New Comic Strip: “If It Looks Like A Duck”

duck-comic-teaser-imageI have a new comic up at The Nib today! This is a very unusual comic strip for me – it’s autobio, a genre I almost never do. It’s about what happened to me when I took a job playing a female duck.

This entry posted in Cartooning & comics, Feminism, sexism, etc, Homophobic zaniness/more LGBTQ issues, Men and masculinity. Bookmark the permalink. 

8 Responses to New Comic Strip: “If It Looks Like A Duck”

  1. 2
    Sarah says:

    I really like this one.

  2. 3
    Grace Annam says:

    Nicely done, Amp.

    Nothing in it surprised me. I saw the prohibition against hugging the kids while at the same time everyone else was allowed to continue to hug them surprised me not at all, but it saddened me. From a risk-management standpoint, I understand it and, as a supervisor, might actually enact the same restriction, although on all costumed employees, not just on one. (Why might I make that decision? Cost-benefit. The cost, to the business I am responsible for, of one fearful-and-mistaken accusation of inappropriate touching outweighs the measurable benefit of the program.)

    But it’s part-and-parcel of the fact that in our society, only cis women are considered safe around children. Men certainly aren’t, and trans women doubly aren’t, and trans men also aren’t. The reasons are several, and some of them can even be argued statistically. For trans women, it’s another source of invalidation, of course, and one which doesn’t lend itself to sound-bites — “I should be able to touch children” is a statement which requires context and expression of appropriate boundaries; it doesn’t stand alone well.

    But, y’know, in a situation when your hands are literally inside of padded mittens, and there’s a big layer of fabric and fur between you and the kid, and all contact is happening in a public place under caretaker supervision… it’s a beautiful illustration of the extent of the phobia, especially when “Farmer Stu” was still allowed to hug the kids.

    I quibble with your final conclusion. It’s not that the gender system is fragile. It’s very robust, and part of that robustness is that it has so many willing enforcers. It’s that our society encourages people to feel good about themselves for enforcing the gender system’s rules.

    You hit it out of the park with the self-satisfied expression on the face of the guy who threatened you, in panel 16. I’ve seen that expression on the face of people who just said terrible things. “Check out how cool I am” — and it doesn’t even require an audience, though if there is an audience, they usually get a high-five from someone at that point. That’s the expression of righteous satisfaction which some people can savor when they can think to themselves, “I just threatened a faggot” or “I put that child molester on notice.” In other words, because they made you feel vulnerable and small, they have succeeded in demonstrating their own virtue.

    Also, I love your refusal to use heterosexuality as a defense. I’ve made similar decisions, and had puzzled people say, “Why don’t you just tell them?” Because I’m not going to validate that thinking, that’s why.

    Grace

  3. 4
    Seriously? says:

    I loved it, all the way until your conclusion.

    There is nothing fragile about the gender system. It is strong enough to give strength to weak people who have nothing to be proud of, or nothing to themselves, really. It’s just an excuse to oppress.

    Everyone needs a way to validate oneself. To some people, many ways are closed, so they turn to things like the ones you describe. In my native language, there is a proverb that says exactly that. Unfortunately, it is incredibly ableist, so much that I will not translate it. “Не дай си боже, сляпо да прогледне.”

  4. 5
    desipis says:

    I agree with Grace and Seriously? about it being a good strip, and disagreeing about the conclusion. My view diverges somewhat from theirs though, in that I think there are strong biological drivers underlying enforcement of gender norms, even if they are exacerbated by culture.

    But, y’know, in a situation when your hands are literally inside of padded mittens, and there’s a big layer of fabric and fur between you and the kid, and all contact is happening in a public place under caretaker supervision… it’s a beautiful illustration of the extent of the phobia, especially when “Farmer Stu” was still allowed to hug the kids.

    This is a good point. Although I suspect that the ability to identify the individual gave some false sense of control over the situation. A sort of “I would totally recognise a child molester if I saw one” mentality.

  5. 6
    annqueue says:

    I don’t think the system is fragile. It’s the people who are fragile. The more fragile they are, the stronger their defense of the system. Maybe ‘brittle’ is a better word – the system is brittle and cannot withstand deviation. But it is also so entrenched that most folks don’t even see it, like fish don’t notice the water. Until the water is taken away.

  6. 7
    Phil says:

    I really liked the art in this strip. I think I especially enjoyed the fact that the subject matter gave you a reason to draw a big, cute, exaggerated anthropomorphized animal in a (stylized) realistic manner.

    There’s also something cool about the strip that someone else would be better able to describe, about the way you’re literally putting on a skin that represents a gender other than that with which you identify.

  7. 8
    Harlequin says:

    Since I forgot to say before, I really liked this! I just reread, and it’s still great.

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