haisai_andagii: (Default)
[personal profile] haisai_andagii posting in [community profile] scans_daily

A/N: Much love to Shea and Kamster for helping me put this together.  This post is really, really long and focuses largely on racial inequalities in the US.  This is in no-way directed to Scans_Daily or its philosophy.  I just need to get this off my chest.

 

If DC is an entertainment company, why am I not entertained?  Why is it that when I read their newest titles, I feel insulted, horrified and dehumanized?  I thought I was supposed to be entertained?  I thought I was supposed to be having fun?

DC's 2011 reboot has caused a great deal of controversy and pain for some of its readers.  It has generated a lot of dialogue, both good and bad, about the treatment of its characters and its customers.   I am sure we've all read Laura Hudson's article and Michelle Lee's article.  Well, you want to know what makes ME cry and fearful for the future of my children:





As a woman who lives in the cross-section of RACE and GENDER, this actually brought me to tears.  DC FINALLY, FINALLY has a Black Woman with her own on-going title and what is she presented as? A freaking monster.  

Damn it, DC.  It's like you didn't even try.

Please note that I have structured my criticism in response to the most common counter-criticisms I received when trying to address this issue...

1) "This is near to Voodoo's origin.  She's a stripper human-monster hybrid anyway."

To give you an idea of exactly why I am so upset about this comic and this argument, allow me to paint you a picture:

You have Voodoo on one side and Jason Blood on the other.  Most people look at Jason Blood and alter-ego, Etrigan, and see a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde dynamic.   Blood and Etrigan may reside in one body but they are not the same.  Jason's demon friend is not inherent.  He is from the bowels of Hell and only occupies Blood with his "permission.  If you are not familiar with Blood (though if you are reading this, I am pretty sure you are), the same can be said for the Hulk.  Bruce Banner only becomes the Hulk because of an accident.  While some of Banner's incarnations may have issues with underlining anger, he was usually presented mild, kind, gentle.  But nonetheless, The Hulk was a product of gamma-rays.  Banner, himself, was NEVER born a monster.

Now, you have Voodoo whose monstrous nature isn't something that is separate from her.  IT IS HER.  And, she has little to no control over it.  She becomes emotional and her nature can't be contained.  She will become a violent, raging monster and if you get too close, she'll kill you.

Even if pre-DCnU Priscilla is of Kherubim/Human/Daemonite ancestry, I still have to ask: "Why should I be any less upset?"  So, Kherubims are human-looking aliens that are intelligent, have super strength and whatever.  OK.  Great.  But Voodoo still has this "Daemonite" side she can barely control and violently wigs out on people.  There are no gamma rays, no magic potions, wicked spells, or lab accidents that manifested this "uncontrollable evil in Priscilla.  She was born with it.

"What this says is that Blackness/Brownness is polluted; it's contaminated by "darkness" or an "darkness" or an "evil. It's inherently devious, dangerous and should be avoided.  I cannot even begin to tell you some of the comments I have seen on image/message boards about how "this guy had it coming for messing with a [racial slur] woman." These people did not see Voodoo as being an evil alien/monster. They saw her as a BLACK WOMAN giving into her inherent nature as an evil alien/monster.  And they saw her murdering the agent as a consequence of engaging in interracial relations.

So clearly, this Jekyll/Hyde dynamic cannot work for People of Color the same way it does for Jason Blood or The Hulk. Why? Because this LONG, LONG narrative on the inherent monstrousness of Blackness/Black Bodies/Black Sexuality continues to live in every form of media from Shakespeare's treatment of Othello, to the Reconstructionist Senator's mulatto paramour in "Birth of A Nation, to the exploitation of Sarah Baartman in the streets of Paris,  to the "Fat, Sassy Black Lady TV trope (WATCH OUT! SHE'LL FALL IN LOVE WITH YOU!), to the fan vote crushing Savage Dragon and Rapture's chance at a loving, stable relationship.  Black Bodies and Black Love are seen as disgusting, deviant and dangerous.  They are alien; they are to be hated; they are a pollutant; the are sinful.  This narrative is pervasive, gross and ingrained in our minds, whether we like it or not.

The pattern of dehumanization of Women of Color doesn't stop at Voodoo: Pantha and Mari, aka Vixen, to a lesser extent, also have this problem. Pantha's power is obvious.  She's a cat-woman with cat-powers.  Mari channels the powers of animals and can even borrow the powers of others.

But these women, like Voodoo, are not in totally control of their bodies or their powers.  Pantha has been depicted as giving into her animal rage, which has lead her to die at least twice (Superboy Prime and a Boostle Story by Johns).  If Mari channels an aggressive animal or channels someone else's powers for too long, she'll go nuts.  Mari will bite you or spray ink in your face or kick-punch you like a kangaroo.  For goodness sake, Animal Man can tap into the power of ANY ANIMAL, ALIVE OR DEAD, ACROSS THE UNIVERSE.  At the least, if he spends too much time "bonding with any one animal, it hampers his ability to bond with another.  And at the worst, he just gets a re-enactment of Pet Cemetery.  But the point is that Buddy's family  do not have to fear him trying to rip their throats out.  And yikes, Mari and Buddy got their powers from the same source (Ananzi/Tantu).  It was like those aliens were being racists doling out powers too.

To some, there is no need for concern.  It seems rather innocent.  It's just the cost of being the user of mystic/alien power.  And there have been all-sorts of human-animal hybrid characters with short tempers, so what's the problem?  Pantha was "transformed by the Wildebeest Society, right (Actually, we never know if Pantha was born like that or if they mutated her.  Never resolved.)?  What these characters tell us is that Women of Color are still susceptible to their animal natures.  Black women cannot help but attack you, hurt you, kill you.  Like their dark skin, it's innate; it's their inherent destiny.  They can't help it.  They won't help it.


And DC continues to add to it with Voodoo.

2) "The bigger problem is that she's presented as a stripper."

Wrong.  

I agree that it is a problem, but both issues are different but EQUALLY offensive.  I refuse to play the "parade of suffering game.  Stop pitting prejudices against each other.  And stop pitting the people/groups that perpetuate these prejudices against each other.  Claiming that Black Men mistreat Black Women just as badly as others doesn't make the fact that Black Women are being mistreated badly any better.  It makes no sense.  

My main problems with Voodoo being a stripper is that it 1) lacks imagination and 2) presents her in a way that DC's main demographic group is not threatened.  In other words, this is an image of a Black Woman that would "appeal to them.  Amanda Waller, Onyx and Mari are threatening because they are a) strong, b) capable of fighting back, and c) not readily sexually accessible (Do not read this as "not sexual.  Amanda had children and a husband/Lex Luthor wanted her babies in that S/B movie.  Mari has had boyfriends and kissed Superman, who gossiped about it.).  

I have no problem with Black Women (or anyone) exercising their sexuality as long as they are the ones doing it.  But Voodoo's body and sex is for male consumption.  They can buy her.  She must do what they say (We all know about the unspoken arrangements made in those "private booths.).  The music plays and she dances.  She's on her hands and knees for you to mount.  I mean, the sexual/racial connotations of her pose alone are insane.  She is literally (and I regret saying this) a "Black bitch.

3) "J'onn often disguises himself as a Black Man and as a Woman!"

J'onn the Green Martian's default setting is J'onn the Green Martian.  He has many human skins that he likes to wear from time to time.   But for Voodoo (though the reboot version is up for debate), she was born as a PoC.  Trying to compare the two is ineffective.

But what bothers me is that J'onn never took off his clothes and shook it as hard as he could for dollars in order to "understand men."  He was never sexualized in the same ways and for the same duration as his female counterparts were when he did take female form.  J'onn traveled the world, using multiple guises to interact with the people around him in a number of ways.  He did not reduce his entire experience with men to the ones acting like sexually-charged animals inside and outside of the strip-club as in Voodoo.  So, why is it that Priscilla has to?  She can have a world of experience, but she chooses to be a stripper?  Go back and read Point #2, again.  Priscilla's "Blackness is presented in a way that would appeal to DC's main demographic: She is a sexually available and compliant Black Woman.  She is a "fantasy.  And if Priscilla really wanted to, I am sure experience the general "ugliness and "predatory nature of some men as a woman without having to be a sex worker.  This is just poor writing.

Another issue I have with aliens like J'onn parading around in Black and Brown skin is that deludes the deeper implications of institutionalized racism and allows their creators to "get off the hook about addressing such a serious issue in a lazy way.  Not getting it?  Then look at it this way:  Do you know why Lobdell turned Starfire into a "goldfish-brained, sex slave?"  Because she's not human.  No, I am not being facetious.  Starfire's "not of this world factor made it easier for Lobdell to characterize her as we see her now.  And it worked.  About half of the counter arguments/comments to the humanist/feminist critique on Starfire are: 1) she was always like this, 2) she is an alien and 3) because she is an alien, she has completely different ethics/standards/morals, therefore she can behave as he pleases. Go to any board that is currently talking about this topic.  Read those comments.  It's insanity.

And the exact same thing happened with Priscilla.  It's easy for her creators, (I am aware that Lee and Choi are her original creators and are both East-Asian/Korean-American.  But that they are not absolved.) to make her into another sexualized monster masquerading as a Black Woman because she's not like them.  Priscilla is not like the men and women that have shaped her at all.  Her Blackness makes her alien.  It's "foreign, "mysterious" and places her as far from Whiteness (or their own racial/ethnic groups) as possible.  This racial paradigm has a long and sordid history of how it has shaped the U.S's de jure and de facto attitudes towards Black and Brown bodies (If this is hard for you to understand, for whatever reason, and you really want to learn more, please read "Suspect Relations by Kirsten Fischer.  A great beginners book.).  

Even a beloved Character of Color like Cassie Cain isn't safe from this alienation.  When she was first introduced, Cassandra couldn't speak and couldn't read.  She suffered from severe dyslexia and emotional traumas.  We even learn that she's a child of rape (There is no fault with the child or its victimized mother.  It is the act of rape that is horrifying.  And remember, even though Shiva seemingly consented and was promised power, she was propositioned under the threat of death.  Literally, "have my baby or die.).  Not to mention that her mother was selected because she was an inherent "Dragon Lady.  Cain thought a child with Shiva would survive his crazy regiment.  So, then Cassie is born and has suffered unimaginable abuse from her own father, so she could be Ra's Al Ghul's ultimate bodyguard because of her breeding.

Wow.

From the start, Cassie was so terrifically "othered by her Browness, that she was literally a mute, chinadoll, bred-and-born dragon lady, punching-bag whose physical body and mental agency was and is largely shaped and controlled by white men.

And then when she finally gains control over her own mind and proves herself to be a capable leader/detective, what happened?  Drugged, turned into a villain, tried to assault Tim, cured but then exiled to Hong-Kong, comes back only to be partnered with Tim who largely treats her like a Kung-Fu accessory (and made a terribly off-colored joke comparing Cassandra to a condom) and, finally, rebooted.  Though some may argue that Beechen's work was just "one bad run, the point remains that DC allowed it to happen.  Beechen wrote this.  Editorial staff approved it. What this says to me is that DC was ok with this nonsense and DC continues to be ok with this nonsense.

Am I saying you must be a PoC to write about CoCs (or vise-versa)?  Absolutely not.  Ostrander made two wonderful characters - Waller and Oracle - that live on today.  And Dwayne McDuffie gave us Milestone and many contributions to DCU animation.  He created a number of characters that weren't African/Black American as well.  Making a character that people can resonate with and can challenge readers' comfort zones in a positive way takes times and much care.  And it takes a diverse staff.

What I am saying is stop tying gender and racial issues to this alienism.  And stop treating a diverse staff like its a hindrance.  It's hurtful, dismissive and lazy.  Racism, sexism and every other sort of prejudice out there are not issues particular to those effected.  They are human issues.  It effects us all, whether you want to believe it or not.

4) "But Pris turns into a white guy at the end!  It's not about race!/Race doesn't matter."

Yes, it does.  Like J'onn, the skin that Pris choose to wear carries connotations (for both the characters in the story and its readers) with it.  Plain and simple.  

5) "But the lesson is all the same, right?  Racism is bad, no matter who you are or what you look like!

Using aliens/demons/monsters that parade around as Characters of Color is a bad strategy because it alleviates DC chief demographic from doing any sort of "mental legwork.  Seeing J'onn fight off clansmen is awesome!  But then most readers put the book down and forget the real lesson, because, and I must be frank, DC's desired market (cisgender, Christian white men between the age of 18-34) rarely have to think about how their gender, sexuality, race, and ethnicity shape their thoughts, actions and words and how it impacts others.  Most readers will go: "It's terrible to treat Black people like that because they are Black.  J'onn showed me that when he had his run in with the Smallville KKK.  These KKK dudes are are bad.  Racism is bad."  Then, these sort of readers put the book down and still do not understand why (or care) racism and other prejudices are still "a problem.  They don't understand why Troy Davis was a hot-button issue or why there was another Affirmative Action Bake Sale.  This sort of approach to addressing racism is too elementary.

If DC is going to talk about social issues, then they must do better.  No excuses.  Racism isn't something that exists in individuals' hearts and minds; it isn't hating a person simply because they look different from you; it is not something that lives in a vacuum; it's not benign. And it most certainly cannot be understood in 20 pages of muscle-bound dudes and buxom ladies (including ads).

Racism is institutionalized.  It is a part of our culture, which shapes our attitudes and perception about the VALUE of ourselves and the VALUE of people around us.  We are bombarded by racist images everyday in advertisements, in the video games we play, in the television shows we watch, in the "private conversions" with our family and friends, in the off-handed comments from strangers, it's who your friends are and who you choose to associate with.  It's as small as being followed in a store or being asked to check your bag BEFORE you even enter.  It can be as big as being denied housing, jobs and health care.  Racism is a cause of poverty, a cause of a culture of fear, a cause violence, a cause of constant injustice and, worst of all, a cause of indifference.  Using Human Characters of Color to explore ideas of human prejudice makes the stories more relevant.  We don't have to have Superman standing on soapbox or Batman giving his rogues a 3-hour Ethnic Studies lecture.

DC characters, like any other character, are mouthpieces of their creative directors.  That's a fact.  Batman hates punk music because someone made him hate punk music.  Golden-aged Superman slapped a Fu-Manchu mustache on and hopped a fence into a Japanese-American concentration camp to search for "spies because someone made him do it.  Oh my goodness, let's not forget Tyroc - Murray Boltinoff's most racist legacy.  Whether you like it or not, the characters never truly stand on their own.  Even the most careful development can be undone by someone else's privileged nature (intentional or not.).

If Dan Didio ( and DC by extension) claim to hire and work with the "best, then their "best should be able to come up with interesting and innovative plot lines that entertain but, when they intend to, educate.  No harm can come from having diversity in their company.  Seriously.  It cannot hurt.  The comic industry is constantly on its deathbed, right?  I am assuming they want more money?  It's their job to hire the best and produce the best work, right?  They want to attract new readers too, right?  Part of getting those new readers is to show them that people like them are present in the company in meaningful and real ways and that they care about the product too.  Read "The Real Pepsi Challenge by Capparell, DC.  Just don't use any of its dated terminology.

6) "The story just got started!  They are using controversy to draw you in.  I'm sure they didn't mean it!  Ron Marz is amazing!

There is an adage about first impressions and there is another about intentions.  If DC was serious about pulling in a new market, then they would have written stories and used their characters to do so.

Playing the Devil's Advocate doesn't undo the harm already inflicted.  That's like Derailing for Dummies 101.  DC could have drawn in new readers with innovative plots and characters.  Instead, all I saw was the same racist, sexist, hateful nonsense that has been going on at DC since its inception.  Yelling, "SURPRISE! WE WERE JUST KIDDING! doesn't help.  It pisses people off.  It makes people shut their wallets.  And it makes people not want to pass your legacy onto their children.

I haven't read Witchblade and I hear nice thing about its author, Ron Marz.  I heard he took great pains to flesh out the titular character.  And Basri's artwork was very lovely as usual.  But, I am sad to say that I cannot be bothered to continue with this story.

7) "If not Voodoo, then who?  

DC has a "plethora" of Black/African Female protagonists/antagonists that all could have held (and deserved) their own title.  Let me just name a few that would be PERFECT:

Mari McCabe/Vixen: Mari, the ORIGINAL Animal Woman, gained her animal inspired powers from an ancient necklace handed down to her by Ananzi, the ORIGINAL Spiderman/African-trickster god.  It annoys me that Mari "retains" animalistic tendencies after using her powers for some time.  She should be able to do what Buddy does and vise-versa.  Also, it would make me ten times happier if we made Ananzi an Earthly being.  I am also really tired of this "Third-World Cultures Are Alien because that's just a reiteration of Point #3 and #4.  Get rid of all that foolishness and we're good.  And newer, potential readers may remember her from the JLU show.

Karen Beecher/Bubblebee: A highly intelligent S.T.A.R. Labs scientist and wife to Jericho.  We could have a crime-fighting husband/wife comic.  I choose Bubblebee because she's also still fresh in the minds of CN's Teen Titan show-generation.  Doesn't have to be the same characterization but it's a drawing-in point for new reader.  Karen is a scientist and an inventor with a brilliant mind I'd like to see put to solving crime.  She could even hang out with Steel and invent cool stuff.  

Amanda "the Wall" Waller:  Suicide Squad/Checkmate.  While her "make-over" upset many, you cannot deny that Waller is a dynamic, powerful African-American woman with fierce determination that has big name heroes like Batman, quaking in their boots.  Also, she was a great departure from the "mammy" Black Women of Size caricature.  Amanda answered to no one but herself.  If there was someone above her, she knew how to manipulate them.  She worked the system.  She upheld her own sense of justice.  She's may not have been a good-guy, but she a good character.

Nu'bia/Nubia: Seriously!  I'd read the heck out of a comic of Nu'bia and, let's say, Artemis traveling the world, trying to gather their Amazon sisters together and learn about the "World of Men."  And then Diana can show up and they can have cake and fight criminals together.  They could do a silly-buddy-Amazon theme.  ...But a small part of me wishes her name wasn't Nu'bia.

Onyx Adams: YES! YES! MANY TIMES, YES!  Onyx is amazing (Even though her name is Onyx.  DC, we know your characters are Black by looking at them.).  Not only is she an awesome assassin who can hold her own, she's a good friend and mentor to my other fav Batgirl: Cassie Cain.  For my sake, can we have an issue where Jason apologizes to her for stabbing her in the shoulder and using her as damsel-in-distress bait for Batman?  I love you Jaybird but that wasn't cool.

8) "Well, then don't read them if they offend you!  Don't buy them!

I'll read what I want and I'll be offended by it if I want to.  What you are asking me to do, when you use this criticism, is ignore, not only what is happening around me, but also ME.  You are asking me not to think about my life as a Woman of Color.  You're asking me not to question my existence and my place in they very world I live in.  Guess what?  Not happening.  I'm going to ask questions, I'm going to challenge you and your perceptions and I'm going to do it without apology.

But you know what I can do?  I don't have to give Detective Comics anymore of my money.  I'll just read trades from the library and borrow them from friends.  I'll sneak-peaks in my LCS when I go in there to buy OTHER COMICS.  I will read my friend's legal digital downloads and catch snippets from Tumblr and message boards.  I'll read plot summaries (which I do BEFORE selecting a "run to read.) on the millions of Wikias that are out there.  Let me just keep doing what I have always done AND not give DC any of my money.

And in my opinion, DC fandom is more often than not, better than what DC actually publishes.  What fans put out there is beautiful and amazing (but sometimes really scary).  I'd rather surf image boards, Tumblrs, fanfiction archives, LJ communities, Deviant Art/Pixiv, etc.  What the hell am I putting money in their pockets, when The Black Cat does it better (and for free.).

9) "Well, all of your ‘bitching' is giving them free publicity!  You're making them a success!

My main concern was voicing my displeasure.  What other people do with their money is rarely my business.   Maybe sales for the first month are good but let's see how next six month's sales go.  People paying attention to you is one thing, but buying your "faulty product is another.  And even if they are: meh.  I will use all of extra income on ASOS sales, art supplies, partying and travel.

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Date: 2011-09-30 02:55 am (UTC)
q99: (Default)
From: [personal profile] q99
Solid points, but that's *way* too long to not be behind a LJ cut :)

Date: 2011-09-30 03:01 am (UTC)
drmcninja: (Default)
From: [personal profile] drmcninja
Beat you to it the first time.

I agree with everything (especially the institutionalized racism) except for Cass. She had one incredibly bad run that may have had to do with all this, but when she came into being, she was an emotionally dimensional, extremely physically capable character. Well rounded, well characterized, pretty much well-everything until her horrendous drop.

Other than that, I think you really hit the nail on the head with the stripper thing. What exactly does she expect to learn about humanity from strip clubs? Seriously. I've never understood any story that used that path.

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Date: 2011-09-30 03:00 am (UTC)
sun_man: this is Dick Grayson (Default)
From: [personal profile] sun_man
Voodoo has been like this for years. When Jim Lee had her at Wildstorm she was always a part alien stripper they are just being true to the character.


I don't think this is nearly as bad as what happened to Star Fire.


But you do make several solid points which I do agree with.

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Mod Note

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Date: 2011-09-30 03:02 am (UTC)
glimmung: (Default)
From: [personal profile] glimmung
Just a point but Voodoo has always been a monster. She is a Wildstorm carryover.

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Date: 2011-09-30 03:08 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] darkknightjrk
Funny thing is, I never viewed Voodoo as a "monster" in this issue, even after what happened--but an alien/hybrid who doesn't want to be caught and experimented on again.

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Date: 2011-09-30 03:16 am (UTC)
salinea: Magneto going *?* (wtf)
From: [personal profile] salinea
Wow, that is one awesome take down. kudos. And eeek that book. I hadn't read yet and now I don't feel like I will :/

Date: 2011-09-30 03:17 am (UTC)
earthdefensehero: (Default)
From: [personal profile] earthdefensehero
This bothers me as well. There are way too many black superheroines, supervillains and antiheros out there in comic book limbo, especially after they folded Milestone into the main universe, and of all the ones they can use, they use this? This is disappointing to say the least. And, honestly, even though I've been hunting down and researching black comic book characters, I've never actually heard of her before now, until this post.

Date: 2011-09-30 03:21 am (UTC)
glimmung: (Default)
From: [personal profile] glimmung
Oh wow, I had not even thought about all of the milestone heroes being in limbo. DC makes it pretty easy to forget that they own those properties.

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Date: 2011-09-30 03:35 am (UTC)
sigmund_droid: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sigmund_droid
you make good points.

Also my favorite DC female black superhero!:

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+9001

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Date: 2011-09-30 03:42 am (UTC)
rainspirit: (damiel)
From: [personal profile] rainspirit
Great points. DC really does objectify their female properties/characters on all levels, don't they?

Mind you, I hope it's salvageable. Voodoo seems like she's got the potential to be a cool character, they just need to add more dimensions to her other than "sexy woman of colour transforms into terrifying psychotic hosebeast at will." Which... taps into another troublesome area, being fearful of women etc.

Date: 2011-09-30 03:55 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] darkknightjrk
I'm fairly certain that it's salvageable--Marz was the guy who made Witchblade into a more respected comic property, and from the interviews he's done for the book, it sounds like part of the mystery of the book is about whether Voodoo is a hero or a villain.

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Date: 2011-09-30 04:16 am (UTC)
majingojira: (WTF Guyver)
From: [personal profile] majingojira
Ghetto Edit:
Well, I'm just glad the heroes and villains of African decent that I hope to use for my own work aren't using the Jekyll/Hyde model for their monstrous powers...

That makes it better...right?

Okay, what's the best way to handle inherently dangerous/evil powers in regards to black history in the US?

Date: 2011-09-30 04:31 am (UTC)
stolisomancer: (mmm soda)
From: [personal profile] stolisomancer
I think you can have a book where the main character's an exotic dancer, and you can have a book where the main character's a shape-shifting assassin from Planet Zot sent to murder white people, and you can have a book that happens to be the first ongoing in the history of the company that stars a black woman as the main character, but if you try to bolt all that together at once you're going to end up holding a live grenade.

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Date: 2011-09-30 04:25 am (UTC)
pyrotwilight: (Default)
From: [personal profile] pyrotwilight
Wait...so her daemonite form is...that? That's creepy.

I assumed she was like Forager (hey anyone remember her?). A mix of alien species but otherwise has one form.

Date: 2011-09-30 04:26 am (UTC)
stolisomancer: (mmm soda)
From: [personal profile] stolisomancer
I'm a white guy and I'll admit that that interpretation never occurred to me, so thanks for that. Being able to get outside my own head from time to time is one of the reasons I read this community.

Date: 2011-09-30 04:53 am (UTC)
lilacsigil: Amanda Waller and Batman looking angry, text: Up Against the Wall (Waller vs Batman)
From: [personal profile] lilacsigil
It's a disturbing pattern that comes up again and again: and DC can say that "this is just the start and now we're going to see how Priscilla changes" which is all well and good...until you think about DC's track record on keeping black female characters in books at all, let alone as headlines.

And WTF is with that scene where he's threatening her, fully dressed, and she's crawling all over him in her underwear? Is there any further context to this that would make it make sense, or is it just the usual rubbish about female characters getting naked as part of a terribly, terribly cunning plan?

Date: 2011-09-30 05:15 am (UTC)
stolisomancer: (Default)
From: [personal profile] stolisomancer
Priscilla's an exotic dancer. The guy is a government agent who's charged with monitoring her, and he decided it'd be a good idea if, instead of just keeping an eye on her, booking her for a show in the private booth and saying, hey, we know who and what you are. She keeps up a poker face until the pages shown.

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Date: 2011-09-30 05:10 am (UTC)
bestiasono: Science Icon (Default)
From: [personal profile] bestiasono
I have to admit, I was thrown early on by this because I thought part of the point of the Hulk is that Bruce Banner had rage issues he was severely repressing, and these issues came out when he Hulk'd out. As such, Hulk and Banner are hardly separate creatures... if anything, Hulk is just an expression of Banner's Id. Banner was always the Hulk underneath... it simply wasn't expressed until the gamma rays hit. It wasn't the gamma rays that made him a monster or beast. They simply revealed what was below, simmering all the time.

I'll certainly grant that this character is hardly putting a best foot forward. I'd prefer to see The Wall (old version, please!) leading the charge.

Date: 2011-10-01 03:59 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] darkknightjrk
And they've played around with that a lot more in recent Hulk stories--during Pak's run, it was mentioned many times that The Hulk is there to keep Banner at bay, and apparently Aaron's run on Hulk has the two seperated, and Hulk is the hero while Banner is the villain.

Date: 2011-09-30 05:12 am (UTC)
jlroberson: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jlroberson
I can't get past how much I hate the "inking" style. What story?

Date: 2011-10-01 04:00 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] darkknightjrk
Marz posted a lot of process stuff on his CBR column, and it looks like Basri doesn't ink at all--his pencils are so tight they go immediately to coloring.

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Date: 2011-09-30 05:17 am (UTC)
big_daddy_d: (Default)
From: [personal profile] big_daddy_d
You know when I was roleplaying, a friend of mine got me interested in WildC.A.T.S., but unfortunately I wasn't able to really follow it or many of the Wildstorm stuff like I wanted. So with this reboot I figured I'd get a good chance to start following and wanted to pick up Voodoo and hoped to see Spartan make an appearance in the series as well. While I didn't think this book was bad, I was increasingly uncomfortable with the striptease scenes. I get that she's a stripper, but 90 percent of the book was a strip tease and then all of a sudden she flat out murders a guy. I am still intrigued by the book and want to see where it goes. Not to mention I have faith in Ron Marz as he can do strong women, his Witchblade (minus the whole Sara/Jackie thing. HATE IT!), Magdelena, and Angelus is proof of that and often he doesn't shy away from sexuality. So because it's him, I'll give it a chance, other wise you raise very excellent points.

In fact, you present a well thought out, well written piece here, the likes of which I wish I can contact my 12th grade English teacher because he would've loved this. I can't fairly add my two cents as again, I haven't followed Wildstorm like I wanted too, but DC does seem to be setting up Voodoo as a villain or hero, which I'm hoping it's going the hero route. As far as my understanding, Voodoo originally wasn't aware of her abilities, yet here she seems fully aware and is instantly ready to kill someone at the drop of a dime and that was unsettling. I believe it was mostly out of fear when she attacked, but I expected her to run or find non lethal ways to fight out and kill as a last resort, not that.

So I'll try to give this book a chance and see where Ron is going, but I do hope the horror vibes I'm getting from this book doesn't involve Voodoo murdering people and instead deals with her confronting horrors of two sides fighting over her.

Date: 2011-09-30 03:07 pm (UTC)
shadowpsykie: Information (Default)
From: [personal profile] shadowpsykie
I agree. because it is Marz i am going ot give it a chance.

two things, one, i think the whole 90% of it being in a strip club was supposed to be him saying "Okay, she's a stripper, she's stripping, eat it up, because this is all you're getting... got enough? okay, now on to the actual story" Then she quits.

two, She still might be some what unaware... it looked like she had a flashback of the room and then transformed... that memory might have be a trigger for her. it might not totally have been her will to transform... either way, i agree, i hope they go the Hero route with her...

Date: 2011-09-30 05:22 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] wtfomfg2
"But then you have Voodoo (either version) whose monstrous nature isnt something that is separate from her. IT IS HER. And, she has little to no control over it. She becomes emotional and her nature cant be contained. She will become a violent, raging monster and if you get too close, she'll kill you."

Don't you know? Bitches be craAAAAaaaaaAAAAaaaAAAAzy! (This is sarcasm, btw)


Honestly though, you make some excellent points that I think show the overall mentality of both of the Big Two companies right now. For some reason, the institutions in power in comics seem to view women as little more than sexual objects for men. As a 21 year old straight white male, you would think that I'm the exact type of audience that these creators think they are catering to, and yet I can't help but be disgusted by most of what I see in terms of gender and race relations in comics. Who knows, maybe I'm the minority in my age/race/gender group, but I'd rather read stories about independent and strong characters than stuff like the recent "goldfish sexdoll starfire." And honestly, if I am in the minority of my above classifications, then that's something I'm proud to be. I will always pick the Veronica Mars over the Brigid O'Shaughnessy, and the Buffy/Kendra/Faith over the Bella Swan.

This isn't necessarily a criticism of any particular writer, but more of a criticism of the institutions in power.

Date: 2011-09-30 05:41 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] wtfomfg2
Aaaaaand I just realized I clung to the gender part of your topic while basically ignoring the race issue. But, I feel like some of my criticisms are still somewhat valid. By no means am I trying to say the gender and race issues can be lumped into one category together, but I still feel like the institutions in power discriminate, whether intentional or not, against both groups.In the same way that I feel like there are so few strong female characters, there are so very few strong characters of color. From these few pages that you posted, it seems like the character is little more than the depiction that ethnic characters received during the times of colonialism/post-colonialism. She seems to be defined by her "Otherness" and portrayed in a way that is complete "threat to the white male."

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Date: 2011-09-30 05:29 am (UTC)
aaron_bourque: default (Default)
From: [personal profile] aaron_bourque
1) I don't know from Voodoo's origin, I was never into Wildstorm. But this issue is set at a strip club. Although there is a certain amount of objectification expected at a strip club, this reminded me of the Ishtar subplot from Brief Lives. It was actually done rather tastefully, considering the location, and there are a multitude of women shown at the club, and though the scene with them is brief, they still feel like women first, sex objects secondarily. Yes, even though many of them are topless.

2)As to race, I'm not really qualified to speak about race, but Voodoo is a shapeshifter. Her "race" is purely superficial (whether this is a good thing or not, that's up to the reader). Unless she identifies with this form more than others, I guess. However, at the end of the issue, she assumes the form and identity of the guy she just killed here, so there's that.

3) She's not a "monster." She's an alien or alien/hybrid, why is she a monster? Because she kills someone? Out of misguided self-defense. Because she looks weird? Hmm, don't make judgements based on looks.

Oh, and about J'onn and his gender and sexualization issues, he was a "woman" for at least an issue of Justice League Task Force. And yes, he had typical "sexualized" artwork, with hipsway and boobshots. Also, until recently, he wore even less clothing than Hawkman.

Date: 2011-09-30 06:01 am (UTC)
lilacsigil: Jeune fille de Megare statue, B&W (Default)
From: [personal profile] lilacsigil
But this issue is set at a strip club.

Yes. Exactly. So why is that? The Ishtar subplot from Brief Lives was specifically about sexuality and life changes and age and sex-as-power and the degeneration of that into commerce (and possible ways out of this). This seems to be rather more random - why is she a stripper in the first place? Why is it two pages of nasty, violent threats, sexualised by the context? Why do so many female comics characters, especially black women, have such an intimate violence/emotion/UGLY MONSTER RAH association?

Glad to hear the art bothers to give different women different faces and bodies, though the hair covering the lizard nipples (???) is kind of weird.

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Date: 2011-09-30 05:39 am (UTC)
lissa_quon: (facepalm)
From: [personal profile] lissa_quon
Could that monster design be any more...GAH. I don't even have WORDS for this...its like a old monster from folklore - eats your babies and will wear men's junk as a belt.

Probably not making any sense. But damn. Its also really baffling from a design point of view.

Good write up - very well said.

The more I read and see of this DC reboot the more assured I am that they are not going to see any of my money for a long long time.


Date: 2011-09-30 12:29 pm (UTC)
technoknob: (Default)
From: [personal profile] technoknob
It reminds me of the ridiculous monster from the 1950s film The She-Creature. They called it the "mammary monster" because... well.

http://www.wrongsideoftheart.com/wp-content/gallery/stills/she_creature_01.jpg

Date: 2011-09-30 05:48 am (UTC)
sadoeuphemist: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sadoeuphemist
I would lose the part about the Hulk. Before the accident, Banner was a dude with a lot of repressed rage and inner demons, the whole "monstrous nature isnt something that is separate from her. IT IS HER. And, she has little to no control over it. She becomes emotional and her nature cant be contained. She will become a violent, raging monster and if you get too close, she'll kill you" is also a description of the Hulk.

The point isn't that Jekyll/Hyde dynamics play out differently when applied to PoCs, it's that they have a different meaning in that context.

Date: 2011-09-30 09:19 am (UTC)
sadoeuphemist: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sadoeuphemist
Also, looking at the scans again, I'm not sure the above description applies to Voodoo. Granted, I haven't read the book, but based on what's been posted, a guy threatens to have her killed, so she aliens up, kills him, and then reverts back to human form immediately afterward. She doesn't seem out of control or anything. I mean, if it was the Hulk, he'd keep going and rampage thru the city and the army would be called in to catch him & so on.

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Date: 2011-09-30 07:12 am (UTC)
brilliantnova: (Default)
From: [personal profile] brilliantnova
I love how some people are responding with

" she's an alien/monster/whatever" her race is moot

Well if she were born with brown skin, or to look ethnically black, her race is not moot cause she also has to deal with twice as much oppression with taking the form of a black woman. She deals with it everyday with the skin she's in.

By saying or implying the race issue is moot is insulting to me.

Date: 2011-09-30 08:36 am (UTC)
lilacsigil: White Tiger, Daredevil, "heroic" (white tiger)
From: [personal profile] lilacsigil
Well said - Martian Manhunter using a white male American form is an issue, and so is what Priscilla chooses (though I'm not clear on whether she has a base human form that is a black woman or whether that's just temporary?)

Date: 2011-09-30 07:25 am (UTC)
marco: (ethereal)
From: [personal profile] marco
Oh wow, I never expected to see this come up, but I can say that my own feelings reflect this perfectly. While I don't read this title and hence can't place much about it specifically (I was giving it the sideeye a lot though), DC in general has this pattern. As a brown person (and a woman at that), you're either invisible or you're treated horribly. Of course, media in general has this problem (and it's variably bad in the west), but comics take this to a scary level sometimes. And fandom just makes it worse. Frighteningly so.

This actually reminds me of a post I saw this post on Racialicious. It talked a lot about how brownness plays into imagery associated with monsters and how even female werewolves were pure as white women, but when they transformed, their skin was of course darker and that tied into how they became a monster. The entire piece linked being brown to being a monster, etc and how that imagery is so pervasive.

What gets me is the obvious double standard that comes with it. The black body (and love with it) can be used for promiscuity as fanservice, but it's never supposed to be anything pure. Kind of like the "good people have good sex" (which is really, "good people make love, bad people have (dirty and/or casual) sex") kind of thing. Heaven forbid a WoC be in a relationship, let alone a happy or stable one (and interracial? Whoa, so not allowed!). And if there is a relationship that is at all interracial, then there must be some awkward racial scene that is completely unnecessary, no matter how well done it is. (Mr. Terrific comes to mind for the DCnU stuff.)

You also brought up that issue of the lesson people take from books and how these lessons are treated. Plenty of readers definitely put the book down and foget the lesson and it becomes irrelevant to their daily lives, but another part of that is how the lesson is shown and how they're taken. DC will tackle something like 'the KKK is evil!' but they won't give us a (good) story on how complex racism and prejudice are. As for the readers, they only see racism as something blatant like the KKK or some strong racial slurs. Other racial slurs are still generally fair game, and they don't bother to analyze or wonder about other types of racism or prejudice (or any kind really). In a way, it also lets them settle further into either dismissing or excusing other problematic matters and behavior (and of course, there's the whole, "it's racist because you mentioned it" thing and the whole, "it's not racist because I enjoy it / stop raining on my parade / I'm not a racist even though I like this so stop judging).

All that aside, good heavens, I really wish Nubia had her own series. ;u; The name itself... I kind of don't mind it, but I would be pleased if they left it out. But I mean, I'd be happy if there were a sizable number of WoC with their own series. Recently, I was thinking that I wanted a lot of my main characters to be WoC (if and when I actually bring myself to start writing again). But for a moment, I actually stopped thought, "wouldn't it be weird if most or all of my mains/protags were PoC/WoC?". And that was really disheartening. Because that goes to show ingrained some of these problems are. Immediately after, I paused and went, "wait, a majority of the main characters in anything, anywhere are male; and on top of that, here in the US (or western stuff in general), cis, white males are a HUGE majority of the main characters."

Yeah, I got over that real quick. But it was a kind of startling moment. And really, strongly reaffirmed to me how lacking WoC are, not just in general, but as an actual protagonist and lead character.

Date: 2011-09-30 07:59 am (UTC)
eyz: (Default)
From: [personal profile] eyz
I'd love a genuinely funny team book featuring Baby Wildebeest, Pantha & Red Star.
Yep.
Just my 2-cents comment.

I'd even write it/draw it if DC hired me super cheap!
(ya hear me? give me a job!! I'll make good books for ya!!)

Date: 2011-09-30 08:43 am (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
Would Pantha be in that much of a better place as a character to base a series around.

I have repressed many of my memories of that era of the Titans, but wasn't Pantha's schtick that she was not only uncertain about her past as a scientific experiment, but whether she was even human in the first place? (Was she a human who had been cat-modded, or a cat which had been human-modded?). That might have been answered of course, but I didn't think it had been.

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Date: 2011-09-30 08:00 am (UTC)
tacitoz: (Default)
From: [personal profile] tacitoz
I actually didn't notice that she's black (I mean I saw it, but paid no attention) until you pointed it out, now I don't know if that's good or bad.
You did raise some good points in this. While I still long for the day when it doesn't matter if a person is black or white so that no one would get offended, it is important to sit back and reflect on what you as an author wrote and if this might come off in such a way as you described here.

Date: 2011-09-30 08:44 am (UTC)
marco: (sanetoshi+hon)
From: [personal profile] marco
I think race/ethnicity (and culture) is something we should always see and acknowledge, but the prejudices, etc that come with it are what I want people to do without.

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Date: 2011-09-30 08:08 am (UTC)
tammy_moore: (Default)
From: [personal profile] tammy_moore
I actually wouldn't have read it like that. I mean, now that you point it out, I can see it - but otherwise the primary thing would have been primarily the sex/gender issues.

Pris being a not-human pretty alien hybrid is actually something I would have thought was cool. It gives a lot of scope to dip into ideas about race and gender and enculturalization. How Pris sees herself and how other people see her, does the fact that she looks alien make her any less human?

The problem is...like Martha, you really can't just write a character of colour in a colour-blind way - I think that's close to what I want to say. There's a whole lot of social programming and history and representation affecting characters of colour that many writers don't think about.

Same, of course, goes with female characters and differently abled characters and non-cis characters. Nothing creative or artistic happens in a vacuum.

Date: 2011-09-30 09:10 am (UTC)
aaron_bourque: default (Default)
From: [personal profile] aaron_bourque
you really can't just write a character of colour in a colour-blind way

Why not? Why . . . not? Oh, I know, there are real reasons, but seriously, many of those reasons feed into the overarching reasons. It's sad that we can't.

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Date: 2011-09-30 09:50 am (UTC)
shatners_bassoon: (Default)
From: [personal profile] shatners_bassoon
Thanks for this, interesting points that may not have automatically occured to me (as a white, cis 18-34 yo male etc.).

Just a quick proofreading note - I think the first 2 sentences of the last paragraph of point 3 might be missing some words.
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