Friday, 18 July 2014

Recommended reading: The Vagenda


Recommended reading: The Vagenda

First of all, I'm going to come out and say that I do not buy mainstream 'women's lifestyle' magazines. Read: magazines pertaining to an approximation of all of women-kind's collective interests, which apparently does not stray from the confines of fashion, beauty, dieting, and dating (men only). I am very aware of the content and the problems with these kinds of magazines, which is one of the many reasons I choose not to buy them. Instead I find myself jostling for elbow room among many astonished men at the other sections of magazines at the newsagent's, such as computing and technology, music, leisure/interests, and sadly sometimes men's interests, which have in my experience been home to magazines catering to all the genres above. I'm not sure how or why we've let ourselves be caged into such a teeny, tiny, and very shallow little corner of the magazine world, but we have, and I'm kinda tired of the double-takes...

I bought The Vagenda gleefully anticipating that it may well be a longer, more media-focused, yet still witty version of The Noughtie Girl's Guide To Feminism by Ellie Levenson, which I'd read a few years previous. I was in luck! The Vagenda examines the content and issues with the media's current worrying vision of womanhood and femininity, including advice on fashion, health, beauty and relationships. The book also gives credit where it's due, praising the more promising, sexually liberated publications of the 60s and 70s, to the perplexing and frankly confusing attitude to sex undertaken by popular magazines today, who seem to make a profit from posing as a life-line for our problems, offering useless solutions, and then introducing some new things to worry about before the end of the issue – now you've taken the quiz to see if your boyfriend is cheating on you, you better figure out how to win him back: here are ten sex tips to please your man in the bedroom!' The Vagenda examines the trite subjects that appear and reappear in each issue of popular women's magazines, including body image woes, the ever-changing and sometimes baffling world of fashion (Vajazzling? Really?), relationship 'advice', diets, and the disturbing world of Lad Culture, and reminds you that you're not the only one feeling slightly weird about it all..

The great thing about this book is that it finds an easy balance between being informative, being hilarious, and reminding the reader that she really doesn't need to stand for this crap. The Vagenda does a great job of making the reader take a critical look at the way the media markets to and treats women, and what these magazines suggest our priorities should be. I know many people who, when asked about their opinion on the shameless woman-bashing and body-shaming that is packed into every tabloid or cheap gossip rag, would shrug passively and claim that it is no big deal – but why do we turn a blind eye to it? And more importantly, how is this shaping the generation of young girls who will be bombarded with this kind of trashy media wherever they turn? It's easy to claim that it's a form of cheap entertainment, but The Vagenda insists that we all sit up and take some responsibility for the media that we purchase as consumers and as women. Just because no real brain power went into the publishing of your magazine, doesn't mean that you shouldn't use your brain before you dig absentmindedly into the supposed latest sexual exploits of whichever b-list celebrity is the current flavour of the month.

When we examine the media, we examine our culture and our society as a whole. Because we are so surrounded by culture, we rarely step back and review the messages that we're receiving on a daily basis, and what it says about those who buy into it. It's easy to join a pack mentality and buy what is laid out in front of us, under a nice, bold sign that says 'women's lifestyle', and be satisfied that that is what we're meant to be consuming, but by never questioning our value of that media, we're essentially reading the magazines with our eyes closed. An interesting study cited in the book states that a 2012 study found that after just three minutes spent looking at a fashion magazine, 70% of women reported that they felt 'guilty, depressed and shameful'. When this is how our media makes us feel about ourselves, isn't it time to do as The Vagenda suggests we do and 'call bullshit?'

I wholeheartedly recommend The Vagenda to any woman and especially anyone who feels baffled and angry about the questionable ethics and ideals of media we are spoon-fed. This book gives some real incite into the toxicity of women's magazines and will get you chuckling as you read- if we didn't laugh, we'd probably just spontaneously combust. 

I also have some intelligent, thought-provoking and self-image-positive media to suggest to readers who like their mags without all the vapid nonsense:

Lionheartmagazine “Lionheart Magazine is a magazine for those looking for something that reflects their personalities and preferences. Editorial that’s smart, funny, friendly and a little irreverent, together with beautiful design, illustrations and photography. You’ll find craft, fashion, art, interviews and features that are interesting, inspiring and hearty.”

Monday, 7 July 2014

Sailor Moon and Sailor Moon Crystal- Mahou Shoujo at Its Finest

Even if you don’t follow anime all that much, it’s extremely hard to avoid the Sailor Moon phenomenon. Even the guys I live with know about it, and that’s not just because I haven’t stopped talking about it since I watched Sailor Moon Crystal at the weekend, but I’ll come to that later. Sailor Moon is one of the most popular mangas/animes in the world, and when you watch or read it, it’s easy to see why. Girl power! Relatable characters! Talking cats! Magic powers! Unnecessarily long outfit changes! The list goes on and on. Regardless of whether you’re a fan of Sailor Moon, it’s hard to deny it lasting influence and creation, if not affirmation of some anime tropes.

Way back in the early 90s, a little show called Sailor Moon started in Japan. It followed the story of Usagi Tsukino, a 14-year old schoolgirl who discovers that she’s a member of the Sailor Senshi, and must defend the Earth against the evil Queen Beryl and her minions in the Negaverse. Luckily for Usagi, she has a (very patient) mentor in Luna, a talking cat, who also helps her find other members of the Sailor Senshi. A few years later, it got (poorly) dubbed into English, and aired in the UK, which is how I came across it, scrolling for shows to watch after school. Now, I’ll admit. I wasn’t that big on Sailor Moon when it started, and I preferred Cardcaptors (the dub of Cardcaptor Sakura) Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh. However, one of my childhood friends totally loved it, so I watched it, and then later we’d re-enact it on the playground at school. I never really thought about it that much as I got older until I got on procrastination-tool Tumblr, and a whole lot of the accounts I’d follow would reblog stills from the 90s show, gorgeous fan-art, and the odd still from the disastrous live-action film. I’ve found that as I’ve got older, I appreciate the show so much more. I’m rewatching the show from the start and absolutely loving it, as well as all the nostalgia! 

But why do I love it? As well as essentially perfecting the formula for mahou-shoujo (that’s magical girl anime, in case you were wondering) the content itself is really amazing. The characters aren’t just caricatures and archetypes, they full, expanded personalities. They have completely human traits, which make them extremely believable as characters. When Serena/Usagi finds out she’s a sailor scout what’s her first reaction? She wants out! I would most likely act in the same way, especially if my cat started talking to me. Above all that is the underlying message of girl power running throughout the show. Sure, Tuxedo Mask helps the girls out, but they’re never dependent on him to save the day, and they kick ass in their own regards and in their own way. Every single character fights, an no one slacks off. It's all about teamwork and co-operation, which is an excellent message to send. It (as well as Cardcaptors) had a pretty profound effect on me as a kid, and was one of the things that made me realise that ladies could totally kick ass and be super cute at the same time.

Sailor Moon Crystal is the reimagining/remake/adaptation of the manga that has been highly anticipated by a lot of fans. I’ve lazily followed its progression, rumours and news online, but when I sat down to watch the first episode, I totally loved it. I’m not usually one to follow anime (I’m VERY choosy when it comes to watching anime) but I’ll be following this! It follows the story of the manga almost perfectly, with the first episode being the first chapter, or act in the manga, following Usagi as she becomes a Sailor Senshi. The animation is updated, favouring a more ethereal colour palette and modernised style. The only niggle I have with the animation is that in Usagi’sepic transformation, it looks almost TOO digitised and almost video-gamey for my liking. This may well be me being a bit picky and too in love with the original, but it just didn’t sit right with me. The new series seems to be trying to be more serious than the old series, but I think it works quite well. The girl-power drive is still strongly in the show (just check out the theme tune for evidence of this!) and this warms my heart to see. The story is an almost perfect adaptation of the manga, and while there are less of Usagi’s OTT facial expressions and reactions, it’s still damn good, and I will continue to watch it weekly, and regale my housemates with tales of talking cats and magical girls.

If you want to know more about Sailor Moon, The Mary Sue are putting together an exhaustive guide to the show here.

You can watch Sailor Moon Crystal here.

Let me know what you think! 

Monday, 14 April 2014

On the importance of...informative video content.

It is a broadly recognised fact that the internet is awash with silly videos. Some good silly, some dumb-silly, some how-the-eff-did-we-ever-find-this-amusing-in-2009 silly. There's nothing wrong with silly internet videos; indeed, anything that can lighten the mood in an environment known for the snarky, offensive or outright idiotic content of its comment sections is welcomed in my book – and hey, Ari and I admit to having watched a fair few cat videos in our time-, but it's always refreshing to stumble upon a Youtube channel where the content is based around entertaiment and information. Whenever I find myself in this awesome realm of the internet, I click the subscribe button pretty much instantly, because so much of our online content is not informative or thought-provoking, doesn't challenge us intellectually, and may even be detrimental to our the way our memory functions 

Now, I'm not trying to be a party pooper here, and I don't believe that all online video should teach us something and be oh-so-serious, but I am interested in more people utilising the internet to engage their own brains, instead of choosing to wile away every free moment in that rather silly part of YouTube. 

The Ideas Channel creates exactly the kind of videos I'm talking about; it's entertaining, funny, culturally relevant, fast-paced and informative. Each video presents a completely different idea from the last and is then proposed to the viewer, and at the end of each video, interesting comments are read from those who commented previously, giving viewers a reason to share their opinions and ideas too. There have been videos on everything from the ethics of AI development, pondering our love of zombies, and whether or not animal crossing promotes the Otaku lifestyle. While not strictly factual, the ideal channel forces us to think and to question, which is pretty important after watching all those kitty videos.

If the name is not explanatory, SciShow is a YouTube channel that explains and answers the big questions. Black holes, dark matter, whether we're all going to augment ourselves with flashy gadgets one day, and why the hell everyone was so obsessed with flappy bird (as in, the scientific reasoning. Ehem, yes...) 

Crash course videos focus on providing step-by-step education on a bunch of topics, from literature to the sciences to psychology to history, making them ideal study aids for students.

The Art Assignment is a new channel supported by PBS, intended to create interactive art projects for the viewers to undertake themselves. In their own words, the Art Assignment plans to 'take you around the U.S. to meet working artists and solicit assignments from them that we can all complete.'

 Game Theorists is basically what it sounds like. A channel that features videos discussing various theories and trivia about video games, from retro platformers to modern FPS games, these videos will have you wondering why you never thought of that before... Particularly chilling is the video suggesting that Portal's companion cubes contain the remains of actual people. 

Mental Floss describes itself as 'a weekly series where knowledge junkies get their fix of trivia-tastic information!', and that pretty much nails it. If you're the type who collects and hordes random and obscure factoids in the corner of your brain and delight in interjecting with those factoids whenever you can (and we're totally not judging you for this. Sometimes there are lulls in the conversation!) Mental Floss may just be for you. 

Okay, this one has George Takei in it...What? That's not enough incentive for you to click the link? Really?

Admittedly the author of this article is a huge Nerdfighter, but whether you are or not – and it's probably only a matter of time, honestly-, the Vlogbrothers channel is worth checking out. In addition to their usual twice weekly vlogs where brothers John and Hank Green discuss whatever the hell they feel like, which can sometimes include Fitness For Nerds or having 17 rants, the made-of-awesome creators of this incredibly popular channel also discuss some really important and thought-provoking stuff:   


Sunday, 16 February 2014

Weekly Round Up #1

Hello and welcome to a new segment here on Geeky Femmes! I (Ari) will to do a weekly roundup of interesting/important things have hit the (or at least my) radar this week.

First up, Noelle Stevenson did this ace short comic about what it can be like going into comic shops as a lady. Luckily enough I’ve never had this happen, but I’m always guarded in case it does.

Images grabbed from Noelle's Tumblr.

Actress Ellen Page recently came out and delivered a gorgeous, inspiring speech about love.

She-Hulk #1 was released by Marvel, continuing the group of lady-led comic books coming out. I gave it a good review over on my other blog.

Apologies for the brevity of this, but if you feel I’ve missed anything, feel free to comment and share!

You can find me on Twitter (@ariellalphabet) and Gina (@HEXX_)

If you’d be interested in doing a guest post here, let one of us know! 

Thursday, 13 February 2014

7 Gift Ideas for your Bestie this Galentine’s Day!

Hello Geeky Femmes! How’s your February treating you so far? As some of you know, today (13th February, the day before Valentine’s Day) is Galentine’s Day. What is Galentine’s Day? In short, it’s totally awesome. A fictional holiday dreamt up in Amy Poehler’s awesome comedy show Parks and Recreation, it’s a day where you appreciate your best and closest lady pals in the way you would celebrate Valentine’s Day.  Backed by Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, an extension of Poehler’s awesome, which helps support ladies and girls around the world, it's one of the best fake-holidays in the world! I think it’s a super cute idea to appreciate your BFFs and let them know how much you love them! Sadly I’m not hanging out with my bestie Gina this year (Booo to 9AM university starts!) but we have the weekend to be awesome. 

Onto the list!

Number One: Mixtapes/discs/playlist/your music player of choice

I’ll admit, I can be a little old-fashioned at times. Sometimes this comes as part of the various fashion subcultures I’m part of, sometimes it’s because I enjoy it. When I was at school, I would frequently make mix discs for my close friends (a friend of mine informs me that he still has one of these!) and I absolutely loved the experience. Picking songs from my wide library that I hoped my friends would love, customising a case and then giving it to them was absolutely magical. So, do the same for your friends- not only is it a great way to share your music taste and introduce your friends to new bands, it can be a great ice breaker with new people.

A sample of awesome femme-friendly playlists from 8Tracks that are great:

Happy Galentine's Day! 

Number Two: Friendship bracelet/necklaces

Leslie Knope & Ann Perkins from Parks & Rec!
Available here on Etsy

Another slightly old-school thing, I love friendship necklaces. I never had them when I was younger (partially out of not knowing anyone who would really appreciate it, and partially because I’d rather keep both necklaces to myself!) but as I grow older and peruse the endless shopping websites and services the internet has to offer, I’ve come across some awesome ones. In pretty much any Claire’s Accessories shop you can find some super cute ones, but if you think they’re a bit too little-girly, you can get some super cool ones on Etsy. Check out some of my favourites here, here and here.

Number Three: Fandoms

How cute is this Adventure Time cross stitch?!
You can buy the pattern here.

Is your best friend a Potterhead? Sherlockian? Pegasister? Mega-fan of Adventure Time? You can find her something perfect online! Whether it’s a t-shirt subtly declaring her support for Destiel, an Adventure Time cross stitch, you can find a sea of amazing things online. Or, if you don’t want to buy something, check out the sea of tutorials online, and adapt them for your needs.

Number Four: Charity Donations

If your best friend isn’t into material possessions, you can always arrange a charity donation in her name for a set amount of money. Pick a charity she feels strongly about, and away you go! V-Day is a great charity to donate to, but keep in mind any local ones.

Number Five: A magazine subscription

Magazines are both a blessing and a curse. On the plus side, you can always keep them about, be it for scrapbooking, inspiration or just a flick-through on a lazy afternoon if you don’t have time to get invested in a book. On the negative side, you can (I always tend to) wind up with a collection of them scattered around your house, dangerously teetering on any solid surface. However, magazines are always hand to have around. Bitch magazine currently has a sale on their gift subscriptions (as well as including a pretty slick gift card!) so this is another great gift idea.

Number Six: Baked goods

Everyone I know LOVES baked goods. I mean, who doesn’t? Galentine’s Day is a perfect opportutnity to make your bestie some delicious treats. I love this cupcake recipe, and I am known to make yummy Nutella cookies from time to time. Buzzfeed have a great list of yummy cupcakes which can be great inspiration… OR just make for pretty things to look at!

Number Seven: A Cup of Tea and a Chat

How perfect is this gif?!

Sure, pretty things and lovely gifts are great, but sometimes you can't beat a good cup of tea. Either in your own home or out at a cafe, a cup of tea and a long chat can be perfect. 

So there you have it! Let me know what you get up to this Galentine’s Day, and how you celebrate!

You can also find me on Twitter, as well as over on my blog

Monday, 10 February 2014

Back to your scheduled progamming. Also, help to decrease world suck!

 Aaand we're back! 
It seems we have taken an unannounced hiatus from this blog, but we are back again, and have plenty of posts planned for the future.

Today I want to talk about something that may not occur to many of us very often, if at all, and that is using the internet productively. You probably think that you're already semi-productive with your use of the internet. Maybe you use it as a platform to showcase your talents, to keep in touch with friends, keep in the loop about projects that matter to you, or to casually follow (okay, okay: stalk) your idols. Of course there is some downtime, often arising from boredom or procrastination – I totally understand this. There is nothing wrong with the fleeting but enjoyable amount of gratification one can achieve from levelling up on one's mmorpg of choice, but it's all about balance.  

Do you use any of that internet time to give hope to people who, at this very moment, are thousands of miles away from you and don't have even the most basic essentials that we take for granted each day? No? Well, here are some websites and organisations that allow you to give to those who actually need it. Websites that in some cases don't even necessitate that you part with any of your money at all.  

  1. Care2 is a platform for people who wish to make a difference with a wide variety of issues from animal welfare to politics to civil rights and the environment. Users can create and sign petitions for causes that they believe in, and visit the Click to Donate page daily, to give to charitable organisations by simply clicking the button on each tab- you don't have to donate any money of your own and clicking takes no more than a minute of your time. You can help to save a few acres of rainforest rather than idly reblogging a photograph of the rainforest on your Tumblr! Better yet, you can create an account and track how much you've helped each cause over time; way more satisfying than levelling up, right?

How does it work?
When you click on the donate button, care2's sponsors will donate to the selected cause. It's that simple.

  1. freerice is a website that allows you to donate rice for the hungry and help fund education for the underprivileged. Owned by the United Nations food programme, free rice requires you to answer randomly generated questions on a topic of your choice, including English vocabulary, maths, chemistry, the humanities, geography, the sciences and even SAT test preparation. For every correct answer, 10 grains of rice are donated by the organisation, and I should warn you, the quizzes can get very addictive.

  2. World Builders is a charitable organisation that aims to “use the collective power of readers, fellow authors and book lovers to make the world a better place”. Founded by author Pat Rothfuss, World Builders works with Heifer International to promote education, sustainable agriculture, and local industry all over the world, and in turn those who donate are in with a chance to win all sorts of cool stuff from authors and publishers of the best books and webcomics.
    There are multiple ways to participate: 
    The Lottery, which is basically what it sounds like: you donate, and are in return entered in a draw to win a bunch of cool stuff. 
    The Sure Thing, where you basically just buy something awesome from the store and Auctions, where rare and specialised services are auctioned off to the highest bidder – in the past this has included “professionals who are willing to read and critique your manuscripts...signed art and rare books. There have been quite a few chances to win guest appearances in comics and get your name into upcoming books.”

    If you're a self-proclaimed geek and book lover (which I guess is pretty likely if you're reading this blog), World Builders is probably calling out to you, so go on ahead. Just come back here after. We'll be waiting! No really, I'll be here... 
  3. Tab For A Cause is a non-profit organisation that makes donating to charities super quick and easy. All you have to do is download the add-on for your web browser (this doesn't take more than a minute!), and voilà! Each time you open a new browser tab, their sponsors donate to the wide variety of affiliated charities.
I hope that these sites demonstrate how easily you can help decrease worldsuck and make your internet browsing sessions more productive – if you're anything like Ari and I, you clock enough hours on the internet to make a sizeable difference and increase your own personal Level Of Ultimate Awesomeness in the proccess.

Monday, 9 September 2013

DC stands for Dubious Choices, Amirite?

Hello fellow Geeky Femmes, it's Ari! It's been a while since I wrote anything here, but I've been saving up all my wrath for writing and working on something really needed to be reported on. Sure, over the last month we've had some pretty bad stuff from creator of Kickass, Mark Millar's egotistcal and self-entitled mouth, but it hasn't enraged the comics community as much as what DC have spent this last week doing. 

While I don’t typically read many DC titles (and so my judgement may be either biased or missing in vital information, two things I’ll admit) what’s gone down this week has still majorly pissed me off. DC have truly been rocking the boat with a variety of questionable decisions, all of which have coalesced into one group of seriously annoyed fans. Earlier this week, J. H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman announce that they were leaving hit title Batwoman due to ‘editorial interferences’ from the higher ups, the most shocking of which stated that Williams and Blackman could not show the marriage between Kate Kane and fiancé Maggie Sawyer. Effective as of #25, the duo will no longer be on the title, much to many fan’s dismay. (Read more over on CBR, including Williams and Blackman’s statement. iO9 also had an interesting take on the news, and features a factual report) Secondly, DC have then gone on to announce a fun new art contest for talented readers and fans, with the prize to have artwork included in Harley Quinn #0, written by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti. Sounds all fun and games, right? Not quite. The contest requires prospective artists to illustrate four specific panels, as written by Conner and Palmiotti, with no knowledge as to the rest of the content, but the content is rather… Questionable. It follows Harley’s various suicide attempts, and climaxes with Harley, naked in a bathtub about to drop a variety of electrical appliances into the tub. Leaves rather a sour taste in your mouth, doesn’t it? 

A match made in heaven...
Art from DeviantArt.
While the actions mentioned within the panels may be more representative of Harley Quinn’s more frenetic characteristics (since the contest has gone live, Jimmy Palmiotti has stepped in to give more context to the panels- see here for more details) it has still sat wrong with a lot of fans, myself included. While some internet speculators have suggested the possibility that DC may be attempting to make Harley into their very own Merc With A Mouth, it’s still an odd direction to take Harley’s character. Many sites on the net have practically bent over backwards offering their views on the subject (Tumblr and Twitter being such places, much to no-one's surprise) and many news sites have jumped over each other to completely vilify DC, or in some rarer cases, defend them. All things considered, DC are being portrayed as the villains they have dedicated this month to. 

First of all, we’ll discuss the news on Batwoman, and what this could mean for DC.  While it certainly isn’t the latest DC cock-up, I feel it’s definitely up there as one of the more significant ones. As mentioned, artist and writer J. H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman have both walked off Batwoman, citing ‘editorial interference’ often at the last minute, forcing the duo to drastically alter scripts and art. While this level of editorial interference is nothing new with DC, it’s what’s being interfered with which is raising tempers.

As a brief bit of backstory for those of you unfamiliar with Kate Kane/Batwoman, here’s a cram
Cover to Batwoman #17,
art by J. H. Williams III.
session. Batwoman is one of DC’s few female superheroes leading a solo title, but in a move unseen from either of the Big Two, she is also a lesbian, and her positive portrayal within the series has garnered the creative team/s (including Greg Rucka and J. H. Williams III’s storyline Elegy, which takes place shortly before the New 52 not-a-reboot-reboot offers a well written and insightful look into Kate as a character) a series of awards from LGBT+ group GLAAD for positive representations of LGBT+ characters and portrayals in comics. Recently in the comics, Kate Kane proposed on-panel to her long-suffering girlfriend Maggie Sawyer, in what was hailed as an exciting new turn in comics and equal LGBT+ representations. 

Before I continue, it’s extremely important to clarify that at no point have DC said that they are against gay marriage, or are anti-LGBT+. This is not a thing that they have explicitly said, nor is it an attitude they’ve taken. Furthermore, from these actions you can’t necessarily prove that DC are anti-LGBT+, in this case, they’re just being dickheads to a good character. They (Dan Didio) has simply stated that DC are anti-marriage… 'Cuz y'know, God forbid a superhero be married and have a loving relationship. 

However, DC have gone on the record as saying that they don’t want to show the marriage between Kate and Maggie, if it happens at all, horrifying people everywhere. This goes in flagrant opposition to Marvel’s X-Men 2012 summer event, wherein Alpha Flight superhero Northstar (alias: Jean-Paul Beaubier) married his partner Kyle Jinadu in Astonishing X-Men #51, which had many fans celebrating the pairing, event and progressiveness that Marvel seemed to be showing. However, some have criticised the event as Marvel treating it as a ‘novelty’, due to the limited references to it. While it is mostly unfair to compare the two companies, it’s certainly not unfair to compare the two companies’ stances on marriage and gay marriage. 

Surprise! It's weakly written character motivation.
We can now go onto look more into DC’s position on marriage and relationships, and what this means to readers. It’s no big secret that very few folk in the DC universe seem to be able to keep and maintain a healthy relationship without incurring murder or worse. Just look at the latest issue of Batgirl, wherein her boyfriend gets shot. Heck, the trope ‘girlfriend-in-a-refrigerator’ as a ‘motivation’ for male characters came from DC, where Green Lantern Kyle Rayner’s girlfriend was murdered by supervillain Major Force and left to rot in the refrigerator. Charming.  However, in a curious turn from that also embodies a false sense of we-know-lady-comic-readers-yo, DC announced a comic based entirely around the romantic relationship between Superman and Wonder Woman (‘cuz all lady comic readers are super-interested in romance. By geez, I know it’s all I want from my comics, as it might just melt my cold, cold heart) and how they work as a couple and as crime-fighters. To many female comic readers, this series came off as more as an insult to many fans. That said, I’m not holding out much hope for it, but we’ll have to wait for its release before we judge… At least before we judge too harshly, anyway. Returning the topic of marriage and relationships, it’s safe for us to establish the DC has a horrible tendency to mistreat romantic partners and spouses as a poor excuse for character motivation.

The fact that DC is so against romantic relationships and marriage is not just inherently sad, but
Kate proposing to Maggie,
art by J. H. Williams III.
it’s also incredibly damaging. While I as a person may not have a positive view towards marriage, I’m not going to insist that my media follows my worldviews. I think that marriage, for the right people and right reasons is a wonderful thing, bringing together two people who are very much in love. In the case of Kate Kane and Maggie Sawyer, it would be an absolutely earth-shattering, jubilant thing. It would potentially change the shape of comics to come, and would prove a talking point for years. As I already mentioned, I’m not a fan of marriage, but I would read and celebrate the hell out of a Batwoman marriage comic! I think it would be a good thing for DC, and a great thing for Kate herself. However, If DC aren’t willing to portray positive relationships or marriages, then what does it mean for future characters? What does it mean for people read the comics? It is perpetuating that superheroes can’t have romantic interests. They can’t be happy in a relationship, which is an extremely negative message to send. To all those people who look up to superheroes (myself included) it’s saying to them, you’re either a superhero, or you can have a romantic interest, and to this, I say no. I refuse to accept this. You can be a superhero with a husband, or wife, or girlfriend or boyfriend (or a mix of all four!) if you want to be. Superheroics don’t end on the streets. You can have both. The fact that these relationships are being portrayed in such a negative way is hurtful to those who consume the media. 

Next up, we’ll discuss the art competition based around Harley Quinn. At it’s very, very base, it’s a fairly good idea. A contest to scout out new talent, (God knows DC are doing a damn good job scaring away their own talent!) using the premise of one of DC’s most popular characters outside of the Holy Trinity, of course, and launching a new title. On paper, it’s a great idea, gives a lot of  amazing unknowns the opportunity to share their work with a big company, something they wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise. The contest is being judged by artist Jim Lee (Superman/Batman, Dark X-Men who also wrote a series of interesting tweets about the controversy, collected here) and DC head honcho Dan Didio, so artists really are getting their work looked over by professionals.

However, the thing that has sat wrong with just about everyone is what the script requests:  

4 panels
Harley is on top of a building, holding a large DETACHED cellphone tower in her hands as lightning is striking just about everywhere except her tower. She is looking at us like she cannot believe what she is doing. Beside herself. Not happy.
Harley is sitting in an alligator pond, on a little island with a suit of raw chicken on, rolling her eyes like once again, she cannot believe where she has found herself. We see the alligators ignoring her.
Harley is sitting in an open whale mouth, tickling the inside of the whale’s mouth with a feather. She is ecstatic and happy, like this is the most fun ever.
Harley sitting naked in a bathtub with toasters, blow dryers, blenders, appliances all dangling above the bathtub and she has a cord that will release them all. We are watching the moment before the inevitable death. Her expression is one of “oh well, guess that’s it for me” and she has resigned herself to the moment that is going to happen. 
Cover art for Harley Quinn #0.
Art by Amanda Conner.

While a lot of news sites have gone for the sensationalistic headline “DC COMICS ASK YOU TO DRAW A NAKED LADY COMITTING SUICIDE!!!!!” it boils down to much more than this. Palmiotti has gone on to explain what the context behind the script is (a mildly intelligent fourth-wall breaking commentary on the state of the strange imaginings from writers, as well as a strange commentary about nudity in comics? I’m not entirely sure on that part) but it still leaves many questions unanswered. Sure, Harley is the lovable, crazy rogue we’ve always known, but isn’t this a bit extreme? Sure, in context, it’s a commentary on crazy writers, but it’s still a strange concept. Draw a woman, naked in a bathtub about to commit suicide (for whatever reason)? Even WITH context it’s kinda weird. It perpetuates a rather lackadaisical attitude about suicide, and with the contest happening the weekend before National Suicide Prevention Week, it equates out to either a sick joke or incredible bad timing- take it as you will. 

In conclusion, DC Comics have done some shitty stuff this week. The Tumblr page Has DC Done Something Stupid Today? Has been buzzing constantly, and the counter has rarely raised above one. Everyone knew DC were capable of doing stupid stuff (and have been doing for years) but it seems that this past week they’ve been making bad choices in an abundance this week, pissing off people left, right and centre. DC’s anti-marriage/positive relationship has resulted in them looking like fools, and the fans and followers of Batwoman have almost launched a revolt against the company. As for the Harley Quinn palaver… Less said the better. I still hope to wake up one morning and find it was all a horrible dream. That said, there are still potential silver linings to be made from both situations. With the Batwoman-marriage issue DC might one day rescind and change their thoughts, we might be onto something- I’d rather see positive relationships in my comics than awful ones, and I’d especially like to see a good wedding- especially so if it’s Kate Kane’s. DC seem to be ‘learning’ through a trial by fire, as fans are more vocal than they ever have been when things have been done that hasn’t been to their satisfaction. Also, as J. H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman leave Batwoman, it’s been announced at Baltimore Comic Con by Dan Didio that Marc Andreyko would be taking over on writing, and has promised that he wants to live up to the legacy.  All in all, it’s safe to say that DC have really screwed us all over this past week, and seem to have lost a lot of fans.
 Follow me on Twitter for more comic ranting: @Ariellalphabet