Monday, May 25, 2009

"Alan Moore's Misogynistic Legacy"

"...Alan Moore likes scripting violence against women. The fact that it may “work” in context doesn’t change anything. In fact, it allows Moore to get off twice, first by creating it and second by implicitly daring us to call him on it and expose ourselves as exactly the kind of insufferable prigs who are too stupid to be reading his books in the first place."
-- JR Minkel, "Alan Moore's Misogynistic Legacy"

Excuse me while I go grab my popcorn.


  1. Anonymous4:26 PM

    To be frank, Moore is part of a huge number of male comic book writers with issues regarding the female characters under their control, aren't they? Fortunately (I suppose) the majority's biggest sin involves badly-written female characters (which makes my girlfriend hurl the occasional book to the floor with a profanity-framed exclamation of derision).

  2. Oh Valerie! I really wish you hadn't linked over to this moron's website. I now have to compose a reply to him, which will most likely erupt in a huge argument. Oh well...

    In case you didn't know, I am a HUGE Alan Moore fan. HUGE :)

  3. Hey, thanks for the link. I am girding up to be schooled by the fanboys.

  4. I was having a similar conversation with a friend(about Tarentino rather than Moore). What I wondered was this. Action stories are largely stories about violence. Violence against heroes, villains and bystanders. Stories with soldiers, criminals, torture, bombs, dead people, things that go boom.

    Action stories have always included violence against their heroes, usually daringly escaped. I'm thinking Bruce Willis walking barefoot, painfully, over broken glass. It's what gives the story its drama.

    So when you put women into an action story, you're going to create scenes of "violence against women." There's a difference between female characters who are tied up damsels in distress, and female characters who are action heroines as fully realized and intelligent and ass-kickly amazing as Mina.

    Now, one could say violence is altogether bad and shouldn't be portrayed as lovingly as we do in the US. But to say someone's misogynist because there are scenes of women getting tortured in their generally violent comics ignores the fact that an action story has always been about violence against men.

  5. This is the kind of thing that I'd like to say isn't actually an issue--that maybe it's just people picking out the violent parts of his work and holding it up like a pattern. Unfortunately, it's kind of hard to ignore at this point, especially given the most recent installment of the LOEG series published by Top Shelf last week. In it, Captain Nemo's daughter is, you guessed it, gang-raped by a bunch of savage Englishmen. That, of course, is what she needs to finally be motivated to take on the mantle of her recently deceased father, and to give in to her truly vicious and powerful nature.

    Sorry if I gave any spoliers.

    Reading that was pretty insulting, if for no other reason than the fact that she needed to get raped to realize her "full potential." As if that's the only thing that could inspire her to such a decision. It was so cliched and clumsy, and frankly, been done so many times in his work, that it was pretty awful in every way. At least they didn't show it in graphic detail this time around. Bleh.

  6. Anonymous6:05 PM

    I always find it fascinating when critics think they can give established words completely new meanings, or invalidate the current one. Because we all know that 'context' is such a trivial notion.

  7. Quickly followed by...


  8. Did you read Minkel's follow up? And apology?

  9. Looks like they already apologized.

    I just think Moore writes women really poorly, but I think a good 75% of comic book writers (some women included) do.

    Gail Simone is one of the few writers I feel gets both male and female voices "right."

  10. I think this guy didn't do his research very well. From what I gathered watching the Watchmen Motion Comic DVD, the second time that the original Silk Spectre and The Comedian got it on it was mutual. At least that's the way she talked about it at the end of the story. And when Laurie and Dan left Silk Spectre I planted a kiss on The Comedian in that group picture she had by her bedside.

  11. Poorly researched pseudo-thesis causes online clusterfuck...

    News at 11.

  12. I just checked Wikipedia and I'm correct about The Comedian and Silk Spectre. Here's what it says, "Although he attempted to rape the first Silk Spectre in the 1940s, issue nine reveals that years later he fathered her daughter Laurie as part of a consensual sexual relationship".

  13. And League of Extraordinary Gentleman was a good movie. I could probably find more errors in his article but I don't feel like reading the rest of it.

  14. He may or may not have a point but I don't feel like reading the rest of the article.

  15. The point being about the misogynistic stuff, but like I said LXG was a good movie and he made that error about Silk Spectre I and The Comedian.

  16. Just to quibble pedantically, the article says that in "Watchmen" Laurie was conceived out of a second, successful rape attempt. Which isn't accurate, since it's directly stated that Laurie's conception was actually the result of a consensual union.

    Not that this should dismiss the author's entire points -- in fact, this is actually the more potentially contentious perspective, since it pretty much raises all sort of questions about rape-equalling-love, women falling in love with their rapists and such.

    But yeah, Moore's not without his slightly weird ideas about women, it has to be said.

  17. More feminist BS written by some a-hole who sees misogyny everywhere.

  18. Nit-pick: I hope he was being sarcastic when referring to We3 as "super cute". I highly respect the book, but I had to give it away because of its violence.

  19. And the final point, all the characters that rape or mistreat women in Alan Moore are severely punished, face ripped out and thrown out the window, savagely tortued/raped by Mr Hyde, and again, tortured by demented pirates.

    It's weird, that when people make rape jokes, people complain about making light of it. But when a book puts rape as the most terrible thing ever, you have the same reaction.

    You can't please people!

  20. Moore himself:

    "I cant think of one male artist or writer that hasn't done something pretty offensive at one time or another. I doubt you'd have to look very far in my own work to find some particularly lurid examples, probably as bad as anything I've described here. We (comic book writers) all do it. But just because we all do it doesn't mean it's right."

    -Alan Moore

    Sexism in comics Page 20

    the whole article:

  21. I'm going to bypass the fisticuffs in my response because I don't think of any instance in the man's work where a female character gets thumped around more than a man, or isn't beating heads in herself. Silk Spectre's the closest to that, and she gives the Comedian a fight at the beginning. FROM HELL, obviously, actually happened, at least the damage done to the victims, so let's table that, too.

    I can't say at any point have I felt that in some of the admittedly horrible things that happen to Moore's female characters he's nudging the reader and saying "Eh? Isn't that grand?"

    Silk Spectre's rape was horrible, and while some part of her felt deserving of it (or in the film, seemed to come alive at it), it's kind of a hard question when there are people that screwed up and you're interested in complex, contradictory characters.

    Rape's a terrible thing, obviously and it's used as such in Moore's work. When Griffin assails Harker, it's supposed to be horrible. When Hyde assails Griffin more successfully, THEN the reader is meant to feel a little more sense of justice and satisfaction, and yet he goes out of his way to emphasize what an awful experience it is. Just because Griffin deserves it doesn't mean we want to see it. It's still disturbing, as much as his own attack on Harker.

    Kid Miracleman was raped, and again, it was used to show extreme trauma and certainly showed the reader why the character might be so devastated.

    So there: four rapes, two men, two women, all horrible and frightening and sympathetic.

    As Molly said. It's drama. If the men are risking their necks in battle and the women are under no greater threat than to be sent home out of harm's way, isn't that way more misogynist by not treating them as worthy persons and/or characters?

  22. I suppose the follow-up post will be about about Neil Gaiman's treatment of black women.

  23. Anonymous2:02 AM

    But Nothing, don't you realize that everyone else knows more about the creator's intentions than the creator?

    And finding things to bitch about involving Alan Moore is the "in" thing now.