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I have the powwwwerrrrr!

The newest Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now is up at Robot 6. Believe it or not, this was the next script in the pipeline, even before I wrote last month's Publishers Weekly column.

I just got around to reading the comments on that column, and I found this one interesting:

I get what you are saying, but do you believe that the power to beat people up is the kind of empowerment that women tend to want? Clearly, it is the kind of empowerment that many, many men fantasize about, but do many women? Movies and books and magazines about women’s empowerment have plenty of success, but it doesn’t tend to be the kind of empowerment where women go looking for fights and beat the stuffing out of people.
As I wrote in my reply, I am kind of astounded that some men don't see why physical empowerment would clearly be attractive for women. I think it's intriguing to note that women often like the hot women who kick ass as much, if not more, than men do. Here's what I think is behind that: As women, we are nearly constantly aware of physical threats. And those threats often are of being violated sexually. When I used to go to campus for night classes and people warned me to "be careful," what they are saying was, essentially, "avoid getting raped."

Now, what if, what if, as a woman, you could walk around, be sexually attractive and not have to feel threatened? What if all the rage you feel about women being victimized and brutalized could be channeled into pure, righteous ass-kicking? And, because you're a woman, you could possibly do that ass-kicking without being seen as a testosterone Steven-Seagal-esque meathead. Ass-kicking fantasies for men are more about proving and retaining power, I think. For women, they're about finding and asserting power when they're not expected to have any.


I forgot to commemorate Mozart's birthday last week! So, belatedly, here you go -- another grainy Photobooth picture:

genius shirt

The Mozart "Genius" T-shirt was designed by my co-worker Bryan Dobrow and you can buy one at Red Bubble.


( 6 messages received — Tell Me )
Feb. 4th, 2009 08:11 am (UTC)
I can't say how happy I am that you're responding to these issues in such articulate ways. The claim that women don't want to see women fighting is so crazy I can't even respond. But you captured the feeling and response perfectly, and I especially relate to the walking-on-campus at night thing and all the mixed messages people's reactions cause.

I'm planning a kick-ass comic after WF wraps up.
Feb. 4th, 2009 05:47 pm (UTC)
Exactly. Thank you.

And, nice shirt.
Feb. 5th, 2009 07:46 am (UTC)
I agree with your main point, but I don't think all male-centric power fantasies are about "proving and retaining power." Many are (300 springs to mind as an obvious comics example), but some of the most persistent are a lot closer to your second criteria. Don't you think the origin of Spider-Man, or the basic premise of the X-Men, falls more into the "finding and asserting" category? Of course many of the stories about these characters start with them already in a dominant position, but those tend not to be the ones that are well-remembered in the culture at large.

I suspect that stories about discovering or fighting for power are just more interesting stories. A lot of men appreciate that too, though Steven Seagal might not be one of us.
Feb. 5th, 2009 07:21 pm (UTC)
I'd definitely put Spider-Man into the latter category, something I write about in last month's column. It's interesting that what is thought of primarily as an adolescent male fantasy (awkward teen gets super powers) is something that might continue on in women's psyches longer.

Origin story aside, I think Batman stories usually fit into the former category. Somewhere along the line it becomes less about fighting for justice than about a bad-ass proving he's a bad-ass. But I guess that's kind of the point of Batman.
Feb. 5th, 2009 09:38 pm (UTC)
I'm definitely with you on Batman. He comes from a position of wealth (and by extension, power), has it taken away, and has to re-assert it. Funny how consistent that is throughout the various incarnations too. Dark Knight Returns is all about proving that he hasn't lost that power with age, and Batman Begins ends not with Batman's superheroic victory, but with Bruce Wayne proving his dominance over WayneCorp's board of directors.
Aug. 15th, 2009 11:08 pm (UTC)
here via a link from another blog. Thank you for this! Yes, this is it exactly, for me, and I'd never quite put it into words.
( 6 messages received — Tell Me )

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