What’s Wrong With You? Boys and Girls

OK boys, it’s time to grow up.

This isn’t going to be a long one today, but it’s important, and it’s been a pet peeve of mine for a long time, because it’s pervasive.

If you’re a woman, interested in comics, or writing about comics, or making comics, you’ve felt at one time or another that fan reaction to you is based, sometimes solely, on your appearance and your relative attractiveness. Without fail, every time we post a picture of a female creator or one of our writers, someone will comment on their looks almost immediately. When we interview a female creator (we admit they are rare and exotic), comments always follow, not about the content, but about whether they pass the attractiveness test. Complimentary or not, it’s a problem. It surely happens in all realms of pop culture, and likely life, but the thing is, comics have an image problem. Comics are viewed, more than other hobbies, as the realm of the man-boys, and stuff like this doesn’t help.

Then there’s the comic shop stories we’ve gotten from women going into new shops and getting treated in ways other than exactly the same as you should treat any customer coming in.

Comics can’t afford it. The medium is hemorrhaging paying consumers, and we want to treat it like a locker room boys club, we’re going to lose the potential to grow the industry. That’s not just a problem for publishers. That’s a problem for readers. The more revenue they lose, the more it’s going to affect what and how you’re reading. High prices, canceled books, digital price parity, and more are all a way to get the readership to foot the bill.

It’s not just that one girl gets turned away from reading comics. When they go, it’s shutting down the channels for other female readers who might have been brought along eventually.

This isn’t about old fashioned chivalry, it’s about being decent and inclusive. You can talk to some people you’re familiar with in one way, and when you’re in public, be a grown up and act the other way. Message boards and blogs and the internet are “public”.

Be cool. Don’t be subjective. Understand that there are ages old power dynamics at work in how men treat women. Even if you think you’re being complimentary, just don’t. Yes, there are even women who do trade on it in one way or another. I am not touching that and the politics therein with a 900 foot pole. There’s such a thing as acknowledging gender as an actual thing, and then there’s this weird gender dynamic we’ve achieved in comics, which is so male it’s frightening. Hell, no wonder most of us don’t know how to act. Have you ever read early Fantastic Four issues? They treat Sue like garbage.

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. If you’re a guy who likes comics, talking to a girl who likes comics, just treat her normally. If she’s attractive or not, it doesn’t matter. There are some ugly guys making comics, and no one cares. Women should get the same respect. Be inclusive, and help prove that comics and the comics community can be a wonderful thing for anyone who wants to take part in it.


  1. Well said yet again, Josh. A comics fan is a comics fan, regardless of color, shape, size and plumbing.

  2. Seconded.

    Also, is it just me or are we the only medium of entertainment that is this ridiculously gender skewed? None really come to mind.

    Side note: On message board behavior in general, I have been noticing a few websites that force people to tie their accounts to their Facebook profiles. Not saying it is a fool proof plan but it would be nice if this made people act a little more like human beings on websites in general.

  3. Fucking A. Slightly askew from topic, but my younger sister is a big gamer, and every time she posts something about some video game on Facebook, she gets the typical “marry me” awkward joke comments. Even escusing that I’m her big brother, I’m like, “Guys, c’mon.” It’s much the same thing.

    Some guys just need to realise that 1) “nerd” girls aren’t so rare that we need to light a fire and dance around it for them everytime you encounter one, and 2) girls who DON’T like comics or video games are pretty interesting too, y’know.

    • I’m going to argue with your second point, on the basis that I don’t find people in general that don’t like comics OR video games all that interesting. Male or female. I mean, not liking one is fine but not liking BOTH? C’mon.

    • I can accept a girl who doesn’t like comics or video games, but she has to like superhero flicks, at least.

  4. Damn right.

  5. When we interview a female creator (we admit they are rare and exotic),

    Rare and exotic. You undermine your own argument when you use the word exotic. I agree with the ariticle and I may be nitpicking here but you could have stopped at rare.

  6. While I agree with everything that has been said, I came to this coloumn after reading this..
    The posed portrait that graces the interview with one of the last few women writing in mainstream comics..provides a somewhat sad counter weight to the argument made here.

    • Boy is she a babe!

    • SEXIST!

    • One of the points being made here is that appearance should not matter. Period. The photo used in that article (I believe) is the headshot that appears on Liu’s novels. It has no bearing at all on the argument of how women should be treated.

    • Your confusing a single female creator who chose (probably) to use a racy PR photo to her sell her books.

      There’s a big divide between that & a woman having judgment based on her looks heaped on her while she’s trying to talk about her work. In that case, it’s not her decision. And it’s just in poor taste.

    • I don’t see how it’s a counter-weight? It would be a counter-weight if ‘one female creator in one particular circumstance apparently consented to be photographed in a (completely G-rated) pose that could be interpreted as sexy and to have that used to promote her comic’ logically meant, ‘It is therefore okay to say anything about the appearance of any female creator regardless of context.’ It could be interesting to talk about how these things are related but I don’t think there’s an either-or going on here. . .

    • i agree with all above. There is a difference between a woman choosing to issue a provocative press release photo of herself and some creepy guy starring at a woman’s chest at a store or getting all up in her personal space with skeeviness. (which is the larger problem being addressed in the article)

    • I don’t see anything really wrong with this photo. I didn’t read the interview, though, who could take that chick seriously?

    • I shall cut and paste Josh’s original words thusly

      “If you’re a woman, interested in comics, or writing about comics, or making comics, you’ve felt at one time or another that fan reaction to you is based, sometimes solely, on your appearance and your relative attractiveness. Without fail, every time we post a picture of a female creator or one of our writers, someone will comment on their looks almost immediately. When we interview a female creator (we admit they are rare and exotic), comments always follow, not about the content, but about whether they pass the attractiveness test.”

      All I was merely pointing out was that relative attractiveness indeed seems to be an essential part of the PR arsenal. Whether it was expressly for that article or from a back cover of a novel, this is how this writer has at one time consented to be portrayed, While the onus is indeed on the leering fan boys to alter their leery behaviour, what about the creators that feel the need to appear to be attractive?

    • Is there a different picture than the one I saw? How is that provocative? What cause she happens to be attractive? How is that her “fault”? I’ve learned in recent years that the baggage we bring to how we judge people based on looks affects the pretty people too. We see someone who fits a model of what we think is hot, cute, sexy, etc and somehow that means they can’t possibly be smart, deep, interesting, geeky, awkward or whatever. Lets get past the labels. End rant. Carry on.

  7. This feels like an odd thing to suddenly bitch about…

    • Nah, we’ve been spamming this “male comic fans are sexist jerks” for a while now. (Mind, it’s not an argument entirely without merit…) This is just another article in the train. I’m betting on seeing it retweeted as a “great read” in the near future by a lot of comic creators over the next 24 hour period.

    • “Nah, we’ve been spamming this “male comic fans are sexist jerks” for a while now.”

      I get that. I just mean this article in particular. I kinda always thought “Whats Wrong With You?” articles were done in response to prevalent sentiments expressed by users of this site, and I’ve never really seen any sexist comments around here, so dedicating an article to gender issues just seems odd.

    • @Blargo: This column isn’t just a response to things on this site. For example:


  8. I always thought Josh was cute…….HA, just kidding. He’s a homely meatbag like the rest of us

  9. Great job, Josh, female readers are few and far. I for one enjoy talking to women that read comics . They offer great insight into what they think about comic regardless of their looks .

    • The thing is, I don’t think they are few and far. I just don’t think they get heard or listened to as often. The few cons I’ve been to have been pretty split gender-wise and probably even leaned towards women. The problem is, almost all the evidence to support either argument is anecdotal. I’ve never seen any actual data concerning gender/racial demographics for buying comics.

  10. Thank you for addressing this. I’ve observed some really rude behavior towards women both online and in shops and its really disturbing. Just be civilized and treat people respectfully. Lets kill those stereotypes guys.

    I’m waiting for the first. “woman pepper sprays aggressive comic shop customer” headline. “he just kept following me around the store asking me to pose like Catwoman.”

  11. There is a Magic the Gathering site I go to that employs a couple female writers, one of them being quite attractive. The first time I saw an article from her, I thought ‘Wow, she’s cute. I wonder how long it takes for the comments to get creepy.” Three posts. Three posts before someone was asking her if she was married. It’s not just comics. Female M:tG players get ogled, and there is a gal that plays Yu Gi OH around here that has dudes falling all over her when…uh…well, there ain’t no nice way to put it. Chick is rough.

    Reminds me of many years back, when Wizard did their Halloween photos for the year. One cute for the era, and to a middle schooler gal dressed up as Vampirella. Next month there was a letter where someone wrote in asking for her phone number. When is this ever acceptable behavior? Sure, it’s nice to meet someone who shares common interests.

    But hey, that image with Thing carrying that woman? No, really, right there with ya buddy.

  12. Women are great, lets not scare them away. Thanks

  13. Great article, Josh. Short, but sweet.
    Am I the only one who finds sexist instances in comics (like Josh’s Fantastic Four examples above) both disturbing and hilarious? It’s like watching Mad Men; it’s so unbelievable and jarring that laughter is almost a defense mechanism.

    • personally i find the “porn star body type” that is so prevalent in female superhero art to be as equally disturbing. I think its the flip side to this coin really.

    • @ wallythegreenmonster Amen. The Catwoman & Starfire controversy shows how it can really be about context & intent (for the record, I think you can forgive Catwoman for what it’s trying to be, but Jesus, Outlaws #1 was just blatant, heavy-handed, man-boy bullshit). But overall, it’s pretty degrading nonetheless. I’m not saying it’s not prevalent in other media, just that – as Josh says – comics have a real image problem right now & that stuff isn’t helping. To qualify, I have no problem with nudity or adult-demographic comics, but the super-heroine super-sex model has no real validity to it. You can’t say those creators are coming from a genuine place with that.

    • Most super hero comic characters have unrealistic bodies, and this applies to both males and females. Does Hal Jordan really need to be ripped with a 6-pack to sling the ring? Hell no. He could be a morbidly obese couch potato as long as he has the willpower. Does Barry Allen need to be as muscular as he is often drawn? Most runners aren’t muscle-bound, except maybe their legs and even then not like body builders. Any character with telekinesis, magic, alien weaponry, or anything else not physical do not need to look like fitness models. But they usually do. Normal to imperfect physiques are rare.

      Characters like Batman and Captain America should look ripped and muscular – they are supposed to be humans at their peak performance level (and maybe a little more with some enhancement).

  14. Great article, Josh. We often get caught up in the content of comics turning women off to the medium &/or the experience – but I haven’t seen this issue of the fan addressed much. Kudos.

    And as for bringing more female readers into comics, well, BKV will be back very, very soon…

  15. I’m reminded of a quote from Spike Lee’s Mo’ Better Blues: “If you played the shit that they like, then people would come, simple as that.”

    Now the context of this quote in the film doesn’t parallel Josh’s grinding ax but let’s face it female readers are rare because the content of mainstream comics that’s discussed here isn’t exactly aimed at their demographic.

    I’m not saying we shouldn’t be more respectful to female comic book readers but it’s not just about being nicer to them. It’s about attracting more female readers in general.

    iFanboy is a terrific comic fan website. We’re by and large a very respectful and considerate community of mostly male comic book fans. And we pretty much only talk about books that appeal to a mostly male readership.

    If there’s a comic book/graphic novel aimed toward female readers shouldn’t we talk about it here too? I’d be up for the challenge if someone put the spotlight on some and reviewed them.

    • Ron loves chick books.

    • The thing is, we don’t need books geared specifically towards women. Creating a niche within the industry for women is not really the point. We do like the same things you do, despite the uncomfortable deal with the devil we make in overlooking cheesecake and occasional egregious bids for the male gaze.

      Diversity in genres is always good though, so I support that; however, “chick” is not a genre.

      (Please don’t take this as an attack, I appreciate the sentiment. Just trying to maybe show a different point of view.)

  16. I knew saving this tweet would come in handy someday. http://twitter.com/#!/GailSimone/status/61438796801130497

    I can’t say I’ve had any experience with this, personally. At least not outside the internet. The two comic shops I’d been to treated me very well, the one so well that I wished I lived closer so I’d have a place to hang out and talk comics. But as my husband just pointed out, I also visit those places with him and he acts as a buffer. “She’s actually a bigger comic book fan that I am.” The one time I remember being in a comic shop alone I was pretty much ignored.

    But it’s definitely a thing. Look at all the people who fawn over Felicia Day because she’s a geeky girl who happens to be a cute red-head. I’m sure she has her fair share of creepy stories to share. Or female cosplayers who don’t look like super-models. I don’t even have to elaborate that one, that can get downright nasty. Or feminism-oriented comic bloggers who get ripped apart by people who insist they’re imagining this sexism and misogyny, and should stay out of their guy stuff and stick to romance novels because that’s what women should like. (I wish I were making that last one up).

  17. Those comments in FF above are part of the reason I never read any of the 60’s back issues ive bought.. What crap writing! The oldest i can stomach is 70’s stuff (for the most part). Yay.. Jack Russel…!

  18. Yeah, this issue is annoying in so many contexts. Say, female musicians or women who have some cool talent they show off on Youtube… It’s like the only compliment to a woman that can enter these guys’ heads are… “Umm, wow, ur hott!” Then, in the context of a public conversation all it can do is be kind of awkward and not add to interesting conversation. It reminds me of how people can be with celebrities. That weird objectification that I don’t think is necessarily meant with bad intent, its just oblivious about there being a normal person that you are communicating with, and you’re weirding them out..

  19. 60s Marvel was a very special place. That whole issue is insane. Ben gets pissed off and rips up Gen. Ross’s collection of leather bound phone books. WHY he HAS a collection of leather bound phone books is anybody’s guess.

    As usual, Josh hit the nail on the head. the internet tends to bring out people’s worst at times. I hold to the philosophy that i try not to say things to people on the internet that I wouldn’t say to them in person. If I saw a female creator at a convention, I would never dream of going up to them and saying “Wow, you’re hot!” so I don’t do so here. I think creators should be judged on their creations, not how good they look.

  20. Thank you for this article from a guy’s perspective!

    From a female producer/creator’s perspective (not in the comic world, but geek-genre film/tv), this is definitely a frustrating issue. I understand that men are visual and will always notice how a woman looks. Got it. We can’t ever expect to veer away from the “you’re hot” comments (the “I want to f*ck you” or “I like her boobs” ones aren’t so classy), so most of us suck it up as a “compliment” and tolerate it. More so, the major issue I experience is that some people–men AND women–validate your talents/interests based on how you look. I.e. Hot chicks can’t possible be into my favorite fantasy series, or that hot chick’s show probably sucks. For those of us who DO create, we work our asses off trying to do what we love. Then to have someone completely judge our work based on what we look like…? Sometimes without even seeing it…?

    Plus, we aren’t made of stone. Those comments do damage no matter who you are. My make friend just told me a story about how people can’t take his poetry seriously because he is older and a heavy-set man. ART IS ART.

    So fans of both sexes: Think twice before you share that thought or comment in a public forum.

    • The other side of the coin is when you’re assumed to be an fat/ugly/whatever because the only women who are into nerdy things are unattractive women. Because suddenly a man’s cannot continue a conversation with me until it’s confirmed whether or not they deem me worthy of copulation? Letting slip that you’re female is one of the quickest ways to derail a conversation on the internet. Kind of frustrating.

  21. I have notices women treated differently in comic book crowds. Though generally in the opposite way. With fear and a sense of unapproachability as the man-boys goggle and mutter but cannot seem to engage her in conversation or quite look her in the eye. I think this treatment is at least as bad, possibly worse, than casually objectifying a woman.

  22. This is a good article and a subject I guess worthy of writing, but, it seems more like this is just a male thing in general. I can’t count how many times I’ve been hanging out with a group of people and a failry attractive female walks by and instead of them keeping their thoughts to themselves they wait until she’s out of earshot and hyperbole all the amazing things that they will do to her.

    I get the image factor and childish behavior/ sexist behavior compounds that problem, but i think if it happens anywhere, not just in the comics industry, everyone is a little worse off for it.

    Keep up the good work, Josh.

  23. Can I still talk about how attractive I am? Very

    But seriously, how unfortunate is it that’s as a social group this is a real concern?

    And the article was spot on, josh. Great work

  24. Interestingly, the employees of my local comic shop are all female, except for the two managers.

  25. What no one has mentions is that the majority of (notice I did not say everyone), but the majority of people who hang out at comic book shops, hobby shops (gaming stores), and go to conventions tend to be socially akward and don’t know how to behave around women. On the subject of conventions many guys treat women at conventions like pieces of meat because of the number of women who chose costumes that display themselves in such a manner. How many slave Leas do you see at Dragoncon every year.

    • That really doesn’t justify awkward/horny behavior towards them though. If they want to be sexy they can. I’m not one to buy into the ‘they deserve it by dressing like that’ bit. To me, that’s an excuse to be stereotypical. They can still be treated with respect and dignity.

    • “they were asking for it!…look at how they were dressed!!!” is a cowardly excuse used to justify some of the most atrocious actions in this world. We’re all better than thinking that way.

      i think the whole point of this article was to ask the community to look at themselves and be aware of how they treat women and by extension everyone around them. If you don’t know how to behave around women or find it awkward then become aware of it and work on it. If you want guidelines, look up “sexual harassment” and don’t do any of those things.

    • @wallythegreenmonster
      I take issue with your comment:
      “If you don’t know how to behave around women or find it awkward then become aware of it and work on it.”
      I don’t think anyone should have to learn to behave a certain way unless they want to, that seems a little conformist to me. If you’re social awkward around women, fine, there’s nothing wrong with that. I agree you shouldn’t treat women like pieces of meat and that sexual harassment is wrong. But the way you seem to be telling people who are socially awkward to just “work on it” seems rude and a little horrible.

    • @kzap– maybe i was rude…so what? We’re really talking about basic life and society skills here. Work on yourself…don’t hide behind your dork/nerd/geek-dom as an excuse to act like a creep. Thats the point i think.

    • @wallythegreenmonster
      And that’s the point I disagree with. We as a society should learn to accept everyone for who they are, isn’t that the point of this article. We should accept women into the comics community just as they are.
      But also we should accept socially awkward people as well, we shouldn’t ask them to change or behave a certain way just so they fit in with what society considers ‘normal’, as long as they’re not physically hurting anyone then they shouldn’t have to change.
      So what if people think they’re creepy, I know people who are ‘creeped out’ by effeminate gay men, that shouldn’t mean those men should change the way they act to make others feel comfortable and in the same way socially awkward men shouldn’t have to change just to make others feel comfortable.
      Like I said, that entire idea is horrible.

    • @kzap–I think the point of this article was to act civilized, not blind acceptance of inappropriate behavior. Going to a con or even a comic shop…thats a social situation. Society has a bare minimum of rules for acceptable behavior. Being a geek/dork/nerd doesn’t excuse you from those rules. Thats just reality. Don’t change who you are as a person, be wierd…be yourself, its awesome….but also be aware of how you interact with others.

      we’re not talking about mannerisms or personality quirks. We’re talking about creepy inappropriate stuff that could get you arrested or fired from a job. Stalking, touching, gawking, leering, harassing…. Its a real problem and all too often it gets defended as “i’m a geek, i don’t know how to act around people!!!” And if you go back to read through the article you’ll see that Josh is saying how this stuff is pushing people, especially women out of the hobby/industry. Its not good.

    • @wallythegreenmonster
      Oh no, I wasn’t disagreeing with the article, I’m 100% on board with that. I was disagreeing with you, specifically your “If you don’t know how to behave around women or find it awkward then become aware of it and work on it” comment.
      I thought I made that clear.

  26. I was not saying that they deserved it, but if you don’t want to be oggled at then don’t wear a sexy costume. If you dress up like Emma Frost, a character that walks around in her lingerie, don’t be surprised if men stare at you and hit on you.

    • But you are basically blaming the victim.

      Saying “if you don’t want to be oggled at [sic] then don’t wear a sexy costume” is basically saying “I (not necessarily you, Walter) am incapable of controlling myself when women wear sexy costumes, therefore it’s not my fault.”

      Of course, SOME women DO dress in certain styles in order to get attention from men. But it does NOT follow that ALL women who dress in those styles are looking for that attention.

      Know that and behave accordingly. “Not to go on all fours. That is the law. Are we not men?”

    • @KenOchalek, How does being stared at make someone a victim? Dressing in a provocative manner (imo), is done to provoke or attract attention. Being that we like in a society made up of many individuals, the provocateur doesn’t get to choose who’s attention is drawn to them, to asume that they can is somewhat imature and unwise.

      I’d like to pose a question to you. If humans were born without eyes, how would women dress?

      “it does NOT follow that ALL women who dress in those styles are looking for that attention”. Sounds a bit naive on her part, and easily remedied (if she has any common sense).

    • I meant…live in a society made up of many individuals…

    • @canucklehead: Staring at someone, particularly a stranger, is pretty damned creepy and can seriously unnerve the person being stared at. Because the starer refuses to interact in a socially acceptable manner, the person being stared at is left to wonder what the starer is thinking/feeling/planning. And I doubt most people will think “Oh, that person is staring at me with my best interests at heart!”

      I’m kind of surprised I have to explain that point.

      And you’re right — when you put yourself out there, you can’t control how others react.

      What I’m saying is that as a mature, intelligent adult, I am in control of my reactions. I’m neither a child nor an animal. If I see an attractive woman in a provocative outfit, I can control how I react to that regardless of how it makes me feel. She may be the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen in my life, but I don’t have to start slobbering and leering and making crude comments to let her know what I think. Because that kind of behavior is creepy as hell!

      And maybe it IS naive on the part of the provocateur, but naïveté does not grant anyone a license to behave badly.

      As Josh says in the article “Be cool. Don’t be subjective.” Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think being able to play it cool is some kind of super-human ability.

      And I’m sorry, but I’m not answering your question. The overwhelming majority of human have eyes, so to imagine how people might behave in world where we don’t is unproductive in this discussion.

    • @KenOchalek: Really, being stared at “is pretty damned creepy”, that’s kinda funny, because in order to detect a stare, one would have to focus in on the person staring (doesn’t that constitute a stare). If someone wasn’t expecting to be stared at, would they be actively scanning a crowd looking to make eye contact with a “starer”.

      You assume an awful lot in your monologue “…the starer refuses to interact in a socially acceptable manner.” Are you talking about an individual that you are familiar with (are you familiar with the intentions of “starers”, lol)?.

      “I’m kind of surprised I have to explain that point.”, I am too, it wasn’t necessary.

      “And you’re right — when you put yourself out there, you can’t control how others react.” I acknoweldege your agreement. 😉

      “And maybe it IS naive on the part of the provocateur, but naïveté does not grant anyone a license to behave badly.” Let’s assume that someone who is not fully developed socially, emotionaly or sexually might be unable to accuratley gauge his or her(I know that women and men are both just as guilty when it comes to staring) own behaviour. It’s obvious that some people are better at controling thier natural instincts than others are. Should we vilify those people, or be tolerant of them?

      “And I’m sorry, but I’m not answering your question.” I respect that.

      One alternative for a woman that doens’t like the attention she’s recieving due to her wardrobe choice…try a burqa and niqab combo. LOL. 😉

    • I agree completely with the article in relation to the comic fanbase as a whole. In fact a lot of people don’t realize geekdom as a whole can be quite misogynist.
      However I have to agree with Walter when it comes to the specific example of wearing revealing clothing (comic-based or not), I’m not saying all women should cover up all the time but a modicum of common sens is in order, if you walk around in your underwear, men will gorp. In the same way if I walk around outside an old peoples home with a hoodie and a scream mask on they will lock their doors. If I walk around the poorest part of London wearing a £1,000 suite people will think I’m a rich jackass and probably break both my kneecaps.
      The way you dress does effect how people perceive you and react to you and that will never change.
      However what makes me sick, is that unlike men, women don’t have a lot of choice when it comes to dressing up like their favorite comic book character if they want to remain respectable and that’s what needs to change.
      I’ve been trying to get my little sister into comic books (see seems quite eager actually) but when I remember things like this I start to think maybe it’s not such a good idea.

    • kzap thank you for acknowledging that other elephant in the room. While I agree that everyone should be treated with courtesy whenever possible, it is the onus of both parties to conform to social norms. If one is walking around in provocative or outlandish clothing, they have to expect a certain amount of unwanted attention. It is just as much a basic tenet of social norms as “don’t stare at people.” When one party disregards those norms, it shouldn’t be surprising that others do as well.

      I understand your frustration about women’s costumes in comics, but would point out that men in comics don’t have it much better. Sure, they show less skin, but otherwise they tend to be just as revealing.

    • @canucklehead I have to side with @KenOchalek with this. I understand that if people dress outside the norm then yes, they would of course attract more than the normal attention. Our eyes and attention go to the things that stick out from the usual, after all. But that being said, you can certainly control your amount of attention.

      Let me put it this way, if you decided to dress in a goth or emo style, would you want people to stare at you? To watch you closely as you walk around the room? Doesn’t that make you uncomfortable? It surely makes me uncomfortable. You don’t have to make eye contact with people to realize that there are a lot of eyes on you.

      Just because someone dresses differently doesn’t mean you need to overreact to it. And again, your “they dressed that way, they should expect people to stare” is just one step away from the exact same defense that’s used in horrible attacks.

    • I’m gonna disagree with you on this azrael1213.
      You’re argument doesn’t seem to quite add up in my mind, you say:
      ““they dressed that way, they should expect people to stare” is just one step away from the exact same defense that’s used in horrible attacks.”
      But it’s not one step away.
      Staring at someone and raping them are two totally different things, something CAN be a legitimate reason to stare and NOT a legitimate reason to commit a horrible attack.
      My housemate stole a tin of beans from my cupboard so I posted a passive aggressive note on his door and stared at him next time I saw him.
      No sane person would say that’s “just one step away” from raping them, that’s ludicrous.
      And in the same way, staring at someone for wearing revealing clothing is NOT a step away from committing a horrible attack.
      You’re using an extreme example that doesn’t really make sense in the hopes that no one will disagree with you.
      By the way, while I agree it’s not nice to be stared at because of how you dress (I’m very ant-fashion myself and have been the receiver of many ‘stares’ for my lack of cool) I understand why people do it and believe you can’t expect them not to.
      Think of Lady GaGa wearing a dress made of bacon, people will stare because it’s something they don’t see everyday and everyone has a different level of what they think is unusual enough to constitute starring.

    • @kzap
      The point the argument you disagree with is referring to is specifically, “Dressing in a provocative manner (imo), is done to provoke or attract attention. Being that we like in a society made up of many individuals, the provocateur doesn’t get to choose who’s attention is drawn to them, to asume that they can is somewhat imature and unwise.”

      That point is incredibly different from “staring = almost raping”. The point wasn’t the act of staring, it was what prompted the stare. “they dressed that way, they should expect people to stare” is really one step away from, “they dressed that way, they should expect people to ACT”.

      Allow me then, to restate what I’m trying to convey, since you didn’t get it through my first post. If a car door is unlocked, should the car then be stolen? If a wallet is left on a table, should it be taken? Obviously the answer is no in both of these cases. Just because it’s easy to do, doesn’t mean it should be done.

      Your roommate committed a wrong? Perhaps some consequence results such as a note or a communication of disapproval. But dressing provocatively, given that it’s acceptable for the social environment (i.e. not at your formal work place, etc) is not doing anything wrong as long as it doesn’t offend others.

      Women who are into geek-culture can dress whatever which way they want, just like men can dress whatever which way we want. Doesn’t mean we should do anything inappropriately out of the norm in response, and it certainly doesn’t encourage it.

    • @azrael1213 Give it up dude. You’re presenting a straw-man argument. I could just as easily (and more accurately) argue that a person playing music loudly or having a loud cellphone conversation has no right to complain when people around him start listening.

    • @Nerd_Raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaage I’m going to stare at you. Intensely. From across the room. And I’m not going to stop.

    • @comicBOOKchris And I’m okay with that. Especially if I’m dressed in a provocative or outlandish manner. After all, I’m dead sexy.

    • I’m glad you’re cool with that. I’d be even gladder if you understood that there are in fact people out there that wouldn’t be cool with that.

    • @comicBOOKchris I totally understand that, and I don’t advocate staring a people. It’s all fine and good to say, “don’t be creepy,” but that assumes your definition of creepy is the same as everyone else. You can’t expect everyone to live up to your personal belief of what is acceptable. It’s unfair and unrealistic. If you are going to be thin skinned, don’t dress provocatively. That’s all I’m saying.

      I’m all for a women being able to walk into a comic shop and to not be subjected to an uncomfortable amount of attention. But clothes make a difference and pretending otherwise is foolish. If you go out in public (and a con is a public place) wearing lingerie, a bikini, spandex, or fetish gear then you have no right to complain that you’re attracting unwanted attention.

    • @Nerd-Raaage- I’ve never heard a stronger argument for maintaining the status quo. Cheers!

    • @Maty you say that like it’s a bad thing.

    • I just don’t buy your ‘thin skinned’ argument. A person should have to take the piss for stepping over (or under) some vaguely defined aesthetic line, based on a standard of appearance/sexuality YOU define? Bullshit.

    • @Maty So instead, people should held to your definition of what is acceptable behavior? How long is the difference between a glance and a stare? Who gets to define what is an acceptable level of attention and what isn’t? To what extent is that person responsible for communicating it to the rest of us, and through which channels? If the stimulus wasn’t there, the reaction to that stimulus wouldn’t be an issue.

    • So it’s the passive observer getting to control, judge and condemn (or ogle, stare or pinch, or verbally abuse) all participants in exterior stimulus. It’s completely antithetical to individualism. It’s also rude. Would I want someone to tell me I had a boogie on my nose? Yes. Help a girl out. Or that they wouldn’t touch me with their ‘ten foot pole’ because I look like Chris Elliot’s cannibalized twin sister (I’ve heard that one, though I’m paraphrasing a bit)? Certainly not. And it has nothing to do with the thickness of the skin, it’s about civility, and the fact that whatever the hem on my skirt, it’s not an invitation for comment or an indication of my sexual availability.

      (By the by, when I said YOU in the previous comment, I didn’t mean you in particular, I meant the observer. Just to be more clear.)

    • @Maty “So it’s the passive observer getting to control, judge and condemn (or ogle, stare or pinch, or verbally abuse) all participants in exterior stimulus.” A passive observer isn’t going to pinch or verbally abuse. I have not, and would not, advocate anyone behaving that way. In fact, I would be inclined to intercede to stop such behavior.

      However, staring or ogling is rather subjective and often unintentional behavior. People certainly deserve to be treated with civility. I’m not arguing that hurtful comments or uninvited physical contact is appropriate. All I’m saying is that if you’re doing something to draw attention to yourself, you have no right to be offended when people look at you.

    • I’d just like to make one final comment as this argument doesn’t seem to be going anywhere now (except in circles) and we seems to have lost the point of the original article.
      The fact is we’re not talking about women in relation to comics any more, we’re debating whether it’s okay to stare at someone who is wearing outlandish clothes.
      Let’s just swap the genders for a second here, if I walked down the high street wearing nothing but a banana hammock (assuming I didn’t get arrested for indecent exposure) would people stare at me? Yes. Would they have the right to stare at me? Yes.
      In fact take the sexual element out of it, I used to run a summer kids club every year and, as part of the marketing, me and other members of the team would walk around town dressed in ridiculous clothes (one year I was a pirate, another a monkey) and hand out fliers. It was all good fun, people would stop and stare, kids would laugh, because it wasn’t something they saw everyday and that’s what we were counting on.
      You can’t expect everyone to be totally nonplussed about everything and never reacted to anything around them.
      If you don’t like the way they react; tough! You’re a grown up now, you can’t be mollycoddled through everything.
      If they physically hurt you that’s when I have a problem not if they react to something in a way that makes you feel a uncomfortable.

  27. Fiona Staple is sexy as hell and Sonia Lauren Montgomory. What?

  28. This was an excellent article, and one whose message needed to be put out there. Thanks, Josh

  29. Watching RotJedi on spike right.. Big smile!
    This isnt directly related.. but on the subject of staring … my second worst vacation ever was an Indian tiger safari … (one word… diarrhea)… and long story short.. staring being thought of as bad manners must be a partially western cultural thing cause Indians stare at everyone. its unsettling at first but then you realize that they dont mean any harm. When I got to the departing airport.. there were some eastern europeans giving all the Indians aggressive hard looks .. i suppose cause they were tired of being starred at… Anyway.. unrelated .. just came to my mind though.

  30. Years back I convinced my wife to stop in at my local CBS and empty my box for me and called ahead to mention that my wife would be coming in to get my comics. So they knew me as a long term customer and new this person was my wife, and still she was, in her words, treated pretty badly. She said it was exactly like walking into a mens change room, she was gawked and leered at by the counter guy and a lot of customers and couldn’t get out of there fast enough, flatly refusing to ever go into a comic shop for me again.

    At no other retail store would a person feel like that and it’s kinda true, direct shops have a bad rep and a poor stereotype but it’s certainly earned, even porn/sex shops have friendly more welcoming atmospheres. We chuckle at the Simpsons character Comic Book Guy, but he’s not far from the norm.

  31. Curious if anyone watched that comicon speed dating show last night an what they thought?

    • I thought that it was interesting, sad, and a bit exploitative. I know plenty of geek guys and girls that are not the least bit socially awkward, and I’m sure that there had to be at least a couple in that room. But the show chose to focus on people who were not all that socially adept. But then reality-based TV shows like that aren’t exactly known for featuring “normal” people.

    • Right? That con was the 1st one I been to an I was thinking wow I met a lot of really cool people the one day I was there an I was also thinkin there was a lot of really attractive women around too. I kinda knew the show would try to stereotype people but I wanted to watch anyway

    • Don’t get me wrong, I think the people they chose to follow were reasonably attractive and interesting. And I might watch another episode some time. I just wish the show would have also shown at least one person who wasn’t such a stereotype.

    • Yeah nothin against the folks who were profiled they were cool I think thought the show itself the presentation editing etc was like you said a little exploitative that’s all. The actual “geeks” or whatever they were called I think they’re courageous for even doing the show

    • my wife and i watched two episodes last night…thought it was a good show. we really wanted the update at the end to see if any of em worked out. I actually felt bad for a few of the lonely hearts….Seem like nice people who maybe need a good friend to teach em a few things about “breaking the ice” and stuff like that.

      i coulda sworn there was a cameo by a recognizable “someone” as one of the non featured daters.

    • Yeah we felt bad for that mandolorian couple living so far away from each other

  32. I’ve started writing responses to some of the “pro-creepy” posts in this thread, but cancelled before posting every time because it just isn’t worth the headache.

    I stand by my first comment. A comics fan is a comics fan, regardless of gender/appearance.

    Whether you’re socially awkward or not, just try to treat everyone with respect. Even if you think they don’t deserve it. Hell, ESPECIALLY if you think they don’t deserve it.

    • You know, labeling someone, or their post, as “pro-creepy” isn’t really being respectful.

    • @KenOchalek: For the record I’m not “pro-creepy”, I’m just a “realist”.

      “I stand by my first comment. A comics fan is a comics fan, regardless of gender/appearance.” I agree.

      “Whether you’re socially awkward or not, just try to treat everyone with respect. Even if you think they don’t deserve it. Hell, ESPECIALLY if you think they don’t deserve it.” … and agree.

      @Nerd_Raaage “You know, labeling someone, or their post, as “pro-creepy” isn’t really being respectful.” I agree.

      That’s my fastest post ever. 🙂

    • That’s why I put “pro-creepy” in quotes, it’s a short, but admittedly inaccurate phrase.

    • @KenOchalek: Cool, no problem. Peace on Earth, and all that jazz. 🙂

  33. What’s amazing is that people never notice anti-male sexism in comics. The entire recent Jimmy Olsen series was designed to make Jimmy seem like a hapless fool. Women characters were constantly shown as superior, belittling Jimmy all the time, addressing him as a stereotypical young goofball male who only wants to play video games and act like a dink.

    Yet none of the reviews of the Jimmy Olsen series pointed this out. Why not? Because the reviewers are only inclined to notice sexism when it’s directed against females. Our media hasn’t taught us how to identify anti-male sexism.

    So, yeah, I wince at misogynist aspects of comics and comics culture. There’s a lot of deplorable stuff there. But we all know this. An article like this only ratchets up the guilt that most of us polite guys already feel. Most of us polite guys already go out of our way to be accommodating to women in comics. I know I do.

    Meanwhile there’s a lot of self-hating male writers out there who seem to think that it’s never okay to put a female (or minority) character in a negative light ever, and they’re inclined to make many male characters seem like doofuses. If you don’t notice this, it’s because you’re inclined to accept that young males nowadays are all ninnies and doofuses. Which is quite sexist in and of itself.

    • Lol you said ninnies

    • Television is much worse. I think the only show I have recently seen that portrayed men realistically was Friday night lights.

    • Waaaah the plight of men is so terrible!

    • I have to disagree with you. The dumbed down male that is fairly prevalent in contemporary advertising is usually used to draw lines around women, and to reiterate the opinion that women serve men as their caretakers, and to highlight binary gender roles.
      ‘An article like this only ratchets up the guilt, wow, I’m not sure that guilt is the point here. It’s the fact that, yes, men have sexual urges (so do women!), but that there’s a time and a place and a set of appropriate circumstances to engage them.

    • @flapjaxx: We can thank the “feminoids”(or feminists, if you prefer) for the anti-male sentiment in todays western culture (IMO).

  34. The point some are not getting is that when a woman wears a costume that may be considered provocative, these same people counter that inappropriate or sexually aggressive/suggestive actions should be the expected returned behavior. This is the problem- the idea that a certain behavior initiates punitive or unwanted amorous responses, and that is absolute.

    • Exactly. It’s the same BS excuse as when people justify cheating by saying “mammals aren’t wired to be monogamous!” We’re not animals. We posses superior reason and logic.

    • It’s not about punishing anyone. It’s about unrealistic expectations. You have every right to dress as you wish. However, you have to be prepared to accept the consequence of your actions. If you deviate too far from the norm, you have to expect attention. If I went to a Goth club dressed like a hippy, I should expect a certain about of attention. In that instance I would be the one violating the folkways, and should not expect everyone else to moderate their reactions because they *might* make me uncomfortable.

    • Would having your crotch grabbed, in your hippie outfit, or maybe a discussion about the level of your sexual attractiveness, at that Goth party make you ‘uncomfortable’?
      Consequences are the same as punishment, especially in your definition (do this, get that).

      Well, it’s Corona time, so cheers. This is a great discussion. ‘Nite!

    • I’m talking about passive attention: looking, staring, even ogling. I’m not saying that it’s not necessarily rude, just that it is something that has to be expected. People look, stare, and even ogle without even realizing that they are doing it. And people will disagree on at what point a glance or innocent look becomes a stare or an ogle.

      Again, I have never, and would never, advocate verbal abuse or groping. In fact, I would be inclined to intercede to stop such behavior.

    • I guess we’re talking different degrees then. ‘Nuff said.
      Anyhoo- I live in New England and twice a year visit the California desert for a bit of relaxing (it just looks like Mars, love it). It’s just very interesting to go to a small, somewhat rural place that has such a high ‘freak quotient’. There’s pretty much the same level of tolerance as in my city, that has at least 20 times the population (and a lot more diversity). I dress a bit offbeat, not freaky, though it sometimes does approach a Game of Thrones aesthetic, but get nary a nod nor wink there (desert) or at home (New England). Attitudes and latitudes, I guess. Cheers.

  35. While I don’t agree with everything that’s been posted I want to thank the IFanbase a million times over for not one person taking the sexism denier route. It’s really sad and frustrating when people remain blatantly ignorant of the gender bias in media that is still *very* prevalent (noticeably in geek culture, but honestly… everywhere.) It’s not about guilt, it’s just about being a little bit more aware, aware of the way you personally act and aware of the world around you. Feminism has always seemed to be one step forward, two steps back and we need to acknowledge that there’s still a long way yet to go.

  36. I don’t know, I remember you guys posting a picture of Geoff Johns and thinking man he’s handsome, so it works both ways.

  37. I have not noticed that much of a gender issue. I have bee a comic fan for over 5 years. I have always been treated with respect at comic shops. The comics I read,(The Dark Tower Series, American Vampire, The Stand) all have positive female characters. (Especially American Vampire Pearl rules!) Of course I usually don’t pay attention to what people think of me what I do and I do my own thing.