Zamaron — A Green Lantern Femme-Site

{July 23, 2006}   [Venting] Blogging the Survey: The Reason

I’d been worried about Green Lantern since Rebirth. In Rebirth and Recharge we saw the return of every major male character in the franchise. And we saw the return of Brik, the leaving of Carol, and the creation of Soranik. The numbers were off. But I kept reading. I like the male characters, and Geoff Johns dropped teases that more old female characters would return, and while Patrick Gleason was skimpy on how many background women he drew, Ivan Reis was very generous in throwing in obviously female Lanterns in the background. I kept reading, and there was a payoff in Green Lantern #12. I’d expected only the return of Boodika and Laira. I got a grand surprise and the promise of more. It was fun and exciting and I joined all the fans at Comic-Bloc at heaping praise on Geoff. And I saw, among other things in the thread, that I hadn’t been the only female fan annoyed by the pattern at this point.

Meanwhile, everytime I was at, I glanced around for a thread on Green Lantern #12. I was tempted to create one, but I figured I’d see if there were any other Fanterns besides me and Soyoerika (who hadn’t seen the issue yet when I tried to gush over chat) hanging around. A while passed, and there wasn’t one.

In meantime, I heard another female Fantern express that it was getting hard to be a GL fan and a woman because all the female lanterns keep dying in such horrible ways.

So, I started to post a thread about the issue on the boards. And it slowly turned into a list of questions, designed to feel out the community for how Fantern-Friendly it was, and see if anyone else had seen the last issue as a step in the right direction. Halfway through, I decided to copy it and post it at Comic-Bloc Green Lantern Forum. It was up for maybe half a night when I realized I needed a “control” group and posted it at You’ll All Be Sorry (Gail Simone’s board).

Man, the answers pissed me off.

I may have had delusions of unbiased reporting going into this, but they disappeared in a puff of irritation at the answers.

Oh, I fully accept that it could have been done better. Better questions, better wording, keeping it all yes and no answers. The titles of the the threads themselves were off. At G-W, I called it “The Green Lantern Thread” pretty much ensuring that only people interested in GL would look at it. On Comic-Bloc, “Women in Green Lantern” so only people with an interest in the female characters and arguing how they are treated would answer. And on YABS I entitled it “The Survey” and got a mix of interest.

But that doesn’t change the fact that I found myself yelling at my monitor — “What?! What the hell are you talking about?! Stop splitting hairs and answer the damned question. You’re calling the Silver Age concept sexist because of what it was based off of? What do you mean the idea that the franchise is ridiculous? It’s certainly not ridiculous, a ton of people think that way. You do realize everyone on your list of hurt male characters is alive, right? Compare that to the list of women. Hey, how about a list of women who aren’t dead? Weren’t dead before GL#12?” — at just the Fan forum. And then at the other forums — “You don’t understand the concept. You’d call the whole franchise misogynistic for two writers? Who are you to judge? You jerk! You don’t even understand the concept. You’re claling Jade the only autonomous person who was ever a love interest? Jade? Are you out of your mind? If anything, Donna. Jade’s plotline began with Alan and ended with Kyle. She was only ever there for Alan, Todd, or Kyle, never as her own person. Donna’s story arc as a whole spans decades and is completely undependant on Kyle. Kyle spent more time revolving around her than she did him. A mathematician or an engineer. Are you out of your freaking mind? Where’s the freakling creativity there? You know, there were other female earth characters besides the Laterns. Some of them were pretty damned progressive…” If I’d started, I doubt I could have stopped in any of the places.

Oh, it was an eye-opener. It seems my sub-fandom is going to be looked down on from without no matter what happened. But what killed me, what killed me, was the Comic-Bloc response. When I tallied it up, I simply couldn’t believe it.

Here’s a slight preview of the Stats post I’m in the middle of making up:

3) If yes, has Green Lantern, as a franchise, been misogynistic?
Comic-Bloc Boards:: 4 no, 3 yes, 2 abstain — 1 sexist but not misogynistic (1 other respondent split the same hair and landed on the side of misogynistic)

This was on the fan site. The Green Lantern Fan forum.

I worded that question broadly, and extremely, on purpose. I wanted to see how bad it was. How badly it was seen from the outside, if it would ever recover from the Fridge Stigma. Every. Single. Person. on the GL forums should have said No. Because the concept is not sexist. The concept is not racist. The franchise itself is okay. There’s actually quite a few wonderful female characters that could be resurrected or retconned back with the right writer. There is nothing gender-specific in the Lantern requirements. In the earliest Silver Age stories, Hal Jordan’s love interest was his boss, established as able to fly a plane and use superpowers (even if she was brainwashed by alien Amazons) as well as he could. These are not anti-woman things. And the very first female Lantern introduced, was introduced in a story where Hal had to convince her to give up marriage for her career — because while most people could be wives and mothers, not everyone could be a Lantern. The root of the thing is pure.

That’s not to say the individual writers need a Women’s Studies course, because if the women keep getting injured and forgotten while the men get injured and recover the next day, it certainly sends the idea that being a Lantern is not a job for women. If we see a crowd spread, and half are non-humanoid aliens of indeterminate gender, and half are humanoids. And of the humanoids we see maybe two women for every six men, we have a serious inequality. Honestly, the backgrounds should be half and half because Lanterns are chosen, sought out by the Guardians. You don’t volunteer. You get Voluntold. It should be an even split. And it’s especially bad when what you have are four earthmen, with one earthwoman, and the woman is the one who was born with her powers, while nearly all of the men were chosen for their strengths.

Because of those reason, I expected a yes on the outside boards. But the fans, the people who regularly read the series, are reading now, and knew the background details, I strongly expected them to say no and cite the root.

I’m angry, yes, because I didn’t get the answer I wanted.

But it’s unnerving, because I hadn’t realized just how pertinent this issue was. I’d had no idea how bad it was. The vote is damned near split. If I’d worded it “sexist” instead then the vote would be on the “Yes” side. Hell, if I’d said misogynistic and/or sexist, I’d have gotten answers on the “Yes” side. It’s unnerving.

It’s tough to be a female Green Lantern fan. You see, I’m not denying there’s sexism in Green Lantern, or even misogynistic tendancies. But I don’t think it’s the worst series out there. I think, going from the root, it has the potential to be the best series out there for women. It just needs a good writer to bring it to that point. And there are some major misconceptions going on, things that one writer got wrong that the ones who followed him picked up on and now everyone thinks it started out that way. There’s also some great characters who have been swept to the wayside. Not to mention the insane potential in the concept itself.

So, the next time the subject came up in chat, I took advantage of the opportunity to rope two friends into a group blog. If anyone else feels the same way about these answers I do (That our Fandom’s got problems, but sometimes gets an unfair bad rap) you’re welcome to join us. There’s room for more contributors. Maybe something more than just blogging as time goes on (Soyoerika suggested a fanfiction archive). Its for anything Green Lantern, but especially female Green Lanterns. I felt this overwhelming need to do something positive, because the answers bugged the shit out of me. Right now, I’m compiling the answers to the survey. I should have the stats up on this site sometime soon, and then a wrap-up post expressing my interpretation of the results. I just had to get some things off my chest before I did.


Karen says:

3) If yes, has Green Lantern, as a franchise, been misogynistic

I didn’t read this question as “is the concept inherently misogynistic.” I read it as “Do the GL focused books have a long pattern of misgynistic tendancies.”

If you did mean the first one, I change my answer to “No, of course not.”

Ragnell says:

Karen — No need to change it. The fact that I worded it with that in mind, and people read it differently still says a lot about how the fandom’s perceived.

SallyP says:

Part of the problem is, I think, that people read about half of the
question, and leap to a conclusion, without going on to actually read the rest of it. It is always a problem of comprehension.
Oh well.
Nevertheless, I love Green Lantern as a concept and I love the characters.
I do wish that they’d bring Katma back, because I WANT John Stewart to
be married, I think that it is interesting. There are not a lot of
married couples in comics, and it makes for an unnusual dynamic. (I miss

Ragnell says:

I think they killed Kat because they couldn’t think of stories for John with him married.

And now, they still can’t think of stories for John. I figure if they have no plans to move him out of a support role they really shouldn’t have a problem with him being married. But somehow I suspect that that’s what’s keeping her dead, the marriage. The fact that he’s be married if she were back.

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