Things Like Mythical Unicorns: Female Comic Book Readers?

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The title is intentionally provocative.  Why?  Because I think it is utterly ridiculous that an organization claiming to be about “the news” needs to do a story about a guy who threw a party to prove female comic book geeks exist in order to put this whole B.S. argument to rest.  And here’s why I think that:

It was all of the hubub on the Internet about women not being part of the hobby at all. Day in and day out, I can see that’s an utter lie. I see customers walking in my door who are female and of different ages every single day — everyone from women in their 60s to teenagers. I see lots of daughters coming in with their moms and dads, and they love the stuff.

The above, by the way, is Brian Jacoby’s response to the first question.

Perhaps I’m being unfair to CNN, but it seems to me that this whole story could have been avoided if someone had simply walked into a comic book shop, spent more than three seconds inside during “rush hour,” and then went home to report, “Women enter comic book shops.  Myth busted.  Goodbye.”

Of course, CNN’s correspondent (Erika D. Peterman this time around) had to ask this question:
Why do you think the idea that women don’t read comics persists?

Jacoby responds by referring to the lack of demographic studies on the comic book industry.  I think that has something to do with it, but I also think it has a lot to do with the fact that comics have been and continue to be seen as the “domain of men.”  By saying that, I in no way think such opinions are accurate.  In fact, any assumption that a “thing” can be the “domain of men” should be taken with a grain of salt (or as patriarchy trying to announce its existence the same way a racist announces him or herself by saying “I’m not a racist, but”).

The point is this:  anyone who goes to comic book shops knows that there are, in fact, plenty of women who read comics.  And we know this in part because there are comics written specifically for the female market.  Comic book companies are in it for the profit just like other publishers.  And they’re not going to create comics for women if they don’t think there are women there to read them.  But women are there.  Plenty of them.  They read Buffy and Twilight comics.  They read X-Men and Iron Man and The Avengers and Batman and indie comics and violent comics and comics with bunnies.  Because women like stuff.  Go figure.  They like lots of stuff.

So now that this stupid myth is put to rest, can we move on to more important discussions?  Such as:  What is the demographic makeup of creators vs. readers in the comic book industry?  What kinds of things most appeal to women in comic form?  What do women think of their position in the comic book community?  Do they feel included?  Do they feel excluded?  And what comics are out there for all readers that don’t resort to stereotypical images of women?

That’s what I want to know.  How about you?

About the Author:

Shaun Duke is an aspiring writer, a reviewer, and an academic. He is currently a graduate student at the University of Florida studying science fiction, postcolonialism, posthumanism, and fantasy.

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