Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick Artist: Valentine De Landro
Publisher: Image Comics
Today we're talking about BITCH PLANET, an intriguing, committed, and highly political comic. I will be honest from the start: as an avid comic reader, I was not a huge fan of this book. There was just something in the story not really clicking with me. However, as a woman, I thought BITCH PLANET was brilliant and what we needed to spark a discussion.
In a dystopian world, women are imprisoned for any disobedient behavior. It can be anything from murder… to being overweight. They are placed on a planet where they are punished for their “crimes”. This planet is named Bitch Planet.
We can say the premise of this story is like imagining if the perfect women of the future were 1950’s housewives but in a more violent and devious world. It’s imagining the evolution of the world in the complete opposite direction: less freedom and equality, more racism, sexism, and desire to control with a strong misogynistic hand. On this planet, women are stripped from their personalities and forced into a prison mold. They are teamed up and sent to battle where they fight in front of cameras as a fabulous hit TV show… à la Hunger Games if I may say.
I realized in order to talk about the brilliant things in BITCH PLANET, I had to take a step back and see this first volume as more about setting a universe and a message, rather than telling a story. It has a slow rhythm, explanatory paste that isn’t really my style, but I do understand and love the purpose of this book.
For a lot of readers, this comic is finally opening the door for something they always wanted: strong, natural-looking women fighting the good fight against everything they despise in sexism. The writing is really blunt with just a touch of in-your-face attitude, the signature of Kelly Sue DeConnick in my opinion. It’s a satire about actuality pushed over the top… and still not so far from the truth. I don’t want to say “it makes fun of” as there is absolutely nothing fun in sexism, but it sure exposes the absurdity and injustice behind every women’s life.
Kelly Sue DeConnick has a talent for highlighting the problems in a really bold writing style. Some may say she forced her “agenda” into her writing. However, I would personally not go as far as that. I think the writing is fluid enough to make it feel strongly political but not forced. We can feel how much she cares, as a woman, about the injustices portrayed in the story. It seems like BITCH PLANET was written under the anger of a tired woman. Tired of being judged, being controlled, and being forced into habits she didn’t want. Because sadly, although it was written in 2014, it is still the truth and is still happening around the world.
She fills her story with strong, diverse female characters with bold personalities and attitude (which is what brought them to Bitch Planet). These characters help expose the ridiculous misogynistic ideas behind common annoying calls we get: “You are prettier when you smile”, “Girls don’t curse or talk back”..... *Sigh*
BITCH PLANET is the perfect example of why the dated stereotype of “girls should be pretty and compliant at all times” is outdated, false, and impossible to maintain.
Not only that, but it is also refreshing to stumble upon a story entirely filled with female characters that are actually diverse. From different body weights, skin colors, or different female body shapes, we can see how easy it is to incorporate such diversity in the visuals.
I would say that one of my favorite things about this book is the satirical ads. Every couple of pages we stumble upon a fictional ad showcasing some new revolutionary products… that is highly insulting and, again, completely ridiculous. It makes you giggle to the absurdity… Until you realize it is not so far from actual marketing we face every day.
We can say that BITCH PLANET is an angry book. It’s angry against the world. And anger is not for everyone. Anger might provoke some hate. Hate from the readers. Hate from the world who is not ready for such an angry but needed message. Some would say BITCH PLANET is the result of a writer trying too hard…. But I see it more as a result of years of anger and tiredness towards a society that tries too hard to never change.
My opinion is surely tinted as I am myself one of those angry women. Angry of not being able to be as strong as a man. Angry of not being able to walk alone at night like a man. Angry of being catcalled in the streets by men. Angry of being grabbed in public transports and portrayed as a prey. If I was a woman in this dystopian world, I would definitely be sent to Bitch Planet.
I guess what I’m saying is: I didn’t appreciate BITCH PLANET for the story. I appreciated it for reading the voice of a woman trying to change the world for me. This piece is definitely not for everyone and will surely spark some confusion and dislikes for some. But this piece made me feel good, and I hope it made some others feel good too.
To all those angry bitches out there that are not afraid to talk back and love their bodies like they are. -Gen