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Gas mask
Someone please tell me the onomatopoeia for "anger and shame combining to explode one's brains out into a blog rant." I know how it feels, I just don't know how to portray it to a text audience.



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.

Comments

( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
bzoppa
Feb. 23rd, 2007 07:10 pm (UTC)
Carla was really cool.
bzoppa
Feb. 23rd, 2007 07:28 pm (UTC)
I realize that sounded like I didn't read your rant. I did, and I totally appreciate your angst. I agree with _stranger_here about people in non-profits being bizarrely unfocused. And, working for a labor union and seeing activists and the whole atmosphere around that, I've found they get excited about projects and then let them go.

Pretty much why the liberals lose a lot, cf The Last Supper. I'm more left-leaning myself and I'm just as baffled as to how the right manages to win.

Oh yeah, I forgot. Fear.
madolan
Feb. 23rd, 2007 08:47 pm (UTC)
Hell yes.

It might be inappropriate to list her name there, as she's not the type to rush out and stake her place in ongoing drama. She sits back and works on creating good comics. (Comics that I love to loan to friends both male and female.)

But yeah. She's amazing.
magicmarmot
Feb. 23rd, 2007 07:14 pm (UTC)
wahhhPLOOOOGEtappatappatappa.
_stranger_here
Feb. 23rd, 2007 07:17 pm (UTC)
Oh, that's really disappointing. But not all that surprising... working with non-profit groups a fair bit, I've found the people with the loudest enthusiasm for the work are often in it for personal agendas that don't represent me or the group as a variegated whole. Especially when hot-button issues are on the line. Everyone's got an axe to grind, and when they get their chance at the spotlight, sometimes people lose track of whatever perspective they had to begin with.
madolan
Feb. 23rd, 2007 09:11 pm (UTC)
That's a good point. Announcing a fund was a way to appear to be taking instant action with measurable benefits. It helped a lot of people feel that they were doing something to help comics. Donating felt like a show of support for the woman who was harassed. Creation of the Empowerment Fund was not a meaningless act.

It was done under strange auspices, though. At the time it was difficult to voice concern because naysayers were attacked as supporters of sexual harassment. There were a bunch of straw man arguments flying around in those days.

I should probably write this off as the kind of situation you're talking about-- an unfortunate victim of politics and passion. It doesn't need to exemplify anything about women and comics.
_stranger_here
Feb. 24th, 2007 12:33 am (UTC)
Well, I think your anger is justified. I just wouldn't look at this as an indictment of women & comics per se. This kind of stuff tends to happen across the board in situations like what you describe, where the politics get heated and oversimplified so it's hard to talk reasonably or realistically.

The up side is that after getting burned this way, people may be less likely to get carried away or shouted down by rhetoric next time around. At least that's what I like to think. It's probably false comfort. But at least you've got a precedent to point to when the straw starts to fly.
lamuella
Feb. 23rd, 2007 10:55 pm (UTC)
"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."

Warren Ellis posted a link to this post on his blog. This will at least start to get the word out.
iamheavenrender
Feb. 23rd, 2007 10:56 pm (UTC)
That is a shame.

Here's hoping that this doesn't cause this organization to fold.

It's too bad that they didn't just stand up at the very beginning and say what was what when Bourgeois sprang it on them initially, but I can understand the need/desire to appear cohesive and united given their position. Standing up for anyones rights can be tough, but womens rights in comics? That has to be kooky. Even I'm insulted by just the way so many women are portraited in comics daily.

Sound like it's time to rally troops.
madolan
Feb. 24th, 2007 12:58 am (UTC)
You're not the only one wondering if clumsy handling of the situation signals a death knell. I had never heard of FoL before the Taki Soma incident (man, I hate associating her name with this, but I lack a better descriptive term) so my sense of their reputation comes only from post-scandal discussion. No judgment here, but I sure as hell am looking askance.

Like many charities it's a good idea in theory. Failure would be an issue of administration, not intent.

(Naive idealist that I am, I can't forget that Engine thread in which three or four young female creators spoke up and basically said "I love my job; I feel safe; I don't feel that being a woman is a detriment to my goals." Despite the small sampling I choose to interpret those first-hand accounts as indicative of the state of things.)
iamheavenrender
Feb. 24th, 2007 07:24 am (UTC)
Honesty would, unfortunately, have been the best policy. It would have been basically giving a cold shoulder to Bourgeois, but that was a result of her own actions. A hard choice, but if someone's not playing fair that's not the teams fault.
For the life of me I swear I somehow heard of Friends of Lulu via something Dave Sim related. Probably a bad wire in my skull, but it's nicely ironic.

All in all, I feel for Taki Soma too. All of this probably has brought a lot more attention to the matter than she, or I imagine, anyone, would care for.

For myself, I see lots of women in comics. Doing really good things. Maybe this is because I choose to see them, but I think its more pervasive than that.
(Anonymous)
Feb. 24th, 2007 06:37 pm (UTC)
Yes, Dave Sim has quite the history with FoL, and is still ongoing as he has decided to pull up an incident from 11 years ago that is still unresolved as they put personal agenda (and no doubt Dave's ex-wife being on the FoL board at the time) above making a statement about comic censorship.

All in or all out. This personal-agenda-over-function mentality will usually cause well seeming systems to fail. Too bad, really.

As far as Taki Soma goes, I don't believe the full truth of that incident has or will ever be revealed, nor the full motivation behind her actions to pursue legal action.
iamheavenrender
Feb. 24th, 2007 07:28 am (UTC)
( and incidentally: ffszzz-SPLAKKT!! )
(Anonymous)
Feb. 23rd, 2007 11:19 pm (UTC)
onomatopoeia
gr-splog!
xoshua
Feb. 24th, 2007 11:16 pm (UTC)
"grglespolsh"
michael_netzer
Feb. 25th, 2007 08:51 pm (UTC)
I share your frustration, Maddie. The source incident has been buried under the the mudslinging of those wishing to sweep foul play under the carpet - and the failed efforts, including those of some women, to resolve the issue rationally.

Convention or not, at least one web site does echo your grievance.

http://www.michaelnetzer.com
cyberpilate
Feb. 26th, 2007 04:41 am (UTC)
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.

That's an odd thing to say. Are the people you speak about defined most by gender or their weaknesses and shortcomings? You mention a few female comic bloggers (I'm assuming these are all people on the 'net or who blog here, so I apologize) and sounds more and more that they just have issues or personality traits you don't agree with more than the fact that they are women. Can men speak for female comic readers effectively? I'm sorry to hear you're disappointed that a good idea was executed and brought down by flawed individuals (or, again, at least people you have problems with), but saying that women are the biggest problem to women in comics fandom is something I'd like to understand a little better, if you feel like helping a fellow fangirl out on your opinion and outrage.
(Anonymous)
Feb. 26th, 2007 01:05 pm (UTC)
Hate to sound bitter, folks. But I was at 2005 WW visiting a friend's table. Sitting next to my friend was a girl. Various people were coming by and saying "hi" that knew her only from a online forum. So,Heidi McDonald swings by, introduces herself, says Hi and says so-and so told me about you. Do you have any comics? No. Have you done any comics? No, I just do pencil sketches. Oh. Okay. We'll do that interview and we'll talk all about you on the site. She then leaves. I'm standing there boggled. I'm a published comic book creator since the 80's, worked for various indies including Image. I also happened to have a creator owned series out that year that I paid for publishing and distributing through Diamond. Yeah, I'm female too, but that's beside the point. In all my years as a creator, I've never gotten that kind of attention. Who the hell was this girl and what has she done to warrant an interview?! I made a note of the unusual name. Couldn't find anything on the net when I got home, forgot about it. Before the year was out, she was all over the net in this "sex abuse" scandal.
kadymae
Feb. 27th, 2007 01:29 am (UTC)
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.

Self-Proclaimed Journalist = ?

News Blogger = ?

Loud, Bitter Drama Queen = ?

See, a lot of what made Ronee's initial reporting on "takigate" so shitty is that she used the same sort of technique to talk about about people and that ended up with people pointing fingers at the wrong person and organization.

The way you have it now, you're coming off as being as catty and underhanded as you accuse them of being, and I don't think that's your intention at all, because you're so forthright on The Engine. (And the ladies in question probably already know you don't like them anyway.)
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )

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