ComicsAlliance Editor Andy Khouri challenges men in the fandom, professional, and media communities to police each other and put a stop to sexual harassment:
Sexual harassment isn’t an occupational hazard. It’s not a glitch in the complex matrix of modern life. It’s not something that just “happens.” It’s something men do. It’s a choice men make. It’s a problem men enable. It’s sometimes a crime men commit. And it is not in the power nor the responsibility of women to wage war on this crime.
It’s on us.
How do we fight this war? We stop enabling. We check ourselves and, when necessary, wreck ourselves. Do you know a guy who’s hate-following women on Twitter just to troll them? You check him. Do you know a guy who’s writing disgusting screeds to women journalists because they don’t like the same things he likes? You check him. Do you know a professional whose discourse with women in his field is loaded with gender-specific language and condescension that could enable further abuse? You check him. Are your Twitter followers identifying you as a sympathetic ear for their sexist views? You check yourself. Is your website’s message board a cesspool of ignorance and hate? You check it like you actually give a damn. Do you know a guy who’s sending rape threats to women for any reason? Oh, you report that guy.
No idea has proven more damaging to the comics industry than the myth that its professionals—not just creators, but retailers, even distributors—work for love and not money. It’s a philosophy that has justified exploitation of creators and theft of intellectual property. It’s allowed the entire industry to pass the buck for its failures—from publishers to retailers, and retailers to fans—for decades. And it’s why the comics industry lingers in a frozen adolescence, clinging to a shrinking target audience like a sea captain railing at the storm—when the real problem is the rotting wood of his own hull.
In which I unpack the Amazon-acquires-Comixology thing, determine that the sky is not in fact falling, and have some Opinions about comics.
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.
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?
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.
If you’ve been following the news yesterday, you’ve seen that Amazon, the country’s largest e-retailer, has purchased Comixology, the largest purveyor of digital comics. This is a pretty big thing, but since it’s only been 12 hours since the announcement, and indeed the deal will not be final until sometime this Summer, it’s impossible to know exactly what it will mean for the comics industry in the months and years ahead. Unless you’re on Comixology’s board of directors, or in Amazon’s M&A division, anything you think is going to happen is pure guesswork. So let’s fire up the speculation-o-nator and guess away! I’ve got a few thoughts on what this will mean in the short term, I’ve listed them from most likely to least likely.
There’s a lot of great stuff about Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, H.P. Lovecraft and Thomas Ligotti in that post – if you’ve read any of Mark or Adam‘s stuff before, you’ll know what to expect, and if not you’re going to enjoy finding out!
I haven’t seen any of True Detective, but this is a really great look at a lot of really good books.
“I wanted to … make [Rorschach] as like, ‘this is what Batman would be in the real world’. But I have forgotten that actually to a lot of comic fans, ‘smelling’, ‘not having a girlfriend’, these are actually kind of heroic! So Rorschach became the most popular character in Watchmen. I made him to be a bad example. But I have people come up to me in the street and saying: ‘I AM Rorschach. That is MY story’. And I’d be thinking: ‘Yeah, great. Could you just, like, keep away from me, never come anywhere near me again as long as I live?’”—
“Something as simple as a cursory overview of Shotaro Ishinomori’s career can impress even the most jaded comics fan. He holds the Guinness World Record for “Most Comics Published By One Author,” laid the foundation for two separate popular genres, and blazed several different trails across a wide variety of projects. He had a fuller career than most people dream of, and even fifteen years after his death, his creations are still being revamped, remastered, and revived for all-new audiences. His influence is tough to overstate, and his remarkably fruitful career has resulted in a bibliography that’s a library unto itself.”—