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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...

Sunday, July 9, 2017

HOW TO HANDLE A TOXIC MALE

I already trashed DICK GRAYSON VS. TOXIC MASCULINITY in this essay,  but thought I ought to examine this particular absurdity in greater depth:

Even as Dick aged out of the Robin role, these elements remained: youth, feminization, subtextual queerness and campiness, passivity in romantic relationships. 


Author Plummer is by no means unusual in pursuing the idea that male characters can be "feminized" by being threatened (he calls Robin a "damsel in distress"), by being inferior to a stronger woman (Robin's relationship to super-powered girlfriend Starfire), or even by being killed. I'm not sure when this trope became popular, but I would assume it grew with the proliferation of "queer studies." While I myself have devoted no small amount of time to analyzing the overlaps between the fictional phenomena of sex and of violence, devotees of queer studies play a one-sided game. They don't mind seeing the image of masculinity torn down, but what happens when feminine characters are subjected to humiliation, violence, and death? Are any of these characters "feminized," or are they just--

WOMEN IN REFRIGERATORS????

Since Kraft-Ebing codified the phenomena of sadism and masochism in the late 1800s, it's been impossible to doubt that certain men and women have mentally translated violence-- whether real or imagined-- into sexual stimulation. What modern ideologues want, however, is not a careful consideration of the ways both men and women think and feel. They want to find ways to ennoble marginalized women by placing them outside the bounds of violence, while degrading that horror of horrors, the straight white male, by "feminizing" him.

Those titans of tedium, Gershom Legman and Frederic Wertham, represent early attitudes of the "Freudian Marxist" to the threat of the macho male, whose epitome was that of the costumed superhero. Even though organized fascism had been defeated on the stage of world affairs by the time both men wrote their respective screeds, both men evinced extreme fear that Neo-Nazis lurked behind every fictional depiction of violence. Yet the closest that either one came to suggesting a feminized male appears in Legman's LOVE AND DEATH. The author suggested that in comic strips like BLONDIE and THE KATZENJAMMER KIDS, "father and husband can be thoroughly beaten up, harassed, humiliated, and degraded daily." However, I don't think he was suggesting that this was a way of "queering" the paternal targets of this degradation. It was simply a means of allowing female and juvenile readers of the strips to indulge in fantasies of hostility. It's a limited rebellion, though, since Legman specifies that paternal authority will remain despite these escapist notions-- which just shows that he didn't read BLONDIE very carefully. While "the Captain," the main male antagonist of "the Kids," usually re-asserted his power by paddling the Kids' butts, Dagwood is rarely if ever able to reclaim any dignity, especially not against his quietly domineering wife.

Finally, I find it odd that Plummer is arguing that queerness should be associated with passivity.
I think most gays would find that rather offensive, not to mention impractical, as it would force them all to be "bottoms with no tops."



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