This isn’t the first time the topic of feminism has cropped up on this blog, and it certainly isn’t going to be the last. While much of what we’ve written about it in the past concerns female characters and how they’re portrayed in the media or the various ways actual real-life women are viewed in today’s culture, the truth is that the biggest hindrance feminists everywhere [myself included] face is a painfully simple one. Far too many people have no idea what feminism is.
If you wanted to explore this further without leaving the blog, Gordon’s post “Why I Do Need Feminism” straight-up nails it. It’s essentially a response to images similar to the one on the right, which feature teenage girls holding up signs which underscore the fundamental misunderstanding they have of what feminism really is. If only there was some sort of go-to website that could provide a fairly clear-cut explanation . . . maybe even one that had the express purpose of defining words . . .
Dictionary.com’s first two definitions are as follows:
- the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.
- ( sometimes initial capital letter ) an organized movement for the attainment of such rights for women.
That all sounds like something the average non-bigoted person could be down with. The above research literally took me less than ten seconds, which is why I find it unforgivable when people like comic book artist David Finch is quoted as saying, regarding Wonder Woman:
“We want her to be a strong — I don’t want to say feminist, but a strong character. Beautiful, but strong.”
To provide a little context, David Finch and his wife Meredith Finch are going to be taking over the character’s self-titled book in November, with the latter covering writing duties. I want to focus as much as possible on his words here, and not his actual depictions of the character, an example of which you can see right above.There are a lot of different ways we could take the quote, the easiest of which being that to be feminist doesn’t equate to being strong. Another interpretation, and probably the more correct one, is that David Finch believes that to be a feminist means bearing the wrong kind of strength, or utilizing strength in a negative way.
Look, we’ve all heard, or at least read, the term “feminazi”. We can all conjure up that image of the woman who becomes livid the second a door is held open for her. As I said up above, a lot of people misunderstand the concept and those who support it. I’m not even going to lie about it either, these kind of people totally exist and they are not helping anyone, least of all themselves. My main issue is that David Finch is not a confused teenage girl or your average, run-of-the-mill person- David Finch is the man responsible for the portrayal of the feminist icon.
This isn’t to deride any contributions Meredith Finch will undoubtedly provide, being in charge of the narrative voice the book will take. She shared in that same interview a few of her own thoughts, sharing that:
“the thing that drew [Wonder Woman] to me the most was her integrity and the courage of her convictions. She may not always be right, but she’s going to follow through and do what she believes in, whether anyone else believes in it or not. I really love that she’s willing to take a flying leap and then deal with the consequences later.”
“Being able to take on that quintessential female superhero who represents so much for myself and for millions of people out there — especially at a time where comics are coming more into the mainstream — I feel like it’s really special, and that’s really where I’m coming from when I’m writing this.”
That allows me to take some comfort in the creative team, and helps me to give her the benefit of a doubt in spite of her portfolio. Even still, I can’t help but feel troubled about David Finch’s opinions about “feminism” and “strength”, especially when the latter is absolutely essential for the existence of the former. There are no weak “true” feminists, anyone who strongly advocates for women on every level is sure to brush up against opposition sooner or later. Moreover, a Wonder Woman who doesn’t agree with “the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men” isn’t really one I want to read about.
I’m not one to judge a product without having experienced it, let alone with so many months yet to go before it’s even released. At the very least, this post exists to inform David Finch, and any others [who share his position of influence and otherwise] to think about how they choose to use the word. I wanted to end with that reminder for everyone.
Also with the following two images, presented without comment, Wonder Woman by both current artist Cliff Chiang and the upcoming David Finch.
UPDATE: David Finch has clarified his comments, saying:
Which of course brings up the issue that he somehow sees being a feminist and being human and fallible as somehow being mutually exclusive. Do with his apology what you will.