This is one of those things I wish I didn’t have to write. Every time I think I see the depths of human stupidity and ignorance, someone starts digging deeper. I largely stay out of controversies that swirl around the internet. This one is just so wrong, and so egregious, I couldn’t.
Chelsea Cain, a novelist in her own right, recently concluded a highly enjoyable run on Mockingbird, the first time that character has had an ongoing solo title. I thought it was a great read, reviewed the final issue, and had a really nice exchange with Ms. Cain on Twitter about it. Apparently I’m one of the last ones who did.
I don’t know what it is about the geek community, especially the comic book segment of it, that brings out the misogynists and the idiots (not always the same group, but there’s a lot of crossover on that Venn diagram). When Ms. Cain announced the end of her series, she made a few tweets urging Marvel to keep moving ahead with female-lead comics. The reaction was swift and sadly predictable.
Chelsea Cain has deleted her Twitter account because of the torrent of ugly and hateful messages she got for daring to express her opinion and champion the idea of female books. It’s not enough that we’re in the midst of one of the ugliest elections in history, we have to have Neanderthals gang up on a woman who likes the idea of women as heroes in comics? Really, how does behaving like jackasses in this manner help anything? A talented writer has been driven off Twitter, and possibly out of comics. The worst of the bad stereotypes about comic book fans as immature children who can’t handle adult situations gets confirmed. And we, comic book fans as a whole, look like idiots. Nice job, guys.
Why do I say this was comic book fans? Ms. Cain is a novelist. Even the lowest selling novel, as a rule, sells better than comic books. Ms. Cain has sold a series of novels, the “Heartsick” thrillers, and never had this problem before. It took comments about women in comics to drive her off Twitter.
To anyone who took part in this, I name you idiots. I say you’re afraid of women. You belong back in the 1950s or earlier. If the idea of a strong woman scares you that much, you’re going to have a lonely life. Work on those forearm muscles, guys, you’re gonna need them.
To anyone who knows someone who did this, and hasn’t said anything to them, I name you cowards. If you’re a comic book fan, then by and large you read about people who defend others, stand up for the abused, and uphold a code of ideals. Is acting this way, or not calling out the ones that do, in any way consistent with the ideals of heroes like Superman, Captain America, Spider-Man? Grow up. Grow a spine. Tell them they are wrong.
To Chelsea Cain, and any other woman affected by something like this, I offer my sympathies and apologies, as a man and a comics fan. This isn’t something that’s allowable, acceptable, or in any way all right. Many of us, most I hope, don’t feel that way. I’m so sorry Ms. Cain had to go through this, and I know she’s not alone. It’s not right.
If anyone who reads this has a way to contact Ms. Cain, please tell her I loved her book, appreciated her taking a few moments to talk to me on Twitter, and I’m so sorry some of my fellow comic fans are idiots and cowards.
Some who stand up for the right thing to do are showing their support under the hashtag #standwithChelseaCain. I urge you to do this, unless you think bullying women is a good idea. You read about heroes when you swing by the comic shop on Wednesdays… maybe this is your chance to be one, in at least a small way.
These are my opinions, and mine alone. The site editor here did not approve this post, we haven’t talked about it. If you have a problem with what I’ve said, reach out to me. Not him. But if you do… you should really think about what that says about you.