I awoke this morning to a steaming pile of hatred thanks to this person who took offense to a CollegeHumor toplist entitled “Worst Female Superhero” and asked their readers to email/tweet at me. Their blog being one that exists to examine female superheroes in the DC universe, I’m not surprised that they didn’t like the feature. I have dozens of emails/tweets/messages calling me sexist, a “douchecanoe”, proclaiming CollegeHumor to be a sexist boys’ club that “doesn’t think women are funny,” the list goes on.
Douchecanoe or not, accusations that I am sexist - or that CH is a sexist boys’ club - really anger me. And anger is the correct word. The employee in charge of creating toplists and writing the copy - yes, even the one about bad female superheroes - is a woman. A woman I hired and put in a management position not because she is a woman and I had some imaginary quota to fill, but because she is the most qualified, best person for the job. The feature was intended to highlight the idea that comic writers have tended to not spend as much time on female superheroes as they have developing male superheroes, making them worse. Is that true? I have no idea. I stopped reading comics when I was about 12 and became extremely interested in the gender I’m apparently trying to hold down.
On the flip side of that, I can easily see how this could be construed as something meant to mock the very concept of female superheroes, which was never the intent. So allow me to apologize to those of you who saw it that way and were hurt. We’re not here to make fun of women, we’re here to make fun of everyone, after all. We will also remove it from the site since, in this light - and possibly in any light - it’s just not that funny. It’s OK for comedians to shoot for humor and miss the mark, but when you miss and manage to piss off a large segment of your readership, it’s not worth standing behind. There have been many times in the past where we’ve posted something that deeply offended a group of people and we have refused to apologize or take it down. In those cases, the content in question was something we, as a creative team, stood behind completely. That is not the case here. The intent was good and should have yielded a funny result, the reality is that the anger will outweigh the comedy. It is my responsibility as EIC of CH to anticipate that issue and keep content running that risk off of the site. So while I don’t think of myself as a sexist douchecanoe, those of you emailing me content complaints have found the right recipient.
This particular issue aside, a lot of the comments that have angered me are more general and I want to take this opportunity to address them. A number of people have written to me to proclaim that CH is a boys’ club full of immature men making boner jokes. Six or seven years ago, you would have been mostly right. The female voice on the site was very quiet. My hunch is a lot of the people writing that kind of email haven’t been to the site since. I implore you, come back and take a look. Peruse the articles and see the names appearing in the byline. Check the credits on the videos and see who is writing them. 4 of the top 10 non-group articles this month were written by women. Within the editorial department’s three subgroups - edit, social media and art - two of three department heads are women. We may still make immature boner jokes, but they’re often written by women these days.
Is there sex in comedy? Are women and men objectified to make jokes? Of course. The simple fact is that sex and gender are part of life - the reason for life, in fact - and life is often funny. Sex is often funny. Gender is often funny. It’s not sexist to make fun of women, it’s not sexist to make fun of men. It is sexist not to hire qualified women, something I hope I’ve shown you that we do not do.
Again, apologies to those of you who were insulted by a feature that was intended to point out an inequality in comic books. But I ask that before you fire an accusatory broadside at our site, you take a moment to learn about who is behind the content here. I love that I can offer paying jobs to talented young creatives - male and female - and I’m not willing to risk that for the sake of an obviously contentious feature.
If you emailed/messaged me like a human being I will write you back and address your concerns personally. If you emailed/messaged me to call me a douchecanoe, congratulations on finding a new word to put after douche.