From the beginning the comics medium was predominantly a male-centered hobby. It was a craft created by men, for men. This ideal chugged along for many years, with women slowly but surely changing the status quo along the way. It has taken a long time, but needless to say women are beginning to make a name for themselves as creators, as well as fans. Contrary to what some people may think, this is a GOOD thing because it opens the avenues to different titles, different perspectives, and simply what the comics world needs more of: DIVERSITY. So, when I personally hear about all the great things women creators are doing, as well as friends getting excited about their books, it makes me feel good. It makes me feel like we’re moving forward. And whenever there’s “change,” there’s bound to be a few snags in the road. Namely in the case of exclusionism and sexism along the way. It comes with the territory, I guess.
As much as we’d like to believe the comics medium has become 100% welcoming to men and women alike, there are still instances where women seem to receive the short end of the stick. Case in point, the recent backlash surrounding the “I like fangirls how I like my coffee…I hate coffee” shirt. I won’t name the company who made the shirt (you can look them up yourselves), because I don’t feel like they deserve any more press, but the idea around this shirt is definitely demeaning and in my opinion not funny. Call it tongue in cheek if you want, but I don’t see the humor. This type of product sends a message that excludes a large (and ever growing) readership in a medium that needs all the readers it can get. Why anyone would print this, let alone advertise this mindset is beyond me, but in the end I choose to take the high road. I know where I stand on this issue, and it is not with the creators of this shirt, plain and simple. Being a man I don’t feel “entitled” when it comes to comics. I don’t own the industry, and neither do my comic brethren. This mindset baffles me a little because it seems to be contrary to what most people preach about how welcoming the industry is. In “theory” we are welcoming, but under the surface some of us may not be. This needs to change, and may not change quickly, but it still needs to change.
At its base level this shirt has got “fanboys” and “fangirls” alike talking about comics. And if there is a silver lining in all of this, that might be it. Comics are not just about capes and tights; there are always going to be social issues involved and we shouldn’t be afraid to address them. In the end everyone is allowed their own beliefs; that is their right. You don’t always have to agree with them, but I do think we need to call out things like this that send the wrong message about who we are as fans. Comics are not exclusionary to women. They are not exclusionary to anyone. Comics are for EVERYONE.
Say it with me: “No exclusions apply…Everyone is welcome.”
Because, in my book everyone is welcome. Comics aren’t owned by one religion, one sex, or one demographic. It is owned by anyone and everyone and it needs to be advertised that way.