On Friday, Marvel editor Heather Antos, who’s worked on titles like The Unbelievable Gwenpool, happened to post the above, adorable selfie with her coworkers.
And so, like any emotionally well-adjusted person would do, a bunch of (mostly) men decided to harass Antos via DM and tweet. Because she posted a selfie. Of her friends getting milkshakes. The public tweets included plenty of the usual insults and misogyny: “fake geek girls,” “the creepiest collection of stereotypical SJWs anyone could possibly imagine,” and “Gee, I can’t imagine why Marvel’s sales are in the toilet.” Others took to harassing Antos via direct message.
Antos spoke out about the harassment on her timeline.
We already know that trolls react monstrously when women explicitly advocate for diversity. Chelsea Cain, the writer of Mockingbird, had to quit Twitter after daring to write this innocuous, now-deleted tweet: “Please buy Mockingbird #8 this Wed. Send a message to @marvel that there’s room in comics for super hero stories about grown-up women.” Zainab Akhtar was driven to shut down her Eisner-winning comics criticism site, Comics & Cola, because of racist, sexist, and Islamophobic attacks. Anita Sarkeesian received bomb threats for exploring sexism in video games. Leslie Jones was hounded by racists on Twitter and hacked because she dared to play a black woman Ghostbuster.
When this sort of harassment happens, the devils’ advocates come out of the woodwork, saying that the harassers are reacting to changes to their favorite characters, or legitimately critiquing the woman’s politics, or simply voicing their opinions, too. This is always an obvious attempt to provide a more palatable excuse for rampant misogyny and/or racism. But the harassment around Antos’ selfie makes it even more damningly obvious what the real motivation is. It’s harassment for existing. For daring to smile and enjoy making comics as a woman. It’s harassment that’s fueled by sheer rage at seeing a bunch of women who are editing comics and having fun at their job.
When we talk about the pervasive sexism in comics, this is what we mean. We mean that some “fans” are so misogynist, and so threatened by the idea of women in the industry, that a selfie sets them off. That rage is even worse if you’re a trans woman, a woman of color, or a woman with a disability. There is nothing women can do to “protect” themselves; there’s no way we can modify our behavior, or “ignore the trolls,” or “engage in a conversation” that will possibly satisfy or pacify people who hate our very presence. Because the only thing that would actually mollify them is if we ceased to exist, publicly and joyfully, in nerd spaces.
And we’re not gonna do that.
(Via Twitter; image via Shutterstock)
Want more stories like this? Become a subscriber and support the site!
—The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—