RACHEL POLLACK responds
Rachel Pollack's credits are numerous and varied: Author of several novels, including Grandmother Night, Temporary Agency, and the 1989 Arthur C. Clarke Award winner for best science fiction novel, Unquenchable Fire. She's an acknowledged expert on Tarot, having published several books considered essential on the subject. For comics, her most notable work was following Grant Morrison on "Doom Patrol," in a great run that featured all sorts of arcane information. Other comics work includes the one-shot "The Geek," and "Time Breakers" for the DC comics imprint, Helix. She was also kind enough to forward my letter on to Trina Robbins, and you gotta love that. (GS)
Thanks, Gail, for taking the trouble to notice this and point it out. It's a pretty scary list, scary mostly for what it says about (male) comics creators. What I think about this is the guys have good intentions, to use more female characters, and they try consciously to make them strong and positive role models and all that good stuff, but unconsciously it's very hard for many men to see women as something other than victims. Writers (I'm assuming it's mostly the writers responsible for character and plot development) write much more from their unconsciouses than people realize. You think of something that seems really cool, and deep, and makes you want to rush to your keyboard, and you don't stop to look at just what it's saying, or where it might come from in yourself. And where it comes from in many men is that men are real and women are vehicles for men's needs. One of those needs is to feel strong emotions such as grief, anger, pain, maturity. There are any number of movies and books in which a weak man becomes a hero, or faces up to life, because a woman has been raped or murdered or has committed suicide. Did the writer realize he was (once more) victimizing women? Probably not. Probably he thought he was dealing with a man finding his maturity through pain. The fact that it's really a woman who has the pain is somehow not noticed. Why do men need to find their maturity this way, their manhood? I don't know. Maybe it has something to do with breaking away from their mothers.
Well, those are my thoughts, Gail. Good luck on pursuing this question. I think it's important.
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I just checked out the web site after all, to see the reactions of (some of) the other creators. It was interesting to see how many of the men felt called on to defend (or apologize for) their own murdered female characters. You know, I assume, of the point made by people like Trina Robbins that the powers of female characters in the '60s showed a good deal about the male creators--a "girl" who turns invisible, another who makes herself tiny and buzzes around men annoyingly (when she's not shopping)...