Sex, drugs, and comic books.

Ah, the glamorous life of being a comic book fan girl.

I’ve read comics my whole life. My dad had been reading comics his whole life. I’ve been attending conventions since I was very small, and I’ve been going to comic shops since I was about 5 or 6. I’ve grown up in a male dominated hobby and only really encountered problems with it once I started going to conventions alone. Do you know how many times I’ve had a male comic book dealer scoff at me and tell me I can’t afford a book, only to offer the price and even a slight discount to my father? Same book, but he’s a guy and I’m a girl.

Comic book companies are not any better.

Marvel Comics has always been the leader when it came to facing issues that everyone could deal with (The X-Men and being different from everyone else for example). Yet when it came to the women in their stories, it was still “Well she’s a woman, we need to treat her as such.” Sue Storm is the perfect example. Her power was invisibility. Perhaps her power of invisibility was (is) a parallel to how society views women, and in turn how comics view them. She’s pretty, she has the heart of a smart dude who can stretch, but she turns invisible. Over the years her powers have evolved, but at the core of it she’s someone we shouldn’t see.

DC Comics has usually been a step or two behind once the Silver Age of comics came about. The one thing they can say is “We have Superman. We have Batman. We have Wonder Woman!” Wonder Woman is a powerful, strong female character, but her weakness is being tied up. So if a man (or woman) ties Wonder Woman up, she is powerless and therefore weak. That’s fucked up. And don’t get me started on the whole Blackest Night thing where she needed to kiss Batman in order to become a Star Sapphire. Wouldn’t her love for Earth be enough?

Things have gotten wildly better since the Golden and Silver Age of comics, but it’s still a male dominated hobby, both in the industry and outside of it. Things need to vastly improve. Women can have weaknesses, but they shouldn’t be of sexual nature. In Batgirl #1, Batgirl became fearful when a bad guy pointed a gun at her abdomen. That’s perfectly acceptable. We know why she would be scared of that, and it adds depth to her. It’s not something most people would find sexually appealing. Wonder Woman being tied up is a sexually appealing thing for many people.

As it stands, I don’t really read Modern Age comics. I love the Golden Age, and even though most of the comics are wildly sexist and racist, I accept it since that was normal in 1941 America. In 2011 America things are different. Women shouldn’t have to feel like they don’t belong in this hobby. We should be able to walk into a comic shop without having every guy there look at us like we’re some rare exotic bird. Comic companies need to wake up and realize that the demographic should not be 18-35 year old men. You want more money? Realize women read comics too. Kids read comics too. Comic books should be for everyone and not 18-35 year old men.

-Lauren

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