Update 27 Apr 2008: profbwoman at WOC PhD has an formidable series.
Update: Seal Press has just responded to the people criticising their artwork in Amanda Marcotte’s “It’s A Jungle Out There” book as racist and colonialist. The apology is here:.
Friday, April 25, 2008
A Public Apology
To Our Readers, Our Friends, Our Critics,
We are taking action immediately to remove the offensive images from It’s A Jungle Out There. We are currently reprinting, and we will make these changes now. We apologize for any pain or concern these images have caused.
We do not believe it is appropriate for a book about feminism, albeit a book of humor, to have any images or illustrations that are offensive to anyone.
Some have asked the valid question, “What were you thinking?”
Please know that neither the cover, nor the interior images, were meant to make any serious statement. We were hoping for a campy, retro package to complement the author’s humor. That is all. We were not thinking.
As an organization, we need to look seriously at the effects of white privilege. We will be looking for anti-racist trainings offered here in the Bay Area. We want to incorporate race analysis into our work.
In the meantime, please know that all involved in the publishing of It’s A Jungle Out There, from editorial to production were not trying to send a message to anyone about our feelings regarding race. If taken seriously as a representation of our intentions, these images are also not very feminist. By putting the big blonde in the skimpy bathing suit with the big breasts, the tiny waist, and the weapon on our cover, we are also not asserting that she is any kind of standard that anyone should aspire to. This 1950s Marvel comic is not an accurate reflection of our beauty standards, our beliefs regarding one’s right to bear arms, nor our perspectives on race relations, foreign policy, or environmental policy.
We also extend this apology to the author, Amanda Marcotte, who did not select these images for her book. Writing humor is very difficult. While our intention was to complement your words, we see that these images have had the opposite effect, and for that, we are sorry.
Sincerely and humbly,
Krista Lyons-Gould and Brooke Warner
My response is in the comments thread.
Good for you for owning up to it, and for taking action. (Is the exact action outlined?)
I do take issue with your apparent attempt to equate the use of the sexist imagery with the use of the racist imagery. They are very, very different situations. It can be possible, in some circumstances, for a woman writer to reclaim sexist language or images. What is NOT possible is for a _white_ writer to reclaim racist, colonisalist imagery.
We shouldn’t let any of our feminist sisters get away with this, any more so than we let men get away with cracking rape jokes. You don’t get to joke around about oppression or try to “reclaim” — when you’re the oppressor.
Further edit 26 apr 2008: Amanda Marcotte has apologised for this artwork, but without any of the “It was a joke!” weasel-wording that SP used.
I’m sorry. Plain and simple. I didn’t pick the offensive imagery in my book, but I should have caught it sooner than now. I didn’t and there’s no excuse. It was my first book, I was excited and happy, but I needed to have a more critical eye. I would do anything to remove racist images from the first printing of the book if I could, and I am relieved and happy to say that they will be removed from future printings. Seal Press has their note of apology up too, and they accept full responsibility for these mistakes. I really recommend reading it.
I can understand why anyone would choose to boycott a book with these images, and I respect that choice. Hopefully, once they are removed, people will reconsider supporting the book if they like the content. I, for one, will be ripping the pages out of my copy but keeping them as a reminder to be alert. Thank you to everyone who’s engaged in a conversation that’s been tough for me but productive nonetheless.
This is pretty much what I’ve got to say. I welcome your feedback below. I imagine things might get pretty intense, so I may not choose to say much more than this, but know that I’m reading and listening and respect your thoughts very much. Once again, I apologize for the images, my overlooking them, and any hurt this may have caused.