I haven’t read comics in about two months now. Aside from a few general pieces here and there, I haven’t written about comics in about a year. There are some things about the comics community that are pretty ugly. And those things are getting in the way of my enjoyment of comics. What’s killing it for me is the harassment former DC editor, current Comics Alliance writer, and all-around awesome lady Janelle Asselin is trying to dig into and, in the process, become a target of.
For the time I was writing somewhat regularly about comics, I was discouraged from writing about “uncomfortable” topics like sexism or feminism. This wasn’t for all the sites I wrote for. But I did get the feeling I was allowed to hang out in the special tree house with the boys as long as I acted like one of the boys and didn’t turn into one of those uppity feminists. And I get wanting to keep the focus on comics and the great things about them. Trust me, I would love to go back to the days of unabashedly adoring comics.
But that’s not enough anymore.
It’s easy to say women should be able to do everything a man can do: they can be astronauts and writers and scientists and the President of the United States if they work for it, they should be paid the same wages as their male counterparts, they should have the right to vote and drive a car and do everyday people things without hinderance, etc.
But that’s not where gender equality ends. People should be allowed to express a dissenting opinion on the internet without being threatened with rape; people should be allowed to have consensual sex without being labeled a whore; people should be allowed to wear whatever they want without being groped or demeaned; people should be allowed to express themselves in ways that do not conform to narrow, antiquated definitions of “gender” without being disrespected or physically attacked. And come on, people. This is obvious stuff.
So when someone gets catcalled or threatened or browbeaten, you have to stand up and say NO. And look, I get that’s uncomfortable and confrontational and hard, honestly hard, to do. I’m guilty of not saying anything, of plowing along with my head in the sand and just gushing over my funny pages. But like I said, that’s not enough anymore. We need to have this conversation; we need to call this bullshit behavior out.
Because ignoring the harassment is condoning it. It undermines the severity of the situation. It tells the victims that we care more about their attackers than we do about them. Not to mention, the instances when people flat out tell victims of harassment that they’re exaggerating the facts, or “that’s not what he meant” or “get over it and stop being so emotional.”
And that is fucked up. Seriously fucked up. We need to do better, people. We need to do a lot better.
Let’s be better.