We’ve all heard the arguments made for women’s rights: declaring the injustice of the women’s tax, unequal pay, and double standards in the workplace. These tropes and opinions are far from modern day news, however, they are long-held traditions that plague professionals world-wide. How can people be so blatantly aware of these injustices, and yet make such a small amount of progress in rectifying them? No one injustice against women can be considered worse than another, but to illustrate the heights in which these injustices can take and have taken, I want to welcome you into the industry of comic book creation as many women are forced to see it.
The printed word has a strong history of outlining the masculine necessity to escalate male knowledge in the social world. For women, it has often been see as either a luxury or a pastime. Although we have come a long way from woman disguising themselves as men to gain the acceptance of publishers and the academic/entertainment world, women still deal with this discrimination on a daily basis.
Breaking into the comic book industry is already a feat to challenge the gods. Comic book industries are inherently “clique-y” and often require a writer to prove themselves through previous publications to prove themselves worthy enough to have a story submission accepted. This is true for both men and women. The differences lie within the community of the comic book world. It is an unspoken truth that one of the best ways to be recognized in the comic book industry, whether an artist or a writer, is to attend comic book conventions (or comic cons), and speak to people in the industry about your work. If you’re lucky, you’ll have a breakthrough, but no one ever warns the ladies about the issues they will face attempting to do this.
Smushed between the sweaty bodies of the hundreds of other people getting their nerd on, women are faced with a dilemma that men never have to encounter. When attending comic conventions, I have been interrogated by herds of men, asking me to prove my “nerdiness” based on how much information I know about any given character in any given universe of the nerd galaxy, I have been accused of writing stories about stereotypical damsel-in-distress tropes just because “I’m a girl”, without my accuser ever turning a leaf of my manuscript, I have be gawked at for wearing revealing clothing when my only intention was to emulate a character I love; and I have been ridiculed for not dressing up in some sexy get up because that is what is expected of me as a woman. For myself, and many women I have met, our sex is put under a spotlight from the moment we step through the doors of a comic convention, as if we are one of the scantily dressed models for sale by a vendor. It is these misogynistic and sexually objectifying stereotypes that make attending comic conventions difficult for women regardless of their potential talent.
We, unfortunately, still live in a world where “because you’re a girl” still stipulates the idea that men are more capable than women. There is no spectrum of the professional world that is untouched by this bias. Even with the creation of so many strong female characters in comic books, even the industry that gave life to these women remains a boys club.