One of the biggest issues in the news this week has been the ongoing rampant misogyny and outright terrorism in gamer culture, specifically the attacks on Depression Quest developer Zoe Quinn and feminist media commentator Anita Sarkeesian -- both of whom have suffered exceedingly personal attacks and threats on their lives (including the horrible one in the graphic above, which was sent to Sarkeesian via Twitter). The former for merely talking sexual agency as an independent, adult woman, and the latter for criticizing the industry's treatment of women in its games. What do these issues have to do with the rest of geek culture? Well .... everything. Misogyny in gamer culture is a symptom of a larger, systemic issue. And something needs to be done about it. Now.
Michael Egan, the former model who filed sexual abuse charges against X-Men: Days Of Future Past director Bryan Singer in civil court, has withdrawn his suit following the recent departure of his former attorney, Jeff Herman. Egan insists that his decision is no reflection on the merits of his case against Singer, and instead reflects his inability to continue without representation.
San Diego's Comic-Con International has a problem that it doesn't want to address. See, a few weeks back, a group called GeeksForCONsent launched a petition urging Comic-Con to adopt a formal harassment policy in place of the broad, basically unenforceable "code of conduct" that's currently in place. Like many conventions, SDCC has a huge problem with women -- particularly women cosplayers -- being harassed by other con-goers and dubious media "professionals", and the present policy offers victims little recourse.
WARNING: While the following images have been censored, they remain fairly graphic and may disturb some readers and may also be considered NSFW.
I am so tired of writing about rape.
If you didn't catch the news, last Friday, the website Comic Book Resources posted a five-page preview of the latest issue of the Game of Thrones comic book adaptation. And the pages they published — the pages Dynamite Entertainment sent out as representative of the book, which is a standard practice for comic book publishers — included an incredibly graphic rape scene. Erect penis, front and center. Woman bent back nearly double, naked, arched like a porn star.
It just so happens that was also the week that HBO decided to add—and then vigorously defend — a graphic rape scene in the Game of Thrones TV series (a trend the network continued this week), and that both fall in the middle of Sexual Assault Awareness month — and yes, thanks, HBO, Dynamite and CBR, we are in fact extra aware of sexual assault now, so, well done, there. It's worth noting, too, that this is coming on the heels of an incident where a fellow comics editor and journalist got a slew of graphic rape threats for having the temerity to critique the portrayal of a teen girl in a piece of cover art (also published on CBR).
But it's also not just this week, or this month. It's this year. This decade. This lifetime. This is business as usual.
If you're reading this site, you probably love comic books -- but many of you may wonder how much it loves you back. For an industry that's already niche, American comics has seemed oddly willing to narrow its audience. For a medium that prides itself on community, American comics has been quick to close its doors. For an artform that can show readers anything, American comics has seemed content to show us the familiar.
To the outside world, the comic fan fits a certain type. We're so used to the idea that comics favours an audience of heterosexual white men that we sometimes forget that we are comics, and that's not who we are. Collectively, we're so much more than that. It's as a reminder of that fact that the new Tumblr blog We Are Comics exists.
The director of Superman Returns and three X-Men films including the forthcoming Days of Future Past, Bryan Singer has been accused of sexually abusing a 17-year-old male in 1999. In a lawsuit filed in civil court in Hawaii on Wednesday, plaintiff Michael F. Egan III alleged that Singer "manipulated his power, wealth, and position in the entertainment industry to sexually abuse and exploit the underage Plaintiff through the use of drugs, alcohol, threats, and inducements."
Egan, now 31, has asked for unspecified damages on four counts of emotional distress, battery, assault, and invasion of privacy by unreasonable intrusion. A lawyer for Singer has denied the accusations, claiming they are "completely without merit."
“I think this woman is wrong about something on the Internet. Clearly my best course of action is to threaten her with rape.”
That’s crazy talk, right? So why does it happen all the time?
Honest question, dudes.
That women are harassed online is not news. That women in comics and the broader fandom cultures are harassed online is not news. That these women are routinely transmitted anonymous messages describing graphic sexual violence perpetrated upon them for transgressions as grave as not liking a thing… that is actually news to me, and it’s probably news to a lot of you guys reading this.
So what can we do about it?
Comic conventions are often fun places where people can come together and celebrate their shared interests, but unfortunately things can turn sour when someone's behavior simply goes too far and harassment rears its ugly head.
The creative minds at Oni Press have stepped in to help. Taking a page from the yellow and red cards soccer referees pull out when players violate the rules, Oni has released a set of penalty cards that creators and convention attendees can use to let people know they're crossing a line. Check out the full set after the jump.
Last week, when artist Tess Fowler got on Twitter and breathed white-hot fury about sexual harassment in the comics industry, the thing that struck me most wasn't her anger; the real shock, given the scope of the problem and the lack of consequences, should be that more women aren't that publicly furious more of the time.
Of course, there are many, many reasons not to speak up. If you're a comics professional, maybe you want to be known for your work, for your accomplishments, not for the fact that some jerk couldn't keep his hands to himself. Maybe you don't want the first thing that comes up when someone Googles your name to be a story of your victimization. Maybe you don't want to be called a slut or a liar when you talk about the sh**ty thing that happened to you (which you will, inevitably), or for people to invent every possible nefarious motivation for your decision to speak up – except the idea that it might be true.
Welcome to the latest episode of ComicsAlliance Presents "Kate or Die," a series of exclusive comic strips created by one of our longtime favorite webcomics cartoonists, Kate Leth! In this episode, Kate takes on the subject of sexual harassment in the comic book industry and the culture of silence that often surrounds it, a topic that's been brought to the forefront as a consequence of recent events.