"The women of Bikini Kill let guitarist Billy Karren be in their feminist punk band, but only if he's willing to just "do some shit." Being a feminist dude is like that. We may ask you to "do some shit" for the band, but you don't get to be Kathleen Hannah."--@heatherurehere


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

With Male Privilege Comes Male Responsibility

A few weeks back I found out a writer that I used to love, but whose comics I had given up because of misogynistic douchebaggery, has a new book coming out, and three of my favorite female artists are working on the book. I wasn't likely to read Brain Wood's "Rebels" at any rate, since it looks like Tea Party Porn to me, but, but, but: Andrea Mutti! Jordie Bellaire! Tula Lotay! -- All of 'em on one book! My first instinct was to tweet out to any/all of them and ask why they were working with him--but of course that instinct is also misogynistic douchebaggery itself, y'know? These are grown-ass women, and they make their own decisions, know more about him and about comics than I do, and I don't have a "right to know".  But that was my instinct. Trying to own that. 

Now the completely convenient non-apology from Chris Sims comes out, and even though I also wasn't interested in reading his new X-Men book anyway, I find a promotion quote from one of my fave writers (also a woman) on his website.  And again, my lizard brain responds with: "I WANT TO KNOW WHY!!!!"

And Rachel Edidin, a friend of Sims, has a bunch of answers to the 'why?' question, most of which basically say "this shit is complex". You should read what she wrote: It's pretty great.

I know that. I know Brian Wood is a human being who can make mistakes. I know that Chris Sims is a dude who was steeped in the same bullshit misogynist culture that all of us are, and that we can make room for nuance, and forgiveness, while still keeping room for not-forgiving (which is why Edidin's take is so great). And I think that women in the industry, and women who are fans, get to make whatever decisions they want without me butting in--of course they do, of course they do, of course they do--that is part of the whole point of feminism. 

But as pro-feminist men, I'm not sure we get the same options. I think we have to give up some shit, whether it's reading what might be a great comic, or something more serious, like choosing a different fucking career from the one where we behaved very, very badly. It's male privilege that allows a dude like Sims to think that he can still deserve to write for mainstream comics after behaving like that, especially given the timing of his sorta-apology--and male privilege for men to continue to support men like him. As long as men still have so much more power in the comics industry than women do, as long as women are still underrepresented as writers and artists, then men need to hold the feet of other men to the fire. I'm not going to get on women who understand these men and want to work with them, but I'm still going to get on the men who hire these dudes, and the men who buy their comics, because it's not acceptable that the only repercussions from bad behavior are a slap on the wrist.  
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