The angry fanboys

What’s it like being a woman in comics? What’s it like being a woman in comics who writes an article criticizing a comic book cover for among other things featuring a teenage girl with breasts as big as her head? What’s it like being a woman in comics who responds to aggressive (shall we say) reactions to her criticism of a comic book cover?

About what you’d expect.

I was called a whiny bitch, a feminazi, a feminist bitch, a bitter cunt, and then the rape threats started rolling in.

You see, I’m also doing a survey about sexual harassment in comics. (If you’d like to take this survey, you can find it here.) And so as soon as the angry fanboys started looking me up after the CBR article, they discovered this survey and started answering my questions and using the open box at the end to write in all sorts of awfulness.

Because if you talk about sexism or sexual harassment then the only proper and sensible thing to do is to attack in sexist, harassing terms, by way of demonstrating that it’s wrong to talk about sexism or sexual harassment because there is no such thing.


When the survey was posted on a blog, one of the comments included “If you have a entrenched ideology then it’s nigh impossible to be objective, and according to Ms. Asselin’s Twitter tag, she’s a self described feminist.”

Let’s talk about that for a second. Feminist is not a bad word. People who think feminism is a negative often run in two very different directions – either they misunderstand what it is or are outright misogynists. Feminism is defined by as “the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.” If it’s an “entrenched ideology” to wish to be treated as an equal human along side men, then so be it.

Speaking of entrenched ideology – you know what really is an entrenched ideology? The idea that feminism is – automatically, always, necessarily – an entrenched ideology.

There are too many people, including professionals, who think it’s okay to condescend, harass, berate, etc. women in comics simply because they’ve espoused a belief that revolves around women being treated more as equals. I want women and girls to be seen as an equally promising demographic for comics as males; I want major companies with an easy opportunity to reach out to women to not feature art that is disgusting and objectifying; I want women to be hired as much as men to create comics; I want to not know so many people who have been violated in an industry I still love despite it all.

There are men in comics who understand how not to be a condescending asshole. But right now, the problem is that too many other men think that they are in a crowd of like-minded men who are super sick of this feminazi bullshit. The truth is that you are on the losing side. Women in comics aren’t going away. Even if you continue to talk to us like this. Your threats and insults do nothing more than make me want to stick around and shout even louder. So thank you for that.

Feminism isn’t going away. Also? The last thing that would make it go away is condescending assholes calling it feminazi bullshit and threatening to rape all the feminists. All that does is show how desperately it’s needed.

H/t Jen




  1. dwb1957 says

    For the most part the rape threats are, while foul in and of themselves, empty. The idiots making them are anonymous and were they shamed by public exposure of their true identities, would lose much; reputation, family, friends.

    That being said, you can’t be too careful.z

  2. says

    That’s easy to say. Nobody knows which ones are empty and which are filled.

    Also, rape threats are a problem even if/when they are empty. Dismissing them is not a useful thing to do.

  3. A. Noyd says

    dwb1957 (#1)

    For the most part the rape threats are, while foul in and of themselves, empty.

    The threats don’t have to be carried out by the threatener to be harmful. They normalize the idea that sexual violence is an appropriate response to ideas one dislikes. They can encourage and enable actual rapists. And each threat, along with its support from others (or lack of condemnation), remind the recipient that she is considered to be of lower status than the threatener and deserving of abuse. Constantly being “put in one’s place” that way, especially if it’s supported by a lot of people, creates stress and stress does actual harm.

  4. AsqJames says

    dwb (#1),

    I’m not sure if you’re trying to be reassuring or dismissive. Either way, “most” really isn’t much good if you’re receiving hundreds of rape threats. “most” of the bullets fired in a war zone don’t hit anyone. That doesn’t mean a war zone is as safe as anywhere else.

    And anyway, it’s really not about whether any of them are credible or not. That only affects the degree of impact, not whether there is any impact or not at all. First of all, this kind of abuse is often extremely damaging to the person on the receiving end. It really does cause real anguish and pain. These things cause real damage to real people in the real world.

    Secondly, such threats do not exist in a vacuum. The people issuing them don’t just exist online and disappear when you turn off the internet. Whether they really hold such disgusting misogynist attitudes or are just playing the game of trying to upset someone for “lolz”, the language we use has an effect on our thinking and on the thinking of those we share it with. And all those people, the writers of this sick sh*t and their cheering fanboys, take the attitudes created or reinforced by this stuff out into the real world and into their interactions with the women who exist there.

    So even in the best case scenario, where not a single person writing this stuff is really serious about actual rape, some of them will be that little bit more dismissive of women; that little bit more disrespectful of their mothers, sisters, partners, whatever; see women as that little bit more inferior and deserving of scorn; think sexual violence, or threats that of sexual violence, are little bit more acceptable; . Some of these people may go on to serve on juries in rape or sexual assault trials and will be that little bit more likely to believe the “bitch was asking for it”.

    “Credible” is a standard threats must meet in a legal context. In social discourse, any language can be challenged as inappropriate or harmful.

  5. Menyambal says

    In a world where a teen-girl action hero is surgically exaggerated and has so much 80’s hair it blocks half her vision, a mob of angry fanboys fits right in. Surrealism rulez!

  6. John Horstman says

    Feminism will go away when patriarchy goes the way of smallpox: eradicated except for a few samples kept in carefully controlled lab environments for study in case something similar rears its ugly head and the preserved samples prove useful.

  7. Gordon Willis says

    Whether a threat is literally empty or not, it expresses a reality: women have to remain the objects of men’s fantasies and must be threatened into submission. Real women are objects of hatred. Every girl has to learn this. Why do we want our own children to be treated this way? How is it different from slavery? We’re all sick.

  8. chrislawson says


    Feminism won’t go away if there is no more patriarchy any more than secular humanism will fade away if every nation on the planet abandons theocracy/monarchy/totalitarianism. What might fade away if the world becomes non-patriarchal is feminist *activism*, on the principle that there’s not much benefit in agitating for what you’ve already got (not that’s there’s any sign of that happening in the foreseeable future).

  9. says

    Is this what comics are like nowadays, porn for teenage boys, FHM for the the under-16 set? It looks nothing like comcs from 30 years ago. No wonder the MRAs have a distorted view of women personalilties, value and their bodies (if the recently appeared survey’s data is to be believed) when some of those creating their comics and media have views just as distorted and repugnant.

    People used to say (and probably still do) about sexist men who wanted mail order brides, “They want a maid in the kitchen and a whore in the bedroom”. Comics are drawing characters to be W-hero in the fight and whore in their costume.

  10. Dunc says

    Is this what comics are like nowadays, porn for teenage boys, FHM for the the under-16 set? It looks nothing like comcs from 30 years ago.

    I’ve got some first-edition Judge Anderson trade paperbacks that beg to differ. Of course it’s not what all comics are like, and never was, but there’s pretty much always been a strong element of “fan service”.

  11. M.C. Simon Milligan says

    While Wonder Girl has always been portrayed as a rather boobular young lady, a quick search of Mr Rocafort’s previous work shows a rather common penchant for ginormous breasts stuffed into ill-fitting tops coupled with a downright Liefeldian disregard for the relationship of thigh size to waist size.

    I don’t subscribe to the notion that all sexualized imagery is reductionist objectification, but I can’t argue that art like this is not. And, also, rubbish composition and mind bending perspective.

  12. deepak shetty says

    it frustrates me that both , my hobby (comics) and my work(programming) seem plagued by sexism – for some reason the fact that my hobby attracts sexists frustrates me more.
    More depressing stuff if you havent read it at

    Is this what comics are like nowadays, porn for teenage boys, FHM for the the under-16 set? It looks nothing like comcs from 30 years ago.
    I’d say that the comics today are actually better than the ones 30 years ago – Because there is a lot more choice and variety – It’s true you get the sexist stuff but you also get a variety of comics which had no equivalent (My current list includes comics like Lazarus, Unwritten, Saga, Chew, Wake, Morning Glories – almost none deal with superheroes or women with breasts bigger than their heads or costumes that are intended to have wardrobe malfunctions)

  13. leftwingfox says

    DC is a great example of how the patriarchy fucks up a good thing.

    So, DC teams up with Warner Brothers to make TV cartoons based on it’s properties. Batman the Animated Series, Teen Titans, Justice League Unlimited, Green Lantern, etc, etc, etc.

    Along the way, the TV shows pick up a lot of girls, despite being a traditionally male show. The executives hate this, since girls apparently don’t buy as many toys as the boys do. Still, the cartoon creators stick with this balance, and t does well for them.

    Meanwhile DC comics itself is still pretty much an old-boys network. So when they rebooted their series, we got… well:

    (it should also be noted that the writer on that particular comic was later exposed harassing a fellow panellist: )

    So it’s not like they shouldn’t have expected a big backlash with this new, new Teen Titans cover, but they still act like whiny little boys on the playground angry that it’s the girls turn to play on the swings.

  14. dshetty says

    Sorry did I miss something? why am I banned (is it because of the dummy email address)?

  15. says

    Deepak, no, of course not. I don’t know what it was, but maybe something about the link? It did go into the spam file for some reason. Anyway out now.

  16. johnthedrunkard says

    And what is Mob Misogyny but an ‘entrenched ideology?’ So entrenched the grass has grown over the barbed wire and passers by can’t even see it.

    ‘For the most part the rape threats are, while foul in and of themselves, empty.’
    For the most part [salafist Muslim’s threats of terror and murder] are, while foul in and of themselves, empty.
    For the most part, the German military weren’t Nazi Party members.
    For the most part, homophobic death threats …..

    The Angry Yob culture is toxic to every encounter between men and women. Our whole social/cultural/sexual landscape is filtered through a fog of resentment and hatred. As a man, I do not want to live my life as a walking disclaimer. And it isn’t the acts of women that impose this on me.

  17. dshetty says

    Deepak, no, of course not.
    The ofcourse not makes me happy 🙂
    yes I tried with just am i banned and that got stuck too so I didnt think its the link – Probably the email – But if I use my real email it says impersonator! till I login ..

  18. says

    Sometimes other blogs on FTB don’t recognize me (my cookie, that is) and I’m told to sign in. I usually decide I don’t need to comment after all at those times. :/ Anyway I de-spam filed your 2 comments so that will probably solve it for the future.

  19. says

    deepak shetty:

    it frustrates me that both , my hobby (comics) and my work(programming) seem plagued by sexism – for some reason the fact that my hobby attracts sexists frustrates me more.

    I share a love of comics with you and I agree that it is frustrating. I’ve been reading comics over half my life. It wasn’t until the last few years-after I embraced feminism-that I realized the extent of the sexism in the industry.

  20. jenBPhillips says

    Here’s an update from the author of the piece Ophelia linked to:

    Good bits:

    A lot of men hear about this and say “where is this happening? I’ve never seen rape threats online!” Here’s the thing – these dudes don’t often threaten rape where they know other people can see it. They do it in asks on Tumblr and PMs on message boards and yes, occasionally in tweets with their anonymous, fake twitter names. The ones that came to me came in through my Google docs survey which is purposefully an anonymous survey (to protect the victims of sexual harassment who want to respond)….

    …So, maybe you’ve never seen someone make a rape threat. Maybe you think you don’t know any rapists. But you do. I do. I mean, I know who at least a handful are, but I also assume that there are other men I’ve met who are rapists. Statistically, it’s a probability. And if most of the women I know are receiving rape threats, some of them are even receiving hundreds of threats, well, it’s statistically a probability that some of those men are actual rapists.

    You might not be able to catch these shitheads in the act of making a rape threat but you CAN create a culture where rape is not just a thing that happens to women and rape threats are not an appropriate reaction to anything, much less a review of a comic cover. You can lead by example. You can choose to not rape women and instead to treat us as equals.

    The whole thing is worth a read.

  21. Menyambal says

    Squick warning!

    It took me a few days, but I recalled what Wonder Girl’s lasso reminds me of. It’s umbilical cord.

    The color and the organic shape are exactly like what I saw at a calving, one time. There was even little drops coming off it. They weren’t star shaped, and the cord wasn’t so long, but dang if it doesn’t look similar.

    Notice that the lasso is wrapped around her hips, with a knot right in the uterus area.

  22. jenBPhillips says

    I’ve read that in the 1950’s there was a common theme of bondage and discipline (of women, exclusively) in comics. This is where the meme of bound, helpless women with strategically torn attire really got going. There was also a series called “Slave Girl Comics” during that era. Nice.


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