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Weekend Reading List: Feminists, fighters, and failures


  • First up, the Mary Sue on why asking “is this feminist” is rather beside the point.
  • Black Widow was never supposed to resemble Buffy the Vampire Slayer. They both have vastly different origins and motivations, but the Avenger’s recent Age of Ultron story arc, in which she wants to run away and “be monsters” with the Hulk, both needlessly conflates two of Joss Whedon’s best known female heroes and betrays Romanoff’s character development thus far. [The Mary Sue]
  • Which is nerdier: Star Wars or Star Trek? [CollegeHumor]
  • And now it’s all Furiosa all the time! Here’s a beautiful essay on Mad Max, women fighters, and compulsory femininity that also touches on archaeology, Kate Beaton, The Faerie Queene, and Tamora Pierce. So the good stuff. [Hazlitt]
  • The accompanying comic, Furiosa #1, was highly anticipated, but unfortunately fell very short of the mark. It’s wildly offensive, graphically depicts rape, and undoes everything that made the movie revolutionary for its genre, as this Shakesville article clearly and thoroughly shows.
  • And then comic co-creator Mark Sexton responded to this criticism… poorly, saying that if the Wives (who are, let’s remember, kept in captivity as broodmares) hadn’t been assaulted in the pages of the comic, they would have seemed like spoiled children who didn’t know how good their lives were. I’m not really able to respond coherently. [The Mary Sue]
  • It’s important to aim for greater racial diversity in films (and especially important not to dismiss those who advocate for it) and we shouldn’t forget about the three actresses of colour present Mad Max, and how their roles interact with the history of colonialism in the Pacific region. [Jeanne the Fangirl]


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Monthly Reading List III


Top image by alphatrashking.tumblr.com.

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Rubber Spine Syndrome: A message on RSS prevention


I just spent a little while trawling Escher Girls—which is never a great idea unless I’m trying to whip myself into a Righteous Feminist Fury™—and I’m writing this out of genuine worry for the video game/comic book/anime women who seem to be missing a major chunk of their skeleton. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there are a significant number of women walking around without a spine.

Now this is clearly an oversight of epidemic proportions, so here’s my public service announcement:





Call it what you want—Escher Girls, The Brokeback, Rubber Spine, the list goes on—but it’s totally disconcerting that so many artists, working in so many genres, are willing to break any and all rules of proportion and perspective in a ham-fisted attempt at getting both breasts and butts in the shot. Some of these illustrations (and presented below is a tiny random sample) defy everything we know about anatomy, gravity, and bone density.

Now, I would never try to infringe on anyone’s artistic vision, but if you find yourself incapable of drawing women realistically and in ways that don’t reduce them to an awkwardly-assembled collection of sexy parts, I reserve the right to call you out on it. It’s bad art, and I expect better.


I expect Black Widow to know how to take off her shoes properly (in this context “properly” means “in a way that doesn’t give me sympathy hip pain”).


I expect X23 to actually be X23 and not, say, Elastigirl.


I expect racist caricatures with missing left feet not to be running around New York City, posing for invisible cameras. (Seriously, what even is this.)


I expect this illustration to be some sort of terrifying, Exorcist-type rotating torso, not a sexy pinup.


I expect a warrior who presumably battles dragons to have a better way of dealing with hemorrhoids.

These are understandably not genres that hew too closely to realism, but the ways in which the fantasy manifests is deeply misogynistic. There’s no reason for any of these women to be contorted like this. Many of these characters (though I’m admittedly not familiar with all of them) are really fantastic, and deserve better than to be twisted and moulded into grotesque approximations of some arbitrary “sexy” template.

They’re heroes, and it’s not fair to render them literally spineless.

All images from Escher Girls.

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