ASH: Essay - Women in Merlion Refrigerators

Dave Van Domelen dvandom at
Sat Dec 16 21:41:19 PST 2006

                      Women in Merlion Refrigerators
                          An ASH Universe Essay
                   copyright 2006 by Dave Van Domelen

     Women In Refrigerators:

     Back in the early issues of the Kyle Rayner Green Lantern, they decided
to put some drama in Kyle's life by having Major Force kill Kyle's girlfriend
and stuff her body in the refrigerator.  This has given a name to the
tendency in comics for female characters to be treated rather worse than
their male counterparts.  The site URLed above is a list of various instances
of such shabby treatment.
     It struck me that, while I never really set out with an agenda of
stuffing women in refrigerators in ASH, it looks like my female characters
have generally come out of things more badly than the male characters.  Sure,
I usually fix the ones I break, but I still do seem to put the women through
the wringer a little more severely than the men.  So, here's a brief
examination of the sorts of abuse I've inflicted on each of my major ASH
characters, or have overseen in the writing of others (after all, this is my
sandbox, and if Tony or Matt or Marc stuffs someone in a refrigerator, the
buck still stops here).
     Just to be arbitrary, I'll go by last name, alphabetical, with one
exception.  Of course, I won't be composing this in alphabetical order, so
there may be some incoherence as I write entries out of order.
     Here's the exception:

     Kelsey, Arin (Fury) - If there's anyone in ASH who has been put through
the grinder, it's Arin.  Driven mad by the horror of the "merlion
refrigerators" back in Academy, she spent quite a bit of time in a coma.  And
as she was starting to recover her sanity, she got kidnapped by Josh Cole.
He controlled her body, raped her repeatedly, and got her pregnant with his
son.  Giving birth to that son nearly killed Arin, and any attempts she may
have made to bond with little Chris maternally were interfered with by both
her job and his uncontrolled powers.  Sure, she came out of it a stronger
person in many ways (although there's always the possibility she's a hollow
shell waiting to crack), but it's been pretty tough on her.
     Why did she get such a shoddy treatment?  Well, in part because I chose
a bad power for her.  She could explode.  Limited usefulness, that (although
I later had her develop more finesse with it).  So, when I wanted to drive
home the horror of the moment in the Pranir organlegger ship, she was an easy
one to write out of the team.  It helped that I'd also established her as
coming from a sheltered background, but there were other people on the team
who could have had reactions nearly as bad.  Heck, Sal would have been a good
candidate, since his medical training would have driven home the true
nastiness of the situation (Arin thought people were being eaten, Sal would
have immediately recognized they were being chopped up and used for
replacement parts...he wouldn't have gone catatonic, but might have decided
to quit).

     Adams, Morgan - Slowly dying of a killing curse.  Lived to see
everything he loved die or fade.
     Adams, Tabitha Pierce (Tawny) - Nothing so far.  Not related to Morgan,
which is probably for the best.
     Auger, Claire (Arc) - Doing okay so far.
     Chin, Madelyn (Hellhound) - Father was the superhero Black Opal, he died
in 1998 (before July).
     Dodson, Tom (Lightfoot) - Vaulted a generation into the future.
     Drake, Tony - He had a small nuke set off in his guts in the Deep
Armageddon event.  This hurt a LOT and resulted in a hospital stay while his
intestinal flora were regrown, but he survived.
     Dumont, Jessa (Scry/Hellhound) - Lost her powers temporarily from the
effort of sealing Mr. Strings into Cockatrice.
     Dumont, Tyra - Legs turned to ice by Cockatrice, went insane and became
the villainous Mr. Strings.  Body destroyed, eventually sealed into
Cockatrice's body.
     Garanhir, Daffyd Glwycg (Llyr/Giantstar) - Turned into a photonic entity
and then shared his form with the Shadowmonger Suspir.  Controlled by
Doublecross for a time.
     Geode (real name unrevealed) - Risked death of her and her family just
for being paranormal.  Powers rendered her inhuman.  Fatally injured in
fighting the Leviathan, possessed by TerraStar for an extended period.
     Gimble - Is a humanoid dung beetle.  Seduced by Rebus, bore his child.
Suffered trauma from partial Anchoring during pregnancy.  
     Grant-Taylor, Sarah (Meteor/Comet) - Started off with some psychological
issues, but got past them without much comment.  Got turned to ice in the
Battle of Montreal, eventually learned to move despite that condition.  Later
got past most of the intimacy problems her situation caused to her marriage,
but is still made of ice.
     Handleman, Scott (Scorch) - Crucified by the Revanche, but recovered
fully.  Inhabited by George Sylvester's spirit for an extended period,
possibly messing with his emotional state.
     Henderson, Howard (Peregryn) - Mentally assaulted by Contact.  It didn't
seem to emotionally scar him, however.  All the other nasty stuff that's
happened to him has been pretty much self-inflicted.
     Hendrick, Col. Richard - Severely burned over most of his body.
     Hodgson, Michael J. (Boomer) - Nothing bad yet.
     Hoekstra, Ross (Hooks) - Other than being roughed up a lot, not much.
     Ierulli-Kiris, Cas (Dioscuri Castor/Aegis) - Revealed to have been an
inadvertant killer, much to his massive angst.
     Ierulli-Kiris, Pol (Dioscuri Pollux) - Killed in action.
     Jackson, Alaric Muhammad (Dervish) - Nothing bad yet.
     Jones, C.J. (Burnout III) - Possessed by Mr. Strings.
     Keane, Harry (Hotspur) - Nothing bad yet.
     Kleinvogel, Jen - Largely unscathed, but I may be forgetting something.
     Li, Christina (Breaker) - Has done pretty well, actually.  Had some fear
issues regarding gods and China, but has resolved them.
     Mahler, Paul - Killed by the Arcanovore.
     Malfeas, Thomas (Warden) - Born without eyes, mentally manipulated by
"Mentor" for months.  Beaten to (clinical) death by the CSV.
     Napier, Sal (Gawain/Green Knight) - Turned into a puddle of blood by
Caprice in the Battle of Montreal.  It was only temporary, but seems to have
been a preview of what he's becoming.  Suffering a lot of existential horror
of late as he wonders if he's going to permanently become a puddle.
     Qvenhild, Erik (Ymir) - Nothing horrible yet.
     Ridley, Jo - Brainwashed into becoming an assassin.
     Rodriguez, Carlos - Killed by the Burnout Killer.
     Rodriguez, Sara Ana (Essay) - Crucified by the Revanche, resulting in
temporary paralysis.  Cousin Carlos killed by the Burnout Killer.
     Smith, Lana (Burnout II/Fadeaway) - Tried to commit suicide after the
death of Carlos Rodriguez, gave birth to his child.  Possessed by
Mr. Strings, tried to weaken that control by starving herself (bulimea).
     Sosnov, Yevgeny (Rasputin) - Crippled in battle, confined to a
     St. James, Sean (Popper/Burnout) - Killed by the Burnout Killer,
identity assumed.
     Sylvester, George - Accidentally destroyed the universe, subjected to
temporal and genetic manipulation by Baal Samin to avert this.  Crucified by
the Revanche, but recovered fully.  Assassinated by agent of Doublecross.
Soul inhabited Scott Handleman's body for a time, then bounced to the future
by Baal Samin.  Now lives in a body of solid light.  Probably the most abused
male lead.
     Sylvester, Julie - Caught in the blast radius of the emotional issues
surrounding George Sylvester and Scott Handleman.
     Taya, Saori (Oni) - She hasn't had anything horrible happen to her yet.
     Taylor, John Zachary (Solar Max) - Wife turned to ice in Battle of
Montreal, manipulated into almost committing mass murder against Khadam.
     Teller, Jason - Nothing major.
     Tracey, Dan (Grind) - Obsession with Rebus nearly cost him his sanity.
     Walker, Nate (Netwalker) - Nothing major yet.
     Willot, Beth (Hellhound) - Nothing major yet.
     Willot, James - Nothing major yet.
     Zander, Aaron - Saw his lover Paul Mahler die in front of him.  Copied
Paul's mind onto his own, eventually discovered it was merely information,
not Paul's spirit, so he got to have Paul die twice.

     Villains not included, as doing horrible things to them is kinda par for
the course.

     Just looking at members of ASH itself, there have been 7 male members
(Solar Max, Scorch, Gawain/Green Knight, Peregryn, Lightfoot, Contact,
Channel/Beacon) and 5 female (Meteor/Comet, Essay, Breaker, Fury, Geode).
Four of the five women have had serious trauma directed at them, including
rape, mental domination, and transformation of body.  Depending on where you
draw the line for serious trauma, anywhere from one to all of the guys have
suffered, but most of them either got off relatively lightly, or the trauma
was a result of something done to their beloved rather than to them.
Granted, the only one to actually be killed outright was a guy, but it was a
quick and painless death.
     Of course, regardless of whether there's an actual subconscious anti-
female bias at work here, you have to admit I'm a royal bastard when it comes
to treating my characters in general.  :)

     BTW, the title of this piece is not just a reference to the Women in
Refrigerators site, but also to the "Merlion refrigerators" from the opening
arc of STRAFE, in which simplified Chinese leads to the closest translation
of "Pranir organleggers" being "Merlion refrigerators".

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