So I was planning on sitting down and working on some school work (which features zombies. Not actual zombies, but the idea of them. The zombies may, in fact, be a metaphor), and yet its comics that keep dragging me back.
This time it's Marvel, and for a company that writes comic books, and therefore should understand the power of language, they are incredibly insulting in what words they use in their press releases.
For example, see this. Karen Healey already addressed this at her column Girls Read Comics (And they're pissed), so I'm going to try not to repeat what she says here.
So this is the novel idea of Marvel selling things to women! Surely they are pioneers in marketing!
From the very first sentence I knew I was going to have put on my brick holster: "The consumer products team at Marvel is thinking big when it comes to females."
First of all, what the hell, Marvel? Females? Really? You never refer to men as males, and, in fact, later in the article you say "guys."
It makes it sound like women are some sort of wild creature that you encounter on the Discovery Channel. "Here we have found the wily and elusive 'female.' We come bearing these gifts of stereotypical feminine products for her. Let's see if she accepts them."
(Of course, I should probably be thankful that Marvel hasn't referred to women in general as "girls," which has the purpose of infantilizing women and marking them as weaker. For example how many superheroes can you name off the top of your head that end in -girl? I have Supergirl, Power Girl, Wonder Girl, Bat Girl. How many superheroes can you name that ends in -boy? I have Power Boy. I suppose the argument could be made for Aqualad, but that's it. Amazing, isn't?)
Healey points out that, in contrast to using "men" and "guys" the term "females" is dehumanizing, and has the effect of making women in general less desirable than men when it comes to Marvel's target audience.
Which leads me to this fun little paragraph: "Since our core customer has always been guys, we need to be very careful when we introduce female product so that we don't alienate our core," said Paul Gitter, president of consumer products, North America, for Marvel Entertainment Inc. "What we have found through testing is that we haven't alienated them, which gives us the OK to move forward with female product."
First of all Gitter, please stop saying "female product" like you're trying to sell superhero themed tampons. Second of all...okay, I'm trying to make a coherent argument here without descending into profanity, which is difficult, so I will refrain from my initial response, which had to do with a term about procreation.
I cannot speak to the purpose or reasoning behind Gitter's words, but can only analyze the statement. This statement makes it very clear that their core consumers (which, for the record, I don't agree with), happen to male, I mean, guys, who are much more desirable than women. Marvel would love to make more money, and hey, women--I'm sorry, females--have income just like real people, so Marvel is seeking to exploit that.
However, god forbid they try to make any of their products more women--oops! I meant female--friendly because that may make the guys uncomfortable. And despite the fact these things are exclusively made for women, the opinions of males--damnit, I meant guys--are much more important.
And now let's look at the products themselves, shall we? Everything we have here are, like I said before, really stereotypically girly. We have lip gloss, broken heart pendents (although I think someone didn't quite think through the Spiderman/Goblin one), jewelry and "fashion tops."
From what I can see, all of these female products operate under the assumption that females love superheroes, but don't want to be them. For example, the shirt accompanying the article has the image of chibi-fied (because everyone knows females only love Japanese manga style art and a low vee neck so you can get that all important cleavage shot) males Avengers (forget about the Wasp or Ms. Marvel or the Scarlet Witch) playing rock music. Because women, or females, don't appreciate female superheroes rocking out.
To Marvel it's quite simple: females love superheroes, but they don't identify them or even imagine themselves in that role. After all, who wants to be Invisible Woman, or Ms Marvel, or She-Hulk, or Storm, or Spider Woman, or Kitty Pryde, or Faiza when instead females can have crushes on Captain America, Ironman, Hulk, Thor, or Spiderman? Women--girls-- damnit females are only interested in the romance between superheroes and women, and do not in any way want strong women superheroes who kick ass.
No, females want pretty shiny jewelry and lip gloss, because girls just want to look pretty and don't identify with superheroes. Obviously.
I think I have to echo Healey here and say I am sick and tired of this sexist, gender-specific marketing shit. Our culture has clearly divided consumer products into what's for men and what's for women, or females in this case, and despite evidence to the contrary, companies adhere strictly to this gender division, which means girls don't read comics.
While in the past comics were intended strictly for men, it isn't true anymore. Women--females--are large consumers too, although neither DC or Marvel wants to acknowledge that. I have had this conversation numerous times with Darcy and it comes down to this: Do Marvel and DC just hate money?
From a purely economic standpoint, this ridiculous stance that only men read comics doesn't make sense. By listening to critics, both male and female, about the sexism inherent in comics-- such as the T&A, poor characterization of women, the assault of female characters, etc.--and acting upon it, the companies will sell more of their titles to women and thus make more money. And yet they won't, and instead we get this "female product."
So well done, Marvel, in announcing you decided to market to women in the most insulting way possible. Females, huh? When will we learn that comics aren't for us, but instead for the guys? I suppose I should just be happy you even deigned to notice us.
So, no, Marvel, I won't be buying your female product. And for the record, I'm a woman, not one of your faceless females, and I refuse to be placated with these products and I will refuse to be silent about it.