On all ages comics, rape, and Amethyst, Princess of Gem World.
This is a pretty hairy topic, I won't lie, but there is this pervading sense of...pollyanna-ism in comics commentary that I find to be incredibly anti-intellectual, and therefore quite offensive. I feel compelled to say something about it, and hope you do to, whether you agree or disagree.
In this week's issue of Amethyst, issue 0, writer Christy Marx and artist Aaron Lopresti do a wonderful job developing a small cast of characters, hinting at a great big mythology, and establishing a direction for the book's future.
They also depict an attempted gang rape.
Chris Sims, noted Batmanologist and frequent contributor of Comics Alliance (a spectacular resource) is...anything but pleased. One might even venture to say he's livid.
I read the same book and, to be honest, I just don't understand the problem.
As if it had to be said, rape is horrible. Absolutely, obviously, life alteringly horrible.
But it's also REAL. Rape happens, the threat of rape is a very real one that girls of all ages have to live with, and insofar as these books are instructive parables, I don't see how having a very non-exploitative or sensational representation of an attempted gang rape (they never got her sweater off), one that was stopped immediately by an extremely empowered female...I don't see how this is something to loathe.
At some point it feels like anything even remotely serious or edgey in comics gets a backlash, especially from middle aged white males who tend to overcompensate for their privilege by becoming hyper-PC without actually examining WHY they are PC. These issues? They can be handled with care, with delicacy, and this was. There was nothing sensationalistic or raw about this. Women face challenges that men, generally speaking, do not and one of them is sexual vulnerability. It's worth showing that, especially when it's presented like this, especially when it's about your female hero defeating it. This was a scene of empowerment; of a self possessed, smart, savvy woman defeating and denying the base urges of small minded men.
This was not about darkness. This was not about 'edgeyness'. This wasn't about turning this book into Uncanny X Force, with a bunch of whiney, self flagellating hypocrites. It was a choice, a deliberate one, and I think it was appropriate for a book aimed at speaking to a female reader. This is an issue that is on the mind of many females out there, written by a female, resolved by a female. Sims has every right in the world to express his opinion, but a little self reflection might do him some good. From his words and his tone, as much as one can read into tone on the internet, there is this sense that women and girls have to be protected from the
issues that they face; I find that to be extremely paternalistic at best,
misogynistic at worst.
I've reproduced the entire scene below, so that you can make your own judgements, rather than just going by the rants and raves of white men.