Jul 152014

Today, Disney/Marvel announced that the comic version of Thor will become female (for the third time). I have no problems with having a female Thor, although the move smacks of marketing and political correctness more than anything else. After all, they could just as easily have created a new IP with a new superheroine rather than, as a female friend of mine said, “tossing boobs on a preexisting one”. I am curious to see how Thor loses his worthiness to wield Mjölnir, and you know that the new Thor is going to be just as kick-ass as her male predecessor.

This change, of course, has split the community with many comics fans (including women) being very much against the change. Another friend of mine said,

I am a female comic book nerd who also happens to know a lot about mythology and … I also am one of the people not happy with a female Thor.

So, it’s clear that this change is not accepted by everyone, even those whom this change is meant to appeal to.

Unfortunately, it didn’t take long at all for those who were against the change to automatically be labeled as a “misogynist”. It didn’t matter what the reasons were for not liking the change toward a female Thor. Twitter and Google+ users were ready and willing to label anyone who is against this change as a “misogynist”. Apparently, these people need to start reading dictionaries in addition to comic books.

The Oxford Dictionary defines “misogyny” as a “dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women”.  Merriam-Webster defines it as “a hatred of women”.  In both of those definitions, the distinction is clear. Misogyny is not something as simple as not wanting to see a woman in what has mostly been a man’s role. Misogyny is not smack-talking women on Xbox Live through Internet anonymity, although I’m sure it does qualify in a few instances. Misogyny is hating women for any reason. Look no further than that idiot who killed those college girls in Santa Barbara claiming that “I will kill them all and make them suffer, just as they have made me suffer. It is only fair.” That’s misogyny. 

Unfortunately, accusations of “misogyny” in the geek world are being thrown around way too easily nowadays. The recent announcement of Assassin’s Creed: Unity not having a playable female character is probably the most notable. Yes, Ubisoft already had a female assassin in Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation; but the changes that would be needed for a game on the scale of Unity, which is scheduled to be released in a few months, are massive.  A popular video game franchise doesn’t have a female character! The developers are obviously misogynists! No, the developers are saying that it’s too late to change the game at this state. That’s totally different from having by definition a “hatred of women”.

Not unexpectedly, anyone who came to Ubisoft’s defense was also immediately tagged as either a misogynist or supportive of misogyny. You don’t specifically prefer games where you can play a female character? You’re a misogynist! No, the people who support the developers generally don’t have a preference for what the gender of the character is, understand the enormity of changing a game that is only a few months away from going gold (to the disc manufacturer), or both.

We also know when someone is using what has become an incorrectly-used buzzword to try to shame others who don’t agree with them.

I should also mention that the developers of Assassin’s Creed are a very diverse group including men and women from around the world. Additionally, Assassin’s Creed and Assassins’s Creed II were under the production leadership of Jade Raymond, managing director of Ubisoft Toronto, who is – you guessed it! – a woman. She’s also the executive producer for the recently released Watch_Dogs, which has a male lead character. (Horrors!)

But yet, somehow, if you support video game developers because their upcoming game has no female, playable characters or indeed if you show any sort of apathy towards the lack of female characters in comics and video games, you are automatically branded as a misogynist – a hater of women. Go figure.

Unfortunately, none of this will stop those with an agenda from continuing to throw “misogyny” and related words towards others who don’t agree with them, even if the target is also a woman. Maybe its time that someone threw the dictionary back at those people with the real meaning of “misogyny” clearly highlighted and bookmarked. Some links back to that Santa Barbara killer with “THAT’S a misogynist” probably wouldn’t hurt either.

Misogyny. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.