Queen for a Day

Last night, a well known comic book creator posted an image of a woman in a sexy batman costume with a comment about how they would like to “input” themselves into her. I took offense, and shot back a snide response to the image’s comment. The tweet was immediately deleted. I was shocked and delighted. The fact that a creator as popular as this one would listen to a single fan on something like this is something I would have never expected. This is a creator I have always had some measure of respect for, and this instance only deepened that admiration.

Less than a minute later this was tweeted:

Image

 

Anyone that doesn’t see what is wrong with this question needs to Google “rape culture.”

I responded to this, too, with an initial, “I strongly suggest you don’t go there.” Before I could continue a discussion of why that approach was offensive, the creator brought up having sex with their spouse, then went on a tirade about “uptight” fans and how they’ve always given us the ‘real deal.’ Then they attempted to bait me, with the support of other fans. A recurring theme was likening twitter to “church.”

If “church” is the only place one can avoid objectifying a woman as a sex object then, yes, pretend Twitter is “church.”

It would have been different had there been any other information with the image pointing towards an interaction of a sexual nature. Instead, the image was on its own (I assumed it was stolen from some corner of the internet, and it was definitely uncited) with this gross joke about “inputting” oneself into the woman pictured. If the image alone had been posted, I would have just ignored it. However, the implications of the comment made me decide to speak out.

Now, this is a minor infraction as far as the world of comics fandom goes. I know that. I’m also a little thrilled that my speaking out about a rape culture-induced comment was threatening enough that a major creator subtweeted me several times. Honestly, had it not been for the implication that the creator could come up with no reaction other than “I want to put part of myself in that,” I would have left the incident feeling better about liking the creator and later have forgotten all about it. If it had not been for the ensuing support for the creator’s tantrum and a couple white knights attempting to defend them by claiming my “use of feminism” was “the least appropriate,” I would not have written anything further about it.

I’ve been going round and round in circles, wondering if I am perhaps making a mountain of a mole hill. However, it is the entitlement to female bodies implied in comments like these that breeds the culture that makes walking down the street a noisy and sometimes dangerous affair (Google “street harassment). It is this privilege that make conventions so uncomfortable for women, especially if they cosplay (which I stopped doing years ago). I was taught to treat any task I do in my life, no matter how small, like it is the most important thing. So I’m building some mountains.

I will not allow being ganged up on and a person’s fame silence me. Not this time. I’ve let too many comments like these, online and in person, slide by. I don’t want to keep thinking my silence is helping to poison an industry I used to love.

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“King Under the Mountain” Excerpt

I have been a bad blogger! The truth is that I simply have not the time. Several months ago, I quit submitting articles to online publications and covering nerd news, for several reasons.

My time is packed with volunteer work at (now 2!) museums, finishing up my undergrad degree in Art History Criticism & Conservation (with a focus on Asia- specifically China), working in an office that assists the hearing impaired, and pursuing fiction writing. I have begun submitting stories to anthologies and have been working seriously on a novel. I have ideas for more, but as a first complete endeavor, I’m very proud of King Under The Mountain. It has at least a year to go before I attempt to release it, self-published, but I’m proud of the world I have created and love running around in it with my characters.

The book’s setting is split between the spiritually important city of Gray Haven and the city’s charge, Barrowmount, a millenia old burial ground. High King Derwynn Danswinder, the CryptKing of Barrowhill, is the youngest of five children, and the sole surviving member of his immediate family. At 9 years old the title fell to him, and at 12 he must now take up his role as King in Gray Haven while the rest of the kingdom falls apart into civil war around him.

It was important to me that King Under the Mountain include characters of more complex background than the white, heteronormative culture pervasive in fantasy. While the protagonist is indeed white, male, and heterosexual, he is surrounded by a diverse cast of characters that continuously force him to question his role in his own culture, and its place in the future. Ultimately, it is a coming of age story.

The falcons of Danswinder Hall.

I’ve decided to post as excerpt from one of my favorite chapters from the book I’m working on. Enjoy,.. or don’t!

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Under the Mountain

An indeterminate amount of time passed. Derwynn felt tired and sore. Suddenly, the Ghoul stopped and crouched. She pulled Derwynn down by the sleeve.

“What-” he was cut off by her hiss. It was a short, silencing sound.

There was a clicking coming from somewhere to their right. He was sure of it. Then it sounded from behind them. She leaned close to him.

“You hear it?”

He nodded.

It switched back and forth from right to rear, never sounding as if it got closer, or farther away. “Never from the left,” she hissed, then nodded her head. He inclined his. “Count to three,” she said, then tamped out the torch. A whirring had begun as he counted in his head. As it crested behind them he turned and ran to the left as fast as he could.

Arms outstretched, he felt wildly for anything in the darkness. Just as his fingers grazed something, it occurred to him that there could be a drop off anywhere. He had never been this deep in the mountain. No one had. Except whatever built this: bjergtrolde or giant.

He found a wall and crouched against it. The Ghoul groped for him in the darkness, and crouched beside him. The whirring got louder, and then there was air pattering against his face. Soft, at first. The force multiplied.

Dozens of little claws and leathery wings and teeth found them. They beat against them, paused, alighting on the pair where they could, then scraped their way upward and elsewhere. At some point, Derwynn found he was screaming. Yelling against the torrent of creatures.

Then it was over. The air left behind fluttered. Soft currents swirled above them. He closed his mouth. The Ghoul heaved breath next to him. The stone was still cold.

Somewhere far away, there was the sound of stone scraping against stone. And then silence.

Excerpt King Under The Mountain

 a novel by Josephine Maria