Saturday, February 09, 2008

Femisism, Comic books, and percieved images.

There is a new storm brewing in the usual comic blogosphere. As far as I know, it started when Grant Morrison wrote a dream scene where Batman saw a case for the fallen Stephanie Brown. Some people saw it as a triumph, some people saw those people as a threat, and somewhere in between, Dirk Deepey from Journalista grouped every single female blogger as part of the 'Girl Wonder crowd'.

While reading those, I also found an old 2006 post about the Wizard 'How to Draw' segments, where men were portrayed super heroic and women sexy and 'sultry'. Amazingly enough, that old discussion still has some posts where guys insist that if 'fat femnazis don't like that, they shouldn't read comics'.

Now, a bit of a digression. I was talking to a friend about old dubbing. When that happens, I get nostalgic since when I was little, Mexican Dubbing was among the best (Or was the best) dubbing in the world. I watched all Disney movies in spanish, and I know most of the songs of those old movies by heart. It's still odd for me to hear The Bare Necesities in English, and I really can't relate to many of the old dubbing actors for Disney in English as I have no idea who they are or how do they sound like. Same with old series. I know Richard Dean Anderson has a rough, manly voice, but for me MacGuyver will always have the smooth, polite voice of Mario Castañeda (Who, incidentally, was also Benton Fraser in Due South, another show that sounds alien to me in english). During this talk, I remembered who had been my first exposure to feminism. Although my mom has always been a feminist, when I was 6 I wasn't exactly aware of that. My dad agreed with her, and thus I wasn't aware of the real struggle outside the house. She was my mom, not a feminist.

And I wouldn't know about the 'man hating, bra burning' feminist until much, much later, when I started arguing about women rights on my own, way into highschool. No. My first feminist was none other than Disney's Mary Poppins Mrs. Banks.

Played by Glynis Jhons (Who, btw, was also Lady Penelope Peasoup in the Batman series), Mrs. Banks serves as a comic relief in the movie. She's a suffragette who balances the act between going to march to ask for women's votes, but whose lines inside the house are usually 'Yes, dear' to whatever her husband says.

Still her song, Sister Suffragette, is the first one of the movie, and it was always the one I remember first when talking about Mary Poppins. I remember the original translation, that, re-transtaled, would be something like "I'm a brave soldier with a skirt, who is chasing the right to vote. Today is the day we break our chains, in a hard fight to be free,
and our dignified successors will sing when they're older At least, the women can vote." The new translation is more faithful to the original english but it lacks melody in my humble opinion. Anyway, Mrs. Banks is as far an image from the usual fat, unkept, hairy man hater lesbian that is the usual strawfeminist on internet debates.

Thing is no matter how much we insist that there is no such thing as a hive vagina and that no two feminist are exactly the same, critics will never believe us. Because we might disagree on the small details. Not every woman cared about Stephanie Brown, or about the Mary Jane statue. I find Maya, from Heroes, incredibly offensive, but I'm sure that for many people that's a not-issue.

And as I write this I realize that the problem is quite similar to the other problem we usually argue with the good old boy's club. All women look the same. All comic book women must be a certain shape, and dressed in a certain way. All feminist must be of one mind, and look roughly the same, despite evidence to the contrary. Which is one of the reasons why we keep arguing about that. Maybe if they realize that not all 2d women are exactly the same, they'll realize that not all 3d women are the same either.