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Friday, November 17, 2006

Goodbye To Comics: Well Yeah, Sometimes Abuse DOES Create The Superheroine

Goodbye To Comics:
Well Yeah, Sometimes Abuse DOES Create The Superheroine


There is a lot of debate in the comics blogosphere regarding the depiction/retconning of an abusive interlude in the lives of one superpowered female character or another. The objection is usually about how an abusive past shouldn't be used as the "reason" why a woman became a superhero.

Well then what the fuck else is that abusive past good for?

Sometimes it comes down to:
1) Go down the path of self-loathing and self-destruction
or
2) Become the Black Cat, or Catwoman, or Black Canary, or whomever

If you've been following the posts, you'll remember the scene where I'm in the ambulance, theoretically bleeding to death from the most sensitive part of my body, the hapless Donovan Paul in tow.

Donovan tries to "cheer me up" by offering suggestions as to how this accident, which will eventually bankrupt me and leave me deathly afraid of sex, has a "silver lining."

Was Donovan trying too hard?

Yes.

But without the belief and motivation that this shitty event, like a number of shitty events sprinkled throughout my life, could be used as an impetus to create positive and, dare I say, "superheroic" things, I fucking would have went batty. And I don't mean "batty" like Batman.

So these narratives regarding the female superheroine with abuse and trauma in her past actually INSPIRE me.

So you mean Catwoman became strong and a fighter and took control of her life?

Super.

Now.

Does that mean that there isn't a section of the male reading audience that gets off sexually by viewing the rape and torture of superheroines in these very comics?

Ah, there's the rub.

6 comments:

  1. If I may, I think the problem with the rape-as-Krypton-explosion is not merely that it's usually handled so awfully and inhumanely, but that it's so pervasive that few female characters seem to be able to escape it, either by design or by retcon. It's as if every male hero got his powers from a radioactive spider. The women all too often get their powers from radioactive sex, seemingly.

    I know in my heart that there are probably very moving stories of rape in this genre that could be told, bizarre as it sounds, but I surely don't remember reading any off the top of my head.

    And as I said via email, while I sure as hell wouldn't use the phrase 'silver lining,' I do think your gift for writing shines through even these very sad, very dark moments you're chronicling. I hope it does good for both the author and the readers, and I hope your days are as bright as you deserve very soon.

    Wish I had better words.

    Gail

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  2. Never say never, but mainstream superhero comics have NEVER been a place (in my view) for the subtelty of character and insight in which abuse is treated as the complex issue it is.

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  3. {{Does that mean that there isn't a section of the male reading audience that gets off sexually by viewing the rape and torture of superheroines in these very comics? Ah, there's the rub.}}

    Probably not the best choice to use the words "get off sexually" and "rub" in juxtaposed sentences -- the whole Shakespearean allusion is lost to the visceral.

    Aye, the "rub", indeed.

    ~~JD~~

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  4. There are very few stories about a Superhero or heroine who decided to embark on their journey because they had been so blessed that they felt the need to share with others.

    The only one I can think of is Golden Age Mister Terrific, and at that, he was suicidal when he made the decision.

    Oh, there's also Doc Savage... but he's not really a superhero...

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  6. Okay, there are some origins where a female character was sexually assaulted, but not very many.
    If we're speaking metaphorically...well most super people were raped. Batman was raped of his family; as Ms. Simone points out, Superman was raped of his entire planet, Spider-man was genetically raped by that spider, etc.
    Not to diminish the pain involved for those who have been raped, but we are talking about comic characters, a lot, here.

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