Friday, October 7, 2016

what in god's name is G. Willow Wilson's deal

Quick question: what is G. Willow Wilson's deal? I've seen a lot of people complaining about Axel Alonso today, but I feel like I have a pretty good handle on his deal. Marvel Comics is not my area of expertise by a long shot, but if you're in any way surprised by his comments about not being a social justice warrior, I don't know what to tell you. I guess he did shift gears from "I'm a goddamn Mexican American" to "I'm Korean now," which was a little confusing, but fundamentally Axel Alonso remained on message: he's perfect, Marvel's perfect, and his deep appreciation of hip-hop music precludes any comment or question you may have about his/Marvel's hiring practices, which are all perfect perfect PERFECT, la-la-la.

No, the only question I have today is for G. Willow Wilson, and that is: what in the actual fuck?

I mean, I was never going to like this Village Voice piece about Ms. Marvel because it's about Diversity in Comics, and the way that whole conversation has played out in the press is intensely annoying to me. I've written about how badly the NYT has covered Marvel and Drawn & Quarterly, but there are dozens of articles that are just as bad, and worse. On some level, this particular piece is better than most of those because it acknowledges that representation on the page is not the same as diversity in the workroom, but at the same time it's much, much, much worse because it begins by describing the Superman office at DC as a hotbed for feminist revolution:
A few years ago, a mandate went out in the offices of DC Comics. "I never want to see Supergirl's panties again," wrote Matt Idelson, an editor of DC's Superman series, in an all-company email so epic it made headlines. 
The Supergirl shot was a "staple," G. Willow Wilson told me in a recent phone call. One of the few women writers to make it into the comics big leagues, Wilson likened the panty shot's iconic status in comics circles to the still of Marilyn Monroe standing on the subway grate. "You look up at her panties. That was a thing that happened all the time." 
Much has changed quickly in one of the most nostalgia-fueled industries there is. 
Again, I'm no expert on mainstream comics, but so far as I can tell, G. Willow Wilson just located the watershed moment for women in comics as a "Supergirl's panties" memo that went out from the Superman office in 2009. I'm just going to assume that this is the same Superman office that notoriously won't hire women because that's where they keep Eddie Berganza's cage? Maybe I'm misunderstanding something here.

Yes, I get that this memo went out a year before the first complaint was filed against Berganza. His cage hadn't even been dragged into the Superman office yet, so maybe it really was a hotbed for feminist revolution in '09. (lol, no.) Still: singing the praises of DC's Superman office (and not even mentioning sexual harassment as an obstacle to women in comics, just in general!) when a reporter contacts you about writing a diversity in comics trend piece in the year 2016? That is totally insane. And despicable.

Back when Wilson wrote her sad, sad response to Jill Lepore's critique of A FORCE, I gathered that she sees her purpose in life as advocating for more modest costumes for women on the covers of comic books:
There are many women (and plenty more men!) in the comics industry and in comics fandom who have fought hard to get us to this point–costumes that cover the butt, book covers where no one is spread-eagle, storylines that don’t involve women being sexually brutalized in order to provide motivation.
And, hey, that's fine. G. Willow Wilson's feminist agenda doesn't have to be the same as mine or anyone else's. She can celebrate the "feminist victory" of fictional characters who wear gymnastic leotards on the cover of comic books all she wants. Ms. Marvel seems to be a comic that means something to people--great. I am genuinely so glad she created a Muslim superhero. Sure, I wish that she'd leverage her unique position as the poster child for diversity in comics to shine a light on hostile work environments that comics journalists can't get mainstream outlets to touch with a 10-foot fucking pole...but I get it. I don't find fault with her for not taking that up as her cause.

But talking about the Superman office's comments on women's underwear in a discussion that's not about date rape, sexual harassment, or its embargo on hiring women...talking about that milieu like it's something for women to celebrate--I don't get that. I don't get that at all.

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