Women In Refirgerators: 13 Years Later (1)

Batgirl Special (1988) DC Comics - Writer: Barbara Randall (Kesel), Penciller: Barry Kitson, Inker: Bruce D. Patterson, Colorist: Carl Gafford, Letterer: John Costanza, Editor: Denny O’Neil, Cover Artist: Mike Mignola

Our first roundup post is short on links, but not on ideas.

First off, didyoueverstoptothink of Tumblr and WordPress reflects on the difficulty of responding to this week’s theme, Women In Refrigerators 13 Years Later:

Women In Refrigerators, the site, helped me realise something. It’s something I’ve taken with me ever since. I know that I, the silent, stunned girl reader, matter. I know my thoughts and my responses matter.

Next, two very different and interesting contributions that we enjoyed reading. Saranga looks at Lois Lane’s characterization and look over the years, and Claire argues that we’re past Women In Refrigerators.

Lois Lane Through the Years, by Saranga.

Superman has one costume.  Details change, like the size of the S shield, the height of the pants, the specific shade of the suit, but it is always recognisable as the super suit.  Even on Smallville, when that Clark didn’t suit up until the very final episode ever, he always wore a combination of red and blue that signified him as different from the other characters.

Lois doesn’t have that.  In the comics she is recognisable by her dark hair, you contrast her with the other characters, but you mostly recognise her from her dark hair.  In the movies, or the TV shows, it’s different.  these things build a Lois that is recognisable through attitude, language and relationships with other characters.  But as to how she looks? That is utterly dependent on the era in which she is being portrayed.

In which I am a negative nellie for some reason, but am actually passionate and excited!, by Claire.

My opinion of Women In Refrigerators is that it was absolutely necessary. Simone and team were brave and bold to publicise what they noticed and it’s a horrible, horrible (lazy)trope that needed to be identified and spoken about. It needed to become a meme or a buzzword and comic book feminism owes a lot to the.. event? as a whole.

But despite basic differences to the subjects we’re talking about, I’m with Hope. I don’t think it is, as a marching banner, overly useful right now. To me, anyway.

At this point, I think it’s too easy* to forgive a well written example for being good** and too easy to shrug off a badly written one for being just pulp trash, it probably won’t even stick as canon. I think it’s too easy to use (or just to hear) the phrase in the way that “Mary Sue” became corrupted and near-meaningless. I think we’ve just about used it up.

We’ll have more roundups for you throughout the week. Contributors inform us (after much prodding) that their posts are on the way. Also, we’ve seen some drafts and they’re amaze.

Megan Purdy

Megan Purdy

Publisher of all this. Megan was born in Toronto. She's still there. Philosopher, space vampire, heart of a killer.

11 thoughts on “Women In Refirgerators: 13 Years Later (1)

  1. Hello. My name is Chris Thorne and I work for Write Brothers software. We have been an extioihbr at the con for 10 years now. My boss, Chris Huntley is a story development expert and had a very successful panel last year called Heroes, Villians and Dramatica Archetypes , and this year he will be doing another session dealing with story structure and development. I wanted to know if you would be interested in interviewing him for the blog? We are also sponsors of the Comic-Con International : International Film Festival. (CCI:IFF). Let me know if we can be of service to you.Chris ThorneWrite Brothers Software

  2. Lois Lane is the best civilian character in the genre and she is, imo, one of the most abused characters in the genre by male writers which makes me very angry. She was abused in the Silver Age by sexism. She rose above that sexism in the modern era and now she’s being abused again by the current team on Superman who seem to be pushing her to the background despite the fact that she’s the 1st woman of Action comics and one of the most famous women in the genre with millions of fans.

    What I love about Lois and I what I think is most important to remember about Lois is that she’s a human being which means she’s flawed in all the ways that we are flawed as humans. She was not gifted with supreme physical abilities. She isn’t even the most beautiful woman in the world. But she TRIES. She tries to make the world a better place through her job. She was doing it even in the 1930’s when it was unheard of for women to have such a place of honor in a male dominated profession. She’s been that woman out there who doesn’t have superpowers but is pushing forward ANYWAY to do what needs to be done to shed the truth on injustice. I think that makes her absolutely fascinating as a character.

    I also think Lois is one of the women that shows us that it’s OK to never settle for anything less than the best in life–both in your career and in love. And you don’t have to give up your personal life to have a career—that’s another sexist idea that people try to enforce on women and it’s not true. Career women don’t have to be cold and withhold love. They can choose to be married and to have love if they so desire.

    Superman loves her not because she’s perfect or because she’s the “most beautiful” woman in the world. She’s not. He loves her because she’s tough as nails, shares his view for justice, is intensely compassionate, never gives up and represents what human beings are capable of even admist our flaws to do what is right in the face of danger and to try, try to help people in need. I love her and I love them. Always have. Always will.

  3. That first linked post is lovely.

    The one about Lois has given me some food for thought, too! I only have real connection to one version of the Superman set-up, so I never noticed most of it.

    Hurray lift-off!

      1. I think it’s because she’s the most famous woman in the genre next to Wonder Woman and DC Comics treats her like absolute shit. She has millions of fans and yet they sideline her and marginalize her and treat her horribly.

        Lois and Clark is the most famous love story in the genre. 20 million people used to watch “lois and Clark” back in the 90’s. Millions watched Smallville to the end because they made Lois/Clark the center of the show. Their relationship basically saved the last 3 seasons of the show. Hundreds of thousands of people buy the DVD’s. Yet, DC breaks up their marriage, shoves Lois aside and treats her like shit.

        I think Lois is a key example of just how poorly women are treated in the genre and I think part of the reason it happens, in part, because there are so few women with voices at these companies.

        1. Growing up, Lois was my hero. She had a *job* and she was good at it, occasional rescues aside. Of course, I read mostly late 70s Lois in the beginning and that was a good time for it.

          Lois Lane is a large part of what led me to go to journalism school and become a reporter.

          1. Right? I feel like people really underestimate how important it is to have a heroine in the DCU that doesn’t have superpoweres, doesn’t fight in a catsuit or a bathing suit and isn’t some supermodel but is just this amazing regular human woman who works to make the world better through her JOB. Because like…isn’t that what we are all trying to do? Aren’t so many of us just flawed human beings who are just trying to fight back and do what’s right in our jobs?

            It never bothered me that Lois would be occasionally rescued because as the years went by…she saved Superman just as much as he saved her. She was always the one sticking up for him and making sure the city knew the truth. She was the voice of reason and the heart that drove him. I think it’s fine for couples to “save” each other and I don’t think it weakens either of them because let’s face it….isn ‘t that a part of life? Aren’t we all “saving” each other in little ways every single day?

          2. This. I adore Lois and I’m very disappointed that DC seemed to use their reboot to break up Lois & Clark and then, worse to my eyes, put Lois behind a *desk* as an executive.

            Desk. Lois. Does not compute.

        2. I loved Lois & Clark as a tot and I love it now. S3 is my foolproof comfort watching.

          I like Dean Cain’s Clark a lot, but I love Lois. I love her. She’s ridiculous and hopeful and she overthinks but underestimates danger, and I feel like I KNOW HER in my SOUL. She gets to be funny.

          1. I couldn’t agree with you more. I love every version of Lois Lane. I liked Erica Durance’s Lois Lane a lot because I thought she really nailed Lois’s tough as nails with a heart of gold personality in a very flawed show on Smallville. The show itself was flawed but SHE was amazing.

            But I totally agree that Teri Hatcher was an amazing Lois too. I agree! She was so funny! She throws herself into danger not because she’s stupid but because she just cares too damn much to stand by and NOT get involved. Other people will watch a fire engulf a building and call 911. Lois will run into the building to try and get people out and she’ll do it before she realizes that it could cost her her life.

            I also agree that “Lois and Clark” is like chicken soup for the soul. God, I have to rewatch that show.

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