PCA: Women in Refrigerators

The Women In Refrigerators Syndrome: Teaching Feminism Through Comics
Steven Varela, University of Texas at El Paso

This is a live blogging of the session.

debate about the genre of comics why is it a useful tool?
power of the genre of comics
women in refrigerator’s syndrome

No respect: (theory)
intellectuals v. popular culture

for the “masses”
taste is hardly an aesthetic activity, but rather an exercise in cultural power

Academics tend to look down on the genre of comics (so have to say graphic novels).

The groundbreaker: Maus
cover itself grabs
talk about so many different things new historicism, post-modernism, feminist theory
lack of women voices in the book

A History textbook? A People’s History of American Empire
graphic novel format

other academic disciplines are accepting

9/11 Commission Report was put into graphic novel

does not diminish intellectual content, replicates the visual aspect of our brains

Batman is wearing a kilt
the comic culture
popular culture and academics
movement towards legitimacy (so he admits it’s not legitimate?)

sexualization of women characters found within the genre (genre is not individual)

The Hulk –do students know who that was?

Selling the Culture, academic relevance of graphic novels, blended with the traditional comic convention

perception of the genre at an academic conference, having the comics for sale
had the movie stars from various films

women’s theory, notions of femininity

myth: Graphic novels are “easy reading.”

Why this perception? Because there are pictures. Not 500 pages.

Overcoming the perception doesn’t take long because the students are engaged and recognize the visuals.
How they consume information has changed

Power of Comics:
mass appeal
catalyst for social change—for teaching feminism, for understanding a complex theory

Women in Refrigerator’s Syndrome

the coining of the term, Green Lantern- catalyst for him to become a hero, his girlfriend has been stuffed in the refrigerator

because of this moment, how often does this happen in a very male dominated genre

What does this say about men and young men? consuming and presenting

Literary trope of using death, injury, or depowerment of female comic book character as a plot device, usually to provide the ethical motivation for the male superhero to whom the victim is connected and/or further cement the hatred between hero and villain.

Women have little to no voice, esp. early in the genre.

What can we learn from this? What does this say about men? action movies?

In Maus, husband and son talk of mother. Mother committed suicide. Journals were burned by her husband. New wife is a “gold-digger.”

Woman is introduced to further the action of the male.

Superman’s first love falls off a bridge and he can’t save her.
Gwen Stacy in Spiderman
Linda Park in The Flash

Can you think of more in popular culture?

Why is this happening? Art imitates life’s ideologies—needs to examine them.

Talk about modern
Family Guy
South Park
The Simpsons

always about the men, women are secondary/sex

Art imitates life… some people think gender is not a relevant issue anymore.

Especially the anti-theses
Persepolis, She is the plot. She is the main point.

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