Friday, February 1, 2013

Oh Rape Culture, You Wily Beast

 Subtitle: ...In Which Our Protagonist Likely Alienates the Last Few Straight Cisgendered Male Friends He Has


So I just read through the last couple days of Dan Slott's Twitter account, as I've been following his reactions to Superior Spider-Man pretty closely, for several reasons. I do feel that Slott is taking an absurd amount of flack for this comic, as mind-switching is an age-old superhero trope, and I can't even imagine why people are so ragey about it. On top of that, he's been taking an absurd amount of flack for YEARS for being a driving force behind Brand New Day, and I obviously have already dedicated two long posts on my fledgling comics blog to defending him on that count.

However, he's also been taking a lot of flack lately from people - like myself - who were made pretty uncomfortable by some of the dodgy consent issues presented in Superior Spider-Man #1.

To be fair to Slott, a few years back he did a terrific story about Starfox, using She-Hulk's courtroom setting to explore the idea that Starfox's key superpower essentially boils down to sexual assault. I felt it was handled very well, and it ended with Starfox voluntarily relinquishing his "love" powers, thus in some way redeeming the character... and making him much easier for other writers to use in the future without having to cope with the character's previous "ick" factor.

And as I said in Wednesday's post, he mostly resolved the issues in Superior Spider-Man with #2... but... Now he's being awfully smug about it.

I'd like to reiterate something I said on Wednesday: "Otto Octavius has not been turned into a rapist, technically, but it's not for a lack of trying. He's wearing his brand-new Spidey suit and trying to repeatedly to get MJ to fuck him through a series of "date experiments", while the real Peter Parker - appearing as a blue Obi-Wanesque spectre - looks on in absolute horror. So basically it comes down to a conflict between intent and action: Do you consider a failed rapist to still be a rapist? Because I do." I can't speak for anybody else, but I wasn't SO ANGRY because I was convinced Doc Ock was absolutely for-sure going to rape Mary Jane. I was SO UNCOMFORTABLE that it seemed like the character was considering it as an option. And in issue #2 he tried, repeatedly, to rape MJ. The fact that the character of Peter Parker was written as being as uncomfortable as I was, and that his discomfort was eventually transferred over to Doc Ock's consciousness, does not change the fact that Doctor Octopus was outed as a rapist in this whole endeavor.

Then Slott went and retweeted this gem, from fellow comics writer Fred Van Lente:

Van Lente managed to get himself on the shit list of many, many folks a few years back when he had The Chameleon disguise himself as Peter Parker and have sex with one of Parker's friends. He used the most gloriously deluded defense for this:

"My understanding of the definition of rape is that it requires force or the threat of force, so no. Using deception to trick someone into granting consent isn’t quite the same thing." 

He had his face ripped off by basically the entire internet for this statement, and rightly so, because it's a statement filled to the fucking brim with bullshit rape apologia and privileged garbage ideas, so I don't feel like I need to go too deeply into it. If you weren't "there", though, here's the Hoyden About Town article that covered things pretty well, and a not-without-faults article from Bleeding Cool that delves into a bit of the aftermath, wherein Van Lente backpedaled hard and said that Um, actually? They totes didn't have sex, so I call no rapesies! Suffice it to say, I haven't bought any of Van Lente's comics since.

It just seems like an unfortunate thing for Slott to retweet, and I'm left wondering what his motivations were. I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt, and assuming he was just happy to have the support of another prominent comics writer. But it does create the air of a couple of mens getting together and saying "THOSE KOOKY FEMINISTS, AMIRITE?!"

Also, Fred, don't mistake expressing contempt for taking offense. It's important.

However, maybe I'm making something out of nothing. I'm sure a few of my friends think I am. Maybe I just fall under this category:

But regardless, I can't shake the feeling that something's wrong.

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