Steve Lieber And The Cellmate Test

Posted by November 1, 2010 Comment

Mike McLarty writes for Bleeding Cool;

Steve Lieber recently found himself making news by simply being a nice guy. In an article that Bleeding Cool published here, we published a sales tracking chart provided by Lieber. The chart showed that by offering the content from his collaboration with Jeff Parker, Underground, sales through his Etsy web shop escalated dramatically.

I had the good fortune of following up with Lieber regarding the incident and another topic very close to his heart emerged during the course of our e-mail exchanges. I let him know that Bleeding Cool would be more than happy to share his thoughts regarding inappropriate treatment of female comics creators.

The catalyst for his heartfelt testimonial stems from dozens of sexist discussions that have taken place over the Internet. The most recent example being a piece from earlier in the month at Robot 6, located here that quotes Kate Beaton;

“dear internet, you are well meaning, but I’d like to make a point. when you tell a female creator you like her work so much you want to marry her and have her babies, you’re not doing anyone any favors. first of all, as cute as it sounds in your head, it’s a shitty, disrespectful ‘compliment.’ No one makes comics looking for sexual attention. secondly, by doing so you invite others to critique that person’s works based on their looks, which is uncomfortable, sexist and unfair.”

The comments were … well. Internet comments. Here is Steve’s take, unedited;

Here is a simple test for whether your “compliment” is fucked up: Don’t ask “Would I like it if a lady said it to me?” Ask “Would I like it if my cellmate said it to me?”

I feel dumb even having to speak up about this issue. This stuff ought to be obvious, but maybe it’ll help if people hear it from another guy.

We’re building an online culture here. We have been for years. One thing that makes it different from the “real world” is that it’s so easy to say fucked up things to each other without suffering any consequences. But who wants to live in that kind of world? In that 4chan thread last week, I glibly dismissed the rare troll or rude online comment I encounter: “It’s the internet. Not everyone is nice.

This is news?

Easy for me to say; I’m small potatoes, and more to the point, I can put stuff online without getting tons and tons of the wrong kind of attention. I’m a guy; A 6’3″ middle-aged, lard-assed guy. There aren’t untold numbers of men projecting their sexual frustrations on me, or evaluating my fuckability.

How can I make this any clearer? Don’t do that! You are making people whose work you claim to like feel like shit. Everyone, if you’re not a sociopath, I’m asking you to please give this some thought. Try not to do that to women, and don’t freak out at people who just ask for a little respect.

Just use my “cellmate” test. I’m not saying that these are analogous situations. They are not. I get that in the pursuit of ever-more-extreme hyperbole, people push their metaphors to some really strange places. And when guys hang out, they talk about women. But guys, you aren’t doing this in private. You’re part of that online culture we’re building. You’re saying this stuff where the women themselves can see it, and it’s creeping them out and scaring them off.

Bleeding Cool certainly has its share of… let’s say, dodgy commenters in the forums. I think the “cellmate test” is one that all sorts of people, on this site and others, might at least consider…

(Last Updated November 1, 2010 2:18 pm )

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