Not Necessarily Safe for Work: Feminism and A fight on Tumblr
Pop quiz: I’ve posted two photos, what is the difference between the two? One of many answers is, if you’re a feminist on Tumblr, the one on the right should come with a trigger warning because apparently it is horrifyingly misogynist, endorses patriarchal body politics and I should check my privilege for even deigning to talk about this..
Now in fairness, Wonder Woman is not precisely a good example of a female superhero costume known for its full coverage, but there are many worse and in my estimation Wonder Woman has had a history of being fairly female positive. So what happens when Tumblr decides to cover the more patriarchal side of the spectrum?
Well, in a recent example of Tumblr bickering, Mary Cagle, creator of Kiwi Blitz, Let’s Speak English, and contributor for the upcoming title Umbra Rising posted this Not Work-Safe comic last Friday (8/22), calling Dresden Codak creator Aaron Diaz on the carpet for sexualizing his own original characters. In the comic, Cagle none too subtly infers that Diaz holds misanthropic views towards his characters, and her belief that he may engage in behaviors common to “Men’s Rights Advocates”. (For those unaware of the men’s rights movement, I encourage you to remain ignorant. You’ll likely end up happier for it! Suffice it to say that MRAs are typically poisonously anti-woman.)
Diaz responded and was, perhaps understandably, rather pissy about being accused of something he does not consider himself to be. Cagle’s response was equally irritable (see both here), and after the typical Internet airing of grievances, a fairly even-handed critique from Monster Pulse‘s Magnolia Porter eventually emerged.
The differences between Cagle’s and Porter’s responses are notable given Cagle’s strong claim that Diaz’s supposed feminism was a front for a belief system she finds poisonous and how it contrasts with Porter’s more rhetorically palatable claim that Diaz was not truly a feminist as was indicated by his treatment of his characters.
What is a real feminist anyway? Is Cagle more feminist than Porter because she is willing to take a firmer stance? Are Porter and Cagle both right that Diaz is not a feminist because he draws cheesecake portraits of his female characters? Is a cheesecake picture inherently anti-feminist?
Personally, I see nothing wrong or anti-feminist about being sexually attracted to someone. I see nothing wrong with cheesecake pictures of women as much as I see nothing wrong with beefcake pictures of men. Humans are visual animals and we like being attracted to what we are attracted to. Where I think Diaz goes off the rails is when he talks about the empowering qualities of cheesecake. Fictional characters don’t get anything out of expressing their sexuality and using that as an excuse for you drawing spank material is just stupid.