Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Spider-Gwen and the Cho Incident: When Feminism Erases the Hourglass

Trawling the internet earlier last month, as is my daily habit, I found so many furious posts about Frank Cho's Spider-Gwen sketch. If I hadn't seen all of those posts, I never would have known there was a Spider-Gwen comic that existed in the world.

I'm going to be honest with you. When I first saw the sketch, I was tickled. Absolutely giddy. My meat name is Gwen, and when I was a kid, I climbed on things and pretended to be "Spider-Gwen," your friendly neighborhood wall-crawling badass seven-year-old. Now I'm in my late thirties, and I'm sexy as hell, and I still love superheroes.

Not realizing that Spider-Gwen was a real thing, I believed that Cho was making a cheeky joke that coincidentally tapped into everything I needed to see at the time. I made the image my avatar on facebook. I defended the image on comment boards. And once I became aware that she had her own comic, I became Spider-Gwen's fan, vehemently, enthusiastically, and for life.

Now, I understand why people were upset. They have every reason and every right to be. Women have been sexualized in comics to a ridiculous degree. Websites like The Hawkeye Initiative and Escher Girls have hundreds of posts illustrating this point, and it's both hilarious and sad. The Mary Sue made the point that the comic’s intended audience is teen girls, and that Gwen Stacy herself is a teenager in that universe. Spider-Gwen co-creator Robbi Rodriguez was unhappy with the drawing as well, and to a certain degree, I’m always going to empathize with an artist’s feelings about responses to his work.

At the same time, I still feel good about Cho's drawing. I've got big boobs and a big ass, and I want to feel sexy, and beautiful, and powerful. Cho’s drawing gave that to me at a time when I needed an ego boost. While I agree much of the time with what feminists have to say, this sort of thing kicks me right in the nethers.

There's a deeply scary thread running through some versions of feminism. This point of view assumes the male gaze is the all-important, ever-present villain. The hourglass figure must never be portrayed, lest it give the menfolk a boner. Anita Sarkeesian criticizes female video game characters with my body type almost exclusively. As Liana Kerzner put it:

There are women like me all over the world who have found ways to be proud of our flawed, unique bodies, and we refuse to accept that breasts or hips over a certain size indicate anything inherently immoral. This puts us in direct opposition with Feminist Frequency, since they call out characters in the Tropes vs. Women videos just for having large breasts.

The Cho drawing with my childhood alter-ego as a sexy bad bitch showed up right at the moment I was thinking about this. Spider-Gwen becomes almost tangential when looking at the larger picture. I’m reminded of the weird time when the right-wingers and certain feminists were united in the cause against women’s sexuality in the 1980’s.

Man, was that a drag. Just when I was learning about what it was to be a girl, when I was learning about politics, when I was absorbing concepts of the world that would be sure to stick with me throughout my life, the people who said I could be anything said I couldn't be sexy.

Today, it’s the same. Pearl-clutchers fall against the fainting couch because women have tits, love sex, and use their hard-won agency to flaunt it. Next time, we’re going to talk about Black Widow, and how a great many of the people in the media who were complaining about supposed sexism in Age of Ultron were men.

For now I will close with this: we still need feminism to battle against perniciously right-wing forms of feminism. The hourglass exists, and will not be erased. And Spider-Gwen is fucking awesome.

Friday, May 23, 2014


Did you notice that all of the programs mentioned in the previous post start with the letter B (Blacklist, the)? Two of the three titles alliterate with the venerable second letter. That is probably a coincidence, but I wonder what you could find if you looked at the first letters of show titles during certain periods of time.

Would certain letters be more popular than others overall? What's the fashionable summer letter these days? What was it in 1964?

"Black Box" Is a Reference to the Protagonist's Enormous Vagina

Does the Other Woman on Black Box (who was also the Other Woman on The Blacklist) have to be a psycho stalker? Ali Larter and Idris Elba did this shtick better. Why can't she just be cool?

I'm glad there are bipolar women on television now, but Carrie Mathison and Catherine Black have some things in common with each other that they might not have in common with some of their mentally ill viewers. Both have high-stress jobs, and they have to keep their disorder a secret.

What about a bipolar bowling lane attendant whose boss is like a sensei to her? The Bowling Boss knows about the disorder and understands she has to manage as best she can. He helps by teaching his protege to bowl. I guess they could also solve mysteries, but who the fuck do you know that solves mysteries?

I'm just not sure I care about any of these totally unprofessional people on Black Box. Everybody's fucking each other in every crevice of the hospital all the time. They always do this on hospital shows. If the staffs of real hospitals got up to as much fucking on the premises as they do on television it would cease to be a titillating taboo. Hospital shows wouldn't have to use this tired old device anymore.

They'd use it anyway because now it would be "true to life."

Not-Larter is Not-Elba's subordinate at work. If the show has said whether they fucked in the restaurant or someplace else, I cannot remember.

The acting is really broad and the dialogue is not often clever. Lydia from Breaking Bad is doing her best. Good Lydia is high-strung like Bad Lydia, but she's not a liaison for an international meth cartel. What does Good Lydia do for a living? Did the show say? Anyway, she's lovely to look at, but I kind of want the zombies to eat everyone on this program.

If it does not step up its game in the next week, this show will not be a priority.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Damseling Amy Acker

Am I the only person who thought "the Cellist" would end up some Level 11 S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, or CIA or something? When I heard Amy Acker was playing her I was sure of it. And they fucking damseled her. A better actor than all the actors on the show combined (and that includes you, Paxton. Please do chew scenery in every mediocre series on television, because you are a joy to behold, but we both know Acker is a rare and glorious specimen) and they damseled her.

This woman does Shakespeare! This woman can play anyone. And you, Jed Whedon and Marissa Tancharoen, fucking damseled her. Write more musicals and fuck off with this shit. I am disappointed in you.

Next week Adrian Pasdar will return with his ridiculous lip caterpillar. I hope there's a scene where he rips it off while cocking his brow and saying something hilarious. This will not happen because Whedon the Younger and Tancharoen fucking suck right now.

How could you waste Amy Acker like that? God damn it.

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Walk-Back

“I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro.”

Around the United States, hard right sphincters snapped shut. The backlash against the backlash will come soon, as it did when Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson made similar comments about the happiness of African-Americans in days gone by, but for now, the conservative media and the politicians they unquestioningly support dance a little two-step called the Walk-Back.

The Walk-Back is a time tested method of disavowing a person whose views or cause one previously buttressed. In very rare cases, one also can use the Walk-Back to admit that a person’s views were not as horrible and radical as one had assumed, but that never happens anymore. Typically, and with increasing frequency, hyper-partisans shake a leg to the Walk-Back when the subject of their adoration espouses views so extreme that it will hurt their party’s election prospects.

Here is the part where I mention that this is not strictly a conservative problem. Liberals do it, too, although most of us are more interested in tearing down outdated rightwing dogma than lifting up progressive “heroes.” We can talk about Obama’s drone program or about government spying on citizens all day if you like. Most liberals of my acquaintance will condemn the current administration for continuing Republican policies in these areas, but the liberals of my acquaintance are far more leftist than any Democratic politician has been in decades. It is difficult to discern whether or not the average Democratic voter actually agrees with most of these policies or is holding his or her nose while voting for the best of a ridiculously conservative bunch. The Overton Window is a bitch mistress.

Politicians, the media, and just regular people need to still themselves for a moment. Take deep breaths. Look at the people with whom you ally yourself.

Bundy’s fans marched into a community of 12,000 people with their rifles and shotguns, ready to use women as human shields to prove a point about property rights. Property rights. Is this not one of the conservative stalwart points? Land can belong to someone, is the conservative cry, and should someone violate those rights, it is within the owner’s purview to use any means necessary to protect that land.

But this is not about Cliven Bundy, conservative ideology, or even the rule of law. This is about the media and politicians blindly and gleefully idolizing people who will eventually prove themselves lees than heroes.

Do your homework. Pay attention. Stop pretending that because someone votes the same way as you they are your ally. Cliven Bundy is in this for himself and so are those who now dance the Walk-Back. To do a better job, we all must remember that sometimes the enemy is living in our campground rather than the other.

“I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro.”

Were you really surprised?

Hello, Blog!

Two years since I looked at you. You seem well. No comments on old posts. Forever alone, are we? Poor, neglected thing. Like a devoted house frau whose husband no longer notices her. Not as if you've been trying. Girl, you need to realize you can't just let yourself go like that. You have to keep him interested. What a fickle beast is man.

 I can touch you, if you want.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


I guess I took January off from blogging. Whatever. If anybody read this thing, maybe they would have reminded me to post every once in a while. That's right, Nonexistent Reader, it is YOUR fault.

Maybe one of these days I'll give a fuck again and post something of substance.