Geeks

Women Belong Here, There and Everywhere

Women in comics, or superhero movies, aren’t new. So why are they still getting so much animosity?

Women are everywhere and it’s making some men uncomfortable.

Wonder Woman is a box office smash this summer. As of this writing, it’s taken in more than $400 million in the US alone, to say nothing of its reception worldwide.

This is the first superhero movie with a female lead character. It’s the first superhero movie directed by a woman. It’s inspired little girls everywhere to look at themselves a little differently, seeing, for the first time, a hero they could be in the future.

But when women’s only screenings took place, the internet went NUTS.

When the Alamo Drafthouse announced its intentions for women-only screenings, it was the subject of some pretty serious animosity.

“(Your) recent gender discrimination is not okay or acceptable,” one man commented on the chain’s Facebook page, according to the NY Daily News. “Its 2017. If you wouldn’t allow all male screenings of Superman, Ironman, etc, then you shouldn’t have all female screenings of Wonder Woman. These films are for ALL to enjoy.”

Another man spouted that it was “exclusion and discrimination. You cannot argue for gender equality by discriminating against a gender. This is setting back the women’s movement.”

Women didn’t care and went to these often sold-out screenings by the hundreds. Some—male and female—cracked jokes online about the predominately all-male audiences at other movies, not just those based on comic books but war movies, car movies, etc.

It’s true that the world of comics, superheroes and movies dabbling in the supernatural have largely been the playground of men. Women are afterthoughts, secondary characters, predominately off to the side playing supporting roles while the men take over.

But that’s starting to change. And the old guard doesn’t seem much to like it.

Childhoods ruined, or reclaimed?

Remember the summer of 2016, the outrage over the all-female-staring cast of Ghostbusters? Paul Feig, the director, told the Daily Mail that “Geek culture is home to some of the biggest assholes I’ve ever met in my life” almost a full year before the movie was even released. The majority of what anyone knew about the movie at that point, in 2015, is that the leading men were now leading women. A million childhoods were allegedly obliterated with that one simple action. Kristin Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon’s leading roles became public in early 2014, so those opposed to the movie had two full years to gripe, groan, protest, whine and write angry posts online. By May 2016, the movie’s trailer was the most disliked preview on YouTube with 800,000 down votes.

One would-be viewer-turned-hater wrote on Cinemassacre that “What offends me about this film isn’t that there’s women in it. Or even that the women are the protagonists. It’s that it’s going backwards 30 years in time and calling itself progressive.” Added another: “I think the biggest reason this film will suck is they tried to shoehorn in a PC ideology instead of just telling a good story.”

The Milkshake Incident

But it’s not just women on-screen in historically male roles within comics, film and other geekery that are facing scorn. The most recent example of this is Heather Antos.

Antos is an editor for several Marvel titles, including The Unbelievable Gwenpool, Star Wars, Amazing Spider-Man & Silk, Mrs. Deadpool and others.

She tweeted a photo of herself and some of the other female editors at Marvel enjoying milkshakes one afternoon.

You’d think it was a baby sacrifice or an unmasking of Superman in front of everyone in the Daily Planet’s newsroom.

Immediately after the completely innocent, fun post, her DMs and social media timelines filled with misogynistic messages, terrible comments and threats.

If you saw #MakeMineMilkshake trending in early August, that was the outpouring of support for Antos and her fellow female comic creators, including those from other publishers.

But she isn’t even the first woman in comics to face this kind of harassment. Chelsea Cain, author of the Mockingbird series, felt forced off Twitter after writing a single tweet encouraging people to check out her work. The problem? The second half of the message: “Please buy Mockingbird #8 this Wed. Send a message to @marvel that there’s room in comics for super hero stores about grown-up women.” She later deleted that tweet. Another woman, Zainb Akhtar, shut down her comics commentary site because of Islamophobic, sexist and racist comments, The Mary Sue recounts.

What’s the problem here?

So here’s the question:

The majority of corporate leaders are men.

The majority of national leaders – of countries, of governing bodies—are men.

The most successful entertainers are predominantly men.

The lead characters in most movies – superhero or otherwise, based on comics or novels or just straight-to-the-screen stories – are men. A recent survey found that in 2016, women had roughly one-third of the nearly 4,600 speaking roles in major motion pictures. That’s up from 29.9% in 2007, but still pretty ridiculous.

So with all this dominance, why the hatred? Why the animosity? Why the anger? What justification is there for the blind and disgusting outrage of women playing in what has been a boy’s sandbox? Why does it matter?

Because women still allegedly belong in the shadows, playing supportive roles, seen but not heard, second fiddle to the big strong men she’s lucky to know and be allowed to tag along with on their (manly) adventures.

Women taking their rightful place in any and all positions in the world are always met with resistance and really hateful language.

There are more outlets for creativity than ever before in all of human history. Movies, books, music, animation—all of it is growing and expanding at a shocking rate.

Why can’t there be room for everyone?

What does it hurt to have women and men working together in a field that always had women in it; they’re just not playing supporting roles anymore. They’re in the spotlight, taking their place, taking up space.

It’s not likely to end any time soon.

Men, get used to it.

Women, get ready: Don’t back down, don’t be shy. Don’t feel like you don’t belong. You do. WE do. It’s their problem, not yours. Be badass and unafraid.

And why not get a milkshake while you’re at it?

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