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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...

Thursday, September 18, 2014


"You’ll never get to universal agreement — as is the case with subjective matters — but that’s not a reason not to try for better understanding than what we’ve got now."

So speaks Kurt Busiek in the aforementioned BEAT thread, who claims that he advocates "better understanding." I don't think that he will achieve this lofty goal by the strategy of imputing straw-man positions to his opponents. However, I will admit that the poster named "Jim" invited such a response. Whenever a participant in an argument resorts to psychologizing his opponent, this strategy also fails to address the argument in a pure fashion, and can also be fairly dismissed as a species-member of the Straw Man Group.

Jim said to McDonald:

You’ve been posting about this for almost a month now, and I don’t mean this as a troll comment, but seriously, is your self-esteem as a woman actually undermined in some way by a drawing on the cover of a comic book?

This is not IMO a proper way to conduct a debate, any more than when Busiek attempts to paint both the poster Jim and myself as "good old boys" who don't want the status quo changed. Whatever faults my own arguments may have, I don't try to psycho-analyze my opponents. I've written that I think "Chicken Colin" acted like a coward-- first, for having written scathingly, and falsely, of my positions, and failing to debate me on his assertions, and later for hiding behind the skirts of Julian Darius, who decided that he would not permit me to comment on the Chicken's subsequent Sequart posts. I find both of these actions reprehensible. But I don't try to invent psychoanalytic reasons for these demonstrations of cowardly behavior, as Jim invents a facile psychoanalytic motive of "lack of self-esteem" to explain McDonald's fixation on the Manara "Spider-Woman" cover. (Later in the thread, Jim said that his imputation was meant as a joke, but it didn't come off that way in the original post.)

I flatter myself that even when I disagree with an opponent, my first resort is to analyze any statement as a philosophical proposition, in order to determine whether or not it proves valid in the light of my own knowledge and experiences.

Busiek's proposition in this BEAT-post is largely of a piece with the principle of absolute equity McDonald has expressed many times before. In GENDER, BEND HER I refuted this principle on these terms:

This ethic passes an unsubstantiated judgment upon all previous incarnations of Bond fiction: said judgment being that, because they were originally fictions designed principally with male buyers in mind, new iterations must and should be corrected to become more “female-friendly.” But this correction hinges on two presumptions: (1) that male-oriented fiction has no integrity in itself, but must be corrected in some fashion, and (2) that the Bond mythos did not already a healthy, though numerically smaller, female fandom even prior to feminist revisions.

Or, to cite a more concise response from this mini-essay:

Fiction is a place where fantasy reigns, and as I said in the [earlier] essay, it's simply a lot harder to sell hyper-sexualized fantasies to women than to men.

Busiek, like McDonald, does not recognize any challenges to the principle of absolute equity between fictional males and females, however, as his response to Jim in the post makes clear:

It’s that women being sexualized in comics is overwhelmingly the standard, while men being sexualized isn’t. If both were treated in appropriate ways depending on the character and story — so you had sexualized men where appropriate, and women were sexualized when appropriate but not reflexively, as they are now.

Though Busiek claim to advocate greater "understanding," it's clear from his posts that he has no interest in any explanations as to how the "standard" came about. It's not equitable, so it's wrong, and anyone who cares to explore the dynamics of the gender situation is on the same level as corporate stinkheads trying to prevent real-life women from earning equal pay.

Of course, I will admit that even if Busiek is an unlikely candidate to bridge the disagreements between the opposing sides, I'm not likely to win any prizes in that department either.  I have no idea if such a rapprochement is even feasible, for there's a sense in which people just like to bitch about these subjects.

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