As I’ve poked around the manga blogosphere over the past few days, I’ve found myself developing a number of Opinions (with a capital “O”). Whether this is a good thing or not remains to be seen, but it is the kind of thing that compels me to blog and so here I am. Opinion, the first:
This morning I followed a link from Brigid Alverson’s mangablog to an article on the Yaoi Press blog regarding an issue they had experienced recently with a printer, Docucopies, who refused to print their Yaoi Coloring Book due to images they found “disturbing.”
Then I read the update to the original post, which includes an e-mail exchange between Yamila at Yaoi Press and the print shop, in which Yamila offered to replace whatever images the printer felt went too far in order to get the job done. The woman at the print shop refused and then proceeded to identify several specific pages that she particularly found “disturbing.” One of those pages was this:
Yes. It’s two men kissing. Two men revealing no more bare skin than would be acceptable at the beach or your neighbor’s barbecue, kissing. Yamila asks in the post, “If you were me, what would you think?” All I can think is that this is one seriously homophobic print shop, at which point, I feel a combination of outrage and disgust.
In the comments over at Anime Vice, Erica Friedman of Yuricon/ALC Publishing, suggests that outrage is the wrong response, and that as manga fans, we should accept that our hobby is on the fringe of society and might not be tolerated in all quarters. She asks, too, how we might feel if we were forced to look at images that we abhorred while working at our jobs, and suggests that we might potentially even sue our workplace for being a hostile environment, urging sympathy for the printer who may just be a little guy trying to stay in business. (ETA: Please see Erica’s comment to this post for further clarification on her words.)
I like and respect Erica very much and her points are well taken, but on this I have to disagree. While it may be within the printer’s right as a private business to refuse service, and it may be true that she is battling issues with employees (though her e-mail states that she, herself, has a problem with the images), I actually think that outrage is an acceptable response and perhaps (when expressed with politeness or at least restraint) even the best response. Because this isn’t about my fringe hobby, it’s about bigotry. Am I going to go crazy and threaten the owner of the print shop? No, of course not. But I’m not going to support their business and I’m probably going to tell them so. I think this is important, because not only do I not believe it is my obligation to “tolerate” or pander to bigotry (in this case, homophobia), I actually think it is harmful to do so. The people who work there are real, live people who have the power to affect other people’s lives (and restrict their rights) with their voices and their votes, and though my anger may not motivate them to question their beliefs, my silence certainly won’t. Quietly tolerating someone’s bigotry is, in my opinion, the same thing as enabling it.
Short version: If you can’t stand the sight of two men kissing, that’s your problem. If you refuse someone service because you can’t stand the sight of two men kissing, you’re making it everyone else’s problem and at that point it is appropriate for people to speak up.
ETA2: For further information, ICv2 has an interview with Yamila regarding this issue.