Women in Refrigerators

Women in Refrigerators (WiR) is a website created in 1999[1] by a group of feminist comic-book fans that lists examples of Women in Refrigerators Syndrome, a literary trope in which female characters are injured, raped, killed, or depowered (an event colloquially known as fridging), sometimes to stimulate "protective" traits, and often as a plot device intended to move a male character's story arc forward, and seeks to analyze why these plot devices are used disproportionately on female characters.

Women in Refrigerators
Type of site
Comic book
Available inEnglish
OwnerGail Simone
Created byDaniel Merlin Goodbrey
Rob Harris
Gail Simone
Beau Yarbrough
John Bartol
LaunchedMarch 1999
Current statusOnline

History Edit

Panel from Green Lantern vol. 3 #54, the origin of the phrase

The term "Women in Refrigerators" was coined by writer Gail Simone as a name for the website in early 1999 during online discussions about comic books with friends. It refers to an incident in Green Lantern vol. 3 #54 (1994), written by Ron Marz, in which Kyle Rayner, the title hero, comes home to his apartment to find that the villain Major Force had killed his girlfriend, Alexandra DeWitt, and stuffed her in a refrigerator.[2][3] Simone and her colleagues then developed a list of fictional female characters who had been "killed, maimed or depowered", in particular in ways that treated the female characters as mere devices to move forward a male character's story arc, rather than as fully developed characters in their own right.[3][4] The list was then circulated via the Internet over Usenet, bulletin board systems, email and electronic mailing lists. Simone also e-mailed many comic book creators directly for their responses to the list.

The list is infamous in certain comic book fan circles. Respondents often found different meanings to the list itself, though Simone maintained that her simple point had always been: "If you demolish most of the characters girls like, then girls won't read comics. That's it!"[5]

Journalist Beau Yarbrough created the initial design and coding on the original site. Technology consultant John Bartol edited the content. Robert Harris,[6] a librarian and comic-book fan, contributed to site maintenance and updates along with fan John Norris. The idea for placing the list online originated with software developer Jason Yu, who also served as the original site host.[7]

Response Edit

In 2000, several national newspapers ran articles that referenced the site, generating discussion on the topic of sexism in pop culture and the comic-book industry.[8] Some universities also list the content of Women in Refrigerators as related to analysis and critique of pop culture.[9][10]

Creator response Edit

Simone received numerous e-mail responses from comic book fans and professionals. Some responses were neutral and others were positive.[11] Additionally, arguments on the merits of the list were published on comic-book fan sites in early 1999.

Simone published many of the responses she received on the website.[11]

Several comic book creators indicated that the list caused them to pause and think about the stories they were creating. Often these responses contained arguments for or against the use of death or injury of female characters as a plot device. A list of some responses from comic book professionals is included on the site.[12] Marz's reply stated (in part): "To me the real difference is less male–female than main character – supporting character. In most cases, main characters, 'title' characters who support their own books, are male. ... the supporting characters are the ones who suffer the more permanent and shattering tragedies. And a lot of supporting characters are female."[13]

In popular culture Edit

Within the comics medium, during the 2009 DC storyline "Blackest Night", Alexandra DeWitt was one of many deceased characters temporarily brought back to life as part of the Black Lantern Corps. While she appeared briefly, she was seen inside a refrigerator construct at all times.[14]

Notable contributors Edit

Several contributors to the site and the original list later became comic book creators and entertainment industry professionals:

See also Edit

References Edit

  1. ^ Simone, Gail (March 1999). "Women in Refrigerators". LBY3. Retrieved August 24, 2013.
  2. ^ Condon, Michael (October 2002). "The Fanzing Challenge". Fanzing. Archived from the original on May 31, 2012. Retrieved September 9, 2023.
  3. ^ a b Prowse-Gany, Brian (August 12, 2015). "Rise of the Female Superhero". Yahoo! News.
  4. ^ a b Simone, Gail (March 1999). "The List". lb3.com. Retrieved August 24, 2013.
  5. ^ Simone, Gail (March 28, 1999). "Email as of 4/28/99". LBY3. Retrieved January 11, 2006.
  6. ^ "Who's Who: The Scarlet Rob". Gay League. Retrieved November 8, 2010.
  7. ^ "Women in Refrigerators". lby3.com. Retrieved December 21, 2012.
  8. ^ "Letters: Wonder women". Dallas Observer. May 25, 2000. Archived from the original on September 3, 2000. Retrieved August 31, 2017.
  9. ^ "Popular Culture". WSU.edu. Washington State University. Archived from the original on March 18, 2009. Retrieved September 9, 2023.
  10. ^ Moore, Perry. "Who cares about the death of a gay superhero anyway?". Archived from the original on October 12, 2007. Retrieved August 31, 2017.
  11. ^ a b Simone, Gail; Bartol, John (Editors). "Fan Reactions". "Women in Refigerators". Retrieved August 24, 2013.
  12. ^ Simone, Gail; Harris Rob (Editors). "Responding Creators". Women in Refrigerators. LBY3. Retrieved August 24, 2013.
  13. ^ "Ron Marz responds". Women in Refrigerators. LBY3. Retrieved August 24, 2013.
  14. ^ Green Lantern Corps vol. 2 #46 (May 2010).
  15. ^ "Fan Reactions". Women in Refrigerators. Retrieved September 9, 2013.
  16. ^ Schmitz, Greg Dean. "Fan GREG DEAN SCHMITZ responds". Women in Refrigerators. Archived from the original on July 17, 2011. Retrieved November 1, 2021.

External links Edit