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NUM-INOUS COMICS PT. 2

This essay is a very belated response to a " part 1 " published in February 2015. The gist of that essay was a response to a corre...

Monday, July 11, 2011

THE SHE-RA MAN-HATERS CLUB PT. 2

Ferdinand: And women like that part which, like the lamprey,
Hath never a bone in't.
Duchess: Fie, sir!
Ferdinand: Nay,
I mean the tongue; variety of courtship:
What cannot a neat knave with a smooth tale
Make a woman believe?
The Duchess of Malfi, Act I, Scene ii.



So, when I impute the existence of a "She-Ra Man-Haters Club," who are the club's members in the comics world?

Though I disagreed with statements made by Trina Robbins in Part 1, I don't think her remarks put her anywhere near the company of Andrea Dworkin. I've seen a few remarks by Heidi McDonald that come a little nearer that territory, but still, I've no sense that she's set up shop in WAPville.

In essence, the comics-world members would be anyone who calls for the unconditional neutering of male fantasy-material in the name of an alleged benefit to female safety. Here's a remark I reprinted in THE GENRE-GENDER WARS that sounds pretty much like WAPster sentiments:

The hypersexualization/objectification of female superheroines makes female readers uncomfortable, and sexual violence as a plot point has got to stop.


One immediate problem with this sentiment, of course, is the old question, "Who decides what is objectification?" Probably the only true answer will be some variation on Ellen Willis' answer as to what constitutes pornography:

"What turns me on is erotic; what turns you on is pornographic."

That said, and with all my objections to WAPster intolerance of the erotica they don't like, I stop short of saying that women are universally wrong when they, with the Duchess of Malfi, cry the modern variant of "Fie, sir!"

(Took me awhile, but I got back to it; didn't I?)

While I'd not endorse that biology is destiny, I certainly don't believe, as do some feminists, that gender roles are entirely sociological in nature. I have endorsed Friedrich Nietzsche's notion that men and women have the same emotions, albeit separated in their manifestation by what Nietzsche called "tempo." Nietzsche's idea of "tempo" might be glossed by Joseph Campbell's adaptation of the ethological idea of "supernormal sign stimuli," which I addressed somewhat more fully here.

Be that as it may, both biology and social conditioning insure that men dominantly prefer very extreme fantasies of sex and violence, and women dominantly decline from same.

This declination from the crude and rude world of boys' fantasies, however, is not necessarily an "Unconditional No" that declares that said world should not exist; that it should be legislated out of existence because It Contributes to the Victimization of Women. It is a "Conditional No," which might be framed more on the level of, "Keep This Crap Out of the Kids' Sight and Don't Scare the Horses Neither."

I don't agree in full with the theses of Leonard Shlain in SEX, TIME, AND POWER as to the rise of human culture. However, he does advance (or pass on) an interesting conception of "women's power to say no." In brief, following homo sapiens' evolution away from seasonal estrus-cycles, Shlain suggests that the female power to say no to the male's advances did in fact provide a primary motivation for the evolution of love specifically and culture generally. Culture, for Shlain, evolves from man's ceaseless efforts to figure out what the woman wants.

I don't believe that this was the only motivation for said evolution. But I do think it's a little more insightful than Camille Paglia's notion that culture evolved out of the human male's tendency to "project," which in turn evolved out of the fact that he, unlike the female, could write his name in the snow.

I will probably continue to be appalled by many of the exaggerated claims that feminists of both sexes level at mainstream comics. I will always believe that most of them misapprehend the extent to which sociology can trump biology.

But the woman's power to civilize has to be respected.

Otherwise we guys would never have come up with DVD players on which to play our favorite porno movies.

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