Sexism and misogyny in comic and geek culture is still a very big problem. Whether we're watching people hurl rape threats at Anita Sarkeesian or Starman creator Tony Harris ranting about girls in cosplay, there is still a lot of work to be done. One of the voices in that fight is Houston comic artist Lane Montoya, who will be joining several panels on the topic at this weekend's Comicpalooza. We sat down with her briefly to talk about sexism in the comic industry.
Art Attack: What are some of the panels you will be conducting at Comicpalooza? :
Lane Montoya: Right now there is some shuffling going on with the panels. I am going to be on a "local comic creator" panel, but right now I'm trying to get onto the "Representations of Gender in Graphic Literature" comics panel. In the past I have been on "Women in Comics" panels. I will try to make an appearance at a similar panel at Comicpalooza.
Note: Another excellent local artist, Jamie Kinosian, will also be on the panel.
AA: Have you ever personally been the object of sexism in the industry?
LM: I'm not mentioning specifics, but there have been several times where my attitude has been perceived as "bitchy" instead of "constructive" or "taking charge" of a situation. I'm passionate about this art form and want the best I can be for every party involved. I wouldn't want to mess that up. I have no reason to do so.
There have also been a few incidents where I would be talking for jobs and such via e-mail or through chats, only to meet the clients in person and they would be shocked that I was female. As if my sex has anything to do with my ability to get a job for a client done, which it doesn't.
AA: What is the worst example of sexism in geek culture that you've seen or heard about?
LM: One is the harassment of cosplayers in skimpy costumes at conventions. Hands down. These people dress in these costumes for fun, to be seen, to take pictures, not to be harassed or touched in an unwelcoming manner.
The other is in the artist alley of conventions, where you see artist after artist drawing the same characters in a multitude of sexy poses like it's the only thing they know how to draw. I'd like to see Power Girl in an actual powerful pose or stance for once.
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AA: What is the solution to the problem, in your opinion?
LM: Awareness, first and foremost. Cons nowadays are starting to respond. Campaigns like Cosplay is not Consent and notices around conventions about their harassment policies are a great and welcome first step.
AA: What is the biggest obstacle to the solution?
LM: Deaf ears, people who don't think it's an issue or who flat-out don't speak up about how others' actions can be rude or make others uncomfortable. If you perpetuate the culture of sending rape threats or harassment by not calling out that it's wrong, you're part of the problem.
AA: How do you respond to the idea that sexism in comics isn't an important issue?
LM: If they say that, then said party involved hasn't been paying attention. It's not just about sexism itself. It's the far-reaching consequences of it. It's in the media we consume, on online forums where discussions can be easily reduced to threats, and in the real world where it is the biggest threat...rape and violence. If it's normalized, then changing it will be even harder.
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AA: What about outright denialism of the issue at all?
LM: I recall something that happened a month or so back. A woman named Janelle Asselin critiqued a Teen Titans book cover and got death threats, rape threats, and her bank account was almost hacked. This is a huge problem. Some will be, "Well, LOL, that's the Internet" but no, we can change it. We can make it so that behavior is unacceptable. And when changes are made, we will hopefully start to see change in the fabric of the comic culture.
See Lane Montoya and other local comic creators talk about their craft among the rest of the celebrations this weekend at Comicpalooza.