Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Sports, Kick-Ass Women, MMA, and those creepy Female Force comics. Oh my.

Okay, something different: I like sports.

Yeah, I know.

Get ready for one of my anecdotes.

I grew up watching baseball and hockey with my dad, and playing little league during the summers. Back where I lived in Illinois, girls and boys both played baseball. Then I moved to Massachusetts, good ol' progressive Massachusetts, where girls had to play softball.

WTF, Title 9? Softball =/= baseball. Yeah, it's a sport, yeah it's hard, yeah it takes skill. But I spent 6 years playing baseball and then was told I had to play softball instead.

So I didn't, I tried out for the boy's little league and I made the team. And then my coaches wouldn't tell me how to get to the field. Or how to get my uniform. See, I made Babe Ruth. I was one of the youngest kids on the team and the only girl in the whole league.

I was 10 or 11, so I didn't understand why my mom was so angry about what they were doing. And I was shy, so I didn't push it.

If I could go back now, I'd sue their asses. Or something. And I'd play baseball.

When I hit puberty, with relatively little activity in my life and relatively large amounts of depression (puberty sucks, puberty for a gay kid in the early nineties doubley so, puberty for a gender queer gay kid in the early nineties tripley so) I put on about five billion pounds. It took me about fifteen years and some therapy to feel ready to get back into athletic activities.

So I did. I started going to Tae Kwon Do. This was something else I'd done as a kid in Illinois that stopped when I moved to Massachusetts. I've been going to an awesome TKD school for a little over a month. And twice a month this school has a teacher come in to teach students grappling. I went to the first class, had a TKD black belt as my partner, and held my own.

It was awesome.

Grappling is a big part of Mixed Martial Arts, which is a sport I got into thanks to my old room mate. I watch a lot of UFC. A lot. And one of the things about the UFC is that there are no women fighters. The only women involved (besides judges you don't see) are wives, girlfriends, and the girls in bikinis who hold the round cards. The UFC is the fastest growing sports franchise in the world, or something like that, and its president, Dana White, went on record saying he didn't see women fighting in the UFC any time soon (that was a few years ago, andI don't think his stance has changed, but who knows).

I just assumed that women weren't involved in MMA.

What a dumb assumption. After all, women are involved in boxing (more prominently now, thanks to Girlfight, Million Dollar Baby, and Laila Ali). Women are involved in martial arts (certainly at the Olympic level). So why not MMA? After all, one of the main tenets of Brazilian Ju-Jitsu, a premiere ground game technique and the one that changed MMA forever back in the day, is that the smaller, physically weaker opponent can still win with the right strategy and technique. Seems like a perfect venue for women, right?

And I found some. 'Cause I flipped on American gladiators and I saw Crush. And when I went to look up more info on Crush, I found out that she's an MMA fighter.

And she's hot. Over the next year or so, as I got more into MMA in general, I started trying to find events where women were involved as fighters. Usually I just googled Gina Carano's name, because she was The female MMA fighter. The thing is that to be a bankable female MMA fighter, you have to be hot. To be a bankable male MMA fighter, you have to kick ass.

This is the guy that just won the most recent season of The Ultimate Fighter, the male version of a reality show, where 16 guys live in a house together, act homophobic and stereotypically masculine to prove that they're Real Men, and then fight each other for a chance at a contract with the UFC.

Basically it's a show that would be on Oxygen if it weren't about fighting, not that any of the MMA fanboys would admit that. (Seriously, I know professional sports are ragingly homophobic, but the UFC is like something special. I hope one day some dude kicks a lot of ass, wins a title, then comes out of the closet. Then defends his title.)

Oh, right, I was talking about Big Country.

Now, there's a lot of talk on MMA forums about how the UFC is basically going to try to drum this guy out as soon as possible because he looks like a fat hick. The fact is, he's a super-skilled ground fighter that uses his giant belly to his advantage and still has knockout power. That means he's a good fighter. And if he's drummed out of the UFC for not looking right, I'll feel a little better about the UFC as a whole, because at least they're consistent. Not that I like to look at Nogueira's face a whole lot.

But the deal is that they cast this dude in the first place, gave him weeks of screen time, and eventually a really big contract (which he did earn, yes).

And they won't give women a shot.

This goes back to what I was talking about in my last post, about female action heroes. You have to be hot to be an action hero, male or female. We're just willing to make more exceptions for the males. Would people think Daniel Craig was good looking if he didn't have a great body? Probably not. But no one calls him a "but his face" (you know, like a "butter face"?). Or makes remarks about it.

And when those male MMA fighters get in the octagon to square off, no one's commenting on how hot they are (or if they are, they're doing it in private). But it's pretty standard for female MMA fighters.

For the record, Gina Carano was recently beaten by a woman nicknamed Cyborg, who is significantly less traditionally attractive. And the female MMA buzz fell silent for a little while until a recent fight between the wife and ex-wife of some male fighters.

It's hard to find this stuff on TV, and it's hard to find a discussion of this stuff anywhere that doesn't involve comments on the attractiveness of the fighters.

So WTF does this have to do with comics?

Yeah, sorry. So remember that weird comic series Female Force? The biographical sketches of real women? Well, you know, they did a Barbara Walters one. So she mentioned it on her show The View.

Does anyone remember another time when a comic got a mention on a daytime, women-oriented television show? Anyone?


The deal is, this isn't a comic about female superheroes. It's a comic about real women doing real things. And it's "super" because it's effing hard to be a woman doing real things in this world sometimes. So, yeah, they deserve a bit of a shout out.

But maybe Barbara would like to show Detective Comics on her show. Or even the old standby Wonder Woman. Though at least Batwoman wears a full body suit, even if it has pointy nipples.

Or maybe they'd like to talk about how Batgirl (the current one) is juggling being a young woman, going to college, and being a superhero, under the tutelage of the old Batgirl, current Oracle, who is a woman with a disability.

Granted, it's not like male superheroes really get a lot of shout outs on national television. Not unless they're in the movies, anyway. Except, you know. They're in the movies.

Let me repeat that:

They're in the movies.

The women are few and far between, and usually relegated to the love-interested, ingenue roles.


No idea. Here's a thought.

So Robert Downy Jr. is the greatest thing since sliced bread, and brought Iron Man (the character) and Iron Man (the title) to national prominence. Hugh Jackman did the same thing for Marvel in the first place, back with the first X-Men. Meanwhile, check out the cleavage:


Sorry, I'm rapidly losing focus.

I suppose my point is that I'd like to see The View (or Ellen, since she's getting a Female Force comic too) take some time to put a spotlight on the positive women being written about and doing the writing/drawing in comics. So, mostly DC I guess. Though Black Widow: Origins and Spider-Woman have been pretty good.

Get some focus on those interesting character, make the companies and studios realize that women a) care and b) spend money on these things, and get them to do some decent, female-led superhero movies. Preferably written by Greg Rucka, Gail Simone, Amanda Conner, or Paul Cornell. Or me. I'll take the job!

Heh, so I guess in the end the whole point is: give me a job writing a female superhero movie.

Anyone listening?