Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Should Men Be Eligible For The Lulu Awards?

This post is in response to several people who contacted me to question whether Von Allen, a man, is eligible for a Lulu Award.

The Lulu Awards, quote, "recognizes the people and projects that helped to open eyes and minds to the amazing comic and cartooning work by and/or about women." Should men be nominated, if they do a work featuring a female character? Should they be eligible for the Best Newcomer award? Should they be eligible for the Hall of Fame (as I believe Neil Gaiman won once)?

I have no wording in the official Lulu Awards passed onto me that men are not eligible -- though if somebody has access to an older awards rules in which it is more clear, please let me know. Further, I'm not sure as a non-profit Friends of Lulu can "leave people out" based on gender -- though again, if you know for a fact that we can, please let me know.

I have no strong desire to leave men out of this contest, as long as their work presents strong female characters (or, in the case of the Leah Adezio Award, presents great comics for kids). On the other hand, I realize the concern that some people have regarding letting males into this contest. The whole point of the Lulu Awards, it can be argued, is to specifically give women an advantage or preference within a male-dominated industry.

But if there was a way to keep males out of the awards -- either via a rule or a panel of like-minded judges -- should we?

I am in with Lulu out of a desire for diversity in comics across-the-board. I have zero interest being in an organization that keeps one gender completely out; all it does is just replicates the same situation we fought so hard against. We do not gain empowerment by repeating the mistakes of our "oppressors". This is not like keeping a separate team for male and female basketball, out of some assumed natural "superiority" of one side that might overpower the other. This is making comics. Males as a gender are not better at making comics than women (nor are women better than men). We do not need to "protect" women from male competition.

As long as we have diversity in our voters (and/or judging panels), we are OK. Women and men, of all races, religions, and sexual preferences. Comics are for everyone. And I think that diversity is evident in our nominees.

I don't want the "keep men out" contingent in Friends of Lulu. I want men to be members, I want them to be judges at awards, I want to them to be nominated for awards when appropriate. I want to celebrate the work of men about women when that work is excellent; I want to encourage that.

It is possible, however, that my views are truly not those of which Friends of Lulu was founded. It's possible that my stated views on this subject are wrong-headed and/or are not helpful to the cause of women in comics. In which case, I encourage women who feel strongly about this issue to get together and take over Friends of Lulu in 2011. Then I will create a new organization called Comics Are For Everyone and start fresh according to my own beliefs about things.

My dream is that there is no need for the Lulu Awards in the future, because we in both the mainstream & "indie" comic industry got past these issues regarding gender. We aren't there yet. But we might be. That is what we work towards.

PS: I enjoy watching some people pull their hair out trying to get this guy disqualified for "Best New Talent." Hey, maybe we should put a magnifying glass on all the male nominee's qualifications and get as many kicked off the ballot as possible! *that* will help the cause of women in comics!

PPS: Look, I'm not a dummy. I realize by now (what, three years?) that a number of people truly do not want change in Lulu, truly do not want a more diverse organization, truly do not want any innovation, and just want that same insular group patting each other on the back and plugging each other's work & giving each other awards as it has been for years. I realize that trying to bring any sort of change, updating, or innovation to this organization only makes me hated and resented by said group. It's human nature. So again I am extending to that group the opportunity to take the organization back in 2011 and do everything as you did before. I will bring things up-to-date and finish the paperwork that was neglected before I arrived, and then give it to you with a clean slate. And then I will start "Comics Are For Everyone." Truly nothing will make me happier.