grim amusements / april 11, 2011 / don't ask, don't tell ... especially about THAT

[...]that's ... kind of not how human nature works, unfortunately. Not in the short term, anyway.

"Often, in male-on-male cases, assailants go after those they assume are gay, even if they are not." So what do you think will happen if/when they know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the private in the bunk over there actually is gay? Out, proud, just wants to serve their country like all the other soldiers there? What do you think will happen?

In the short term, what's likely to happen is that openly gay people will have a big fat target on their backs. Depending on how well the commanders follow the sexual assault reporting, tracking and disciplinary procedures -- and that's going to be highly variable -- openly gay soldiers may be somewhat less reluctant to report the assaults. After all, they can't accuse you of being gay because you report the assault, which is what frequently happens now. That said, it may also work that some gay soldiers will be less likely to report the assault ... because they're gay. After all, if the idea is that being gay makes you less manly, then the idea that you couldn't protect yourself from being raped by your fellow soldiers only reinforces the point, right? And in either case, in the short term, the likelihood is that actual assaults are going to spike. People who will rape you to put you in your place because they feel you're week, or because you're gay or, well, Just Because They Can aren't any less likely to rape someone who actually IS gay, especially if the idea is to make the person understand just how much they don't belong.

Understand: this isn't a blanket indictment of all male soldiers; of course most aren't rapists, just as most men aren't.....
grim amusements / april 11, 2011 / don't ask, don't tell ... especially about THAT

[...]that's ... kind of not how human nature works, unfortunately. Not in the short term, anyway.

"Often, in male-on-male cases, assailants go after those they assume are gay, even if they are not." So what do you think will happen if/when they know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the private in the bunk over there actually is gay? Out, proud, just wants to serve their country like all the other soldiers there? What do you think will happen?

In the short term, what's likely to happen is that openly gay people will have a big fat target on their backs. Depending on how well the commanders follow the sexual assault reporting, tracking and disciplinary procedures -- and that's going to be highly variable -- openly gay soldiers may be somewhat less reluctant to report the assaults. After all, they can't accuse you of being gay because you report the assault, which is what frequently happens now. That said, it may also work that some gay soldiers will be less likely to report the assault ... because they're gay. After all, if the idea is that being gay makes you less manly, then the idea that you couldn't protect yourself from being raped by your fellow soldiers only reinforces the point, right? And in either case, in the short term, the likelihood is that actual assaults are going to spike. People who will rape you to put you in your place because they feel you're week, or because you're gay or, well, Just Because They Can aren't any less likely to rape someone who actually IS gay, especially if the idea is to make the person understand just how much they don't belong.

Understand: this isn't a blanket indictment of all male soldiers; of course most aren't rapists, just as most men aren't.....
Hardware cover Hardware: The Man in the Machine (Dwayne McDuffie/Denys Cowan; Milestone/DC; Hardware 1-8 originally published 1993, collected edition published 2010)

Note that as this is a Review in Retrospect of a title originally published 17 years ago, THERE WILL BE SPOILERS A-GO-GO! LOTSA SPOILERS! WHOA NELLIE, THERE WILL BE SO MANY SPOILERS HERE THAT YOU JUST WON'T BE ABLE TO STAND IT! IF YOU HAVEN'T READ HARDWARE AND WANT TO READ IT WHILE REMAINING COMPLETELY UNSPOILED, STOP HERE NOW!

No, really, SPOILERS AHOY.

OK, you wuz warnd.

Hardware has always been one of the cornerstone villains of McDuffie's Milestone Dakotaverse. I've only ever seen him through the eyes of the undoubted heroes, Static and Icon, usually wreaking havoc in combination with the Shadow Cabinet, other undoubted villains. Here, we get an inner view of Hardware -- what he thinks of himself and how he justifies what he does to himself. After all, most villains don't start out planning to be such. Most don't necessarily even think of themselves that way ... well, OK, in superhero comix, most do, because 96% of them are stark staring insane. The ones that aren't insane -- very few -- don't necessarily think of themselves as the bad guy, even when they're in stark opposition to the unambiguously good guys.

Curtis Metcalf, brilliant scientist extraordinaire, gets pulled up from poverty by Alva, big businessman, when Curtis is a young child. Alva educates Curtis, gives him a role in Alva's business ... and then things go terribly wrong for Curtis. Sort of.

And I will confess, when you find out precisely why Hardware has gone to the extremes he has -- there have been quite an astounding number of corpses left in his wake, albeit mostly fairly specific ones, and a really impressive amount of spectacular and mostly targeted property damage -- then you too will have the same reaction as his sort of almost girlfriend, when she says, "How can you be brilliant enough to build this, and too stupid to know what to do with it?" In all seriousness, it's impossible not to think, THAT'S why he did all this? How stupid can a person that bright BE? The reason is personally important, to be sure, but it's also amazingly petty compared to the spectacular amount of destruction and death he leaves behind. That said, this story is mostly about Hardware figuring out that this really isn't quite what he wants to be doing, or how he wants to be doing it.

One thing that McDuffie does very well is showing the physical costs of superheroics -- or supervillainy, if you prefer -- for people who aren't bang babies or otherwise metahuman. Curtis is banged up, beaten up, battered all the time. He's always exhausted, always trying to hide his condition from friends and coworkers. Periodically he winds up sleeping through work shifts by accident, and having to call in sick late, because he just can't make it in. It's great to see that aspect of super feats addressed; most comics just ignore what it would be like for an ordinary person to do what they do. (Just think: Bruce Wayne really could not function as the head of Wayne Enterprises, because he would sleep through most of the day when his staff would be working. A reputation as an international playboy would only get you through just so much slacking off. But I digress.)

Within the Hardware story is another, quite astonishing story: the story of Deathwish, another of the Milestone universe's villains that aren't quite what they seem. Deathwish's origin story is both horrific and astounding, both for its time and even for now. Deathwish had been a criminal, a guy named Wilt, but had retired from his criminal activity. Settled down, gotten married, had a child. Then, apparently, one of his old enemies found him and his family. The old enemy tied him up, then forced Wilt to watch as he raped and murdered his wife, then raped and murdered his son. Then -- in frame, more or less -- he rapes Wilt, followed by shooting him and leaving him for dead. Wilt recovers, then becomes Deathwish, who pursues and forces sex offenders to murder themselves through nothing more than the power of his mind -- apparently what happened to him awakened a sort of latent ability.

But consider: we get something never before or since seen in mainstream superhero comix. A man is raped on camera, so to speak. It's utterly and completely unambiguous. No, of course you don't see the actual penetration, but it's very clear what's going on. Moreover, Wilt specifically tells us what happened to him. It's not about either of them being gay. It's not even a prison rape. It's one of those things that happnes because a bad guy has the power, and because that's how he wants to humiliate Wilt and let him know just how powerless he is to protect either his family or himself. Pretty much every other male who gets raped in comics is either a molested child, or they get drugged and used by women as big warm inseminators -- which would be wildly unlikely. (And, before anyone even thinks about mentioning the name Apollo, read this entry. He got savagely beat down, yes, but until and unless it is specifically and unambiguously stated, it cannot reasonably be said that he was raped because we just plain don't know. Moving on...)

Deathwish gets, oddly enough, exactly the sort of origin story that female superheroes frequently get, and which irritates the snot out of people -- being raped drives a woman to, usually, becoming some sort of hero. Here, perhaps because it drives Wilt to becoming a villain, it sort of does work. It may also be that it works because Deathwish is a man, and superhero comix have always been thought of as male wish fulfillment; I'm sure that a lot of men who have been raped would do what Deathwish does to his rapist and other sex offenders, given the opportunity and the ability to get away with it.

That said, Deathwish's origin story only half-works. It turns out that his ordeal also gave Wilt a really spectacular case of dissociative disorder -- multiple personalities that don't know of or acknowledge each other -- and the second personality and its actions, while also villainous, profoundly do not work. I understand, for story purposes, why McDuffie made the choices he did but I think he really needed to pick one direction and stick with it. Either one would have been sufficient, and the revenge-minded one works better for the story. It may well be that suffering through what he has would make a real-life version of Wilt do both of the things that he does -- I can't know and I really don't want to -- but as pure story, it's just too much.

Deathwish does, eventually, get apprehended. And then at some point, Deathwish actually got a miniseries of his own. Frankly, the mind boggles. I mean ... he killed a lot of people. Granted, all of them under the influence of one or the other personalities, but still, you'd think they'd stick him in an insane asylum and leave him there for the rest of his natural days. I hope they do reprint his miniseries, because I'd like to see how that was even possible.


After Deathwish, Curtis continues to struggle with what he means Hardware to be, to become. Oprah even makes an appearance in the story! And ...then the volume ends without anything like resolution. Given the distance between the end of this volume and the second issue of Milestone Forever, I can but hope that there's another archive volume of Hardware waiting to be published. I can't imagine how on earth Curtis could have gotten from here to there. (And one of the things that he does in Milestone Forever is deliberately and surpassingly nasty. He does, to give him credit, eventually figure that out.)

Even with the caveat about Deathwish: Excellent; Highly Recommended. Really, go out and find this and read it. And then get the other Milestone books, Static and Icon. (I've seen another volume of Icon solicited, thank goodness, so at least we'll probably find out what happened with Raquel and her situation.)
A little something just for Columbina.

...I wonder if Someone has been reading The Time Traveler's Wife? If nothing else, it's certainly the most ... unusual iPhone comic I've seen today. (Yes, there have been others. Here and there, the odd comic. Just one or two places.

And this strip would go there, because after impersonating a police officer to pursue lesbians for a threesome, of course the prison butt rape would be comedy gold! Gold, I tell you! (Yes, yes, I get that people mock things that they are afraid of, but that they feel have a low likelihood of actually happening to them. Really, I do. Doesn't make it less aggravating.) To be sure, they're not going to go there, I don't expect. It's not actually going to happen. While this strip occasionally allows the characters more serious moments of character development, I don' t think they really want to have something that dramatic happen to the character. It would be almost impossible to maintain the character as something lightweight and humorously reprehensible if they did. He's already in therapy; I don't think they'd want to write the therapy sessions he'd be having after that.
"In Contempt": I serve at your pleasure, sir.: ... Well, that would explain what he was doing when all those other people were doing his job, now wouldn't it? And clearly, he's rather bad at it.

My baby mama is a supervillain: And hey! according to Grant Morrison's Batman run, we can now add Bruce Wayne/Batman to the list of guys who has been drugged and used as a big, warm inseminator. If it weren't for the fact that superhero comics are ... what they are, what I would wonder is why all the men are being raped by women. After all, statistically speaking, it's comparatively unlikely. Also when it does happen in real life, it tends to be rather unpleasant, with or without drugs. (And seriously, I don't even want to know what's happening in Jamaica.)

Disturbia' Director Might Reunite With Shia LaBeouf For Woman-Centered 'Last Man': actually, that would be some pretty good casting. Though I do wonder how they're going to condense 60 issues into two hours, or if they're going to leave it open ended in the hopes of coming down with an intense case of sequelitits.
ANGBAND - They got it about right (caution: rape talked about below, trigger warning):

So I was looking at the above-linked entry via When Fangirls Attack, and I ran across the below comment:

madthinker12357 on August 20th, 2007: Ugh. I'm not asking for rape in comics. If there is never another rape, I won't care. I am absolutely NOT saying that because rape happens in real life that it should be in comics. I am not even implying that.

My point was that if men are raped in comics as much as women, it make women and gay men look like the predators and men (who are usually straight men) look like the most common victims. Is that what you want? Because like me, feminist theory is usually against that. If you want to send what many would consider to be anti-feminist messages that imply that it is really straight men we need to protect from rape because they get raped soooooooo much, you can make that case, but I, like most feminist, oppose it.


Leaving aside the issue actually being discussed in the thread, all I have to say is: most men who are raped are raped by other straight men. (And, actually, I'm pretty sure that most men who get raped are straight, for that matter. It's not about lust, particularly; it's about doing something because you can and because it will get inside someone's head.)

Probably should have commented over there, but (1) it's a complete side issue to the thread, and (2) didn't want to get into it. But I did just want it said.
Tags:
THE BEAT » Blog Archive » Green Arrow to star in searing prison drama!:
Or at least he will if David S. Goyer gets his new movie off the ground, Wizard reports. SUPER MAX will find Green Arrow wrongfully imprisoned in the maximum security prison that houses many of the criminals he once accosted. [...] We’ll say one thing, if Ollie’s fellow inmates get wind of the fact that he wears tights to work, he needs to be very, very careful while handling that soap bar—this could be the first boy’s love movie ever from DC Comics.


Wow. I really expected better of The Beat than that.

...On second thought, no, I didn't. Because, after all, no matter who you are, the male-on-male butt-rape = The Comedy GOLD! GOLD, I tell you! People ripped open and bleeding in the showers, one person after another forcing themselves on a guy or a guy being forced to prostitute himself to prevent just that, it is to laugh! And of course, the repeated rape, it leads to l'amour!

(I am in an evil and vicious mood today. Though, clearly, not as evil and vicious as theirs.)
Tags:
Very ... interesting.

(postmodernbarney.com): Comics and Raped Men:
One of the things that absolutely infuriates me whenever the topic of violence against women in comic books (and to a larger extent, in entertainment mediums in general) comes up is that there's always someone seriously trying to counter-argue that "well, bad things happen to men, too, so you're just seeing something that's not there." This is utter nonsense, of course, because the argument has never been "nothing bad should ever happen to female characters." Rather, the argument, as I've interpreted it, has been "when violence, particularly sexual violence, is used against women in comics it is either particularly degrading or only dealt with in terms of the impact the violence has had on the men in the victim's life." And this is one of those situations where you can't really make the counter-argument that this happens to male characters to. Because I've been thinking about male characters who have been sexually assaulted in comic books. And the pattern that emerges is quite different.


About the only thing I would quarrel with, in his list of examples, is that having read that story arc (and only that story arc, because the Authority just doesn't interest me at all), I really don't think that Apollo was raped. I know Millar has said, "I don't want Apollo to be seen in therapy because this would mean that A) I've made a firm decision on whatever the horrible thing was that was done to Apollo and B) would become a different story. I want these kind of personal details to be happening off-camera sometimes because it's rarely done in comics. I want the glimpses we have of these people to be similar to the people we know in real life [...] Does this mean Apollo's situation is being glossed over? Not at all. We should see subtle, emotional scenes over the next few issues, but letting it swamp the storyline just makes it a different kind of comic." But, honestly, that sort of thing happening to that sort of character would pretty much swamp his life, at least for the immediate term. Subtle just kind of ... doesn't work for that. Bad writing, yes; subtle, no.

Other than that, rape in mainstream comics really does seem to be used as a variant of the "women in refrigerators" syndrome. As PMB states, it's either used as a defining characteristic for the character -- and, honestly, that doesn't necessarily strike me as invalid, because at least then it's actually about THAT character -- or it's used purely as a trigger for another character. While exploring how it affects the other people in the character's life is also valid, it really shouldn't be used primarily to be about the other characters.
.

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Powered by Dreamwidth Studios

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags