“The higher you go, the fewer women there are.” Wangari Maathai
It is International Women’s Day today. I am celebrating by being worried about the Republican Presidential candidates, because as a group they scare the living bleep out of me.
I also got the chance to reflect on why I read graphic novels for representations – including representations of women. I received an email asking why I think it is “appropriate” to keep track of the numbers? Why don’t I focus on other aspects? Why “reduce” characters to numbers?
I have to admit, I am sometimes surprised by the ways my research has turned. Comics are traditionally a male dominated form. That’s not news. But, now that more women are writing and more women and girls are featured there is a sense that everything is fine.
And yet …. Wonder Woman is reduced to a butt shot and a raised foot on the cover of her own comic book.
And yet … When asked when will there be “enough” women on the Supreme Court, Justice Ginsburg responded “when there are nine.” Think about the fact that her response is a radical notion even though for most of our history as a nation we have had nine men.
And yet … when everyday misogyny is called out on twitter, using the #YesAllWomen hashtag, the backlash is incredible and scary.
And yet … when I ask both boys and girls about it they say, “Dress codes are only for the girls … well, girls and the black kids.”
So, I read graphic novels with female protagonists and I ask,
- How many male characters speak or can be identified?
- How many female characters speak or can be identified?
- Do female characters speak for themselves?
- Who drives the plot forward?
- Are women and girls allowed to be varied and authentic or are they represented as boobs and butts, no matter what the age?
Why do I read and count and make pie charts? Because the charts keep looking like this …