Saturday, March 28, 2009

Memoirs Of An Occasional Superheroine

I was following and enjoying Valerie D'Orazio's blog "Occasional Superheroine" for a good while before I ever read her personal account of events that lead to her departure from a job in an industry she lived for. I have only been really heavily reading comic blogs for a year or so. This Blog in this form is only about seven months old. Prior to that I wrote about comics in my personal journal on LiveJournal a lot. I started following Val's blog with no knowledge that she had ever posted a very graphic very public account of events in her life surrounding her love of comics and her dream of working in the industry, and ultimately her departure from a job in that industry after refusing to be silent about harassment in a culture that seemed far too casual and accepting of abuses toward women and minorities that ranged from subtle to blatant.

I was already very much a fan of her humor and insight, and her willingness to force discussion or at least consideration of uncomfortable but important/relevant subjects when I finally read "Goodbye To Comics" . Reading it, filled me with a variety of emotions and thoughts on it. they ranged from disbelief on some level, to shock, disgust and empathy on other levels. Even if I didn't have a mother, a wife, a sister, and two daughters, that I loved and cared about, and even if I hadn't spent much of my life with more female friends than male (back when I had friends), I would still be touched and hurt and angered by this, and the understanding that what she has gone through in her life and career is nothing close to a rare occurrence.

If you have not read 'Goodbye to Comics' and are not overly squeamish, go and follow that link and read it. It is pretty graphic and raw and uncomfortable to read. It is pretty well written, and while it is not without some humor to it, I think if you can read it and it doesn't make you uncomfortable, there may be something wrong with you, or you are a woman who has had to endure similar situations in your life.

The thing is, that if you read this and your only reactions are negative ones, then I think you may be missing a point. The very fact that this was written and posted as it was is a triumph. It is an important part of a healing process, and the sort of thing that needs to be public so that we can see it and hopefully evolve from it. A single light shone on a single life may not change the world, but I honestly believe that every story that is made public can help others in similar situations find strength and courage to make their own situations known, or at least let them know that they aren't alone in what they have been expected to endure. The more people that refuse to be silent about abuse, the harder it will be for abusers to get away with things, the harder it will be for them to make their targets accept that they somehow deserve what is happening to them, or that it is somehow socially acceptable.

'Memoirs Of An Occasional Superheroine' is a larger scale memoir that includes the full account of the events recalled in 'Goodbye to Comics' and expands greatly upon it, as well as giving us more detail and insight on her life prior to working at DC. It is a bit informal, but not completely unpolished. I found the writing style to be fast moving, insightful, and full of humor. I read it in two sittings. The first one kept me up until nearly 4am, and i would have finished it then except quite literally my eyes were giving out on me. The world described in this work is almost completely foreign to me, but it's a good read. I think it is critical that we see things outside of our comfort zones, outside of our own personal realities, and Val's story exists firmly outside of mine. It is impossible for me to read her story and not think about my daughters. It is gut wrenching to think of them ever being subjected to the sorts of things she has gone through, way too many of which are the sorts of things that a multitude of women have gone through, and still go through. It just makes me realize how important it is to let them know that they never have to be silent about abuses, and that the words ' our little secret' or 'don't tell' should set off alarms for them.

The memoirs are $10 dollars for an electronic copy, and are not currently available in hard copy, but if you have a printer, you can probably print it out if you have problems reading things online... I wouldn't use that excuse to not read this book. This is definitely not something for the kids, but if you have kids, it may prompt you to have a general discussion or two with them. It isn't a comic itself, but a large enough part of Val's life, and story, are certainly what you could call 'Comics related' to merit being reviewed in forums related to comics and the comics industry.

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