50 Cents. Period. part 1

I just came back from the most magnificent event. My college is fortunate enough to have hosted Lorrie King, the founder of the women’s health organization 50 Cents. Period.  50 Cents Period is an organization dealing with menstruation in developing countries, focusing currently in Andhra Pradesh, India; the Kathmandu, Sindhupochok, and Karnali portions of Nepal; the Masaka, Kutamba and Kasese portions of Uganda, and Managua, Nicaragua.

As 50 Cent Period explains:

“We believe that every woman has the right to experience her period with dignity. Our mission is to empower women and girls to stay fully in engaged in their lives and educations without the stigma and barriers surrounding their periods.”

The brilliance of this organization is not just in their efforts to promote healthy menstruation or their feminist push for female education. The brilliance is that women like Lorrie King are not afraid to talk about their periods.

On a personal level, this struck me as incredibly fearless in an area that shouldn’t require bravery. And yet I know I struggle to remember that having my period is not a curse. It’s such a taboo subject that even going to CVS to buy pads is a mortifying experience that makes me feel degraded. On some level I can blame the world around me for perpetuating the idea that menstruation is an ugly, terrifying process that distorts the beauty of womanhood. But I know that it is my choice to believe this myth or not.

I must applaud Lorrie King for reminding me that I can view my body’s natural functions as the natural occurrences that they are. I know I am not the only one who struggles with this self perception of womanhood.

I am grateful to King again, because she has agreed to an open interview with me for this blog. I open the floor to you though. Please submit any questions you wish to ask and I’ll forward them to King for the interview. Please get the questions to me by April 12th. After April 12th, submissions will be closed.

  

Marvel’s Romance Comics

I mentioned in my post, Queering Wolverine that I hadn’t been keeping up with the X-Men recently. Truth be told though, I haven’t been keeping up Marvel recently. Comic books are expensive and my philosophy has been that I’ll buy it if I know it’s influential to the Marvel universe or a must-read of some caliber.

If something happens with Marvel comics I’ll know even if I’m not perfectly keeping up with their publishing. And, unfortunately, something has happened at Marvel comics.

Marvel has made the decision to team up with Hyperion and publish two romance comics based on Rogue, from the X-Men, and She-Hulk. The comics are titled Rogue Touch and The She-Hulk Diaries.

The Editor-in-Chief of Hyperion said, “It’s a great time to explore what happens to super-heroines when they are dropped into traditional women’s novels.”

Traditional Women’s Novels? What does this even mean? This is such bigotry. This is literature grounded in women’s difference and in the separation of the sexes. This is based on ridiculous gender roles that hold no bearing on what a woman is. By creating these comic books, Marvel and Hyperion are saying they have found a set definition of the elusive term “woman” and that guess what? What a “woman” is has been in front of us all along because this is a “traditional” idea.

Since when do women need books that are written for some unfounded idea of their identity?

These are two established female superheroes, not some unknown romance heroins Marvel hasn’t written since the 1950s. The ’50s were when Romance comics sold because comic book companies were under constant fire that comics were too violent and were corrupting the youth. Everything but superheroes sold in the 1950s. There are no traditional women’s novels and certainly no grounds to force ideas of womanhood into the comic book genre. Comic books are just starting to break free from heteronormativity, but as a whole the industry is incredibly sexist. The last thing Marvel needs is to isolate a chunk of their fan base by deciding they suddenly know what women want in their reading material.

I think Marvel needs to learn that these “women’s novels” were only women’s novels because up until the early 20th century, women writers were few and far between. Their work was never taken seriously because it was written for women and there were limited subjects available to them to write about because writing might put a strain on the female mind.

Marvel already has a female audience! Adding romance will not expand their audience, but isolate those who want more well developed female characters. It’s time Marvel learned that femininity and womanhood are not characteristics that define a person. Woman does not equal reads romance novels.