It’s been said by many, including DC comic book writer Gail Simone on a Twitter rant, that sexism in the comic book industry is more rampant now than in previous decades (after all it was in the 70’s when Marvel Girl went from being a school-girl secondary character to Phoenix, the most powerful being in the galaxy). How is it that at a time when we should be progressing forward when it comes to equality, the comic book world seems to not only be remaining stagnant but is actually reversing. DC comics are one of the worst culprits of this, making extremely unhealthy and prejudice decisions which they consistently refuse to apologise for. Every other day DC seems to say something offensive and their fan-base is wising up to it all and calling them out on it. It’s gotten so bad that a website has been made tracking the days since someone in DC has done something stupid.
One of their biggest mistakes, and the thing that got everyone noticing the negativity surrounding DC, was the talent contest in which they asked aspiring comic book artists to draw Harley Quinn committing suicide, posting with it a highly sexualised image of her naked in a bathtub with electrical appliances all around her (not that killing female characters in a sexualised manner is anything new to DC (*cough Stephanie Brown cough*)
In creating an image and competition based around the sexualisation and glorification of the suicide of one of DCs most beloved female characters was completely inappropriate (especially a week before national suicide prevention week) and it opened up people’s eyes to the many vast problems with DC. And these problems are not just happening in the comic book and online section of DC, but in every corner in every crevice. From the editorial rooms, to the cartoons, to the movies.
She was and always has been an inspiration to young girls everywhere.
Yet in recent time DC are continually denying her the respect she deserves. They won’t make a Wonder Woman movie because they believe that it won’t sell. They have somehow deluded themselves into thinking that one of the most iconic female characters ever created won’t sell. So what so they do? They throw her in as a side character in Batman Vs Superman. They felt the need to use two male character’s storylines as a way to launch her own, which is completely unnecessary. The fact that there’s a Joss Whedon written Wonder Woman script sitting abandoned on a shelf or a dusty hardrive seems unbelievable to me. The idea that female leads don’t sell in the comic book world is ridiculous, The Dark Phoenix saga is not only considered one of the most famous storyline from that era but it was a best seller. (not that you would ever be able to tell that from the X-Men movies where Phoenix existed purely to heighten Wolverines Man-pain.)
But D.C. aren’t all bad…
The world rejoiced of course when the new Batwoman comic was released and we got the first lesbian with a title role (yay equality!). But we all know how that ended up- the writers J.H Williams and W. Haden Blackmen quit because the lads in the head office prohibited them from letting Batwoman marry her girlfriend. And while we’re on the subject of the Batwoman series, another argument against female leads was the fanboys just aren’t into it. Which is just incorrect, and such was proved when DC failed to print Maggie’s answer to Batwoman’s proposal. There was uproar, the majority of which was from male readers who wanted to see the heartfelt warm fuzzy ‘yes’. (Which they sort of finally gave the world 5 issues later).
It is common knowledge that the comic book industry is shrinking but it’s not necessarily from lack of interest- Marvels movies are some of the most successful and widely followed movies ever created. The problem is that most of them are outdated. They are aimed at men when 50% of their audience is and should be, female. But these industries are continually denying women the connection they crave with these comic stories. Comic book based cartoons have been cancelled purely because they attract more girls than boys because girls don’t buy toys. The tween (8-12 year old) females of America spend tens of billions of dollars a year so the idea of avoiding a young female audience makes no financial sense. If girls don’t buy toys then make merch with something they do buy.
I’m not even going to go into the fact that they hired a known homophobe to write Superman or the exclusion of Gordon’s daughter from the Nolan movies (it’s not like she goes on to become a critical part of the bat-world or anything. Spoiler alert: she’s Batgirl), or the fact that none of their recent movies have passed the Bechdel test (a test that basically determines whether or not a movie is sexist). I’m not even going to go into the fact that David Goyer (screenwriter for the Dark Knight Trilogy and Man Of Steel) claimed that She-Hulk was created to extend the male power fantasy of the Hulk and was created merely for the Hulk sexual pleasure (which is ridiculous because she was created as an equal and also ew, gross, incest, they’re cousins.)
It’s all just too tiring. We need more people like Gail Simone and Chris Claremont (writer of The Dark Phoenix Saga) in the comic book industry and less people like David Goyer. The comic book industry needs to stop alienating half of its audience. DC needs to start owning up to their mistakes. Millions of people across the world love the DC characters, they’re all just getting tired of the way they are treated.