Heather Antos, an editor for Marvel Comics, has been deluged with abuse online after posting an image of herself drinking milkshakes with six female Marvel employees, with a caption reading "It's the Marvel milkshake crew! #FabulousFlo" – the latter referencing the recent death of the legendary female Marvel publisher Flo Steinberg.
For the crime of consuming cold beverages while being female, Antos was then attacked across social media and via email and her Twitter direct messages by angry Marvel fans, who used the image as an opportunity to rant about "Social Justice Warriors", "fake geek girls" and feminism.
Can we just get off of feminism and social justice and actually print stories. God DC looks better and better
— Kal-el (@Iwishiwashim12) July 31, 2017
"Can we just get off of feminism and social justice and actually print stories," one person tweeted, to reiterate, in response to women drinking milkshakes. He was joined by replies that included "Looks like a bunch of SWJ's to me" and "How all these Tumblr SJW fake geek girls club are editors at Marvel?"
Another tweeted "I would totally bang the girl in front," which lead one to reply, "Better have her sign a consent form, she looks like the 'false rape charge' type."
This does explain the "quality" of work Marvel has been putting out of late.
— Michael Fesser (@Michael_Fesser) July 31, 2017
— DarkJester (@DarkJesterofOz) July 30, 2017
Better have her sign a consent form, she looks like the "false rape charge" type.
— The Bechtloff (@thebechtloff) July 30, 2017
How all these Tumblr SJW fake geek girls club are editors at Marvel?
— BAR_DD (@BAR199323) July 31, 2017
Antos condemned the abuse the following day, writing that "the internet is an awful, horrible, and disgusting place." She added, "Woke up today to a slew of more garbage tweets and DMs. For being a woman. In comics. Who posted a selfie of her friends getting milkshakes."
How dare I post a picture of my friends on the internet without expecting to be bullied, insulted, harrassed, and targeted.
— Heather Antos (@HeatherAntos) July 30, 2017
She was quickly backed up by an abundance of supporters, however, many of whom posted their own milkshake-drinking selfies under the hashtag "#MakeMineMilkshake".
— Kate (@kitkatkadydid) July 30, 2017
— Mark W (@marwalt74) July 30, 2017
— ACE (@RedSpadeComics) July 30, 2017
But the incident has once again ignited a firestorm of discussion about the prevalence of abusive responses to both gender and racial diversity in the comic book world, and the recent increase in female staffers.
Chelsea Cain, the writer behind the female superhero comic book Mockingbird, left Twitter in October 2016 following months of harassment, while Zainab Akhtar, a British-Muslim writer, closed her Eisner Award-winning comic book journalism site Comics & Cola last year after being deluged with racist, misogynistic abuse via email and social media.
It also follows an April scandal in which Marvel's VP of Sales David Gabriel appeared to blame character diversity for the company's recent sales decline. While Gabriel's stance was music to the ears of a minority of comic book fandom, others rallied, blaming the company's insistence on crossovers and stories that require the purchasing of multiple different books, and criticising Gabriel for seemingly using non-white characters as an easy scapegoat for the across-the-boards Marvel sales decline.
"During the discussion, retailers pointed out during the summit that the number of Marvel events, and the fact that they overlap, make it hard for fans to focus," reported io9 at the time. "Right now, for instance, there's Secret Empire, which will bleed over with Generations, which starts this summer. In the past two years alone, there have been at least 12 events and crossovers. Events, in particular, have become more of a chore than a reward."
Gabriel later retracted his comments.