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Thursday, September 12, 2013 

A writer for Sequart acted as apologist for the rape of Sue Dibny in 2004

Back in 2004, a writer for Sequart Research & Literacy Organization blatantly defended the rape of Sue Dibny in Identity Crisis, and even after he seemingly turned around years later, he didn't make the best of cases from his subsequent view either. His excuses at the beginning included:
...But we’re hardly talking about exposed genitalia here. We don’t see Doctor Light’s erect member. And this flashback occurs as the heroes who dealt with Doctor Light after the incident shown in flashback secretly plan, in the present, to go after him for Sue Dibny’s death, believing Light responsible. The emphasis is distinctly upon this secret that the heroes have kept — and upon the trauma of these heroes who fear for their loved ones and made the tough decision to effectively lobotomize Doctor Light after the incident. In other words, the emphasis in distinctly not upon the rape itself.
Absolutely pathetic. That was just the problem with the book: it had a monstrously one-sided POV that was almost exclusively male, cared more - MUCH more - about the League's reaction to Light's crime than it did about Light's assault on Sue herself. And the disgrace and shame who wrote that piece had the gall to trivialize all that? This is not a matter of whether the rape was directly in view. It's a matter of how the themes were handled. Besides, that panel where Light grabbed Sue's rectum was so forced, it was absolutely disgusting.

He goes on to say:
Identity Crisis may not be fine literature, but Sue Dibny’s rape is certainly not used casually. The focus is distinctly upon the age-old danger in the genre to the heroes’ loved ones — now given a new edge. This threat is not only of capture or death, as has been conventionally depicted, but of torture or rape — after all, these are super-villains we’re talking about here, and they’re known for both insanity and brutality. As always, the focus is upon the heroes’ actions to prevent this danger to their loved ones — except that, in Identity Crisis, this leads the heroes to take greater, more disturbing steps.
Compared to physical-sexual assault, what's so disturbing about a magic alteration of a crook's thought patterns? I fail to see the logic here. And he obfuscates the points that have been well made since: that the rape was trivialized - we don't get any further moments with Sue, if at all, to know how she felt about being violated.

He also brought up the curious case of Grant Morrison's response:
Even Grant Morrison has chimed in against Identity Crisis because of Sue Dibny’s rape — and Morrison has been one of the prime people advancing super-heroics over the past fifteen years. But then, Morrison’s been becoming a bit of a retrograde as of late: he also condemned The Authority‘s violence in the wake of 9/11.
But Morrison since turned around and caved. His continuation with the depressingly bleak themes he holds dear in some of his privately owned work also makes it hard to believe he was being altruistic.
The real issue here isn’t sex, nor is it violence. Tell me super-heroes don’t have a sexual element, with their skin-tight spandex and bulging boobs and constant sexual situations, going back at least to Superman’s love triangle with his alter ego and Lois Lane. And the problem isn’t the violence of the act of rape: nobody minds when super-villains open fire on crowds of civilians — in fact, comic book readers and movie-goers reward such violence, sometimes calling its implications brilliant. No, the real issue — what really sets people off — is rape.
Talk about jumping to conclusions! As a matter of fact, I do mind when this kind of gratuituous violence infiltrates the best of superhero comics. Some of the worst moments with similar situations include the tales where mass slaughter takes place, like the annihilation of Bludhaven several years ago circa Infinite Crisis, and even the mass deaths of unnamed civilians in Our Worlds at War. And that's just a small portion in an even larger quagmire. Tight spandex and boobs are one thing. Rape in itself is entirely another, especially when it's handled as insensitively as it was in Identity Crisis, and with nary a female viewpoint in sight. The writer goes on to make more ambiguous excuses:
...rape has long been used in art. Would anyone condemn, with the vitriol reserved for Identity Crisis, the countless paintings of the rape of the Sabines? The depiction of rape from Homer and Herodotus to modern literature? The history of art and literature are filled with depictions of rape, just as much as they are with sex and violence and all other elements of the human condition.
Once more, he's missing the point by galaxies. If rape is featured in art and literature with a clear perspective on why it's a negative act, then there's no need to condemn its use. Likewise, if it's taking place in a self-contained, private tale that doesn't intrude upon somebody else's creations that weren't meant to serve as vehicles for sleaze, then it's not like we have to complain. But if it interlopes in as one-sided, crude and trivial a way as it did in Brad Meltzer's abomination, then he shouldn't be surprised that the sensible would take offense.

Plus, another problem with how this was handled is that, it took place in the past, which did not jibe well with the established history of the cast of characters involved. If it took place in the present, and with a more dedicated writer/editor, it might've had a chance, but only if, regardless of whom the narrative came from, it recognized that rape was more important than the punishment dealt to the culprit.

Curiously enough, last year, he seemed to have turned around and admitted in the comments section that he was of a different mindset in 2004. However, he still insists that:
...at its root, this [condemnation by the audience] wasn’t a feminist objection. It was a reactionary gesture on the part of fanboys, at a point that was then a solid decade into the so-called “return to fun” that began with Marvels and had by then taken over the majority of super-hero comics.
Granted, he's correct that even during 1993-2003, it's not like comics truly returned to "fun". After all, when you have Yolanda Montez and Beth Chapel slain by Eclipso, Hal Jordan turned psycho, and Blue Devil's co-star Marla Bloom getting rubbed out within that timespan, you know it's not like they ever made a convincing return to optimism and good taste so much as they subverted it. The 90s were an extremely mixed bag, with some comics still keeping a modicum of decent escapism while others were tanking badly, before collapsing altogether post-2000.

However, his suggestion that all the detractors were just selfish nerds who didn't want something "new" and "bold" brought in, and that no women could possibly take offense in any way, is insulting and paints the whole audience with the same brush. If he wants an example of women who did take offense, the staff at Sequential Tart provided some of the best pans I can find from a woman's POV. Plus, there were some women on forums like CBR's at the time who also confirmed they found it repellent. So why was he suggesting he hadn't moved very far past the cynicism, and worst, why was he obscuring the legitimate arguments that some of these fanboys he speaks of did happen to make? Did it ever occur to the Sequart writer that he might be the one issuing a reactionary gesture, wherein he dismisses every detractor as a clod with no ability to distinguish between well written and poorly written? A description easily befitting him, I dare say. I don't see how or why he'd think an audience he happens to be part of is made up entirely of "reactionaries". If that's what he thinks, he shouldn't even bother to remain.

I'd also note that some of the worst apologists for Identity Crisis could easily be described as fanboys, and are still reading superhero comics regardless of the quality.

And I'd like to make another point I believe is quite worthy: this kind of story could've taken place in Batman, done very much the same way, and still wouldn't be any good because of the vile treatment of women. In fact, a case could easily be made against the Bruce Wayne: Murderer?/Fugitive crossover that it was offensive to women because of the ill-treatment of the guest character named Sasha Bordeaux. So it's not darkness per se that's turning off the audience. It's the loss of good taste and common sense, even within those very boundaries.

And lest even I assume that he turned around, at the end of his update, he says:
I don’t expect anyone else to necessarily agree, but this is why I stand by this old piece, warts and all.
Well if he still stands by his apologia, then I see no reason to believe he's learned a lesson in morale. If he can't recognize the bad-fanfic structure Identity Crisis was flooded with, then he's not being very altruistic.

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That's pathetic. I don't know how ANYONE can defend this POS storyline, even now. It destroyed the DCU and led to a lot of the darkness that you see today in the new 52.

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