Thursday, October 18, 2012

Advertising Intolerance

Please note: This is a rant. As such it contains salty language unsuitable for young children (who shouldn't be surfing the internet unsupervised, anyway) and prudes (likewise).

We all know that advertising wants to sell us stuff, right? Companies sell ad space and advertisers try to entice us to buy their stuff. So what does this sell?

It sells out, that's what it does! This is an ad for the website College Humor, which appeared on the back page of DC's Sword of Sorcery (featuring Amethyst) #1 -- arguably a book aimed at females, since the main protagonist, Amethyst (a reboot of the 80s comic character), is female. It's also written and edited by women (Christy Marx and Rachel Gluckstern, respectively). I'm not a fan of College Humor; I find the fratboy-level intellect just a little too grating. Fine, whatever, it's not for me. I don't have to look at it.

But then DC Comics sold them ad space. A lot of ad space. Like nearly every DC and Vertigo title ran the ad. What. The. Fuck.

There's been so much attention given to the whole Fake Geek Girl meme and the challenging reactions to it. John Scalzi, bestselling author and president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, blogged about who gets to be a geek. The Mary Sue blogged about it. Probably lots of other people did, too, but I don't spend every waking moment online. I really can't believe people at DC are so damned stupid that they wouldn't realize that nerd grrls are on the verge of starting a bloody revolution. Starting in their offices.

I first caught wind of the ad last week, at The Mary Sue. I was pretty annoyed, and sent DC a tweet about it. Today I picked up SoS #1, got to the back page, and damned if it wasn't there, too. A little digging, and I learned that it's pretty much publisher-wide. Really, DC? Are you so hurting for money that you sell that much ad space for an ad that alienates any female readers you have left?? Or are you rolling in so much cash that you don't care if all women quit buying your books?

DC is apparently aware of what they're doing, and they don't care. Here's a great article by Georgia Ball about it, written in February ('12): "Women Do Not Read Comics Says DC and Kevin Smith."
DC will also conclude that as female readers don’t exist, content offerings don’t need to change. As long as mainstream comics continues to ignore and offend female audiences, the more they will see that audience shrink, leaving plenty of opportunity for independent titles made available digitally to take their place.
So I undoubtedly wasted my breath when I sent them a message this evening via their contact form, questioning their judgement on that particular transaction with College Humor. Maybe, just maybe, if enough women let them know that We Are Not Amused by this, and want them to stop, it will make a difference. Or maybe it will be a self-fulfilling prophecy, and all women will stop buying their titles and tell them to go to hell. Contact form is here -- so if you buy comics and think this ad is bullshit, let 'em know.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

International Day of the Girl

October 11, 2012 is the first International Day of the Girl. Like with Woman's History Month in March, there may be some detractors who want to know why it's necessary to have a day (or a month) set aside for females. We have a Children's Day, so why do we need a day just for girls? Because so long as girls are marginalized, devalued, sold, sexualized or denied education, we need to honor them and be aware of the plight of girls around the globe. Why, because things like a girl being shot because she wanted an education happen.

When I read about Malala Yousafzai, I was horrified, angry, and depressed. Fourteen years old, shot by the Taliban because she wanted to go to school and had the audacity to blog about it. A teenaged girl, targeted for assassination, because she wanted an education. Some extremist bastard shot a child because she wanted to go to school. No matter how many ways I phrase that, it's still awful. And honestly, I'm not "angry," I'm fucking mad as hell. But it's not just Pakistan. It's not just Muslim countries. This evil-mindedness toward girls happens everywhere.


What you can do to help today, and affect real change:

Rescue a girl from indentured servitude in Nepal.
In western Nepal, many indigenous families from the Tharu ethnic group subsist as farm laborers. Unable to make ends meet, they have been forced into a desperate trade – selling their daughters to work far from home as bonded servants in private homes or as dishwashers in tea houses. Some of these children are as young as six. Alone and far from home, these "indentured daughters" have no knowledge of the ways of city people or of other cultures, and most speak only the local dialect. Their living conditions are entirely at the discretion of their employers. The bonded girls seldom attend school and have no prospects for a decent future. Some are ultimately forced into prostitution.
Send a girl to school in Afghanistan.
The Zabuli Education Center was founded by Afghan native Razia Jan through the Razia’s Ray of Hope Foundation. Razia’s dream of a school for girls became reality through the collaboration of several extraordinary women — as well as the vital support from generous organizations and the hard work of staff and volunteers.
Sponsor the education of a Maasai girl in Kenya.
The Maasai Girls Education Fund was created to improve the literacy, health and economic well-being of Maasai women in Kenya and their families through education of girls and their communities. MGEF provides scholarships from primary school through university to girls who have never enrolled in school, or who would be forced to drop out of school for cultural or economic reasons, and we are committed to each student until they have the knowledge and skills needed to enter the workforce in Kenya.  With economic empowerment, this new generation of Maasai women will end early marriages and circumcision of girls and bring greater literacy, health, and economic well being to future generations.

Want something closer to home, or think this is only a Third World problem?

Donate to Children of the Night in the United States.
Children of the Night is a privately funded non-profit organization established in 1979 and dedicated to rescuing America's children from the ravages of prostitution.
Note: I looked for something similar in Canada, and didn't find it. Prostitution is legal there, but child prostitution is not, nor is child trafficking. If you know of an organization that helps Canadian girls escape prostitution, or helps Canadian girls generally, let me know!

If you know of an organization that seeks to raise up girls and give them equal status to boys, post it in the comments!

If you don't have the cash to donate to an organization, you can donate your time. Mentor, raise awareness, make your voice heard. Find more ways to affect change here:, (United Nations Girls' Education Initiative), and of course

Girls matter. And if you need an explanation why, you're part of the problem.