once upon a celestialchild

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Three days ago NEWSARAMA posted an interview with Scott Lobdell, writer of DCnU’s Red Hood and the Outlaws. The interview was essentially a heated (in the failed guise of humor and feminist argument) response to all the criticism leveled at the book once readers saw Starfire’s depiction both in art and writing. Some people picked up on the fact that Lobdell was using classic derailing tactics in order to sound correct and intelligent; and at the end of the day, it was apparent that Lobdell either never read Laura Hudson’s article, in spite of the fact that it went viral, or he just chose to ignore it.

People had a lot of things to say in response to Lobdell, but yesterday I was growing a little annoyed, because the vast majority of those responses were either trying to find ways to counter Lobdell once more on specific points, criticize some really awkward revelations about how he views Starfire & cats (wtf), or point out his derailing tactics.

For me, the crux of this debate has always been this, and everything Lobdell has done here has served to prove it (as well as Hudson’s original article):

It still fails to negate the bottom line which occurs time and again in comics: women’s sexual liberation is used over and over with female character after female character in order to appease men’s sexual fantasies. I wouldn’t have such issues with this portrayal of Starfire if not for the fact that “she’s sexually liberated!” is the explanation every writer gives practically any time a woman is portrayed in this manner. Which is too often for me to chalk this up to “Starfire’s culture/personality” without reading it as: “we are going to use the sexual liberation of women as the modern excuse to portray them in any fashion the male gaze finds sexually appealing”.

Comics have enough of a bad history of this crap for me not to trust them by default. You don’t honestly expect me to look at those pages, at Starfire’s behavior coupled with how she is depicted, added to how Catwoman is being portrayed, and how women are regularly portrayed as it is, and expect me to interpret this as a shining example of sexual liberation, or that this is just Starfire’s culture. The porn-fantasy thought process that is happening behind The Fourth Wall is glaringly obvious.

This issue is not about what Starfire chooses to do with her body, because at the end of the day she is an imaginary character; we are talking about what Lobdell chooses to do with Starfire’s body, which is in fact problematic almost precisely because it is part of a larger pattern of this kind of crap, that stems from a sexist narrative.