Thursday, August 16, 2007

Amy Reads the Year (on August 17th, 2007)

It is Week Three of Arrogant Self Reliance’s Blogiversary, Gentle Reader, and originally, I planned to answer All Four Questions I posed in my initial post two weeks ago. For those in the audience Not Following Along At Home, I have seen these four questions over and over again throughout this past year, regarding the Woman (in comics) Question. Sometimes sincere, sometimes ironic, sometimes snide, the four questions boil down as follows:

1) "Do women read comics?"

2) "Why do women *still* read comics?"

3) "If you don’t like it, Ladies, why not *make the comics*?"

4) "Why don’t women understand that they are *just comics*?"

And in some Roundabout Way, I intend this post to be an answer to Question Number Two.

Recently, I returned from the Annual Before-School-Starts Trip Home to visit the Parents Reads. As the Parents Reads live in New Orleans, this trip, inevitably, coincides with Hurricane Season, so I drive, always, in case we need to make A Clean Getaway.

The trip from Small College Town to New Orleans isn’t *terribly* long, but long enough, all the same. Longer than Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet, shorter than a Twilight Zone Marathon. This Humble Author often stops in the same town both to and from New Orleans, for gas, for lunch, for a stretch.

This past week, while driving back to Small College Town and thus Mr. and Pup Reads, both of whom were Unable to Accompany Me Home due to Prior Obligations (on Mr. Reads’ end, anyhow, as Pup Reads contributes little to the running and management of the household other than love and adorability), I stopped at a Large Chain Fast-Food Establishment to acquire sustenance, however greasy. While in line, I noticed a little plastic box on the wall, about waist-height, with two rows of toys in them: some miniature teddy bears, and some action figures a la Legion.

Gentle Reader, it has been Some Time since I have purchased a Happy Meal, but that time is not as distant as You Might Think. In particular, fun action figures, the Very Happy Plastic Halloween Happy Meal Pails, I’ve been known, On Occasion, to Indulge the inner Girl Amy Reads. And she was, if I may be so bold to say, Rather Giddy over seeing DC characters in Happy Meals.

Not just This Humble Author, however, but another Girl, Bona Fide “Girl” by Age at that, waist-height, staring, with awe, at the Legion Toys. She reached out a chubby hand and pressed it against the glass, right over Lightning Lad’s face. And then Said Girl’s Parent came over, took the child by the hand, said, “No, honey, you want a girl toy,” and led her away.

Now, let us forget, just for a moment, my Other Problem with this scenario. That’s right, Friends, the unmentioned one: the lack of female Legion members in the toy set. Let us move past that and instead, look directly at the problem as to why some express shock and awe over the fact that Women Read Comics, and *still* Read Comics. Really, it’s quite simple: because people don’t believe Girls Should.

Now as the Delightful and Articulate Ms. Healey reminds us, and often, Girls Do Read Comics, and they are, at times, Rather Perturbed at that. I certainly read comics at a young age, and as a child, I was bombarded with images of Strong Women in Comics and Science Fiction.

It’s true, Friends. I can recount wearing Wonder Woman and Supergirl underoos under my school uniform. I remember my aunt coiling my long hair into Princess Leia cinnamon buns for Halloween, for Friday afternoon, for fun. I remember sitting in front of the television, watching Wonder Woman, sitting in my bedroom, reading comics and sci fi/fantasy books. But also, I remember watching The Incredible Hulk, and reading Action Comics, and pretending to be Spider-Man. I remember watching The Challenge of the Super Friends. I remember getting boy *and* girl toys with my cheeseburgers, because my parents allowed me to choose what I wanted.

Now, Gentle Reader, let me assure you: the Parents Reads, while Wonderful and Lovely People, are Rather Shocked by the—dare I say it?—rampant liberality of their daughter. That is to say, the Parents Reads had No Agenda, Feminist or Otherwise, in the raising and maintaining of their Girl Child. So when I say that I got both boy and girl toys, both He-Man and She-Ra, both GI Joe and Jem and the Holograms, both Wonder Woman and Superman, that was the product of Good Parenting. Because of things like this, I grew up knowing “Math is Hard!” *not* because Barbie said so, and *not* because I was a Girl Child, but because, for an English-and-History Reader like myself, Math *was* harder, not nearly as easy to grasp as Books, and Dates, and Abstract Arguments.

That being said, I saw this Girl Child in front of me denied a toy *simply because it wasn’t a “girl toy”*. And I was reminded, one year after beginning a blog on feminism and pop culture, the very reason why I began said blog in the first place. I remembered the reason why Future Babies Reads will have Spider-Man *and* Wonder Woman, regardless of gender.

A few weeks ago, I read a Brother Blogger’s Post about trying to find fun Spider-Man, et al clothes for his Daughter. I curse my faulty memory, Gentle Reader, so please, if you know Said Blogger’s name and web address, send it to me! But I empathized with his plight, and applauded his solution which was buy it anyway.

Of course telling *you* this, Most Gentle of Readers, is a bit of the proverbial Preaching to the Choir. Who knows this better than Constant Visitors to Arrogant Self-Reliance? But occasionally—just occasionally, Friends!—others wander in from the proverbial woodworks, and there, perhaps, a change is sparked.


Ami Angelwings said...

Yus :o

this boy/girl stuff is so bad for kids xD

Also as for when ppl say "it's just comics", do they feel the same way about Jackie Robinson breaking the colour barrier in baseball?

After all, it's "just" baseball. :\

I dunno why comics gets degraded so much as "oh it's just silly entertainment" when we take OTHER entertainment so srsly (like sports which has it's own radio and tv channels). :\

Anonymous said...

there's no such thing as "just" anything in popular culture. it all matters. it is who we are. we have to ask if it's really who we want to be.