Volume 349: Not Cool
Have you ever walked into a public library and been assaulted by big boobs on a huge poster? A poster advertising an event that you had planned on attending with your daughters?
Did you have trouble explaining to your curious daughters why a warrior woman would be half dressed? Is it comfortable? No. Practical? No. Culturally appropriate? No. Not for Valkyries in the 13th century or middle schoolers in 2016.
Did you then email the event organizers and the artist who donated the drawing to ask about the intent of the poster? And waste too much time on Microsoft Paint fashioning a tank top for the Valkyrie in question? Me too!
I admit, not many people are like me. This kind of stuff is everywhere and it's not fair and most people barely bat an eye. But me? Gregorific? I bat an eye. Sometimes two.
Here's a glimpse into how I spend my free time. I know what you're thinking...don't ask. It's totally worth it.
I am curious about the Comic Fest poster. You have speakers coming for a panel talk about the history of women in comics and also about how to make comics more inclusive. Yet you have a poster displayed that makes my inner feminist rise up roaring, with sharp claws at the ready. The scantily clad woman negates the sincerity of the event's panel topics. Are we really going to talk about engaging more girls into reading comics when that poster is staring at us?
I come to the public library twice a week in the summer with my two daughters, ages 10 and 12. I do not like walking them past that poster. I love comic books but I do not love the way many of them represent women. I think this poster objectifies a woman's body. She is a Viking warrior but her outfit is ridiculous. The framing is focused on her large, scantily clad breasts. I don't view it as artistic, I view it as an attempt to appeal to men or boys. I like the Viking girl in the t-shirt in the back of the poster. Why couldn't they all be in that? I've never seen an ArtsFest poster with anything offensive. Who picked this?
I don't want my daughters thinking comics (or libraries) are promoting half-dressed, mythically proportioned women. Comics AND women have a lot more to offer than that. I wish the BookFest poster captured that sentiment.
The event organizers answered my email immediately.
Thanks for the feedback, Megan. This year, our last exclusively comic-centered year, we are talking gender and diversity in the medium. We appreciate and respect your reaction regarding the main Valkyrie. This is exactly the kind of question we look to debate at our second panel on BookFest Saturday @2pm.
Hope we'll see you there so you can add your opinion to the conversation.
I did not answer that I would attend if they put a tank top on "my" Valkyrie.
Sexism is nothing new in comics. I get that. It’s been a male dominated niche since the start. But the point of the comic fest was to try to change that. To open up a dialogue about the history of women in comics, and how to make the medium more inclusive. How to get more diverse artists and readers, to include more of everyone.
Yet, the event poster. It was donated by a male local artist. I asked the artist why the one woman was so amply proportioned and so scantily clothed. He replied, “It looks good.”
I am not exactly unbiased. The artist already knew my thoughts on this poster. I asked, “Looks good in what way?” Then I had to add, “Let me guess: in a sexual way.”
Why does a warrior have to have sex appeal? Because of the male eye, a continuation of comics treating women as something to be leered at instead of being taken seriously.
In Norse mythology, a valkyrie (from Old Norse valkyrja "chooser of the slain") is one of a host of female figures who choose those who may die in battle and those who may live.(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valkyrie)
That’s pretty cool- a serious job for an empowered woman. So why the overtly sexual costume? This was a really great chance to depict women as both strong, mythic, and powerful. Maybe next year.
Tank Top It,
My comment to the comic fest page:
Love the green t-shirt. Also love the feisty birds and the cloud coloring. I have to ask, why the boobage? Rather impractical for a fight.
After more thought, I added:
Why not cover up those beautiful breasts so I can actually believe she is going to fight? This poster really catches the eye in a lot of good ways. But every time we go into the library my young daughters see it and I wonder what message it is sending them. To me, it feels sexually objectifying. Like, fine be a warrior, but dress sexy while you're at it. This is meant to attract interest in the BookFest/ComicFest. It detracted mine.