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Sexism In Comics:

Oh yeah, about Wonder Woman #7...to those who didn't read that, WW's fellow Amazons are revealed to be like the succubus. Having sex with men to get pregnant, killing off said men due to You Have Outlived Your Usefulness, and decided the babies' fates once they're born. The female babies get to be part of the Amazon tribe, and male babies...are just killed.

For those who are wondering, Cliff Chiang and Brian Azzarello are doing the WW books right now. I believe in giving people the benefit of a doubt, and I think A.B. and C.C. are not necessarily expressing their views of the sexes. In fact, I think they're simply being faithful to Ancient Greek writing. In that writing, Amazons were not portrayed in a positive light. A lot of writing back then was done by men, and you can be sure that they were biased on a number of counts. It looks like a case of Values Dissonance, and Unfortunate Implications.
Oh, Equestria, we stand on guard for thee!
 277 betraylawl, Mon, 9th Apr '12 12:24:54 PM from Little China
S. is my middle name
I'm digging the new wonder woman its the fringe pseudo feminist that are moaning about whats going on with the amazons
Gifted like Christmas
 278 SKJAM, Mon, 9th Apr '12 5:36:21 PM from Minneapolis Relationship Status: Cast away
Great and Powerful
Nope, the people feeling very strongly about this are pretty mainstream, and bring up some very good points.

Now, it's possible that Mr. Azzarello is going to pull this off in a way that satisfies the majority of longtime Wonder Woman fans, including feminists. The smith god might be telling his story From a Certain Point of View that turns out to be extremely misleading, for example.

But I suspect that the writer is more likely to have had a really cool story idea, and steamed ahead with it, not really considering that it salts the earth for future uses of the characters involved.
Raven Wilder
As long as this behavior by the Amazons is treated like a bad thing, how is it sexist?
"It takes an idiot to do cool things, that's why it's cool" - Haruhara Haruko
 280 SKJAM, Tue, 10th Apr '12 4:58:03 AM from Minneapolis Relationship Status: Cast away
Great and Powerful
It's saying, as did the earlier Greek stories about the Amazons, that women cannot be trusted with power. A society led by women will devolve into rapists, murderers and slavers. Wonder Woman is only "good" because she left this society of women before they could fully indoctrinate her and escaped to the world of men.
 281 King Zeal, Tue, 10th Apr '12 5:03:00 AM from Well Above You
Tali'Shepard Vas Normandy-Rannoch
In general, though, it should be noted that it's impossible to do a Lady Land plot that doesn't have Unfortunate Implications one way or another.
Per-fec-tion: -n- an exemplification of supreme excellence; an unsurpassable degree of accuracy or excellence (see also: King Zeal)
 282 SKJAM, Tue, 10th Apr '12 5:19:23 AM from Minneapolis Relationship Status: Cast away
Great and Powerful
True. In previous incarnations in the DC comics, the Amazons of Paradise Island/Themyscria were the good female-run society, contrasted with bad female-run societies. So far in the New 52, we don't have a contrasting "good" matriarchy to mitigate the story.
Raven Wilder
See, I don't think this is a commentary on what matriarchal societies are like; I think it's a commentary on what ancient Greek societies were like. I've read a fair bit of Greek Mythology, and it is overflowing with parents leaving their babies in the woods to die and "heroes" kidnapping women to use as sex slaves. If the Amazons are supposed to be largely unchanged since the days of ancient Greece, it makes sense there'd be some pretty severe Values Dissonance.

Now, the doesn't necessarily make it a good story idea, but I don't think it's sexist.
"It takes an idiot to do cool things, that's why it's cool" - Haruhara Haruko
 284 SKJAM, Tue, 10th Apr '12 12:38:20 PM from Minneapolis Relationship Status: Cast away
Great and Powerful
If there were any other matriarchal societies in the New 52 to compare with, it might be less dubious. Since there aren't yet, DC can't hide behind "but that's how Ancient Greek societies were!" as a complete shield against the Unfortunate Implications.
Raven Wilder
How many matriarchal societies are there in Real Life, though?
"It takes an idiot to do cool things, that's why it's cool" - Haruhara Haruko
 286 Kostya, Tue, 10th Apr '12 1:00:56 PM from Everywhere
The Razruchityel
[up]Not too many from what I know. Most are either equal in some way or patriarchal. Still not seeing the unfortunate implications though. Maybe it's just because I haven't read the book but this seems to be more of a comment on the Amazons rather than women in general. Given what I know about the actual Amazons none of this is too surprising.

Pronounced YAK-you-luss
How many matriarchal societies are there in Real Life, though?

A few isolated tribes. They seem to do pretty well for themselves, if you're cool with the whole hunter-gatherer lifestyle.
Freedom of speech includes the freedom for other people to call you out on your bullshit.
Raven Wilder
Now, if DC had a bunch of other matriarchal societies in their comics and portrayed them all very negatively, then that would be suspect. However, if the Amazons are the only matriarchal society around, then portraying them negatively is no more sexist than portraying them positively. Heck, a negative portrayal is probably better, since a matriarchy is, by definition, sexist.
"It takes an idiot to do cool things, that's why it's cool" - Haruhara Haruko
 289 Sparkysharps, Tue, 10th Apr '12 6:38:28 PM from Portland, OR
Professional Nerd
However, if the Amazons are the only matriarchal society around, then portraying them negatively is no more sexist than portraying them positively.

By that logic, portraying the lone black guy in your movie as a jive-talking gangbanger isn't racist, because it's not like there's any other black people around that are also negative stereotypes.

I would be more willing to consider this argument if matriarchies weren't almost always portrayed as man-hating feminazi headquarters.
"If there's a hole, it's a man's job to thrust into it!"
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 290 Kostya, Tue, 10th Apr '12 6:42:03 PM from Everywhere
The Razruchityel
[up]That is a valid point. However considering what the actual Amazons were like I can't exactly fault them for this. It's historically accurate at the very least.

 291 Rhyme Beat, Tue, 10th Apr '12 6:43:12 PM from Eastern Standard Relationship Status: In Lesbians with you
Twilight Time
You mean the mythical Amazons right? There were no actual Amazons. They are a product of ancient Greek misogyny leaking into their mythology.
 292 Kostya, Tue, 10th Apr '12 6:47:24 PM from Everywhere
The Razruchityel
[up]Yes, the mythical ones. When I say actual I mean the stories told by the people that invented them rather than our more modern interpretation.

Anyway I probably shouldn't be discussing this too heavily. I haven't read the book at all, I only know the information presented here. After thinking it over I can say based on that that there are certainly some unfortunate implications but I don't think it's meant as a jab at women in general, just the Amazons.

While they do meet the criteria, I'm not sure I'd call the Amazons a matriarchy to be compared to other, actualy matriarchies, given that DC's Amazons have been traditionally portrayed as a sexually exclusive society. Of course they're a matriarchy, what else are they going to be? Nowhere in history has a completely sexually exclusive society ever existed, for the obvious reasons. As I've gotten older, I've found it harder and harder to look at DC's Amazons and not consider them sexist ("see how much better everything would be if we just got rid of those pesky men!")

Always found it interesting that the best guess is that the Greek's mythic Amazons were actually based on a foreign tribe of male warriors who had long, unbound hair, which read as feminine to the Greeks. Kind of like how in WWI the Germans called the Scottish, kilt-wearing British regiments "ladies from hell."
 
Raven Wilder
By that logic, portraying the lone black guy in your movie as a jive-talking gangbanger isn't racist, because it's not like there's any other black people around that are also negative stereotypes.

There's a difference between a negative portrayal and a stereotypical portrayal. Now, if the Amazons are being portrayed as getting into catfights a lot, obsessing over each others' appearance, or being overly weepy/emotional, that's a different matter.

I would be more willing to consider this argument if matriarchies weren't almost always portrayed as man-hating feminazi headquarters.

Thing is, if a society is a matriarchy, then there probably is a fair bit of man-hating going on. A matriarchy is a society where women are the dominant gender and hold a grossly-unequal share of the power; unless outside circumstances have drastically reduced the male population, it's hard to see how that could occur except through widespread sexism.

Same thing goes for patriarchies. I dare you, I double-dog dare you, to find a story written in the last couple decades where:

1) A society (real or invented) is explored in-depth.

2) The narrative explicitly refers to this society as a patriarchy.

and

3) The society is not depicted as being oppressive against women.

Granted, there are plenty of stories set in patriarchal societies where little or no time is spent on this aspect of the culture, but that's a result of patriarchies being far, far, far more common. People are very familiar with what patriarchal societies are like (most folks live in them, afterall), while matriarchies are quite rare and so demand further explanation. Kind of like how, if you portray a society with a professional police force and a codified system of laws, you don't need to dwell on that fact or explain the benefits and pitfalls of the situation. However, if you portray an anarchist society with no police and no written laws, people are going to expect you to give them more info on how it functions, not because it's necessarily worse than the former, but because it's less familiar.
"It takes an idiot to do cool things, that's why it's cool" - Haruhara Haruko
 295 King Zeal, Wed, 11th Apr '12 5:57:59 AM from Well Above You
Tali'Shepard Vas Normandy-Rannoch
I agree. Like I said before, a Lady Land is impossible to write without Unfortunate Implications one way or another. If it's portrayed negatively, then it's "Oh, women can't be trusted to govern themselves without strong male leadership guiding them!", but if they're portrayed positively, it's "Oh, so men were the cause of all life's problems! It's a good thing that women are so much Closer to Earth than those neanderthals!"

Per-fec-tion: -n- an exemplification of supreme excellence; an unsurpassable degree of accuracy or excellence (see also: King Zeal)
 296 Rhyme Beat, Wed, 11th Apr '12 7:29:19 AM from Eastern Standard Relationship Status: In Lesbians with you
Twilight Time
No patriarchy's that actually exist kill their daughters at birth however. As I recall the original explanation for how the Amazons kept their population stable was that they were immortal, which means that once the rules of society are worked out they will work for a very long time as there are no new individuals that might be problematic within those rules. And as I recall the Amazons were originally portrayed as somewhat callous to the suffering of the world of men, and isolationist, which are reasonable flaws given the circumstances.
 297 King Zeal, Wed, 11th Apr '12 7:33:58 AM from Well Above You
Tali'Shepard Vas Normandy-Rannoch
No patriarchy's that actually exist kill their daughters at birth however.

I'm not sure about that. But foot-bindings and selling them off to be slaves has been pretty common.

As I recall the original explanation for how the Amazons kept their population stable was that they were immortal, which means that once the rules of society are worked out they will work for a very long time as there are no new individuals that might be problematic within those rules.

Which, by modern standards, is a Discredited Trope. A static population of immortals would actually lead to greater risk of extinction than not. The only thing being an Ageless does is ensure that one day, you're guaranteed to die horribly. Granted, the Amazons are magical and all, but they aren't unkillable.

edited 11th Apr '12 7:36:22 AM by KingZeal

Per-fec-tion: -n- an exemplification of supreme excellence; an unsurpassable degree of accuracy or excellence (see also: King Zeal)
Raven Wilder
No patriarchy's that actually exist kill their daughters at birth however.

Where every female infant is killed? No, that's so impractical that even the most misogynistic societies in the world wouldn't practice it. Where many infants are killed, and the vast majority of them are female? Just take a look.
"It takes an idiot to do cool things, that's why it's cool" - Haruhara Haruko
 299 Cider, Wed, 11th Apr '12 2:23:23 PM from Not New York Relationship Status: They can't hide forever. We've got satellites.
The Final ECW Champion
Sexism doesn't seem to be the issue in this particular plot, not the root issue anyway. Seems it's fixing what worked. They had a pretty original character, a Classical Mythology Amazon Golem, then ran from this fairly unique concept to the done to death(demigod).

In the original, Amazons sent their golem out into the world to spread goodwill. Now, even if one decided to make the Amazons more inline with their kidnapping, murderous counterparts one can't ignore they had enough good in them to create goodwill ambassador. Now you've got demigoddess who has angrily forsaken her native land and is hounded by Hera for petty reasons? Not only is it more generic, it removes the Amazon's most undeniable act of goodness.

Being true to the source material is nice but DC has proven it can't do so and remain distinctive. If DC can't do that, why expect it do anything else well? How many times have they fiddled with an adequate back story while ignoring problems with a character's clothing? Which one is more clear and present to the customer?
Modified Ura-nage, Torture Rack
[up] I'm fine with them altering WW's costume, so long as it's still recognizably her, and it doesn't look like something that would be more at home on a motorcycle stunt rider...
 
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