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Misogynists don't have daughters

bad day kitten
The recent hoorah over the Mary Jane laundry collectible statue has resurrected my soon-to-be former boss Joe Quesada's claim about his and Marvel's fair-mindedness with regard to women in comics, stated in this quote from last summer:

"But, let me also add, that just because there is a lack of female writers doesn’t mean that we’re going to hand out a charity gig to a female just because of her gender. That to me defeats the purpose. As a father of an only female child I would want all doors open within whatever field my daughter decides to one day choose. But I would also want her to walk through those doors on her own merits, not on the charity of others or to fill some quota, and I suspect that when she’s old enough to understand that, she’ll feel the same.

Edited to add: Here's the context of the quote--scroll down to Newsarama's question about women writing for Marvel, which includes the whole discussion. I tried to include it before and couldn't get it to work, till I discovered my .html wasn't enabled for this page. ::sigh:: Long time, no lj. Also, below someone posted tekanji's material from the original discussion, with my thanks!

back to the orig:
Boiled down, Quesada's is an old argument: "I can't be a misogynist/sexist: I have a wife/daughter/daughters!"

I ignored this last summer, I think because I was tired. Seeing it again now, I think I want to make a few points.

Men with daughters have sold them into marriages with men who have buried multiple previous wives who died of too many hard births, for centuries. Men with daughters have sold their daughters into marriages with old men, notoriously cruel men, and complete strangers, for the proper price, for centuries. Men with daughters have sold them into slavery, because they needed the cash, or they felt they had too many daughters. Men with daughters have urged them to remain with brutal husbands and endure drunkards because that was what women do. They have turned their daughters from their doors when their daughters have come home, fleeing their husbands or because they have nowhere else to go. Men with daughters have thrown them out on suspicion of sexual dalliance with inappropriate young men, pregnancy, or because they have been raped. Men with daughters have beaten them, sometimes to death. Men with daughters have raped them and given them to their friends for sexual abuse. Men with daughters have turned them out as beggars, thieves, and prostitutes and kept their earnings. Men with daughters have sent them out to work in shops and factories and kept those earnings. And throughout much of the modern world, men still do these things.

edited to add: Goddess forgive me, how could I have forgotten the millennia of men who, on being told their wives had given birth to daughters, ordered them to expose those daughters to the elements, or to kill them, or get rid of them, because they were girls? How could I have forgotten, with The Tudors glitzed-up version of history playing on Showtime, the men who disinherited their daughters, set their wives aside, divorced their wives, or even had them killed, for the crime of presenting them only with daughters for children?

So I do not think that having a daughter automatically makes a man a supporter of women, or even sympathetic to women's issues. In fact, I have to watch myself, to keep myself from suspecting that having a daughter does not make a father into one more oppressor, particularly when he does not make an extra effort to present female-positive artists and writers in his magazines, and female-positive characters in those same magazines. When he continually oversees the same-old-same-old cheesecake images, the same-old depowering abuse/rape/torture scenarios for female "heroes" and characters, and continues to concentrate on hiring and showcasing male talent, it makes me doubt his words about his daughter having a fair shot at any career. It makes me wonder just which doors he wants to have open for his daughter, for any man to have open for his girl children.

Luckily I know plenty of men out there who find out what their girls are up against and have their consciousnesses abruptly raised. Nothing is too good for their little girls, and that includes opportunities and salaries. Too bad they aren't the editors-in-chief of major comic book companies.

Comments

( 129 comments — Leave a comment )
dancingwriter
May. 20th, 2007 08:30 pm (UTC)
And fathers who support laws that would force their daughters to carry unwanted pregnancies to term, even when their lives and health are at risk, and even in the case of pregnancy resulting from rape....

Grr...
tammy212
May. 20th, 2007 10:57 pm (UTC)
Ouch. Forgot that one. Apologies.
chichiri_no_da
May. 20th, 2007 08:31 pm (UTC)
I'm...confused, frankly ._. and maybe it's because your boss' words were taken out of context, so I'm not getting the right meaning out of it.

To me, it didn't read at all like he was saying 'I have a daughter, therefore I automatically support women's rights'. He was making a statement against affirmative action, saying that he would certainly want his daughter to be able to have any opportunity in the world, but not to be handed those opportunities on a platter just because she happens to be a woman. It read to me like he said that he wanted more female writers, but wasn't going to give a job to someone less qualified, simply to have a token woman on staff.

And frankly, as a woman, I agree wholeheartedly with that point of view. Do I think that there aren't people who are turning people DOWN because they're women? Of course there are, and that's just as wrong, if not more so.

But if he's a person who's willing to completely discount gender in evaluating someone's writing ability, and hire a person whether they are male or female, because they happen to be good enough for the job, then I wish there were more people like that out there.

But from your reaction it sounds like we read his words completely differently, and I guess I just can't quite figure it out. And obviously I don't know him, and for all I know, he could very well be a mysogynous pig who just talks a good story.
joshwriting
May. 20th, 2007 08:52 pm (UTC)
I think you are reading from his words what he would want you to read.

What he does, in practice, is deny that the women writers are as good, insisting it is purely on the quality of their writing.

If he had to judge the writing without knowing which gender wrote which piece, I suspect you would see a lot more female writers in the Marvel "Bullpen."
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goldjadeocean
May. 20th, 2007 08:35 pm (UTC)
"As a father of an only female child" Is it bad that my first thought was, "Thank goodness! I can't imagine trying to find positive rolemodels for a hermaphrodite!"

I am really kind of antsy to see what happens to the White Tiger after your run is finished.
tammy212
May. 20th, 2007 11:16 pm (UTC)
::I am really kind of antsy to see what happens to the White Tiger after your run is finished.::

I try not to think about it. I don't believe they're going to ask us back--apparently our sales weren't good enough.
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the__ivorytower
May. 20th, 2007 08:37 pm (UTC)
That reminds me of "I'm not racist, some of my friends are [insert race here]!" or "I'm not homophobic, some of my friends are gay!"

That doesn't mean a damned thing.
spiralsheep
May. 20th, 2007 09:44 pm (UTC)
Has anyone ever told you that you're beautiful when you're making trouble?

Sexist remark? Who me? Well, as a woman who also has female relatives I couldn't possibly be... oh, wait...

Good post. :-)
tammy212
May. 20th, 2007 11:17 pm (UTC)
>>Has anyone ever told you that you're beautiful when you're making trouble?<<


::blush::
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zapthatmonster
May. 20th, 2007 09:46 pm (UTC)
Don't forget that, traditionally, it was a disaster if a man had daughters but no sons. And that people in high ranks such as Henry VIII would go through wife after wife in desperation to have a son.
tammy212
May. 20th, 2007 11:18 pm (UTC)
>>Don't forget that, traditionally, it was a disaster if a man had daughters but no sons. And that people in high ranks such as Henry VIII would go through wife after wife in desperation to have a son.<<

I think I was posting this as an edited-in addendum around the same time you were posting this reply. Great minds think alike!
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tammy212
May. 20th, 2007 11:22 pm (UTC)
>>*Growl* This reminds of me when my parents told me I shouldn't become a mechanic because that "isn't a career suited for ladies." I more often think of myself as a woman and only sometimes a lady when I want to be indignant.<<

Even my mother, the feminist, laughed when I said I wanted to be a lawyer (in 1967)--I hoped it was because of the way my mind worked, but I've never been sure.

It always hurst worst coming from the people who are supposed to be on your side, encouraging you to reach for the outer limits.

We just have to make sure we encourage every young woman who crosses our paths to strive for what she dreams for, not for what others tell her she ought to dream for.
(Anonymous)
May. 20th, 2007 10:43 pm (UTC)
Someone doesn't want women to be given jobs just because they're women, and instead wants them to show they're actually capable of doing the job beforehand? MY GOD THIS MAN IS AN UTTER BIGOT AND COMPARABLE TO HITLER

Excuse me while I roll my eyes for a few hours.
goldjadeocean
May. 20th, 2007 10:56 pm (UTC)
You're not even a cute troll. Boo.
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severedscythe
May. 21st, 2007 12:18 am (UTC)
wordy mc-friggin-word.

Ohmygod I should send this to my father.
mstakenidentity
May. 21st, 2007 12:40 am (UTC)
Speaking of Mary Jane...
Have you seen this?

I like the point it makes.
(Anonymous)
May. 21st, 2007 01:05 am (UTC)
Re: Speaking of Mary Jane...
And they think girls can't perv out! Really, I bet they also think 300's success isn't hugely due to women, either.
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drmm
May. 21st, 2007 12:46 am (UTC)
The problem that I see with the American comics book industry is that they're so entrenched in their own sterotypes that they've become almost incapable of listening to voices that disagree with them, even if facts prove them wrong.

The comics book industry is dominated by men. Because it's dominated by men, the comics are written for men. Because the comics are written for men, women don't read them. Because women don't read them, they continue to believe in writing comics directed towards men and that a female POV isn't needed.

However, this POV was proved to be utterly wrong when shoujo manga (Japanese comics for girls) came onto the scene. These titles, while they may have their own stereotypes, are quite popular and girls read them (in fact, a few guys do as well). In fact, even the shonen titles (for boys) are very popular with girls.

Seriously, why would I want to read a comic book where the women are in constant need of saving by the male heros, when I can read an awesome story like Basara that features a kick-ass female character who is able to fight to get things done? She may need help from her friends from time to time but they help her because they're a team, not because she's the damsel in distress.

Should women be treated any differently than men? No, I don't think so. But that also means that they should be given the same opportunities as men, which I don't think is really happening.
tammy212
May. 21st, 2007 05:49 pm (UTC)
>>The problem that I see with the American comics book industry is that they're so entrenched in their own sterotypes that they've become almost incapable of listening to voices that disagree with them, even if facts prove them wrong.<<

Or even if those who disagree with them actually have strong arguments.

>>Because the comics are written for men, women don't read them.<<

Here I will disagree. There are plenty of us who read these comics. Speaking for myself, I've never gotten into manga. I just read the Euro-style stuff, and suffer. There are some strong women out there, and some things have changed. We're fighting for more change.

>>These titles, while they may have their own stereotypes, are quite popular and girls read them (in fact, a few guys do as well). In fact, even the shonen titles (for boys) are very popular with girls.<<

Something I point out when I'm told girls don't read comics.

>>Should women be treated any differently than men? No, I don't think so. But that also means that they should be given the same opportunities as men, which I don't think is really happening.<<

Which is why we keep fighting and speaking for it. I wish change came faster than it is, but things are far better than they were when I began to read comics at 12. And one of the things we have to do is call a fallacy a fallacy when we find them, and to support the writers of strong, believable women when and where we find them. It's in the marketplace that we can make the most headway, as the success of manga in the US has proved.
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redpineapple
May. 21st, 2007 01:28 am (UTC)
Not to mention that men only stopped sleeping with their daughters when they realized they could sell their chastity. The whole debacle kind of reminds me of the problem of propelling female bloggers, particularly female political bloggers, into the spotlight. Men link to other men, creating a kind of old boys' club at the top. Asking for some props is not the same thing as saying "our blogs are not as good but we're women so you should link to us." If there's a lack of women at the top, there's something wrong, not a need for a hand-out. We're not playing the "gender card" (did I just make that up?), we're trying to show you what's in front of your face.
tammy212
May. 21st, 2007 10:26 pm (UTC)
No one of pride wants a hand out, just an acknowledgement of an argument reasonably well framed. And there are thousands of women who write more cogently and intelligently than the likes of Coulter. Frankly, I prefer more women's blogs, because there's less grunting and strutting. Don't get me wrong, I do have a selection of men's blogs that I read, but far too many of them seem to involve displays of masculinity and scorn for those who disagree that involve a lot of invective, pouter pigeon displays, and some throwing of dung. They don't lay out their arguments and the reasons they think as they do; they slam anyone who doesn't agree with them. And when it comes to politics, too many of them turn up the gain. It's not politics anymore, it's bloodsport.

And they sneer at women bloggers? They need to examine their own reasoning processes, if they can find any.
tigtog
May. 21st, 2007 03:37 am (UTC)
Hi! Great post (I came via WFA). I've linked to it as a belated Friday Feminism feature on Finally A Feminism 101 Blog</a> (which I've just moved to a WP platform). Trackback
tigtog
May. 21st, 2007 03:38 am (UTC)
Damn. That hanging [/a] tag was meant to be an [/i] tag.
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(Anonymous)
May. 21st, 2007 03:48 am (UTC)
(Although I see someone else has beaten me to this point, I think it bears repeating. Plus, I like to hear myself speak.)

To all those who are complaining that Tammy, et al are reading too much into the remarks:

Since when is "but, but I have black friends!" or the equivalent ever an appropriate response to accusations of discrimination?

Even if the original actions are defensible, that argument "but I have a little girl and..." is so very much not.

It's certainly a good debate tactic - if by good you mean effective, but it's also manipulative and very much beside the point.

After all, if he cares about equality because he believes in it, why does it matter if he has a daughter? So why mention it except to make the kind of false link Tammy is accusing him of? It's not as if he's trying to give us her pov.

Mickle
tammy212
May. 21st, 2007 12:38 pm (UTC)
It's just a trite tactic, an old tactic, and a false tactic. Only devoted fanfolk would sit there and listen to him use it without standing up to yell "Are some of your best friends balck/gay/asian?" (Can't say Latino; he's got that covered in his own person. That one at least would be genuine.)

If he genuinely believed in equality, it would show in his finished product. It doesn't.
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lost_angelwings
May. 21st, 2007 09:43 am (UTC)
What I hate about those types of comments tho, is the implication that the reason we dun have more women/black/gay/asian/handicapped/etc etc ppl in some field is b/c they're just NOT GOOD ENUF. >.>;;

The idea being that, it's not unfair, we're being SUPER fair, you ppl just suck >.<;;

What a coincidence that white straight men just happen to be the best at everything! :O
tammy212
May. 21st, 2007 12:35 pm (UTC)
Yeah--if they're the best at everything, why are mainstream comics losing market share like a leaky bucket, and manga gaining it?

Welcome, amii!
misatokatsuragi
May. 21st, 2007 02:16 pm (UTC)
I work at a comic book store, I have for over five years. 85% of our customer base are male, and majority of the male customer base are in their 30s. We have had quite a few out-spoken chauvinists, but there was one in particular that I thought of when I read your post.

A lot of our customers bring their children into the store with them, especially the ones who want to get their kids into reading comics like they do. One such customer, who has a history of being rude to me and making bad, misogynistic jokes before, has a son and a daughter. He encouraged them to grab a comic, and his son got a Wolverine (not suitable for his age) and his daughter picked up an X-Men comic with Storm on the cover. When said customer said his daughter had picked that up, he immediately took it from her hands and said, "No, no, no, you don't want that. Let's get you an Archie, that's better for girls." She looked crestfallen, and didn't even touch the comic book he bought her...

It's sad. For an industry that likes to flaunt strong female heroes, there's certainly a double standard for real-live women in their boys only clubs.
tammy212
May. 21st, 2007 10:28 pm (UTC)
>>When said customer said his daughter had picked that up, he immediately took it from her hands and said, "No, no, no, you don't want that. Let's get you an Archie, that's better for girls."<<

WTF?!!!

This just makes me grind my teeth, and they don't need the wear.

>> She looked crestfallen, and didn't even touch the comic book he bought her...<<

I don't blame her! I wouldn't either!
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superfinemind
May. 21st, 2007 04:44 pm (UTC)
While I definitely agree that "I have a daughter" is an awful argument to support "I am not a misogynist," I think the rest of what Quesada is saying is interesting, and something I could support.

Because he's at least partly right: "breaking into" a field that's dominated by men is no victory if they let you in to "improve the ratio."

...

On a somewhat related note, I'd be curious as to your thoughts on Steph!Robin (I don't remember the reference right now, but I can get a better reference when I'm done with finals in a couple days).

On a somewhat unrelated note, I'm curious if you've ever written anything about Sheherezade and the Arabian Nights, particularly as concerns women and gender roles. (I just finished a class on the Nights and wrote two essays on gender roles, and it strikes me that you'd certainly have interesting thoughts on the matter.)

And since this is my first time commenting here-- hi!
tammy212
May. 21st, 2007 10:52 pm (UTC)
>>Because he's at least partly right: "breaking into" a field that's dominated by men is no victory if they let you in to "improve the ratio."<<

I want to be let in to improve the ratio only if I can keep up with the pack. The problem is that the only way to crack the pack is if someone in charge of hiring makes a deliberate effort to include women, because they don't have any. But if they don't bring in women who are just as good as the men, then the women fail, and we all take a black eye. It isn't that they have to bring us in even though we aren't as good--we ARE. It's that we're being shut out, period.

If the system is already set against you, then people have to make a conscious effort to contravene the system. It sounds distasteful, but otherwise the entrenched establishment will continue to hire those they have always hire, or admit those they have always admitted: whites, men.

But once women, minorities, are in, it's up to them to work up to standard. If they don't have the skills coming in, they need to acquire them, as they do in our education systems in many instances.

In this instance, that's not an issue. Look at web comics. Look at independent comics. There are plenty of women artists and writers out there who are just as qualified as any man in the field. Marvel and DC need to hire more of them, because they are not equally represented. DC can't keep pointing to Gail Simone--she's just one woman. Quesada is talking out both sides of his mouth. He doesn't want girls in his club, because then he might have to change his cozy attitudes. He might have to be innovative, instead of just say he's innovative without actually doing the work.

>>On a somewhat related note, I'd be curious as to your thoughts on Steph!Robin<<

I think she's gotten the rotten end of the stick. That argument, that she's not entitled to a case in the Batcave because she forced herself on Batman, made me scream. Did she not work for the man? Did she not die doing the job? Then she earned it, and the only reason she isn't getting it is because she is unusual and female. What is the matter with these men? What kind of threat can a fictional character BE, for cryin out loud?!

>>On a somewhat unrelated note, I'm curious if you've ever written anything about Sheherezade and the Arabian Nights, particularly as concerns women and gender roles.<<

No, never. Every time I think of her being stuck for the rest of her life with the psychopath who killed all the wives before her, never knowing when he'll turn on her, I get the horrors.

>>And since this is my first time commenting here-- hi!<<

Welcome!
jerusha
May. 21st, 2007 04:56 pm (UTC)
The protest that "well, we look at their work, it's just not good enough", combined with the experience of Colleen Doran, reminds me of the change in the gender balance of symphony orchestras with the institution of blinded auditions. Amazing how the technical flaws in the performances were eliminated as soon as the audition committee couldn't see the auditioner (and identify their gender)!
bellatrys
May. 21st, 2007 10:05 pm (UTC)
heh - great minds, same channel
I should have read all the comments before I posted!
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skalja
May. 22nd, 2007 02:28 am (UTC)
Update...
So, someone at scans_daily just found and posted the cover to an upcoming issue of Heroes for Hire #13. I think you've mentioned being a Daughters of the Dragon fan, so you might already know this, but HfH's current incarnation is as Marvel's only mostly-female team - unrepentantly estrogen-heavy and butt-kicking.

This is the cover. Well, gosh gee willikers, Joe! I wonder why so few women are applying to work at Marvel?
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clockwork_hands
May. 22nd, 2007 05:36 am (UTC)
I agree with the commenters pointing out that the logic of this hiring system seems to be - white males of a certain class make the best creators. I do see where Quesada is going in regards to affirmative action - I've seen guys like him bring up this argument a heck of a lot. But to me, it just doesn't reflect the wider talent pool - the great female indie comic writers and artists, the female writers in the wider sphere of this work who might want to inject something into this business if they weren't being shooed off by the latest T&A cover.

Face it, he's sounding like a member of the old guard, clinging to what's comfortable. I guess it's scary to divert your plans away from something that sells. I am patient, though. Things are changing, albeit slowly. It really is a great genre, and it deserves to have more wisdom guiding it.

Adding you.

superfinemind
Jun. 18th, 2007 04:23 pm (UTC)
Wanted to follow up on this post.

A blogger friend of mine wrote about an image of Joe Quesada with an exotic dancer; he comments that perhaps this explains something: stripclubs are pretty high on the objectification scale, and "if [men who go to stripclubs] can reduce it all down to tits-and-ass when there's an actual flesh-and-blood female in front of them, what about when they're at the office, sober, but it's just a comics character?"

Anyway, thought you might find that interesting.
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