There’s been a lot of talk lately about feminists destroying video games and comics and RPGs. There’s a lot of random fear in people who have no idea what the other side is actually advocating. I know odds are low that any of them will actually read this to expand their knowledge, but the odds are zero if I don’t write it. So what, exactly, do we want in our media?
First, we want more stuff created for us. This shouldn’t be very controversial. If the market can bear it, there’s very little problem for people uninterested in female centric comics and games. I’m talking about Ms. Marvel and Batgirl and Rat Queens with strong female leads, and also Saga and Sex Criminals and Hawkeye with strong female characters with their own agency and agendas that are fully realized human beings and not set dressing. Note that lots of men love these titles as well.
The number of feminist-friendly comics has exploded in the last few years. The market has really noticed that we exist and buy stuff. DC is very late to the game, but even they’ve woken up with the new Batgirl design, Gotham Academy, and a bunch more stuff coming into the pipeline.
We’re hungry to buy stuff that treats women as heroes. We want this stuff published. This is agenda point one.
Point two is, better treatment of women in media that is not explicitly marketed to a female audience. This is largely what Anita Sarkeesian talks about. The classic comics example is “Women in Refrigerators”, which is the trope of killing off women for the sole purpose of motivating the male characters. Very little attention is given to the life of the women and those who were part of her life, and instead the focus is entirely on the male heroes reaction to her. We don’t want our heroes to be beating up prostitutes, committing domestic abuse, using women as trophies to be won, or that kind of thing. We don’t want our women to be sex objects, just there to be gazed at by the men. There’s a massive amount of work explaining why (see: the college of Women’s Studies at your local liberal arts college.)
This is the part where we’re calling for actual industry change. I feel like comics aren’t as regressive in these ways as video games, but there’s a long ways to go. The new 52 Starfire is a classic example of a character turned into a sex object. Also, the recent variant cover to Spider-Woman. Hyper-sexualization of women in mainstream comics is still very common.
For me at least, I have a streak of realism here. When I talk about this, I’m talking about mainstream comics – your Batman, Superman, X-Men lines. I have no issue with a portion of the market existing to serve a very male audience. Things like Lobo, Vampirella, Preacher, Sin City. Dudes, you can keep these. After all, if I argue that there’s a market for female audience comics, then I should accept the argument that there’s a market for male audience comics. I’m not going to read them or talk about them much. Much like Grand Theft Auto and God of War, I know from the start what these are.
I just don’t want to see Grand Theft Auto or Sin City sensibilities in my Green Lantern or Avengers comics. Games and comics both have a bad history of treating women poorly in their mainstream works, and we want to see this stuff relegated to clearly labelled Mature-rated works, and we want a market where this stuff doesn’t leak out into areas where we don’t expect to see it.
I mean, honestly, we hope that people think about it and agree that they aren’t the market for anti-feminist messaging, sure. But we aren’t trying to ban it (or at least most of us.) There’s a world of difference between feminist critique of art, and the angry Mom brigade. Neither of us like Grand Theft Auto much, but they want to stop stores from selling it. We want to convince you that you don’t actually want that junk. If you ignore us, we don’t actually go bother you. We’re largely in our own spaces waiting for you to want to come to us. You don’t listen if you aren’t looking for it anyway.
So that’s it. More media made for a female audience. Better consideration of women in mainstream works. A plea for serious consideration by the male audience as to whether they want to support problematic works. That’s it.
I don’t think there’s many people for whom that agenda destroys their hobby.