Thursday mid-afternoon round-up

// 21 August 2008

stone semicolonThe latest Carnival of Feminists is out now at Mind of Genevieve.

This one includes some great posts, including Kate Smurthwaite’s about the origins of her name:

I personally like the word “cunt” as I have expounded at length on this blog before, but it gave me an excuse to look up the etymology of “twat” and I am delighted to report that it derives from the Old English from the Northern English from the Viking “thwaite” meaning a small clearing in a forrest (rather picturesque I think you’ll agree). “Thwaite” of course is the second half of my viking surname, the first half being “Smur”, which means light rain (still used here in Scotland in some places) so I now have the joy of translating my surname as “rainy cunt” or even maybe “wet cunt”!

Glued Blue Glass records her experiences in Lebanon:

However, there is one place in Lebanon where women can love whomever they choose. If you are in search of a space in Lebanon where you can be yourself as a queer person, I recommend MEEM. The group was young and oozing with energy. Their location is secret and I plan to do my part to keep it that way. I was honored to go there and meet these incredible young women. One woman in particular struck me. When I first met her, she was wearing a veil. I left the room and came back, introducing myself to a young woman in a boy’s shirt and shorts. She looked vaguely familiar. Of course, it was the woman in the veil whom I had met earlier but I can be a bit dense. We talked about how her sister was up on the latest veil fashions while she threw on whatever was available. The clothes she had on underneath were her baby brother’s.

Most of the members of the family, even those who shun you, are decent people. They just never had to face someone with your courage. -Rabih Alamedinne, Koolaids

A week or so later, I was in a swankily shiny mall in East Beirut feeling super frumpy and not fitting in. After a high heeled shoe buying experience, (I don’t wear high heels), I couldn’t hold it anymore and went in search of a restroom with a straight friend of a friend. I recognized one of the Meem women in the bathroom. Ah, let there be light. A short dyed punky kind of hair light. For confidentiality purposes, I wasn’t sure I should say anything but she smiled and so I said “Hi” while dashing to the stall, my friend’s friend behind me.

are all tigers pro-choice?Go, read the whole thing. I love the categorisation (Vera the Angry Tiger for Choice is my personal favourite, hence photo right).

Meanwhile, in the editorial section of today’s Guardian, Jessica Valenti calls on American ‘mainstream’ feminists to tackle media portrayals of Michelle Obama, often a “nasty racism-sexism combo that is quickly becoming a national disgrace”.

Melissa Batten, a software developer for the XBox, was murdered by her abusive husband. Tekanji at the Official Shrub Blog says:

As gamers and game industry professionals, it’s our responsibility to take a deep look at ourselves, and our industry, and think about the ways that we’ve enabled a culture where violence against women is not taken seriously. Many gamers think that greater societal problems such as domestic violence and violence against women has nothing to do with their beloved hobby, but they are wrong.

Do writers steer clear of semicolons because they are too “girly”? The Boston Globe considers the evidence:

Ben McIntyre, writing in the Times of London a couple of months later, added to the collection of semicolon snubbers: Kurt Vonnegut called the marks “transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing.” Hemingway and Chandler and Stephen King, said McIntyre, “wouldn’t be seen dead in a ditch with a semi-colon (though Truman Capote might). Real men, goes the unwritten rule of American punctuation, don’t use semi-colons.”

(H/T Sinclair)

Pam Spauling posts about how Kiera Knightley was made buxom for the Pirates of the Caribbean movies through the nearly-forgotten art of “bosom makeup”.

Kenneth Zucker – a psychologist who claims he “cures” gender-varient children using tactics similar to those of the “ex-gay” movement) – is set to speak in London, at the Royal Society of Medicine. A petition is being collected to get him disinvited. More at Questioning Transphobia.

Comics Worth Reading highlights a photo reference book for comic book artists. They’re kinder than I would have been, I suspect, looking at the cover image! (H/T – When Fangirls Attack)

And, finally, the Shameless blog highlights cancellations of campus radio shows with a feminist edge (like the fabulously-named Radio Clitoracy).

Photos by mag3737 and ucumari, shared under a Creative Commons license

Comments From You

Saranga // Posted 22 August 2008 at 12:45 pm

I’m reasonably happy with the idea of a photo reference book for drawing comic art. At least the women will be balanced correctly, won’t have impossible proportions and will have working spines with room for all organs(see Jim Balent and Michael Turner for a hwo to do it wrong guide). I’d also guess that they won’t *all* be in come hither poses designed only to titillate. The inclusion of action shots is also a vast improvement on all those static uninvolved depictions of women in comics.

Not to say that it’s a perfect solution as I guess they’ll be partially clothed and hawt, but I think we should note the praiseworthy elements.

Genevieve // Posted 22 August 2008 at 9:28 pm

I was wondering what people would think of my odd categorization…thanks. Vera was ‘created’ when I was pissed off about some anti-choice signs on my college campus and thought a tiger would be a nice image to use…and has since become somewhat of a fixture on the blog…and since Le Tigre is one of my favorite bands now, that makes it even more perfect…ha.

Anne Onne // Posted 24 August 2008 at 5:44 pm

Kate must be thrilled” Not everyone gets such a cool origin to their name! :D

Semicolons are too girly? What is it with people that we have to anthropomorphise everything, or at the very least assign a gendered siginificance to anything neutral? There should be nothing ‘girly’ (hence lesser, wrong and other) about decent punctuation!

You know why boys are ‘outperformed’ by girls in schools? Crap like this. It looks like only a small thing, but then boys get told that musical instruments are for girls, creative subjects are girly and anything not violent and mathematical is feminine and passive. You can’t have all this pressure to be manly by beating crap up, avoiding any association with those dreaded females, and avoiding learning at any cost, and then be expected to be on par with those who aren’t discouraged for learning in the same way.

‘Curing’ gender variant children? That’s some arrogance, there. What is it about really awful speakers that insitutions seem to like so much? They keep inviting real creeps to talk.

More reference books for aspiring comic artists are a definite must, particularly if they have varied bodies, a wide range of poses, and a focus on the female body being more than a sexual object for male viewing.

The problem is, most problematic comic artists working today aren’t beginners. They’re educated in art and how to draw anatomy (anybody who can draw the musclature of the body that well would have to be!), but CHOOSE to draw women with hideously thin waists, broken-backed poses (admittedly this is also a problem in manga comics, too) and all sorts of useless passive poses, and titillating skimpy outfits all of which conspire to portray the female characters in question as passive objects of the male gaze. It’s not that most of these artists don’t know how to draw smaller breasts, more varied bodies, normal backs or strong poses, they believe that their target audience (always fanboys like themselves) has no interest in strong women and reality, and that ‘sex sells’.

So whilst I think it would be great for amateur artists and aspiring professionals, I don’t think lack of female reference is keeping them back. Though it is certainly preferable from porn, which really is what they seem to be working off at the moment! *cough*Greg Land *cough*

And if we’re talking about Western comic artists with really, really bad female anatomy issues, how can you not mention Liefeld?!?! ;)

I wouldn’t be put off about them bieng partially clothed- this is a reference book, after all, and characters have to be drawn naked first, and clothed afterwards whether male or female. As long as it doesn’t pass for a porn book, there’s nothing wrong with partial nudity in an art reference book.

Saranga // Posted 24 August 2008 at 10:06 pm

Anne: I’m totally with you about how most women in (American superhero) comics are drawn purely for the male gaze. Having varied body types inr eference books would be a definite improvement, and I don’t mean to say that the reference books are perfect, but at least they’re drawing real women.

I didn’t mention Liefield because I haven’t had the (mis)fortune to read anything he’s pencilled. To be frank, from what Ive seen on t’internet I’m never going to pick up anything he’s drawn.

Re Greg lan, i find his pornface stuff especially depressing because he hasn’t always been like this! His stuff on Nightwing was pretty good, and expressive and not traced from porn. And y’know, he kept character’s looking like the same person throguhout the comic (actually if I’m praising him for that then my standards really are slipping!) – I’m particualrly thinking of that infamous fantastic 4 issue where Sue Storm not only had pornface but changed panel to panel.

Have you read the Huntress year 1 mini? Now that’s gorgous non exploitative human art. No sex, no arched backs, no impossible breasts. no passive poses. It treats helena and all other characters with respect. Please check it out if you haven’t already.

(/fangirl off)

Laurel Dearing // Posted 25 August 2008 at 12:23 am

m favourite male comic artist is sam kieth. unfortunately a few of his female characters are still drawn this way but there are explanations why. also he builds up their character and thoughts far better than most. more than his male characters really. his characters in “four women” are mostly middle aged, not over attractive people. i know i dont need to comment someone for managing to not shut out half the human race but i found i refreshing. i dont know what his marvel/dc commissioned work has been like though

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