AMBER LOVE 17-JUL-2014 I think I explained pretty well why I disliked the way Marvel announced the new female “Thor” character in a previous post. A rather select few people have said that they agree with me. I think a lot of people are afraid to say there are problems with it because of threatening comments and name calling. I want to get personal here. Really personal.

she-thor1. You don’t “hate women” if you don’t like a female character.

Plenty of women (cis- and trans-) have had difficult experiences in real life and don’t need to hear disparaging remarks because we’ve chosen to dislike a character or simply dislike the way the announcement and plot are being handled.

Marvel employs a highly talented creator pool. I’m not doubting that they can manage to cull together a story for the sake of sales here. That’ll be seen in the fall when it comes out. And then we’ll see it change back when the appropriately linked movies are ready to make millions of blockbuster dollars.

Thor, the Norse God of Thunder and the name, have particular personal meaning to me. You might have connections from childhood to someone you revered like, I don’t know… maybe Elvis or John Lennon. Thor meant something to me during some formative years.


In a couple weeks, I’ll be at the Boston Comic Con for the first time. It’s also my first time speaking as a panelist on an LGBT comics panel. I’m pretty sure Jennie Wood asked me to be there to represent the “B” part of the shortened acronym for Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Asexual Queer Allies Intersex people. It’s something like that. I can’t even keep up with the alphabet soup needed to simply say “we’re kind of different.” I’m also never going to say that I can truly relate to a trans person and their battles with self and their external world. I did have a period of my life where I simply couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me because I didn’t feel “right.”


I was 12-years-old and in the 7th grade. Back then in the 1980s you could see all of the girls immersed in the zeitgeist of Cyndi Lauper, Madonna, Stevie Nicks or hard rockers like Lita Ford and Joan Jett. I wore white and black lace with fluorescent trim and accessories. I can’t remember exactly what year I cut my giant hair into the Princess Di feathered pixie. I eventually had my giant New Jersey hair teased to the skies again.


My mother insisted that we go to Church and Sunday School every week even though I didn’t particularly like most of it. I only liked certain lessons and I didn’t really feel comfortable in their traditions and formalities. I would have been perfectly happy going in a miniskirt and having pink hair. I tried to push those edges once in a while. A friend had attempted to dye my hair like Terri Nunn, the lead singer of the pop band Berlin. I wish I had pictures but until I was in college, I another thing I hated was being photographed so not many pictures exist of my early years. I was mostly a behind the camera person.

My desire for self expression wasn’t rebellion, per se, but that’s all I could call it on the limited knowledge I had. I wanted to explore a million different things and see what felt good to me. This was not exactly encouraged though my mother never seemed to care what color my hair was only that I didn’t shave it. My mother was experiencing some debilitating years and probably couldn’t show the support or creative carefree stimulation I wanted as a blossoming artistic teenager. I can’t wish that my parents had been different because that’s unfair and insulting. I wish I had been given the resources that kids today seem to have on subjects about personalities, mental illness, gender identity, religion and sexuality. It’s unlikely this is a 1980s problem or even a regional socio-political problem. It’s probably specific to a smaller community level of what we were taught at that time at those schools and churches.

Despite my desires to be Stevie Nicks and Madonna, I felt alien in my skin. I hated everything so much. How could I go from one day wanting to be a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader and Playboy Playmate to the next day wanting to carry a rifle and liberate oppressed countries and the next week want to be a writer? I wanted to join the Army and be a lifelong soldier until my mother said she would disown me and never speak to me again or welcome me into her house again. In high school, I wanted was be a cartoonist or fashion designer, something artistic and freeing where I could make my own rules. I have never been one to stick with things for long. In the 80s though, I wanted to be a soldier. Not just any soldier. I wanted to be a boy and a soldier. This came up again my senior year when I hadn’t applied to any colleges because I was dead set on enlisting.

I wanted to be a boy since I was very young because I liked boys’ things as much as girls’ things. Boys seemed to have everything easier and they got to be stronger and faster too. When I was prepubescent, I absolutely detested my long blonde hair too.

lisafrank coloring book cover

I wasn’t popular but I was able to hang out on the fringes of the smart girl clique. They were girls with more money, better grades, nicer clothes and one even had computers in her house which, back then seemed like you were a super spy with a lair in your basement. We would sit around with desks pushed together or at cafeteria tables and trade stickers from our competitively growing sticker collections. I had raunchy stickers from the mall with Valley Girl catchphrases but I had a ton of glittery unicorns too. If I could live in the world of Lisa Frank, I would have. I had mobiles hanging from my ceiling with puffy satin clouds and rainbows and the posts on my bed were wrapped in Christmas lights. I was pretty fucking girlie for a tomboy that wanted to join the Army.


I felt like a Chimera was trying to claw out of my human skin. I have never had one personality that made sense. This was long after my childhood comic days which was never really my thing; I devoured coloring books but not comics. It was long before my adult comic reading days by decades. I would read up on mythologies in encyclopedias and books not knowing that some of that was used as foundations for comic book characters like Wonder Woman.

We formed a Mythology Club (Things kids did before smartphones.)

One of the days that the other girls and I sat around, I had proposed that we form a club and each take the name of a god or goddess from myth. I was clearly pagan during my Sunday School years. I took Thor as my patron god. Nothing sounded more appealing to me than being a male god of thunder. It was a beautiful dream to have abilities to harness winds, storms, thunder and lightning. I was the type of kid that would go outside in the rain but not run through it, just sit and let it consume me. Yes, I wanted Thor to somehow embody me with what he had to offer. I had no idea Thor was a Marvel Comics character. Remember, I didn’t know about X-MEN and Storm back in the 80s. I perused X-MEN comics laying around my house in the 90s but never knew who Storm was until the movies. Thor was my elemental symbol.


So why, then wouldn’t I love and embrace this new female Thor?

Because she’s a knock-off. She’s not genuine. She’s not a wholly realized feminine power player. She’s Thor with boobs and vagina instead of a brand new shining beacon of female identity. She’s not even based any other female goddess from myth which Marvel could easily have chosen to add to the starting bench. I’m not opposed to her picking up Mjölnir. I think that’s pretty great. But what is also great is when female characters have growth to justify their presence as more than eye candy, like Sif already has and Sif could easily have a compatriot join her who is not a Thor-wannabe. (**OF COURSE ALL THIS CAN CHANGE BY THE TIME IT COMES OUT.)

Wonder Woman was never Superman with female genitals. Black Canary was never Batman with female genitals. Same for Hawkgirl compared to Hawkman. That’s life at one big house. Marvel probably has even more innovative female characters simply because the X-verse is unbelievably massive.


But going back to the 80s and having no idea what the comic characters’ foundations were, I had known Wonder Woman from cartoons and the show as a child in the 70s yet I still didn’t have awareness that Wonder Woman was based on the goddess Diana. I was more inspired by Josie & the Pussycats and Jem & the Holograms by that point; plus I loved the hell out of Scooby Doo.

Finding solace in this entity of legend that was called Thor was something I needed in my life. I’m not saying I needed Thor like Dean Trippe needed Batman (ref: “Something Terrible”) but it was definitely a lifeline to something bigger than myself when my identity crisis went from the slow ascent of 10mph as a kid to a sudden 110mph as a teen. I felt like my identity was not in my control. I had never heard the phrase “gender fluid” until recently in my 40s. If 12-year-old me had been given an understanding about gender and been supported in the need to explore my own, I can’t conceive how different I would be as a person right now. Playing with gender was something only eccentric celebrities did.

This post took hours to draft and revise. During that time, this Neko Case song came on my Pandora channel:

“The most tender place in my heart is for strangers; I know it’s unkind but my own blood is much too dangerous” – Hold On, Hold On

For some reason, those lines struck a particular chord regarding this subject about how you can offer your love to strangers but still believe you need a protective bubble around you. When you can’t trust that the self you know is even real, you want distance. I certainly wanted to get out of my own life and out of my own skin.


9 Comments on My life with Thor

  1. You’re argument by default says that you also don’t want black people to take on the mantle of iconic characters either. You don’t want a black Nick Fury or a black Spider-Man or a black Captain America. You don’t want She Hulk, Captain Marvel, Spider Woman, Batgirl or Batwoman. If you had your way, the most iconic female characters ever created would not exist, for no reason other than “She has a dudes name!!”(I guess women who have names once considered traditionally male are also having their identity subjugated). Your argument is entitled, racist and anti feminist. There are numerous reasons why creators working at the big two rarely create new characters. The majority of those reasons involve screwing over the creators who do make new characters. You could argue that that’s wrong and the industry needs to change and I would agree. But that’s like saying you want world peace. It’s a nice idea but it’s not going to happen. It’s the idea of a child who doesn’t understand the world. Female comic book characters who took a male characters name or variation of that name have had creators spend decades making them their own character. Waiting for diversity via new characters is a nice idea, but those character will rarely, if ever, be iconic. It’s meaningful to young girls reading Thor to have a female Thor. It’s meaningful to African American kids to see a black Spider-Man and a black Nick Fury. Even more meaningful to see a black Nick Fury or a She Hulk in the toy aisle at Walmart or Target. Your reasoning against a female Thor actually is a step backwards for diversity in comics which is already predisposed to be slow to change. We have diversity in comics because of reasons that are the exact opposite of reasoning against a female Thor. If you take a step back and check your entitlement, you might see how this isn’t about a woman’s identity. It’s about a woman being just as worthy to pick up that enchanted hammer as the men who have wielded it before her. That’s called EQUALITY. That’s called FEMINISM. Get it?

    Also, your comments about people not saying this is bad because they’re towing the line is ridiculous. I doubt Gail Simone gives a shit what Marvel/Disney says given that she doesn’t work for them and she echo’s my sentiments. The reason that you and whatever small cadre of fans are alone in this is because you’re wrong. This isn’t a zero sum game here. We can create new diverse characters AND have a female Thor and a black Captain America. The difference is that the new characters have a lower chance of developing a following than a character taking over the comic of a flagship character that has run for almost 60 years.

    • You have a lot of nerve coming to my personal site and slinging the harshest insults you could think of. I’m surprised you refrained from rape threats.

      All my arguments are feminist and clearly explained. I think people like you are narrow minded and refuse to believe women and feminists can have differing opinions. There isn’t one blanket of how we want our equality represented. You want it one way; I want it a different way. You haven’t done any research on me which is painfully obvious. You have a knee jerk reaction to one post of hundreds and I’m betting you never listened to a single podcast. I have a post explaining about why names are important to women like me. Women who bowed to patriarchy taking names of theirs fathers and husbands. So yes, I have issue with a woman getting Thor’s name slapped on her.

      Racist? I don’t think you know what that means either because I never once brought it up. I know African-Americans who were opposed to the casting of a black actor as Johnny Storm. Are you calling them racist? Against their own race? You have a weak argument because all you want is to troll and argue without allowing another individual to have a thought.

      People aren’t against diversity. They dislike changes to existing characters that mean something to them. Personally I had no attachment to Marvel’s Kingpin and I loved the work of Michael Clarke Duncan so that casting made me happy. I know plenty who hated it because Kingpin’s origin from the books mattered to them. You think young girls need a female Thor. I think they need Storm. I’ve never been opposed to any female character wielding Mjölnir, as I stated; I have a problem with erasure of her and making her Thor (which I also said has a moment of “wait and see, maybe they’ll change things before launch.”)

      I had an attachment to Thor and I took the time and energy to explain what that was. It was a painful process, thank you very much. Your insensitivity towards me and what I went through as a child shows a lot more about you than me. Of all places you chose to call me these names when I spent thousands of words pouring my heart out about how I questioned my gender as a scared teenage girl. Nice job! Talk about unseen entitlement – take your cis entitlement and crawl back to the cave you came from. And be sure you make a sign with your husband’s name to hang on the cave door.

      Do your research. The comics I talk about with passion are titles like Princess Ugg, Holmes & Watson, Headspace, Rat Queens, The People Inside and other independent titles where creators have freedom. I even gave G.I. Joe comics a chance and they surprised me with the well developed female characters they had. Smaller press doesn’t seem to have any problem supporting diversity in unique characters. But I’m the one with problems? I did what a respectable and responsible fan should do — big houses didn’t give me what I wanted so I looked to titles that did. I’m not some DC/Marvel fangirl who thinks there’s nothing outside their narrow universes. Within those giant publishers, any fan is allowed to pick and choose which things they like too.

      I’m doing the responsible thing, first, by supporting properties I do like and, second, taking the wheel. I don’t like what I see, so I’m not supporting those things and I’m writing my own stories where I can make whatever kind of characters I want whether they are female, Hispanic, transgender or another straight white guy. Because instead of sitting and complaining, I DO things. I make the changes I want seen. What do you do?

      Among the things I do, here are some posts I recommend to you:
      My coverage of the Gender Identity in Steampunk panel at Steampunk World’s Fair –
      My coverage of the Gender Identity panel at the NY Special Edition Comic Con –
      My coverage of Reimagining the Female Hero from NY Special Edition Comic Con –
      My interview with Avonelle Wing from Dexcon talking about LGBT inclusion of attendees and harassment policies for the gaming industry –
      My extremely personal bio-post about why I am furious about the naming conventions women in America tolerate –
      Recaps of the charity fundraiser we run at the comic shop to support the domestic violence shelter in our county –

      So, I ask again, other than sling insults and troll, what do YOU do?

    • I can follow your points. But you’re being willfully blind. So many people are missing the point that “Thor” is not a mantel. Someone else being called that name is massively different then someone else being called “Captain America”. If anything “God of Thunder” is a mantel. If she was (Her Name Here): God of Thunder. Instead of Thor, God of Thunder this argument wouldn’t be happening. I’m seeing any annoying amount of “SOCIAL JUSTICE” TM responses saying that anyone who doesn’t like the new Thor is Racist. Sexist, and Homophobic.

      That’s just the nature of disagreement online. As far as your comment on it’s the only way to make new characters that end up accepted. Let’s just go forward and recognize all the Mutants that came out in the 80’s and 90’s. Yeah she’s a goof character but Squrill Girl is a popular character who only recently got a push. Maria Hill is another, Power Girl’s been around for a long time. But she’s only gotten popular in the last 15 years or so.

      Meanwhile most of the (Male Character Name Here)-Girls don’t do well. Remember we tried this years ago with Thor Girl. American Dream, She-Thing, most of the Spider-Girls/Spider-Women didn’t stay around very long. Marvel has a long history of creating female characters out of their males…..then forgetting about them. She-Hulk and the current Spider-Woman are pretty much the only two in Marvel that stayed relevant. I’d also say the Ms. Marvel characters who moved out of their initial ID.

      It’s *Marvel’s* fault they don’t think they can create a new female character that doesn’t rely on someone else’s mythos. They’ve been making new male characters for quite some time.

      As far as “not wanting a Black Cap” that’s purposefully taking an argument to it’s extreme end. I can see how she got there. But it’s invalid. Since it’s a well known assosicte of Cap taking on the mantel and not LET’S HAVE A RANDOM WOMAN PICK UP THE SHIELD! Those are two very different concepts.

    • I don’t see the connections in your line of thought or the evidence for you conclusions.

      Is a woman worthy of picking up the hammer? Yes, as long as she is worthy. Not every male can pick up the hammer either. One could easily make the argument that Thor being female means women can’t stand on their own but need a man to be recognized.

      I think the easier example is Sam Wilson taking over as Captain America. Steven Rogers is stepping down, and — I’m guessing here — the intent is that America needs a new icon. I would argue that the new icon is African-American shows inclusiveness and respect. If Steve Rogers was “turned” into an African-American, I would argue that it would appear the only way African-Americans can represent America is if the White Man changed color.

      I love debating comic book stuff, but I would also say that it should be done with civility. Diversity is good, and diversity should allow for a variety of opinions too.

  2. I actually thought your argument was reasonable and very personal, Amber. I usually take a “wait & see” attitude with these announcements/decisions from the big two publishers. Ultimately (no pun intended), we all know that these characters are elastic and will return to their original form/shape. I often wonder if it’s the industry or the fans that are inherently conservative in that sense…

  3. Just in case, I too thought your argument was reasonable … I didn’t, and still don’t, understand Nancy’s objections.

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