There’s been a bit of back and forth on the feminist fanblogs about whether or not its worth continuing to read superhero comics. This is nothing new. The subject gets bandied about regularly, usually when someone says “Why don’t you just make your own books?”
Sadly, this seemingly reasonable statement rarely produces a reasonable discussion.
In the best case scenario (which tends to come about only when the suggestion is made by a well-known, popular person who has the goodwill of the community, the capability of doing this and/or is trying to draw attention to well-written stories outside the mainstream) there is round of posts exclaiming undying affection for not just genre, but the characters themselves. These can be fun, but they take a defensive tone in these cases. (Honestly, if you want positive discussion in the blogosphere — start a meme. People will answer without feeling like they’re arguing with you.)
Other times (when this is suggested by a fellow fan, a random onlooker, or a writer/artist nobody has ever heard of) the response is angry words and ranting. See, if presented wrong this suggestion tells the fans that their complaints, their enthusiasm, and their anger is misplaced. Effectively it says to people that your hobby is a waste of time. The person who made the suggestion this time reels from the sudden backlash, and leaves the community on very bad terms. (Or worse, remains and endlessly turns up again and again to denounce the community as a pack of lunatics.)
A lot of trouble could be avoided if these well-meaning people who suggest giving up on superhero comics would remember but one thing: That they are talking to superhero fans.
And the one thing superhero fans do (endlessly) is complain. They complain about the writer. They complain about the artist. They complain about the coloring. They complain about the inking. They complain about the lettering. They complain about the editors. They complain about creative team changes. They complain about the plot. They complain about the lack of plot. They complain about cast changes. They complain about miniseries. They complain about ongoing series. They complain about retcons. They complain about crossovers. They complain about not getting crossovers. They complain about delayed books. They complain about prices. They complain about characters dying. They complain about characters coming back from the dead. They complain about other fans complaining. (I’d lay odds that at this very moment someone is drafting a comment complaining about the repetition in this paragraph.)
That nobody would think to say “Well, if you don’t like characters like Hal Jordan being back to life why don’t you go write your own superhero space opera stories?” but so many people automatically say “Well, if you don’t like Star Sapphire’s porntastic new costume why don’t you go write your own superhero space opera stories?” is irritating, to say the least. The inconsistency in how complaints like this are treated (being offended by innocent creative decisions is okay, being offended by the incessant reinforcement of our society’s stifling and harmful gender roles is not) says that feminists don’t count as real fans and don’t really have a right to complain about the weaknesses in the product. They should go seek out their own products. This is suspiciously close to the entire “comics are for boys” mentality that makes a lot of female fans very angry to begin with. If someone with no community goodwill puts this forward, they see more of the same crap they get from everywhere else in fandom.
I think it’s understandable to be a bit touchy in these cases.