Apologies for the incommunicado, but fall has been on the insane side. Since I wrote you about a month ago, I've: been to NYCC (whirlwind fun; highlights were seeing all the lovely people, having Genevieve Valentine take me shopping, and sneaking out to the -- INCREDIBLE -- Diane Arbus early work exhibit (the catalogue for it is still on my desk) with Scott Westerfeld, Justine Larbalestier, and Sarah Kuhn; started an impromptu mentoring project to pair up newer writers who are women of color with more experienced writers; and finished the big round of revisions for Lois 3: Triple Threat (last week). Next up: finishing up mentorship pairings; last revisions of Strange Alchemy (the book formerly known as Blackwood) before copyedits; any remaining Triple Threat edits; waiting to hear about Secret Things; another trip to New York for the second season ReMade summit; and then YALLFest. I'm relistening/reading eps of ReMade currently in prep and you can read about that and join at the link.
So, all that aside, let's have some real talk about sexism. Because, hoo boy, has this been a rougher year than normal as a woman to make it through without your head exploding. A year in which -- no matter your political persuasion -- I would hope you've been appalled at listening to people justify and defend a candidate who brags about sexually harassing and assaulting women. A year in which it's clear that Hillary is judged by a whole bunch of standards that men aren't, and which anyone using isn't going to come out with a fair opinion of her through. A year (okay, it's always been this way) in which women get attacked on a regular basis for expressing opinions. To have an opinion and offer it if it's different than some men's? To call out sexist things as sexist? Well, that is not allowed.
(p.s. Spoiler alert: It IS allowed.)
But, of course, this plays out in lots of other spaces besides politics too -- and we saw a hefty dose of it in the comics world this past week. Chelsea Cain, a bestselling author who's recently been writing the comic book Mockingbird, got a target painted on her by some misogynistic jerks who overran her twitter mentions. The cause? The fantastic cover art for the last issue of Mockingbird by artist Joelle Jones (see above).
One thing that happened during this was a prominent male comics writer telling her that this isn't comics. Every woman in comics I know and plenty of men surged forth at once to say: It IS comics. It's not JUST comics, but it IS comics. And well-meaning men who show up to inform women about their own experiences or opinions without getting that online or off need to understand this.
Anyway, a week or so ago I encountered a version of a joke on twitter that I hear/see variations on a lot -- being someone who writes Lois Lane -- and which never fails to make me sigh in dismay. The joke in essence relies on a conceit of "isn't Lois Lane dumb because she doesn't realize Clark Kent and Superman are the same person?" There are other actual comics reasons this isn't funny that have to do with the Silver Age, but the reason I don't find it funny is because it's always centered on Lois. This is a world in which the truth is concealed from everyone, so why is the woman the dumb one for not seeing it again? This is, of course, compounded by the history of sexist portrayals of women in comics and pop culture and treatment throughout actual history. Lois Lane is an icon of the working woman; she's one of the first, an American female hero. So, yeah, I don't find casual jokes that rely on the twist of her being dumb and missing obvious facts -- which she never is when written well, and often isn't when written not well! -- funny. I don't find sexist humor funny.
And I will point this out whenever I get a chance, because I've discovered a lot of people just laugh on a nerdy level and don't realize the subtext/context of the joke. Most of them, the minute I point it out, get it and go: Ohhhhhh. Yeah, that's gross.
I'm not saying there's no possibility for a funny joke here; I think it would be a joke that commented on that sexism or was about secret identities in general (and these jokes exist, they're just far less common). This isn't a huge deal, but it bugs me so... I point it out.
And I recently pointed it out on twitter when I was tagged in (by a twitter friend, who I feel terrible for ending up involved in this!) on a RT of a particular version of this very old joke. The guy who wrote the joke -- which has 20,000 or something retweets -- immediately writes back to jokesplain it to me. When I push back, he gets dismissive. Fine, but it's ridiculous that this person felt the need to do this.
As an analogy, this would be like if when people tweet at me "Your Lois Lane books are dumb," I bothered to respond to them and try to force them to like something they don't. Why bother? Move on with life. But especially when you are a male comic or creator who has a bajillion followers, don't go after women who criticize your work. You are, every time you do, opening the door for the exact thing that happened to Chelsea Cain. How do these guys not know that? Or do they and they're just jerks?
Which brings me to last night on twitter -- where a guy who writes comics and other things whose name rhymes with Lax Pandas (you can go search my TL if you're that interested in the details) shows up to tell me my not getting his friend's joke made him "sad" and then goes on to say that as a writer I should think about these characters. He gets even more ridiculous than Showing Up In My Mentions At All Over This fast, by saying Perry White and Jimmy Olsen are obscure and entirely missing my point about why the joke in question is sexist and I don't find it funny. He claims he's never heard this joke before. Et cetera. Rolling eyes forever.
But he also tries to call me the bully -- me, when he has 86K followers that he's potentially sending my way by engaging at all.
I'm my mother's daughter, in that I grew up watching a steady diet of Superman/Lois Lane, Murphy Brown, 9 to 5, and Silkwood with her in a small town where I also watched her combat sexism to become the first-ever female principal despite a whole lot of yahoos in her way.
I worked in politics/government for a LONG time. I don't put an opinion out there unless it's well-considered on my part. I'm willing to be wrong, but I don't get intimidated. All by way of saying...
Guys, GUYS who do this, I hate to break it to you.
We've always been here. We've been in your politics, your comics, your movies, your literature -- and we're not going anywhere. Because all of these things? THEY ARE OURS TOO. We're your friends, your sisters, your mothers, your grandmothers, your daughters, your wives, your girlfriends, your partners, your colleagues, your nemeses, you name it. But we women are also badasses who have persisted despite everything from not being considered worthy of the vote to being groped and then watching men on TV defend people groping us to far, far worse. We're not going anywhere, except further, higher, faster, louder.
This isn't a message to those of you men who already get this. We see you, and we appreciate you. This is to the obtuse, casually misogynist and sexist among you -- the ones out there complaining about "feminists" and "social justice warriors" and how mean women are these days. This is for the girls and women who hear from these guys, who get attacked by them, and who go out there and live your badass lives and make your badass art anyway.
To the men who don't get it yet, the Lax Pandas, I say this: Get over yourselves and either stand up for the women around you or shut up and get out of our way. We have too much work to do on our feminist agendas to waste time arguing with you.
This has been a very long subtweet.
Have a great week, everyone!