Dear Time Editorial:

It’s natural for there to be more than one side to a controversy about a hot button topic like sexism and misogyny. I find it interesting that you chose to only present one side regarding the comic industry’s upheaval regarding BATGIRL #41 and the Joker variant cover.

Your writer, Cathy Young, has a keen grasp of buzzwords like “monolith” advocacy and “vocal minority” in a subject that is devoutly about feminism. Batgirl grew as a character from being a TV distraction without much purpose into a fully-developed animated and comic book icon. The audience for the currently running BATGIRL series is targeted to female readers. It’s a female character with female demographics and feminist creators like Babs Tarr. That’s a feminist book. Hardly the vocal minority your writer claims to know so much about once you are measuring that specific audience and not pop culture as a whole.

The comics history is has been a Sysphian challenge to get female characters that aren’t mere sex objects nor trophies to be won by the “real” heroes. Time Editors, you might not be aware of the saying “fridging women” which refers to female characters being abused or murdered for the purpose of giving the male heroes something to motivate them into action. Plenty of the “vocal minority” feminists upset by the BATGIRL cover are well aware of this fridging history. I sincerely doubt the current readership of comics with leading female characters make feminists a “vocal minority” when discussing actual products targeted at women.

Perhaps your writer is unaware of the full arguments regarding the Batgirl/Joker cover, but I doubt it; Ms. Young did mention that the criticism on this pertains to the shift in tone of the series. Yet, that’s not enough for her. It’s not enough for her that the creators of the book didn’t want that cover.

Perhaps, none of you are aware that the new female Thor series has better sales than the old male version. Perhaps, none of you are aware that when it comes to superheroes that “minority” term is barely below 50% when sales figures have shown that 46.67% or more of the audiences and comic con attendees are women. Is 46.67% that much of a minority to you? Are you even including the transgender and genderqueer consumer base of such products when claiming to speak out for feminism?

What’s your publication’s readership, Time? Are women the minority? Are they forbidden from having their voices heard if they find one of your covers offensive?

I strongly suggest you find out the difference between censorship and feedback. No one is calling for a Congressional hearing like in the Wertham days of the Comics Code Authority. People aren’t burning the books. And if DC Comics had left it in the catalog, it would be available on shelves in comic stores and in digital apps. That’s not censorship. DC and the artist of the cover, Rafael Albuquerque made the decision to pull the cover. One of the reasons given by them is that women who spoke out about it were being threatened and harassed which is a sad but common effect women face every day when speaking about careless product design. This has been happening for years. It happened when people spoke about a TEEN TITANS cover and a SPIDER-WOMAN cover. It happens in video games every single day.

People who are given a platform to shut feminists up are not concerned for bettering any of these industries. They are concerned with silencing audiences that have every right to speak against consumer products they find offensive. You, Time Editors, gave such a person a platform telling female fans that they don’t matter, telling female creators not to bother to try and make products better because that would be pandering, telling other publishers who own these properties that they don’t have a responsibility to answer for their choices and should maintain the status quo of treating women like bodies to be murdered and stuffed into refrigerators.

Elizabeth Amber Love
Comics Writer and Fan

“The answer is to spend less energy on policing and more on creating. More women, fewer litmus tests,” said Cathy Young in her post. Well, Ms. Young, how are we to do that if we don’t TELL THE PUBLISHERS what we want? 

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3 Comments on Open Letter to @Time regarding Batgirl

  1. Hi! I tweeted to a conversation between you and Cathy Young, in which I said – addressing Cathy = that she cares about antifeminism, not comics. But I didn’t make it clear I was talking to Cathy, and you thought I was talking to you. 🙁

    I didn’t mean that for you at all – I was just criticizing Cathy’s article. I’m sorry for the mix-up. For the record, I agree with your criticisms of Cathy’s article.

    • Thanks for clarifying, Barry. I did email this letter to Time magazine in response to Young’s article. I exchanged a few tweets with her and it’s clear she has no interest in opening her mind. I don’t think tweeting her with dozens of messages will do you any good and in fact, is the same as harassing like when it’s the “meninists” towards women. I don’t think it’s worth your energy trying to engage her in a conversation she doesn’t want to have. And she is probably relishing all the hit traffic and buzz.


      • I hope Time prints your letter!

        Cathy and I, despite our severe political disagreements, are pretty friendly. We’ve known each other online for many years, have exchanged emails, she’s left comments on my blog, and we’ve even had lunch. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t consider my disagreements with her on twitter to be harassment.

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