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Monday New: Thor is now a woman, battling conference harassment, the...

The importance of female readership — particularly its economic importance — is something Esther has experienced as a store manager. Fantom has a list of weekly subscribers and a quarter of them are women. And it’s the comics with female characters that are making money. According to their most recent data, Fantom’s bestselling superhero comic is Ms. Marvel, starring a teenage Pakistani-American from New Jersey, the first Muslim character to get her own series. The best-selling title overall is Saga, another series in which many of the main characters are female. And both Ms. Marvel and Saga have female creators — G. Willow Wilson writes Kamala Khan’s adventures as Ms. Marvel, and Fiona Stapes is behind Saga’s gorgeous art. –NPR

Geeks for CONsent, founded by three women from Philadelphia, gathered nearly 2,600 signatures on an online petition supporting a formal anti-harassment policy at Comic-Con.

Conventioneers told Geeks for CONsent they’d been groped, followed and unwillingly photographed during the four-day festival. –Yahoo News

At issue during the meeting was a book by Rep. Ryan, R-Wis., being published by Grand Central Publishing. Goodman and other GOP members of the commission wanted the FEC to affirm that the book and its publisher are exempt from FEC regulation under what’s known as the “media exemption” — the same exemption that typically lets newspaper editorials, television channels and other outlets say what they want about political figures without worrying about campaign finance laws.  –Fox News

According to both 2006 and 2009 studies published by Raymond Mar, a psychologist at York University in Canada, and Keith Oatley, a professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto, those who read fiction are capable of the most empathy and “theory of mind,” which is the ability to hold opinions, beliefs and interests apart from their own.

They can entertain other ideas, without rejecting them and still retain their own. While this is supposed to be an innate trait in all humans, it requires varying levels of social experiences to bring into fruition and probably the reason your last partner was such a narcissist. –Elite Daily

isn't sure if she's an average Romance reader, or even an average reader, but a reader she is, enjoying everything from literary fiction to philosophy to history to poetry. Historical Romance was her first love within the genre, but she's fickle and easily seduced by the promise of a good read. She approaches every book with the same hope: that she will be filled from the inside out with something awesome that she didnʼt know, didnʼt think about, or didnʼt feel until that moment. And she's always looking for the next mind-blowing read, so feel free to share any suggestions!

21 Comments

  1. Lynne Connolly
    Jul 28, 2014 @ 05:47:27

    I think we finally have to wave bye-bye to any reference to Norse mythology. In that context, Thor as a woman makes no sense at all to me. Freya was their badass goto goddess. Thor, with his phallic hammer and his ultra-masculine mythology and cultural echoes? Nah. PC taken a bit too far for me. Leave him as he is and bring Freya into play.
    Now the other news, that Captain America is going to be a person of color – that makes so much sense I don’t know why they didn’t do it years ago. And Falcon as well! Bring it on!

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  2. library addict
    Jul 28, 2014 @ 06:03:38

    I think the Thor as a woman is fine. What bothers me is the rewriting/re-envisioning of everything. The remake mentality took over Hollywood some time ago. I understand there are no truly “new” ideas, but why can’t they at least attempt to do something original? Why does everything have to remade/retold? You want more female centric comics, create new characters rather than remaking old ones. Of course, that doesn’t make the news so I do understand why. I’m just at the stage in life where I don’t want my fond memories of the “originals” disturbed. And while I like some remakes, they are the exception. Most remakes are awful.

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  3. wikkidsexycool
    Jul 28, 2014 @ 07:08:31

    My avatar is a teen Valkyrie from photos that I edited together. Now it’s my job to make sure her ebook gets into libraries and into the hands of readers who are interested in super heroines and heroes of color. I recall submitting to Marvel years ago (not this character, but a series with eight other diverse heroes), Got turned down and filed it away. Now that self publishing has changed, I’m re-thinking the comics I stored away. I can put them out independently now, and hopefully find an audience.

    Marvel’s getting press out of this and riling up segments of the fan base who wants to keep things as is. As long as they have people talking, then I guess that’s a good thing. But announcing that “oh, now we’re making so and so a woman or this character will now be of color . . . temporarily” is starting to get old real fast.

    I hope they’ll begin to realize that a commitment to diversity isn’t something to just announce and then switch at will (swap gay character for person or color, then kill them off, etc).

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  4. Diana
    Jul 28, 2014 @ 08:39:55

    I don’t mind Thor as a woman. Women have had a hard row to hoe in the comic world, and any signs that women are coming to the forefront, rather than being pushed into the background — that is okay with me. Especially after the dispiriting disappointment that movie Wonder Woman is shaping up to be.

    But… I agree with Libraryaddict. Why does everything have to be a re-make or re-imagining? They could have started with the idea of a female like Thor and then imagined a new world behind her with new characters. I am not sure if it is laziness or just wanting to cash in on a certain thing, rather than taking the chance on something new and unproven.

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  5. Lostshadows
    Jul 28, 2014 @ 09:09:12

    I can’t answer why everything seems to be a remake nowadays, but there is a certain amount of logic to changing an existing comic book character from white male to someone else, in that its a lot cheaper to keep an existing comic book going than it is to market a completely new character and associated comic book.

    @Lynne Connolly- Marvel Thor’s Norse pantheon really never had much relation to actual Norse mythology to begin with, besides the names.

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  6. Joanna
    Jul 28, 2014 @ 09:10:42

    The Chicago Tribune ran a column last week by Rex Huppke (he writes about workplace issues) – it was the new female Thor meeting with Human Resources about the job and it was hilarious! It referenced the contraception issue and equal pay for women, very we’ll done.

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  7. hapax
    Jul 28, 2014 @ 09:34:27

    I don’t read superhero comics anymore (got too grimdark and gratuitously “edgy” for my tastes) but back when I was reading them, the power of Thor (i.e., the hammer Mjolnir) was wielded by several persons, including Captain America and the (awesome!) alien Beta Ray Bill. Thor himself (the person, not the power) was for almost a year completely crippled by magical osteoporosis, and then for several issues turned into a (incredibly kickass!) frog.

    So despite fanboy whining about a woman wielding the power of Thor (I assume that the person named Thor is not actually having gender reassignment surgery) is well within the comic’s tradition.

    However, like others, I wish Marvel had chosen instead to highlight some of their existing female characters, such as Valkyrie (Brunnhilde) or Sif.

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  8. Carolyn
    Jul 28, 2014 @ 10:33:32

    I’m keeping the male Thor. Who in their right mind would throw away Chris Hemsworth??

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  9. Ocean
    Jul 28, 2014 @ 10:52:13

    Thor is a woman because Marvel wants to have their own counterpart of DC’s trinity. They have Captain America as Superman and Ironman as Batman, and now with female Thor as Wonder Woman the circle is complete.

    Big surprise too that they’re introducing Mockingbird into Agents of Shield next season. Black Canary anyone?

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  10. Evangeline Holland
    Jul 28, 2014 @ 11:52:59

    Someone on another forum I frequent hit the nose–they won’t cast these newly diverse leads in the film and TV adaptations! So it’s not exactly a win.

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  11. Ridley
    Jul 28, 2014 @ 13:02:57

    “I doubt many readers will disagree with this hypothesis.”

    I did and a lot of people in my TL did too. It sounds ridiculous to me, honestly. Some of the biggest douchebags who tried to get in my pants were lit majors. The literary establishment is heavily invested in upholding racist, classist, sexist, etc. modes of thinking. Political polemic sells like hotcakes.

    I see no evidence at all that reading makes people more open-minded or empathetic.

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  12. Ashley F
    Jul 28, 2014 @ 15:17:48

    @Ocean

    DC’s “Arrow” tv show has Black Canary on it and she’s kind of badass. She has vulnerabilities like everyone else but Arrow makes it clear if he’s heading into a fight, he knows he doesn’t have to worry about the Canary because she can handle herself. On top of that they went outside the box (well sort of) and made the Canary’s love interest Nyssa al Ghul. They’re playing with things all over the place.

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  13. Lindsay
    Jul 28, 2014 @ 16:15:02

    Loki turned into a female horse that gave birth to an 8-legged horse and people think THIS is weird?

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  14. lawless
    Jul 28, 2014 @ 16:38:16

    I am really surprised at the reaction here. From what I can tell, Thor is a bigger deal (esp. outside the world of people who know about comic books, which includes me) than Valkyrie/Brunnhilde or Lady Sif. On that basis, it makes sense for Marvel to invest its resources this way. It stirs up interest (and controversy), most of the existing fans will continue to read, and other will try it out.

    Besides, changing the identity of the person wielding Thor’s hammer is an easier, and possibly more effective, way of getting those, both male and female, who embrace gender stereotypes (whether consciously or unconsciously), to purchase books with a female superhero. After all, we all know that in real life, men are not always worthy of the status that is automatically conferred on them and women often are but aren’t recognized as such.

    Beating the drum to increase the readership of existing comics with female leads is a much chancier and more resource-intensive endeavor. Starting more comics with new female leads is even chancier. If you were responsible for the financial well-being of the company, which would you do? Not only that, success with the woman who wields Thor’s hammer (which is a more accurate description of what’s going on here) might lead to increased investment in existing and new comics with female leads.

    As for those complaining about the lack of originality: there is nothing (or at least not much) new under the sun. The real question is how well is it executed. Shining example: Shakespeare. Just about all of his plays are derivative of the work of others. Based on his track record, I’m not sure he would know what to do with himself if he had to create a plot from scratch that didn’t owe a debt to someone. If copyright had existed at the time, he would have found writing plays extremely difficult. (This also suggests that using existing characters (i.e., writing fanfic) is not the advantage it’s made out to be.)

    Also, just because the comics show a woman wielding Thor’s hammer doesn’t mean the movies will follow soon follow suit. It usually takes awhile for what’s in the comics to wend its way to the screen given the serial nature of the comics and the studio’s need to gauge how popular the comics are before committing to a movie version. So no need to worry about Chris Hemsworth’s future yet.

    I’m with Ridley in thinking that the piece on the virtues of well-read people is way overblown.

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  15. Ocean
    Jul 28, 2014 @ 17:11:18

    @Ashley

    Precisely. Black Canary and Wonder Woman are two of DC’s popular tough superheroines, and I’m not surprised that Marvel would want to follow suit.

    Mockingbird is Marvel’s counterpart to Black Canary. She would later on become Hawkeye’s (Marvel’s counterpart to Green Arrow) wife.

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  16. Caro
    Jul 28, 2014 @ 17:11:29

    @hapax: Actually, Marvel did do an excellent run in the revived “Journey Into Mystery” with Sif for ten issues, written by Kathryn Immonen (with a guest appearance by the wonderfully awesome Beta Ray Bill). Unfortunately, it came right on the heels of Kieron Gillen’s run on the book, which set up the the current “reboot” of Loki in the Marvel Comic Universe (which isn’t so much a rebooted as a tangled knot), and I’m afraid it got somewhat lost in the shuffle. The best argument I’ve seen against making Thor a woman is the same one you’re making — why not just do a book with Sif or Valkyrie?

    I will say I’ve been enjoying Jason Aaron’s run on the book, enough so that when he says that he’s actually been setting this up for a while, I’m willing to go with it. Besides, his Old King Thor’s granddaughters are entertaining, so there’s a possibility this could be good.

    @Carolyn: No, I’m all for keeping Chris Hemsworth, too. :) But we can have both, since Thor Odinson (or “Unworthy Thor” as some are dubbing him) will still be around. He’s just about to pull some really bone-head moves in the comics. When Loki is the voice of reason, you know you’re in trouble.

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  17. cleo
    Jul 28, 2014 @ 20:26:00

    I read the heading as this: “Thor is now a woman, battling conference harassment” and I visualized her going after harassers with Thor’s hammer.

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  18. Kate Sherwood
    Jul 28, 2014 @ 21:59:46

    @cleo: That’s how I read it, too! I was very excited! And then… disappointed.

    Sigh.

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  19. Rachel
    Jul 28, 2014 @ 22:48:54

    @library addict: Comics have been doing this for ages though – Iron Man, Spiderman, Xmen – all the major titles reboot from time to time. They all keep some element of the original story, but add and play with the story line in ways that couldn’t previously be done.

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  20. Kaetrin
    Jul 29, 2014 @ 02:29:28

    @Ridley: I’m living proof of the theory. I am far more open-minded and empathetic as a result of my reading. I might be the only one I guess, but there’s at least me.

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  21. azteclady
    Jul 29, 2014 @ 07:51:16

    @Kaetrin: There’s at least a few more, even if we cannot all be as enlightened as others.

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