Wise Feminism

The idea of demanding a product and then immediately rejecting that product before it ever reaches your fingertips is one that is both confusing and laughable.

Why would you spend a large chunk of your time (fuck, any chunk of time) demanding, for example, a Female Centered Comic Book and then, when that Female Centered Comic Book comes to fruition, exclaim that you refuse to buy it because you do not like the way it is being pressed.

I might be talking about Marvel Divas again.

I criticized the pitch. I broke the pitch down, sentence by sentence, and discussed what irritated me about it as well as what I liked. The pitch is built on partial suck. The pitch isn't what ultiately matters. It's the product. If, as a reader, the way something is pitched isn't exactly appreciated, make it known. I'm not suggesting that anyone keep their mouth shut, but what I am suggesting is a modicum of common sense.

Well, it seems like common sense to me to give a book that is built a bit around the fact that women like reading about women a bit of a chance.

Here's what also makes sense to me: money. And more importantly, money makes sense to the business producing such a product. Not just money, but numbers. Clearly numbers are important in the comics industry, where when Secret Invasion beats out Final Crisis everyone pisses themselves in one direction or another and makes a big fucking deal out of it. The same thing goes for a book like, uh, Marvel Divas.

Say all the people out there who have been asking for a book about heroines buys the first issue. Say the first issue is less than awesome and turns out to be what a lot of us fear: Just Another Booby Fest. Don't buy the second issue. The numbers will drop off and that's what a businessman sees. Joe Quesada is, at his core, a businessman. As a editor-in-chief of Marvel, this is what he ought to be. He has to consider multiple sides of everything and pitch for the numbers. If feminists keep outrightly rejecting books on the basis that 'surely, this is like every other book and I refuse to pander to their covers, and also refuse to buy albums/movies/etc based on their sexy covers because I never, ever, ever give in at all to Sex Sells', our numbers will never blip on the map.

Consequently, the businessmen will have no idea what the numbers could be. If everyone that's demanded a book like this buy it and find that it is, in fact, a booby fest that has no real value and then do not buy any more of them, this will be noticed. What is not noticed (shockingly) is when these readers don't bother to show up to the party at all, after clamoring for the party to be held. This is a foolish thing to do.

Don't ask for a book about women and then reject a book about women before it's even hit the shelves. Reject the book after you've purchased the first issue and you don't like it. Give Joe Quesada the evidence of your existence, not just an angry post on the internet. Give him what matters to Marvel: the lack of your money. Show that the money is there and when you do not like the product, take that money away. Take it away and demand a better product.

Buy the first issue of Marvel Divas. Help prove to the industry that the number of people who want quality books actually exists. Show up to the party, then do what you want from there, but it is critical that we actually goddamned show up. Joe Quesada is not perusing Livejournal in his free time and giving serious consideration to complaints that show up there, but go no further than bitching in comments. Joe Quesada is considering the money, so show him that your money can be there for him, given that he can give a product that you actually want to buy. If the $3.99 (is it 3? or 2? whatever) is important to your budget, return the book. Talk to your comic seller and say, 'hey, if I hate this, is it okay if I return it? Or can I exchange it for something else that I know that I like?'.

Be a wise feminist and utilize business values. Take their game and make it yours. Your voice is your wallet, not your livejournal/blog/whatever. Use your voice.

Pass it on.


Brinstar said...

For those who were asking for a book dedicated to women superheroes, yeah they should totally give Marvel Divas a chance. I imagine that people who wanted something like this will probably ignore Quesada's message and buy the books anyway.

Speaking personally, In the past 10 years, I haven't bought a new comic book that I wasn't already interested in and wanted to support (an issue of Kabuki, 4 vols. of Absolute Sandman, and the Mirror's Edge miniseries). I walked away from superhero comic books over 10 years ago because they weren't giving me what I wanted. I don't know whether my shopping behaviour had an impact on any of them, but I agree with you -- if you're actually invested in something, try it, and if you don't like it, don't support it.

But at the same time, using personal platforms to voice opinions can be an important tool in swaying the status quo. Change is not something that happens overnight, and it can be quite hit-or-miss, but if businesses are wise, they aren't only looking at money, they're also listening to and attempting to understand the views of people in their target market.

Mike Miller said...

hmm... ok I'll pick up the first issue, you've sold me on giving it a shot... hopefully buying it doesn't lead to unmanliness...

oddly enough that is the 3rd comment on a blog today I started with "hmm..."

Kristina said...

@Brinstar: "But at the same time, using personal platforms to voice opinions can be an important tool in swaying the status quo." Exactly--I see both tactics as necessary. If someone is willing to invest the emotional energy into mainstream superhero comic books, I think utilizing both the numbers platform and voicing opinions--blogs, writing letters/emails, are vital. I don't think it's a one or the other sort of situation.

Basically, I saw bloggers who were angry about not getting a book deciding to not even try the book, which is intensely frustrating.

Oh, and I'm curious--is there a book or an issue that was your final straw, so to speak, that had you giving up on them? (feel free to email/twitter DM too).

Kristina said...

@Brinstar: I always think of something else after I hit 'post'. Quesada's message isn't wrong, unfortunately, and the older (more jaded, less caring, maybe?? ha.) I get, the less I give a shit about mainstream too--which is why I was curious about what your final straw was. I can't imagine I'll ever see a day where I'll be satisfied by a female superhero comic from DC/Marvel, simply due to their track record and willingness to remain the same (ie, not give a shit, thank you My Cup O'Joe). For me personally, I think more and more it's a waste of my energy. Go indie.

@MM: I honestly wasn't trying to sell anyone on anything. My discussion is on the sensibilities behind trying to get a mainstream company to hit the feminist target and how to go about making dissatisfaction known via other means than just a very frustrated fury aimed at the internet. Whether I think anyone should actually buy Marvel Diva's or not isn't the issue. :)

Mike Miller said...

@KW: oh I got that. you more "sold" me with the "give it a chance" ideaology. because I 1) support feminism and girl geeks and want to see that aspect of geek culture thrive! & 2) actually enjoy a good tale revolving around female charecters and their problems like Ultra was.

that's what I meant when I said you "sold me" on trying it out. :)

qtilla said...

I think that things featuring women are sometimes explicitly not intended for women.

I don't care to find out how Wonder Woman takes a bath... but a man might care to see that.

What I don't like is this cheesy, "See look it's girls. Doing girl stuff." Cop out, bs, garbage.

Fine, you publish things that are not specifically intended for a female audience. Own it. I don't care. If I want to watch Sweet Home Alabama, I can watch it. I don't need to read it. If I want to read a comic, I'll read a comics. Obviously neither of us find zombies outside of our realm of interest.

But I don't want Marvel making excuses for a little T & A. Own it or shut up about it.

Aaron said...

I'm a few days late to the party, but whatever.

There are two huge reasons I'm going to pick up the first issue of Marvel Divas. The first is Firestar, who has far and away one of the most unique and well-developed superheroine personalities ever. Anyone who just knows her from Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends, and not from Nicieza/Bagley's brilliant New Warriors run and Busiek/Perez's equally brialliant Avengers run is missing out on an incredibly complex picture of a woman who is torn by reluctance to act, who is afraid of her own power one one hand, but exhillerated by it on the other.

Do I expect this characerization to come through in Marvel Divas? Somewhat, and here's why. Roberto Aguirre Sacasa was a GLAAD-award winning LGBT playwright before he was a comic book writer. Based on what I've read of his (the fantastic 'Angel: Revelations' and a fantastic four mini that tied in to some event and was much better than the actual event) he really gets complexity and subtlety of character, and writes strong women very well.

So, tittycover aside, I'm very much looking forward to this book.

Kristina said...

@Aaron: I told your lady she has a fine, fine man today. Actually, I just told her that I liked you, but it's pretty much the same thing. (Right?)

I did know this! And it's one of the only reasons why I'm not directly lambasting Divas. Also, I am trying to learn how to be 'fair' and 'patient' before ripping something an asshole. (I'll use scissors on my copy, just wait.)

Tittycover is a tittycover is a tittycover. I'm interested on the inside and resigned to the idea of advertising towards a majority. Even if that majority have penises that make them 'hurrrr'.

(you're not late, WFA just linked me, which means an influx of page hits. omgwe'refamous?)

Twyst said...

I absolutely get what you are saying, put your money towards books that are close to what you want. My problem is 1 - with Joe Quesada saying that if you buy the books, you agree that there is no sexism in Marvel, and 2 - this book isnt what i want. I DONT like Sex and the City, i DONT want to see Marvel women talk about breast cancer. It isnt what i want in a book at all (from the pitch, if the book is drastically different from the 2 solicits, then hey, hooray).

I will check the book out but i hate owning something that i dont like. The book sells, Joe Q sees this as an endorsement that the book isnt sexist. The book doesnt sell, they say "well, we tried marketing to those women-folk, they are so mysterious". Even better, he sees the first issue with the cheesecake cover sell, and then the non-cheesecake second cover doesnt, this means that clearly, people want cheesecake.

If i could bring myself to buy the book, i would. But i hate owning something that i regret the purchase of.

You have an excellent post here, and if i could get over myself, i would do as you suggest, and you have given me a bunch to think about :D