STEVEN GRANT responds
Steven Grant, among many other accomplishments, created "Whisper," one of the prototypical buttkicking female characters. He also wrote the definitive Punisher stories and the Marvel biocomic "The Life of Pope John Paul II"--now THAT would be a great crossover! Mr. Grant also has a terrific web site: Steven Grant's Alleged Fictions.
Finally, he tells us that for some reason, no one ever bothers to knock when they come to his door. (GS)
> I hope you don't think I'm too rude writing you like this, but as the
Nah. I like hearing from people. Rude is showing up on my doorstep uninvited, but as no one - not even my editors or my sister - knows where that is, it's not a particularly big concern of mine.
> creator of one of the first books featuring a buttkicking female lead, you seem more qualified than most to comment on this subject.
Well, thanks. I put Alex/Diane through a lot of crap, but she was a survivor.
As for comment:
It comes down to sex, really. It's no big secret that, in the adolescent power fantasy which are the bread and butter of superhero comics, fight scenes are symbolic surrogates for sexual activity. You can't get up the nerve to ask the girl who sits next to you in geometry class for a date, but you can buttress your virility by vicariously beating the crap out of the Joker. At heart, superhero comics are conservative, exonerating status quo attitudes rather than undermining them, and a basic tenet of the conservative attitude in this country is that women shouldn't enjoy sex. When superheroines go out there and beat up villains, hey, those fight scenes are symbolic surrogates for sexual activity, too. They have to be punished for enjoying it, because it's just too threatening for women to enjoy power corresponding to that enjoyed by men. So heroines are de(p/fl)owered, mutilated, raped or sexually threatened, and killed. "Serves 'em right for trying to do a man's job." A lot of recent "bad girl" books would seem to disprove my point, but many of those are boldly misogynistic, basically excuses to torture women then justify it by having them "win" in the end (not to mention most of the "women" therein are actually thinly disguised inflated dolls). Guys in general tend to be paranoid about the notion that women don't actually need them for anything (which is why so many find the double-edged sword of lesbianism so fascinating), and, let's face it, superheroines don't exactly mollify that paranoia, unless they're functionally subservient to a male figure.
The short version: yeah, I think you've got a point.
A few years back, a book was being published that caused me to suggest a new rule that no male writer should be allowed to write a female protagonist unless he had at least dated a woman at least once in his life.
Me, I like writing women. You can go for a wider range of emotion and reaction than would be tolerated in most male characters. I think a lot more range can be got from female characters than the industry has traditionally strived for.
That okay? I like the page, by the way.