First off, I’m sorry things have been kind of scarce around here…most of my blogging time has gone to gathering the links for this, The Tenth Carnival of Feminist Science Fiction & Fantasy.
There were a couple of subjects I ran into a few times each; either bloggers responding to one another, or coincidentally covering the same topic from a different perspective. I’ve grouped those together at the top; then we get into posts separated by media.
TOPIC: CASSANDRA CAIN
Things start with Kalinara at Pretty, Fizzy Paradise, whose post,“Of Course She Is…” My Problem With Cassandra Cain, is a criticism of the current Batgirl. Kalinara looks at Cass not as an exciting, unique character, but instead as a collection of traits that the writers thought would be really neat:
Her past is tremendously angsty. Okay, I can dig that. She was trained as an uber-assassin by a villain. Makes sense. He was abusive and scary and raised her without the capacity for speech. It’s a bit over the top for my taste, but it’s original at least. And ties into a particularly neat ability to read people’s body language like a book.
And naturally, she’s not really a killer! After all that, she only killed someone once! When she was too young to know what she was doing! And she ran away immediately afterwards! At the age of 8. And she lived alone, incapable of speech until she hooked up with the Batclan at age 16/17 or so. …now we’re getting to things that I start to find hard to swallow. It’s such a cliche. Someone raised to be a killer, but somehow managing to be so pure that she only did it once. When she couldn’t possibly be blamed? And then immediately left? Because she was so good at heart, she couldn’t take it? Oh, brother.
Even though it’s a modification of the suit, the stitches, as a design point, suits her character as a silent, no-nonsense fighter. She doesn’t make wise-cracks, or intimidate through words. She gets right down to business and fights. It’s actually sort of refreshing that she doesn’t engage in that cliched, belabored hero-villain rhetoric. And another thing the suit adds is the intimidation and mysteriousness factor. “Criminals are a superstitious, cowardly lot” and all. The fact that “creepy” comes up is some sign that it works, to some degree.
TOPIC: MARY SUE
At The True Confessions of an Hourly Bookseller, Mickle tells us why she considers Mary Sue a sexist term:
So, yeah, any female equivalent of Rocky is going to have aspects of Mary Sue-ness – because Rocky has aspects of Mary Sue-ness.
But we only call River a Mary Sue, not James Bond. And seriously, which is more deserving of the title of Mary Sue – James Bond or River?
In Mistress Mary, Quite Contrary to Popular Belief…, I give my own take on why Mary Sues happen, and why I enjoy them.
(Then, in Speaking of Terms That Need to Disappear, Mickle also tackles the idea of fanservice.)
TOPIC: CHILDREN OF MEN
The movie, a dystopian film, premiered last month, and reactions to it were across the board.
The thesis of the movie — and I understand that we aren’t meant to take it so literally — is that this is what happens when people lose hope. Why have they lost hope? Well, there are no children; there have been no births for nearly two decades. If there were children, everyone would be less inclined to horrific behavior towards other human beings, because we would have some hope for the future that would give us reason to love each other. In other words, if only women weren’t all infertile (of course, sterility is always the woman’s fault, even in the future), society wouldn’t look like this.
At her blog, Ami Angelwings has another take-down of the message:
Maybe this is cynical, but the way he’s singling out women as the people who dislike Supergirl, it’s almost like he’s telling the male readers, “hey if you’re unhappy with what we do, blame those GIRLS”. >:|
Jared also gives us his thoughts on Supergirl:
By focusing on the “girl” at the expense of the “super,” Berganza and Co. have denied female readers their power fantasy. So why then would a female superhero want to read a book that goes so directly against why they like superheroes in the first place?
(That’s Not Really Super, Supergirl.)
At Me Myself and I, Liliaeth has an interesting rant about the “designated love interest” and why it makes for uninteresting characters. She looks specifically at Gwen Stacy in Spider-Man: Rant: The Designated Girlfriend.
In I’m Just A (Gamer) Girl, and That’s All That You’ll Let Me Be, the Heroine Next Door debunks the myth of the Gamer Girlfriend, and takes on the idea of the Hot Gamer Chick.
In the Girl Gamers LJ Community, filthy_bonnet recalls dealing with guys whose minds are boggled by “being beat by a girl”, and asks the eternal question: Is this a common experience for girl gamers or do I just keep versing jerks?
Steve-O, at Taller Than Thou, writes Dead Rising: my own stupid little annoyance, an analysis of the guns and weapons used by a female character, and how they show her to be a fantasy rather than a character in her own right.
In Alex In Wonder Land, there’s an in-depth analysis of Perez’s Wonder Woman reboot, covering topics from the removal of Steve Trevor as a love interest to Diana’s costume, and a lot more: Revisiting the Perez Era: Making Wonder Woman political.
In ID-ing Identity Crisis, Kalinara explains why she doesn’t think Identity Crisis was a story about rape, making a powerful point: It’s the fact that Identity Crisis was NOT about the rape that made the inclusion so damned offensive.
Also dealing the rape in Identity Crisis, there is a very powerful post by Loren at One Diverse Comic Book Nation, in which he acknowledges he is a rape survivor, and gives his thoughts on the storyline in that light: A Personal Story: Identity Crisis and Rape.
At In One Ear, there is a hilarious post: Advice for Artists and Writers: Getting the Elusive Female Audience. (There’s also a follow-up: Writing Minorities: How to Approach Gay Characters.)
TV, MOVIES, BOOKS, WRITING
At Riba Rambles: Musings of a Mental Magpie, Riba Lis implores Smallville’s creative team to include some female heroes: In Justice. She’s also got another post of note, Don’t be such a skank – an Arisia gripe, about parties that are invite-only (unless you’re hot).
In her entry, Oh, Look, A CAN OF WORMS! Let’s watch Mary open it again! at Tangled up in blue, monkeycrackmary writes about being a feminist, and wanted to have female characters she can identify with when she watches TV:
It’s not fair for a black kid to watch tv and only see white people when they’d also like to see black people. It’s not fair for a gay teen to watch tv and see only straight people when they’d also like to see gay people. And it’s not fair for me to watch tv and only see male people when I’d also like to see female people.
There’s a response by wemblee in her LJ, the definite fraggle, where she notes:
But when debates about misogyny in fandom, or in source texts, roll around, as much as I enjoy those debates for the most part, I often leave feeling like I’m a bad feminist since I always identified with those male characters reflexively.
(yeah, I’m gonna regret this…)
In Carmarthan’s LJ, An Old Song, she has an interesting post about finding female characters she enjoys in different mediums:
I can see how a woman who is fixated on TV–with its narrower range of choices–and a few particular genres (narrowing the range further) could have trouble finding the specific type of female characters she loves, especially given that most TV still has the male characters outnumbering the women by at least 3 to 1. I don’t think it’s necessarily sexist–the odds are generally better for people with narrow tastes to find male characters they like on TV because there are a lot more choices.
( On narrow genre tastes, female characters, and the wider variety of books)
Whoa, hold up. You both think Niki is a strong female character because she’s a mom who strips on the internet? Is that all we’re looking at here? Is this why this woman is empowering? Because to me, it’s more than just “Niki can strip.”
Check out the comments, too; there’s some great discussion.
Is that not enough feminist sf&f for you? Well, no worries! The call isn’t up yet, but the next Carnival will be at Women’s Work — But Can She Spin?