Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Male Tear Flambé

I like webcomics. I'm less interested, in general, in the ancillary odds and ends which grow around them: guest strips, crossovers, fan art, forums and so forth. This usually includes the cartoonists' own commentary. Most authors really do put their best work into the quips and quibbles of their imaginary two-dimensional friends, leaving their nonfiction ramblings somewhat more trite, conventional and dull by comparison.

Sometimes they can be interesting though. The author of Out There, a slice of life comic I check infrequently enough that I didn't even know it'd stopped updating nine months ago, also did a series of very concise (by my rather verbose standards) one-shot complaints about various overused and tiresome words, phrases, trends and tropes within modern entertainment. You know, what TVTropes should be doing if it still retained any point to it.

Anyway, the Cliché Flambé in question dealt with the glorified bitch stereotype, the female character constantly abusive of those around her, especially males (more often than not physically so) yet at the same time presented as a positive figure and constant object of romantic attention, affection and sacrifice by male characters around her. In fact the more she beats on them the more they trip over each other to grovel for her attention because "strong" women are sexy, you see. Men want her and (usually younger female padawans) want to be her. One of the most popular and long-running paragons of such virtue within webcomics would be Jeph Jacques' Faye in Questionable Content.

Monroe tactfully refrained from using specific examples, and more amusingly went the whole page without saying the "F" word - feminism. Think of what types of male behaviors a term like "masculinism" would prompt you to automatically picture. Picture the machismo, the overentitlement, a disgusting chauvinistic pig who expects women to drop whatever they're doing to sing his praises at a moment's notice, even as he berates and demeans them. Picture Ralph Kramden, except instead of a bumbling oaf he'd be presented as beautiful, always right and genuinely justified in all his abusive, self-centered bluster. Put him in a skirt and there you've got the modern feminist archetype, adopted by so many writers desperate for a pat on the head for being pro-woman.

Ironically, back in 2014 when Out There's writer was musing whether his fellow artists online might be writing such surreal female characters because they've never met any real women, a lot of marginally real but decidedly feminist writers at major media circuses like Slate and The Guardian were proudly proclaiming they Bathe in Male Tears. Even had t-shirts and coffee mugs printed. When challenged on their chauvinistic garbage, their common reply was to tell men to stop whining and learn to take a joke... which would actually be a really good argument if it didn't come out of the mouths of feminists, people who have built entire mountains of artificially inflated outrage out of utterly mundane molehills, built very lucrative careers out of trying to amplify cat-calling into some sort of anti-female Holocaust and foaming at the mouth about such heinous male crimes as "mansplaining" and "manspreading" and man- well, really just man.

Feminism's propped up by plenty of factors, from the cynically practical and economical to political hijacking of anything which might pander to a major voting block, to evolutionary psychology and more run-of-the-mill couch psychology as well. Among these, we must count the blatant impression that feminists learned their most profitable lesson as third-grade bullies: it's more fun to hit boys because they're not allowed to hit girls back.

After decades of this attitude permeating our entire society, decades of sitcoms filled with males portrayed as dumb schlubs who have to be set right by their attractive, politically correct, always-right-by-default female counterparts, decades of feminist writers blaming all the world's ills on testicles and men's desperation to please by kow-towing to such abuse, it's no surprise that comics with their more condensed format simplified that entire equation into the slap-happy "strong woman" cliché set against meek, supplicating male adulators. Feminism hasn't had anything to do with equality since at the very least the early '90s, more likely the '70s. It is a chauvinistic dogma of absolute good and evil meant to capture an audience by selling moral entitlement. We should really stop acting surprised that the fiction penned by artists with a proper modern feminist upbringing so often depicts petty bullies implicitly justified by being born the correct sex.

No comments:

Post a Comment