Interlude: Sexy, sexy comic book heroes

A few weeks ago, my news feeds came to glorious, butt-waggling life as the Internet and feminism in general lost their freaking minds over a female superhero in a demeaning costume / bodily position. Amazing, but true.

Now, I didn’t weigh in because I felt, sure, it was a bit gratuitous and unnecessarily undignified and … well, basically “gratuitous” summed it up the first time. And I mean the cover image, and the howling that went on about it. And the folks at Marvel apparently backed down and apologised already (although their quote in the first article I linked seemed to be much more reasonable and less cowardly-foldy of them), so there’s not much point in stirring the pot further.

Except that I wanna.

Yesterday, I was pleased to see that someone far more loquacious, knowledgeable and brave than I am essentially said exactly what I sorta-kinda felt like saying at the time. And here it is.

Maddox. That is all.

Yeah, that’s some harsh slapdown and I may not have gone that far with it. And needless to say, it would have been commercial suicide for Marvel to say any of this stuff. But yes, a lot of what Maddox says here gets my seal of approval, in a justice-and-academic-integrity-for-all sort of way.

The difficulty is, this is one of those cases where yes, equality would be nice. And yes, if you shout about a woman being dressed and posed like this, you could shout about a man being dressed and posed in the same way (although the alternative, just not shouting at all, might be a nice thing to try), and then we might end up in a world where no kind of sexual liberty or depictions of fantasy or superhuman physical beauty exist at all.

Which is weird because the people wailing about too much raciness on comic book covers seem to intersect considerably with the people wailing about Sharia law taking over the Western World and making us all slaves to fundamentalist terrorists who hate our liberated ways.

Just sayin’.

But that’s another argument entirely.

My point is, yes – it would be nice for equality to be observed in this art form, and reverse-sexism bla bla, double standard, yackety smackety. But in order to get to equality, we also need to acknowledge that women have been (and still are in an awful lot of ways) downtrodden and objectified and basically treated like a slave-subspecies for centuries. So yes, there needs to be overcorrection before we can have proper equality.

And the simple truth is, it’s not racist when you joke about a white man going out and doing slave-work in your grandad’s plantation, and it’s not sexist when you pose a man in something skin-tight and poke his butt in the air. So. Get used to it.

Guys need to tolerate a bit of scolding when women decide something is sexist. I do still agree, despite various cases where I think it can go too far, that it’s the bigoted-against who get to decide when something feels like bigotry to them – it’s not those protected from bigotry who get to say so[1], or at least we don’t get to say when it’s not bigotry. It’s when people say something is always bigoted, regardless of context of nuance or common sense, that I begin to disregard their opinion. And this doesn’t happen very often. The point is, sometimes guys need to be willing to take a few lumps even when “equality” would theoretically justify the “crime” they’re getting lumps for.

[1] If this sounds familiar, it’s probably because a few days ago I was whining about how it can’t be racist to ask someone where they’re from (depending, of course, on cases and disclaimers and delivery and attitude and all of that[2], just go and read the damn post and comments). In fact, I could have called this post “Stop creating sexism”, but screw that. Since all I really seemed to get there was people (introverted people, no less) telling me it was intrusive, I will stand by my opinion until such time as an actual victim of actual racism tells me that shit is actually racist.

[2] Yes, adopted and / or second-plus-generation kids will probably still get taken for “foreign” in a sufficiently non-diverse and established community. Which is sad, but only insofar as people seeing “foreign” as negative is sad. My point is, the conversation that follows on from that doesn’t have to automatically be racist every single time, and it certainly doesn’t brand a questioner as racist. In my view.

And if that’s unfair, oh dear. It’s not like guys have such a rough time that they can’t afford to meet women more-than-halfway on a few things, right? Right. Sometimes some overcorrection is called for, in order for sexism to go away. Because equality is meaningless if sexism still exists.

I just don’t … is superhero comic book covers really the place where anyone wants this overcorrection to happen? Anyone but irretrievable crybabies?

Crybaby: sexy

Pictured: The sexy crybaby. As opposed to every other crybaby, anywhere, ever.

Doesn’t shouting about this distract everyone’s attention from real inequalities, injustices and demeaning objectification of women?

Or is it a case of “ignore it here, and it will remain accepted and normalised within our society”? “Fix the small stuff, and the big stuff will lose impetus”?

I do genuinely wonder.

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64 Responses to Interlude: Sexy, sexy comic book heroes

  1. dreameling says:

    I somehow missed this one. Then again, I’m not that tapped into the comics scene, and also the pop culture sexism brouhaha of the last few weeks for me, albeit peripherally, has been the infamous GamerGate, which is apparently changing the face of gaming and games journalism everywhere, spelling the doom of the gamer culture, and probably also leading us to the End of the World. But outside, in real life, things still seem to work as they’ve always done, so who knows. Internet, man.

    Anyways, as to Spider-Woman, from a cultural and societal standpoint, the cover arguably presents the character in gratuitously oversexualized way (Maddox’s comment to the contrary is bullshit) and I completely understand why people would be and even should be upset. However, from a personal standpoint, as a heterosexual male, and as a long-time fan of Manara, the artwork is beautiful, Spider-Woman looks totally hot, and I would absolutely buy the Manara version of that comics issue.

    Doesn’t shouting about this distract everyone’s attention from real inequalities, injustices and demeaning objectification of women?

    Or is it a case of “ignore it here, and it will remain accepted and normalised within our society”? “Fix the small stuff, and the big stuff will lose impetus”?

    I do genuinely wonder.

    I’m not sure, obviously, but I tend to think it’s the small stuff that matters, the myriad minute of everyday life that repeat and accumulate and condition, and that you may not even be aware of, not the big one-off gestures. People only change if their environment changes, and the only way the environment changes (and remains changed) is when the bedrock of everyday behavior and thinking changes. (Something of a chicken-and-egg problem, I admit.) Big events are good for attention, but no change is ever sustained unless it seeps into (or rather starts from) the little stuff, which will then inform the big stuff.

    That make any sense?

    (I realize it may seem like I just incriminated myself, thinking back to that cultural-societal vs. personal split up above, but it’s actually not the same thing as the little stuff vs. big stuff, not entirely. Honest.)

    • stchucky says:

      Oh yeah, GamerGate. Or “the worst possible way a guy could react to his girlfriend cheating on him and then dumping his arse, ever”, from what I’ve seen. No, definitely will be giving that one a pass. And will just go on playing video games and not giving a short, sharp shit.

      And you hit it right on the head with “Internet, man.” One of the main reasons Spider-woman’s butt is a problem and Spiderman’s wasn’t ten years ago was that the Goddamn Internet is so much bigger and filled with sensitive new age people these days. This doesn’t make them wrong – it just means that the Internet is much more a forum for everyday opinion now, as opposed to the mid-00s.

      That make any sense?

      Absolutely it does.

      (I realize it may seem like I just incriminated myself, thinking back to that cultural-societal vs. personal split up above, but it’s actually not the same thing as the little stuff vs. big stuff, not entirely. Honest.)

      Well, in a sense I think it is the same thing, but you’ve just tipped over another arrangement of dominoes in my head and they seem to be falling into the pattern of yet another blog post about this issue, so To Be Continued.

      • dreameling says:

        No, definitely will be giving that one a pass. And will just go on playing video games and not giving a short, sharp shit.

        Amen.

        One of the main reasons Spider-woman’s butt is a problem and Spiderman’s wasn’t ten years ago was that the Goddamn Internet is so much bigger and filled with sensitive new age people these days.

        I dunno, man, the way Spider-Woman’s back is arched suggests something different about her butt than the way Spider-Man’s back is arched suggests about his. Just saying. Also, both illustrations are by male artists [1], and presumably for a mainly male audience, especially in Spidey’s case, so both fall under male sexual and/or power fantasies, hetero or otherwise, and therefore have little do with women, methinks.

        [1] I’m assuming this is the case with the Spidey cover.

        But I do agree with you about the state of today’s Internet. Seems like behind every corner there’s an oversensitive social justice warrior crying murder and barking abuse (and completely missing the point in the process). Or a radical feminist pointing a very angry finger and doing more harm than good to feminism at large. Or a red-pill men’s rights activist, spurred on by the radfem, touting his manosphere bullshit. Where the fuck did I even learn all these silly terms? Damn you, Internet!

        Well, in a sense I think it is the same thing, but you’ve just tipped over another arrangement of dominoes in my head and they seem to be falling into the pattern of yet another blog post about this issue, so To Be Continued.

        Haven’t quite worked out that one myself, but they do definitely overlap at least. My thinking was that what’s right or good for the individual may not be right or good for society or culture, and vice versa. It’s ok for me to find a sexually posed Spider-Woman hot, and it’s ok for Manara, as an artist, to portray women in highly provocative poses, but it’s not ok for Marvel, a major entertainment company with a wide and varied global audience, to reduce most female characters to oversexualized objects, or for society to validate that kind of female representation as the default. Now, I’m not saying Marvel or society are doing that, not exactly, but if they were, it would not be ok. Also, and crucially, my finding Spider-Woman hot does not mean that I’d want Marvel or society doing those things. As an individual, and as a heterosexual male, I’m perfectly capable of both objectifying the female form and viewing women as fully rounded human beings that should enjoy the same rights and opportunities (and responsibilities) as men do. Which is to say that my finding Spider-Woman hot on a personal level is not (automatically) the sort of little stuff that is preventing the big stuff of gender equality on a societal-cultural level from happening. Or at least I fucking hope it’s not.

        I wonder how badly I just tripped there. Also, apologies, but I couldn’t figure out how to split that paragraph.

        Maybe I should’ve just waited for that post of yours.

      • stchucky says:

        I dunno, man, the way Spider-Woman’s back is arched suggests something different about her butt than the way Spider-Man’s back is arched suggests about his. Just saying.

        A presenting male only needs to make his anus accessible. A presenting female needs to arch further to … what? Oh I see. Right then.

        …presumably for a mainly male audience, especially in Spidey’s case, so both fall under male sexual and/or power fantasies, hetero or otherwise, and therefore have little do with women, methinks.

        The “mainly hetero male audience” argument is rapidly losing heft, in my view. While I certainly wouldn’t go so far as to throw around Maddox’s “heterosexist” line, and I think it’s still a sad fact that most of the producers think this way and therefore it’s a moot point as they’re aiming their product towards what they imagine their consumer base to be, it’s sort of stopped being true.

        Maybe now what we need to do is wait for the executives to catch up with that reality.

        Or a red-pill men’s rights activist, spurred on by the radfem, touting his manosphere bullshit. Where the fuck did I even learn all these silly terms? Damn you, Internet!

        Manosphere.

        As an individual, and as a heterosexual male, I’m perfectly capable of both objectifying the female form and viewing women as fully rounded human beings that should enjoy the same rights and opportunities (and responsibilities) as men do.

        That’s … quite a statement.

        Don’t get me wrong, I approve and I in no way think your “objectification” is even severe enough to warrant the term, you’re far too enlightened … but it wasn’t exactly what I was thinking you were saying here.

        Which is to say that my finding Spider-Woman hot on a personal level is not (automatically) the sort of little stuff that is preventing the big stuff of gender equality on a societal-cultural level from happening. Or at least I fucking hope it’s not.

        Well, it kind of can be. I mean, isn’t this basically what every guy who likes and buys this cover is going to say? I think only a small minority of guys would be buying the cover and saying “finally, a comic cover that treats women as the semen-receptacle cattle they are, Imma xerox this and start handing out fliers, we’ll have the female right to vote rescinded by the end of the year.”

        Because, I mean, who xeroxes anymore?

        Maybe I should’ve just waited for that post of yours.

        Shoulda-woulda-coulda.

      • dreameling says:

        The “mainly hetero male audience” argument is rapidly losing heft, in my view. While I certainly wouldn’t go so far as to throw around Maddox’s “heterosexist” line, and I think it’s still a sad fact that most of the producers think this way and therefore it’s a moot point as they’re aiming their product towards what they imagine their consumer base to be, it’s sort of stopped being true.

        I think we’re actually on the same page here. More women read comics today than 10 years ago, and roughly half of all gamers today are women, sure. I’m not arguing that. However, and this was really my point, the people and companies that create and publish these works still seem to mainly target male audiences. Which means that oversexualized characters, be they female or male, are mainly male creations, catering to perceived male tastes. (Like you said.) People who bring up oversexualized or unrealistic male representations as counter examples to negative female representations completely miss the fact that those male representations are also mostly by men for men. That ridiculously muscular male superhero bulging in skin-tight spandex is not a female fantasy negatively objectifying men. It’s not female anything. It’s a male fantasy. Meaning it is not a valid counter example to bring up against sexist depiction of female characters.

        Don’t get me wrong, I approve and I in no way think your “objectification” is even severe enough to warrant the term, you’re far too enlightened … but it wasn’t exactly what I was thinking you were saying here.

        I’m defining “objectification” pretty broadly here. When you spot a nice butt on the street, female or male, you’re objectifying. When you watch porn, you’re objectifying. When you have sex, you’re probably objectifying at least a little, depending on the type of sex. What I’m saying is that some level of sexual objectification is a natural part of human sexuality. But it could be that I’m defining it way too broadly for it to be useful as a term, and I should instead talk about, say, sexual aesthetics? I don’t know.

        Well, it kind of can be. I mean, isn’t this basically what every guy who likes and buys this cover is going to say?

        It can be, sure, if the Spider-Woman cover is the only kind of female representation you’re looking for in your entertainment, and you let that drive how you spend your money and view female sexuality and gender roles, but it’s not a foregone conclusion. I most definitely enjoy the occasional Spider-Woman pose in my fiction, but, by and large, I’m not interested in female protagonists who are only defined by their looks (as objects) and have no meaningful agency (as subjects). I want characters like Buffy Summers, Ellen Ripley, Hermione Granger, Jane Eyre, Lisbeth Salander, and Alyx Vance, and I try to spend my money on and show my appreciation for works that have them.

      • stchucky says:

        I think we’re actually on the same page here. More women read comics today than 10 years ago, and roughly half of all gamers today are women, sure. I’m not arguing that. However, and this was really my point, the people and companies that create and publish these works still seem to mainly target male audiences. Which means that oversexualized characters, be they female or male, are mainly male creations, catering to perceived male tastes. (Like you said.)

        Right.

        People who bring up oversexualized or unrealistic male representations as counter examples to negative female representations completely miss the fact that those male representations are also mostly by men for men. That ridiculously muscular male superhero bulging in skin-tight spandex is not a female fantasy negatively objectifying men. It’s not female anything. It’s a male fantasy. Meaning it is not a valid counter example to bring up against sexist depiction of female characters.

        I don’t agree that this is really a thing. I think it should be a valid counter, because I don’t find that sort of thing fulfils any sort of power fantasy or anything for me. But I agree that, as above, this is an enduring perception that the creators and producers are pandering to. It should stop for this reason alone, even if guys don’t tend to complain about it the way (some) women do.

        But then we end up with bland nothin’. And I’m not in favour of that either.

  2. Pingback: Interlude: Double standards (or How Not To Fail As A Human Being) | Hatboy's Hatstand

  3. dreameling says:

    I don’t agree that this is really a thing. I think it should be a valid counter, because I don’t find that sort of thing fulfils any sort of power fantasy or anything for me.

    I don’t see how it could be a valid counter, since men have all the power in that equation. The only valid counter would be if there was an equal quantity of sexist depictions of men by women for women, that is, an equally powerful and pervasive female-driven culture of sexual objectification of men. That’s something you could hold up as a legit counter point (not that it would necessarily make anything better).

    • stchucky says:

      You’re right, I misspoke. It’s not a “valid counter”, because there is no valid counter to this. And there shouldn’t be. You said it yourself, providing complete role-reversal turn-about (while beautifully human and vindictive) would solve absolutely nothing.

      The solution isn’t to say “yeah? Well, well, well we have bad stuff too!”. It’s to correct the bad stuff that’s happening regardless of the degree or who it’s happening to. Of course, then we end up with triage according to whatever we decide is most severe (https://stchucky.wordpress.com/2014/08/01/dawkins-being-dawkins/), and that’s not a solution either. Or complete eradication of every instance of anything that offends anyone, which is just never going to happen and it would be awful if it did. So in practice, we’re left with just enjoying and paying for the stuff we enjoy, and ignoring, with transcendental zenness, the stuff that offends us.

      In cases such as publications, of course, the onus is on the publishers to think “this artwork we have just commissioned: is it going to piss off a lot of people?” and “Is the amount this artwork is going to piss people off likely to be balanced by the amount of people who will see, and then buy, said artwork because of the pissed off people?”. And I think Marvel have done this. That’s why they have massively-overpaid legal, PR and sales people.

      Now, regardless of men “having the power” (that is the part I disagree with: I don’t care who made the art, or what it’s meant to represent to nebulous “men out there”, I don’t consider it empowering or fantasy-fulfilling or even all that interesting, any more than women apparently do, so stop telling me it’s an example of male dominance and unfairness), super-muscular male cartoon characters are to some men what super-stripper female cartoon characters are to some women. This is a valid point, but not – as you say – an acceptable counter. The former does not balance, let alone cancel out, the latter.

    • stchucky says:

      Indeed, as I said in my original comment:

      I’m dubious about the “a guy drew this horizontal-pec’d Captain America for a (perceived) male audience, catering to a male need to fantasise about being buff” argument. I can very easily see that as being just as backwards and offensive as “a guy drew this stripper and erased the pole and called her ‘Catwoman’ for a (perceived) male audience, catering to a male need to fantasise about super-fit strippers”.

      Meaning, I am dubious about that argument, and I can see how that could be just as annoying / enraging / upsetting / unfair to a guy as stripper-Catwoman is to a girl, and male power fantasies be damned.

      I’m not saying (anymore) that it’s any sort of balance to the women-in-comics issue. That was just me getting tangled in the discussion here. My bad.

  4. aaronthepatriot says:

    I just watched that Maddox video, finally, and holy crap, how can anyone possibly counter his points? They are ROCK solid. No, don’t try, dreameling. That was a rhetorical question. But if the cover still bothers you I hope you see someone about that XD

    • stchucky says:

      I’m pretty sure if there’s one thing I took away from dreameling’s comments, it was that the cover didn’t bother him.

      If you meant a generic “you”, for the haters, then entirely agreed on all counts.

      • I was referring to this line of commentary from him “Anyways, as to Spider-Woman, from a cultural and societal standpoint, the cover arguably presents the character in gratuitously oversexualized way (Maddox’s comment to the contrary is bullshit) and I completely understand why people would be and even should be upset. ”

        That’s incredible to me. Maddox proved outright this is utter hypocrisy and a double-standard to take issue with basically ANYTHING about that alternate cover, but dreameling called it BS.

      • stchucky says:

        Not touching dreameling’s call of BS or what he was saying could arguably be said. But my entire post was about how the very concept of hypocrisy or a double-standard in a case like this was pointlessly narrow-minded, so I definitely disagree with that suggestion.

      • dreameling says:

        If I recall, Maddox’s comment was that anything can be sexualized, that it’s all about context. Well, of course it’s about context, everything has a context, but what he seems to be conveniently forgetting is that in any meaningful adult audience context Spider-Woman on that cover is sexualized. Show that cover to a 100 people who read superhero comics, or just 100 people who live near where you live, and 99 of them will say it has a strong sexual quality to it, maybe even gratuitously so. That’s the context in which that image lives. You cannot just brush it aside with “hey, it’s all contextual, choose another perspective if you don’t like what you’re seeing”. That’s bullshit. That things exist in a context does not mean that everything should be treated as purely relative or that people can freely choose the context in which they view things.

        But we already had this sexy sexy discussion! Plus Hitler’s already in the house.

      • aaronthepatriot says:

        “If I recall, Maddox’s comment was that anything can be sexualized, that it’s all about context. Well, of course it’s about context, everything has a context, but what he seems to be conveniently forgetting is that in any meaningful adult audience context Spider-Woman on that cover is sexualized. Show that cover to a 100 people who read superhero comics, or just 100 people who live near where you live, and 99 of them will say it has a strong sexual quality to it, maybe even gratuitously so. That’s the context in which that image lives. You cannot just brush it aside with “hey, it’s all contextual, choose another perspective if you don’t like what you’re seeing”. That’s bullshit. That things exist in a context does not mean that everything should be treated as purely relative or that people can freely choose the context in which they view things.”

        But there are many, many problems with that not-simple-and-yet-somehow-simplistic view, I think all of which he raised but I can’t be sure, just want you to know I’m not taking credit for any of these per se.

        1. It’s an alternate cover so everyone DOES need to calm down, the main cover is quite acceptable to any reasonable person. Sexualized only if you ignore her face which is actually the prominent feature (that point gave me a good LOL)

        2. Spider MAN is in the same pose, is he sexualized? Totally depends on the context! There is NO BULLSHIT in saying that. See, to me, I see spider MAN like that and I DO think “wow he’s ready to take it in the pooper”. But that’s just me. And every gay man who sees that pose on spider MAN, and many other heteros I’m sure, men and women, and probably even some lesbians, think that as well. That’s Maddox’s point and it’s a GREAT one.

        3. They’re CRAWLING! I don’t know how to tell you this, man, but that’s what someone LOOKS LIKE when they are crawling! So it completely, absolutely, totally is about context.

        4. It’s also about social norms etc. etc., but in the end, you will see what you will see, as will feminazis and everyone else.

        5. It can’t be emphasized enough, you’re looking at the image from a hetero male standpoint, as are these feminazis. That, my friend, is context. You (and I) could choose not to be perverts hur-huring like Butthead, but we do not choose to do so. This changes nothing about the image.

        6. And that which it does not change is the fact that this image is art. Any great artist will tell you it matters not what THEY meant the art to be, it matters what YOU the viewer chooses it to be, *in your context*. And there you have it, art is context, and issues with that cover are one’s own, not actual issues to be concerned over.

        7. Feminazis really, really need to learn there’s nothing wrong with sexuality. Gratuitously thrown in there because, WTF. I get so sick of that.

        “But we already had this sexy sexy discussion! Plus Hitler’s already in the house.”

        Very true but I didn’t see the video before so I refrained from most of the discussion. And since this is all about me…

      • dreameling says:

        I already went through most of these points with Chucky, but let’s replay anyway. Maybe there’s something new I can add.

        1. It’s an alternate cover so everyone DOES need to calm down, the main cover is quite acceptable to any reasonable person. Sexualized only if you ignore her face which is actually the prominent feature (that point gave me a good LOL)

        That the Manara cover is a variant does not make Spider-Woman’s pose on it any less sexualized. That it is a variant cover, that there is a different main cover, does re-contextualize it, sure: Marvel is not all about female superheroes presenting for rear entry. If the Manara cover had been the main cover or the only cover, that would’ve certainly sent a different kind of message.

        What I don’t like about Maddox’s point, though, is that it seems to suggest that a right excuses a wrong: that it’s okay for you to do something bad if you also do something good. As a general point. (I’m not saying that publishing the Spider-Woman cover was “bad” as such. All I’m saying is that I get why people would be upset.)

        2. Spider MAN is in the same pose, is he sexualized? Totally depends on the context! There is NO BULLSHIT in saying that. See, to me, I see spider MAN like that and I DO think “wow he’s ready to take it in the pooper”. But that’s just me. And every gay man who sees that pose on spider MAN, and many other heteros I’m sure, men and women, and probably even some lesbians, think that as well. That’s Maddox’s point and it’s a GREAT one.

        It’s a fundamentally flawed point because it fails to properly contextualize the production and reception of the Spider-Man cover: That cover was created by a presumably male artist for a primarily male audience. It’s a male fantasy by men for men, catering chiefly to men’s perceived tastes rather than women’s [1]. In short, it’s on male terms, specifically on straight male terms [2]. Whether or not you find Spider-Man sexualized is a moot point. It’s pure false equivalence to say it’s fine to sexualize women as long as you also “sexualize” men when the context of sexualization is rigged in favor of the male gaze (I say “sexualize” because you rarely see male superheroes depicted in the sort of provocative poses and clothing that are a staple of the female superhero aesthetic [3]).

        [1] I’m just going to go out on a limb here and say that a ridiculously muscular man crouched possessively over a big ball of cum metaphor is not the go-to sexual fantasy of your average heterosexual woman. I will even extend that limb and hazard a guess that said muscular man speaks more to a male viewer than to a female one, irrespective of the viewer’s sexual orientation.

        [2] Yes, comics are consumed by other people than just straight men, but let’s be honest about who the defining demographic still seems to be for comics artists and especially publishers.

        [3] If you want so see what oversexualized drawings of men really look like, do a Google image search on “Tom of Finland”. Spider-Man’s got nothing on Tom’s boys.

        Btw., this is the exact same flawed argument miffed gamers make when they insist that female characters with a preposterously oversexualized anatomy are fine because you also have male characters with a preposterously masculine anatomy. Both are (straight) male fantasies, so there’s nothing equal about it.

        3. They’re CRAWLING! I don’t know how to tell you this, man, but that’s what someone LOOKS LIKE when they are crawling! So it completely, absolutely, totally is about context.

        A woman really has to push her ass that high and arch her back inwards that much? How come Spider-Man makes do with way less suggestive ass-jutting and back-arching? (See mine and Chucky’s discussion above about the finer points of ass presentation.)

        4. It’s also about social norms etc. etc., but in the end, you will see what you will see, as will feminazis and everyone else.

        I’m not denying context or subjective perspective. We often see what we expect or want to see. But it’s obviously not completely relative. We don’t just see whatever. A shared social or cultural environment aligns our perspectives to quite a significant degree. It’s how we survive. And then you also have biology. Some instincts and reactions we simply cannot escape. Like I said, if you show the Manara cover to a 100 people, I’m betting 99 of them will say it’s got a sexual vibe to it. How strong a vibe they sense in it, and how they value that vibe, is where perspective really comes in.

        While arguably almost everything human is contextual and subjective, some contexts are more meaningful than others, and some perspectives are effectively more valid or reasonable than other perspectives.

        5. It can’t be emphasized enough, you’re looking at the image from a hetero male standpoint, as are these feminazis. That, my friend, is context. You (and I) could choose not to be perverts hur-huring like Butthead, but we do not choose to do so. This changes nothing about the image.

        The feminazis cannot possibly be looking at the cover from a hetero male perspective. They are looking at it from a feminazi perspective (whatever that is). And while we can choose how we verbally express our feelings about the cover to others, we cannot really choose how we instinctually feel about the cover, or at least how we react to it upon seeing it for the first time. Also, I object to being labeled a Butthead! I definitely like the image on its own — Spider-Woman’s hot — and there is nothing perverted about it, not in my context.

        6. And that which it does not change is the fact that this image is art. Any great artist will tell you it matters not what THEY meant the art to be, it matters what YOU the viewer chooses it to be, *in your context*. And there you have it, art is context, and issues with that cover are one’s own, not actual issues to be concerned over.

        First, of course subjective perspective and interpretation come into play with art. But, like I already stated above, it’s not all completely up for grabs. The author is not dead. Authorial intent matters. If it did not, everything would be formless gibberish and communication would be impossible. Meaning is born at the intersection of authorial intent, the historical / social / cultural context of reception, and the receiving mind.

        Second, if you think that we can always freely choose how we experience art, or information in general, then you’re a Vulcan and this discussion is pointless, for obvious reasons, but welcome to Earth and can you please lend me your spaceship? Anyways, we are blind to most of the stuff that makes us tick. The vast majority of our personal biases are completely and insidiously transparent to us. (The more so the closer we are to the cultural default [4].) We feel and intuit first, think second, if at all. We are more emotional than rational. We absolutely do not get to choose how we experience art. Some of it we can, of course, as we can stop and rationalize and reflect and work out interpretations, but we absolutely do not possess full control over what a work of art means or does to us.

        [4] As white heterosexual males, we are about as default and privileged as can be. If only we were also not atheists (more of an issue in the US than in Finland, for sure).

        Third, and this is where you really lose me, you seem to be giving art a free pass to be anything and everything without any accountability or consequence. You’re robbing art of any significance. Art matters, media matters. The gendered ways in which people are represented in fiction matter. Even if art doesn’t outright make people violent or sexist or whatever, it does reflect and perpetuate existing social and cultural norms and values. The Manara cover is not a problem on its own, but it is emblematic of a broader socio-cultural problem: the negatively gendered representation of women in popular fiction and media. Female characters are more likely to be sexualized objects and less likely to be active agents than male characters. Male characters occupy a broader range of roles and, well, character. This in itself, of course, is indicative of unequal gender roles and relations in society at large. I don’t think art can really change the world, but it can nudge and support attitudes, it can provide inspiration and models, it can suggest and condition if it’s constant and consistent. Which is why I’d really love to see more female characters, especially main characters, that are more than just passive foils for the male characters, their love interests, sex objects, fridged wives or girlfriends, or whatever. (It’s still totally fine to have female characters also occupy these roles. Balanced variety, man.)

        Let’s be absolutely clear, though: An artist is free to do whatever they want. (Whether they should is another issue.) Manara is free to paint as many oversexualized women as he wants, and audiences, myself among them, are free to enjoy those paintings to their heart’s content. Art can be whatever the artist wants to make. Art does not need to be progressive. Individuals are free to create what they want to create, consume what they want to consume, and enjoy what they enjoy (and others are free to disagree, of course, and even intervene if what the individual creates or consumes hurts other people or breaks the law).

        But society does not get this free pass. It’s ok for you to caution your friend to not go into that shady part of town at night, because they might get mugged or murdered. But it’s not ok for society to tell people to not go there, because that would only hurt the area even more. It’s ok for a concerned father to tell their daughter to not wear a miniskirt to the party and to not get drunk, because these might increase their chance of getting sexually assaulted. But it’s not ok for society to tell women to not dress sexy or to not drink alcohol, because that would be constraining their lives out of fear. [5] And, finally, while it’s ok for Manara to paint and publish whatever he wants, it would not be ok for society to promote Manara’s highly sexualized representations of women as the default form of representing women. Nor would it be ok for society to tell Manara to not paint like Manara. The cultural and societal do not map one-to-one to the personal and private, is what I’m saying (over and over again).

        [5] I’m basically paraphrasing examples from a brilliant article by Film Crit Hulk. More about that below.

        To quote myself from that other post, in answer to Chucky pondering what we should do about Spider-Woman’s butt:

        I say we do nothing about it. I’m undoubtedly starting to sound like a broken record, but I do not think Spider-woman’s butt is the problem. It’s legit art, it’s legit to create it, and it’s legit to like it. Art does not need to be progressive or fair or anything the artist does not want it to be (well, within some reason).

        Instead, what we should do is want more fully rounded female characters in movies, comics, video games, and other media. We should want more female characters that can be and do all the different and varied stuff that male characters are entitled to by default. We should want a different proportion of female sex objects versus active female subjects. And I say “want”, rather than, for example, “demand”, because it really needs to start from wanting it.

        (This, by the way, is where the Nazis stormed in.)

        7. Feminazis really, really need to learn there’s nothing wrong with sexuality. Gratuitously thrown in there because, WTF. I get so sick of that.

        I obviously agree that there is absolutely nothing wrong with sexuality. If, as a culture or cultures, we had a healthier relationship with sexuality, especially female sexuality, none of this might be a problem to begin with. But we do not have that. And it’s definitely not just the feminazis. It’s everybody. The assumptions and expectations leveled at female and male sexuality remain a minefield of fucked-up double-standards and gendered thinking.

        Somewhat related to this, I recommend Film Crit Hulk’s article “WE NEED TO CHANGE HOW WE TALK ABOUT RAPE”, one of the best pieces on rape and rape culture I’ve read. It also illustrates the personal vs. social point brilliantly. Certainly gave me a lot to think about.

      • aaronthepatriot says:

        You know, just watching a movie review and since there’s an oral sex scene in that movie, it got me thinking you know WHAT, this is a perfect example of something hollywood does to sexualize men for hetero women. Because oral sex scene in a movie, 9 times out of ten that means a guy going down on a girl. Typically they don’t show it the other way, probably for many reasons. So, there you go, men sexualized to make women hot. And of course men like to see that too, but not nearly as much as women do!

      • stchucky says:

        That’s bizarre. I would have said it was completely the other way around … but then I thought, this includes full-on sex scenes, right?

        Because if it’s just oral, on its own, I would say 9/10 it’s female-on-male, 1/10 it’s male-on-female. But when you count it as an act in the extended sex scene, you’re right. Way closer to 9/10 male-on-female.

        But you know why, right? The sex scene is all about baring the woman’s body as lovingly and lingeringly and lasciviously as possible. And showing her flexing and arching and mewling in the moonlight while the guy is off-screen with his head down. It’s a sweet thought that it’s all about the sexual empowerment of the women, but what shows on the screen is a gentlemen’s club porno.

        I’ll be in my bunk.

      • aaronthepatriot says:

        “That’s bizarre. I would have said it was completely the other way around … but then I thought, this includes full-on sex scenes, right?

        Because if it’s just oral, on its own, I would say 9/10 it’s female-on-male, 1/10 it’s male-on-female. But when you count it as an act in the extended sex scene, you’re right. Way closer to 9/10 male-on-female.”

        The only movies where I see women on men oral sex are comedies, typically. Maybe our movies don’t overlap enough but in dramas etc., I always see the guy going down. Which…well more on that later.

        “But you know why, right? The sex scene is all about baring the woman’s body as lovingly and lingeringly and lasciviously as possible. And showing her flexing and arching and mewling in the moonlight while the guy is off-screen with his head down. It’s a sweet thought that it’s all about the sexual empowerment of the women, but what shows on the screen is a gentlemen’s club porno.”

        That’s one way of thinking about it but man, if you can’t accept that most women would much, MUCH rather have that than see a blowjob scene, and in fact are far more likely to be *Sexually* (and that’s the key word in this debate right?) aroused, it’s the scenes where the guys go down on the women. Fuck I bet even a lot of militant feminists think “hell yeah, make that lazy pig do some work”. Ten bucks says they do.

        Personally, I don’t like them at all. I enjoy doing it, but NOT watching it. Maybe I’m alone but I actually know factually that I’m not.

        If they wanted to appeal to me or “most” men, they’d do more BJ scenes. I like watching those. Yeah yeah, I know you’re an exception.

      • stchucky says:

        If they lingered on the naked torso of the man and his oh-face while the woman blew him off-screen … no, you’re right, that’s mostly comedies and no, I don’t enjoy that more. But there you go.

    • dreameling says:

      No, don’t try, dreameling. That was a rhetorical question. But if the cover still bothers you I hope you see someone about that XD

      It bothers me something hard, man.

  5. aaronthepatriot says:

    “I already went through most of these points with Chucky, but let’s replay anyway. Maybe there’s something new I can add.”

    Thanks for doing that, mate…this was a great, thoughtful response and I gained a massive amount of respect for your intellect as a result. Which is not to say I had a lack of respect for it before, just saying…take it for the compliment it is because I don’t hand that one out often. Ask Chucky. Well, don’t ask him, I hand it out to him a lot. Fuck it, nicely done. Moving on.

    Oh and thank you also because I had to go back and look at the picture again (poor me) after what you said. So, you’re really knocking it out of the park this time man, LOL.

    I agree to disagree or whatever on most of your points because they are very solidly in the realm of “that’s your opinion, man”, but I didn’t want to be ungrateful and “dismiss” (or whatever) such a long and thoughtful reply, so I’ll do my best to do it justice, briefly!

    > 1. It’s an alternate cover so everyone DOES need to calm down, the main cover is quite acceptable to any reasonable person. Sexualized only if you ignore her face which is actually the prominent feature (that point gave me a good LOL)

    “That the Manara cover is a variant does not make Spider-Woman’s pose on it any less sexualized. That it is a variant cover, that there is a different main cover, does re-contextualize it, sure: Marvel is not all about female superheroes presenting for rear entry. If the Manara cover had been the main cover or the only cover, that would’ve certainly sent a different kind of message.”

    That’s what I’m saying. When you discuss this cover as if it is a bad move from a sexism perspective, you are basically saying no art should depict a woman in a sexualized fashion. Aren’t you? Further down you assert that perhaps I am killing art if my opinions are as I seem to be expressing them, but I would argue the opposite is the case *here*.

    There’s only one point I made that “makes her pose less sexualized” and that one is below. This point, however, makes her pose more acceptable, IMO.

    “What I don’t like about Maddox’s point, though, is that it seems to suggest that a right excuses a wrong: that it’s okay for you to do something bad if you also do something good. As a general point. (I’m not saying that publishing the Spider-Woman cover was “bad” as such. All I’m saying is that I get why people would be upset.)”

    No, I think his point is that you don’t have to buy THIS art if you don’t like it. Go look at the main release and take issue with that if you can. And they DID, saying her bust was most prominent when in fact her FACE was most prominent. That’s what a feminazi is, by the way since you ask later–a blind, ignorant, militant feminist. And there are quite a few of them out there. I think that perhaps you have not had as much experience witnessing them as I have. I’ll give you an example.

    I saw a video of one such “lady” on youtube, she’s an “atheist feminist” because apparently THEY are a thing too now, and it was highlighted by another atheist youtuber, the Amazing Atheist. She relayed a wonderful experience at a party where she hit it off with this guy, and he was interesting and charming and they really connected and had a lot to talk about. This was at a hotel. Then, in the elevator, he did something HORRIBLY WRONG to her.

    No, he didn’t try to rape her. No, he didn’t try to kiss her. No, he didn’t even touch her. He just asked her, and this is in *her own words*, if she’d like to “come up and have a cup of coffee or something”. Her response, with a disgusted face and again from her own reporting was, “Don’t…don’t do THAT!”

    That, my friend, is a militant feminist. Apparently men have no right to let women know they are interested in more. We have to wait at every stage for THEM to make the move. Just one example but there you go.

    > 2. Spider MAN is in the same pose, is he sexualized? Totally depends on the context! There is NO BULLSHIT in saying that. See, to me, I see spider MAN like that and I DO think “wow he’s ready to take it in the pooper”. But that’s just me. And every gay man who sees that pose on spider MAN, and many other heteros I’m sure, men and women, and probably even some lesbians, think that as well. That’s Maddox’s point and it’s a GREAT one.

    “It’s a fundamentally flawed point because it fails to properly contextualize the production and reception of the Spider-Man cover: That cover was created by a presumably male artist for a primarily male audience. It’s a male fantasy by men for men, catering chiefly to men’s perceived tastes rather than women’s [1]. In short, it’s on male terms, specifically on straight male terms [2]. Whether or not you find Spider-Man sexualized is a moot point. It’s pure false equivalence to say it’s fine to sexualize women as long as you also “sexualize” men when the context of sexualization is rigged in favor of the male gaze (I say “sexualize” because you rarely see male superheroes depicted in the sort of provocative poses and clothing that are a staple of the female superhero aesthetic [3]).

    [1] I’m just going to go out on a limb here and say that a ridiculously muscular man crouched possessively over a big ball of cum metaphor is not the go-to sexual fantasy of your average heterosexual woman. I will even extend that limb and hazard a guess that said muscular man speaks more to a male viewer than to a female one, irrespective of the viewer’s sexual orientation.”

    You’re really going to say that this couldn’t POSSIBLY have been an attempt to get more female readers, that you KNOW that’s not the case, and say “case closed”? I am not nearly so sure, man. Comics have been trying to rope women in for a long time. Is it so inconceivable (and I think that word means what I think it means) that a male artist might think females would be interested in a hunky male form, in whatever pose? Doesn’t seem farfetched to me, but ok.

    Basically my point is one of equality though. In my opinion you cannot take the same pose for a man and a woman and claim one is wrong and the other is not, and also pretend you are *merely* seeking equal footing for women in society. Once you do the above, you are seeking for MORE than equality for women. You are seeking special consideration.

    In my opinion, of course. I think this is simpler than you are making it out to be, but maybe we are arguing for two different goals. I am arguing against feminists who claim they merely want “equality” but show they want MORE than that, in their actions.

    “[2] Yes, comics are consumed by other people than just straight men, but let’s be honest about who the defining demographic still seems to be for comics artists and especially publishers.”

    Granted.

    “[3] If you want so see what oversexualized drawings of men really look like, do a Google image search on “Tom of Finland”. Spider-Man’s got nothing on Tom’s boys.”

    No thanks, I didn’t claim he was “oversexualized”

    “Btw., this is the exact same flawed argument miffed gamers make when they insist that female characters with a preposterously oversexualized anatomy are fine because you also have male characters with a preposterously masculine anatomy. Both are (straight) male fantasies, so there’s nothing equal about it.”

    OK so now we’re discussing the anatomy itself and not the poses. I said the pose, man. If you want to start talking about the anatomy, now you basically have an issue with the entire way Spider Woman looks. I’m not ready to have that conversation. I’m actually not interested in this case since I think she’s hardly a serious issue on these lines, based on what I’ve seen in other media.

    I have no idea whether straight women are attracted to a muscular spider man but if you’re saying they aren’t, your experience there is different than mine. Sure, most women don’t think Arnold in his lifting days was hot, but spider man doesn’t come close to THAT.

    > 3. They’re CRAWLING! I don’t know how to tell you this, man, but that’s what someone LOOKS LIKE when they are crawling! So it completely, absolutely, totally is about context.

    “A woman really has to push her ass that high and arch her back inwards that much? How come Spider-Man makes do with way less suggestive ass-jutting and back-arching? (See mine and Chucky’s discussion above about the finer points of ass presentation.)”

    Oh my non-God you are off your rocker on this one man, look at it again! I did! It’s all in your head! First of all the spider man pose had the SAME amount of jutting and arching whatevers, for some reason you don’t choose to see it that way but that was the POINT of Maddox overlaying the pictures, so you could compare!

    Second, her back is NOT arched down very much at all, again I *just* looked. That’s primarily due to your perspective, and secondarily due to your perceptions being a dirty, dirty man just like me. But, I looked more carefully before I made this point. Look at her limbs, the positioning etc. Get down there on the ground and do it yourself if you must. Is her back supposed to arch UP? It’s natural for some downward arch from the weight of the torso (and yes, hers does have some weight hur hur).

    But if you look at where her legs and arms are at, the back is pretty much as straight as it naturally would be at that point in a crawl. Furthermore, since one leg is out and forward, it gives more of the impression of jutting her ass out than is actually the case.

    She’s crawling, and a tiny little paragraph from you won’t change my mind on that, lol. Yes, you can SEE it sexually *if you want to*. But really, truly, I didn’t find it particularly sexual. And certainly not when plenty of FEMALE artists like Nicky Minaj, Beyonce, and Miley Cyrus have chosen to do the same with their very own bodies! You are blaming a male artist here, but you can’t in those cases. And in those cases it is much more clearly sexualized than here, for the reasons I stated above.

    This one settles it for me since I think you only need this point for the whole argument against this cover art to fall apart. And I’m still seeing a crawling woman. Yes, a crawling woman with pretty insanely sexy body features. Sure. But we’re discussing the pose, not the anatomy.

    > 4. It’s also about social norms etc. etc., but in the end, you will see what you will see, as will feminazis and everyone else.

    “I’m not denying context or subjective perspective. We often see what we expect or want to see. But it’s obviously not completely relative. We don’t just see whatever. A shared social or cultural environment aligns our perspectives to quite a significant degree. It’s how we survive. And then you also have biology. Some instincts and reactions we simply cannot escape. Like I said, if you show the Manara cover to a 100 people, I’m betting 99 of them will say it’s got a sexual vibe to it. How strong a vibe they sense in it, and how they value that vibe, is where perspective really comes in.”

    You have backed off this position considerably, and now I can accept your statement. You said “everyone” at first in your comment on Chucky’s blog, then you said this 99 out of 100 figure would “agree” she was “sexualized” (or something like that). Which is not “everyone” but whatever.

    Now you posit that 99 out of 100 would say it’s got a sexual vibe, of some strength or other, to it.

    Granted. So what? I think a good number of those 99 would say sure it’s a little sexualized but I can see it the other way too, as functional, as I’m trying to say to you.

    So, can a woman not be put in a picture where she’s sexualized at ALL? I’m not clear what your point is here. I don’t want to live in a world where there are no pictures of women that are at all sexual. Truly, do you?

    “While arguably almost everything human is contextual and subjective, some contexts are more meaningful than others, and some perspectives are effectively more valid or reasonable than other perspectives.”

    Certainly.

    > 5. It can’t be emphasized enough, you’re looking at the image from a hetero male standpoint, as are these feminazis. That, my friend, is context. You (and I) could choose not to be perverts hur-huring like Butthead, but we do not choose to do so. This changes nothing about the image.

    “The feminazis cannot possibly be looking at the cover from a hetero male perspective. They are looking at it from a feminazi perspective (whatever that is). ”

    Absolutely incorrect! They make it their GOAL to look at all images of women from a hetero male perspective. I’ve seen it time and again! How could they say it’s over sexualizing if they aren’t able to see it from our perspective? On the face of it this one doesn’t make sense to me. If they were just obliviously seeing it from their straight female perspective they wouldn’t think anything of it at all other than it’s a weird pose. It’s BECAUSE we enjoy this pose that they take issue. Trust me on that.

    “And while we can choose how we verbally express our feelings about the cover to others, we cannot really choose how we instinctually feel about the cover, or at least how we react to it upon seeing it for the first time. Also, I object to being labeled a Butthead! I definitely like the image on its own — Spider-Woman’s hot — and there is nothing perverted about it, not in my context.”

    Then there is nothing perverted about it, and what are we debating here?

    > 6. And that which it does not change is the fact that this image is art. Any great artist will tell you it matters not what THEY meant the art to be, it matters what YOU the viewer chooses it to be, *in your context*. And there you have it, art is context, and issues with that cover are one’s own, not actual issues to be concerned over.

    “First, of course subjective perspective and interpretation come into play with art. But, like I already stated above, it’s not all completely up for grabs. The author is not dead. Authorial intent matters. If it did not, everything would be formless gibberish and communication would be impossible. Meaning is born at the intersection of authorial intent, the historical / social / cultural context of reception, and the receiving mind.”

    Authorial intent matters but most authors, when you ask them, don’t want to tell you their intent. So I’m not sure where that leaves us.

    “Second, if you think that we can always freely choose how we experience art, or information in general, then you’re a Vulcan and this discussion is pointless, for obvious reasons, but welcome to Earth and can you please lend me your spaceship?”

    Well, first, thank you, I’ve already said as much to Chucky and you are confirming my own personal assertions.

    And second, you’ve never “mis”-interpreted a work of art and, upon further reflection, seen it in a new light? Never at all?

    Absolutely we can exercise judgment, take a deep breath and think again, whatever, to SOMETIMES “freely choose how we experience” something. I don’t know where this “always” comes in to play, that was not my word choice but yours.

    ” Anyways, we are blind to most of the stuff that makes us tick. The vast majority of our personal biases are completely and insidiously transparent to us. (The more so the closer we are to the cultural default [4].)”

    Well, maybe I’m just a freak. Tell me any bias of mine and I’ll tell you how I got there. Maybe I hold people to too high a standard, but that’s no reason for the ARTIST to change what he does. Not in my book, at least!

    “We feel and intuit first, think second, if at all. We are more emotional than rational. We absolutely do not get to choose how we experience art. Some of it we can, of course, as we can stop and rationalize and reflect and work out interpretations, but we absolutely do not possess full control over what a work of art means or does to us.”

    Well now ok so you’re saying kind of what I wrote above. But, when the “art” is just a woman in a suit, yes we sure as shit CAN possess full control over what it means or does to us. I’m proving that right now! I’m a horrible pervert (and happy for it), and I can see her in a totally non-sexual way if I choose to. And since she’s a butterface, I choose to. LOL

    Sure, one of Jackson Pollacks ridiculous messes, one cannot fully control what it means to us, because no matter how many I see I still think they’re works of crap. But this is simple art, man. It’s not “Piss Christ” (look it up if you need to).

    “[4] As white heterosexual males, we are about as default and privileged as can be. If only we were also not atheists (more of an issue in the US than in Finland, for sure).”

    To be sure.

    “Third, and this is where you really lose me, you seem to be giving art a free pass to be anything and everything without any accountability or consequence. You’re robbing art of any significance.”

    I think this is the most unfair and inaccurate statement you have made here, or that I have had leveled at me in a long time, and you got there based on very little information about what I really think. All I said was what most great artists would tell you. And that’s a fact, I’ve heard from some and I know a few personally. They don’t like to give you their intent. That’s all I said.

    If anyone is limiting art it is you, or anyone who insists this cover should not have been made because it is oversexualizing women and setting women’s rights back. That is completely garbage and in this case not nearly a good enough reason to condemn this art. Robbing art of significance? You’re advocating for robbing this art of EXISTENCE!

    ” Art matters, media matters. The gendered ways in which people are represented in fiction matter. Even if art doesn’t outright make people violent or sexist or whatever, it does reflect and perpetuate existing social and cultural norms and values. The Manara cover is not a problem on its own, but it is emblematic of a broader socio-cultural problem: the negatively gendered representation of women in popular fiction and media. Female characters are more likely to be sexualized objects and less likely to be active agents than male characters.”

    So Spider Woman who is in fact going to be THE superhero in these comics to come is somehow not going to be an active agent? And, women having sexuality in media is wrong? Sorry, I’ll go commit suicide now. I think men and women should have sexuality in media, *if they so choose*, and when it comes to art there is a BIG amount of leeway you need to give.

    And again, I do not accept that men aren’t sexualized. Of course they are, they just don’t complain about it as much as women do when they are sexualized. Many of the main actors in Hollywood have been put into sexually stimulating positions for hereto females to enjoy. And if those choices missed the mark and were more “hetero male fantasies” than “hetero female fantasies”, I bet in most cases it wasn’t for a lack of trying. It would be silly for you to assert that male actors have not been trying to appeal sexually to females in order to gain larger followings and make more money.

    But we shouldn’t have women being sexual in any way? Again send me the suicide pact now and show me where to sign.

    I also do not accept or approve, far from it, you calling a sexualized representation of a woman as “negatively gendered”. Elsewhere you say you are NOT against sexuality. Well, square that circle for me. This is FAR too conservative for my liking, smacks of the ridiculous social conservatives we have here in the US. And in Saudi Arabia, etc.

    “Male characters occupy a broader range of roles and, well, character. This in itself, of course, is indicative of unequal gender roles and relations in society at large. I don’t think art can really change the world, but it can nudge and support attitudes, it can provide inspiration and models, it can suggest and condition if it’s constant and consistent. Which is why I’d really love to see more female characters, especially main characters, that are more than just passive foils for the male characters, their love interests, sex objects, fridged wives or girlfriends, or whatever. (It’s still totally fine to have female characters also occupy these roles. Balanced variety, man.)”

    Sure I would love to see more of this. Excellent, nothing objectionable here and you are quite right of course.

    “Let’s be absolutely clear, though: An artist is free to do whatever they want. (Whether they should is another issue.) Manara is free to paint as many oversexualized women as he wants, and audiences, myself among them, are free to enjoy those paintings to their heart’s content. Art can be whatever the artist wants to make. Art does not need to be progressive. Individuals are free to create what they want to create, consume what they want to consume, and enjoy what they enjoy (and others are free to disagree, of course, and even intervene if what the individual creates or consumes hurts other people or breaks the law).”

    Well that may be what YOU are saying but it is NOT what the feminists you agree with on this issue are saying. Puts you in a bit of a bind, IMO.

    “But society does not get this free pass. It’s ok for you to caution your friend to not go into that shady part of town at night, because they might get mugged or murdered. But it’s not ok for society to tell people to not go there, because that would only hurt the area even more. It’s ok for a concerned father to tell their daughter to not wear a miniskirt to the party and to not get drunk, because these might increase their chance of getting sexually assaulted. But it’s not ok for society to tell women to not dress sexy or to not drink alcohol, because that would be constraining their lives out of fear. [5] And, finally, while it’s ok for Manara to paint and publish whatever he wants, it would not be ok for society to promote Manara’s highly sexualized representations of women as the default form of representing women. Nor would it be ok for society to tell Manara to not paint like Manara. The cultural and societal do not map one-to-one to the personal and private, is what I’m saying (over and over again).”

    Straw man, I think, buddy. “Society” is not “promoting” Manara’s representations of women as the “default form of representing women”. Geez, IS there even a default for that? Certainly not this. So, I’m not sure why we’re discussing that aspect of the issue.

    “[5] I’m basically paraphrasing examples from a brilliant article by Film Crit Hulk. More about that below.

    To quote myself from that other post, in answer to Chucky pondering what we should do about Spider-Woman’s butt:

    I say we do nothing about it. I’m undoubtedly starting to sound like a broken record, but I do not think Spider-woman’s butt is the problem. It’s legit art, it’s legit to create it, and it’s legit to like it. Art does not need to be progressive or fair or anything the artist does not want it to be (well, within some reason).

    Instead, what we should do is want more fully rounded female characters in movies, comics, video games, and other media. We should want more female characters that can be and do all the different and varied stuff that male characters are entitled to by default. We should want a different proportion of female sex objects versus active female subjects. And I say “want”, rather than, for example, “demand”, because it really needs to start from wanting it.”

    I want that. Have you read the new Spider Woman comic? Or are you just on this rant because of the cover. I bet you’d find her an “active female subject” if you looked into it. Again, because after all this IS her damn comic. You think the whole comic is going to be her distracting the bad guys by fucking them, and then capturing them with her web?

    Hmm, I’d read THAT. And I’m not interested in comics.

    (This, by the way, is where the Nazis stormed in.)

    > 7. Feminazis really, really need to learn there’s nothing wrong with sexuality. Gratuitously thrown in there because, WTF. I get so sick of that.

    “I obviously agree that there is absolutely nothing wrong with sexuality. If, as a culture or cultures, we had a healthier relationship with sexuality, especially female sexuality, none of this might be a problem to begin with. But we do not have that. And it’s definitely not just the feminazis. It’s everybody. The assumptions and expectations leveled at female and male sexuality remain a minefield of fucked-up double-standards and gendered thinking.”

    And I’m just saying to be careful we don’t apply a double standard ourselves, in a direction opposite from the usual way, in an attempt to correct the situation.

    “Somewhat related to this, I recommend Film Crit Hulk’s article “WE NEED TO CHANGE HOW WE TALK ABOUT RAPE”, one of the best pieces on rape and rape culture I’ve read. It also illustrates the personal vs. social point brilliantly. Certainly gave me a lot to think about.”

    I’ll check it out, sorry that I couldn’t before I posted this but your thoughtful work here demanded a reply ASAP. Although I can guarantee you that I don’t need to change how I talk about rape. But this is a topic I’m very interested in.

    • stchucky says:

      So, can a woman not be put in a picture where she’s sexualized at ALL? I’m not clear what your point is here. I don’t want to live in a world where there are no pictures of women that are at all sexual. Truly, do you?

      And here we see the binarymind in its natural environment…

      /Attenborough

      Sorry, that was glib … the full response you deserve coming soon. You guys are doing great so I’ll just stand over here in my ad-libbed SS uniform.

      • aaronthepatriot says:

        It was glib, and I will respond to your fuller response later, but I REALLY wish you hadn’t done all that. It’s your blog, etc. etc. but keep in mind I put that post here out of a courtesy to you because I know you wanted to see it play out. I could have entirely carried this out via email with dreameling, and now I’m starting to regret not doing just that.

        I wish you had given him time to respond to all my points in his own way without biasing him with your judgments of where I was being “fair” and where I was being “unfair”. If we’re talking about fair, let’s talk about how you are highly experienced in debating me, and know me very very well, and so are quick and capable (often) at getting into my head on each of my debate points. This enables you to psychoanalyze and put that analysis on display, sometimes correctly and sometimes incorrectly, for dreameling to see before he ever works on a response. And THAT will encourage him to simply dismiss certain of my points before giving them serious thought.

        So I wish you hadn’t done that. I know it’s your blog, but I hope you see my point here.

      • stchucky says:

        Don’t worry, I know you both pretty well. And when I posted that big response of mine, I apologised to dreameling and told him I should have sat on my hands, and to please disregard my testimony. I apologised because I suspected it would have precisely this detrimental effect on his position in the debate.

        I pass on that same apology to you, even more so because it has upset you and you perceive it as a case of me using my friendship with you as a weapon against you. That was not my intent, and it was a huge fuck-up if that’s what’s happened. There are no sides here. There’s just points I agree with, and points I don’t agree with, and my opinions in both cases.

        However, give the boy some credit. I will no longer speak for him but I’m sure that a) any cases of “what Chucky said” will be genuine and intellectually honest agreement on dreameling’s part with my own analyses, that he would have said anyway, and b) that he will give your statements and points the attention they deserve, regardless of his limited time. I know you didn’t mean to suggest he’d hide behind my petticoats, and I know you’re pissed. That’s my fault, so please don’t let it affect your opinion of his intellect before he even gets to say anything.

        I know for a fact that he’s not going to dismiss anything out of hand, because he told me that he’d already read your post well before I read it and before I posted my response, and he was itching to get his thoughts in a row, but has been busy – possibly too busy to go through each point in this way. And I am again speaking for him now but it’s just in self-defence.

        Let’s get one thing clear, though. My motivations in asking you not to take this to e-mail, and to continue it here, were not just so I could watch you and dreameling argue. It was so I could join in. And it was so the full debate would be here, without any need for either of you to refer back and forth between blog and e-mail. For example, if dreameling was throwing around absolutes in your e-mail discussion and that’s what you were referring to, then that’s my bad and I was not in possession of all the facts. He wasn’t doing it here on the blog, though. I wanted to avoid any such confusion, for your sakes as well as mine.

        You came back and started this debate up again, post-Godwin, because you’d just had a chance to watch the video and you wanted to debate it:

        But we already had this sexy sexy discussion! Plus Hitler’s already in the house.

        Very true but I didn’t see the video before so I refrained from most of the discussion. And since this is all about me…

        If you really just wanted to debate it with dreameling, you should have ignored my request and my harumphing, and just continued it in e-mail. You are a grown-arse man so don’t hit me with that crybaby bullplop. You restarted the existing debate here. Either finish it here or finish it wherever you like but don’t blame me for your choice, sir.

        If this is no good for you, then fine. Take it back to e-mail now and I can depth-charge this entire thing and you can hope for the best. Again, I’m sorry it hurt your feelings and I’m even more sorry if you feel this contaminated dreameling’s side of what you wanted to be a pure one-on-one debate.

        My interjections here were just like any debate taking place in a public forum – if one person (dreameling) says one thing, and another person (you) argues with them by grossly misinterpreting or misrepresenting what they said, then I will call it. You know this. I was part of this discussion too. I started this discussion. Don’t tell me that coming in late, then hijacking the discussion into a private e-mail, then coming back here to where most of the discussion is, was a fucking courtesy to me.

        dreameling, do me a favour and reply to Aaron’s whole thing, would you?

      • aaronthepatriot says:

        “Don’t worry, I know you both pretty well. And when I posted that big response of mine, I apologised to dreameling and told him I should have sat on my hands, and to please disregard my testimony. I apologised because I suspected it would have precisely this detrimental effect on his position in the debate.”

        Yeah I figured that justification for your apology to him…also since it kind of was directed at him, I thought you might feel guilty not letting him get the FIRST crack at it. And that’s the sum of my issue here, not that you should stay out OF COURSE. Wow.

        I know, it’s not FIRST anymore because I already posted on this, but this feels like a new beginning to me and something you’ve already hashed out a lot with him. So in that sense, letting him have first dibs on a reply to something he was saying directly to me is what I was seeking. Fair?

        “I pass on that same apology to you, even more so because it has upset you and you perceive it as a case of me using my friendship with you as a weapon against you. That was not my intent, and it was a huge fuck-up if that’s what’s happened. There are no sides here. There’s just points I agree with, and points I don’t agree with, and my opinions in both cases.”

        Well, thanks.

        “However, give the boy some credit. I will no longer speak for him but I’m sure that a) any cases of “what Chucky said” will be genuine and intellectually honest agreement on dreameling’s part with my own analyses, that he would have said anyway, and b) that he will give your statements and points the attention they deserve, regardless of his limited time. I know you didn’t mean to suggest he’d hide behind my petticoats, and I know you’re pissed. That’s my fault, so please don’t let it affect your opinion of his intellect before he even gets to say anything.”

        Hah that’s not what I said though. I basically said you gave him ammunition he might not have or be aware of. I would rather he approach my points without all that “help”.

        But only up to the point he had a chance to respond. Then I wouldn’t have objected at all if you supported him calling me out in any of those ways you deemed fair in your post.

        “I know for a fact that he’s not going to dismiss anything out of hand, because he told me that he’d already read your post well before I read it and before I posted my response, and he was itching to get his thoughts in a row, but has been busy – possibly too busy to go through each point in this way. And I am again speaking for him now but it’s just in self-defence.”

        Excellent, excellent. I wasn’t worried about that bit.

        “Let’s get one thing clear, though. My motivations in asking you not to take this to e-mail, and to continue it here, were not just so I could watch you and dreameling argue. It was so I could join in. And it was so the full debate would be here, without any need for either of you to refer back and forth between blog and e-mail. For example, if dreameling was throwing around absolutes in your e-mail discussion and that’s what you were referring to, then that’s my bad and I was not in possession of all the facts. He wasn’t doing it here on the blog, though. I wanted to avoid any such confusion, for your sakes as well as mine.”

        Well I felt there sure were some absolutes here, and some near-absolutes as well. And I’m surprised you didn’t back me up on the “all…99 out of 100” thing because YOU were the one who pointed out the issue to me in the first place! What happened there? Nice pulling out of the rug!

        “You came back and started this debate up again, post-Godwin, because you’d just had a chance to watch the video and you wanted to debate it:

        But we already had this sexy sexy discussion! Plus Hitler’s already in the house.

        Very true but I didn’t see the video before so I refrained from most of the discussion. And since this is all about me…

        If you really just wanted to debate it with dreameling, you should have ignored my request and my harumphing, and just continued it in e-mail. You are a grown-arse man so don’t hit me with that crybaby bullplop. You restarted the existing debate here. Either finish it here or finish it wherever you like but don’t blame me for your choice, sir.”

        No that was mostly frustration, I still like my choice.

        “If this is no good for you, then fine. Take it back to e-mail now and I can depth-charge this entire thing and you can hope for the best. Again, I’m sorry it hurt your feelings and I’m even more sorry if you feel this contaminated dreameling’s side of what you wanted to be a pure one-on-one debate.”

        Nah I’m worried about it but I won’t pre-judge the situation.

        “My interjections here were just like any debate taking place in a public forum – if one person (dreameling) says one thing, and another person (you) argues with them by grossly misinterpreting or misrepresenting what they said, then I will call it. You know this. I was part of this discussion too. I started this discussion. Don’t tell me that coming in late, then hijacking the discussion into a private e-mail, then coming back here to where most of the discussion is, was a fucking courtesy to me.”

        That’s not what happened, though. I sent him an email and then decided to put it on here *as a courtesy to you* At least acknowledge the fact of that. Maybe I did “hijack it” from here for a personal discussion, but that happens EVERY DAY on the internet. Is that now unacceptable too, just like Spider Woman’s juicy, juicy sweettits?

        Also I have my perception of what is BEHIND what he wrote, and so yes in your OPINION I have grossly misinterpreted what he said, but what if in fact I got to the heart of the issue? You can’t answer that, but he can. But still, you have already answered that. See?

        And I was grossly misinterpreted as well. I didn’t see you running to my defense when he said my view of art, which comes from *as I fucking said* ACTUAL ARTISTS, is robbing art of “all meaning”. That was fine? And not a misinterpretation or misrepresentation?

        That’s just one example. I responded to gross misinterpretation perhaps with some of the same. Not sure, your call.

        K. Still love ya brotha.

        “dreameling, do me a favour and reply to Aaron’s whole thing, would you?”

        Don’t do it, don’t let him be the boss of you!

      • stchucky says:

        Yeah I figured that justification for your apology to him…also since it kind of was directed at him, I thought you might feel guilty not letting him get the FIRST crack at it.

        Right. But that leaves me waiting for dreameling to pull his punk arse out of Wasteland long enough to reply. You can see my predicament.

        I know, it’s not FIRST anymore because I already posted on this, but this feels like a new beginning to me and something you’ve already hashed out a lot with him. So in that sense, letting him have first dibs on a reply to something he was saying directly to me is what I was seeking. Fair?

        All except that “directly to me” bit. This is a tiny blog and this is a three-sided conversation. If he replies to a comment you made, then it in turn is a blog comment. It’s fair game.

        If he wants to say “Chucky doesn’t speak for me, ignore him”, that’s on him. If you want to ignore me and have a one-on-one conversation, that’s on you – and him too, since you need him on board.

        Hah that’s not what I said though. I basically said you gave him ammunition he might not have or be aware of. I would rather he approach my points without all that “help”.

        Sometimes I think I will die happy if I can just teach you that conversations are not miniature wars.

        But only up to the point he had a chance to respond. Then I wouldn’t have objected at all if you supported him calling me out in any of those ways you deemed fair in your post.

        I’ll keep that in mind when I look at your response to me doing just that in the latest round.

        Well I felt there sure were some absolutes here, and some near-absolutes as well. And I’m surprised you didn’t back me up on the “all…99 out of 100″ thing because YOU were the one who pointed out the issue to me in the first place! What happened there? Nice pulling out of the rug!

        Excuse me? I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about. I never saw dreameling say “all” in this context.

        My interjections here were just like any debate taking place in a public forum – if one person (dreameling) says one thing, and another person (you) argues with them by grossly misinterpreting or misrepresenting what they said, then I will call it. You know this. I was part of this discussion too. I started this discussion. Don’t tell me that coming in late, then hijacking the discussion into a private e-mail, then coming back here to where most of the discussion is, was a fucking courtesy to me.

        That’s not what happened, though. I sent him an email and then decided to put it on here *as a courtesy to you* At least acknowledge the fact of that.

        Sure I acknowledge it, now that I know that’s what happened! When you told me you were e-mailing about it and I suggested you could continue the conversation here for me to take part in, I didn’t realise you were going to post the actual e-mail. I thought you were just going to come back and continue the conversation here, leaving whatever part of the e-mail conversation you were having to wither and die while dreameling played Wasteland.

        Hi dreameling.

        Seriously though, the post that you came back to the blog with didn’t look anything like the e-mail discussion you summarised and mentioned to me. So I figured it was a new thing.

        Maybe I did “hijack it” from here for a personal discussion, but that happens EVERY DAY on the internet. Is that now unacceptable too, just like Spider Woman’s juicy, juicy sweettits?

        It’s not unacceptable at all. Just don’t pour “I brought our three-sided conversation back from the bathroom where I’d dragged it with dreameling as a courtesy to you, so stand there and be quiet” into my pint and tell me it’s beer.

        Also I have my perception of what is BEHIND what he wrote, and so yes in your OPINION I have grossly misinterpreted what he said, but what if in fact I got to the heart of the issue? You can’t answer that, but he can. But still, you have already answered that. See?

        And he will only change what he was going to say in response if he is a liar.

        And I was grossly misinterpreted as well. I didn’t see you running to my defense when he said my view of art, which comes from *as I fucking said* ACTUAL ARTISTS, is robbing art of “all meaning”. That was fine? And not a misinterpretation or misrepresentation?

        You’d already smacked him down for that by the time I posted. You seemed to have it in the bag. What, was I supposed to go back and edit in an unnecessary smackdown and then timestamp it as coming in before your own smackdown (make no mistake, I am a God here so I could do it)? Was I supposed to make up for putting words in dreameling’s mouth by putting words in yours? That’d be like making a Spider Man comic cover where Spider Man was crouched on all-fours with his butt in the air, just to make a Spider Woman comic cover with the same pose seem fair and OK.

        And would require time travel so the Spider Man cover was made first.

        There’s literally no parallel between what you’re saying I should do and the current discussion.

      • dreameling says:

        You guys are so gaaaaaay.

      • dreameling says:

        PS. I just wanted to say that I prefer having this here out in the open on the blog. I suck at timely emails, anyway. (Not that my blog reply record is that stellar either, now that I think about it.)

        PPS. I should probably apologize to gay people everywhere, but I’m not gonna, because my best friend is a homosexual male, which must mean I’m totally open-minded and shit, which in turn naturally means I got complete diplomatic immunity in this.

      • stchucky says:

        Did you just play the “my best friend’s a minority” card?

        I just got a fleeting semi-boner.

      • dreameling says:

        Right. But that leaves me waiting for dreameling to pull his punk arse out of Wasteland long enough to reply. You can see my predicament.

        Hey! But so true. Also, done, done, and done.

        Hi dreameling.

        That’s right, I usually just search for “dreameling”. I don’t actually read this stuff.

        Also I have my perception of what is BEHIND what he wrote, and so yes in your OPINION I have grossly misinterpreted what he said, but what if in fact I got to the heart of the issue? You can’t answer that, but he can. But still, you have already answered that. See?

        And he will only change what he was going to say in response if he is a liar.

        Must go deeper.

      • stchucky says:

        Must go deeper.

        My totem is a butt-plug in the shape of your head. I had it done at a 3D printing place.

    • stchucky says:

      Thanks for doing that, mate…this was a great, thoughtful response and I gained a massive amount of respect for your intellect as a result. Which is not to say I had a lack of respect for it before, just saying…take it for the compliment it is because I don’t hand that one out often. Ask Chucky. Well, don’t ask him, I hand it out to him a lot. Fuck it, nicely done. Moving on.

      I don’t actually remember the last time I gained, but I think that’s because I got him to maximum respect a while ago and have just kept him there ever since with my simmering Australian charisma. That’s my theory anyway.

      That’s what I’m saying. When you discuss this cover as if it is a bad move from a sexism perspective, you are basically saying no art should depict a woman in a sexualized fashion. Aren’t you? Further down you assert that perhaps I am killing art if my opinions are as I seem to be expressing them, but I would argue the opposite is the case *here*.

      I’m not here to answer for dreameling but I will address some of these points from my own perspective and do my best to avoid the ones where it’s clearly you and dreameling trying to understand what the other is saying. Although I will read those, and tent my fingers like Emperor Palpatine and croon “Good … good.”

      Now, however, the above definitely looks like a push to the extreme end of the reaction spectrum, if not full-blown binarymind, if not strawman. Take your pick. I think the cover maybe was a bad move from the wider social standpoint of gender equality. Certainly if it had been the only cover it would have been. As a variant, I don’t care. To say that means no art should depict a woman in a sexualised fashion is ridiculous and clearly not the case.

      However, one could do a little research into what women find inoffensively or empoweringly sexualised. One could look at sexual art or poses that have not gained this kind of criticism. And keeping in mind that we all know the wrongful assumption is that guys are buying comic books and girls aren’t, so a sexy-girly comic book cover is always going to get some flak for being sexist … try to adjust for that a bit.

      There are plenty of ways an artist could have gone with it. To say Manara should have would be to betray his artistic vision and rights, so no – not going there. To say that anybody is saying that nobody should depict sexualised females in art at all, no – not going there either because that is stupid.

      No, I think his point is that you don’t have to buy THIS art if you don’t like it. Go look at the main release and take issue with that if you can. And they DID, saying her bust was most prominent when in fact her FACE was most prominent. That’s what a feminazi is, by the way since you ask later–a blind, ignorant, militant feminist.

      I did have a chuckle at the fact that some people had issues with the non-variant cover too. But of course, they have every right to. If they want to suggest a better cover, they can go ahead.

      And there are quite a few of them out there. I think that perhaps you have not had as much experience witnessing them as I have.

      Oh, no doubt. *grin*

      [1] I’m just going to go out on a limb here and say that a ridiculously muscular man crouched possessively over a big ball of cum metaphor is not the go-to sexual fantasy of your average heterosexual woman. I will even extend that limb and hazard a guess that said muscular man speaks more to a male viewer than to a female one, irrespective of the viewer’s sexual orientation.

      You’re really going to say that this couldn’t POSSIBLY have been an attempt to get more female readers, that you KNOW that’s not the case, and say “case closed”? I am not nearly so sure, man.

      Yeah, I disagree with dreameling on this one too, but I’ve made my case several times so that’s that. Moving on.

      Comics have been trying to rope women in for a long time. Is it so inconceivable (and I think that word means what I think it means) that a male artist might think females would be interested in a hunky male form, in whatever pose? Doesn’t seem farfetched to me, but ok.

      Re: My point above, about consulting women to find what they find an empoweringly sexual female pose – maybe more female artists could be consulted (or – *gasp* – hired!) for the creation of a male form they find sexy and appealing. While I disagree about the male-power-fantasy thing, I do agree that comic book art does seem to be male-dominated so you end up with an unbalanced “male author trying to write a female point of view sex scene” awkwardness anyway.

      Basically my point is one of equality though. In my opinion you cannot take the same pose for a man and a woman and claim one is wrong and the other is not, and also pretend you are *merely* seeking equal footing for women in society. Once you do the above, you are seeking for MORE than equality for women. You are seeking special consideration.

      Disagree. Even if the poses are the same physically, they are not the same in terms of the reproductive apparatus and intent. Men and women are different, you say this all the time so I know you know it. The poses are made different by the simple fact that one is a man and the other is a woman. Simple fact.

      And as I have said many times too, that sometimes you do need to overshoot, and this might be one of these cases. It doesn’t necessarily mean the feminists are being dishonest when asking for equality but actually asking for a bit of a push further on in redress.

      And as I said in my original blogpost, I’m not sure a comic book cover (a variant cover, no less) is the place to do this. But whatever.

      OK so now we’re discussing the anatomy itself and not the poses. I said the pose, man. If you want to start talking about the anatomy, now you basically have an issue with the entire way Spider Woman looks. I’m not ready to have that conversation. I’m actually not interested in this case since I think she’s hardly a serious issue on these lines, based on what I’ve seen in other media.

      Fair enough, but the anatomy does change the nature and meaning of the pose. That’s just a fact.

      I have no idea whether straight women are attracted to a muscular spider man but if you’re saying they aren’t, your experience there is different than mine. Sure, most women don’t think Arnold in his lifting days was hot, but spider man doesn’t come close to THAT.

      +1.

      Like I say right here: https://stchucky.wordpress.com/2014/09/12/interlude-sexy-sexy-comic-book-heroes/#comment-2674

      This one settles it for me since I think you only need this point for the whole argument against this cover art to fall apart. And I’m still seeing a crawling woman. Yes, a crawling woman with pretty insanely sexy body features. Sure. But we’re discussing the pose, not the anatomy.

      I thought we were discussing whether some people could see it as gratuitous and possibly offensive, even if we don’t. dreameling and I can see that perspective even though it is not our own. You, classically, have problems with this.

      However, I do agree with you that if you just study the pose, she’s not really presenting. I think her feet would have to be parted more, otherwise a guy couldn’t mount her anyway. Unless…

      Unless she’s presenting for Spider-Man and he’s going to bungee in and do her.

      Oh. My. God. This changes everything.

      You have backed off this position considerably, and now I can accept your statement. You said “everyone” at first in your comment on Chucky’s blog, then you said this 99 out of 100 figure would “agree” she was “sexualized” (or something like that). Which is not “everyone” but whatever.

      Actually he didn’t. He said “Anyways, as to Spider-Woman, from a cultural and societal standpoint, the cover arguably presents the character in gratuitously oversexualized way (Maddox’s comment to the contrary is bullshit) and I completely understand why people would be and even should be upset”, which I quoted for you before. “People” is not “all people”.

      I did a text search for “every” and they’re almost all from me, and you. So leave dreameling alone and check your absolutism at the door.

      Now you posit that 99 out of 100 would say it’s got a sexual vibe, of some strength or other, to it.

      Granted. So what?

      So this was the entire point.

      “I’m not saying that publishing the Spider-Woman cover was “bad” as such. All I’m saying is that I get why people would be upset.” – dreameling, October 7th, 2014

      So, can a woman not be put in a picture where she’s sexualized at ALL? I’m not clear what your point is here. I don’t want to live in a world where there are no pictures of women that are at all sexual. Truly, do you?

      If this is what dreameling is saying, I will laugh at him – around a mouthful of my own hat. What a ridiculous reduction to the absurd extreme. Why did you even type this, man?

      The feminazis cannot possibly be looking at the cover from a hetero male perspective. They are looking at it from a feminazi perspective (whatever that is).

      Absolutely incorrect! They make it their GOAL to look at all images of women from a hetero male perspective. I’ve seen it time and again! How could they say it’s over sexualizing if they aren’t able to see it from our perspective? On the face of it this one doesn’t make sense to me. If they were just obliviously seeing it from their straight female perspective they wouldn’t think anything of it at all other than it’s a weird pose. It’s BECAUSE we enjoy this pose that they take issue. Trust me on that.

      Certainly an interesting point. But, in that they are female (assuming in this case that there can’t be male feminazis, and I think there can these days), they can only pretend for the sake of their agenda that they are seeing it from a hetero male point of view, and for these extremists it will always be the assume-the-worst hetero male, and again this is actually from a female point of view, albeit a female point of view somewhat skewed by unreasonable hate.

      I think that was what dreameling was suggesting here.

      And while we can choose how we verbally express our feelings about the cover to others, we cannot really choose how we instinctually feel about the cover, or at least how we react to it upon seeing it for the first time. Also, I object to being labeled a Butthead! I definitely like the image on its own — Spider-Woman’s hot — and there is nothing perverted about it, not in my context.

      Then there is nothing perverted about it, and what are we debating here?

      The point that from other contexts, there is something perverted about it, and some of us can empathise with that position and others can’t.

      Second, if you think that we can always freely choose how we experience art, or information in general, then you’re a Vulcan and this discussion is pointless, for obvious reasons, but welcome to Earth and can you please lend me your spaceship?

      Well, first, thank you, I’ve already said as much to Chucky and you are confirming my own personal assertions.

      And I have first dibs on his spaceship anyway, so back off.

      If anyone is limiting art it is you, or anyone who insists this cover should not have been made because it is oversexualizing women and setting women’s rights back. That is completely garbage and in this case not nearly a good enough reason to condemn this art. Robbing art of significance? You’re advocating for robbing this art of EXISTENCE!

      Boy, just as well that was never what dreameling said at any point. I call kneejerk in that there are some buttons being pressed, and suggest this just be let go. But I’m not the God of this blog.

      OR AM I?

      And again, I do not accept that men aren’t sexualized. Of course they are, they just don’t complain about it as much as women do when they are sexualized. Many of the main actors in Hollywood have been put into sexually stimulating positions for hereto females to enjoy. And if those choices missed the mark and were more “hetero male fantasies” than “hetero female fantasies”, I bet in most cases it wasn’t for a lack of trying. It would be silly for you to assert that male actors have not been trying to appeal sexually to females in order to gain larger followings and make more money.

      I agree. There’s actually plenty of “eye candy” Hollywood hunks that the ladies in my circles make absolutely no secret about the fact that they’re seeing a movie just to enjoy on an aesthetic level.

      And that’s fine. Partially because males are in such a privileged position that we can let the ladies have this one, partially because it is a long-overdue redress of the way men have done this with women in movies since the Goddamn silent era (and okay, women have done it for men, just rather more quietly).

      And if women complain when men do it, but men “have to” suck it up when women do it? Sure, that’s an example of an over-extension rather than equality. But it’s a valuable and harmless one to make, in the interests of wider equality. In my opinion.

      But we shouldn’t have women being sexual in any way? Again send me the suicide pact now and show me where to sign.

      Again, if you really think that’s what anyone here was saying, you go ahead and sign here, sign here, initial here. And remember, the spaceship is mine.

      Let’s be absolutely clear, though: An artist is free to do whatever they want. (Whether they should is another issue.) Manara is free to paint as many oversexualized women as he wants, and audiences, myself among them, are free to enjoy those paintings to their heart’s content. Art can be whatever the artist wants to make. Art does not need to be progressive. Individuals are free to create what they want to create, consume what they want to consume, and enjoy what they enjoy (and others are free to disagree, of course, and even intervene if what the individual creates or consumes hurts other people or breaks the law).

      Well that may be what YOU are saying but it is NOT what the feminists you agree with on this issue are saying. Puts you in a bit of a bind, IMO.

      Fuck’s sake, Aaron. Please try to understand the difference between seeing and empathising with someone else’s point of view, and agreeing with it and holding it yourself. This is something a lot of people do every day. And this seems to be all that dreameling was doing here, as a means of (in my interpretation) honeying up his initial statement that he found Manara’s cover totally hot and that he thought Spider-Woman was bootylicious (not his words).

      “Society” is not “promoting” Manara’s representations of women as the “default form of representing women”.

      That depends on how widely accepted and not-talked-about this cover variant is. They definitely did the right thing in making this a variant. I think that’s been overlooked far too much by the complainers.

      Of course, they also complained about the vanilla cover, so … oh well.

      I obviously agree that there is absolutely nothing wrong with sexuality. If, as a culture or cultures, we had a healthier relationship with sexuality, especially female sexuality, none of this might be a problem to begin with. But we do not have that. And it’s definitely not just the feminazis. It’s everybody. The assumptions and expectations leveled at female and male sexuality remain a minefield of fucked-up double-standards and gendered thinking.

      And I’m just saying to be careful we don’t apply a double standard ourselves, in a direction opposite from the usual way, in an attempt to correct the situation.

      And that’s why I made a whole second post about double standards and how they are not necessarily the intellectual demon some people make them out to be.

      Somewhat related to this, I recommend Film Crit Hulk’s article “WE NEED TO CHANGE HOW WE TALK ABOUT RAPE”, one of the best pieces on rape and rape culture I’ve read. It also illustrates the personal vs. social point brilliantly. Certainly gave me a lot to think about.

      I’ll check it out, sorry that I couldn’t before I posted this but your thoughtful work here demanded a reply ASAP. Although I can guarantee you that I don’t need to change how I talk about rape. But this is a topic I’m very interested in.

      It was a very good article, once I got past the ALL-CAPS.

    • dreameling says:

      For fuck’s sake, guys. I start a reply and then you guys change the game on me again. Luckily, I didn’t get very far, and what I wrote now seems a little disingenuous, but I’m not about to waste it, because I practically masturbate to my own shit, so here’s where I was going before you two started to psychoanalyze one another:

      Aaron, I was all set to reply at moderate length, but then Chucky went and pretty much corrected most of your misreadings of me [1], so I’m not sure where that leaves me. Chucky and I clearly disagree on some issues here, but he does seem to get what I’m saying and where I’m coming from, and he nailed the key points, so you can safely consider his interpretation of me more or less accurate. (I just love it when someone does my work for me, and does it well.)

      [1] Some of the things you took away from my comments were sooooo not what I meant. Not exactly sure if this is an argument for or against authorial intent. But let’s just agree that it does matter. I clearly misread you in a few places (and at one point even extrapolated a whole mini essay from only a few words of yours).

      But maybe I should offer a few concluding comments.

      Aaron, I’m still not going to cover all of your points, as that was never my plan. (Sorry, Chucky.) Much like you, I will simply agree to disagree. What Chucky did was actually to go into precisely the kind of point-by-point detail I was mostly planning to avoid this time around. Not out of any disrespect towards you, but simply out expedience, as I see us only going in circles. I was and am itching to reply to you, but selectively and briefly. Chucky’s reply really is just added value. (In addition to which it’s also just plain value, because it’s not all about me, after all, sad as that may be.)

      So, you will simply have to take my word that Chucky did not bias me against you. I was already negatively biased, since we’re disagreeing to a significant degree here. What Chucky’s reply did do, though, was confirm to me that our disagreement was not just me failing to clearly express my thoughts and you misreading and misrepresenting me as a result: that my hunch about us coming to this from very different headspaces was not completely off. And that’s all good.

      Still, I’m gonna comment on a few things. For the most part, though, I think I’m gonna cop out and let Chucky’s interpretations of me stand, unless otherwise noted, because he got it, from my perspective, and I don’t want to just rephrase what he already wrote. He knows me a little better than you do, although certainly not as well as you two know one another, and I’m pretty sure he has a better sense of this discussion as a whole (i.e., what has and has not been said), since he’s been knee-deep in it from the start, so he definitely had that edge. Plus he’s apparently the god of this blog.

      Thanks for doing that, mate…this was a great, thoughtful response and I gained a massive amount of respect for your intellect as a result. Which is not to say I had a lack of respect for it before, just saying…take it for the compliment it is because I don’t hand that one out often. Ask Chucky. Well, don’t ask him, I hand it out to him a lot. Fuck it, nicely done. Moving on.

      Considering that you may be a chess-playing diabolical genius, that is indeed high praise. Thanks, man, sincerely.

      That’s what a feminazi is, by the way since you ask later–a blind, ignorant, militant feminist. And there are quite a few of them out there. I think that perhaps you have not had as much experience witnessing them as I have. I’ll give you an example. […] That, my friend, is a militant feminist. Apparently men have no right to let women know they are interested in more. We have to wait at every stage for THEM to make the move. Just one example but there you go.

      It is precisely just one example. I’m not at all convinced that these feminazis are as numerous as you seem to think they are. They are certainly loud, as all extremists always are, and the Internet really fucking caters to loud, but I don’t think they are in any way representative of modern feminism as a whole. And I’m not saying that you do either. My problem here is that in online debates on gender equality and sexism, the critics and opponents of feminism (or what they perceive feminism to be) evoke the feminazis far too lightly and far too often. Which suggests to me that a feminazi is, more often than not, really just a lazy straw man. (Let’s just gloss over the gendered language here.) So, when you bring them into a debate, I immediately start losing interest.

      [1] I’m just going to go out on a limb here and say that a ridiculously muscular man crouched possessively over a big ball of cum metaphor is not the go-to sexual fantasy of your average heterosexual woman. I will even extend that limb and hazard a guess that said muscular man speaks more to a male viewer than to a female one, irrespective of the viewer’s sexual orientation.

      You’re really going to say that this couldn’t POSSIBLY have been an attempt to get more female readers, that you KNOW that’s not the case, and say “case closed”? I am not nearly so sure, man. Comics have been trying to rope women in for a long time. Is it so inconceivable (and I think that word means what I think it means) that a male artist might think females would be interested in a hunky male form, in whatever pose? Doesn’t seem farfetched to me, but ok.

      No, it’s certainly possible and probably even true in many cases. Like I said, I’m guessing. I don’t have hard evidence. But it’s equally possible, more likely even, to my mind, that when a male artist tries to create something they think a female audience would like, they’re actually creating something that they themselves like (as a man). Chucky’s point about consulting female audiences is quite apt. Men can absolutely write and create for women, and vice versa. I don’t think there are any mystical gender perspectives that are fully closed to members of the opposite sex [1]. We can imagine and empathize. But you do need to learn to understand those perspectives, much like you need to learn any perspective that’s not your own. And I’m thinking it’s fairly safe to say that male comics artists have traditionally been used to dealing with the male perspective as the default. Which is what my earlier comment about the context of sexualization being rigged in favor of the male gaze was all about.

      [1] I’m intentionally fudging the whole issue of social gender vs. biological gender. Let’s not get into that now.

      But, yeah, I’m just going to have to agree to disagree with you and Chucky on this one. Even though you did briefly have me at the Princess Bride reference. Kudos, dude.

      Basically my point is one of equality though. In my opinion you cannot take the same pose for a man and a woman and claim one is wrong and the other is not, and also pretend you are *merely* seeking equal footing for women in society. Once you do the above, you are seeking for MORE than equality for women. You are seeking special consideration.

      In my opinion, of course. I think this is simpler than you are making it out to be, but maybe we are arguing for two different goals. I am arguing against feminists who claim they merely want “equality” but show they want MORE than that, in their actions.

      I think maybe this is where you’re haunted by that feminazi ghost. I’m not arguing against feminism here. I would argue against feminazis, of course, but I don’t really care about them. This discussion we’re having obviously overlaps with feminist interests, but we do not need to cast it as being feminist specifically. It can just be about gender equality in art and media.

      I have no idea whether straight women are attracted to a muscular spider man but if you’re saying they aren’t, your experience there is different than mine. Sure, most women don’t think Arnold in his lifting days was hot, but spider man doesn’t come close to THAT.

      I’m not saying they aren’t. I’m merely guessing that most would be more attracted to something else. And this is not just about a muscular Spider-Man. This is about exaggerated male anatomy in general. I’m also fuzzily lumping anatomy and poses together, because I see them as a package: exaggerated poses often accentuate an already exaggerated anatomy.

      This one settles it for me since I think you only need this point for the whole argument against this cover art to fall apart. And I’m still seeing a crawling woman. Yes, a crawling woman with pretty insanely sexy body features. Sure. But we’re discussing the pose, not the anatomy.

      No, the minutiae of the pose are ultimately secondary. If I’ve given you the impression that this whole debate hinges on the precise angles of curvature of Spider-Woman’s ass and back, then I’ve badly misrepresented myself. My point is and has been that we’re looking at a painting of an overtly sexualized female character. Maybe I’m seeing more sexy in it than I need to, mileage and all that, not an objectively quantifiable quality after all, but I maintain that 99 out of a 100 people will read the painting as clearly sexualized. In itself, that’s fine. Nothing wrong with a sexy picture of a sexy woman. But when you put that painting in its proper context — the existing overrepresentation of sexualized female characters in popular art, fiction, and media, as compared to the representations of male characters — you have a problem, or at least I can understand why some people would have a problem.

      So, can a woman not be put in a picture where she’s sexualized at ALL? I’m not clear what your point is here. I don’t want to live in a world where there are no pictures of women that are at all sexual. Truly, do you?

      No, man, no, no, just no. That is so not what I’m saying. This, coupled with your other points about me supposedly wanting to exclude oversexualized women from art, is probably the grossest misrepresentations of my point of view in your reply. I probably misrepresented you too, although (mostly) not on purpose, but this is something else, man. Chucky already addressed these points, but let me just broadly sum up where I’m coming from:

      I absolutely do not want to remove anything from the playing field. I only want to see stuff added to it, so that we get a more even representation of things. I do not want to remove Manara. Fuck, man, I want Manara. But I do not want to keep running into Manara all the fucking time [2]. (Or maybe I do, but society at large should not. Trust me, this is not hypocrisy.)

      [2] I am, of course, using “Manara” in a more metaphorical than literal sense here.

      I definitely like the image on its own — Spider-Woman’s hot — and there is nothing perverted about it, not in my context.”

      Then there is nothing perverted about it, and what are we debating here?

      The point that from other contexts, there is something perverted about it, and some of us can empathise with that position and others can’t.

      For once, I’m not exactly sure what Chucky’s saying there, but I think I was disagreeing with your statement to the effect that enjoying the Spider-Woman cover is somehow perverted, expect that apparently that’s not what you were saying. So no debate there.

      Authorial intent matters but most authors, when you ask them, don’t want to tell you their intent. So I’m not sure where that leaves us.

      Who cares what those pussies think they intended.

      Well now ok so you’re saying kind of what I wrote above.

      Man, you should really read my posts through first, end to end, and then reply.

      Third, and this is where you really lose me, you seem to be giving art a free pass to be anything and everything without any accountability or consequence. You’re robbing art of any significance.

      I think this is the most unfair and inaccurate statement you have made here, or that I have had leveled at me in a long time, and you got there based on very little information about what I really think. All I said was what most great artists would tell you. And that’s a fact, I’ve heard from some and I know a few personally. They don’t like to give you their intent. That’s all I said.

      Then I misread you badly. I apologize. I did arguably read a lot, a lot, into your original point 6. On balance, though, you’ve really paid me back with interests.

      Art matters, media matters. The gendered ways in which people are represented in fiction matter. Even if art doesn’t outright make people violent or sexist or whatever, it does reflect and perpetuate existing social and cultural norms and values. The Manara cover is not a problem on its own, but it is emblematic of a broader socio-cultural problem: the negatively gendered representation of women in popular fiction and media. Female characters are more likely to be sexualized objects and less likely to be active agents than male characters.

      So Spider Woman who is in fact going to be THE superhero in these comics to come is somehow not going to be an active agent? And, women having sexuality in media is wrong? Sorry, I’ll go commit suicide now. I think men and women should have sexuality in media, *if they so choose*, and when it comes to art there is a BIG amount of leeway you need to give.

      Goddammit, man, no. Spider-Woman may very well be an active female subject with plenty of agency. Even though you wouldn’t know it from the Manara cover. And being the main character of a narrative is actually no guarantee of agency. But, no, this is not just about the new Spider-Woman comic or just about the Manara cover. This is about the state of popular fiction and media at large vis-à-vis gender roles and representations:

      The Manara cover is not a problem on its own, but it is emblematic of a broader socio-cultural problem: the negatively gendered representation of women in popular fiction and media. Female characters are more likely to be sexualized objects and less likely to be active agents than male characters.

      And, again, nothing wrong with sexuality in art. Never argued that, ever, not even implicitly.

      I also do not accept or approve, far from it, you calling a sexualized representation of a woman as “negatively gendered”. Elsewhere you say you are NOT against sexuality. Well, square that circle for me. This is FAR too conservative for my liking, smacks of the ridiculous social conservatives we have here in the US. And in Saudi Arabia, etc.

      I’ve never said that sexualized representations of women are by definition negatively gendered. The “negatively gendered” comes into play when female (sex) objects are overrepresented and female subjects are underrepresented, the former at the expense of the latter, and when at the same time male characters enjoy a richer and more even range of functions and roles. You like literally agree with me on this in your next comment:

      Sure I would love to see more of this. Excellent, nothing objectionable here and you are quite right of course.

      You basically split my original paragraph into two, and disagreed with the first part and agreed with the second one, even though they were about the same thing. The balls on you, man.

      Straw man, I think, buddy. “Society” is not “promoting” Manara’s representations of women as the “default form of representing women”. Geez, IS there even a default for that? Certainly not this. So, I’m not sure why we’re discussing that aspect of the issue.

      Hence my “it would not be ok for society to”. I was exaggerating the point to illustrate the personal vs. societal split in the case of gender in art.

      And now that I’m about ready to post, I see that you guys have managed post even more stuff while I’ve been writing this reply in frustratingly short snippets all evening. Well, my daughter’s maybe finally about to fall asleep, and my wife will likely follow her, which should leave me about an hour before I have to go to bed myself. But fuck me if I’m not gonna spend that time playing a video game instead [3].

      [3] By which I of course mean watching hardcore porn [4].

      [4] Not really. Wasteland 2 [5].

      [5] Oh, hell, there’s actually a porn movie with that name:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wasteland_(film)

      • stchucky says:

        MAXIMUM BLOCKQUOTE!

        I definitely like the image on its own — Spider-Woman’s hot — and there is nothing perverted about it, not in my context.

        Then there is nothing perverted about it, and what are we debating here?

        The point that from other contexts, there is something perverted about it, and some of us can empathise with that position and others can’t.

        For once, I’m not exactly sure what Chucky’s saying there, but I think I was disagreeing with your statement to the effect that enjoying the Spider-Woman cover is somehow perverted, expect that apparently that’s not what you were saying. So no debate there.

        My bad. My interpretation of what was happening here was as follows:

        1) Maddox video formed basis for my blog post about gender in comic books: is it a thing, is it going to fix sexism if we shout about this tiny facet in particular, et cetera.

        2) dreameling says he loves the cover and thinks it’s hot, although he can understand the point of view of people who are upset by it and disagrees with some of the stuff Maddox says.

        3) Aaron watches the video and agrees with everything, declares it “rock solid” and tells us to not even try to argue with it.

        4) We argue with it. Because Aaron knew we were scorpions when he picked us up.

        5) I still thought we were just debating whether there was any justification or excuse for people to be upset by the cover. Aaron took what I thought was an extreme view, and seemed to be saying that there was no excuse for anyone to feel that way about it. dreameling and I didn’t feel upset by the cover, we just understood the reasoning of people who did (ie. in our personal context, it’s fine. In their personal context, it’s not fine. And that’s okay), and wanted to give it a pass so we’d feel better about ogling bewbs.

        6) Aaron doesn’t roll that way.

        7) Hilarity ensued.

        I don’t see Aaron’s “statement to the effect that enjoying the Spider-Woman cover is somehow perverted”, unless that was a case of him responding to “feminazis” who are saying so. Or responding to a few joking statements from you about how you like perving on the aforementioned bewbs.

        Well now ok so you’re saying kind of what I wrote above.

        Man, you should really read my posts through first, end to end, and then reply.

        Can I just go on the official record and say if he starts doing that with you, and still doesn’t do it with me after more than a decade, I am going to break up with him and take the spaceship?

        Sure I would love to see more of this. Excellent, nothing objectionable here and you are quite right of course.

        You basically split my original paragraph into two, and disagreed with the first part and agreed with the second one, even though they were about the same thing. The balls on you, man.

        Yeah, this too.

        And now that I’m about ready to post, I see that you guys have managed post even more stuff while I’ve been writing this reply in frustratingly short snippets all evening. Well, my daughter’s maybe finally about to fall asleep, and my wife will likely follow her, which should leave me about an hour before I have to go to bed myself. But fuck me if I’m not gonna spend that time playing a video game instead

        Good man.

      • dreameling says:

        My interpretation of what was happening here was as follows:

        lol, yeah, that pretty much sums it up (especially us justifying our pornographic male minds). Although:

        I don’t see Aaron’s “statement to the effect that enjoying the Spider-Woman cover is somehow perverted”, unless that was a case of him responding to “feminazis” who are saying so. Or responding to a few joking statements from you about how you like perving on the aforementioned bewbs.

        That’s actually how I interpreted his comment, as not being about the whole debate discussion brouhaha, starting all the way from that infamous cover, but just about me (and him also, mind you) being total pervs.

        It was a very good article, once I got past the ALL-CAPS.

        That’s Hulk for you.

        Did you just play the “my best friend’s a minority” card?

        I just got a fleeting semi-boner.

        It’s like the only card I have, and I never get to use it. I’m just too privileged.

  6. aaronthepatriot says:

    So I’m ready to talk about the anatomy of this Spider Woman, and I’ve gotten pretty upset thinking about THAT as well. But first, unfortunately, we must discuss empathy because Sir Chucky so unfortunately brought it up in the way he did. First, let’s agree on what exactly “empathy” is:

    “the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another. ”

    Sound good to you? Not to be confused, of course, with “sympathy”, which is in fact what I thought and still think I am seeing in dreameling’s words. Empathy implies less of an agreement with the feelings, but as it says it implies an “intellectual identification” with those ideas.

    And I apologize for doing this but, even without binary think Chucky, that you TOLD me “hey, it’s called empathy” implies *something* about your opinion of my use of empathy or ability to do so *in this situation at least*. And I object to any possible implication there.

    I have a lot of empathy, come on we’re all social liberals to one degree or another here, so let’s not have an empathy context. I’m sure I won’t win, but I have a high capacity for empathy.

    The problem lies with “intellectual identification” with the ideas you say you do not actually SYMPATHIZE with. And unfortunately it also comes down to my opinion that there ARE bad/invalid opinions. And no, I don’t mean the ones I disagree with. I mean the ones that are counterfactual in the underlying basis, or in this case are overreaching in an effort to overcorrect for past wrongs, or which are just quite frankly double-standards. I can empathize plenty with opinions I don’t see as absurd or hypocritical or unfair.

    So please, put THAT to bed. I felt much more than a mild empathy towards these offended feminists from dreameling, that’s why I kept treating his points as not just empathy but perhaps even sympathy or his own views. He was defending them so well, they must have had some resonance within, was my thinking.

    If not, great, but I bet if you pull the thread, he does kinda agree with some of those objections. Which is why I phrased my post the way I did. OK?

    And in the case of Spider Woman here, both from the pose AND now from the anatomy, I find I cannot empathize with the offended feminists, alas. Maybe I can be shown how to, through these discussions, but right now I feel like a problem is being created where there shouldn’t be a problem, and the logical conclusions OF that being a problem lead to the extreme (“binary-think”) statements I made. Which I admit were exaggerations for effect, but I’m sure you both know that.

    Anyway I’ll address that in turn but the point here was to say “Empathy? Fuck you very much”, and to talk about the “anatomy” issue with Spider Woman.

    When you come to the topic of women’s bodies in the media etc., you hear several issues/objections which include: unrealistic body types, over-sexualization, patriarchal gender roles, straight-out sexist gender roles (in that those are perhaps different for some cases), not being a LEAD character, being exhibited AS a sex object, creates unrealistic expectations, and so on. And more specifically for the anatomical side we hear about tiny waists, overlarge breasts, too-curvaceous hips…you all know the list. And dreameling mentioned some of these in his longer reply.

    I’m sorry, I just don’t see it here. And I think there is a larger problem that connects back to EMPATHY but I’ll get to that one. Spider Woman here does have a fantastic figure, yes. But it’s not a fanTASTICAL one. Not many women, to be sure, have a figure approaching what she has there. But she’s not Barbie, she’s not even the Frozen sisters…there are a good many women who have figures as “impressive” (in the same ways, please no offense) as Spider Woman’s here, at least in similar ways if not precisely the same. Kate Upton, Jennifer Lawrence, and Christina Hendricks come to mind and in fact in 2 of those cases, those REAL WOMEN are actually far more “fantastical” in this sense than Spider Woman is here.

    And oh, the hate Kate Upton and Christina Hendricks have had to face as a result of their “unacceptably” large breasts and hips. It is from this perspective that I view these criticisms of Spider Woman. And I speak only of Spider Woman. I realize there are REAL problems out there in the media of this nature, but they chose to pick on Spider Woman and thus they stake their reputation on her. If they would leave alone the marginal cases or the actual non-problems, we wouldn’t be having this conversation, but here goes the over-compensation again.

    So Spider Woman’s figure is not “unrealistic”, at least not from where I’m sitting. The only unreal part is that a woman with that body would sleep with me. But Spider Woman isn’t going to sleep with me either. It’s a silly concern that seems to crop up with feminists about “unrealistic expectations”.

    So since I lack empathy (yes I’m still butthurt by the implications of that set of statements), maybe you can help me out here, either of you. Since you know the truth of what’s in women’s heads (and not just what is put out there by overcompensating feminists, mind you, that’s part of the problem here)…what should change about Spider Woman’s anatomy/appearance? Should she be a little dowdy? Not as slim-waisted? Uglier? Smaller breasts?

    That last one is fine, I have no problem with breasts of just about any size on a woman, but seriously…what, she needs to be less attractive or it’s sexist? What are we saying here because I’m confused.

    Or is it the attire? She needs to be dressed in a business suit, pants only of course? Or a doctor’s outfit, or just much more conservative clothing in general please? What is this, Iran? She’s a superhero, that is what superheroes WEAR. If you want to see a woman, of whatever level of attractiveness, dressed unlike a superhero then go read a comic about a doctor or a lawyer or whatever, if those exist.

    Does she need glasses? I mean, just help me out here, how can she be more realistic without destroying the idea that she is a *superhuman being with great strength and prowess in a fantasy version of our reality*! Would it make sense to have a chubby Spider Woman crawling up the sides of buildings? FFS!

    And I would go into the whole “gender role” issue but let’s face it, 99% of these complaining feminists never cracked the cover to see what Spider Woman does. And I guarantee you it’s not all stereotypical women stuff. But you know what, some of it might be. And so what? Guess how things get to be stereotypes? Because they happen OFTEN. Other than those moments which may not even exist, she’s kicking the asses of bad men, and solving crimes and doing awesome stuff that isn’t anywhere near “inappropriate” as a gender role for women.

    Argh. That’s my general feeling about criticizing the anatomy and attire of THIS particular character.

    • stchucky says:

      So I’m ready to talk about the anatomy of this Spider Woman, and I’ve gotten pretty upset thinking about THAT as well. But first, unfortunately, we must discuss empathy because Sir Chucky so unfortunately brought it up in the way he did.

      That’s Sir Chucky to you.

      Oh wait. You already said “Sir Chucky”. Or did I just edit it in there? Guess we’ll never know.

      (Hint: I didn’t edit it in there. Aaron was pouting.)

      First, let’s agree on what exactly “empathy” is:

      “the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another. ”

      Sound good to you? Not to be confused, of course, with “sympathy”, which is in fact what I thought and still think I am seeing in dreameling’s words. Empathy implies less of an agreement with the feelings, but as it says it implies an “intellectual identification” with those ideas.

      Exactly. “I don’t agree with the people who are upset about Manara’s cover, I like the cover. But I can understand why some people would be upset by it and accept their reasoning. And I don’t agree with all of Maddox’s points in defence of the cover, although obviously I end up in the position of agreeing with him because I like the cover.”

      Classic empathy.

      And I apologize for doing this but, even without binary think Chucky, that you TOLD me “hey, it’s called empathy” implies *something* about your opinion of my use of empathy or ability to do so *in this situation at least*. And I object to any possible implication there.

      Fair enough. And thank you for specifying in this situation at least. We are just talking about this one argument, and the empathy employed herein. My comments about empathy were casting an unnecessarily and insultingly broad net, and that’s my bad.

      I have a lot of empathy, come on we’re all social liberals to one degree or another here, so let’s not have an empathy context. I’m sure I won’t win, but I have a high capacity for empathy.

      Here’s the problem. You haven’t at any point in this discussion come across as identifying with the points of view of those people all three of us essentially disagree with. That’s the funny thing here. We all think the cover is fine and agree in general terms with the smackdown Maddox laid out. It’s just the minutiae of his arguments, and the interpretations from other points of view, that we’re debating.

      And yes, dreameling’s argument, and mine, fall under the classic:

      “I don’t agree with the people who are upset about Manara’s cover, I like the cover. But I can understand why some people would be upset by it and accept their reasoning. And I don’t agree with all of Maddox’s points in defence of the cover, although obviously I end up in the position of agreeing with him because I like the cover.”

      Your argument, in contrast, seems more like:

      “I don’t agree with the people who are upset about Manara’s cover, I like the cover. The people who are upset by it haven’t got a leg to stand on and no justification for their opinions. I agree with Maddox’s points in defence of the cover, and disagreement with any of his points implies that your position in this debate is on the side of the people whose opinions have no justification.”

      See, by the book and for the record, that’s not “identifying with” the opposing viewpoint. That’s identifying the opposing viewpoint, and dismissing it utterly. Which you say straight out below:

      I can empathize plenty with opinions I don’t see as absurd or hypocritical or unfair.

      And the ones you do see that way, you can’t empathise with. Not very well, anyway. That was my point, in this specific case.

      And then there’s the issue of seeing someone intellectually identifying with an opposing viewpoint, and treating it like they are sympathising with it or even flat-out adhering to it. Which is also what you did in this debate. Because let’s face it, the three of us do agree about the cover. So the only way to have a thirty-plus essay-length comment debate about it is to cast at least one of us in the opposition camp. Even if he wasn’t really there.

      So please, put THAT to bed. I felt much more than a mild empathy towards these offended feminists from dreameling, that’s why I kept treating his points as not just empathy but perhaps even sympathy or his own views. He was defending them so well, they must have had some resonance within, was my thinking.

      There. Exactly. And that is about you, and your perceptions. You have independent verification of this from both dreameling and myself.

      If not, great, but I bet if you pull the thread, he does kinda agree with some of those objections. Which is why I phrased my post the way I did. OK?

      If you like. And I’m sure, at least in those parts where he disagreed with Maddox’s points, he is most likely on-side with some of the critics. Same as I am, since (as I said in the original blog post) I wouldn’t have gone as far as Maddox with some of those points either.

      But that doesn’t mean we’re on opposite sides of this. There are no sides.

      And in the case of Spider Woman here, both from the pose AND now from the anatomy, I find I cannot empathize with the offended feminists, alas.

      Indeed.

      Maybe I can be shown how to, through these discussions, but right now I feel like a problem is being created where there shouldn’t be a problem, and the logical conclusions OF that being a problem lead to the extreme (“binary-think”) statements I made. Which I admit were exaggerations for effect, but I’m sure you both know that.

      I tried to give you that benefit of the doubt but your exaggerations looked way more like misinterpretations for the purposes of dismissing a point that was actually nothing like the one you were arguing against.

      Anyway I’ll address that in turn but the point here was to say “Empathy? Fuck you very much”, and to talk about the “anatomy” issue with Spider Woman.

      Since you just flat-out in-text said you don’t have empathy for the opposing viewpoint in this case, you can take your “fuck you very much” and revolve on it slowly and majestically. I fucking nailed you.

      I don’t have much to add about the anatomy issue, since it looks like we’re debating different things. I agree with you on what you say. What I was saying about the anatomy making a difference is that the all-fours position, depending on whether it is a male or a female, is symbolically and emotionally different because that is how the female presents her genitalia. The male equivalent would be more like this:

      So since I lack empathy (yes I’m still butthurt by the implications of that set of statements), maybe you can help me out here, either of you. Since you know the truth of what’s in women’s heads (and not just what is put out there by overcompensating feminists, mind you, that’s part of the problem here)…what should change about Spider Woman’s anatomy/appearance? Should she be a little dowdy? Not as slim-waisted? Uglier? Smaller breasts?

      This, once you cut through the thick candy shell of sulking, is a very good point. What should be done about “sexist” imagery of women in comic books?

      I think this is a good subject for a later blog, since I am flagging now. I will just have to let my “consult with women about it more, have some sensitivity to (mis)perceptions of male dominance in comics” suggestions from earlier on stand as an answer to this.

      I wish we’d gotten to this part sooner, since this was basically what I was asking in the original blog post, if you care to look.

      Like I say, we both took the “anatomy” ball in opposite directions there. I was talking specifically about the sexuality implicit in that one pose, and how it is different to have Spider Woman doing it than Spider Man.

      • aaronthepatriot says:

        For a chuckle and yet kind of a serious point, whilst I process the rest of this (reply tomorrow I hope)…it’s possible that adding women to the comic-artistry team would help, but then again you can end up with THIS sort of situation:

        Surely there are men capable of being properly sensitive to women’s issues moreso than this female writer for Men’s Health was. Seems there are at least 2 such men on this blog, lol.

        While I still don’t agree insensitivity to women is a fair accusation in THIS particular instance, I can grant freely that the comic book industry in general does need some help of the sort you recommend. To shorthand my problem, for elaboration tomorrow, I think the Spider Woman cover is being “Frozened”, if I can dub that as a thing, as you elaborated so well in an earlier blog, Chucky. I trust that sums it up well (“it” = where I’m coming from)

      • stchucky says:

        For a chuckle and yet kind of a serious point, whilst I process the rest of this (reply tomorrow I hope)…it’s possible that adding women to the comic-artistry team would help, but then again you can end up with THIS sort of situation:

        Forget talking to women about sports. I want guys to learn how to talk to me about sports. I NEED STORY LINES TOO.

        You know what I think that article was trying to do, was copy the successful Buzzfeed and Cracked article format: “X that you all Y”, and it failed dramatically. But yeah, this is a classic case of an article trying to talk about “everyone” in a case where that’s bound to upset someone.

        Surely there are men capable of being properly sensitive to women’s issues moreso than this female writer for Men’s Health was. Seems there are at least 2 such men on this blog, lol.

        dreameling and I could – nay, should – be ambassadors to the female world. That’s a thing, right? We have an embassy somewhere.

        While I still don’t agree insensitivity to women is a fair accusation in THIS particular instance, I can grant freely that the comic book industry in general does need some help of the sort you recommend.

        Just to clarify, I’m not suggesting that you personally are insensitive to women for liking this cover and rejecting the criticisms and agreeing wholeheartedly with Maddox (although I think even Maddox would happily agree, that last one is a bit of a red flag[1]). I think there are probably guys who are insensitive to women who have strong opinions about this cover and even more vehemently reject the criticisms of the “feminazis”, but that’s irrelevant.

        [1] Kidding.

        To shorthand my problem, for elaboration tomorrow, I think the Spider Woman cover is being “Frozened”, if I can dub that as a thing, as you elaborated so well in an earlier blog, Chucky. I trust that sums it up well (“it” = where I’m coming from)

        Dude, exactly. And yes, a perfect term for it.

      • stchucky says:

        I should amend this, just for complete integrity now that dreameling has clarified:

        My argument falls under the classic:

        “I don’t agree with the people who are upset about Manara’s cover, I like the cover. But I can understand why some people would be upset by it and accept their reasoning. And I don’t agree with all of Maddox’s points in defence of the cover, although obviously I end up in the position of agreeing with him because I like the cover.”

        Aaron‘s argument seems more like:

        “I don’t agree with the people who are upset about Manara’s cover, I like the cover. The people who are upset by it haven’t got a leg to stand on and no justification for their opinions. I agree with Maddox’s points in defence of the cover, and disagreement with any of his points implies that your position in this debate is on the side of the people whose opinions have no justification.”

        dreameling‘s argument seems like:

        “I like the cover but I agree with some of the points made by people who were upset by it. I can understand that response and accept their reasoning. And I don’t agree with all of Maddox’s points in defence of the cover, although obviously I end up in the position of agreeing with him because I like the cover. Also I like to wear women’s underwear sometimes.”

        Forgive me if I am once again putting words into anyone’s mouth.

    • dreameling says:

      Not to be confused, of course, with “sympathy”, which is in fact what I thought and still think I am seeing in dreameling’s words.

      Let’s call it a mix of empathy and sympathy and degrees of agreement on my part.

      I felt much more than a mild empathy towards these offended feminists from dreameling, that’s why I kept treating his points as not just empathy but perhaps even sympathy or his own views. He was defending them so well, they must have had some resonance within, was my thinking.

      I absolutely agree with some of the criticism leveled at the Manara cover, so it’s not just a question of empathically understanding where the critics are coming from but also agreeing to a degree with them. But please do not lump me in with your feminazis. I also emphatically like the cover on its own.

      And I speak only of Spider Woman. I realize there are REAL problems out there in the media of this nature, but they chose to pick on Spider Woman and thus they stake their reputation on her. If they would leave alone the marginal cases or the actual non-problems, we wouldn’t be having this conversation, but here goes the over-compensation again.

      I admit that it’s a bit disingenuous to criticize the Spider-Woman cover without having read the actual comic, but ultimately this debate is not about Spider-Woman. It’s about the tradition of sexist or oversexualized portrayals of women that the Spider-Woman cover refers back to. It’s precisely about those “real problems out there in the media”, which the cover can be seen as perpetuating in its small way (as part of a general overrepresentation of that kind of popular imagery). If you willfully choose to make this just about Spider-Woman, then ok, but you’re then dismissing the context that makes this debate meaningful and relevant.

      So Spider Woman’s figure is not “unrealistic”, at least not from where I’m sitting.

      No, not that much, at least relatively speaking. We could probably go into all sorts of pedantic details about angles and measurements and proportions, but that would be beside the point.

      Since you know the truth of what’s in women’s heads (and not just what is put out there by overcompensating feminists, mind you, that’s part of the problem here)…what should change about Spider Woman’s anatomy/appearance? Should she be a little dowdy? Not as slim-waisted? Uglier? Smaller breasts?

      I’m just gonna gloss over that sulky sarcasm and go straight to the point:

      I don’t care about Spider-Woman specifically. What should change, though, is how often we find female superheroes or just female characters in oversexualized poses, oversexualized costumes, or in possession of an oversexualized anatomy, especially in cases where these primarily define them as characters. I’m not saying that artists and authors should stop doing this. I’m saying that we should get more of other kinds of stuff to balance out the ratios. (I know, I’m starting to sound like a broken record again.)

      This is still fine:

      But it would also be nice to see more of this:

      I wish I could’ve found a good image of Spider-Woman in regular clothes, because that would’ve capped this off perfectly, but no such luck, so let’s go with one of my favorite comics at the moment [1]:

      [1] Lazarus. Gripping dystopian sci-fi featuring one of the most fascinating and powerful female protagonists I’ve seen in a while who also happens to be not oversexualized. Have no fear, though, I do also enjoy dystopian sci-fi featuring a female protagonist who’s not not oversexualized:

      • stchucky says:

        Fair enough. My theory was that the points at which you disagreed with Maddox’s breakdown of the issue were the ones where you’d be in agreement with assorted degrees of feminazi, or at least those people whose viewpoint you said you could understand. So it looks like Aaron did detect sympathy from you!

        See, Aaron? I told you he’d ‘fess up if his intent differed from my misinterpretation. You had nothing to worry about.

      • dreameling says:

        My theory was that the points at which you disagreed with Maddox’s breakdown of the issue were the ones where you’d be in agreement with assorted degrees of feminazi, or at least those people whose viewpoint you said you could understand.

        Well, exactly. But that disagreement / agreement does not have to exclude sympathy, right? I do agree with some of what Maddox says, because he does make good points, but I obviously also disagree with him, although I can maybe see where’s he’s coming from. I also agree with some of the criticism of the Manara cover, as I do find it problematic on a certain level, and I can therefore understand why people would (and should) be upset about it, although I’m not personally upset and certainly do not identify with any feminazi perspective. (I do not think the opposition to the cover constitutes any kind of single uniform front.) But I can’t tell where to draw the line between empathy and sympathy, so I’m just gonna fuzzily say that both are involved.

        (There’s probably a whole philosophical debate here about the relationship between agreement and consensus on the one hand, and empathy and sympathy on the other, about whether the former require the latter, and to what extent empathy and sympathy are co-dependent. But I’m so not ready for that, so I’m just fuzzily lumping them together here.)

        “I like the cover but I agree with some of the points made by people who were upset by it. I can understand that response and accept their reasoning. And I don’t agree with all of Maddox’s points in defence of the cover, although obviously I end up in the position of agreeing with him because I like the cover. Also I like to wear women’s underwear sometimes.”

        If you tweak these any further, my brain will explode from all the re-re-cross-interpretation! That there’s close enough for me to happy with. Yes, all of it. And I still think you mostly got me in that original pre-emptive reply to Aaron. At least based on my reading of your intent… no, must stop this! (It’s saying something when I’m the one in a debate demanding people to easy up on the subjective-interpretative-relativistic angle. Maybe I’m just getting old.)

        Must go deeper.

        My totem is a butt-plug in the shape of your head. I had it done at a 3D printing place.

        I know. I’m sitting on it.

      • stchucky says:

        So good. You’re like the guy who agrees with everything. Even more than me! I don’t want to put words in Aaron’s mouth but I’m pretty sure it’s going to drive him batshit.

        No seriously though, he’ll probably be okay with it.

        *twinkles*

        Must go deeper.

        My totem is a butt-plug in the shape of your head. I had it done at a 3D printing place.

        I know. I’m sitting on it.

        Xzibit would be proud.

      • dreameling says:

        The golden mean, man, the golden mean. (Not to be extended to a golden mean or balance fallacy, though.)

  7. aaronthepatriot says:

    *empathy CONTEST, argh.

    • stchucky says:

      I’ll get to the rest unless you want me to leave it, but in the meantime do you want me to just go ahead and fix that typo?

      *waggles magical God-fingers meekly*

  8. aaronthepatriot says:

    “Fair enough. My theory was that the points at which you disagreed with Maddox’s breakdown of the issue were the ones where you’d be in agreement with assorted degrees of feminazi, or at least those people whose viewpoint you said you could understand. So it looks like Aaron did detect sympathy from you!

    See, Aaron? I told you he’d ‘fess up if his intent differed from my misinterpretation. You had nothing to worry about.”

    You said that he would if he wasn’t a “liar”, but you said it in an improper response to my concern. Basically, if you look below, I was EXACTLY right that there was more behind his comments (yay, finally I Sherlocked someone![1]), and instead of just responding to what I was saying, you implied I was suggesting he might be a liar[2]. See below

    [1] That they will ADMIT to

    [2] Can you just NOT do that, by the way, I ask AGAIN? You KNOW what an issue I have with lying. dreameling knows, my wife knows, EVERYONE knows. Correspondingly, I will CALL YOU OUT if I MEAN “you are lying”. If I do NOT say “you are lying”, then that’s not what I’m SAYING. OK? Once and for all and finally? It is NOT lying to hold back part of your feelings/argument (assuming you don’t contradict it), and it is not lying to not say something you didn’t realize yourself!

    I wrote:

    “Also I have my perception of what is BEHIND what he wrote, and so yes in your OPINION I have grossly misinterpreted what he said, but what if in fact I got to the heart of the issue? You can’t answer that, but he can. But still, you have already answered that. See?”

    and you wrote:
    “And he will only change what he was going to say in response if he is a liar.”

    Not what I was saying. I was saying, what if I have uncovered the SYMPATHY behind his opinion, and you’ve gone and preempted me when you don’t KNOW whether I’m right or not.

    And, I was right! But with your comment above, we focus again on how I was worried about nothing and therefore wrong to do so. I was wrong by being right! Argh!

    • stchucky says:

      Not at all, not at all, that was my assessment and not intended as a comment about your “thing”. Sorry about that. I was suggesting from my own point of view, that if he did feel sympathy and didn’t cop to it, he’d be lying. That was … you know what? Imma get drunk now.

      Chin chin, dreameling.

      • aaronthepatriot says:

        “Not at all, not at all, that was my assessment and not intended as a comment about your “thing”. Sorry about that. I was suggesting from my own point of view, that if he did feel sympathy and didn’t cop to it, he’d be lying. That was … you know what? Imma get drunk now.”

        Nopology accepted! *grin*

        “But well done on Sherlocking! Full credit!”

        Yay!

      • stchucky says:

        In what way is “sorry about that” a “nopology”? Douchebag.

        BRB, picking apart every sentence of that huge wall of text you just wrote for dreameling. Might take me 5 minutes.

    • stchucky says:

      But well done on Sherlocking! Full credit!

    • dreameling says:

      I’m so confused. What are we debating at this point?

      I was saying, what if I have uncovered the SYMPATHY behind his opinion, and you’ve gone and preempted me when you don’t KNOW whether I’m right or not.

      And, I was right!

      Could be just my ego asserting itself, but you’re not suggesting that you hacked me, and discovered sympathy that I was trying to hide or was unaware was there, right?

      • aaronthepatriot says:

        I lifehacked you just like the Onion segment of the same name!

        No, this is pretty much just a now-resolved discussion between Chucky and me over whether you had JUST empathy or also sympathy for the feminists who objected to this variant cover. Nothing at all for you to worry about =D

      • dreameling says:

        You know, I’m starting to have mild antipathy towards this pseudo-psychoanalytical line of inquiry. 🙂

      • aaronthepatriot says:

        “You know, I’m starting to have mild antipathy towards this pseudo-psychoanalytical line of inquiry.”

        Does that mean it would be a bad idea for me to say I thought I detected you having those sorts of feelings about this? Because I’m totally not saying anything I’m just saying, you know?

      • stchucky says:

        I think he’s just not feeling any particularly directed empathy. It’s easy to confuse with antipathy sometimes. Especially when coming from someone so darn empathic.

      • dreameling says:

        I am sympathetic to your blight.

      • dreameling says:

        lol, “plight”.

      • stchucky says:

        lol, “plight”.

        Neither of us are sympathetic about his blight.

  9. aaronthepatriot says:

    Dreameling Response:
    All right, now I don’t know if there are character limits here. If so this is going to get REALLY tricky and confusing, but I did all this in a separate word document so hopefully I’ll get it all sorted out eventually. First, my key…attributions from dreameling or Chucky are surrounded by apostrophes (single quotes, whatever), and attibutions from me, few that there needed to be overall between this and my response to Chucky, have double quotes around them. You’ll see what I mean.

    Sometimes a comment from Chucky will be put in the post to dreameling (this one, with the front matter here), and sometimes a comment from dreameling will be in Chucky’s response from me. You guys know what you wrote so try not to think I’m misattributing. I’m just attributing and running short on time. This is getting massive.

    I REALLY like where this has gone because I think we’re getting to the heart of “the problem” I have with what dreameling is doing, and also what Chucky is doing to a lesser extent. I was tempted to cut all the stuff except the absolute most relevant and reply just to that with this sort of summary, overarching problem reply, but I thought that would be rude. You guys go ahead and cut out anything and everything in your reply that we are agreeing to disagree on, my feelings won’t be hurt. I mean, except for the new stuff in this front matter and how I support it down below. It’s that philosophical stuff dreameling commented on below and won’t be easy to miss if you are looking for it.

    See I think we’re getting to the whole problem with “empathy” in the way you two (to differing degrees) are attempting to apply it here (no offense at the word “attempting” please). And we’re starting to see that as we pull the thread and you guys elaborate on just what it is you are “trying to do” (my words) with your empathy in this case. But let’s start with the facts we are agreeing on:
    1. Females are very, very often depicted in sexualized and anatomically-exaggerated ways for the pleasure of men
    2. These depictions are usually also the CREATION of men not in consultation with many or any women
    3. We would all be better off with more examples of realistic and non-unreasonably-sexualized depictions of women dispersed throughout media of all forms.
    4. There are objections to these depictions of the female form with which we agree, and other objections with which we disagree as being overdone or picking on something that’s really not an example of the problem
    5. Possibly, in the end, the covers of Spider Woman shown in the Maddox video are NOT part of the problem (it seems at least you guys are allowing that I might be right about that, since we elaborated)

    There are probably more summaries that can be made but that’ll do. I ordered those from most non-contentious down to most possibly-contentious, so we’ll see how we do. Further, dreameling and Chucky are trying to empathize with the women, I believe, in point 4, which is largely what has been baffling me so greatly, LOL.

    See I think it’s different to empathize with a world view or cause with which you don’t fully agree or can’t take the time to deal with and fix, or really even worry about, than it is to empathize with someone you *actually do not agree with in this particular case*. And while you have made statements to the effect that you are doing the latter, i.e. the women who object to these SPECIFIC Spider Woman covers, I wonder if you are actually doing that. More and more it sounds like you are, in fact, empathizing with the cause of feminism that seeks for more variety in how women are represented in media.

    And so do I! But I think you’re going about it the wrong way “agreeing with” or at least “seeing the issue” when it comes to feminists upset about this specific set of Spider Woman covers. You are doing something I think is very challenging, and dubious, and saying you agree that someone else’s point is valid while at the same time pretty much thinking it isn’t valid. You’re saying you can see how they might be right the cover is point 1 above, however you don’t think it IS point 1 above now that you mention it.

    Do you see my problem there? I had a lot to say and I greatly fear I have lost all but the center of my issue, but that’s just life. I have a lot on my plate and if I forgot stuff, oh well. Try to work with me and flesh this out as you can, I think there’s really interesting aspects of empathy here to be discussed, I just fear I’ve failed to do so properly.

    Bottom line, the reason I entered this discussion so vociferously is that it really felt like dreameling had to kinda sorta think THIS COVER was a problem, instead of just a nice point to talk about the issues in general. The problem is, feminists feel like EVERY attractive representation of women is a point for that conversation, and I think that defeats the purpose. Hence my term, “Frozened”. That movie was arguably ground-breaking in the strength of the female leads, and yet they crapped all over it. Brave is another example, but I won’t defend that one because it was a pretty crappy movie, LOL.

    So I don’t think it’s helpful to empathize with those who complain about Spider Woman when you also at the same time pretty much don’t think there really IS an issue with Spider Woman. Empathize over there with some real sexism where you still enjoy the boobs but at the same time feel guilty about it. At least, that’s how it works for me. If I think you’re being ridiculous or wrong, how can I empathize? If I am torn, there you go, now I can see your side of it. And I think it’s wrong to be so critical of THIS Spider Woman.

    ‘For fuck’s sake, guys. I start a reply and then you guys change the game on me again. Luckily, I didn’t get very far, and what I wrote now seems a little disingenuous, but I’m not about to waste it, because I practically masturbate to my own shit, so here’s where I was going before you two started to psychoanalyze one another:’

    Yay!

    ‘Aaron, I was all set to reply at moderate length, but then Chucky went and pretty much corrected most of your misreadings of me [1], so I’m not sure where that leaves me. Chucky and I clearly disagree on some issues here, but he does seem to get what I’m saying and where I’m coming from, and he nailed the key points, so you can safely consider his interpretation of me more or less accurate. (I just love it when someone does my work for me, and does it well.)’

    Yeah he eats this shit up doesn’t he?

    ‘[1] Some of the things you took away from my comments were sooooo not what I meant. Not exactly sure if this is an argument for or against authorial intent. But let’s just agree that it does matter. I clearly misread you in a few places (and at one point even extrapolated a whole mini essay from only a few words of yours).’

    Sometimes I do that to get at the heart of the matter, I find it more exciting than a less exaggerated and doomsday-ey response. Sorry.

    ‘So, you will simply have to take my word that Chucky did not bias me against you. I was already negatively biased, since we’re disagreeing to a significant degree here. What Chucky’s reply did do, though, was confirm to me that our disagreement was not just me failing to clearly express my thoughts and you misreading and misrepresenting me as a result: that my hunch about us coming to this from very different headspaces was not completely off. And that’s all good.’

    Since you do have sympathy for the feminists in this specific case, yes you do come from a very different headspace, you can say that again.

    ‘Still, I’m gonna comment on a few things. For the most part, though, I think I’m gonna cop out and let Chucky’s interpretations of me stand, unless otherwise noted, because he got it, from my perspective, and I don’t want to just rephrase what he already wrote. He knows me a little better than you do, although certainly not as well as you two know one another, and I’m pretty sure he has a better sense of this discussion as a whole (i.e., what has and has not been said), since he’s been knee-deep in it from the start, so he definitely had that edge. Plus he’s apparently the god of this blog.’

    A blessing and a curse.

    “Thanks for doing that, mate…this was a great, thoughtful response and I gained a massive amount of respect for your intellect as a result. Which is not to say I had a lack of respect for it before, just saying…take it for the compliment it is because I don’t hand that one out often. Ask Chucky. Well, don’t ask him, I hand it out to him a lot. Fuck it, nicely done. Moving on.”

    ‘Considering that you may be a chess-playing diabolical genius, that is indeed high praise. Thanks, man, sincerely.’

    You are too kind. I’d be shocked if there were a significant noticeable difference in the intellectual prowess of any of the three of us relative to the other. With Chucky on top of course. If I didn’t write that he’d just edit it in anyway. *smri*

    “That’s what a feminazi is, by the way since you ask later–a blind, ignorant, militant feminist. And there are quite a few of them out there. I think that perhaps you have not had as much experience witnessing them as I have. I’ll give you an example. […] That, my friend, is a militant feminist. Apparently men have no right to let women know they are interested in more. We have to wait at every stage for THEM to make the move. Just one example but there you go.”

    ‘It is precisely just one example.’

    You misunderstand me. That is just one example OF MANY, and just one example of the ways in which this group of feminists is over the top. I would argue, perhaps, these repeated assaults on everything sexy we enjoy are further examples.

    ‘ I’m not at all convinced that these feminazis are as numerous as you seem to think they are. They are certainly loud, as all extremists always are, and the Internet really fucking caters to loud, but I don’t think they are in any way representative of modern feminism as a whole. And I’m not saying that you do either.’

    I’m not going to make a definitive statement there, nor am I here to “convince” you, but they are incredibly numerous. It took me long and hard (hur hur) enough to prove to Chucky just how bad Christian nuts are here in the US, and this is much the same thing. These feminists are almost exclusively American, but there are a lot of them and they are doing a great disservice to feminism. You’ll need to take my word on that for now. This conversation is already too long and broad to add proving this case to you as well. Save it for later.

    ‘My problem here is that in online debates on gender equality and sexism, the critics and opponents of feminism (or what they perceive feminism to be) evoke the feminazis far too lightly and far too often. Which suggests to me that a feminazi is, more often than not, really just a lazy straw man. (Let’s just gloss over the gendered language here.) So, when you bring them into a debate, I immediately start losing interest.’

    Well they are not men, nor are they made of straw. And you should definitely not be so dismissive or disinterested but you are free to do as you will of course.

    “’[1] I’m just going to go out on a limb here and say that a ridiculously muscular man crouched possessively over a big ball of cum metaphor is not the go-to sexual fantasy of your average heterosexual woman. I will even extend that limb and hazard a guess that said muscular man speaks more to a male viewer than to a female one, irrespective of the viewer’s sexual orientation.’”

    “You’re really going to say that this couldn’t POSSIBLY have been an attempt to get more female readers, that you KNOW that’s not the case, and say “case closed”? I am not nearly so sure, man. Comics have been trying to rope women in for a long time. Is it so inconceivable (and I think that word means what I think it means) that a male artist might think females would be interested in a hunky male form, in whatever pose? Doesn’t seem farfetched to me, but ok.”

    ‘No, it’s certainly possible and probably even true in many cases. Like I said, I’m guessing. I don’t have hard evidence. But it’s equally possible, more likely even, to my mind, that when a male artist tries to create something they think a female audience would like, they’re actually creating something that they themselves like (as a man).’

    If they are TRYING, that is enough for starters. I feel like another major problem these sorts of complaints have is they are not concerned at all with the progress that IS being made, they only are concerned that the progress isn’t ENOUGH or FAST ENOUGH. If you think these comics (the drawers I mean) are trying to please a female audience, isn’t that great? Let’s empathize with these comics!

    ‘Chucky’s point about consulting female audiences is quite apt. Men can absolutely write and create for women, and vice versa. I don’t think there are any mystical gender perspectives that are fully closed to members of the opposite sex [1]. We can imagine and empathize. But you do need to learn to understand those perspectives, much like you need to learn any perspective that’s not your own. And I’m thinking it’s fairly safe to say that male comics artists have traditionally been used to dealing with the male perspective as the default. Which is what my earlier comment about the context of sexualization being rigged in favor of the male gaze was all about.’

    OK, and yes that is true, involving women is a good idea. Do we know he didn’t do that, by the way? Do we know to what extent this is done or isn’t done? I ask that because if we’re going to criticize that aspect or suggest it as a solution, we’d better come correct on that point, hadn’t we?

    ‘[1] I’m intentionally fudging the whole issue of social gender vs. biological gender. Let’s not get into that now.’

    Hah sure! Definitely!

    ‘But, yeah, I’m just going to have to agree to disagree with you and Chucky on this one. Even though you did briefly have me at the Princess Bride reference. Kudos, dude.’

    Just re-watching it now, but cheers.

    “Basically my point is one of equality though. In my opinion you cannot take the same pose for a man and a woman and claim one is wrong and the other is not, and also pretend you are *merely* seeking equal footing for women in society. Once you do the above, you are seeking for MORE than equality for women. You are seeking special consideration.
    In my opinion, of course. I think this is simpler than you are making it out to be, but maybe we are arguing for two different goals. I am arguing against feminists who claim they merely want “equality” but show they want MORE than that, in their actions.”

    ‘I think maybe this is where you’re haunted by that feminazi ghost. I’m not arguing against feminism here. I would argue against feminazis, of course, but I don’t really care about them. This discussion we’re having obviously overlaps with feminist interests, but we do not need to cast it as being feminist specifically. It can just be about gender equality in art and media.’

    But why choose this example if you think it’s actually not part of the problem? You could just say “yeah, this isn’t part of the problem, they should move on and get some perspective.” Oh, like I do. LOL

    “This one settles it for me since I think you only need this point for the whole argument against this cover art to fall apart. And I’m still seeing a crawling woman. Yes, a crawling woman with pretty insanely sexy body features. Sure. But we’re discussing the pose, not the anatomy.”

    ‘No, the minutiae of the pose are ultimately secondary. If I’ve given you the impression that this whole debate hinges on the precise angles of curvature of Spider-Woman’s ass and back, then I’ve badly misrepresented myself.’

    No, you haven’t, except in your vehemence that she was “presenting herself” that you seem to have back off from now quite considerably. No, it falls apart *for me* now because we are admitting that this Spider Woman is Not The Problem.

    ‘My point is and has been that we’re looking at a painting of an overtly sexualized female character. Maybe I’m seeing more sexy in it than I need to, mileage and all that, not an objectively quantifiable quality after all, but I maintain that 99 out of a 100 people will read the painting as clearly sexualized. In itself, that’s fine. Nothing wrong with a sexy picture of a sexy woman. But when you put that painting in its proper context — the existing overrepresentation of sexualized female characters in popular art, fiction, and media, as compared to the representations of male characters — you have a problem, or at least I can understand why some people would have a problem.’

    With the oversexualized ones. But if you criticize EVERY sexual picture of a woman it is as if you are saying they ALL have to go. That’s the problem with this trend of Frozening things, from these feminists.

    “So, can a woman not be put in a picture where she’s sexualized at ALL? I’m not clear what your point is here. I don’t want to live in a world where there are no pictures of women that are at all sexual. Truly, do you?”

    ‘No, man, no, no, just no. That is so not what I’m saying. This, coupled with your other points about me supposedly wanting to exclude oversexualized women from art, is probably the grossest misrepresentations of my point of view in your reply. I probably misrepresented you too, although (mostly) not on purpose, but this is something else, man. Chucky already addressed these points, but let me just broadly sum up where I’m coming from:’

    No I’m trying to show the implications of Frozening all of media, which is what I’m fighting against here.

    ‘I absolutely do not want to remove anything from the playing field. I only want to see stuff added to it, so that we get a more even representation of things. I do not want to remove Manara. Fuck, man, I want Manara. But I do not want to keep running into Manara all the fucking time [2]. (Or maybe I do, but society at large should not. Trust me, this is not hypocrisy.)’

    It’s a very difficult line to draw, man. If its out there for you to run into, then feminists will as well and they will start complaining about it. You are aware that porn is evil and wrong because it teaches us to rape, right? Or, from milder feminists and I would argue a lot of women feel this way to a certain extent, we shouldn’t watch it because it creates unfair expectations of sex. I’ve also seen many argue that we don’t have the right to expect to be able to gratify ourselves sexually to the images of women whenever we want.

    You say you want to run into it but not for society to. Well, some will find it wherever you do, and rain on your parade every time. Lend them a voice when they’ve found a true wrong to right, not on this dubious scenario with the variant cover. Since by complaining about the main cover too in the way they did, they reveal the shaky ground they stand on.

    “‘I definitely like the image on its own — Spider-Woman’s hot — and there is nothing perverted about it, not in my context.”’”

    “Then there is nothing perverted about it, and what are we debating here?”

    ‘The point that from other contexts, there is something perverted about it, and some of us can empathise with that position and others can’t.’

    Either something is perverted or not. If you grant someone else’s context that it IS perverted then maybe we need to rethink it. That is another problem with trying to empathize in this situation: you seem to see-saw back and forth on whether Spider Woman really is an example of “The Problem” or not.

    “’Third, and this is where you really lose me, you seem to be giving art a free pass to be anything and everything without any accountability or consequence. You’re robbing art of any significance.’”

    “I think this is the most unfair and inaccurate statement you have made here, or that I have had leveled at me in a long time, and you got there based on very little information about what I really think. All I said was what most great artists would tell you. And that’s a fact, I’ve heard from some and I know a few personally. They don’t like to give you their intent. That’s all I said.”

    ‘Then I misread you badly. I apologize. I did arguably read a lot, a lot, into your original point 6. On balance, though, you’ve really paid me back with interests.’

    Word to the wise, man. Word to the wise.

    However as I said above, the most unfair “misreadings” of your discussion points were in fact to show you the logical implication of supporting these feminists everywhere they object instead of just the places where it actually is pretty clearly accurate. Which, again…where DO you stand on this Spider woman? LOL

    “’Art matters, media matters. The gendered ways in which people are represented in fiction matter. Even if art doesn’t outright make people violent or sexist or whatever, it does reflect and perpetuate existing social and cultural norms and values. The Manara cover is not a problem on its own, but it is emblematic of a broader socio-cultural problem: the negatively gendered representation of women in popular fiction and media. Female characters are more likely to be sexualized objects and less likely to be active agents than male characters.’”

    “So Spider Woman who is in fact going to be THE superhero in these comics to come is somehow not going to be an active agent? And, women having sexuality in media is wrong? Sorry, I’ll go commit suicide now. I think men and women should have sexuality in media, *if they so choose*, and when it comes to art there is a BIG amount of leeway you need to give.”

    ‘Goddammit, man, no. Spider-Woman may very well be an active female subject with plenty of agency. Even though you wouldn’t know it from the Manara cover. ‘

    Now just what, on EARTH, is the point of that second sentence? You would know it the same as you would know it from a spider MAN cover where he’s in some stupid pose. You know it because she’s the MAIN SUPERHERO OMG I can’t believe I had to spell that out. But you contradict that here:

    ‘And being the main character of a narrative is actually no guarantee of agency.’

    Well I guarantee it, and reading it should preclude assuming she won’t be. I mean, seriously. How can the main character of a long-standing superhero narrative not have agency?

    ‘But, no, this is not just about the new Spider-Woman comic or just about the Manara cover. This is about the state of popular fiction and media at large vis-à-vis gender roles and representations:’

    A separate problem unless she fits into the issue directly.

    “’The Manara cover is not a problem on its own, but it is emblematic of a broader socio-cultural problem: the negatively gendered representation of women in popular fiction and media. Female characters are more likely to be sexualized objects and less likely to be active agents than male characters.
    And, again, nothing wrong with sexuality in art. Never argued that, ever, not even implicitly.’”

    It’s not emblematic and its not negatively engendered unless you are back, AGAIN, to saying there is in FACT a problem with this Spider Woman. Help a brother out, man.

    “I also do not accept or approve, far from it, you calling a sexualized representation of a woman as “negatively gendered”. Elsewhere you say you are NOT against sexuality. Well, square that circle for me. This is FAR too conservative for my liking, smacks of the ridiculous social conservatives we have here in the US. And in Saudi Arabia, etc.”

    ‘I’ve never said that sexualized representations of women are by definition negatively gendered. The “negatively gendered” comes into play when female (sex) objects are overrepresented and female subjects are underrepresented, the former at the expense of the latter, and when at the same time male characters enjoy a richer and more even range of functions and roles. You like literally agree with me on this in your next comment:’

    Yeah yeah but you’re holding this up as an example. That’s my problem here.

    ‘You basically split my original paragraph into two, and disagreed with the first part and agreed with the second one, even though they were about the same thing. The balls on you, man.’

    It’s all about specifics. And for a lol, at first I read that as “the ball’s on you”.

    “Straw man, I think, buddy. “Society” is not “promoting” Manara’s representations of women as the “default form of representing women”. Geez, IS there even a default for that? Certainly not this. So, I’m not sure why we’re discussing that aspect of the issue.”

    ‘Hence my “it would not be ok for society to”. I was exaggerating the point to illustrate the personal vs. societal split in the case of gender in art.’

    Well since we’ve both been misunderstood when we exaggerated I guess Chucky needs to take away our artistic licenses. AGAIN, in my case. Damnit.

    “Not to be confused, of course, with “sympathy”, which is in fact what I thought and still think I am seeing in dreameling’s words.”

    ‘Let’s call it a mix of empathy and sympathy and degrees of agreement on my part.’

    *Victory Dance*

    “I felt much more than a mild empathy towards these offended feminists from dreameling, that’s why I kept treating his points as not just empathy but perhaps even sympathy or his own views. He was defending them so well, they must have had some resonance within, was my thinking.”

    ‘I absolutely agree with some of the criticism leveled at the Manara cover, so it’s not just a question of empathically understanding where the critics are coming from but also agreeing to a degree with them. But please do not lump me in with your feminazis. I also emphatically like the cover on its own.’

    I’m still having a hard time squaring this circle but maybe it cannot be done (hence the expression).

    “And I speak only of Spider Woman. I realize there are REAL problems out there in the media of this nature, but they chose to pick on Spider Woman and thus they stake their reputation on her. If they would leave alone the marginal cases or the actual non-problems, we wouldn’t be having this conversation, but here goes the over-compensation again.”

    ‘I admit that it’s a bit disingenuous to criticize the Spider-Woman cover without having read the actual comic, but ultimately this debate is not about Spider-Woman. It’s about the tradition of sexist or oversexualized portrayals of women that the Spider-Woman cover refers back to. It’s precisely about those “real problems out there in the media”, which the cover can be seen as perpetuating in its small way (as part of a general overrepresentation of that kind of popular imagery). If you willfully choose to make this just about Spider-Woman, then ok, but you’re then dismissing the context that makes this debate meaningful and relevant.’

    Well then realize, as you should by now if not from trusting me then from reading this blog, that this debate happens EVERY TIME a woman is sexy in media. They are insatiable and not in a good way. Frozen wasn’t even good enough. I shudder to think what WOULD be good enough. And you know what? If such a “good enough” movie were made, and probably several have already, it would be largely un-watched and then they’d complain about THAT. Because not only do we have to empathize, AN D sympathize with their objections with media, we have to FULLY AGREE or else. I so want to show you this world you are somehow missing but again, time. Looks like I’m not even getting to my reply to Chucky today =(

    “So Spider Woman’s figure is not “unrealistic”, at least not from where I’m sitting.”

    ‘No, not that much, at least relatively speaking. We could probably go into all sorts of pedantic details about angles and measurements and proportions, but that would be beside the point.’

    Grudging but I’ll take it. So, they shouldn’t be a-hootin’ and a-hollerin’ over this example.

    “Since you know the truth of what’s in women’s heads (and not just what is put out there by overcompensating feminists, mind you, that’s part of the problem here)…what should change about Spider Woman’s anatomy/appearance? Should she be a little dowdy? Not as slim-waisted? Uglier? Smaller breasts?”

    ‘I’m just gonna gloss over that sulky sarcasm and go straight to the point:’

    I’m glad Chucky thought it was a great point, because it kinda was. If I may say so myself.

    ‘I don’t care about Spider-Woman specifically. What should change, though, is how often we find female superheroes or just female characters in oversexualized poses, oversexualized costumes, or in possession of an oversexualized anatomy, especially in cases where these primarily define them as characters. I’m not saying that artists and authors should stop doing this. I’m saying that we should get more of other kinds of stuff to balance out the ratios. (I know, I’m starting to sound like a broken record again.)’

    OK well we don’t have to bring this up EVERY TIME there’s a sexy woman depicted in media. It’s tiring and yes I AM saying they should stop doing that. There, I said it.

    As to your pictures, they are all lovely, and they are ALL sexualized in one way or another. The second Spider Woman has just as bodacious a body, so that’s going to get complaints. The mercenary chick is in a hot tank-top, why couldn’t she be in full desert camo? Why does she have to be showing her awesome flat tummy? And the last chick is airing out her boobs quite obviously, man. I mean I love that you are trying to empathize with these women and help out their cause. The problem is, you don’t REALLY know what’s in their head or how far they want things to go[1], so I view it as dangerous to try and represent the views of someone else you don’t actually agree with
    If that’s what you were doing, which is what I THINK you said you were doing. Apologies if I messed that up again, there’s a lot of back-and-forthing in your statements IMO.

    [1] I’m merely speculating as to how far most of these feminists would go to complain, this may be a bit much but I hope you can see my point. Don’t defend someone’s position you don’t agree with if you can’t know just how far they will take things. My advice, at least.

    ‘Well, exactly. But that disagreement / agreement does not have to exclude sympathy, right? I do agree with some of what Maddox says, because he does make good points, but I obviously also disagree with him, although I can maybe see where’s he’s coming from. I also agree with some of the criticism of the Manara cover, as I do find it problematic on a certain level, and I can therefore understand why people would (and should) be upset about it, although I’m not personally upset and certainly do not identify with any feminazi perspective. (I do not think the opposition to the cover constitutes any kind of single uniform front.) But I can’t tell where to draw the line between empathy and sympathy, so I’m just gonna fuzzily say that both are involved.’

    Cool. I think you’re wrong about the non-existence of said “uniform front” but, another day, man.

    ‘(There’s probably a whole philosophical debate here about the relationship between agreement and consensus on the one hand, and empathy and sympathy on the other, about whether the former require the latter, and to what extent empathy and sympathy are co-dependent. But I’m so not ready for that, so I’m just fuzzily lumping them together here.)’

    And also how empathy can be best applied and where it is tricky to do so etc. etc.

    “I like the cover but I agree with some of the points made by people who were upset by it. I can understand that response and accept their reasoning. And I don’t agree with all of Maddox’s points in defence of the cover, although obviously I end up in the position of agreeing with him because I like the cover. Also I like to wear women’s underwear sometimes.”

    ‘If you tweak these any further, my brain will explode from all the re-re-cross-interpretation! That there’s close enough for me to happy with. Yes, all of it. And I still think you mostly got me in that original pre-emptive reply to Aaron. At least based on my reading of your intent… no, must stop this! (It’s saying something when I’m the one in a debate demanding people to easy up on the subjective-interpretative-relativistic angle. Maybe I’m just getting old.)’

    You and me both, man. You and me both. It’s been fun.

    So I didn’t have time to reply to yours, Chucky, I’ll try to get to it soon. It’s a lot longer and this took a couple of hours, so….
    If you write more I’ll add what I can but…no promises. As for you, dreameling, whatever you write in reply I promise to get to. I already know Chucky loves me so I don’t have to work to please him, LOL

    • stchucky says:

      First, my key…attributions from dreameling or Chucky are surrounded by apostrophes (single quotes, whatever), and attibutions from me, few that there needed to be overall between this and my response to Chucky, have double quotes around them. You’ll see what I mean.

      I don’t mean to tell you your job, I know this is more difficult to figure out for you guys because you don’t have the admin dashboard and formatting tools I get … but the [blockquote] system isn’t all that hard, and we should be able to recognise our own words so that should make it clear who you’re replying to. Like you say, “you guys know what you wrote so try not to think I’m misattributing. I’m just attributing and running short on time.” The problem wouldn’t happen if you just didn’t bother to attribute. Everyone wins!

      And blog comments are up for grabs anyway so you don’t really need to clarify it. Plus, this was basically all dreameling’s stuff anyway because you decided to do my response later[1]. So you could have come back to the top of the Word doc and just not even bothered to say any of this this.

      [1] I shan’t sleep tonight.

      But okay. It’s cool.

      1. Females are very, very often depicted in sexualized and anatomically-exaggerated ways for the pleasure of men

      Yes.

      2. These depictions are usually also the CREATION of men not in consultation with many or any women

      Yes.

      3. We would all be better off with more examples of realistic and non-unreasonably-sexualized depictions of women dispersed throughout media of all forms.

      Yes.

      4. There are objections to these depictions of the female form with which we agree, and other objections with which we disagree as being overdone or picking on something that’s really not an example of the problem

      Yes.

      5. Possibly, in the end, the covers of Spider Woman shown in the Maddox video are NOT part of the problem (it seems at least you guys are allowing that I might be right about that, since we elaborated)

      Ye-

      See, this annoys me. And to explain why, I’m just going to go ahead and quote the actual blog post at the top of this.

      Me, on the cover: “Now, I didn’t weigh in because I felt, sure, it was a bit gratuitous and unnecessarily undignified and … well, basically “gratuitous” summed it up the first time. And I mean the cover image, and the howling that went on about it.”

      Me, on Maddox: “Yesterday, I was pleased to see that someone far more loquacious, knowledgeable and brave than I am essentially said exactly what I sorta-kinda felt like saying at the time /…/ Yeah, that’s some harsh slapdown and I may not have gone that far with it. And needless to say, it would have been commercial suicide for Marvel to say any of this stuff. But yes, a lot of what Maddox says here gets my seal of approval, in a justice-and-academic-integrity-for-all sort of way.”

      Me, with the reductio ad absurdum potential of this: “The difficulty is, this is one of those cases where yes, equality would be nice. And yes, if you shout about a woman being dressed and posed like this, you could shout about a man being dressed and posed in the same way (although the alternative, just not shouting at all, might be a nice thing to try), and then we might end up in a world where no kind of sexual liberty or depictions of fantasy or superhuman physical beauty exist at all.”

      Me, on feminists overshooting: “My point is, yes – it would be nice for equality to be observed in this art form, and reverse-sexism bla bla, double standard, yackety smackety. But in order to get to equality, we also need to acknowledge that women have been (and still are in an awful lot of ways) downtrodden and objectified and basically treated like a slave-subspecies for centuries. So yes, there needs to be overcorrection before we can have proper equality /…/ And if that’s unfair, oh dear. It’s not like guys have such a rough time that they can’t afford to meet women more-than-halfway on a few things, right? Right. Sometimes some overcorrection is called for, in order for sexism to go away. Because equality is meaningless if sexism still exists.”

      And this next one is the important one.

      Me, on exactly your point 5 above: “I just don’t … is superhero comic book covers really the place where anyone wants this overcorrection to happen? Anyone but irretrievable crybabies?”

      This was my original blog post. In your hurry to get to the Maddox vs. dreameling title fight, did you even bother to read it?

      Now, after this there was a couple of questions which I think dreameling was trying to answer (in fact I’m pretty sure he was, because he phrased his original comments as answers to the questions), and which you argued against in such a way as to change the tone and target of the debate. Which is fine, it was fun.

      My questions: “Doesn’t shouting about this distract everyone’s attention from real inequalities, injustices and demeaning objectification of women?” Or is it a case of “ignore it here, and it will remain accepted and normalised within our society”? “Fix the small stuff, and the big stuff will lose impetus”?”

      So well done, Sherlock! You did it again! Interpreting the myriad of facts and informational minutiae to flawlessly reconstruct a slightly clumsier and more long-winded summary of my original blog post!

      See I think it’s different to empathize with a world view or cause with which you don’t fully agree or can’t take the time to deal with and fix, or really even worry about, than it is to empathize with someone you *actually do not agree with in this particular case*. And while you have made statements to the effect that you are doing the latter, i.e. the women who object to these SPECIFIC Spider Woman covers, I wonder if you are actually doing that.

      I’m so amazingly past caring what you wonder about, but this is really very simple. And I will speak entirely for myself.

      The cover was sexy. I thought it was a bit gratuitous. I thought the complaints about it were pretty pointless because come on, this is small beans and our culture stands to lose more than it gains by focussing on this when there are way more important things going on. But sure, I can see what the complaints are about and yes, sure, the people making those complaints are justified and have every right.

      There is a huge and apparently irreconcilable confusion between “I sorta like the cover, because I am a heterosexual man and that’s one fit superhero babe … but yeah, that’s a sexist attitude to have and I can understand the criticisms too” and “I agree with the people who are saying the cover should never have been made and Manara should have his hands broken and then be sent to sensitivity training and also he should be surgically transformed into a woman.”

      Oh look, it’s a reductio ad absurdum! And this is how you actually do one of those: I know this is not what anyone here is saying, and (you may disagree, Aaron, you have more experience) I don’t think this is what even the hardcore feminazis are saying … but the two cases I quote above are different, and quite easy to compartmentalise on an intellectual level. There’s room in a normal brain for the first case, without it being any sort of endorsement of the second.

      You are doing something I think is very challenging, and dubious, and saying you agree that someone else’s point is valid while at the same time pretty much thinking it isn’t valid.

      This, again, seems more about you. It is possible to find an alternative viewpoint valid without actually holding it oneself. And to not hold a viewpoint without thinking it is invalid.

      You’re saying you can see how they might be right the cover is point 1 above, however you don’t think it IS point 1 above now that you mention it.

      What? Egads! A heterosexual male admirer of the female form likes the look of a sexy-posed female superhero, and yet admits that it might well be sexist and the people (or specifically a female crusader for gender equality, please note that this is a completely different person with a completely different agenda, mind-set and social context from the aforementioned heterosexual male who likey the boobies) complaining about it might have a point?

      You know there are these things called “points of view”, right?

      Do you see my problem there?

      Yeah, but every time I try to tell you about your problem, you cry.

      *twinkle*

      Try to work with me and flesh this out as you can, I think there’s really interesting aspects of empathy here to be discussed, I just fear I’ve failed to do so properly.

      That’s because your summary of empathy here seems to have been “I totally identify with and have empathy for viewpoints I find agreeable and in line with my own, and that I find logically justified from my own personal subjective perspective, how dare you suggest I am not empathic when I fail to empathise with a viewpoint with which I utterly disagree and therefore have declared [and here I quote you directly] absurd or hypocritical or unfair!”

      Bottom line, the reason I entered this discussion so vociferously is that it really felt like dreameling had to kinda sorta think THIS COVER was a problem, instead of just a nice point to talk about the issues in general.

      Funny you should call this the bottom line, because a) it was nowhere near the bottom line of your comment, but b) it was the bottom line of my actual blog post:

      Or is it a case of “ignore it here, and it will remain accepted and normalised within our society”? “Fix the small stuff, and the big stuff will lose impetus”? I do genuinely wonder.

      Okay, bottom two lines if you insert the paragraph break I put, but there you go. That was what we were trying to discuss.

      So I don’t think it’s helpful to empathize with those who complain about Spider Woman when you also at the same time pretty much don’t think there really IS an issue with Spider Woman.

      I wanted to snap back here and say I’m pretty much past caring about the situations in which you think empathy is helpful, but this may actually be addressing the exact point of my blog post so I should probably give it a fair go.

      And you’re right, this is entirely your call to make and it answers my question from your point of view: Or is it a case of “ignore it here, and it will remain accepted and normalised within our society”? “Fix the small stuff, and the big stuff will lose impetus”? I do genuinely wonder.

      Your answer? Don’t sweat the small stuff, and save your sensitivity for the cases of real gender inequality.

      Fair to say? If so, I appreciate the response to my original post! And I can certainly empathise with and understand your perspective, too.

      Aaron, I was all set to reply at moderate length, but then Chucky went and pretty much corrected most of your misreadings of me [1], so I’m not sure where that leaves me. Chucky and I clearly disagree on some issues here, but he does seem to get what I’m saying and where I’m coming from, and he nailed the key points, so you can safely consider his interpretation of me more or less accurate. (I just love it when someone does my work for me, and does it well.)’

      Yeah he eats this shit up doesn’t he?

      nObHappyGilmore: You eat pieces of shit for breakfast?

      OK, and yes that is true, involving women is a good idea. Do we know he didn’t do that, by the way? Do we know to what extent this is done or isn’t done? I ask that because if we’re going to criticize that aspect or suggest it as a solution, we’d better come correct on that point, hadn’t we?

      I’m yet to see Manara’s female consultants speak up, so let’s just assume he is like any artist, and created his work single-handedly and without much concern for what anyone but the commissioner of the piece asked for. Which, incidentally, we don’t know either. In fact, we don’t know anything about it. For all we know, Marvel said “hey, let’s make a cover that’s as close to Spinal Tap’s Sniff the Glove as possible, market it as a variant, and ride the screams of the feminazis to enormous Internet virality!”

      And I wasn’t criticising. I was offering a possible solution to this issue. If people complain about a piece of artwork for its offensiveness to minorities (apparently this is still what people think women are), it would be really useful to be able to stand up and say “well the fifteen minorities I consulted about this piece didn’t seem upset, why don’t you take it up with them you whining twits.”

      But why choose this example if you think it’s actually not part of the problem?

      Because this was the one the blog post was about.

      You could just say “yeah, this isn’t part of the problem, they should move on and get some perspective.” Oh, like I do. LOL

      The original question was whether or not people did think this specific case was part of the problem, and what exactly the problem was (big stuff vs. small stuff). I know it would solve the debate if we all just decided to think the way you do, but that’s probably not going to happen on planet Earth.

      No, it falls apart *for me* now because we are admitting that this Spider Woman is Not The Problem.

      I’d love to visit your planet some time, incidentally. Would I need a special breathing apparatus or is the atmosphere roughly equivalent? I mean, clearly the bullshit adds a lot of methane, but…

      My point is and has been that we’re looking at a painting of an overtly sexualized female character. Maybe I’m seeing more sexy in it than I need to, mileage and all that, not an objectively quantifiable quality after all, but I maintain that 99 out of a 100 people will read the painting as clearly sexualized. In itself, that’s fine. Nothing wrong with a sexy picture of a sexy woman. But when you put that painting in its proper context — the existing overrepresentation of sexualized female characters in popular art, fiction, and media, as compared to the representations of male characters — you have a problem, or at least I can understand why some people would have a problem.

      With the oversexualized ones. But if you criticize EVERY sexual picture of a woman it is as if you are saying they ALL have to go. That’s the problem with this trend of Frozening things, from these feminists.

      Again, just as well nobody here is criticising every sexual picture of a woman. In fact I’d be amazed if you could even find a back-woods USian militant feminazi who would criticise every sexual picture of a woman.

      No I’m trying to show the implications of Frozening all of media, which is what I’m fighting against here.

      Then you have literally set up a position in this debate for yourself to argue against which was nothing like what anyone here was saying. Basically the definition of a strawman, so sack up and cop to it.

      Or, you know, squirm and justify and get huffy about it and hope we all forget amidst the feather-smoothing. Either way.

      I definitely like the image on its own — Spider-Woman’s hot — and there is nothing perverted about it, not in my context.

      Then there is nothing perverted about it, and what are we debating here?

      The point that from other contexts, there is something perverted about it, and some of us can empathise with that position and others can’t.

      Either something is perverted or not. If you grant someone else’s context that it IS perverted then maybe we need to rethink it. That is another problem with trying to empathize in this situation: you seem to see-saw back and forth on whether Spider Woman really is an example of “The Problem” or not.

      You can’t be serious. “Either something is perverted or not”? Really? This is about as close to perfect subjectivity as you can get. Basically everybody in the world will have a differing viewpoint and a different line at which something becomes perversion.

      Allowing that another person is entitled to decide for themselves whether something is perverted is the foundation of living in a free society.

      Allowing that that person might have a point, whether you then continue enjoying what they think is perversion or not, is a cornerstone of sensitivity and open-mindedness.

      A society’s laws and mores are built on what the majority (for assorted values of fucked-up government) decides is the line between perversion and acceptability. If you disagree with a pornography or ratings law that has been placed over some facet of art that you enjoy, it doesn’t make you wrong to continue enjoying it. Shit, this touches on violence, bad language, drug use, all sorts of stuff. I don’t go out campaigning for Dredd to be given a G rating, even though I personally have no problem with the stuff that happens in the movie. I can understand and see the points of view of people who don’t like it, even if I don’t agree with them. Fucking swear-prudes, you cunts are everywhere anyway.

      Which, oh look, is exactly what I was posting about here: https://stchucky.wordpress.com/2014/09/15/interlude-double-standards-or-how-not-to-fail-as-a-human-being/

      “Of course,” I said, “usually an issue can have any number and combination of dissenting opinions, and that’s great. Sooner or later, though, there’s only a limited number of actions to be taken in resolution of the issue. And those actions will only mesh with some of those opinions. What happens then?

      “People may become less willing to consume this sort of art in public,” I went on, “and it will go underground like every other kind of subversive, pornographic or otherwise fetish art. But it won’t actually go away. Is that what people want it to do anyway? Go away? Where do we draw that line?”

      Where indeed? Tell us, Chucky!

      “Maybe,” I sagely suggested, “as sensibilities change, artwork like this will lose popularity and will enter the history books like so many other art styles have in the past, to be replaced by new styles and subjects. In fact, this is more or less inevitable as tastes and attitudes change and the decades and centuries go by, regardless of the impetus and specific taboos in play.”

      So, again, thank you for summarising what I already wrote. I’m so glad we agree on this.

      However as I said above, the most unfair “misreadings” of your discussion points were in fact to show you the logical implication of supporting these feminists everywhere they object instead of just the places where it actually is pretty clearly accurate.

      I disagree that there was anything particularly logical in that approach, and dreameling apologised for misreading and misrepresenting your position. This is what classy people do. You, on the other hand, came up with this bullshit justification for your own misrepresentations. You, sir, are not classy.

      Goddammit, man, no. Spider-Woman may very well be an active female subject with plenty of agency. Even though you wouldn’t know it from the Manara cover.

      Now just what, on EARTH, is the point of that second sentence? You would know it the same as you would know it from a spider MAN cover where he’s in some stupid pose. You know it because she’s the MAIN SUPERHERO OMG I can’t believe I had to spell that out.

      I concur with dreameling here. You can tell she’s the main character from that cover, but you can’t with any confidence guarantee that she’s going to do anything remotely useful. You can tell the woman in a crotchless SCUBA suit on the cover of Butt Divers is going to be the main character. It’s absolutely no guarantee that she’s going to do anything remotely empowering, praise-worthy or admirable. Shit, she may not even go SCUBA diving.

      Well, as it continues below:

      And being the main character of a narrative is actually no guarantee of agency.

      Well I guarantee it, and reading it should preclude assuming she won’t be. I mean, seriously. How can the main character of a long-standing superhero narrative not have agency?

      Butt Divers celebrated its 3,000th issue last week. I don’t know if the main character has ever acquired certification to dive below 100 feet.

      It’s not emblematic and its not negatively engendered unless you are back, AGAIN, to saying there is in FACT a problem with this Spider Woman. Help a brother out, man.

      When reading an argument between you and another person, Aaron, I get this amusing impression that you really believe you are changing the other person’s mind every time you make a comment, and are then outraged when the very next paragraph they have gone back to their own opinion! Intolerable!

      Seriously though, a bit of vacillation and adjustment of opinion and perspective back and forth depending on the situation and information at hand is normal in a healthy psyche. It’s the rigid ones who don’t change their beliefs regardless of the input that you need to watch out for.

      [/poker face]

      You basically split my original paragraph into two, and disagreed with the first part and agreed with the second one, even though they were about the same thing. The balls on you, man.

      It’s all about specifics. And for a lol, at first I read that as “the ball’s on you”.

      Let me translate: This is Aaron’s way of saying “yeah, that was a bit of a dick move, sorry – just pretend I didn’t do that shit.”

      Hence my “it would not be ok for society to”. I was exaggerating the point to illustrate the personal vs. societal split in the case of gender in art.

      Well since we’ve both been misunderstood when we exaggerated I guess Chucky needs to take away our artistic licenses. AGAIN, in my case. Damnit.

      The problem with the reductio ad absurdum method is that you need to make it very clear that this is what you’re doing, and you need to do it well, and you need to eventually drop the hypothetical case and actually go back to talking about what the person you’re discussing things with has actually said. Otherwise you end up arguing against a strawman you have constructed yourself.

      I absolutely agree with some of the criticism leveled at the Manara cover, so it’s not just a question of empathically understanding where the critics are coming from but also agreeing to a degree with them. But please do not lump me in with your feminazis. I also emphatically like the cover on its own.

      I’m still having a hard time squaring this circle but maybe it cannot be done (hence the expression).

      I would say “I can’t believe you can’t reconcile these”, but that would be a lie. I would say “I have no trouble believing you can’t reconcile these”, but you would get huffy. Oh, the dilemma. What’s an arrogant smartarse to do? For the love of God, what?

      Looks like I’m not even getting to my reply to Chucky today =(

      Oh no!

      OK well we don’t have to bring this up EVERY TIME there’s a sexy woman depicted in media. It’s tiring and yes I AM saying they should stop doing that. There, I said it.

      First of all, I disagree with “every time”, of course.

      Second, neither of us were arguing this point so maybe you should be debating it with someone, somewhere, who has.

      If you write more I’ll add what I can but…no promises. As for you, dreameling, whatever you write in reply I promise to get to. I already know Chucky loves me so I don’t have to work to please him, LOL

      It’s just that effortless.

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