moon-goddess-girl said: Hi, I was wondering if you had anything to say about the lack of representation of female superheroes in children's merchandise (to the point of erasing Natasha from the adaptation of The Avengers!?!) I've just been thinking about it a lot and then I wrote a really long post about it and you seem like the kind of person who would know more about these things than I would so ... I thought I would ask if you ever thought about it. Also I think you're awesome but that's beside the point.
I went to a comic book convention a year or so ago with the intention of buying some Black Widow merchandise for a blog giveaway, but there was none. At a comic book convention. A smallish comic book convention, but still.
You have to understand this goes back to the reasons Disney bought Marvel in the first place. Like Gail Simone has pointed out, in the wake of the “Young Justice cancelled because too many girls were watching” fiasco, Disney wanted a share of the boys toy market to match the Princess brand’s stranglehold on the girls toy market. And one of the easy and frequent ways to market to boys is to hang up a no girls allowed sign.
Marketing logic goes like this: if you have a target demographic identified, you spend all your time and $$$ pitching to that demographic, because that is the most efficient way to get returns. If you do not have a target demographic identified, you identify a target demographic. And the big population % casualty of this clever logic, not just when it comes to superhero toys but geek culture in general, is women.
When giant boobs and ass pointing the same impossible direction grace all the covers of your comic books, when five year old kids have Hawkeye nerf arrows and Iron Man masks to play with, but not Widow’s bites, it says, hello chums, this is for you. For you, and not for girls. Girls games and girls merchandise are kept on special shelves, conveniently colored pink, so they can be bordered off, easily identified. Comic book costumes for women are made in “sexy” variants, comic book shirts for women tend to say things like “girl power” or “my boyfriend is a superhero” and are kept, in this way, safely in their girly-place. (And why there are shirts like this one that got Greg Rucka so mad.) It is why, so often, when nerdtypes are troubled by Anita Sarkeesian types or articles like Janelle Asselin’s, they act like something has been taken away from them. You can’t expect comic books to be made for you, they say. Comic books are not for you.
Yes, I think about this a lot. I think about this a lot, and it grows fangs in my mouth, turns my rhetoric vicious. I think about how much money toy companies must have spent to convince the world that action figures and dolls are not the same thing. I think about what it means that we do not have so many Black Widow toys for girls to play with, because superheroes are for boys. And what it means that we do not have so many Black Widow toys for boys to play with, because boys do not need women to be superheroes.
Further reading, if you’re interested:
Frankly put. I am a FAKE GEEK GUY. I admit it. I like geek stuff, but I don’t love geek stuff. Not the way most geeks do. I’m an interloper on the geek scene. I’ve seen the movies, but I don’t know the canon. I am not a true fan.The “Fake Geek” is Not The Problem When It Comes to “Fake Geek Girls” (via albinwonderland)
All those things about not really loving the source material and “just watching the movies” or only reading the one book that everyone has read. That—all of that—applies to me.
But here are some things that have never happened to me. I have never been quizzed about who Data’s evil brother is to prove I like Star Trek. I have never had to justify my place in a midnight line to see Spider-man II by knowing who took up the mantle of Spider-man after Peter Parker’s death. (Peter Parker dies? Really? That’s so sad!) I have never had to explain who Nightwing is in order to participate in a conversation about Batman. (Nightwing is like….Robin on steroids, right?) I have never been asked how battle meditation works in order to voice my opinion that Enterprise shields would probably make a fight with Star Wars technology one sided. (Battle meditation is something that was in that Jedi role playing game, wasn’t it?) I have never had to beat everybody in the room (twice) at Mario Kart to prove I liked video games. I have never had my gender “honorarily” changed by having enough geek interests to be accepted (“you’re one of the guys now”). No one has ever insisted I tell them the difference between a tank and DPS in an MMORPG before allowing me to discuss raiding Molten Core. I have never been dismissed as a faker at a prequel screening because I didn’t know which admiral came out of light speed too close to the planet’s surface in The Empire Strikes Back. I have never been quizzed about Armor Class in order to get past someone who was blocking my path to the back of a game store where my friends were waiting at the tables. I have never been told I’m not a real fan. I have never been shamed for coming to a convention despite my lack of esoteric knowledge. And I have never, ever, EVER been invited to leave a fandom because I didn’t like [whatever it was] enough.
Every one of the things I have listed, I have personally witnessed happen. To women.
That’s not elitism. That’s sexism.
when girls think they are better than other girls because they are tomboys who engage in stereotypically “male” activities it makes me want to actually gouge my own eyes out because they are pretty much reinforcing the patriarchal idea that men are better than women without even realizing it and that is just incredibly sad
Anonymous said: "nerdgirlelitism" and yet, you're the biggest fake geek girl I've ever seen.
Damn. You caught me.
I haven’t posted anything lengthy or terribly eloquent on the subject of women in geek culture lately, have I? Have this instead.
I will say that I’m almost constantly surprised and horrified anew that THIS IS STILL HAPPENING, that this is ALWAYS HAPPENING — but to say you’ve never noticed or seen it or heard it simply means you’re willfully, pointedly not paying attention.
FAKE GEEK GUYS: A MESSAGE TO MEN ABOUT SEXUAL HARASSMENT
By Andy Khouri
“I think this woman is wrong about something on the Internet. Clearly my best course of action is to threaten her with rape.”
That’s crazy talk, right? So why does it happen all the time?
Honest question, dudes.
That women are harassed online is not news. That women in comics and the broader fandom cultures are harassed online is not news. That these women are routinely transmitted anonymous messages describing graphic sexual violence perpetrated upon them for transgressions as grave as not liking a thing… that is actually news to me, and it’s probably news to a lot of you guys reading this.
So what do we do about it?