Why be feminist? Why care if any of your comics or movies or tv shows pass the Bechdel test? Recently, i saw some headline that movies that pass the Bechdel test may perform better at the box office. Who cares? And more and more women are on screen, on panels, in panels, writing and coloring and making all sorts of stories. Why does that even matter? Economic arguments, appeals to diversity and better story telling, and all of it is bullshit.
It matters because we are all human. Any other argument is missing the point.
Here i am, at 1:30 am, and i’m watching this collection of clips from Glee.
And i’m crying like i cried when i was a little boy. Violence is infectious, i truly believe that. I am a violent person, i have violent feelings almost every day. I bounced off of social media for a bit, to chill out, and some of my friends have mentioned how they missed the venom. Some folks say that it takes a lot of energy to hate, to be angry, to be negative, and it becomes exhausting to remind them, that no it doesn’t. I hate because its in my blood, because there’s a violence in me that i can’t get out. I was maybe 3 or so, and my mother was crying and her face was covered in cigarette ashes. My father had thrown a cigarette ash tray in her face. I can’t let it go.
Thats the real world, and drawing comics and watching tv has been my escape for just as long. I never remember drawing for the first time, but i do remember the first fights. Broken vase, screaming mother, tired father. I remember bugs bunny, and how he’d dress like a woman to make a joke, to escape an attacker. I remember hugging my mom when she cried, pushing her into her bedroom and closing the door so he couldn’t get to her. The TV was always on. Power Rangers. Animaniacs. Discovery Channel. Muppet Babies.
When the world looks kind of weird, and you wish you weren’t there, just close your eyes and make believe and you can be anywhere.
As an adult, I see men all around me, who write violence, who draw violence, who have never been infected by violence. Most women you know, have been victims of some sort of violence from a man. But where is Batman and the battered woman? Where is Captain America and the saddest conversation you can have with a girlfriend? Where is all the heartache, the pain, the disgust and the powerlessness?No one ever writes the hero origin story who just had crappy parents. That’s saved for the villains. All these writers and artists, and the only time they think about rape is as a plot point. They have sisters, mothers, cousins. But real violence, its terrifying. Men spend most of their time, avoiding this inconvenient truth. They wanna write the grown up stories, but can’t conceive that spandex is a terrible outfit to cry in. A thin sheet of bristol board separates their fiction from the reality. That women are human.
Why be a feminist if you’re a man? Because its fair? Because it’ll make money? Nothing in life is fair, and wishes don’t come true in the real world. And economics is the refuge of the morally bankrupt. I am a feminist, and a man, because without it, i’m afraid i’d be a monster. And in the real world, a monster doesn’t twirl his moustache, he gets away with anything. Every dude who’s not an asshole, always wants to be appear as a stand up dude. So lots of liberal guys, they say they are feminists, and they say they want diversity and are progressive in their politics, but most sexual violence is done by a friend, a family member, a colleague. It means i’m a feminist because i’m not only afraid of myself, i’m afraid of other men constantly. Liberal Progressive Men included.
I know i’ve spoken to a few guys, who after reading about the latest sexual harassment story at a comic convention, worry “What if i’m next? What if the feminist mob comes after me for a misunderstanding?!?” I fear it. And even if men privately voice their reservations about the big feminist manhunt, I know i’d deserve it. We’d all deserve it. There are mexican women being murdered and killed en masse on the mexican border, and if you’ve had sex with six women in your life, then one of those women was probably sexually assaulted. So i don’t really think it’s so unfair if a comic book dude gets some bad press. The worst thing i ever have to fear is a week and a half of finger-wagging on comics blogs, and rumors and whispers about me being a pervert. I’m sure that already happens.
I hate what i’ve seen. I hate that i feel like it’s a part of my DNA. So I don’t know if i’ll ever have children, but i would want to inoculate them from getting my shit. But i know when i’m crying like i was when i was a little boy, i watched TV. I read comics. It was some protection, a place to be safe. Somewhere, some child is crying, and they’ll need something fictional. They’ll need heroes that don’t tarnish, that save the world, that love them, that they can love. Feminism will protect that boy too. Feminism will protect all the boys. No boy should have to learn these lessons this way. You shouldn’t have to grow up into a man feeling like you never learned how to do this. Hyper sexuality, braggadocio, machismo – all things that i’m guilty of. I shouldn’t be afraid of other men, i shouldn’t be afraid of myself.
But i am, and feminism is the only way i know to keep the violence in me from spreading to other men and boys. I thank my sisters, my mothers, my friends. Feminism is necessary, and there’s no argument to be made. Without it, i’m a savage.