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“It Means a Lot to Feel Represented.” – Tara’s Story

Here’s our latest Comics Empower Project post, where real fans share how comics empowered them! 

Today, Tara shares her personal story!

 

Tara

Tara

I am a lifelong geek, but comic books were never my thing when I was younger.

After studying literature and spending about a decade working in print and digital publishing, I fell in love with comic book movies – the Marvel Cinematic Universe in particular.

I connected with other fans online and a friend recommended Thor: The Mighty Avenger (Langridge/Samnee, 2010). I read both volumes and began to study storytelling in this format.

After that, I had a very negative experience in a comic book shop.

The owner told me to ask my big brother about comics if I was interested in reading or creating them. For the record… I was 30 years old at the time with a few hundred published pieces of content about media in various formats.

I went through a lot of anger and other negative emotions. The casual and targeted sexism the comic book community was extremely obvious and something that made a lot of female readers uncomfortable. I started the ‘female-friendly comic book store list’ to celebrate people who are doing something right – and to create a resource to show readers and gamers safe and friendly places for them to shop. The majority of the community is made up of awesome people, and creating the list connected me to so many of them.

When Marvel announced that a woman would be Thor, it made a lot of sense to me…and it felt very validating.

I spent a lot of energy learning from, building, and contributing to this community to support women in geek culture, and Marvel made a bold and unapologetic move featuring my very favorite character. A lot of the ideals that my favorite Marvel characters stand for suddenly became very real.

After others told me I was over-analyzing feminist aspects of the MCU, it was suddenly apparent that I really wasn’t. I did not grow up with Marvel characters the way some other fans did, but as an adult I definitely feel like I am growing with them.

It means a lot to feel represented; sure, big companies are out to make money and my demographic seems to be buying a lot of comics right now, but it feels very resolved to experience a certain trust and appreciation between the comic book creators, the publishers, and the readers who take active stands on equality.

When you are told you are imagining inequity, it can be tough to persevere, even if your mission is to point out people who are doing things fairly. A lot of people will tell you it’s in your head. Then you read Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Bitch Planet or realize you weren”t silly for wanting to see Agent Peggy Carter in her own TV series…because it’s happening.

I learned a lot last year in particular, especially from the women on various panels at NYCC and Maya Glick, a powerful inspiration who crowdfunded her own Storm fanfilm. If you don’t like the dominant narrative, create your own and others will support you.

The Geek Initiative is now a full-fledged website featuring notable interviews and highlighting comics that matter. We also appreciate the fun and fluff that comes along with fandom. We just completed our Indiegogo campaign and blew past our goal, proving that once again, equality matters in media. We are taking a more active approach to representing diverse voices as we move forward. We are a bit of an oddity in our niche; a good half of our contributing writers identify as male.

I’m grateful that the Thor movies and comics show that truly brave individuals are always on a journey and may always fight struggles. I have to constantly remind myself that my experiences, thoughts, and feelings are valid and that truly compelling work – which I aspire to create – may help others find their footing just as Thor, Jane, Lady Sif, and so on have helped me.

 

About Tara: Tara M. Clapper is a full-time social media associate and a part-time freelance writer. She is the senior editor of The Geek Initiative, an online community celebrating women in geek culture.

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Category: Comics Empower