Via Journalista this morning, I found a significant link to Comics Worth Reading. (I do read CWR, but I don't check it daily and might have missed this otherwise.)
The Friends of Lulu Empowerment Fund, earmarked to help women in the comics industry fight legal battles regarding sexual harassment, quietly folded and admits that it was an unworkable concept from the beginning. It was poorly executed. It was spearheaded by a noisy blogger whose incitement of the entire situation was frankly suspicious from the beginning. The formal structure of the Empowerment Fund was unworkable under the conditions of its creation. It's a damn shame, really. The idea wasn't meritless. (Though it was, perhaps, a little too targeted. Those of us watching certainly recognized that as it was set up it was of more use as a contribution directly to Taki Soma than to sexually harassed comic creators in general-- of which there are, at least publicly, a thankfully limited number these days.)
The idea wasn't bad, but damn it, the journalism behind it was. I got a bad vibe off Ronee Garcia Bourgeois with the first column I ever read, and that impression has been proven many times over since. Here's the infamous essay that kicked off the furor. Here's the announcement of the Empowerment Fund. And here's a good collection of links that cover some of the questions raised by Garcia's breakneck, emotional, and possibly exaggerated stories. (Netzer himself deftly handles the issue of reliable sources in that last link, so I won't bother here.) If I seem to be overly critical of Ronee's integrity, let me directly quote FoL's president Shannon Crane (as pulled from the CWR link above):
Ronee Bourgeois suggested to our entire board that we start an empowerment fund. We agreed that yes, it would be a wonderful idea. Unfortunately, instead of being patient to let the ENTIRE board come up with guidelines, rules, etc, she announced the new fund to the comics community without the board’s consent. We found ourselves between a rock and a hard place. We did what we could to make it work, and now we find that this is not something that we will pursue any longer.
Because NYCC kicked off last night, most comic bloggers and reporters are busy on the convention floor. No one's here to cover this news and spread it far and wide. The lack of internet reaction has caused me to create my own.
My deep disappointment at this is coupled with embarrassment that the admirable banner of "comics are for women, too" has been so effectively tainted by... women. Keeping in mind that bad news sounds more loudly and lingers longer, it still seems to me that the women shouting most loudly to name themselves defenders of women's rights are the ones I least trust to represent me as a female comic fan. Here's the self-proclaimed journalist who kicks off a witch hunt and pulls down a formerly respectable organization rather than relinquish the spotlight in favor of due legal proceedings. There's the news blogger who claims to be a proponent of industry feminism while using her platform to start catfights. There's the loud, bitter drama queen who has never had a nice word to say about anyone but her cronies, and recants every polarizing statement she makes while claiming she never said any such thing. These women do not speak for me.
Thank god there are people like Carla Speed McNeil, Cheryl Lynn, and Gail Simone out there, focusing on making good comics. When they step into the fray I may disagree with their stance but I do not want to run and hide.