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Special Girl Wonder Wonder-Con report

So, at the DC Panel on Day One, I got up and asked, "So, when will we be seeing a memorial for Steph in the BatCave?"

IIRC, and based on my notes the conversation went:

Dan DiDio: Jann do you want to handle this?

Jann Jones: No, you do it better.

Dan DiDio said that there were no plans to put a memorial for Steph in the BatCave because Steph became Robin "by her own resort", was never really accepted, died out of costume, and was Robin only for a short time.


Whenever I think of the whole Steph thing, I think of Joanna Russ' How To Supress Woman's Writing. "It's genre work ..." "It's a good book, but ..."

It's not that I'm deeply in love with the character of Stephanie Brown. I didn't read that many comics featuring her.

But to me, even though she's a fictional character, she's a perfect symbol of all the ways that the contributions of women are systematically marginalized, ignored and poo-pooh'd away by excuses.

"She was Robin only by her own resort."

I broke into Comics Journalism only by my own resort. Sequential Tart got started because a group of women were tired and pissed off by always being ignored and talked down to when we raised our concerns or talked about issues we wanted to see adressed.

If I have learned one thing all my life, if you are a girl/woman trying to do something in a "boys" sandbox, it will always only be by your own resort.

Anyhow, I'm probably going to ask this question again, because I'm that kind of stubborn, uppity woman, and frankly, I couldn't understand a word that DiDio said -- he was trying to speak through a mouth full of double standards, y'know.


( 34 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 3rd, 2007 07:20 pm (UTC)
"...because Steph became Robin "by her own resort", was never really accepted, died out of costume, and was Robin only for a short time."

Oh, and she was.. uh... fat! Yeah, that's it! She was totally fat and ugly. Everybody said so.

What's next? Her political party? Her shoe size? I'm with you as far as being attached to this character. It's the dismissive, marginalizing attitude behind DC's actions that concern me.

Oh, and you are my hero for asking. :)
Mar. 3rd, 2007 08:50 pm (UTC)
It feels like I should have something to say, but mostly all I can come up with is *sigh*.

And, you know. I think I'm finally going to write that letter.
Mar. 3rd, 2007 08:55 pm (UTC)
So, does that mean we shouldn't be remembering Courtney Whitmore as the second Star-Spangled Kid -- because if I under stand "by her own resort" properly -- that's how she first became a hero.
Mar. 3rd, 2007 09:18 pm (UTC)
Thank you for standing up and asking that question. And thank you for posting this.

And you're completely right.
Mar. 3rd, 2007 09:19 pm (UTC)
That was you? You are awesome, and DiDio is unprintable.
Mar. 3rd, 2007 11:40 pm (UTC)
Yes, that was me.

(Was it podcast, or are you at Wonder Con, too?)

Mar. 3rd, 2007 11:43 pm (UTC)
No, I wish! It was mentioned on News@rama, and I wondered who asked the question.
Mar. 3rd, 2007 09:40 pm (UTC)
Thank you for asking that question, and nuts to the patriarchy.
Mar. 3rd, 2007 10:46 pm (UTC)
An attack of "Clock Rollback Syndrome"?
Mar. 3rd, 2007 11:22 pm (UTC)
I am here via sharpest_rose, who linked to your entry in her LJ.

I'm completely confused as to what this guy means by getting the job "by her own resort". I thought that expression meant she went out there and got the job for herself... I get that Dick and Jason were asked to be Robin by Batman, but isn't "by his own resort" exactly how Tim got the job? Which is to say, he walked in and said "Batman needs a Robin"? So, if that is what it means, does that mean if Tim died, he would not get a remembrance case put up?

SO VERY CONFUSED BY DIDIO and his tricksy, nonsensical phraseology.
Mar. 4th, 2007 04:28 am (UTC)
It was a stupid answer that was given--after all, Tim became Robin "by his own resort"--but I think there is a very good reason that there will be no Steph-morial in the 'Cave.

She disobeyed orders--not in itself a fatal offense (Jason did it as well), but in doing so, her actions caused many deaths, including, eventually, her own.

I don't really know that there is really a gender-ific double standard here--after all, there is no Jean-Paul Valley memorial in the 'Cave, either--and he was vested with a great deal more authority and responsibility by the Bat than poor Stephanie.

Perhaps a more important question is, "Will there be ANY memorial in the Batcave?" After all, it makes little sense to have a memorial to someone who, y'know, didn't die.
Mar. 4th, 2007 06:07 pm (UTC)
It makes a certain amount of sense: a mercenary (er...contractor) who gets killed fighting in Iraq probably isn't getting any medals from the army for it, even if he was in the real military at some point.

So, it's not completely off base.
Mar. 4th, 2007 06:46 pm (UTC)
Both of you are forgetting, amongst other things, that on her death bed, Batman assured Steph that she was "part of the legend", and that Batman has a certain amount of culpablility in her death.
Mar. 5th, 2007 03:16 am (UTC)
I actually didn't know that at all, and it does change things.

Of course, that's all in story waffle. It's almost certainly the case that the reason she doesn't have a memorial is that girl Robin is icky to fanboys.
Mar. 5th, 2007 04:38 am (UTC)
I don't know that this is necessarily significant; to me, it seemed more an act of kindness; an assurance to a dying girl desperately in need of validation.

And Batman has a degree of culpability in a great many deaths, even if he himself does not kill.
Still, I think I would have killed Leslie Thompkins for allowing Steph to die just to "teach him a lesson", for all his repeated oaths.

I dunno; if I were looking for patriarchal bullshit in the Bat-books (and sadly, it ain't hard to find in mainstream comic books), I would be looking more at the massively out-of-character breaking of the Hippocratic Oath by Dr. Thompkins--which, by the by, effectively killed off one of the only two sane and un-stereotyped women in the entire Batverse.

Think about it--you have Oracle (who herself could have been stereotypically characterized, back in her Batgirl days, as the "flighty and impetuous female"), and you had Dr. Leslie.

Think about it:
Huntress: Vengeful virago/fury. (plus, sexually grasping and unsatisfied)
Catwoman: Madonna/Whore "Bad Girl".
Montoya: Self-hating dyke.
Silver St. Cloud: Unable to handle the complexities of Bruce's life. (There's a term/cliche for this, I know, but I'm blocking)
Ariana Dzerchenko: See above entry. (and didn't she go gay after she didn't get the Timlove she so desperately wanted?)
Stephanie/Spoiler: Plucky girl unable to cope with the demands of a man's man's man's world.
Lady Shiva and Cheshire and Talia al Ghul: Woman as seductive destroyer; castrating La Belle Dame(s) sans Merci. (Though Talia is a bit more complicated, admittedly)
Lady Tarantula: See above entry, though engaged in a futile struggle to put aside her inherent "Bad"ness to be with a Good guy.
Vicki Vale: Like Stephanie, trying too hard to make it in a man's world and incapable to grasp her inherent inferiority--you know, being that she's a girl.

And so on, and so on.
(By the way, you can add the title "Designated Perpetual Victim") to all of the above except the villainesses.)

All of this strikes me as FAR more worrisome patriarchal condescension bits than the lack of a glass case for a Robin outfit with a training bra underneath ...
Mar. 5th, 2007 04:39 am (UTC)
... none of which, I should note, takes away from DiDio's Moment of Stupid.
Mar. 5th, 2007 09:45 am (UTC)
All of this strikes me as FAR more worrisome patriarchal condescension bits than the lack of a glass case for a Robin outfit with a training bra underneath ...

Thank you very much for belitting asking for one tiny step in the right direction, or saying it's not enough, or saying that, no really, we should have other goals.

A classic tactic of trying to marginalize any kind of feminist action, the "Oh no honey, you've got it wrong" as you try to move the goal posts ...

BTW: Batman: Hate Crime?.

Mar. 5th, 2007 01:28 pm (UTC)
Oh, no--that was never my intention at all. I'm very sorry if it came off that way.

I tend to write with an bent toward the sardonic, and in this case, it came off very wrong. That is entirely my fault.

The goalposts are there, all right, and you were fully in the right to shoot at them. My thought was only that there are a LOT of goalposts on this particular field.

And really, my view is perhaps colored by not having read much of the Batbooks at the time of the Spoiler-Robin. Moreover, my view is that of someone in an integrated society, with friends of all races, wondering upon hearing the story of Rosa Parks, "Well, why didn't anyone ever just sit in the front of the bus before?"
I readily admit to looking at this all with eyes very different than yours; eyes which do not fully see what is needed to be done.

We agree on this whole larger point, Kady; I in no way want to diminish the significance of your asking of the question--it's the sort of thing which is needed.
(And, reading the column you wrote, it looks as if we're really saying the same thing, just with a slightly different focus.)

PLEASE trust me when I say that belittling any sort of feminist action, when that is so very much needed in this industry and in its surrounding community, is not not never uh-uh NO WAY something I would do.
Mar. 5th, 2007 05:49 pm (UTC)
Here from When Fangirls Attack
Though I can't speak for anyone else, I don't think anyone who supports Project Girl-Wonder thinks that the issue of Stephanie Brown is THE Misogyny in Comics hotspot, even just in the Batverse. But it is:

a) a highly representable one - after sixty years, we finally get a canonical female Robin ... who screws up and gets tortured to death with a highly symbolic power drill. And then gets almost entirely ignored after her death. Oh, and then they release an action figure of her murderer ... with the power drill as an accessory. (She doesn't have one, natch.) I mean, there's institutionalized sexism operating on multiple different levels, there.

b) a problem which can be largely alleviated by an incredibly simple editorial action which has absolutely no setbacks and would promote a lot of goodwill towards DC. A memorial case for Steph would not interfere in any way with the themes or storylines they seem to want to tell in the Batbooks - so if it'll make fans happy and promote goodwill between DC and its customers, why not give her one? Furthermore, why is Mr. Didio so adamantly against giving her one to the point that he'll actively contradict established continuity and alienate fans by being patronizing? Given how nonsensical it is, his answer to Kadymae at the panel seems a tad on the knee-jerk side. To say the least.
Mar. 5th, 2007 09:59 pm (UTC)
Re: Here from When Fangirls Attack
"Oh, and then they release an action figure of her murderer ... with the power drill as an accessory. "

Tell me you're joking.
Mar. 5th, 2007 10:24 pm (UTC)
Re: Here from When Fangirls Attack
Mar. 6th, 2007 05:54 am (UTC)
Oh, no--that was never my intention at all. I'm very sorry if it came off that way.

Well, I know you well enough to know that that was not your intent. :) But I thought I would point it out to you. Rabican makes most of the points I'd like to make.

There's a lot of "everyday" misogyny in the Batbooks in the past 2 years. What happened with Stephanie Brown was the straw that broke the camel's back.
Mar. 12th, 2007 09:07 pm (UTC)
Batman has a degree of culpability in a great many deaths

Yup. Child endangerment aside, the rising death tolls of almost everyone he packs away to Arkham for the umpteenth time.

I maintain Batman's good for a few occasional stories, but trying to build a continuity around the character only ensures said character can't be likeable. At least to those readers who'd suggest a few murderers that still draw breath as a point of principle don't outweigh the dead civilians and partners.

As it stands, any associated character without a critical mass of fan interest to call their own will be toast sooner or later. Sadly this seems to be a winning sales formula.
Mar. 4th, 2007 05:03 am (UTC)
Here via sharpest_rose. And you're a rockstar.
Mar. 4th, 2007 08:44 am (UTC)
The hostility of the editorial department of DC towards women, alas, no longer surprises me.
Mar. 4th, 2007 08:46 am (UTC)
Tim became Robin by his own resort. He stole the costume and put it on. >.>;;

Mar. 4th, 2007 02:12 pm (UTC)
Also here via Mary's journal: I heard about the Didio-quote *ugh* in the report. It's nice to hear that someone got up and asked him that, even if you were utterly turned down -.-

There are so many things wrong with the statement, that I went into in another journal reply. Basically *and what others are thinking as well*, why is it okay for Dick, Jason, and Tim to have become Robin out of their own resort, but not Stephanie?

And then there's the "listening to the fans" thing with the 'examples' given out (Manhunter's uncancellations, "The Search For Ray Palmer", etc.). But if you happen to be a fan of Stephanie Brown, you're either shafted and ignored or given the ultimate corporate blowoff through letter format.

And I feel, even if one were to counter that comment by asking if SPOILER were to get a memorial, the answer would still be utterly the same, unfortunately. I try to stay positive, but in some cases, it's frustrating and just baffling, as in a case like this.

It's not just the editorial department that's a hostile group, but I've personally experienced comic fans recently that have a similar mindset, which is disappointing (which shall be saved for a journal entry in itself).
Mar. 4th, 2007 04:18 pm (UTC)
What the hell does "her own resort" even mean? I haven't read Batman since I was a teenager but hasn't there been canon about at least one of the male Robins -- the original maybe? -- shoving his way onto the superhero scene against Batman's will?

Mar. 4th, 2007 08:14 pm (UTC)
"She was Robin only by her own resort."

I don't know about you, but isn't that exactly how Tim Drake got to become Robin? So if Tim dies, not wearing a Robin costume, he won't get a memorial either?
Mar. 4th, 2007 11:56 pm (UTC)
Bruce is only Batman through his own resort. Is Didio seriously telling us that HE won't get a memorial when his time comes?
Mar. 5th, 2007 03:16 am (UTC)
Ah. When a man does it, he's praised for being a "self-made man" and gets a comic book series (sometimes more than one) devoted to glorifying his exploits.

But when a woman does it, it's different. Women can't be heroes. They can only be heroines. Women can't determine their own existence, they must always wait patiently for a man to grant them power and agency - which can always be taken away at the man's discretion, for women are a foolish, weak bunch who must always respect the superior male intellect. It all makes sense. What's wrong with you women, get back in the kitchen and start measuring yourself for that refrigerator!

Mar. 5th, 2007 03:20 am (UTC)
You forgot about women being a 'cowardly and superstitious lot'!

Other than that, yeah, that does sound like the boys' clubs at Marvel and DC.
Mar. 5th, 2007 09:50 am (UTC)
But when a woman does it, it's different. Women can't be heroes. They can only be heroines.

Which is tangentally related to why I call myself the Editrix in Chief at Sequential Tart. In my book, the feminine ending to the word is NOT a diminuative, it's not a lessening, not a belitting.

It's a celebration of the fact that I am a woman.
Mar. 6th, 2007 05:22 am (UTC)
GOD is Dido coming off as a idiot there. *sigh* He makes me ashamed of my gender.
( 34 comments — Leave a comment )



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