“The New F-Word” Panel at Comikaze Features Discussion on Feminism
Yesterday, a panel discussion on women in comics and other media took place in Los Angeles at Stan Lee’s Comikaze. Moderated by Audrey Kearns, “The New F-Word” panel featured Deric Hughes, Sarah Marino, Amanda Schukman, Devin Faraci, Claudia Dolph, and Jenna Busch.
Similar to another panel I attended recently at Long Beach Comic Con, a couple of the topics that came up were the frustration of having to even deal with the issue (e.g. Faraci: “It’s sad that we need to post signs that say ‘Cosplay is not consent’; we don’t put signs that say ‘Don’t sh*t on the floor'”), the need for more balanced writing staffs and not just having a room full of men [and wondering why women characters are not fairly represented] (e.g. Hughes: “You have to have a balanced room of men and women; it starts with the creators, those in the room – if it’s all men, then…” and also Marino: “If you’re watching Pixar movies, you could replace the main protagonists: they could be women and the same lines could have been voiced. Hollywood has been a boys’ club. Slowly, it’s happening, there are more writers’ rooms including women”), and having more than just one woman character. For this latter topic, Faraci pointed out that “there are some shows that don’t just have one woman representing all women, such as ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Gone Girl'”, although those were noted precisely due to their exceptionality. Also, as Hughes pointed out, “Emily Blount’s character in ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ was shockingly good in that she wasn’t the love interest.”
Another topic considered was that of strength for females, as Busch mused, “it’s interesting what we consider strong for females; there are other types of strength. We put an emphasis on masculinity and physical types of strength” in our culture. Indeed, as Faraci pointed out, “we needed Ripley for a while and now we have a different kind of strength than a woman who could pick up a gun.”
In a continuation of this thread, Dolph said, “The reason I’m passionate about women being represented as whole beings is because of the younger generation; they do see a change. I think there is a change and you have to focus on the positives of women also being represented.” As Marino said, “It’s the media that these kids see” that has an effect on them, especially girls, who want to see the avenues open to them. When someone pointed out there now finally being Princess Leia items for sale in Disney stores, yet the only Leia figurine was of Slave Leia, she said, “this is what happens when there is an evolution going on – there is a struggle.”
The discussion then began to turn towards men sending hateful messages to women, including a discussion of #GamerGate. Busch offered important advice: “All you can do is keep doing, is to keep going. After you get enough threats, you have to keep going, you have to keep talking about it.” Further, Busch said, “There are always going to be trolls and people’s minds you can’t change, but there are others whose minds you can change and effect.” Indeed, as Marino pointed out, “Even though there may be negativity out there about what you say, you still have a lot of people in your lives who support you.” Marino also pointed out that, “I think there’s a strange narrative of who gamers should be and have to be, but there have always been women gamers.”
Part of the issue of the hateful speech towards women is the constraints of the medium, as Schukman pointed out, “Women are conditioned to say certain things and talk in certain ways and to certain people, but on certain social media, such as Twitter, people complain that it’s bitchy.” As for advice, Schukman pointed out “You can be as level-headed in your response versus haters until you have your snapping moment and have your rage, you just need to say ‘I am not attacking you; I’m just saying what I’m observing’.” Of course, Schukman pointed out, “Who people are and where they come from there’s a lot of hate out there – it’s endless.”
Underlining this discussion of gender differences in discourse and engagement with haters, Faraci said, “I get to be a total a**hole because I’m a man, so I clown these haters.”