Siobhan Brooks, ”Black Feminism in Everyday Life”
The failure to grasp intersectionality that I think a lot of white feminists (and really people of every type of movement) seem to miss
This is not so much a critique post as it is a conformation of how absurd the standards of art in the comic book industry have become.
I traveled to San Diego Comic Con this year and participated in the portfolio reviews they where holding from Thursday to Sunday. Although I will admit I am not the best artist in the world, I really wanted to try and show them that comic book art could be done in a realistic manor while still keeping the superhuman aesthetics of the art form.
This Batwoman piece was the work that I gained the most flack for from all the companies because the anatomy was as they quoted ‘not industry standard.’ At one company (which I shall choose to not name) I was given a full critique on the anatomical incorrections as the following.
“Her breasts are much too small and do not have the lift that superhero women should have. Her jawline is fat and her neck much too long. The style of her hair is clunky and does not flow in a sense that a super human would. Her hips, waist and thighs are too big and she honestly looks fat. No one is going to want to read a comic with a fat female protagonist. I honestly recommend looking at issues of Sport’s Illustrated to get the right anatomy. Those women are the peak of human perfection, and that is what we want in this industry.”
Peak of human perfection? I don’t know about you, but I don’t see living on salad and dietary pills as perfection.
I would like to say this was just the opinion of one editor from one company, but I found similar opinions at almost every review I went to. By the end I was pretty upset, having been following this blog for very long and trying hard to make my anatomy believable and human. But this is not something the comic book industry seems to want, and it’s something that I thought everyone deserved to be informed on.
Again, this is not to bring attention to me and my own art, but rather inform the community of just what their artistic standards are, and why so many what we deem ‘bad artists’ are able to get full careers working for these companies.
Your Batwoman pic is awesome, and it’s not like you didn’t give her curves or anything and her breasts aren’t small. What do they think swimsuit models look like in a costume anyway? And honestly, your piece is a lot closer to that SI cover than a lot of the “industry standard” art, but it is interesting that they consider Sports Illustrated swimsuit models as what superheroines should look like (even though they don’t end up looking like SI swimsuit models either.)
It doesn’t surprise me though, but it’s sad that that is considered the “peak of human perfection” though. I think they’re confusing “what I find attractive in women” and “a woman at the peak of athletic perfection” much less “human perfection.”
(As a note, I don’t think we should assume that professional models necessarily exist on diet pills and salads, nor that thin people are necessarily unhealthily starving themselves. Also, SI images probably are quite touched up too.)
Great commentary here.
Ho- she’s fat- what- I- how is she fat? and how is her hair clunky and her breasts are the right size for all that gymnastics that superheroines do- like do these people never watch female athletes in action at all—and how are Sports Illustrated models the model of the athleticism needed for crime-fighting—
I’m assuming comic book industry makers aren’t full of shit.
So I got in touch with Molly, the woman who was raped by Benjamin McCullugh-Dennis as she made it clear she had little support from the community at large in what she was doing so I wanted to indicate my support to her as well as my willingness to be involved in spreading information/postering around Newtown and such.
Through her and information that has been posted at the rapeisreal.wordpress.com (I strongly encourage you to visit that link and read her story, with a major TW for horrible rape and abuse) blog by others as well as in the various reblogs and comments on tumblr, certain things have been revealed that I think it is important to compile for easy, clear reference as it will be of interest to anyone who maintains doubts about Molly’s methods, Ben’s character and the situation in general, as well of interest to those who are invested in opposing rape culture and supporting a survivor. Molly has read this post and has given me permission to post this information for the knowledge of the general public. A general trigger warning for rape, whorephobia and rape apologism.
- Ben admitted in writing to the rape as Molly described it happening. Molly has records of this.
- Other women have also come forward since with similar stories of rape and sexual assault by Ben.
- It has come to light that Ben raped a sex worker he was dating.
- Furthermore he told that sex worker he raped her because she is a sex worker and he felt threatened by that and needed to “prove” himself. When this was told to his community by the survivor, they said they didn’t think he would say or do something like that, further disbelieving the survivor in favour of Ben.
- Furthermore, he indicated to the sex worker that if she went to the police, he would out her as a sex worker, something that would negatively impact her life to a very high degree. Ben knew that and took advantage of that to have his rape of her suppressed. The anarchist community knows about this.
- The anarchist community closest to Ben have told Molly that if she proceeds with criminal charges (a police report has been filed), they will consider supporting Ben in lying about the rape, even though they were witness to Ben confessing to the rape. Ostensibly this is because they object in principle to prisons and police**.
- Molly is an anarchist and a Woman of Colour from a poor background. She is also opposed to the justice system on principle and has been involved for years in activism against it, including having organised against the jail system, organised for prisoner support, and organised against police brutality and taught cop-watch training. She also has a family history with the jail system.. Her decision to utilise the justice system in this instance is therefore informed and aware and comes from a long and serious ACTIVE engagement with the justice system that is based on an actual critique of power and privilege.
- Ben is a white, cis male from an upper-middle class background, who has no physical or mental health issues, no dependents and no criminal history. Molly’s decision in reporting Ben came fully alongside knowing his sex, race, and class privilege and she has stated that if he didn’t occupy even one of these very real privileges, she would have seriously re-considered her decision.
- The accountability process was initiated 2 and a half years ago, but Ben broke his agreements. Ben agreed to be a part of it again recently and then went overseas to avoid having to deal with it. Ben has agreed to participate in the process yet again and has then consistently avoided it and gone back on his word.
- An anarchist community won’t support a survivor going to the cops to report rape but doesn’t blink twice at a cis white man participating in capitalism to the degree he can up and GO OVERSEAS at a moment’s notice to escape the heat of his violent action?? UM??? Ben’s family is also able to offer him money whenever he needs it/asks for it and he has a stable job with a steady income and is a permanent resident meaning he can access government assistance.
- Molly, meanwhile, has physical health issues, is mixed race, comes from a poor family who is unable to offer her financial support, is a stranger in this country in the process of trying to immigrate and therefore cannot work or access government assistance or medical care, has been seeing a therapist through CASA which was a limit of six sessions which have now completed so has no access to therapy either and is female. These obvious power and privilege inequities play a key role both in how this situation played out originally and how it is being treated by the community now.
- When he went overseas, Molly contacted the places he was staying to advise local women/trans/queer communities of what had happened so they could protect themselves by choosing what degree of contact they had with Ben. Someone in the Sydney anarchist scene actually told her she was endangering women who chose to be close to him because Ben might face retaliatory violence when he was out socially with them.
- Ben has behaved roughly and rudely as a client to at least one sex worker in Sydney, a different sex worker to the one he was dating. He did not negotiate rough service with the sex worker and did not apologise for the way he treated her. Bluntly, I think how a man treats his hooker says a LOT about his character overall.
- Several people who have been pierced by him say that he made inappropriate sexual advances during the process (in which Ben was acting ostensibly as a professional…) and made them feel uncomfortable, including underage girls.
- Ben has initiated sex with at least one client while offering to give her “aftercare.”
- Ben has currently gone on holiday again to avoid dealing with the heat, breaking his agreements to the process yet again. Despite the fact no violent action has been taken or incited, he is provoking pity and sympathy from the community by recentering himself once again by expressing he “fears for [his] safety”. Please also note his significant privilege in being able to remove himself at a moment’s notice. He has been supported by the anarchist community to do this.
- After 2 and a half years of Ben not participating in the accountability process as he agreed to do, alongside the anarchist community advising her that they would stand by Ben over her, Molly finally took drastic action by publicly outing Ben. She did this to WARN OTHER WOMEN ABOUT BEN’S BEHAVIOUR so that we can choose if we interact with him in the future, for our own safety, as he’s repeatedly targeted women for sexual coercion and rape. This was pro-active community-focused action in the interests of disseminating information for the greater good. Whilst I disagree with the specific way the revelation of his HPV status and consequent discussion and focus on that was taken, the information that Ben is a violent rapist is incredibly important for women who may find him in their life.
** I personally believe this is bullshit and is being used as an excuse to continue to support Ben over Molly due to his status in the community. I do not, generally speaking, support the police or the prison system, but I support a survivor always in principle as commitment to my own history and my ethics, and because survivors are generally so minimised and deprioritised overall I believe fostering their autonomy in how they decide to address the assault they were forced to is part of actively recentering them and opposing rape culture.
I also think more complicated dynamics are at work here given Molly is a Woman of Colour calling for support from a community that purports to be focused on the elimination of oppression and yet will actively conspire against someone based on an ideology that does not affect them practically along equal lines. People of Colour face exponentially more discrimination from the judicial system and police than white people (which Sydney anarchist community is predominantly composed of) and yet Molly, as a survivor of violent rape and abuse, wishes to avail herself of that system in an effort to take charge and control of her rape and remove a manipulative serial offender from being able to hurt more women. The Sydney anarchist community would seem to prefer to protect a white man out of a purported loyalty to their political ideology than support a Woman of Colour who faces actual oppression through misogyny, racism, homophobia (as she is queer-identified) classism and ableism. Whether intentional or not, they are therefore engaging in racist and misogynistic action by reinforcing the status quo that the concerns of women come after all else and the concerns of WOC come absolutely last, while the concerns of white men remain dominant. How is this radical or genuinely focused towards anti-oppression principles? No one has any love for the “justice” system but standing against it solely to protect a white man who serially rapes women instead of standing beside someone who faces far greater oppression than he along intersectional lines of race, class and sex, which he knowingly exploited in order to rape her, seems to be incredibly ineffective for those for whom anti-oppression is a complex and layered matter, not to mention racist and sexist.
It has also emerged that Ben got a swastika tattoo under the pretension he was “reclaiming” its “original meaning”. As a white person I DEMAND fellow white people to seriously examine why they feel a compelling need to use this symbol in any way shape or form, regardless of its long and checkered history, precisely because its most recent history is one so tainted with abhorrent, vile, reprehensible racism to the point that symbol can literally not be seen without calling to mind the Nazi Holocaust as well as neo-Nazism and skinheads, practitioners of which continue to perpetuate acts of terrible racist violence against People of Colour to this day. THERE IS NO EXCUSE NOR REASON OF ANY KIND FOR A WHITE PERSON TO GET A SWASTIKA TATTOO and no matter what that person says their motivation is I will assume they are racist because they are putting their own egos and self-interest ahead of the associated and inseparable history of that symbol. The tattoo has apparently now been removed or covered up but this is an example of Ben’s general failure to check his privilege and how he engages in racist behaviour alongside his abusive ones.
Finally, it should be noted that many people who know/knew Ben are unanimous in having a generally high opinion of him, find him charming, friendly, decent, kind, etc. Ben is not a bogeyman. He is not a moustache-twirling villain. He’s just a guy, like many other guys, who has successfully concealed his abusive behaviour to the point other people refuse to believe he is capable of it, even when he says himself that he has done what he’s been accused of doing. This is not at all unusual in these situations when well-respected or high-status figures in a community are exposed for abuse, rape or pedophilia. This doesn’t mean that underneath it all these guys are demons in human skin, evil people who plot and plan their acts of heinous assault the way a comic book villain plots their world domination scheme.
It means rapists literally can be and are anyone. That even nice guys rape. That even politically sensitive people can be abusive fuckwits. That what creates a rapist or an abuser is systemic and intersects absolutely with misogyny and sexism, as well as racism, ableism, classism, etc. It means we have to let go of our ideas that rapists can be identified on sight , that they are strangers and outsiders and realise that our friends may be rapists, that they may have raped people that we know and care for, that they are part of our social circles.
And in realising all of this – believe and prioritise the survivor who is brave enough to come forward.
So if after all this, you still feel Ben should cut a break or that we need to be thinking about him, or that Molly did the wrong thing outing him so publicly, or that people haven’t been incredibly fucked in how they’ve dealt with this and responded to it, or that Ben still needs to tell his side of the story (as stated above – he has – and it was in accordance with Molly’s testimony) or that this sort of action is “dangerous” - look, there’s no hope for you. And you’re a rapist apologist asshole. And we have nothing to say to each other.
The rest of you, spread this information around. People deserve to know.
AND START SUPPORTING MOLLY IN WHAT SHE HAS STATED SHE WANTS AND NEEDS FROM THE COMMUNITY.
And if you want to support Molly? TELL HER you support her. Sometimes the most important thing for a survivor is to know they have been heard and believed. Get in touch with her at rapeisreal.wordpress.com and leave her a message of support and faith.
Like fundamentally do not understand the mindset that leads to thinking of MEDICAL CARE as something only those who can afford it deserve
Many of you likely remember this post I made back in March regarding my grad school dissertation- in essence, I want to focus on Tumblr’s ever-evolving role in the online literary landscape. Due to the generosity of Tumblr editors (or, okay, maybe just the wonderful Matt), my post got featured in a number of categories. Over the following weeks, I received a flood of generous responses from people who offered to be interviewed. I set about making a massive spreadsheet listing contact information, blog URLs, genre, etc. I started up conversations with a few folks, then realized.. I WAS GETTING NOWHERE.
And the fault is mine. Though my post resulted in a large volume of responses, I had neglected to properly articulate my mission. The data I compiled, up until that point, resembled one-dimensional survey results rather than material that could form the basis of an academic study. I want to thank everyone who contacted me, & [sheepishly] ask for the Tumblr writing community’s help once again, now that my goal is more refined. I’m slowly compiling a new contacts list based on my own research & it would be wonderful to hear from you all, too.
The below list does not strictly apply to writers of any particular genre/style— & for that matter, I’d love to hear from editors & the like as well (if applicable.)
If any of the following applies to you or someone you know/a blog you follow, please get in touch!
- You received publishing opportunities— print or online freelance work, literary magazine solicitations, book deal, etc.— as a result of posting original work on a Tumblr blog.
- Due to Tumblr community feedback, you submitted work that had been posted on your blog (edits/revised versions OK!) & ended up being published.
- You self-published a chapbook, novel, etc. as a result of garnering a large following on Tumblr. (Edit: actually, if you’re ‘Tumblr-famous’— like, thousands of followers— & a writer who hasn’t self-published, I’d love to hear from you as well.)
- You run or work with a literary magazine that publishes content exclusively on Tumblr.
- You run or work with a literary magazine, small press, publishing company, etc. that publishes some content on Tumblr (interviews, essays, reviews, whatever) that you do not make available [for free] anywhere else.
- You are an established writer (loosely defined as someone who has published extensively/has some level of name-recognition within a non-Tumblr literary community) who has a Tumblr account, if only to interact with fans/other writers.
Please contact me via my Ask box or (preferably) via email: alinapleskova[at]gmail.com. Thank you!
PS: If you aren’t a prospective interviewee but are interested in the topic & feel like having a chat, please don’t hesitate to get in touch as well. Always interested in some lively discourse!
PSS: If you re-blog this & spread the word, I owe you a big kiss.