Editor Eddie Berganza has been fired from DC Comics years after being accused of sexual assault
Group editor Eddie Berganza has been fired from DC Comics due to multiple sexual assault allegations, despite the publishing company being informed about his harmful conduct years before.
A recent BuzzFeed News article detailed the experiences of multiple DC Comics employees who claimed to have been sexually assaulted by Berganza.
Liz Gehrlein Marsham stated that she had been working at the publishing company for less than a month when the editor “cornered her, stuck his tongue in her mouth and attempted to grope her.” While Joan Hilty claims that after 5 years at DC, Berganza grabbed her and made continuous attempts to kiss her.
Occurrences like this were apparently an “open secret” amongst DC Comics employees but nothing was being done to put a stop to them. Remaining silent about sexual assault taking place in the office had become the norm, meaning that women had to weigh up the benefits of speaking up with the possible consequence of endangering their careers.
The comic book industry is already a very difficult one to navigate, as it is incredibly small with Marvel and DC Comics at the forefront. Women find the industry especially hard to succeed in as men occupy the majority of senior positions. Some critics believe that comic books in general are harmful to women, because of the objectification and sexualisation of female characters.
From She-Hulk to Harley Quinn, female heroes and villains alike have traditionally been drawn with large busts, impossibly tiny waists, and hardly any clothing.
Just last year, DC’s animated film The Killing Joke, exploring one of Batman’s most iconic stories by Alan Moore, sparked outrage. In the film, Batman and his sidekick Batgirl had a sexual encounter which did nothing to serve the plot and disappointed many fans of the beloved characters.
Even with the culture of silence at DC Comics and the wider culture of male dominance within the comic book world, five people including Marsham, Hilty, and editor at the time Janelle Asselin, found the courage to band together and report Berganza to HR in 2010. Berganza was however promoted to executive editor later on in the year giving him more power and influence within the company, and HR failed to follow up on the allegations made.
According to BuzzFeed News none of the women who reported Berganza still work for DC Comics or any other mainstream comics publishers today. While Berganza has been able to flourish and work on titles like Wonder Woman, Superman, and Batman which feature characters that have helped shape popular culture.
This year’s Wonder Woman film was a massive hit which had women everywhere pouring into cinemas, excited to see a supposed feminist icon on the big screen.
DC Comics and Warner Brothers Entertainment have been praised for allowing a female superhero to star in one of their films, something their rivals Marvel are yet to do. With it now being known that DC Comics failed to support their real-life female employees, the film feels like less of a triumph.
After allegations against Berganza were swept under the carpet in 2010, he was later demoted to group editor in 2012 as a result of once again forcibly kissing an anonymous woman who was trying to break into the comic book industry.
DC comics finally fired Berganza in the wake of BuzzFeed’s shocking article, and made the following statement to The Hollywood Reporter: “We are committed to eradicating harassment and ensuring that all employees, as well as our freelance community, are aware of our policies, are comfortable reporting any concerns and feel supported by our Company.”
The most worrying thing about this is the lack of action on DC Comic’s part.
Their statement reads as a very insincere one, and they seemed to be more concerned with their public image than their employees well-being. I am an enthusiastic reader of DC Comics’ material and they are home to some of my favourite fictional characters, but it is massively disappointing to hear about the neglect that has taken place behind the scenes.
Many parallels can be drawn between the situation at DC Comics and what has been unfolding recently in Hollywood, with endless allegations arising against film producers and executives such as Harvey Weinstein, as well as actors like Kevin Spacey.
Powerful men have been sheltered and enabled, while their victims are either completely overlooked or silenced. It is quickly becoming clear that the kind of sexual misconduct carried out by these men is not restricted to the entertainment industry alone.
The Bookseller carried out a survey on sexual harassment within the book industry. There were nearly four hundred respondents and it was found that 54 percent of women and 34 percent of men had experienced sexual abuse. There is undeniably a wider societal issue when it comes to sexual harassment and it can no longer be ignored.