A friend of mine posted about this website
on her Tumblr, and I thought some of y’all on my flist might find it interesting, so I thought I’d pass it along. Women in Refrigerators Syndrome
describes the use of the death or injury of a female comic book character as a plot device in a story starring a male comic book character.
It reminded me of the post on Man Pain™ that gabrielleabelle
posted/linked to not that long ago (that I can’t for the life of me find)—and all the sacrificing of female characters that occurs on both AtS and BtVS.
The Women in Refrigerators site lists
a bunch of female comic book characters and how they were offed/maimed/depowered. A companion page
, titled Men Defrosting, takes a similar look at male characters—but points out how male victims of violence are more frequently restored to their former status than their female counterparts.
I don’t have a whole lot of commentary to add—perhaps because I’m only on season 2 of AtS—and because the the WiR content pretty much speaks for itself. But I wanted to point out that the WiR site has responses
from comic book fans and industry people. And a few of them are really interesting. Especially this response
from fan Jeff Mace. He makes lots of valid points throughout—but what strikes me is that despite how he clearly understands exactly what this discussion is about, he still manages to COMPLETELY MISS THE POINT.
In wrapping up his argument, he says: "When tragedy befalls a comic heroine, it might be due to the lineage of the medium in which she exists, it might be due to cultural universals that have been with us throughout human history, and, yes, it just might be the work of a untalented, incompetent, and/or misogynistic hack.
"It also might be part and parcel of an important story, a story that deserves to be told. Or it could simply be a product of the symbiotic, cyclical relationship between the storyteller and the audience: male characters written by male creators for male fans, some of whom will become male creators and write stories about male characters for... you get the idea."
I just don’t even know what to say about this. It’s more impressive as a summary if you go and read his full argument, where he shows a thorough grasp of the debate—then ends it with this, which reads like, “Yeah, ladies are getting cut into pieces and shoved into refrigerators. But that might just be because men have always oppressed women.”
Wha huh, now? Isn’t that the point of this whole project? To show that oppression has indeed permeated the comic medium/superhero genre, and it manifests in a particularly violent fashion? And the fact that he seems to think that the point of the project was to prove that comic book creators are misogynistic hacks? I don’t even know.
Another troubling thing Mace says is: "I remember an imaginary ‘interview’ PAD wrote (in one of his CBG columns) with a comics pro from ‘the future.’ In that pro's time, violence in comics had been partially supplanted by depictions of healthy, consensual sex. Therein, I suppose, lies a possible cure for the WiR malaise: Close the refrigerator door and turn down the sheets! ;)"
Maybe I don’t understand exactly what he’s saying here, but it sounds like he’s suggesting that pro’s idea of “evolution”--that the way to avoid a grisly death, for a female character, is to “turn down the sheets”?
Yeah. That doesn’t sit well with me. The concept makes sense to me—replacing violence with sex—but to argue that this is somehow a sign of progress in attitudes toward women—shifting anger expressed through mutilation of female bodies—to the portrayal of them as willing sex objects? Not loving it.
But to end on a more positive note, this response
from Rob Harris is short and sweet and does an excellent job of setting up useful male disempowerment/harm vs. female disempowerment/harm parallels.
Also: Check out WiR’s righteous logo.
Tell me that isn’t awesome. You can’t. Because it IS awesome. The logo will not be denied.
ETA: Look! I think I figured out my link problem! Either that or I just royally screwed up this entry.