An Open Letter to Matt Miner on "Liberator"
A brief critique without actually reading it.
Dear Matt Miner and Future Liberators,
While I have not read your comic book, "Liberator," that is supposed to depict animal liberationists, I couldn't help but notice a few things from the top, from the advertisements, that seem a little bit off.
The first thing I noticed about the illustrations were the massive, unnatural looking breasts on the female activist that are in a triangular shape, unlike those of natural breasts. They look as though they were surgically augmented in a way to fit mainstream patriarchal beauty standards through silicon implants. Generally the types of women who feel the need to get this surgery done will have such low self-esteem that they would never feel empowered enough to don a baklava and liberate animals, let along feel comfortable with their own body in day-to-day life. We see again and again in mainstream animal rights activism the objectification and exploitation of women's bodies to fit mainstream beauty standards, be them through PETA ads, Melissa Schwartz photography, or a host of other media-related endevours that are endorsed by those who abuse women or are complicit to abuse. It was perplexing to me, as someone who has participated in a host of radical animal activism over the course of almost a decade, why the breasts of the white female liberator in your comic book needed to be the same size as her head and so pointy it looked like a 1950's conical brassiere advertisement.
There were a couple of other small things I noticed about this female that looked inaccurate to what a female liberator might look like when she's ready for action. For example, I noticed that her bangs and side hairs were hanging and fly-away looking through her mask and hood. Any good liberator knows that one must tie one's hair back, so as to prevent a trail of genetic evidence, if one has long hair and participates in actions of the kind your comic book character is participating in. The only reason I can conclude that your female liberator illustration has her hair out while she is in full gear, is because again, you are attempting to make a super-human sex symbol out of an every day person who cares about animals enough to do something. Often times, women's head hair is a signal of beauty, and I am wondering if you would find the female liberator any less important if say, she tied her hair back. Is her sexual attractiveness in this comic pivotal to her value as an activist? I am aware that groups like PETA and Melissa Schwartz find a female's physical and sexual attractiveness pivotal to her importance as a role model for veganism, but the people who put on masks and actually help animals through direct action do not always feel the same way as these entities that reinforce the patriarchal beauty standard and the male gaze as their main mode of operation when it comes to activism.
I noticed your female character is wearing boots in the illustration. Again, I am wondering if the boots are there more for a mystique aesthetic, or because the illustrator was mistaken and thought that direct action activists wear boots while they work. It would have made much more sense had she been wearing some kind of running shoes or sneakers that would allow her maximum nimble movement and maneuverability.
I don't want the audience to assume that some female liberators to not fit these standards or look like this. Some do, and some don't all are important and valuable.
In writing a public letter to you about this on Portland Indymedia, I hope to reach not only you, but any young females, or not so young females, who may be interested in becoming a direct action activist who works above the law to save animals. In our society, females are told every single day that they are not good enough, their bodies need to be altered, they need to regulate who they are, and need to conform to various standards of beauty and behavior. It appears as though the illustration in this comic book adheres to those standards, in the Angelina Jolie-esque Tomb Raider female superhero way, wherein she has to be ultra sexual and fit a different, though entirely predictable and molded, other standard. Females, while you may to need look or behave a certain way to fit into groups like PETA or vGirls by Melissa Schwartz, this is not the case at all for becoming an anonymous liberator. Quite the opposite, you can look any way you wish and be whoever you wish, without listening to any of those people. In glancing at Matt's comic, I feel he may be doing you all a disservice by creating a hero-worshiping mystique around a stereotypically and mainstream attractive woman who doesn't tie her hair back in a baklava or wear proper running shoes for actions, because it is more important to create an idol-worshippable comic book mystique character than it is to write about and illustrate a normal human being. Again, that's not to say that some female liberators actually do fit these standards naturally or should be devalued. However ladies, anonymous liberators really are just normal human beings who generally dislike groups like PETA and Melissa Schwartz's vGirls, which seeks to disempower the average woman who does not fall into certain categories. I hope in reading this, girls and women, you will understand that Matt Miner is more influenced by these mainstream forces, than by actually speaking to or knowing any women who are even vaguely associated with clandestine actions. If you read this comic, take it with a grain of salt, and understand that the illustrations are bullshit to what is usually realistic.
Hero worship kills animals; it slaughters them by disempowering the average person to feel confident enough to take action. There is so much more you can aspire to be and do to help animals besides being something that is fuckable for the masses.
I hope you'll understand that as you move through this world that seeks to harm and disempower you everywhere you turn, to rape and hurt you, to taunt and abuse you. You need to understand their bullshit in order to overcome it. The animals need you to do this really really badly. Do it for them. Do it because they need you to. Their lives are depending on it.
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