requiem2adream: (Glee: Britana - Sex is not dating)
[personal profile] requiem2adream posting in [community profile] scans_daily
I have a question about Huntress and Arsenal's one night stand so of course I turn to the lovely ladies and gents of scans_daily to hopefully find the answer.

The first I heard of it was in BoP: Dinah, Babs and Helena are meeting in a park to discuss whether or not they can work together as a team and the subject of Helena's one night stands with Dick and Roy comes up and Helena has the brilliant line 'Archers... they pull a mighty bow but they're quick to let fly'. Which of course pisses Dinah off royally and nearly ends the team before it even begins.

I went back and read the Outsiders issues where Helena takes Roy's place on the team while he recovers from being shot, thinking that would be where I could find the Huntress/Arsenal stuff (I'm a massive Huntress fan and I've been trying to track down and read pretty much everything she's been in because yes I am obsessive) but apart from the kiss at the end




there's not really any interaction between the two and certainly no sexy times going on between the pair.

So folks my question is this: is this the first time it's ever referenced or is does the Helena/Roy stuff happen in different issues to the ones I've been reading? 

Date: 2011-01-17 07:54 pm (UTC)
bluefall: (act feminine)
From: [personal profile] bluefall
I'm afraid I just don't really understand why a casual hook-up means that her character is being trashed, or that she is less worthy of respect.

Some women don't sleep with guys they're not pretty seriously into. That's not a judgement on women who do, in any way. It's simply a reality that that's a choice some people make. It was established, over several years of character work, as Helena's choice. To have her act in a way not in accordance with that is, yes, a disservice to her character, in exactly the same way that Clark Kent waking up tomorrow as a die-hard emo with Crow mascara would be a disservice to her character: failure to respect prior characterization is a fundamental failure of respect, period.

As for whether it was insulting beyond merely the fact that it meant Winick didn't care about who she was as a character? That has far less to do with objective fact and far more to do with how Winick saw it and how he expected his audience to see it. You can think penises are the most awesome things in the entire world, it doesn't make someone calling you a "dick" any less an insult.

Basically, Winick writes this scene as a sexually-based indictment of Helena. "Is there anyone you won't sleep with," Dick asks Roy, as though Helena were somehow sexually distasteful. "Casual sex with people you aren't in love with is bad," Dick tells Roy, as Helena says goodbye to someone she had casual sex with and doesn't even appear to like. There's no way he wasn't looking down his nose at Helena as he wrote this, and no way the dudebros that make up 80% of the comic-reading audience would interpret this as anything other than a massive validation of the natural dudebro inclination to slut-shame, with bonus offer of a tasty new target.

The fact that that's an effective insult is horrible, yes. It's a disgusting truth of kyriarchy. But it is a truth nevertheless, and that damage had to be answered.

(Not, mind, that I'm all that fond of how Gail chose to answer it.)

Date: 2011-01-17 07:55 pm (UTC)
bluefall: Wonder Girl facepalming (facepalm Cassie)
From: [personal profile] bluefall
"Clark Kent waking up tomorrow as a die-hard emo with Crow mascara would be a disservice to her character"

His character, even.

Date: 2011-01-17 08:14 pm (UTC)
benicio127: (Outlaw's amazing rack)
From: [personal profile] benicio127
Some women don't sleep with guys they're not pretty seriously into. That's not a judgement on women who do, in any way. It's simply a reality that that's a choice some people make. It was established, over several years of character work, as Helena's choice.

I totally understand what you're saying in this wrt this scene and while I agree for the most part, sometimes women in reality themselves change. ie. I know a woman IRL who recently got divorced and was monogamous with her husband of 15-plus years, and has now been enjoying a newfound sexual freedom.
Here, in this scene, we don't see some kind of character development for Helena, but I don't know if I really like this idea of saying, "well this character has been written this way and that can never change" in regards to the character's sex life, especially if that character is a woman.
And even more so if that character is a woman and a heroic one because then it starts to go down the whole "good girls don't do that" route.

Date: 2011-01-17 08:23 pm (UTC)
bluefall: (bright knight)
From: [personal profile] bluefall
Well, sure, if Helena decided for whatever reason that she was going to change her relationship philosophy, that would be fine. But that should be something that happens from her perspective and respects her as a character, not something that happens off-panel without explanation in order to set up a different character's punchline.

It's true there are an awful lot of serial monogamist women in capes. Renee and Zinda are, offhand, the only two I can think of at DC who aren't, though I'm sure there are probably a few more. But most of the guys are too, after all. These are all pretty old characters with old sensibilities, and the new characters are all subject to the blanket "let's not delve too deeply into teenagers' sex lives" policy.

Date: 2011-01-17 08:37 pm (UTC)
benicio127: (Outlaw's amazing rack)
From: [personal profile] benicio127
It's true there are an awful lot of serial monogamist women in capes. Renee and Zinda are, offhand, the only two I can think of at DC who aren't, though I'm sure there are probably a few more.

Kate Kane, Kory, Grace Choi, Jess Jones (pre-Marriage) are a few I can think of. And Mia Dearden, she definitely wanted to have sex with Dodger, she brought condoms with her to visit him. (I don't know if they ever got to do anything since he cheated on her with Emma Watson.) And she hit on Connor a lot.

Date: 2011-01-17 08:56 pm (UTC)
bluefall: (act feminine)
From: [personal profile] bluefall
Grace! How the hell did I forget Grace! I guess just because she's been in a committed relationship for so long?

Though she and Mia do both have that whole "past history of sexual abuse" thing going. I appreciate that the writing for both of them (so far as I know at least, I'm not a big Arrow fan) has avoided ever drawing that "promiscuous because damaged" conclusion -- Grace has a healthy and varied sex life, and also she was abused once, and these things are unrelated as far as the narrative is concerned -- but the implication is still just sitting there waiting for someone to make it, and I worry that sooner or later someone will. I mean look what happened to Shulkie. These gross sexist cliches have real traction with some writers. :/

Date: 2011-01-17 09:02 pm (UTC)
benicio127: (Outlaw's amazing rack)
From: [personal profile] benicio127
I totally agree. Mia actually really seems to have some positive attitudes towards sex just based on the fact that she hits on her crushes the amount she does. It's really, really refreshing to see not even taking into account the fact that she's a sex abuse survivor and is living with HIV.

Date: 2011-01-19 12:11 am (UTC)
cuntfucius: (Default)
From: [personal profile] cuntfucius
So basically we have girls who are queer, girls who have been abused, and aliens as the only girls who can be promiscuous in comics and it be "understandable" because of their "backgrounds" or some weird implications that I'm totally looking way too deeply into.

Which I know I am, hahaha. BUT STILL. You see less hetero-identified girls with "good" backgrounds doing this.

Ah, I fondly remember the slut shaming even Donna Troy went through...

Date: 2011-01-19 12:21 am (UTC)
benicio127: (Outlaw's amazing rack)
From: [personal profile] benicio127
Yep! Exactly. And you have to be a type to have casual sex, you know! And because Helena is Catholic, she can't fit into this group? (Except that one of my best friends is Catholic and very happily has enjoyed lots of sex with different people! So take that stereotypes!)

Date: 2011-01-19 12:30 am (UTC)
cuntfucius: (ReneeKate)
From: [personal profile] cuntfucius
Yeah, either way I think people need to tread carefully when deciding on whether or not Helena would be the "type" of person to have casual sex, or if it's "in character" for her to do so. Especially because sexual choices are so very personal, sometimes you can be mostly monogamous and deep-connection-based your entire life, but have a tiny period where you want to try out some casual stuff to see if it's for you. I mean, I'm NOT a Winick fan at all by any means (rather the opposite), but I think in general, though he's using Helena as an annoying proxy for an exchange, he's also kind of shining a poor light on Roy here. Which was only aggravated by Gail's sniping of his "talents" in bed later on, or lack thereof. Winick's got a bad case of misogyny and liberal-proclaimed-male-feminist syndrome, so I can't give him too much of a benefit of the doubt here, buuuut I remember REALLY cringing at Gail thinking she was "sticking up" for Helena but, in fact, making Helena not seem in charge of her own bodily autonomy, taking away a bunch of her agency by attributing the sex she had to low self esteem and to a troubled period for her.

Roy gets a lot of slack for this, too. It's character memes spread around in fandom and by writers, ideas getting taken and run with and it just gets embarrassing to read because people repeat these "truths" without really trying to dissect the numbers and reality behind them. Donna Troy immediately, by glorious Kyle fangirls and boys, got branded as a slut the moment she touched Roy Harper. So did Helena. And even Kendra got bad reception for that reason. Donna also was suddenly a "slut" for ... being nice to Jason? All because she had touched Roy Harper before, which obviously WOW HOW LOW CAN YOU GO, GIRL?

So because of the treatment of a fave of mine, my eyes were VERY open and peeled to how Helena was treated after this. And it was not good. I honestly am baffled that Helena gets treated as the go-to casual sex girl in the DCU by so many fans, when her number isn't even "high." It's even more disturbing that people act as if it would be a bad thing if it was so.

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Date: 2011-01-17 08:24 pm (UTC)
whitesycamore: (Default)
From: [personal profile] whitesycamore
You took the words out of my mouth (off my keyboard?)

Whether or not a woman ever could/would enjoy casual sex or not is not something germane to most comic book conversations. Pretty much the only way to introduce that possibility is to write her as having casual sex at some point. And actually, it kind of bugs me that we even need to establish a "type" of female character who would do that - particularly when most male characters are assumed by default of being capable of casual sex in at least some situations.

Date: 2011-01-17 08:50 pm (UTC)
benicio127: (Outlaw's amazing rack)
From: [personal profile] benicio127
And actually, it kind of bugs me that we even need to establish a "type" of female character who would do that - particularly when most male characters are assumed by default of being capable of casual sex in at least some situations.

Ohmygod Yes. But by comic book logic, it seems that the fandom equation is, for example: Cheshire having casual sex is OK; Stephanie Brown is not. (

Date: 2011-01-17 09:12 pm (UTC)
whitesycamore: (Default)
From: [personal profile] whitesycamore
I'm beginning to see a parallel between this issue and the good old "I don't have a problem with X being gay, except that up until now he/she has always been portrayed as straight - making him/her gay is not being true to the character."

While this sounds reasonable on the surface, it ignores the fact that the default orientation for characters has always been straight - just like the default sexuality for "good" female characters has always been committed and monogamous. You need to actively declare a character gay; there is no need to declare them straight, unless you state otherwise that's just assumed. The burden is on the writer to declare that a heroine might enjoy casual sex - because otherwise it's conventionally assumed that she doesn't.

And if a writer does make that declaration, people will be unhappy with it because she's never been written as that "type" before.

Date: 2011-01-17 09:26 pm (UTC)
benicio127: (Outlaw's amazing rack)
From: [personal profile] benicio127
Well, I think that's extremely reasonable thinking and is why the whole idea of parents enforcing heteronormativity to their children is a bad idea -- the assumption that their child will be the default straight.
And we have no idea unless a person tells us about their sex life and since that's such a personal topic, the automatic assumption is that good person = chaste person.

And don't even get me started on how disgusting it is to be OK with a Talia who pines away for a man who loves another woman over her (in fact that man loves many women!) and be chaste for him, yet when she has agency and makes her own choices of who she's having sex with, that that is the truly bad move.

Date: 2011-01-17 09:45 pm (UTC)
whitesycamore: (Default)
From: [personal profile] whitesycamore
Well, I think that's extremely reasonable thinking and is why the whole idea of parents enforcing heteronormativity to their children is a bad idea -- the assumption that their child will be the default straight.

Um yeah, that's the point I was trying to make, but maybe it got a bit lost. I meant that considering everyone straight by default is a product of heteronormative thinking, and actually not at all a reasonable assumption to make.

But a similar assumption of chastity operates in the way we see (and the way writers write) heroines. Casual sex apparently needs an established history of "sluttiness" in order to be in character - which is weird because I'm fairly sure that Helena never explicitly said "btw guys, I only have sex with men I love and am in a committed relationship with."

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Date: 2011-01-17 09:33 pm (UTC)
bluefall: (act feminine)
From: [personal profile] bluefall
Well, again, it depends how it's presented. Is it her story, in which she is a protagonist with agency, or is it an off-panel swerve in service of a male character?

I wouldn't be too thrilled with a Superman comic that abruptly had "Batman's ex-boyfriend" show up to make Clark look all super-accepting and liberal either.

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Date: 2011-01-17 08:19 pm (UTC)
whitesycamore: (Default)
From: [personal profile] whitesycamore
Basically, Winick writes this scene as a sexually-based indictment of Helena. "Is there anyone you won't sleep with," Dick asks Roy, as though Helena were somehow sexually distasteful. "Casual sex with people you aren't in love with is bad," Dick tells Roy, as Helena says goodbye to someone she had casual sex with and doesn't even appear to like.

Does this bit happen somewhere else in the comic, or is it something you're inferring from the page above? Because Helena and Roy seem to like and respect each other there - he thanks her, said he knew he could count on her, they kiss, she leaves.

I agree that Dick seems vaguely slut-shamey here, but towards Roy, not Helena. I thought the "is there anyone you won't sleep with?" comment has more to do with - as Roy himself points out - the fact that Helena and Dick had a history. Dick is chiding him, albeit mildly, for breaking a code of friendship.

There's no way he wasn't looking down his nose at Helena as he wrote this, and no way the dudebros that make up 80% of the comic-reading audience would interpret this as anything other than a massive validation of the natural dudebro inclination to slut-shame, with bonus offer of a tasty new target.

I think there's two ways you could take this scene: 1, that Winick really was looking down his nose at Helena and knew exactly how the fanboys would react; and 2. That Winick, perhaps naively, assumed that the average reader had more egalitarian views on gender and sexuality than they actually do.

I can easily imagine an identical scenario with the genders reversed (not in comics - perhaps in Sex and the City or something like that) that wouldn't be taken as insulting to anyone. The fact is that this type of thing isn't always an effective insult any more, not everywhere. Perhaps Winick just misjudged his audience?

I think most of the seediness on this page comes from the art, not the writing. The scene would read completely differently if the kiss between Roy and Helena was subtler, and the panel didn't centre on Helena's waist and hips.

Date: 2011-01-17 08:26 pm (UTC)
bluefall: Wonder Woman looking badass (Warrior)
From: [personal profile] bluefall
Does this bit happen somewhere else in the comic, or is it something you're inferring from the page above?

Elsewhere in the comic. Helena's pretty contentious with the whole team the whole time she's there, but she has some extra-pointed insults for Roy IIRC.

I dunno. You could be right, but Winick's treatment of women elsewhere has pretty much robbed him of any remote shred of the benefit of the doubt with me.

Date: 2011-01-17 08:32 pm (UTC)
whitesycamore: (Default)
From: [personal profile] whitesycamore
I dunno. You could be right, but Winick's treatment of women elsewhere has pretty much robbed him of any remote shred of the benefit of the doubt with me.

I haven't really read much of Winick's writing apart from his Jason-centric stuff. I know some people took issue with Talia's portrayal in Lost Days, and I definitely don't think we were intended to look down on her there - she was obviously written to be a sympathetic character imo.

I guess I'm also giving Winick the benefit of the doubt because he is heavily pro-LGBTQ, and that doesn't normally go hand-in-hand with misogyny.

Date: 2011-01-17 08:41 pm (UTC)
bluefall: (into the sun)
From: [personal profile] bluefall
he is heavily pro-LGBTQ, and that doesn't normally go hand-in-hand with misogyny.

You would be surprised. -_-

As for Winick, I'd recommend you read his run on Green Arrow/Black Canary to see a few examples, but I don't actually loathe you with a deep, abiding visceral hatred, so I can't in good conscience inflict that on you. On the whole, Winick's liberalism reminds me of a kid who discovers his mom's makeup and does himself up like Ronald McDonald, then goes and finds her and says "hey look now I'm just like you." He sort of gets the message and he wants to play, and those are both good things, but he has a habit of still wildly missing the actual point.

Date: 2011-01-17 08:44 pm (UTC)
whitesycamore: (Default)
From: [personal profile] whitesycamore
...I am impressed by the striking visuals of that analogy.

He sort of gets the message and he wants to play, and those are both good things, but he has a habit of still wildly missing the actual point.

I know exactly what you mean.

Date: 2011-01-19 12:10 am (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
Some women don't sleep with guys they're not pretty seriously into. That's not a judgement on women who do, in any way. It's simply a reality that that's a choice some people make. It was established, over several years of character work, as Helena's choice.

Ummm, how does that tie into her sleeping with Nightwing, who she hardly knew, and with no intention of taking the relationship further?

Date: 2011-01-19 12:17 am (UTC)
bluefall: (Scary Bat God)
From: [personal profile] bluefall
She didn't sleep with Nightwing, she slept with Batman's Son. It was an attempt to make a physical connection with the Batclan as a concept, and she did indeed already have a very serious emotional thing about the Batclan concept. That was kind of the whole point of that mini, her trying to find a way into the family after spending ages upon ages circling desperately around the edges.

Beyond that, it's my understanding that Grayson actually did intend for Helena to continue to pursue Dick and for them to take that relationship further, but was ultimately overruled by Dixon's Babs/Dick before it could get off the ground.

Date: 2011-01-19 12:27 am (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
That still speaks an approach to sexual relationships that a a bit far from "Some women don't sleep with guys they're not pretty seriously into" if a convenient body which happens to be an emotional proxy will suffice.

I've never been a huge fan of the Dick/Babs relationship, but if the alternative would have been Dick/Helena (And Devin Grayson written Dick/Helena) I think I'm grateful.

Date: 2011-01-19 02:27 am (UTC)
bluefall: (bright knight)
From: [personal profile] bluefall
Well, I admit that "Some women don't sleep with guys they're not pretty seriously into" was imprecise -- I was kind of conflating two arguments there. It's true that New York Huntress was sexually conventional in the same vein as her Helena Wayne predecessor, but by the time we get to Birds!Huntress we've added the more fraught Dick/Helena as well as the more conventional Helena/Vic. So at that point it's more accurate to say that Helena was someone who only had emotionally-motivated sex, rather than casual sex. Either way, though, the carefree purely sexual vibe with which her Roy fling is portrayed here is inconsistent with her history to that point.

I admit I don't really get Dick/Helena. I mean, Grayson's theory, as voiced by Babs in Nightwing/Huntress, is that Helena reminds Dick of Bruce. And you know what, that's fine with me. I read Bruce and Dick as solely father and son, any kind of serious shipping of them squicks me right the fuck out, but it's a true fact that many people are romantically drawn to people who resemble their parents. I don't have an issue with that justification for Dick's romantic choices. It's just, you know. That would be Babs (at least if Dick were actually attracted to Babs now and not the memory of Babs ten years ago). Helena's almost nothing like Bruce.

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