Repairing a Sexist Cartoon

The webcomic “Least I Could Do” posted this amazingly sexist cartoon today:

(It was too wide to fit onto a regular blog, so I reformatted it a bit.)

Emmy Cicierega suggested that people try repairing the cartoon with some strategic relettering, and posted a version with oddly tweaked art and blank balloons.

Eat, Drink and Be Scary added words to Emmy’s version, which you can read here.

Maxwell Pacheco posted his own version, here.

And here’s my version (using the original art, not Emmy’s version, because the shrunken head in Emmy’s version freaked me out!)

And finally, in case any of y’all want to get in on the act, here’s a blank version, formatted so it’ll fit onto blogs.

Or just leave your ideas in the comments. :-)

Edited to add: Check out this one, too.

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92 Responses to Repairing a Sexist Cartoon

  1. 2
    Caught the joke as it flew over your head says:

    I don’t see how the original comic is sexist, unless I just haven’t stumbled across the “women sleep whenever it gets dark, like birds” stereotype. If anything is being stereotyped in the comic, its budgies. Then we come to your comic, and suddenly, all men are heartless mysoginists pretending to be macho as a cry for attention? Is your witty retort to sexism just more sexism? That is, if sexism was in any way shape or form involved. “You’re retorting to a joke that didn’t appeal to your sense of humor with a stream of sexism” would be more accurate, right?
    All I have to say is, if this was Girls with Slingshots, and suddenly it was a girl being all “Then I put a pillow case over my dumb boyfriends head and he fell asleep”, would it still be offenssive? Or would it suddenly be a funny jab at how women have to put up with idiots like us men?
    The joke here is that someone got a bag over their head and fell asleep. Yes, the character happened to be a woman, but in no way was the joke reliant on the target’s gender, which is kind of an important thing for sexism to be.
    And lastly, all sexism aside, surely a published artist knows that just pasting your own words onto a comic is neither big, clever, nor legal?

  2. 3
    Doug S. says:

    Has “Least I Could Do” ever been any less sexist?

  3. 4
    Kat says:

    I <3 you all for this post.

  4. 5
    SeanH says:

    Didn’t Jeffrey Rowland already make parodies of Least I Could Do obsolete?

  5. 6
    F.R. says:

    @ #2: So you’ve never heard the stereotype that women talk too much about stupid crap that a man could never be interested in or even want to listen to? You’ve never heard a man wish they could gag “their” woman, or put a bag over her head, or just make her stop speaking in some way or another? Really? ‘Cos that’s what I’m seeing as the misogyny here.

    As for the relettered comics, I like them all! They made me laugh.

  6. 7
    SeteSois says:

    You could pick pretty much any LICD comic and get a solid blast of misogyny. The original artist left precisely because of that:

    This is Trevor Adams, current artist of “Ardra” and former artist of “Least I Could Do”. Just commenting that I read your article and have to say…you’re absolutely right as far as why I left. I have five sisters so drawing that comic just didn’t mesh well with me because I respect my sisters and they pretty much taught me how to respect women in general. So just putting the truth out there. No I wasn’t fired but after a minor fall out, I decided it was best to leave. I did find a comic that I enjoy and it gives a positive message to women out there and I’m having a really good time drawing it and the writer and editor (Jason Dunstan and Fesworks) are fun to work with and really dedicated to the vision of the comic.
    —Trevor Adams, July 2009

    From: The Bad Webcomics Wiki

  7. 8
    Dianne says:

    Mine isn’t as good as Amp’s but…

    Panel 1:
    Dark haired guy: What are you doing? Reading more feminist philosophers?
    Blond guy: Yep.

    Panel 2:
    DHG: I don’t get it. What do you get out of it? Is this going to get you a job? Does it help you pick up women? Are the girls in women’s studies classes hot?
    BG: No, no, and some of them, depending on what you mean by “hot”, but no more or less than any other women.

    Panel 3:
    DHG (off screen): Then why…

    Panel 4:
    BG: It’s interesting. I like reading about what smart people have to say about the human condition. It makes me think and expands my view of the world. I don’t always agree but I always find something interesting to consider.
    DHG: Whoa. You mean feminist philosophers aren’t just writing about women but about all of humanity? Can you loan me de Beauvoir?

    (Bonus tiny corner panel, if it existed:
    BG: Shall I enlighten you about race studies now?
    DHG: Not today. My head might explode if I have to give up another stereotype in 24 hours.)

  8. 9
    mythago says:

    Anyone taking the over/under on whether @2 is merely a big fan of the comic, or a friend of the writer?

    The idea that Amp’s parody is a slam on everyone with a penis is hilarious; almost as funny as the notion that parody is illegal.

  9. 10
    me and not you says:

    That “least I could do” is sexist isn’t exactly *news* therefore, I find this boring. That doesn’t make #2 any less of a dumbass, though. (seriously, have you read gws?)

    I’m voting friend of the writer, btw.

  10. 11
    Jake Squid says:

    I’m gonna have to go with…

    #2 is the writer. We’ve seen variations on that last sentence from other writers in the not too distant past.

  11. 12
    Ampersand says:

    That “least I could do” is sexist isn’t exactly *news* therefore, I find this boring.

    To tell you the truth, I’ve never even heard of LICD before yesterday. But yeah, apparently the strip is well known for misogyny, as well as mediocre writing.

  12. 13
    paul says:

    Nah. I think #2 is a parody troll. Maybe even an Amp sockpuppet. After all, no sentient being could be that utterly blind and tonedeaf, could they?

  13. 14
    Silenced is Foo says:

    I’ve read LICD, and while I do normally enjoy tasteless sex humour (Oglaf, SMBC and SexyLosers are dear to my heart and NSFW), it really didn’t work for me. LICD is basically a parade of self-congratulatory PUA humour.

  14. 15
    Simple Truth says:

    If LICD was written by Ryan and Lar (such as in the example), I’d probably read it. As is, I think it’s one of the more well-drawn comics but I just don’t think it’s funny. I follow a great many web comics, some more obscure than others, but I pretty much dropped LICD and Ctl+Alt+Del as soon as it was clear that almost all of the “humour” was going to be at my expense.

  15. 16
    Ampersand says:

    Maybe even an Amp sockpuppet.

    So glad I wasn’t drinking milk.

  16. 17
    Silenced is Foo says:

    Okay, I lol’d at the second parody strip. I can’t stand double-punchlines.

  17. 18
    SeanH says:

    My vote’s for #2 as the writer. The copyright-warrior bit at the end clinches it for me.

  18. 19
    Nancy Lebovitz says:

    7 SeteSois: That quote reminds me of a theory a friend of mine holds– that men with older sisters tend to treat women better. I haven’t been tracking who’s got older sisters, so I wonder if you folks have noticed this pattern.

  19. 20
    Janet says:

    I’ve never come across LICD before, and definitely won’t be reading it! But I *love* the Judith Butler version. Now if *that* was a proper webcomic I’d be reading it religiously. :-)

  20. 21
    joe says:

    @15, How do you find Crtl+alt+del offensive? Usually seems benign to me.

  21. 22
    Freemage says:

    I admit that I read LICD; and yes, it is often (though not quite always, and I would argue that when it manages to break free of that is when it’s at its funniest) a rampant display of sexist humor. I can certainly understand why any given woman would decide that it was too thick with that to bother mining for the good bits.

    To those who like the art but hate the writing, I suggest also Looking for Group–it’s geek humor, based on MMORPGs and other such, but it’s also one of the best storylines on the web, and curiously is completely absent the asshat sexism.

    And yes, the parody strip was magnificent.

    But no, I don’t think #2 is Sohmer or DeSouza; in particular, Sohmer can be quite articulate if he wants to be, and wouldn’t have used that ham-fisted implied threat of legal action (he’s also smart enough to know it wouldn’t have a chance–good gods, Garfield Without Garfield’s been on the web for how long?). Also, as far as I can tell, Sohmer is a fan of Girls With Slingshots, having even featured the girls in a cameo strip on his “kiddie” Sundays–I don’t think he’d take a dig at them like that.

  22. 23
    Amanda Marcotte says:

    #2 is like my favorite all-time kind of internet comment: those who lack a grasp on the finer intellectual arts (such as you need to understand humor) explaining to those who get it that they don’t get it. I imagine these commenters spend their days trying to explain to rats that they don’t know how to scurry around the subway or telling Lou Reed fans that they haven’t heard real rock and roll until they’re full embraced the hotness of Shaun Cassidy.

  23. 24
    Simple Truth says:

    Joe:
    I’m going to decline to give CAD anymore page hits to go back to explain why I don’t like them and thought the jokes stupid/sexist (at times, nothing is 100%.) Here’s a huge example on a different site: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ConvenientMiscarriage
    Penny Arcade and from what I remember of PVP usually treat women characters pretty humanly rather than as boorish shrews who exist to rip men away from videogames. Questionable Content has great female characters with real flaws who pass the Bechdel test.
    But I’m derailing. This isn’t a post about good web comics. It’s about a really terrible one that needs a better writer.

  24. 25
    Elusis says:

    I can certainly understand why any given woman would decide that it was too thick with that to bother mining for the good bits.

    What I can’t understand is why any given man wouldn’t decide that.

  25. 26
    somebody42 says:

    Came over from Pandagon.
    @ 6: Great reply F. R. but you forgot the “women are stupid” (i.e.,”bird brains”) stereotype. I swear this is the most blatant, shameless representation of that stereotype that I’ve seen in many years. (I think I’ve gotten better at avoiding this stuff.)

    This just blew me away. I’m just boggling at this. I really wish I hadn’t seen it. (Although I do thank Amp and Amanda for calling it out and giving me a few laughs. This is just so soul-destroying for me. I’m really grateful to those with stronger stomachs.)

  26. 27
    Silenced is Foo says:

    Idunno, I tend to think that Questionable Content isn’t the best example of feminist-friendly lit. Too often it reminds me of Japanese “harem fantasy” animes where the hero is surrounded by a swarm of diverse, bickering, beautiful women and the main function of the show is for the fans to argue about which is the sexiest.

    The skinny goth. The curvy hipster. The unapologetic ubergeek. The poor, crazy woobie. The promiscuous lesbian. It’s a parade of fantasies.

    The characters are, individually, awesome… but as a whole, the comic seems really to be about how Jeph Jacques writing and drawing fantasy women. While it passes the Bechdel test, so does lesbian porno.

    I think it’s a fun strip and I enjoy reading it. But I don’t think it should be held up as a paragon of feminist though.

  27. 28
    Dr. Psycho says:

    Okay, I’ve done mine. It’s at my blog, and at my Yahoo group, http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Super-Pics0

  28. Pingback: pandagon.net - it's the eye of the panda, it's the thrill of the bite

  29. Here from Pandagon. Yours is fucken hilarious!

  30. Pingback: The Round-Up: Sept. 17, 2010 « Gender Focus

  31. 30
    Simple Truth says:

    Silenced is Foo:
    I never looked at it that way, but yes, QC does have a harem feel of some sorts, especially in the beginning. I wasn’t exactly nominating it for the “paragon” slot – I’m sure there are much better comics out there for that accolade.

    I can certainly understand why any given woman would decide that it was too thick with that to bother mining for the good bits.

    Freemage, I really dislike you for this comment, but Looking for Party does seem to be a pretty good comic so thanks for the suggestion.

  32. 31
    F.R. says:

    @#26: Yeah, you’re right, the whole “women are stupid” thing is very clear there – but I have to confess that it was the silencing part that really got to me. I guess other people’s mileage may vary on that. Putting something over someone’s head like that seemed to carry undertones of smothering her just to get her to shut the hell up. Which – argh.

    @#24/#30: I like reading QC myself; it’s one of my favorite webcomics. It’s not perfect, particularly near the beginning, where there seemed to be a lot of playing on the “girls like to toy with guys by giving them mixed messages” trope. And I do remember (largely because it’s a personal trigger) that one of the earlier strips contained what I refer to as an “anal rape joke” – by which I mean a throwaway mention of a guy “going for the wrong hole” against his girlfriend’s consent, where this is presented as funny. Where the girlfriend’s indignation, in fact, is presented as the punchline. Apart from that, though, I’ve always really enjoyed reading the comic. (Though I will say that the Bechdel Test is a very low bar to get over – which is why it’s so sad that so many things don’t.)

    @#22: You know, like #23 and #30, I have never been able to figure out why misogyny is not supposed to bother men. I know men who are bothered by such so-called “jokes”; a friend of mine once linked me to the Jim Beam “girlfriend” ad, complete with the note that he and his friends had been watching TV when it came on and had all been pretty disgusted by it. But no, only girls don’t like misogynistic humor, and that’s probably because they’re too sensitive. Or they don’t get the joke. Or something.

  33. 32
    colorlessblue says:

    I think you all are giving too much credit to #2, reacting like he’s being intellectually honest. I mean, he was smart enough to catch up that the original “joke” was about women being dumb, and mention it on the GWS comparison on the second paragraph. The first paragraph is just him pretending to think it’s actually about a bird to justify his defense of the original storyline.

  34. 34
    figleaf says:

    [Double post.]

  35. 35
    figleaf says:

    I’ll give #2 this much credit: a roles-reversed comic a la GwS wouldn’t have drawn so much ire… but then a roles-reversed version wouldn’t have had the same creepy did-something-to-shut-her-up cultural overtones. Similarly it would have just been par for the course if just about any of Scott Adams’ Dilbert characters had done the budgie-blanket stunt on a marketing consultant.

    I really liked your version, Barry. The bafflement in the last word balloon is direct and authentic compared to the highly abstract (but perfectly accurate) theorizing about Butler and gender performance.

    Even better though is the unstated point (accidental in the original, intentional I think in yours) that most of us, men even more than women, fail to realize straight men’s fear of disapproval from other men tends to overwhelm our usually perfectly-sincere longing for women’s approval: it takes Butler-level analysis to recognize the first concern, while even poink-heads can eventually notice the second.

    figleaf

    Hmm… not sure how this got double-posted. Especially since the first version is incomplete. Sorry about that.

  36. 36
    CassandraSays says:

    @Nancy Lebovitz – True in my experience also. I work around the music industry and even there, when realistically men can get away with just about anything they feel like, the ones with older sisters tend to behave decently to women, especially if they’re close to those sisters. There’s also a correlation with a certain kind of mother, ie the kind that’s close any loving but not at all reluctant to call her kids on their shit, even as adults.

    I’m voting for # 2 being the writer. It’s the attempt to imply that he’ll sic his Internet lawyers on Amp for copyright violation that clinches it. Either that or it’s a troll who’s really good at not breaking character.

    RE The references to harem anime…you know, I’ve found that’s another good predictor of what a guy’s going to turn out to be like if you get to know him better. It’s possible to be a man and kind of like it and not be a raging sexist, but only if you realise that it’s a ridiculous fantasy and that your desire to indulge in it is honestly kind of pathetic. So, if you have a sense of humor about it and are aware that it’s designed to play to your insecurity and need to feel important, OK, maybe you’re not a terrible person. But the ones who approach it with no humor whatsoever and will argue that in fact harem animes represent the natural order of things and could totally happen in real life if only feminism hadn’t made women all uppity and shit? Run. Run away as fast as your legs can carry you.

    This goes about 100 times over if the person is particularly fond of moe and thinks that is also a totally realistic depiction of how women should be.

    Some day I will write a long feature article about cartoons and the possible reasons why some subset of them appeal to a particular kind of raging misogynist who’s also a geek. And include an explanation of how said subset of geeks are slowly killing the anime and manga industries, according to many people who study these things.

  37. 37
    wembley says:

    Barry, this is awesome. I made some of my own here.

  38. 38
    Simple Truth says:

    Oh man…I’m very sorry, Amp – I realized this weekend that it was your version that was so awesome. I should have known. ;) I didn’t look at the credits closely enough.
    @35 – great point about Scott Adams. In his world, it’s implicit that marketing guys, pointy-haired bosses and such are beneath the main view-point characters. I think that helps bring up a great point: maybe it wouldn’t have brought out so much ire if GWS did it (I can’t imagine that being a joke there, but beside the point.) However, there’s not the history of oppression and infantilizing that’s present behind the version with a woman. That’s why it’s different. I’m not justifying it – sort of like the Mary Jane/Spider-man laundry statue, the opposite version doesn’t leave a good taste in your mouth, either. Just that for all the guys that complain that “girls can do it”…well, it’s got a context and it’s not so good to ignore that.
    That being said, sexism really does hurt everyone. And I think we’ve been visited by both authors in this post…

  39. 39
    Ampersand says:

    Oh man…I’m very sorry, Amp – I realized this weekend that it was your version that was so awesome. I should have known. ;) I didn’t look at the credits closely enough.

    Don’t sweat it. And I’m glad you liked my version. :-)

  40. 40
    Orphan Wilde says:

    Uh… huh.

    Y’know, you’re spending a lot of time complaining that the comic is sexist, but you’re missing a vital characteristic of the comic: Every (regular) character around him is routinely taken aback by his behavior (indeed, their reactions are an important part of the humour, as with the stunned “budgie” response here). His juvenile responses to the world are the butt of half the comic’s jokes, and it is stated outright that he is emotionally scarred; his friends are moving ahead with fulfilling emotional lives while he’s stuck living out the same routine. (Largely for purposes of comic amusement.) Far from extolling his lifestyle or a misogynistic view of life, the comic presents it as the flawed perspective of an immature mind.

    The only character who accepts it as a matter of course is his brother, who is typically used as a foil to mock both characters. (A third character behaves similarly; Issa, who is effectively a female version of him, and who like both him and his brother, has failed to advance emotionally.)

    I think you’re confusing a comic about (and frequently mocking) a sexist individual with sexism. (I’d argue he’s more juvenile than sexist, but that’s a silly debate anyways.) If you can’t tell the difference between a comic promoting an idea you hate and a comic mocking it, do you even know what it is you oppose?

  41. 41
    TDOM says:

    It would be so easy to buy into the outrage expressed here if the site did not contain a drawing of a woman holding a naked man on a leash as though he were her dog (right sidebar, just above “Archives”).

    TDOM

  42. 42
    Ampersand says:

    That’s a baby of undetermined gender, not a naked man.

    That said, even if you hadn’t misread the drawing, your argument would make no sense — it’s pure ad hominem. The rightness or wrongness of the argument has no relationship to what’s decorating the sidebar of this blog. (The exact same post appears on two other blogs, which don’t have that sidebar illustration — is the argument magically more sound on those two blogs than the identical argument is here on this blog?)

  43. 43
    Robert says:

    Yes, but the sidebar demonstrates that you’re totally enslaved to the Finger-Nosed Woman Conspiracy.

  44. 44
    Robert says:

    The characterization of the main character in the comic @40, by the way, is fairly accurate…but I would still call it a deeply sexist strip in general. “Isn’t it funny how sexist and old-fashioned bigoted we are” is not really a very good platform for humor past about the third year of college.

  45. 45
    TDOM says:

    First, I made no mention of the rightness or wrongness of the argument. In fact, I made no mention of the argument at all, only the “outrage.” Second, if you say this a baby of undetermined gender I suppose I’ll have to believe you. the eyes, ears, nose, and wisp of hair make it appear more like an old man and aside from the moustache, it is not too dissimilar from the drawing about three frames below it, unless that is also a baby of undetermined gender.

    TDOM

  46. 46
    mythago says:

    In fact, I made no mention of the argument at all, only the “outrage.”

    Why the scare quotes? Outrage was the term you used in @41. Your mention, as you put it, was to claim that the criticism of this comic is wrong and/or hypocritical because of a sidebar cartoon – and you’re practically accusing Amp of lying about what’s in the cartoon.

    Are you just pissy because Amp criticized you in an earlier post, or what? Because you’ve said little more than ‘the people angry about a sexist cartoon didn’t even notice Amp had a sexist cartoon neener neener!’

  47. 47
    Orphan Wilde says:

    Robert -

    The comic has classical precedent in its treatment of sexism. How do you deal with a character trait which you’re trying to demonstrate is a flaw, say, sexism?

    It’s not by having a sexist character who is deeply flawed and never achieves any of their goals; what causes what? Maybe he could succeed if he weren’t so weird, or fat, or lazy, or stupid… sexist is just one of many flaws which may not even be recognized as such.

    It’s by having a sexist character who is otherwise perfect and achieves all of the goals a sexist character could wish to achieve (Rayne sleeps with everybody he tries to sleep with, excepting possibly Issa).

    You can’t illustrate the problems inherent in a lifestyle any better than to follow the lifestyle to its logical conclusion – and while Rayne does sleep with women, he -only- sleeps with women; those h desires in more than a sexual capacity universally turn him down for anything more involved – which it is more than suggested has trashed his ego as anything more than a manslut, something he only seems to get beyond in his relationship with his niece. It’s a self-destructive cycle he’s failed to escape from, although it’s suggested he’s realized he has a problem.

    Sexist? Human. Surprisingly so.

  48. 48
    Freemage says:

    First off, I want to apologize for one bit of my prior post: “why any given woman” should’ve read, “any given reader”. I can understand why ANYONE, in other words, would find the comic too offensive to deal with.

    So why would I still go back to it? Largely because when he’s NOT relying on sexism for the humor, it’s still funny, even endearing. The Sunday strips, for instance, which feature “little Rayne”, are often a riot, and at least give me something of the vibe I used to get from Calvin & Hobbs, and old-school, PDQ (pre-Dairy Queen) Dennis the Menace.

    And yes, I enjoy the adolescent fantasy strips when the fantasy entails robot cars and power armor and being Batman, rather than degrading women. If I knew a surefire way to encourage “more of this, less of that”, I would. Stopping reading just leaves him with one less fan who doesn’t care for the sexism–that seems counterproductive.

  49. 49
    Elusis says:

    I think Orphan Wilde is saying that we’re interrogating the text from the wrong perspective.

  50. 50
    Orphan Wilde says:

    I’d say you aren’t willing or capable of interrogating the text from -any- perspective, but that would be an ad-hominem, which…

    Wait. I forgot. I don’t believe in that “being better than others” nonsense.

    Ahem. Yo mama so dumb she taught you to bring trite memetic references to an argument to trash anybody who dares confront you with a difference of opinion so you aren’t forced to reevaluate held perspectives. (And she so fat you grew up thinking her opinion was a community view, and her mandates that you accept her word as truth led you to the false premise that truth can be voted upon and the correct intellectual position is always with the majority, and that it isn’t just intellectual cowardice to hide behind a group mocking rather than confronting the opposition.)

    Hm. Kind of unwieldy, though. (Like yo mama. Wham!)

  51. 51
    Silenced is foo says:

    Orphan Wilde, what’s the punchline of this comic? The comic states it pretty clearly. In fact, it states it twice.

    The punchline is “lol, women are stupid”. Even though the larger arc of the comic strip is a character study of Rayne, in this instance there is no humour beyond “lol, women are stupid”.

    Most of the comic is that way. Which implies it’s the reverse of what you say – it’s misogynistic humour with the occaisional hint of regret and self-examination to provide a little depth. It’s not a character study of a player who tells misogynistic jokes – otherwise everytime he told a misogynistic joke, *he* would be the punchline, not the stuff he says.

    The joke is *not* on him.

  52. 52
    mythago says:

    cf, Get Fuzzy. The Siamese cat is actually the funniest conservative commenter out there short of Colbert (really! he tells jokes about liberals that are better than ‘lol liberals suck’), and yet, he is the butt of the jokes. Not the hero with an occasional angsty moment for the writer to hide behind.

  53. 53
    Orphan Wilde says:

    Silenced -

    The punchline is dependent upon the woman’s stupidity, but it’s also dependent on Rayne’s insensitivity. (The difference between “one” and “all” is pretty critical, too, by the way.) And if the comic didn’t leave you wondering why Rayne shacked up with somebody he regarded so poorly, you’re ignoring a significant part of the picture.

    It fits perfectly in with the larger arc of the story. (None of the other characters have this problem, after all.) Yeah, there’s a pretty consistent trend in his dates, but there’s a sampling bias at play here; if Rayne regularly took home intelligent and confident women, that would say something far worse than what is being said here.

    I’ve known many women whose lives as a webcomic would be strongly misandrist by the standard you’re applying here, because they thought the ideal place to pick up long-term relationship material was at a bar. Equally true of men I have known, albeit in a misogynistic sense.

    What is notable, in evaluating the comic as a whole, is whether the issue is systemic – implying a bias in the comic – or local – implying a bias in the sampling – and it’s highly localized, on Rayne.

    mythago -

    The author doesn’t have to hide behind the angst of the main character, he has a surprisingly large cast of balancing characters, both male and female, who present entirely different views of the world. (And frequently mock Rayne’s.)

  54. 54
    Bear says:

    Hmmm….I’m not buying it, Wilde. I’m reading what you’re posting, but it doesn’t look anything like the comic at LICD. It sounds like an awful lot of justification after the fact.

  55. 55
    mythago says:

    OW, again, you’re waving your hands and trying to persuade us that the punchline of the comic isn’t really sexist because a) Rayne is a jerk and b) other people call him a jerk.

    This is like saying Hothead Paisan is really mocking the idea of killing rapists and harassers because side characters occasionally lecture HHP about peaceful methods.

  56. 56
    Orphan Wilde says:

    Bear -

    It doesn’t look like -the- comic, or -this- comic?

    http://leasticoulddo.com/comic/20030423 <- From the first year.
    http://leasticoulddo.com/comic/20071019
    http://leasticoulddo.com/comic/20071026 <- From 2007.

    I could go through the archives and find more of the stories. Of course, your mileage may vary; mythago apparently believes these are angsty moments put in to justify the behavior. Although I personally would not expect the second plotline in the comic to center around it, were this the case; I doubt he had any readers at that point, much less readers sending complaints about the sexist jokes, which were at the time even more obviously about Rayne's insensitive nature (and fragile ego) than about the women he targeted:

    http://leasticoulddo.com/comic/20030211
    http://leasticoulddo.com/comic/20030213
    http://leasticoulddo.com/comic/20030226

  57. 57
    Freemage says:

    Oscar: Consider this, then–in order for this particular strip to work the way you describe in your defense of LICD, it would be better played for Rayne to attempt to put a girl to sleep by throwing a towel over her head, and having it fail. She storms out, he then explains what happened, his friend laughs at HIS stupidity, not hers. Having the towel-trick work, however, doesn’t contrast his misogyny; it simply justifies it.

  58. 58
    Orphan Wilde says:

    mythago -

    Paisan IS, though. The entire thing is the self-degrading mockery of an author trying to work through her own fucked-up feelings. What is being mocked is very disturbing, true, but it’s not being presented as an admirable thing; the character is clearly emotionally unhinged and achieves nothing desirable in her efforts; she skates from episode to episode with nothing to show for it.

    There’s a similar tale which relates rape, assault, murder, and a variety of other crimes, which could very easily be taken as a misogynistic (or misanthropic) tale by those standards: A Clockwork Orange. The character grows up, however, which is the real point of the story.

    If anything, the biggest problem is that the character is a depressingly common stereotype with no real depth; a woman whose role in a story is defined by not knowing when it is appropriate to use violence? We’ve seen this a thousand times before (it seems to be a regular feature of Mary Sue characters, actually), and the voice of god thing isn’t anything new either.

    Would it appeal to a misandrist? Yes, quite possibly to the exclusion of everybody else. Does that make it a misandrist comic? No. (If, however, the conclusions of her behavior were presented as a positive thing, then it would turn the comic misandrist; if, on the other hand, she eventually learns the error of her ways, or dies a senseless death in mirror of the senseless violence, or it’s revealed the character is, in mirror to the author, living the story out entirely in her head, it’s (depending on approach) merely the story of a fucked-up individual. If the comic continues as it is, it remains in its current ambiguous state.)

  59. 59
    Orphan Wilde says:

    Freemage:

    Er, yes. That the misogyny is self-perpetuating is rather the point, see comment 47, it’s a self-destructive cycle; Rayne sleeps with women he doesn’t respect, because those he does respect don’t respect him (they will sleep with him; he’s a good lay, but good for nothing more, precisely the way he behaves towards other women), because he shows no respect towards women (and doesn’t even know what respectful behavior is), etc, etc.

    It’s come up multiple times in the comic; he has a sour grapes response “Relationships suck anyways” towards his friends when his attempts at a relationship with someone he respects are turned down (or, in one case, when he guiltily realizes his offensive behavior is traumatizing the woman he’s with, who is more typical of his dates – that is, kind of stupid – and whom he started dating so his friends would think him more mature), which is belied by introspective commentary, and the fact that he always tries again a few hundred strips later.

  60. 60
    mythago says:

    Er, Paisan isn’t simply “self-degrading mockery”. It’s also (as explicitly stated in the comic) meant to be cathartic, and HHP, while screwed up, is sympathetic; she rescues women from abusive boyfriends, for example. Certainly there’s a dialogue in the comic about violence vs. peace as a method of change – and the peaceful characters are presented positively – but HHP is a hero. In comic terms, compare it to Get Fuzzy, where the cat is witty and gets in good digs at his liberal owner and Satchel, but is ultimately the butt of the joke. HHP isn’t.

    It isn’t really misandrist; it takes on men who behave badly, but doesn’t say ‘all men are scum’ (and queer men are portrayed positively as well) – there’s at least one strip where HHP is struggling with the fact that a would-be girlfriend is bisexual.

    A comic where Rayne said “My girlfriend was talking too much, so I put a blanket over her head so she’d think it was night” and the other characters /facepalm would arguably be a nonsexist dig at a sexist character. A comic where the girlfriend in fact goes to sleep when he treats her like a budgie, isn’t.

  61. 61
    Orphan Wilde says:

    mythago:

    I respectfully decline to join in your fantasy world in which Paisan can in any way be interpreted as a hero; shit, she’s had so many What The Hell Hero moments I don’t think she even qualifies as an anti-hero anymore.

    Rayne’s an asshole. I wouldn’t qualify him as a hero for being an ass to women for his entire life because one girl, his first girlfriend, was an ass to him. You, on the other hand, think such wild overreactions – and more! – are perfectly acceptable, and even heroic; without even getting into whether the comics themselves are sexist, both characters clearly are, and you think it is not only acceptable but desirable for a woman to be violently misandrist; it makes her a hero. That’s fucked up, to put it mildly.

    Really now. What on earth were you even thinking, bringing HHP into this discussion?

  62. 62
    Silenced is Foo says:

    @Freemage, that comic would actually be funny.

    “She wouldn’t stop talking so I put a blanket over her head”
    “Huh?”
    “Yeah, she stormed out.”
    “How did you think the blanket would help?”
    “…. I thought it would make her fall asleep”
    “Wait, what? Like a budgie?”
    “Like a budgie.”

  63. 63
    Ampersand says:

    Orphan, you’ve been amusing so far, but please try to avoid going over-the-top with the condescending tone.

    I think you’re oversimplifying HHP, which changed its tone and theme over time. At the start of the comic, it was a nearly pure expression of black-humored righteous anger, with only a few token nods to reasonableness — it read that way in the early issues. It was only later that Diane DiMassa began seriously developing another side to the comic. I do think that in the early issues we’re meant to like, emphasize with, and root for Hothead.

    Similarly, we’re meant to find King Author a likable character in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” even though chopping off all four limbs of a defeated foe is really not a reasonable, kind way to act.

    Someone who reacted to that by saying “you think it is not only acceptable but desirable for Kings to chop off limbs; it makes him a hero” is completely missing the point, and doing so in an aggressive and unfair manner that enables them to make a personal attack on someone just for liking violent, politically-charged black humor.

    Going back to the main topic, I also think you’re oversimplifying, when you in effect frame interpretation as a dichotomy. It is true, you’ve convinced me, that the strip sometimes does derive humor out of how immature and sexist the main character is. But it’s also true that the strip sometimes derives humor out of telling misogynistic jokes. It’s not one or the other.

    Certainly, if the author’s honest intent is to be anti-misogynist, then I’d say that he’s doing a very bad job at communicating his meaning effectively.

  64. 64
    mythago says:

    Orphan Wilde @61: I was thinking, actually, that there was a tiny chance we were having a reasonable discussion, instead of one where you were personally invested in defending a webcomic of which you are fond. But there you go, spinning off into ad homimens of a rather silly and transparent sort (do you really expect me to believe that you don’t understand any difference between ‘within the comic, X is portrayed positively and as a hero’ and ‘I, personally, think people who do X are heroes’? I’m not sure whether you genuinely think those are the same or whether you’re pretending to for rhetoric effect, but either argument is, to use your phrase, fucked up).

    HHP is an example of a comic where the main character is kinda nuts, does really egregious things, and is criticized by other characters in the comic for acting that way, but there’s really no question that the main character’s actions are positive; it’s not a satire saying ‘somebody who acts like this is the butt of the joke’. So, apparently, is this comic, and your anger that everyone from casual readers to the original artist agree that it’s sexist is unbecoming.

    Now I expect you’ll devolve into faux-outrage about how I’m so obviously saying that putting a blanket over a chatty woman’s head is just like using a shotgun on a street catcaller.

  65. 65
    Orphan Wilde says:

    Ampersand -

    How can I not be condescending to somebody who says something like “there’s really no question that the main character’s actions are positive” in reference to HHP? Really?

    And yes. The jokes are frequently just plain horrible. The author has a twisted sense of humor; heck, this comic is quite a bit more lighthearted than, say, Looking For Group, by the same author, in which people’s recently decapitated heads being used as puppets is a throwaway joke. Here’s the thing though: Reverse the comic here. Make it a woman saying it about a man. The joke still works. As the humour of the entire strip does; make it a womanslut, instead of a manslut, and it’s still funny. Still offensive, but still funny.

    (And I expect it’s still be called misogynistic for the sex-negative suggestion that a womanslut is too emotionally damaged to maintain relationships, but hey, different subject.)

  66. 66
    Ampersand says:

    How can I not be condescending to somebody who says something like “there’s really no question that the main character’s actions are positive” in reference to HHP? Really?

    If you can’t manage not to be condescending, you may be asked to leave. Really.

    And I don’t think “just reverse the sexes” is really a solve-all. Contextually, it’s not the same. Imagine a strip in which a white character constantly called an adult male character “boy.” Yes, if we reversed the races, so the black man is calling a white man “boy,” it’s no longer racially offensive. That doesn’t in any mitigate the fact that in the original form, it is racially offensive.

    I don’t find the strip funny, actually, but that’s just my taste.

  67. 67
    mythago says:

    OW, are you pretending that you don’t understand I am describing how HHP’s actions are valued from the point of view of the strip? Really?

    “Reversing” the cartoon isn’t funny because it relies on the stereotype (expressed in panel #2) that women just yap and yap, and men have to put up with their blather as an unfortunate side effect of getting laid. To “reverse” it you’d have to change the dialogue in panel #2; in fact, you’d probably have to change the entire cartoon, to reflect the annoyed female character doing something she enjoyed that was marred by the offscreen male character doing something stereotypically gendered.

  68. 68
    Bear says:

    At #62, yes that’s exactly it. Wilde’s interpretation just doesn’t ring true (no matter how many examples he links to) because the way the stories in each strip are told directly affects the message of the strip. You demonstrated how the story would be told if the point was that Rayne is an ass that we’re supposed to find ridiculous. It wasn’t told that way, so Rayne is not the butt of the joke–the woman is.

    It’s the same point, I think, that mythago is making with reference to Get Fuzzy…

  69. 69
    Orphan Wilde says:

    Ampersand:

    I shall simply ignore the individual, then.

    It’s not a solve-all, it’s relevant; if the joke remains funny decontextualized from gender, the joke isn’t about gender. It’s the litmus test. “Does this joke depend upon gender?” It doesn’t.

    Insensitive? Yes. God yes. But insensitivity isn’t misogyny – which is really, ultimately, what this comes down to. It’s an offensive comic. Absolutely no debate there. But it’s not a misogynistic comic, nor does it even target women. (Well, any more than it targets anybody else.)

    And Bear, 62 is -precisely wrong-, because the comment was addressing an incorrect assumption (a strawman, in point of fact); that -every- joke is about Rayne.

    “The punchline is dependent upon the woman’s stupidity, but it’s also dependent on Rayne’s insensitivity” <- My statement.

    "His juvenile responses to the world are the butt of half the comic’s jokes" <- Also my statement. Notice the "half" bit.

    Yes. The woman's stupidity is part of the joke here. It's a necessary element of the joke, in point of fact, as is Rayne's juvenile response, as is his friend's stunned reaction. What isn't necessary to the joke is that it is a woman.

  70. 70
    iiii says:

    Following the artwork hijack – is the third figure from the left at the foot of the page meant to be an illustration for R.A. Lafferty’s “Dream”?

  71. 71
    Ampersand says:

    No, I’ve never read Lafferty, as far as I know.

  72. 72
    Dianne says:

    there’s at least one strip where HHP is struggling with the fact that a would-be girlfriend is bisexual.

    Didn’t HHP at one point also have a girlfriend who is a pre-op transsexual? In other words, she broke with at least some variants of radical feminism by deciding that it was the brain not the body that counted and that “freaks” of any sort, even those who could be defined by some as “men” were welcome in her world. If I remember/interpret the episode correctly, at least.

  73. 73
    iiii says:

    No, I’ve never read Lafferty, as far as I know.
    Oh, that’s too bad. I think you might like his stories.

  74. 74
    Felidaeus says:

    I’ve been following LICD since it first started, and have to go with Orphan on this one. The entire series has been about Rayne’s emotional insecurities. It’s actually quite accurate to compare it to a grown up version of Calvin and Hobbes. If you took a single version of Calvin (say a GROSS comic) you could easily infer that it glorifies young age sexism if you look for it. I would even argue that walking into the comic with the assumption it is sexist to BE sexist instead of using sexism as a foil will force you to project.

    i.e. you expect it to be sexist and therefore it will be.

    Someone who hasn’t read all the comics for example, and almost all of you go: “I read it, but could only read a little because it was so sexist” (projecting, remember), would not know that Rayne OFTEN complains to John about everything from cuddling to simple pillow talk. It’s a recurring joke, especially since John often points out how wrong Rayne is about it. Remember the comic is about Rayne, not who he sleeps with. Orphan is right in that it’s making fun of Rayne for trying it. I agree with a poster above that it would have worked better had the blanket not worked, but honestly, it doesn’t matter, as the comic is making a comment about RAYNE, not who he sleeps with.

    The best example of what Orphan is trying to explain are Rayne’s walks with Noel (the dark haired guy). Over the course of the comic, Noel has the most growth as a character, getting married, having children, etc. and is used to counter Rayne. Rayne often mocks Noel for his life choices, but several story arcs focus on how much he envies Noel. Noel is a classic example of a paragon, and is often shown as the ideal to emulate. Rayne is a classic example of the inner child, and male immaturity (he hasn’t changed at all from his “Young Rayne” days).

    I could go on, but really LICD is not sexist (except to prove a point), nor is it about women, it is a comic for and about men, centered around a sexist caricature of masculinity. It is certainly far more unique and satisfying to read than most “durr look at the stupid menfolk” comics found on the internet.

  75. 75
    Ampersand says:

    I first saw this strip via a twitter link that didn’t say “this is a sexist strip” or anything pre-judging — it just said “Holy shit” or something like that, followed by the link. It could have been going to something incredibly great, or something incredibly bad. So I thought it was misogynist based on no prior biasing at all.

    I agree with a poster above that it would have worked better had the blanket not worked, but honestly, it doesn’t matter, as the comic is making a comment about RAYNE, not who he sleeps with.

    Nonsense, Felidaeus.

    Take Calvin and Hobbes. Calvin routinely suggests that Suzy (as a girl) is stinky, or stupid, or whatever. But Watterson never shows Calvin as being right about Suzy. And if he had, then yeah, that would have been a sexist strip.

    But Watterson never did that. Because he knew that would have been a stupid thing to do; it’s the difference between a “Calvin is sexist” joke, and a “girls sure are stupid/smelly” joke. If you’re right about the creators’ anti-sexist intentions, then the best thing you can say in defense of the Budgie strip is that it was a badly written and drawn strip, and it’s only sexist because the cartoonists lack the skill to get their point across.

    (Speaking of which: Is the sidekick character in the last panel meant to be stunned, as I think Orphan has suggested? Really? Stunned? Because that is not in any way conveyed by his expression or his body language.)

  76. 76
    Felidaeus says:

    @ Ampersand

    It is more of a resigned humor at this point. Contrary to what it may look like, the comic does have a timeline, with characters learning and making self references. Rayne has probably made this same stupid punchline so many times that John is simply not surprised by anything any more. On one occasion, Rayne wanted to get away from “snuggling” so bad, he threw John into the room to snuggle instead (which comes across as hilariously ridiculous, the girl is really offended). You also have to realize that John suffers from mental problems, brought on by a lack of security in himself. He’s the perpetual nice guy, and is constantly taken advantage of. It’s gotten so bad that he has designed a whole pessimistic alter ego to talk to. Furthermore, for all we know, Rayne is lying out his ass, which he has done multiple times to John, just to screw with him for his lack of sexual experience. I wouldn’t be surprised if Rayne is making it up. “Where’s the girl?” “I put her to sleep like a budgie.” “Seriously?” “Yeeeeeeaaaaaaahhh……..”

    I can agree with your assessment on writing, but think as soon as you have to argue that something BECOMES sexist, you are reaching (as I was in Calvin; Waterson is just an AMAZING writer, no webcomic or comic since comes close). Stuff is sexist/racist by *intent*. If the only thing that matters is the subjective analysis, then anything is everything. I could personally call the Star Trek series racist because of its portrayals of alien races as often being subhuman. You see, the aliens are ACTUALLY meant to portray blacks, and the racist authors are ACTUALLY showing that black are subhuman, see? Again, reaching. It may be an intellectual strawman, but it still feels like this comic is being taken out of context.

    The “Boys are stupid, throw rocks at them” T-shirts are a REAL example of dangerous sexism.

  77. 77
    Ampersand says:

    Stuff is sexist/racist by *intent*. If the only thing that matters is the subjective analysis, then anything is everything.

    I strongly disagree.

    First of all, in what way is our inference of the author’s intent NOT subjective? There’s no avoiding subjectivity when discussing art.

    Second of all, if intent is all that matters, then we’re no longer discussing a work of art – we’re discussing the creator’s mindset. Which we can’t know, because we’re not telepathic. Unlike a mindset, we can look at a cartoon, even if we all get different things out of it.

    I doubt the “throw rocks at boys” shirts are actually dangerous — but that’s an empirical question (either girls actually become more violent towards boys as a result of seeing the shirt, or they don’t), and not one that I know the answer to. But I do agree that they’re sexist, in that they perpetuate a sexist boys vs. girls mindset. And I didn’t require telepathic powers to be able to form that (admittedly subjective) judgment.

  78. 78
    Felidaeus says:

    if intent is all that matters, then we’re no longer discussing a work of art – we’re discussing the creator’s mindset. Which we can’t know, because we’re not telepathic. Unlike a mindset, we can look at a cartoon, even if we all get different things out of it.

    I would argue the opposite, in what way is study of art or literature NOT a study of the mindset of the creator? First, I’d like to point out that cartoons while, technically “art”, are not meant to be “art” in the classical sense, but are instead a form of literature that use art as a medium.

    As any student could tell you, studies of literature are always in the line of: “How did the author intend you to read this”, “What was the author trying to show.” “What symbolism is the author using here.” etc. The whole, “How does this make you feel” critique is a tool used by propaganda artists to force the audience to react emotionally instead of rationally.

    A rational study, instead of an emotional study of the cartoon would ask, “What does the author intend to show here.” This would include back study of the story, and would not result in: “The author is trying to show women are stupid like budges.” The emotional study of literature is dangerous, as it foments hysteria and prevents free speech. You can’t say anything for fear that it may make people “feel” hurt. There is even hate speech legislation being instituted for just that. Does your book on how illegal immigration is hurting the economy make some people “feel” threatened? HATE SPEECH, it’s illegal! (Fear sells!)

    As for the boys are stupid T-shirts, they are not about girls vs. boys (FTFU), they are entirely meant to appeal to condescension against men. If you can think of another reason for University girls to buy them in truckloads, I’d be happy to hear it. I can assure you that if you saw a shirt that said “Girls cry a lot, punch them and watch” you’d be sure to cry misogyny, not “it perpetrates a sexist boys vs. girls mindset”.

  79. 79
    Ampersand says:

    1) A comic strip is a work of art, just as a novel, a poem, and a painting are all works of art. There’s more kinds of art than visual art.

    2) Studies of literature are not “always” about authorial intent. See The Death of the Author, and The Intentional Fallacy, for just two famous examples of alternative approaches to studying literature.

    3) I don’t like the way you’re use “rational” and “emotional.” First of all, your implication that I’m being irrational is insulting and untrue. With all due respect, it’s likely I know a LOT more about cartooning as an art form than you do, that I have a far greater appreciation of the history and use of the form. I don’t think your condescending tone is appropriate.

    In short, I want a respectful discussion. If you can’t manage to disagree in a respectful way, maybe you should stop posting comments here.

    4) That said, I think that any full response to any work of art (or literature) usually encompasses both logic and emotion. Cartoonists aren’t creating in order to provoke purely rational reactions; most cartoonists want their work to provoke both emotional and intellectual reactions in their readers. So I also object to your dissing of emotional response.

    5) I also disagree that it’s rational to study comics only in terms of “what does the author intend to do here?” Rationally, most readers don’t have access to the mind of the creator, or even to direct conversation with the creator. Nor is it at all practical for creators to have individual, one-on-one encounters with all of their readers (unless their work is very unpopular).

    My point is, we don’t engage with the creators; we engage with the creator’s work.

    6) The creator is responsible for how s/he chooses to present the work. If a comic strip cannot be read out of context without creating huge misunderstandings, then it’s poor craft for the creator to present the work as a daily gag strip, rather than a graphic novel. Lots of cartoonists manage to create daily strips with years of backstory that nonetheless can be read and understood by new readers; so why is it unreasonable to expect that of this comic strip?

    If a cartoonist is unable to successfully create a comic strip that conveys her intentions, then the fault is with the cartoonist — not the readers. It’s up to the cartoonist to put what’s necessary in the strip. It’s up to the readers to read the strip. It’s not rational to expect the readers to read the cartoonists’ intentions, rather than reading the comic strip, as you seem to be demanding.

    7) Daily gag strips are intended to be read on their own. It’s ridiculous to say that no one can reasonably have an opinion about a single strip unless they first read years of archived strips.

    8) What hate crime laws are you referring to, specifically? Because I’ve been assuming that you’re an American, but there is no such hate crime law anywhere in the US.

    9) I think the boys are stupid shirts are misandrist, AND I think they perpetuate a sexist boys vs girls mindset. The similar t-shirts promoting hatred of women are likewise misogynist, and they perpetuate a stupid boys vs girls mindset; but they’re additionally offensive because in real life, the most common forms of severe domestic violence is male against female.

  80. 80
    Felidaeus says:

    3) I don’t like the way you’re use “rational” and “emotional.” First of all, your implication that I’m being irrational is insulting and untrue. With all due respect, it’s likely I know a LOT more about cartooning as an art form than you do, that I have a far greater appreciation of the history and use of the form. I don’t think your condescending tone is appropriate.

    That’s only if you choose for “emotional” to be insulting. I am simply posing that you reached the wrong place via your own conclusions. Irrationality would be saying the author is trying to say we should suffocate women to stop them from talking. Now, I don’t disagree that art and literature are meant to elicit an emotional response. However, it is terribly common for news corps to take bit quotes out of context to elicit emotional responses for something that isn’t meant to be. I think this is irresponsible and makes demons where none exist.

    On that note, I have no doubt as a blogger and writer that you know more about me in regards to literature. However, based on your analysis of LICD as a “daily gag strip” I would argue that you know less about webcomics as a whole. Webcomics such as LICD, LFG, Sluggy, CAD, userfriendly, etc. may come across as gag strips, but most aren’t. Go look at any of their recent comics from a stand alone perspective, and more often than not you will be completely mystified if you haven’t been following since the beginning. A lot of the older webcomics nowadays have shifted from being gag strips to having a full story line and advancing characters. They aren’t MEANT to be read stand alone, but in a graphic novel format. On that note, if you randomly picked up a Calvin comic about Calvin’s feud with Rosalyn, if you didn’t know who they were could you truly appreciate it?

    Oh, and I’m Canadian, not American. To give you an idea, people have been banned from talking about or putting up anti-abortion posters in many Canadian Universities (such as http://www.feministsforlife.org/img/cop/ads_PDF/03FaceEnemyC.pdf) because it makes women feel “threatened”.

    P.S. You’d be surprised, 40% of DV is female on male and is *highly* underreported, and the primary abusers of children are their mothers, but that’s another topic altogether with little reason to discuss here.

  81. 81
    Freemage says:

    Felideus and OW: One big point you’re both missing in your defenses of the comic. If, as you say, the point of the comic is as an illustration of Rayne’s immaturity, with no misogynistic intent, then given the number of negative reactions to it, the strip has failed. If we are to give primacy to authorial intent, then judging the execution must include how well the intended message was conveyed, and the easiest way to test that is to gauge the reader response.

    Another issue: If we are to accept the argument that the strip’s theme is that Rayne routinely beds stupid women, then we’re left with an unpleasant assumption that the vast majority of beautiful women in the LICD-verse are also astoundingly dumb–not “not intelligent” but rather, “dumb as a budgie”–because that’s how the vast majority of his sexual partners are portrayed. It’s a bit like the current crop of Twix commercials, in which gorgeous women invariably fall for the woefully inept lie that the guy manages to come up with in the time it takes to eat a candy bar. Really, if we’re to accept your interpretation of Rayne, he should be locked into a very small circle of women who are actually willing to put up with his BS.

  82. 82
    Elusis says:

    The emotional study of literature is dangerous, as it foments hysteria and prevents free speech.

    Here we are back at “interrogating the text from the wrong perspective.”

    Not to mention “not intellectual enough” and being over-emotional.

    I can’t tell if the use of the word “hysterical” is intentional dry irony, hilarious ignorance, or intentional provocation. But I assure you, Felidaeus, that feminist readers of texts have been accused of such things long before your time, and yet have mysteriously, stubbornly insisted on continuing to engage with art and literature in terms of the emotion that it is, after all, intended to evoke when done properly. (Yes even the Cubists.) Or is the only emotion one is “allowed” to reference, when talking about comics, amusement? That’s going to give me a devil of a time the next time I re-read MAUS.

    ou also have to realize that John suffers from mental problems, brought on by a lack of security in himself. He’s the perpetual nice guy, and is constantly taken advantage of.

    Oh dear. I don’t think that’s an appeal that’s going to go over so well here.

  83. 83
    Felidaeus says:

    And there’s the point, whooshing over Elusis’s head.

    Ironically, my statement most applies to talk show hosts like Glenn beck. I’ll remember that site the next time I see someone crying about how “he took that out of context as a scare tactic!”

    As for the link about “nice guys”. I see no point in reading that drivel; I don’t read self aggrandizing ego strokes. If I really wanted to I could go over to a tea party blog and read about how the poor aren’t actually “poor”, they’re just lazy hippies. It really just shows the quality here if that’s considered great writing. Done and out.

  84. Pingback: The Damned Olde Man » It’s the Least I Could Do

  85. 84
    Orphan Wilde says:

    Half a month later, and the new story arc was…

    Quite convenient for this argument. (A little too convenient. One has to wonder if the authors investigate criticisms.)

    It began here: http://leasticoulddo.com/comic/20100927
    It ended here: http://leasticoulddo.com/comic/20101009

    Reinforcing the common theme of the strip, yet again.

    “Here we are back at ‘interrogating the text from the wrong perspective.’”

    Or maybe just interrogating the text outside the context in which it was intended by the author to be received, negating all the nonsense arguments put forth that the author’s intent has failed because a strip can be misinterpreted by those deliberately separating it from its contextual basis.

  86. 85
    Chris says:

    As any student could tell you, studies of literature are always in the line of: “How did the author intend you to read this”, “What was the author trying to show.” “What symbolism is the author using here.” etc.

    How long has it been since you studied literature, and how far did your studies go? As a current student, I can tell you that you are 100% wrong on this. I remember getting a lot of those types of questions in high school, but far, far less often in college.

  87. 86
    Grace Annam says:

    There’s a similar tale which relates rape, assault, murder, and a variety of other crimes, which could very easily be taken as a misogynistic (or misanthropic) tale by those standards: A Clockwork Orange. The character grows up, however, which is the real point of the story.

    Except that the character of Alex is clearly thoroughly evil throughout the movie, and thus, the most misogynistic images, like the milk bar, are evil by association because he is shown visually to be in control of them (and in one case physically, by striking one of his companions).

    Also, “the character grows up”? Good heavens, he does nothing of the kind. He is a thoroughly evil psychopath, whom the State turns into a zombie, removing much of his capacity to choose between good and evil. His volunteering for that program is simply a ploy to escape prison. In the scene before he volunteers, he’s shown engaging in faux bible study in order to hoodwink the prison chaplain, while at the same time internally enjoying picturing himself as a Roman soldier who whips Jesus and enjoys it. If you’re thinking of the last line, “I was cured, all right”, you can’t read that straight. First of all, it’s a first-person narration from a psychopath, which is always suspect, and second, the tone is heavily ironic.

    Grace

  88. 87
    Orphan Wilde says:

    Grace -

    When the English teachers insist you read the book, rather than watching the movie, sometimes there’s a reason.

    But okay, granted, in this case, a lot of the books are missing the critical 21st chapter, as the original American publishers thought the book would sell better if the story was more thoroughly dystopian.

  89. 88
    Grace Annam says:

    Yes, clearly the issue here is that I am undereducated, through willful refusal to read what my teachers assigned me, and instead watching too many movies. I’ll get right on that.

    Well, at least you attacked me rather than my teachers. That’s nice, because on the whole I was very fond of them (even though they clearly had a hard time with me).

    Grace

  90. 89
    mythago says:

    Orphan Wilde @87: since your second paragraph makes the snark in your first paragraph both incorrect and gratuitous, what was your point?