oppression in comics


We [Twi’lek] females are virtually bred to be frivolous – good only as slaves, playthings, or pampered princesses!

Twi’lek females aren’t treat well in [star wars] universe - since birth they are   emotionally, physically and socially oppressed.

The truth is this – human hate can adapt to anything. You think you are safe. But if someone hates you, they will come up with the reason after the fact. (from Years of Future Past #2, written by Marguerite Bennett, 2015)

X-Men comics are fantastic. This is powerful. 

“But maybe Captain America being Hydra is a commentary on Donald Trump and how Bigotry Really Works and blahblahblah fart fart fart”

Steve Rogers is a weak, sickly Brooklyn kid whose parents are poor Irish immigrants. And while I was obviously not inside the head of his two (Jewish! very Jewish! fighting in WWII and being-given-names-like-Jacob-Kurtzberg-and-Hymie-Simon-and-having-to-change-them-to-get-published-Jewish!) creators, the Captain America story seems to me like a repudiation of and a victory against very long-standing anti-Semitic stereotypes of Jews, particularly Jewish men, as weak, cowardly, passive, unattractive, and effeminate. Steve Rogers literally becomes a supersoldier and punches Hitler in the face. How many young Jewish men do you think fantasized about something like that? How many Jewish boys of that time do you think were getting beaten up on the streets of Brooklyn, Queens, and the Lower East Side by bullies shouting ethnic slurs? And here comes Captain America, beloved by everyone and saving people from oppression.

Steve Rogers may not be canonically Jewish (and part of me wonders how much of that is only because he would never have been considered a truly American superhero if he had been written that way), but his story is a Jewish story. Turning that story into a “commentary on how bigotry really works” belies the fact that it is NOT marginalized people who are responsible for oppression, particularly their own oppression. If anything, oppression looks like Tony Stark, not Steve Rogers. (While I’d be pretty annoyed at a plot twist about Tony going Hydra, it at least wouldn’t be so fucking insensitive and asinine.)

I think this “plot twist” appealed to the writers for the same reason as ignorant straight people everywhere love the idea of anti-gay politicians turning out to have secretly hired male sex workers. The irony! The hilarity! Maybe marginalized people themselves are the ones driving oppression, and the rest of us have nothing to worry about!

Yes, anyone can be(come) a bigot and bigotry does not always look like literally Hitler. But Captain America’s story is just not that story.


I know a lot of people like to snicker and snark about all the weird bondage in the early Wonder Woman comics by her eccentric co-creator, William Moulton Marston. And sure, it gets really weird sometimes.

But if you just dismiss all the bondage as Marston’s personal kinky fetish or whatever, you are kind of missing the bigger picture: As often as Wonder Woman is bound, the point is just as much to show her powerfully breaking free of her bonds — which is a clear metaphor for defying societal limitations on women. This is also why Wonder Woman is frequently shown trying to teach other women how to break free.

Meanwhile, Wonder Woman’s own method of binding people, the Golden Lasso — literally, binding people with the truth — is unbreakable.

These are really powerful allegories that make the character who she is. 

Sure, it got weird and a little uncomfortable sometimes. But the more people write it off as Marston’s embarrassing kink, the more they miss the point that Wonder Woman is meant to break the shackles of oppression.

I’ve been seeing a lot of people on the internet complain that there isn’t any skinny positivity movement and that fat people are getting special treatment. Affirmative action helps bridge a gap between the privileged and the oppressed. So here’s a little comic I made as a friendly reminder of that.

How to be an ally to the disabled

1. Listen to disabled people and share our thoughts

Disability often gets over looked in discussions of civil rights and social justice blogging, so change that! Look in tags like “ableism” and “disability” and find some of our blogs to follow or even just reblog things that we want to share (many of what you’ll find are posts of horrible bigotry and I completely understand if you want to only have encouraging depictions or educational posts on your blog and I and others are trying to give you more of that. Here’s some things that I’ve written: How To: Know When To Offer Help To A Disabled Person, How To: Deal With Your Child’s Sudden Introduction To Disability, How To: Open A Door For A Disabled Person, How To: Shake A Disabled Person’s Hand)

2. Don’t use inspirational porn

A lot of people understandably think it’s complementary to call us heroes or inspirational or to post pictures of us saying “if they can do it, so can you” but these things are highly offensive. I’ve done my best to try to explain why here.

3. Speak for us

We taught that in supporting a marginalized group we should not speak over the marginalized or speak for them, which is true but it becomes a little more complicated when it comes to disability. Some disabled people literally do not have the ability to communicate in some venues so we need allies to be our surrogates (I’m using speech recognition software right now because I’m unable to type and there are many times that it’s malfunctioning or charging and I literally can’t respond when I see something offensive so I need disabled allies to always be willing to call each other out on problematic behavior)

This isn’t to say that you are allowed to speak over us or that your opinions matter more than our experiences; because we need you to speak more than other marginalized groups, we also need you to also listen more.

I understand that a lot of you worry about saying the wrong thing so I suggest that when you see something problematic look at the notes and re-blog what disabled people have said to correct it.

4. Boycott those who oppress us

Boycott DC comics with us, boycott Autism Speaks with us, refuse to patronize stores and restaurants that aren’t accessible. When we are segregated we need you to stand beside us so that those institutions have no financial support to stay alive.

5. Support good representation

No representation is perfect but do what you can in your own fandoms to keep the disabled characters visible. Use your own creativity to give them better representation or at least reblog those who do. Mainstream media may not be a safe place for disabled people but you can make sure the fandom is.