On Wednesdays We Wear Ink: tl;dr Ignore This, Go And Read Bitch Planet
Posted on October 8, 2015
October 8, 2015 | by Andy Waterfield
‘I believe the earth is a woman muzzled, beaten, tied to the cold slinging tracks,
I believe the muzzled have every right to rip off the Bible Belt and take it to the patriarchy’s ass,
I know these words are going to get me in trouble,
It is never polite to throw back the tear gas.’
Etiquette Leash (excerpt) by Andrea Gibson
Bitch Planet, co-created by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro, is a comic about sexism. Of course, it’s much more complex than that, but fundamentally, it’s a comic about how the vast majority of women are relentlessly threatened and attacked in manners and to degrees which the vast majority of men are not.
Were we to describe Bitch Planet purely in terms of genre, we could accurately describe it is a prison drama, science fiction, with a twist of exploitation tropes thrown in. This is the frame the work hangs upon, but it’s a book about righteous anger, rage, and intersectional feminism.
Bitch Planet is about a world, not too dissimilar to ours, where patriarchal power is turned up just a touch higher, where women deemed ‘non-compliant’ are imprisoned on a planet built solely for the purpose, where fear of male power, of male violence, is the defining tool of the political elite. Like most truly great science fiction, it is our world, skewed slightly, so that through its dark prism, we can see our own reality that bit more clearly.
Ordinarily, I’d use this column to pick at what the book means, what it says about our culture, our species, and why it has become a cultural lodestone for women in comics who are sick of being patronised, diminished, and dismissed. However, were I to offer my thunderous male treatise on a feminist comic, I would be doing a disservice to the ideology behind the work.
Women don’t need men to tell them about their own oppression. If men want to help tackle sexism (and I firmly believe that we should), our principle role should be amplifying women’s voices, calling other men (and ourselves) on our shit, and getting the fuck out of the way.
Which is to say: Go and read Bitch Planet. Do it now, because I’m not going to waste my time or yours giving you my white male treatise on why a searingly written and impeccably illustrated intersectional feminist comic is worthy of your attention. I’m just going to lie right here and read the damn thing again.
To contextualise this, I have unread Batman comics, and you know how much I love the Bat. Bitch Planet is better. By an absurd degree.
Andy Waterfield is not going to write a pithy bio this week. He’s just going to read Bitch Planet again until his eyes are bleeding and his fingers are cut to ribbons. Follow his recovery on twitter at @andywritesstuff.