyfriend. The point is that the number who have chosen to tell me is uncomfortably high.

So when I turn to superhero comics and I see the high number of women there who have been sexually abused I find I have to consider that it's not too far from my own life experience. So why do I complain about this situation?

Because I think that life in comics should be better than it is in the real world. Because if superhero comics can't give me a glimpse into a world where the good guy/girl saves the day and the woman who is attacked is either saved by the hero/heroine, or preferably is empowered enough to do that wish fulfilment thing of kicking the crap out of her assailant herself, then what's heroic about them?


Ami Angelwings said...

I agree :)

The problem with "realism" in comics, is that a) it's usually just an excuse to shock and awe and b) it's not all that realistic XD

If it's okay to have a female superhero raped and tortured is it okay to have a male superhero suddenly become a rapist? I mean in REAL life, even rly good ppl sometimes just go too far right? >.>;;

The thing about superhero comics is that good things happen. It's like how if Superman is fighting this creature but he can't kill him (b/c Superman doesn't kill) and then the creature gets conveniently crushed by a falling building XD

In real life, Superman would have to make a hard choice. In comics, he's saved that choice.

But when it comes to sexual abuse in comics, nobody's ever saved. It happens and the women have to work thru it (or they die XD) :\

B/c it's "realistic" in a medium that's inherently unrealistic XD

Richard said...

I welcome you stepping out of retirement even for a single post. I hope this leads to a comeback tour. Maybe you can do a greatest hits medley, get the fans speculating about whether you or Kate Bush will be first to come out with a new release...

Anonymous said...

I knew your "goodbye" was more likely a pause, than an ending. I told you you won't be able to walk away from blogging.

Looks like I'm right again. I shouldn't be surprised.

That's the Spirit said...

I figure you'll erase the troll, so it'll make my comment somewhat baffling for later generations --- but good lord, what an ass. He made a few valid points way back when, but enough is enough. Why can't some people just stop flapping their pieholes?

Anyway, re: the post, I agree. I've always thought comics ought to show powerful role models of all kinds, especially females. Grim is OK with me, and I don't mind seeing females in jeopardy when the plot calls for it, but the sexual abuse angle is really a tired trope that doesn't have much place in superhero comics. Let villains be over the top and colorful, I say, and leave the too-close-to-home topics for other media.

Anonymous said...

Bah, this will probably never get read, but I feel I need to respond anyway having just come from seeing Watchmen, the movie based on the book that is pretty much single-handedly responsible for spearheading the movement into realism in comics you seem so against. I have to say, after reading a lot of your posts, you seem to long for a more innocent day in comics, however, comics are not merely superheroes in colorful costumes. It's a medium through which to tell a story, be it romance, horror, adventure, or comedy. Yeah, when you have some mysogionistic ass doing a involving rape and abuse, it leaves a bad taste in everyone's mouth. When you have a writer who isn't trying to live out an adolescent power fantasy, or hammer you with trite morals, and instead uses the opportunity to say something about how complex, unpredictable, and unusual a thing the human condition is, you might just get a good story that leaves you asking the right kind of questions. The tale of Sally Jupiter and the Comedien certainly isn't to promote or (God forbid) even condemn rape. It's just a part of a much larger tapestry that shows human beings in all our magnificent glory and horrible ugliness. The real truth so many "dark and edgy" books miss completely. We can be magnificent, or just magnificent bastards.

In all, you make a lot of valid points, but you have a habit of greatly oversimplifying a medium that still has near limitless potential.