I WANT to still like comics

Scott Lobdell has worked tirelessly for the empowerment of women in his series Red Hood and the Outlaws. So I’ve decided to empower the shit out of Scott Lobdell. Look at that empowerment

Let the empowerment flow into you.
I feel like Starfire gets all the attention though. Lobdell empowers ALL of his female characters!

There’s the flight attendant:

See Jason get hit on without even trying! See the flight attendant used as a plot device to make Jason feel good about himself and get a brofist. After that one last parting shot of her ass, she is never seen again in the comic. Probably off being powerful.

Then there’s the barmaid:

Lobdell also teaches both male and female readers alike important lessons in the book! Presumably his lesson is: telling a woman to give you a boner is exactly what they want to hear. In fact, “make me a boner” is just as flattering as “make me a sandwich” in terms of exactly what empowered women REALLY want to hear. ONLY powerful women enjoy this kind of witty back-and-forth. They can take it. Its funny, see? You have to have a sense of humor and be playful with the assholes to be truly empowered.

Then there’s the lady-cop:

Sticking your butt out when handcuffed is really practical. This pose helps distract him from the handcuffs.
"Now that he's sexually frustrated I'll make my move!"

And more important lessons! Sexy women in authority are eeeeeeebil
sticking your butt out is still really practical.

All women who are sexy but you have to respect them or some shit are usually just pent-up rage monsters anyway and smoke shoots out of their head when confronted with arrows.


Alright, serious business time. This is a sex-positive blog, and I do believe women who have plenty of sex without apology, are perfectly healthy and indeed, empowered. But I am so damn sick of hearing comic-book writers exalt their characters as “empowered.”

Women in comics have a long history of being objects (See “women in refrigerators”).

Lobdell defended himself from the outcry following RHatO’s release. He was saddened that the “vocal minority” had called her a sex toy and other such slut-shaming terms (He can’t abide slut-shaming).

“Vocal Minority”: Dude, the way you portrayed Starfire is really offensive.


“Vocal Minority”: ….

Lobdell’s mind:

What’s this? Everyone’s freaking out because a woman they knew and loved is lifeless on the ground and unrecognizable? God, everyone is just FREAKING OUT and JUST DOESN’T GET IT.

What happened to Starfire is the worst example of objectification in comics I’ve ever seen. In almost every panel she’s in, at least in the first 3 issues, her appearance is mentioned – and “praised.”

Prepubescent lad sees Starfire’s glorious titties and has to post it online immediately to share with the world - because that’s what a fine body is for: ogling by men.

Hell, 70% of everything Roy’s says is a comment about Starfire being a sex goddess. The other 30% is spent kissing Jason’s ass or making comments about other women pictured.

(I’m actually still trying to figure out what Roy’s appeal is. He just seems like an irredeemable loser to me. If there’s anyone who likes Roy in RHATO, please, let me know what you like about him. I’m genuinely curious)

Admittedly, he does have this part. “Let’s talk about that sex?”

Presumably, if Starfire and Jason had continued, it would have gone like this:

Starfire: Even though I was so open about it with you a page ago, sex being a natural and healthy part of life, I don’t want to talk about it anymore: AWKWARD, ugh.

Jason: For the last time, Roy, I do not want a threesome!
(actually I approve of that)

After reading the 1st issue, I thought, maybe this was just a controversy ploy to pull in more readers. So I read the first 3 (my friend has a subscription and lets me borrow). It was really disgusting so I decided to stop.

Then I heard that there were epiphanies about Starfire in the 6th issue, and I was curious, so I read up to issue 6. It was still disgusting.

Everyone gets beat up in superhero comics. But why is she making an O-face and arching her back while being dangled by her hair? (and I know the fetishization is a tired argument, but I think it's still worth arguing)
Hey look, the male hero cradles an unconscious, sexy, damsel in his arms; never seen that image before.

She’s cold and sad....
in a cold, sad world. But Roy, dear Roy, is such a positive force in her life, with his hilariously assinine ways <3

Turns out she was totally fine. The anti-alien beam that hit her did not take away her powers – she was just temporarily stripped of her power and feeling pretty down. After Roy charged in and saved the day, she revealed there was never any danger – but thank God that he did, so that we could show a woman who can bench-press a bus needing saving by a recovering addict because of all her feels during her temporary vulnerability.

Now I have heard some people, girls even, say that they really like Starfire’s characterization. My first response was, “what characterization?” but I suppose there are some examples.

Pictured above: The “Strong Female Character” Syndrome set in at a young age (also, are those boobs on that 7-year-old?).

The 6th issue, where I was promised some characterization would happen, was where I was really excited to see some epiphanies about Starfire, and why she’s on rohypnol, having suffered through issues 4 and 5.

What did we get, folks?

Jason talks about himself.

Starfire understands and accepts him for exactly what he is.

And they hug.

The best part of all? Oh yes, it gets better. After you’ve spilled your heart out to her loving ears, she’s not going to bother you with any of her troubles.

Leave the past in the past, she says.

Starfire’s characterization: The perfect girlfriend. On top of being very good at sex, and very beautiful, and not jealous, and being a great listener, she’s not going to smother you with all of her needy feelings. No sir, just comfort and love for you.

“You just meditate buddy; it’s been a rough day.”

She’s got the liberated sex-goddess and the special snowflake themes going for her.

The sixth issue also features another bit of controversy. Jason is nekkid:

The controversy arises because the fanboys pointed out the hypocrisy of the fangirls: no one raised hell over Jason’s hot, exposed body.

Let’s review objectification again. Compare Jason’s naked poses to Starfire’s anytime poses. Jason is not serving as a prop in a female erotic fantasy, even if he is providing cheesecake. He’s behaving as his personality dictates he would, upon being confronted with a situation in which he finds himself in the nude. In comparison, in every image featuring Starfire she is posed bonerifically, for the benefit of the reader, and not for the benefit of Starfire's personality - wait actually it is; a big part of her personality is posing around the place, if one is to base personality on actions.

Starfire's personality based on actions:
Really likes Jason and Roy
Is derisive to everyone who is not Jason and Roy, peasants that they are
Poses sexy (includes blowing things up).

3/3 personality traits that revolve around pleasing Jason, Roy, and sexually frustrated 13-year old male readers.

Let's look at some other women in the comic. This woman appears once:

and she’s not hypersexualized. I’m certain she’ll come back, but for now, she’s a mystery.  

There’s also Ducra. Ducra is kind of a bamf.

The little She-Yoda is quite kickass. And dead (plot point).

So, what’s the big deal?

The outraged “vocal minority” has been characterized as jealous, ugly girls, slut-shamers, butthurt feminists, and many other things, I’m sure.

“Butthurt” hurts my feelings, but I am very, very angry about RHatO.

I am angry because the women are inhuman. I don’t mean that because they're aliens, or spirits, or demonically possessed – I mean that they’re objects. Their identities have been so stripped of dimension that all that remains is a cold cardboard cutout. The women in comics are such extreme parodies of personalities, they cease to function as characters; they are objects.

They are goddesses and erotic fantasies.

They are mysterious and beyond our ability to comprehend them.
"bitch please"

I got into comics a few years ago, and I absolutely love comics! I love reading about superheroes, especially Batman and all the Robins and Batgirls. I love their interactions with the Superman family. I love their attitudes and approaches to problem solving, and their martial arts skills, and their humor, and their darkness.

And I love Jason! He makes faces like this:

The storyline where he fought the lady cop was legitimately entertaining to me. My favorite part was where he meditates underwater and then jumps out, swords swinging in a wave of badassery. That was cool!

He’s relatable. I know some people like him (minus the superheroics).

I don’t know anyone like this:

She’s a chauvinist’s wet dream. She has all the attitudes of everything misogynists think women have (that beautiful women are high and mighty and mean), but she’s still absolutely down to have sex with the loser (sorry Roy) that lonely readers relate to.

Critics said she was a sex toy. If Starfire were real, and people were calling her a whore, that would be messed up and entirely different from calling a fictional character mean names. The fact is she is a fictional character created by a man, who seems to take porn as his sample from where to draw female characters, makes her the embodiment of chauvinistic objectification.

I’m angry because I want to enjoy comics to the same extent that men can. I used to be in the camp that men were just as sexualized as women were in comics. And hell, I love the heroines that can be powerful and sexy. I can appreciate the aesthetics and enjoy a good story.

But it is not the same. I said the women were inhuman, when I should have said DEHUMANIZED. This idealized woman is still ideal for men (though I know many men have a problem with Starfire also, she being very far from ideal).

And I can’t enjoy reading this comic because every page is a reminder that this is not for me. This is not for my enjoyment. This is a fantasy for men. This is an imaginary power trip. And most importantly, women are accessories for the men’s power and men’s characters.

I’ve been told (repeatedly), that if I don’t like it, don’t read it. And I don’t. I’ve stopped. But I am incredibly bitter about it. I want to read about Jason, Roy, and Starfire and their exciting adventures! I resent that the pages are full of Jason-and-Roy-going-on-adventures-and-it’s-more-awesome-because-Starfire-is-there-too-with-her-glamorous-hair.

The Comics community is not shy about the fact that girls aren’t welcome in the tree house. At the 2011 SDCC a woman went to many of the reboot panels and asked where were the women title characters and women writers and artists. The attendees booed her in front of her young daughter (Fanboys are of course notorious for their inflated sense of entitlement and resistance to change calm, courtesy, and inclusiveness). It’s off-putting and I find myself increasingly wondering if I really want to be a part of this inflexible community. Apparently, it IS too much to ask for relatable, human, non-white, non-hetero, non-male characters.

There are positive things to focus on. Indie and alternative comics seem to be a safer platform for women to enter, as both creators and consumers. Within the superhero genre, there’s this wonderful website, “Girls Read Comics Too,” which provides a nice setting for women to discuss their favorite caped crusaders.

But even focusing on those things, I’m still hurt by the fact that the superhero genre and its two major suppliers, DC and Marvel, can’t be bothered to repair the demographic disparity. The purpose of the reboot was to increase sales. I figured I’d still get my monthly action comic and the change wouldn’t be too bad – and might even be good.

But this DC reboot seemed to have dug its claws deep into this ugly aspect of comics and magnified it. Something that didn’t bother me before the reboot is now glaring out at me on every page, and not just in RHatO.

Why on earth would the publishers and editors not try and push to make Comics more accessible for half the population instead of making them feel increasingly alienated?

Girls do read comics too, and all I ask for is that women are portrayed as human beings.