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Recently Paul Levitz made the following statement regarding female readers and superheroes:

‘I'm not sure that young women are as interested in reading about superheroes. The fundamental dynamic of the superhero story has historically been more appealing to boys than to girls. There are any number of very successful superhero comics over the years that have had a better gender balance than others, but the genre as a whole has been a more male genre.’


As expected people are going to come out and defend Paul Levitz’s comments citing the ‘not sure’ part as a defense but his ignorance actually makes things worse for female fans since it lends itself to erasure. Hell, Levitz’s own work on the Legion of Superheroes back in the ol’ days had a sizable amount of female readers; how will they going to feel knowing that their favorite creator didn’t even register their existence?

Box_in_box’s post here has links to several sites calling out Levitz on his ignorance. LJ’s own bitemetechie recently called out another figurehead in the industry for holding the same view point as Levitz:

“I started reading comics in the nineties. I was a little girl in the nineties. And you know what? There were TONS of comics that weren't Archie or Barbie that were PERFECTLY suitable for children. Among them, that I actually remember seeing in the comic bin at the local library: Adventures in the DC Universe, The Superman Adventures and the Batman: The Animated Series comics (which included The Batman Adventures, The Batman and Robin Adventures, Batman Gotham Adventures and Batman Adventures — one title, relaunched and relaunched, spanning eight years of the decade). There were also Star Trek, Looney Tunes, Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain and Disney comics that I remember distinctly.

My first comic book? Catwoman. Certainly not specified as an all ages title, thanks to its too complicated for a five year old storylines (and crossovers, dear lord the nineties made Catwoman's title a dumping ground for Batverse spanning crossovers), but not gratuitously violent, smutty smut sex smut, either.

But, apparently, because I'm female, I had absolutely no business reading anything other than Barbie and Archie.

"Why don't you try reading Archie instead? I think you'd like it."

That's what the librarian told me, that's what my mom tried to tell me, that's what everyone tried to tell me.

Well, guess what? I read Archie. I found it insipid. At the age of EIGHT I found it insipid, shallow and not-very-funny-at-all.

I wanted to read about superheroes. I wanted to read — not about petty personal dramas and love triangles — but about people doing Good, oftentimes for the sake of Good. Batman was already my favorite hero, because he was an ordinary man who, despite his lack of superpowers and his NUMEROUS psychological flaws/damages, dedicated his life to protecting the innocent because he never wanted any other child to suffer the way he had. Batman was my personal Patron Saint of Children, never about vengeance, but about protection and safety.

How dare you? How fucking DARE you tell me that Betty and Veronica and BARBIE are better role models for me because I'm a girl? Because I'm a girl, it's my job to be obsessed with clothes and boys and shoes and make-up and puppies and being a ballerina-astronaut-prom-queen-princess-pediatrician and going to parties, rather than being somebody's HERO? Rather than standing up for what's right BECAUSE it's right?


Superman is not for boys. Superman is for EVERYBODY.

Wonder Woman is not for boys. Wonder Woman is for EVERYBODY.

Batman is not for boys. Batman is for EVERYBODY.

These characters and THOUSANDS of others who wear tights represent ideals, ethics, good triumphing over evil and being a good person — not to get something in return — but just for the sake of the concept that Being Nice is Nice. Comic book superheroes are us as we wish we were: the best versions of ourselves reflected back to us, our best aspects magnified, something to emulate and strive for, as people, not as genders or races or orientations. I can love what Batman stands for, despite not being a man. I can love the new Blue Beetle, despite not being Hispanic. I can love Oracle despite not being in a wheelchair. I can love J'onn J'onnz despite not being a Martian!


But thank you. Thank you so much for telling me outright that I'm not allowed to identify with, understand or enjoy a character unless they're just leik me zomgggggwtfbbqlol!

Oh, and they must also be gorgeous, capitalistic and boy-crazed. But only until I'm old enough to get in touch with feminist theory, then I have to start liking disaffected angry grrrlz whose stories are almost always about how depressing and infuriating their lives are under the crushing weight of patriarchal society/heteronormative oppression — which may be true, but isn't necessarily the ONLY thing I want to read about.”

Honestly after that, there is nothing more that I can add other than 'WORD!'

This isn’t the first or the last time fail like this happened or will in comic books and other media (not to mention real life) hence why I posted this because things like this *need* to be called out.

Hell, I'm a male and I could be doing a thousand other things right now instead of spending the last thirty or so minutes typing up this post. There is a lot that comes when you listen and you try to learn, people *need* to realize that if the world is to progress.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 10th, 2010 02:59 pm (UTC)
Levitz isn't the only one with the fail on this issue:

Dec. 10th, 2010 03:15 pm (UTC)
yeah I did kind of mention that in the OP.

::reads linked post::


Sigh, at least Lauren Montgomery, Andrea Romano and Bruce Timm are being open and giving us the behind-the-scene scoop on things. They may not be actual Anti-Oppressionists (neither am I) but we at least know where they stand.

I already had some follow-up posts in mind but this just adds more. This adds another layer to this whole mess; so guys can't relate to or like female characters beyond their boobs and sex appeal?
Dec. 11th, 2010 02:10 am (UTC)
[head desk]

You know... I'm so not interested in Facebook. But now I'm tempted to join just to give him a piece of my mind.

Dec. 11th, 2010 08:48 am (UTC)
::whispers into your ear::

Dooooo eeeeet
Dec. 11th, 2010 09:12 pm (UTC)
Actually, I'm gonna' put a link up over at the Legion Message Boards. We'll see what happens. They tend to prize politeness over there, which is why I waited until this afternoon until I'd calmed down just a little bit. Otherwise it just would've been me posting a six-foot-tall, glowing bright red "DUDE, WTFingF" over and over again. And Levitz does check out the space from time to time, though he doesn't post.

We'll see what happens. :/
Dec. 11th, 2010 10:13 pm (UTC)
::sigh:: I'm hoping this is just an age thing. That people closer to our generation who didn't grow up with gender roles constantly thrown in our faces (and who react negatively to stuff like this) will eventually take over and introduce more progressive thinking into fandoms.
Dec. 12th, 2010 12:18 am (UTC)
Levitz isn't really that much older than I am. That's the sad part.

And sadly, plenty of dudes my age and younger are either thoughtless or vicious assholes when it comes to feminists. Sometimes both. Or they're like Levitz: good-hearted but still willfully clueless so much of the time.
Dec. 18th, 2010 08:52 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that's true, I'd just hope that people who are trying to market things to a wide audience aren't that assholey or clueless.
Dec. 12th, 2010 06:57 am (UTC)

But the younger fans tend to fall into the same line at times when it comes to these kind of issues; it's going to take younger progressive fans to bring about real change in DC.
Dec. 18th, 2010 08:53 pm (UTC)
Well, I'm still going to be optimistic about it. Not that I expect change to happen overnight.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )