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.


Anonymous said...

Very good point, about the homogenizing of female identity. Hear hear! Seems to me it isn't a shocking concept that there are loads of different types of women out there, but when it comes down to the wire, the generalizations rear their ugly heads. Shock and awe, women aren't all the same if their feminists, shock and awe, women want a decently sized female identity spectrum in our media!

Now I want to go watch Mary Poppins.

-K.A., linked from WFA!

Ami Angelwings said...
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Ami Angelwings said...
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Ami Angelwings said...

Great post! :DDD

The "hive mind" thing implies that we're not like minded ppl who support each other or happen to agree with each other or anything else. Community or not. It implies that we dun have a mind of our own, that we all agree b/c we're told to not b/c we arrived at the same conclusions seperately, or that in terms of community that we can't be a community of individuals but a cult. The hive mind thing reduces us all to just parts, with no thinking, merely echoing some words we dun understand and therefore can be more easily attacked. :\ Community, fellowship, agreement, even coincidence, does not negate our individuality, and that we individually believe in the same or similar things. :) There may be an underlying problem that ppl are realizing that is forging similar opinions, but we are not all the same and we are not one singular being simply b/c we agree :]

It seems like it is just easier for some ppl to believe that feminism is not something that women, on their own, seperately, can realize or believe in, b/c that would mean that there is something that women are reacting to and getting angry about, but that it's a religion we're indoctrinated into, that beliefs can't be coincidental b/c that would mean that ppl are realizing the same things individually, but that we're taught them and mindlessly obey without individual thought. It reduces feminists from individual women to a collection of mouthpieces for Big Sister and makes us easier to dismiss.

I never watched Mary Poppins from beginning to end :O NOW I MUST!!!

Adalisa said...

Hi, K.A. and Welcome :)
I have tried to understand generalizations for a long time, but I still don't understand why in this type of discussion some of the generalizations are bad (All comic book fans are living in their mother's basement and have poor body hygene) while the ones about women are all fine and dandy.

And yes, Mary Poppins is worth re-watching, isn't it?

Adalisa said...

Hey, Ami, nice to see you :)
I've never understood the whole "hive mind" myth. Just today I was talking with my best friend about how I loved I dream of Jeannie, while she hated it because she found it boring, and then she wondered why I liked it if I had found the MJ statuette demeaning. Different women, different opinions. How hard is that to understand?

And yes, watch Mary Poppins from beginning to end. Mrs. Banks and her maids are a thing of wonder, even if they're played a bit for laughs, it doesn't change the message.