I am positive I was born non-compliant.
Growing up in Texas, I was raised in a traditional Christian upbringing kinda of way: no sex before marriage, no swearing, no drugs, church every Sunday, obey your elders, find a husband, have kids, have a happy ending. Unfortunately, the sounds of my childhood were from my dad’s stereo; the angry, rebellious hair bands of the early 90’s, and not a one of them shaped me into a proper young lady. Compared to my three beautiful, fashion conscious cousins of proper familial standards of beauty and relationships, I didn’t really have a chance. I swore, I headbanged, but weirdly, paired with magazines I borrowed from said cousins, that pressure to be just like them, to lose everything that made me ME was (is) fucking terrifying. I could starve myself and I would never ever be a size 4. Didn’t stop me back then from starving myself for a while, but as I got older, I did begin to realize no one looks like the jaw-dropping beauties in magazines. I certainly didn’t share the exact gene pool as my cousins, so I wouldn’t ever look like them either…but I never said anything to my grandparents when disparaging comments were made about my weight, my haircut, my lifestyle, my identity.
So, where does Bitch Planet fit in with this?
The opening scenes of this world (pictured below) have a sub-character apologizing for making her way through a crowd, not elbowing anyone, not bumping into them, more like preemptively apologizing for taking up the space…for bothering them purely by existing. She passes by ad after ad proclaiming, among other things, ACCOMMODATING HOUSEWIVES (I heard in my head my grandfather saying I should always serve my future husband, and do what he says), and YOU’RE FAT (I won’t even share the things my brain reminded me of). As I noticed them, and all the other ones scattered through the first few pages, all of these memories rushed back at me. When I finished the book, I set it down, and I wondered how quickly I’d be sent to Bitch Planet.
For talking back.
For speaking my mind.
For being myself instead of what society wants me to be.
Originally, this post started as an e-mail I wanted to send to the Bitch Planet crew (writer Kelly Sue DeConnick, and the art team Valentine de Landro, Cris Peter, and Clayton Cowles), but as I wrote , I realized perhaps others felt as touched I did.
From the moment news broke out of Image Expo back in January about this kick-ass prison planet adventure, I was on board. A boundary breaking, in-your-face, feminist book with a diverse cast set in a futuristic setting? Sign me up.
Almost every panel has something to make you think, to make you ask “why?”, to maybe nod your head in defeated agreement at the subliminal pressures put on by society. It’s not subtle, it’s not something you can miss, and that’s what makes Bitch Planet incredibly important. This is where Bitch Planet touched me on a personal level.
Presented as a spin on exploitation movies from the 70s, I at first feared for the diverse cast of characters, but it appears society is the one being exploited and laid out for the world to see. It’s a ballsy move by Kelly Sue, backed up by a bright palette from Clayton Cowles. This intriguing cast is presented for the first time to readers, completely naked, of various sizes, of various nationalities, but in a fantastic editorial choice, washed out in a pink hue. It’s a simple message, but a powerful one: we are the same. There are a lot of cultural issues in the limelight currently, and although this universe has a bit of a heightened patriarchal society…it’s believable, and it’s something worth a read.
As fellow geek entertainment site Comicosity puts it: “If you are afraid of picking this book up now, because you’re afraid you’ll be “preached” to about society, well… perhaps you need to pick up this book.”
It’s important…in every way a comic book can be.
Feel similar? Tweet your stories to me (@ladyvader99) using the hashtag #areyouNonCompliant?