On Tuesday, Oct 25, Marvel author Chelsea Cain tweeted that she was facing online harassment, and deleted her Twitter account early the next day. Cain is an established novelist and writer of the Marvel series Mockingbird. Most of the harassment centered around a tweet she had made earlier last week about the comic’s cancellation, saying “We need to make sure @Marvel makes room for more titles by women about women kicking ass” and the cover for the 8th issue, which featured Mockingbird wearing a shirt that says, “Ask me about my feminist agenda.”
Mockingbird, AKA Barbara “Bobbi” Morse was first created in 1971 and has since become a recurring character in the Marvel universe and a member of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (you may have seen her in the eponymous t.v. show played by Adrianne Palicki). Chelsea Cain began her comic career by writing “Mockingbird: S.H.I.E.L.D. 50th Anniversary” in 2015 and went on to author the Mockingbird series until it was cancelled after issue 8.
Mockingbird has arguably been portayed as a feminist character since Cain first began writing her, though the backlash came only after the “f-word” was so prominently displayed on an issue’s cover.
According to Cain’s blog, “The tweets that bothered me were never the ones concerned with content; they were the ones that questioned my right to write comics at all, and were disgusted by the idea of a female hero having her own series. Wednesday, I had a bubble of these types of tweets. Mockingbird had been cancelled, and they were really celebrating.”
Her decision to step away from the demoralizing storm that was brewing on her feed was the unfortunate culmination of existing in two realms where women are often made to feel unwelcome: comics and the internet – specifically Twitter. As Cain elaborated on her blog, “There is still a vocal segment of the comic book readership that is dominated by sexist jerks with Twitter accounts. Twitter is still a highly flawed platform that nurtures a culture of bullying.”
She ends her post on an interesting note, saying, “Let me be clear: I did not leave Twitter because I was trolled; I was trolled because I said I was going to leave Twitter.”
Many authors, readers, and members of the comics community have stepped forward on twitter to share their support for Cain using the hashtag #StandWithChelseaCain. One user even tweeted where you can buy shirts with the offending “Ask me about my feminist agenda” slogan!
— MarissaTheLibrarian (@mt_librarian) October 26, 2016
Nevertheless, Cain so far shows no desire to return to the hostile scene. She is one of many women who were driven to delete their accounts because of bullying and harassment. Where do you stand in the “feminist agenda?”