TWITTER DISCUSSION RECAP ABOUT SEXISM IN COMICS
AMBER LOVE 24-APRIL-2015 If you actually take the interest in my work to read posts like this, I truly appreciate it. It’s an uphill battle. I don’t have female readership or listeners so that means I feel like I do a lot of interaction with men in comics, pop culture, and fandoms. The thing is, it’s either preaching to the choir, or it’s men that will not take their heads out of their asses. What I don’t need is men demanding that I name the culprits who have made me promises after seducing me. No woman needs that. What anyone who has been through this needs is support. Placing the onus on the women is not how it’s done.
[UPDATE]: I was contacted by a family member of one person in the pasted Twitter conversation. That’s what happens when you speak out. I was asked politely to remove the person’s name. For her, I went through and blurred out the Twitter names of people besides myself and Patrick Zircher because I’ve been a Twitter follower with him for a long time; and use only initials in my typed paragraphs. The man whose words they are, should own them. He said these things to me and now someone who cares for him doesn’t want him painted in a bad light. I see her point and her message was more compassionate than his tweets, so for her, I made these changes. I had to change from storify to screen shots so the tweets are now in a gallery instead.
One of the reasons I love Twitter is because a lot of people feel freer to speak their minds; that’s also part of Twitter’s flaws. I follow and interact with @PatrickZircher because he talks to people like human beings, including me, and I disagree with him on most everything, but I think we have similar taste in visual art. It’s an example of disagreeing with dignity. On Twitter, Followers chime in and turn what should be an enlightening engagement into a mob or witchhunt. This morning was enough to make me turn off my phone for at least an hour to walk away from the bullshit.
It’s easy to have witchhunts happen online, as most people know of G4merG4te and even the non-branded attacks against feminists before that. Zircher was saying that he doesn’t believe there’s a unified collective of men keeping out women in the industry; and while I agree with him that there aren’t groups of men having weekly Skype sessions over it, there are still masses of the population that will do anything they can to make women/non-binary people feel unwelcome.
When you read the tweets below and see C.T. demand to know who my bad experiences have been with, please understand that my reasons for not outting anyone are because of me, not because of them. I’m not “protecting them” as C.T. says. I’m protecting myself from reliving things, from the men themselves, from possible defamation suits, from their legions of fans who would never in a million years believe me, and from the other creators who have their backs not mine. I’m not about to “comicgate” myself into online and convention torture.
Sexism, of course, takes various forms from not giving equal opportunities in the workplace of publishing and creating to the reactionary fans that make life miserable for feminists and drive them out of the business. I think those differences are lost on a lot of men because it doesn’t happen to them. Yes, male creators have to work hard to have solid portfolios and quality storytelling – the difference is plenty of women have to work harder. We aren’t invited to the same table of professional networking. We aren’t made to feel welcome when there’s so much rape culture in entertainment. And if you think it’s a huge leap from sexism in the workplace to rape culture, you’d be wrong.
I’m still new to comics. I have not “broken in” as they say. I make some stories when I can and for that I am proud to have some kind of accomplishment in a medium I have been interested in since high school. My experience isn’t yours. It isn’t going to be the exact same thing as other women in comics or as other LGBTQ creators in comics. My experiences have included poor judgment and a ton of ego.
I have been seduced by male creators and then promised that they would look at my stories and give me feedback or introduce me to people or give me exclusive interviews for my show (a favor in exchange for a good time no matter how you slice it). I have been drunk and lead to hotel rooms by two successful and popular male creators who are renowned for their feminism. I finally wised up and asked the one what my name is and when he couldn’t tell me even though it was ON MY SHIRT, I decided that evening was going nowhere and he could talk to me when sober. A third, I truly believed that our years of knowing each other meant he had honest feelings for me, but everything he said for seven years was a lie. I’ve had these same men lie to me about being married and having kids or pregnant wives at home.
I have wanted to believe that men like this actually found me talented, interesting and beautiful.
I’ve been told every stupid pick up line there is including, “Things at home aren’t good. We lead separate lives.” These are the bullshit lines I have *wanted* to believe my entire life! I have wanted to believe that men like this actually found me talented, interesting and beautiful. Only one of the times when I was madly crushing on a male editor and absolutely wanted him to stay with me in my hotel room, I was rejected because he’s not an asshole looking to cheat on his wife. I had a male friend who invited me to share a room for a con, tell me the “hotel made a mistake and there was only one bed, not two;” and then proceed to make moves on me which made me upset and I didn’t sleep the entire time. I accepted an invitation from another male friend to cover a concert he organized and while I was trying to go to sleep in my bed, he climbed on top of me and said, “This is what’s gonna happen: I’m gonna give you a massage and then you’ll give me one.” I freaked out. Got him off me. Didn’t sleep that night either and couldn’t wait to get home. And to this day, he keeps inviting me to concerts and doesn’t understand why I say no.
All of these cases were “nice” men who are known for their “equality” and “feminism” and talents. I don’t name names, because it shouldn’t be hard to envision what the hell would happen to me if I did. (Case 1 Janelle Asselin, Case 2 Tess Fowler, Case 3 Valerie d’Orazio, Case 4 DCWKA Sue). Tell me WHY I should have to take my problems to the public forum. I deal with things privately. I try to come to terms with things that are reasonable, like if this was out of character behavior because of alcohol. I come to accept that sometimes men make mistakes when they are frustrated by the Friend Zone. And I have come to believe that I do not have a place at the table based on my skills, craft, or dedication to telling stories.
That is for me to deal with, not men and women who don’t believe me unless I offer up some kind of play-by-play proof. It’s that mentality which causes strife in communities where nothing is true unless there’s a video. I have nothing to prove to YOU. If I think another women is danger of a particular person, I tell her privately. Trust me, I sent out emails to about a dozen different women after a particular respected creator ripped my heart out and lied to me about his wife and child (things he continuously lies about to the comics press like the losses of a baby and a sister when they never even existed). I am not Nancy Grace. I am Amber Love of Vodka O’Clock. This is how I handle things.
My adult life has taken me through politics, technology, pharmaceutical corporations, back to technology and of course, through some creative fields on the side. I have seen it all. I have been through it. I have lived this for over 40 years and I don’t “name names” because I know it would only bring the mob to my door and not to any of those men’s doors. I was raped by multiple athletes at a college party and didn’t name names then. I was confronted by my professor and boss at the radio station about a tape that allegedly existed and was circulating (pre-internet) and I was so mortified, scared, embarrassed, humiliated, and instantly suicidal that I lied to a professor I trusted and my boyfriend and said it didn’t happen.
I know what women go through now more than ever. The internet is more hellish than my pre-web college days, so there’s no way I’m about to name names about who in the comics industry sees women as prey.