Women in Refrigerators – the Bambi Offensive

Meeting Gail Simone at Planet Comicon was a bit of a surreal experience for me this past weekend. It was around ten years ago that I found her website Women in Refrigerators and at that time, I remember being upset by some of Simone’s conclusions because I felt that she was looking for a fight and cherry-picking information in order to prove her point. Now that I’m older, I can recognize that this is the nature of academic work, but I still don’t agree with most of her list.

I know that I’ve discussed my issues with her site before, but seeing her this past weekend (and a brief conversation with Jason Aaron regarding the site) has made me think through my position once more. 

To recap, Women in Refrigerators takes its name from an issue of Green Lantern where Kyle Rayner comes home to find his girlfriend murdered and stuffed in a fridge. Simone argues that this is indicative of a larger underlying issue where women are treated unfairly in comics. While there are moments where women are certainly mistreated in comics, the issue I have is that the assumption is that when a woman has PLOT occur to her, then it is automatically due to issues that writers have with women.

During my interview with Ron Marz (writer of Green Lantern during this storyline), Marz stated:

For me, having Kyle Rayner’s girlfriend killed and stuffed into a refrigerator was not in any way, shape or form intended to be about harming a woman, but it’s about Kyle learning that people around him were going to pay the price for what he was doing. Some people are going to say that “you’re using a tragedy to a female character to have an effect on your male character.” Well, yeah, I was. Shakespeare did the same thing with Romeo and Juliet. People care about their significant others. That’s a trope in all fiction.

In short, plot happens. Kyle’s girlfriend Alex was specifically created so that readers could empathize with Kyle’s loss. Her first appearance was in Green Lantern #48 and she died in #54, so Marz spent a few issues developing her character and allowing readers to relate to her before he she died. So, even though she was designed to die, it wasn’t as if Marz wanted the story to be cheap way to get readers to care about Rayner. He wanted to build a connection.

On Sunday afternoon, I explained the Women In Refrigerators situation to Jason Aaron and my response of Moms in Ovens. Being the wise sage that he is, Jason Aaron thought for a moment and responded, “Creating a character just to kill her is kind of cheap though, isn’t it?”

And it caught me off guard a little. He erased the issue of gender completely with one question . . . even though he is completely and totally wrong.

Yes, if handled incorrectly, designing a character to simply kill off can be cheap, but designing a character simply for the emotional toll it can have on a character can be an incredibly powerful narrative device. When I was considering stories that feature characters created for the death, my first reaction was Bambi’s mom.

Only a heartless person wouldn’t cry while watching Bambi as his mother dies. In fact, the scene was so powerful that the American Film Institute listed “Man” as one of the top 50 villains in all of film history. While she taught Bambi life lessons and provided for him, her essential narrative function was to die. Was it because Disney hates women or that they hate parents? One could perhaps interpret the message to be like that, but it can also be interpreted as a physical representation of Bambi’s transformation into an adult. The film is about growing up, and Bambi’s mother was his last connection to his adolescence and her death allowed him to grow up. It was unfortunate that she had to die, but her death allows for the audience to connect to the loss that Bambi suffered. It allowed for an emotional connection between an audience and the work which is a very powerful and beautiful thing.

Maybe Bambi isn’t a great example, however. After all, we’re discussing comic books, not film. Perhaps a better example would be Batman.

Bruce Wayne’s parents were murdered immediately in his origin story. Again, this was to create an emotional response to allow for readers to relate to Batman’s pain and since that time, there have been stories crafted around this pain that has provided new meaning to the character and his parents. They were never initially developed to be well-rounded characters, and they have never been presented as such. Their involvement in Batman’s origin story has been a powerful place to start considering the motivations for his character.

So, in essence, while characters created for death can lead to cheap story-telling, they can also allow for a connection between audience and story if handled well. Alex’s death in Green Lantern was one such story. Marz developed her character so that her death actually meant something, and in the years following, he used her death as a means of exploring Kyle Rayner’s emotional struggle for what it means to be a hero.

To conclude, I had a brief conversation with Simone at Planet Comicon about the state of gender roles in comics today and we both concluded that there have been some great efforts in making the medium more equal. It should also be noted that she is an absolutely kind, and wonderful person to talk to and I felt a little ashamed for all of the pent up anger I had about WiR all of these years. Even though I don’t necessarily agree with her assessments, I see the importance of her work and respect her immensely.

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32 Responses to Women in Refrigerators – the Bambi Offensive

  1. Michael says:

    I love Aaron’s comment about creating a character only to kill her. Just like his writing, he cuts through the BS (well, unless you’re reading Wolverine/Spider-Man, in which case he heaps it on with a giant Morrison-sized ladle).

  2. Cathartic Lobster says:

    Astonishing Spider-man/Wolverine throws idea after idea and doesn’t care if any of it sticks. It is such a beautiful and marvelous story. I love it dearly even if it is a lot of BS.

    You’re totally right though, Jason Aaron has no room for BS in his writing. I think it’s because he comes from the mindset of a noir writer. Noir enjoys exploring the darkness within characters and to kill a character off for the sake of killing the character is too much of a sacrifice because noir’s power comes from exploring corruption.

  3. Terry says:

    Ya’ know, I never realized that the person behind Women in Refrigerators is the same person that has created and is still producing Birds of Prey, one of the best comics I’m currently reading. The fact that a former comic commentator is now a big time writer gives me hope.

  4. Creating a character “just” to do anything is an interesting idea. To a character in a comic book (essentually an idea/concept with a somewhat static image attached to it) any presence in the story has a purpose. Unlike reality, a well told story gives purpse to every role thing within it plays.

    Damn it Cody, now I’m spiraling the significance of “death” for comic characters around in my head. I’m gonna be thinking about this all day.

  5. Cathartic Lobster says:

    Terry – Never lose hope. Never.

    Tad – Let me know what conclusions you come up with. Think about this one: Superboy was killed in Infinite Crisis supposedly because of the legal battle with the Siegels over the name “Superboy.” DC denies this fact, yet the character died and during 52 “Superboy” was referenced, but only under the name of “Connor.” Therefore, instead of the Cult of Superboy, it was the Cult of Connor (which sort of throws a whole wrench into the secret identity now that he has returned, now doesn’t it?)

    Blue Beetle is another to ponder. What function did his death serve? Furthermore, are there any comic deaths that have served no narrative function? I can argue one for sure, but I’ll see if you can guess it.

    • My conclusion is that death isn’t the worst fate for a character. I decided to go all transhumanist with it.

      To an embodied idea physical death (in this instance “physical” being drawn) is less significant than metaphorical death. A comic character “lives” in two worlds: the page and the mind. Characters who die on the page often return at a later time through the machinations of writers and artists in new form or in their old form, for all intents and purposes unharmed by their temporary death.

      A character who dies in the mind, either of the read or the writier, is well and truly dead though the physical evidence of their existence (presence in group shots, splash pages, etc.) may continue to be produced in future volumes.

      For a character their espoused views are their life and form. A character who’s ideas are undone through actual evidence to their contrary or simply due to them being unpopular fades out of existence unless they begin to embody a new idea. This may lead to a physical death as well, which I would liken to attempts to revive a corpse with lightning.

      In many ways, Alex is as live now as she ever was. The thoughts she inspired in the Kyle continue to be present after her illustrated death. Unlike reality, where dead things do not have no ideas or directly continue their own ideas, comics allow the character to live on without their ink and paper half. While they live in the minds of writers and readers, dead characters can continue to grow, evolve, and effect the world around them through ideas.

      As such, a character who simply vanishes without an impact, someone who walks out of frame and never returns, is more significantly “dead” than someone who’s ink form was eaten by an acidic giant squid.

      As an aside, I don’t know what the female-to-male balance with characters like Alex is. I imagine it leans more to the female side of things since a larger number of characters are male. That is purpose conjecture on may part.

  6. Otto66 says:

    Gail Simone is one nifty writer. I currently read her “Secret Six” and plan to start “Birds of Prey” after the reboot.
    No characters killed in noir? Jeez, what the heck have I been reading all these years?
    Blue Beetle had to die at the hands of of Max Lord so Wonder Woman could snap his neck and Bat-Man could feel like a s*** for not taking him seriously. Also, DC had tagged Keith Gifffen to introduce a new, younger Blue Beetle.
    Gwen Stacy had to die so Spider-Man could kill… er… I mean… not prevent The Green Goblin from doing great bodily harm to himself. Also, Mary Jane Watson was waiting in the wings.
    .

  7. joecrak says:

    I’d still have to agree with Jason Aaron, creating any character just to kill them off is cheap. You creat this character, to hopefully get readers to enjoy them and get a bond with them, just to kill them and make the character they are tied to and the readers to feel the remorse, is an incredibly effective and cheap thing to do.

    But when i use the word cheap I’m thinking more along the lines of easy, sort of like any bad guy wrestler can get cheap heat by mocking the local sports team. Its a tactic that is tried and true in all forms of writing, Bambi’s mothers was written to be killed solely to make people feel bad and cause a change in the main character. That doesn’t make it meaningless, just easy.

    Did Bucky’s original death ever really mean anything? And I’m sure there’s a bunch of off panel deaths, but they don’t really matter.

    • Otto66 says:

      Bucky’s dead, as reveled in “Avengers” #4, served to further put Captain America/Steve Rogers out of step with his past. More alone in this future that he was unfamiliar with. So… pathos?
      That is until Marvel decided that Bucky wasn’t dead after all. Which then made all “deaths” in the Marvel Universe meaningless.

  8. Gail says:

    I mean no offense here, but you have made a huge assumptive error.

    “Even though I don’t necessarily agree with her assessments, ”

    What assessments would those be, do you suppose? Please point out to me my assessments on the site.

    There aren’t any. That was deliberate. One thing the site has repeatedly shown me is that people bring their own preconceptions to it, and over and over, they assume that it’s full of all sorts of things the site never actually says or implies.

    The site asks a question, that’s it, in a perfectly fair manner, for pros, people more knowledgeable than I, to answer as they like without editorial interference. Then, I left that information up with no real input whatsoever from me, for people to make up their own minds.

    Any “assessments” are purely on the part of the reader.

    It’s a common-as-dirt misreading, but it’s still a misreading.

    Seriously, please point out where, in any of the main pages (the comments page has some discussion stuff, where I offer only the most tentative POSSIBLE explanation, but with all due provisos and caveats), anything even slightly resembling an assessment is offered?

    You can’t. There isn’t one.

    And as I say, please don’t be offended, but I’ve read dozens of pieces like this, and it’s amazing the stuff people THINK they see on that site.

    It’s illuminating!

  9. Cathartic Lobster says:

    Gail – First, thank you so much for taking time to respond to this site. You have no idea how much that means to me. I really do appreciate it.

    Now, down to business.

    While WiR doesn’t have any central thesis or assumption, but this line from the introduction to the site is what caught my attention, “These are superheroines who have been either depowered, raped, or cut up and stuck in the refrigerator. I know I missed a bunch. Some have been revived, even improved — although the question remains as to why they were thrown in the wood chipper in the first place.”

    My response is that plot happens and when it does, we should be hesitant to put a name on a list simply because plot has occurred. No, you did not ascribe any particular interpretation of what that list means, but you did put names on that list that simply had plot occur. The preeminent example in my mind (and I know this is only one, but there are others and this is the first one that pops up in my head) is Lady Quark. Yes, she died in Crisis on Infinite Earths, but this isn’t really indicative of anything and I know that you never claim that any of the women on the list are indicative of anything, but lets analyze that argument for a moment.

    As you say, people bring a lot to the list. This is mostly due to the vague nature of the list itself. It is simply a list of names along with plot points that have happened to them. The public is left to interpret what it means and what you mean by having it up. Due to the vague nature of it, any arguments brought to the table are easily refuted by simply saying, “I didn’t say that” because you never did explicitly, but aren’t you saying that because the list exists.

    With my article on Moms in Ovens, I went into an actual argument, and that’s where it fails. I argued that comics hate parents (which I don’t believe, but simply constructed it to point out that WiR cherry picks information), but what I should have done was simply put up a list of dead parents and let readers decide what my argument was.

    Are some of the names on the WiR list fair? Absolutely! I’m particularly bothered by the amount of rapes that have occurred over the years, but lets think about something that I argued in this very article: what was the purpose behind that story? Sue Dibny was raped and many were upset. What was the purpose behind that act? Perhaps these types of questions are what WiR is all about given that you specifically stated, “I’m just curious to find out what you guys think it means, if anything.”

    I think I’ve figured out what it means (generally speaking because this won’t apply to 100% of the list, but it’s enough of a start). Men have plot happen to their supporting cast and women typically have plot happen to them. Furthermore, while I’m not sure exactly why this occurs, I have a feeling that it does because powerful and heroic men have been portrayed as strong and in control of their emotions, and the only way for them to become emotional is when something happens to someone else. In our patriarchal world, men have control and to lose control when a loved one is harmed is a powerful and effecting thing. Meanwhile, plot occurs to women characters because they are more in touch with their emotions and can therefore, the emotional content of a story can be brought out in a more realistic way when happening to a character than to the character’s supporting cast.

    I could be way wrong, but that is one interpretation and without any clear operational definitions of what I should be looking for on the WiR site, I would say my conclusion works.

    Gail, once again I can’t thank you enough for your response and I hope I’ve cleared up any confusion on my end. I feel ashamed and embarrassed that I didn’t notice the points you made about “assessment” earlier and I also feel bad about not addressing these concerns somewhere in this article. I hope you take these comments with the respect that I mean them and even though I think that the list suffers from padding, I am thankful for this list because it makes people think about much larger implications. Thanks so much!

  10. King MAB says:

    I don’t really like the idea that “plot happens” as if the story is some force of nature that can’t be controlled. Aside from any editorial pressures, the author controls the story and can and should be held accountable for what they write. Sure, they might not think about what they’re writing, or they might not understand that there are other contexts in which to view their work, but that’s not exactly a good thing. A good writer should be acutely aware of what they are doing. Of course they can’t foresee every problem, but the more they understand the world around them less of a problem things like this would be.

  11. Gail says:

    Again, that’s all you, sir.

    First, you have to ditch the phrase, “plot occurs,” as it is meaningless and misleading, plot doesn’t “occur.”. It’s not an Act of God. Plot is not a tsunami. Plot is a car that is designed, planned and driven. By human beings. Human beings affected by social trends, editorial edicts, and the desire to recreate successful and memorable scenes from previous material. Saying, “plot occurs,” IS an assessment, it is the deliberate whitewashing of any authorial intent when handling characters.

    Asking, as I did, “hey, is this a trend?” is not an assessment, a conclusion, or a thesis. I placed no editorial comment of any significance over and of the expert opinions I solicited. The same exact weight was given to thiose who felt the question was bone-headed, as to those who strongly felt it was fair. Yet, over and over again, I read articles like this that condemn the site for things that simply aren’t in it, and can’t be debated into existence. In short, seriously, take a look at what you’ve SAID is in the site and compare it to what actually IS in the site. It’s significant and illuminating.

    I will say in your defense that you at least clearly read the site…many, many of it’s detractors have lost their minds over it without even giving it a read-through, which is a whole different level of word to me.

    I don’t think I could have been any mire scrupulous or fair. Those who think I was going after comics, or men, or had some mpnefarious agenda are inventing such notions out of whole cloth. It’s been very interesting to watch over the years.

  12. Gail says:

    My apologies for the typos…I typed this on my iPad and didn’t check before sending!

  13. Cathartic Lobster says:

    Allow me to apologize for the term “plot occurs” as I agree that it gives writers an easy out when they are criticized. As someone who almost always looks at motivations for why something occurs in plot, I feel a bit stupid for trying to coin a term that can so easily ignore a writer’s/editor’s/publisher’s agenda. In my defense, the point I was trying to make was that the WiR list has instances where women simply had things happen to them and the same could be said of men. The list states that Powergirl was “depowered, magically impregnated, made vulnerable to unprocessed natural materials… like sharp sticks” but there are male characters who have gone through similar issues (with the exception of being magically impregnated . . . unless they are in a Garth Ennis book . . . so maybe Ennis is the most progressive of all writers . . . heh). I realize now that the list simply exists to point out occurrances of plot to female characters without judgment, but the same could be done with male characters. Superman has died, been depowered, and been put through ridiculous situations as well. I’m not making a comparison, nor am I making an argument. I’m simply stating that Superman has had things happen to him as well.

    Next, don’t ever worry about typos. No criticism from this site on that front as I make mistakes all the tim.

    Now, to the issue at hand. If the purpose of WiR is to ask, “hey, is this a trend?” I would have to say “no” if we’re talking about the industry on the whole (which is what we seem to be talking about). It is not a trend. If we looked into individual creators (I know that the site does not do this whatsoever and that I am now bringing in my own critique at this point) then we could definitely point to certain creators who are misogynist *coughfrankmillercough* or creators that have creepy agendas that involve women *coughWilliamMoultonMarstoncough*. Again, this goes beyond the scope and purpose of the site, which is to list female characters and things that have happened to them.

    Again, please don’t take any of this as sarcasm or with any degree of anger. I’m really enjoying this discussion and I don’t want to alienate anyone who disagrees with me and I know it might be annoying that I keep apologizing as I do, but I feel it necessary given the rampant anger apparent on the internet and the unfair, and rude comments that I’m sure have been sent to WiR. I only wish to present myself as a polite commentator on the subject.

    • Hey Cody, you know alot about comic stories, you should make a Men in Refrigerators list.

      We need a list of every male comic book character and a seperate list of every male comic character to have something horrifying happen to them. First reaction is probably to assume the list is massive, but is it? I don’t know, maybe, only one way to find out.

  14. Cathartic Lobster says:

    Tad – I tried something like this with Moms in Ovens (a reference to Kyle Rayner’s mom), but as I stated, I didn’t list so much as I made an argument. If we were to have a male character list, we would need to name it after something that happened to a man that was astonishing to readers.

    I don’t think is the answer, but perhaps “men shot in the head” after Blue Beetle. Something along those lines.

    • I’m not trying to find an “answer”, just to express a large view of the “comic world”. As Gail’s… well I don’t want to say “point” or “thesus” or “concept” since the site is largely just infomation, not a conclusion, but the impression that I take from WiR is this: “being a woman in a comic book will get you hurt/killed/mistreated”.

      The goal of creating “Men Shot in the Head” would be to expand that concept to “being a PERSON in a comic book will get you hurt/killed/mistreated”.

      • Cathartic Lobster says:

        Hell, let’s just call it “Stuff happens to people” and point out all of the things that happen to characters in all of fiction! Just a list of events that have happened to characters in all of fiction.

        Ender – mass murderer.
        Jay Gatsby – adulterer, murdered.
        Kino – wife beater. obsession with wealth leads to the death of his child.

        etc. etc. etc.

  15. Joven says:

    Hmm, honestly, I’m not sure exactly how I feel about this. On one hand, sometimes in stories you need tragedy, and people need to die or heroes need to fall, be they male or female.

    On the other hand, sometimes I think that with how our society works, that somethings can just feel like piling on in regards to women. Especially in cases of using rape especially as a cheap emotional appeal tactic (ie, Rape is the new Dead Parents)

    Depending on where you get statistics, almost 1 in 6 women are victims of sexual assault (including but not limited to rape), and women are basically taught that they need effectively live in fear, to treat every man they meet as a potential threat, (that every guy they meet is schrodinger’s rapist. Add to that the fact that victims are often shamed/blamed for not doing enough to prevent their own attacks, or for “bringing it on herself”, and (while rape is not only limited to women) the fear/impact of it is a unique experience for women that is really quite hard to grasp for most men, and probably shouldnt be toyed with too often, i think.

    Plus the feeling that many women have that they have to work twice as hard in anything for half the credit of a man, and the fall of a female hero can have much more significance than the fall of a male hero. Especially since it just ‘confirms’ that women in general should be inferior in the first place (too often in our society, the failure of a man is his own personal failure, whereas the failure of a woman is a mark against women in general – http://xkcd.com/385/ )

    I think my main problem is I can see both the side that sees it as just something that happens to characters in general, and the side that sees it as just more shit that women have to take and part of a trend not only in comics, but in society in general. It could just be something that people do without thinking about it, because men in general dont have to think about that kind of thing, then again, I wrote half of this before lunch and half after, and my mind tends to derail after a break, so Im not sure what I mean anymore.

  16. Otto66 says:

    C.L.-Ya made Gail angry and you tried to shortcut your thought process by coining “plot occurs”.
    For shame on the first and the second should be showing up on Deadshot’s t-shirt in “Secret Six”.
    So its not enough to meet a comics pro at a con you have to post something to raise their blood pressure?
    Please don’t be offended by the above. I’m just crushing your grapes and didn’t want to put :-) after every sentence.

  17. Ross says:

    “My response is that plot happens and when it does, we should be hesitant to put a name on a list simply because plot has occurred.”

    Why? I mean, that’s basically saying that we should be hesitant to conduct any kind of critical analysis of a text with a plot. For the Planetary essay anthology, I listed monsters and monstrous characters in the series. Should I have not done that?

    WiR is a prompt for critical analysis of gender in comics. It’s a good prompt too, in my opinion. I think it would be a great topic for an essay anthology for Sequart. But hey, that’s just me. :)

  18. Cathartic Lobster says:

    Ross – As Gail has noted, there is no critical analysis from her on the site. The site exists as a list and the critiques that have come about are from people bringing interpretations of the list from their own perspective. A list for the sake of a list is not critical analysis.

    Yes, you listed monsters in your essay for Planetary, but you also provided analysis about what those monsters meant within the context of the book. As Gail has noted, WiR doesn’t do that. It exists as a list for you to interpret how you will. Now I have and it seems that many disagree with my assessment and that’s fine, but it’s my assessment and you don’t have to agree.

    Yes, WiR does prompt good critical analysis of gender in comics . . . as long as you agree that women are treated poorly, apparently. I feel like because I’ve been in negation of the site or because I’ve chalked up some of the list as being irrelevant to statements on gender that many have assumed that I am automatically wrong. Do bad things happen to women in comics from creators who have issues with women? Yes. Sexism and misogyny occurs without a doubt and those issues should be corrected, but my point is that to make a list of tons of characters is a bit of an unfair generalization.

  19. sam says:

    I think it should be pointed out that Cody hates women. :D

  20. joecrak says:

    I just do not like the phrasing “plot occurs” or “plot happened” it just sounds wrong in my head, and not being a better wordsmith I can’t think of a better word to use, other than something generic like the word “something”.

  21. Cathartic Lobster says:

    Sam – Obviously you’ve never been to my site, or you’d realize that I don’t hate women at all. The following are some articles that you might want to read:

    http://www.popgunchaos.com/2011/03/16/why-television-needs-veronica-mars/

    http://www.popgunchaos.com/2011/02/10/diagram-of-wonder-woman/

    http://www.popgunchaos.com/2010/09/28/why-the-world-needs-a-supergirl/

    http://www.popgunchaos.com/2011/02/07/guest-column-geek-chic-kawaii-comics/

    http://www.popgunchaos.com/2010/11/11/guest-writer-samanthas-novel/

    Next time, please chickity-check yourself before you rickety-wreck yourself.

  22. Ross says:

    “Yes, WiR does prompt good critical analysis of gender in comics . . . as long as you agree that women are treated poorly, apparently”

    I disagree. Someone already suggested a men in refrigerators style comparative analysis. If your defense is that the list is lacking proper context, then someone should get to that.

    “Yes. Sexism and misogyny occurs without a doubt and those issues should be corrected, but my point is that to make a list of tons of characters is a bit of an unfair generalization.”

    How is listing the facts an unfair generalization? She is doing the opposite of an unfair generalization – she is listing the specific facts with proper citations. Unfair generalization is making broad sweeping statements that don’t have specific facts that can be refuted or placed in a different context.

  23. Cathartic Lobster says:

    Ross – “If your defense is that the list is lacking proper context, then someone should get to that.” I nominate you. I’ve said everything I can say about this topic. I’d be more than happy to post it on this site.

    “How is listing the facts an unfair generalization? She is doing the opposite of an unfair generalization – she is listing the specific facts with proper citations. Unfair generalization is making broad sweeping statements that don’t have specific facts that can be refuted or placed in a different context.”

    Cherry picking evidence and only accentuating the negative events that have occurred in a character’s history is unfair. Yes, Supergirl was killed in Crisis, but she is also a powerful role-model for kids. Yes, Wonder Woman was killed, revived, and depowered, but Superman has been all of those things as well. To distill the essence of a character down to a few simple words and ignore all of the great stories that involve these characters is a broad, sweeping generalization. Yes, Supergirl died in Crisis, but she died heroically and more importantly, she lived heroically. Of course the site won’t include examples of female characters acting heroically because that doesn’t fit in with the list.

    I have no idea how many words I’ve typed on this subject today, but it feels like a ton and furthermore, the real issues seem to be ignored. Yes, it is an important tool and I’m glad it exists, but you must acknowledge its limitations.

    • The WiR list is about mistreatment, not heroism. She isn’t “cherry picking” evidence, it’s a list of things. The list does not need context because they are simple facts of past events. This isn’t a video game karma system where having good things happen “balances” bad things like they never happened; bad things are not erased by good things. A “heroic” death is still death.

      This is the whole reason for my suggestion of a “Men Shot in the Head” list. One can make claims of “it happened to Superman too” or similar examples and those claims occur in the singular. They are accepted as true and have no one place to draw again aside from the minds of the reader. If a full listing is created than both listings could be compared in a larger context, as you so desire.

  24. Cathartic Lobster says:

    One last thing in terms of broad, sweeping generalizations:

    Without proper CONTEXT, then all arguments are broad, sweeping, generalizations. Though the list gives some quick examples of things that have happened to female characters, without the context in which these events happened, there is no point other than a simple list.

    My wife also wanted me to add that the site is a syllogism:

    Alex DeWitt was a woman in Green Lantern.
    Alex DeWitt died a horrible death.
    All women die horrible deaths in comics.

    Again, Gail never explicitly states this thesis, and she isn’t trying to pose this as a thesis, but (and this is my wife speaking to me to transcribe because she is much smarter than me) by stating facts in the way that WiR does, it is allowing for readers to finish that last line.

    My wife has said everything that I’ve been trying to say far more succinctly than I ever could. She is grand. :)

  25. Great discussion, and thanks to Gail for her comments. I think everyone’s got good points here, and Cody, you’ve ceded that WiR isn’t so much making assertions as raising questions, which was Gail’s main point. Cody sees this list as an epiphenomenon or side effect of comics plots and doesn’t see a trend. Fair enough.

    I’m personally less concerned about accusations of misogyny than lazy writing. Frank Miller’s work is dynamic and unique, and I’m willing to defend it. I’m more troubled by unconscious trends in fiction, whereby it’s easy to portray women as victims to generate drama for a male character. But it’s harder to target any specific work on this count — Marz’s story was engaging. The bigger problem is the larger body of work, and that’s hard to point a finger at — which is why the list may serve a point. Not to criticize Marz or Miller but merely to say this happens, and it might be worth thinking of how to write different stories that avoid this particular cliche.

    Anyway, just my two cents. Enjoying the debate immensely! :)

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