Cartoon: Feminism Used To Be Good


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Another collaboration with Becky Hawkins!


This one was inspired by a tweet – normally I’d link to the tweet, but in this case the twitter account isn’t public, so oh well. I did get ask for, and get, the tweeter’s blessing to do a cartoon.

The tweet said:

“Feminism used to be about righting inequality but now that’s solved and it’s just about giving women unfair advantages” – dudes nonstop since the 80s

I’d had that same sort of idea many times… the way that no matter what year you look at, anti-feminists are claiming that feminism used to be good.  But reading this tweet crystalized it into a cartoon idea for me.

I think people who say this are, in part, just trying to claim feminist cred opportunistically in order to bolster their anti-feminist arguments. “I supported REAL feminism, ten years ago, but now it’s lost its way!” The implication is, they’re the real feminist and anything they say can’t possibly be tinged with sexism or anti-feminist bias.

But it’s also a reflection of feminism’s slow but real success in changing society. The work is seemingly endless, and there’s always more to be done. But some feminist changes have been so successful that they’re now just accepted even by most anti-feminists. Almost no one nowadays is angry that some married women keep their own names (or own their own property). When I was born, newspaper classifieds divided “help wanted” into male jobs and female jobs; no one even remembers that anymore. Basically nobody would argue for bringing the marital rape exception back. And so on.

It’s a contradiction: It’s a never-ending battle, but also, we’re winning.


Becky, of course, did an amazing job of setting the period well in every panel. (The art in this one is one of my favorites of all the political cartoons Becky and I have done together). Originally the cartoon was going to have captions (“now,” “the 1980s,” etc) but once the art was in I didn’t think the captions really added anything.

Another change: Originally the final panel was Adam and Eve, but… Well, I’ll just quote Becky.

Maybe I’m on Jewish Twitter too much but I want to overthink panel 4 and what are the advantages and what did feminism change and should they be getting kicked out of Eden and what does the apple meeeean.

I’m sure Becky wouldn’t have been the only one to overthink that panel, and it occurred to me that cavepeople would actually be a bit funnier.


TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON

This cartoon has four panels.

PANEL ONE

We are looking at a smartphone being held by a hand. On the phone, a man is cheerfully talking to the camera (and presumably, to the person holding the phone). He’s wearing a t shirt that says “Make Orwell Fiction Again,” and on the wall behind him is a “V for Vendetta” poster with the Guy Fawkes mask pictured, and a poster showing a sad kitten face and the caption “FACTS don’t care about your FEELINGS.” In the upper right corner of the screen, there’s a smaller image of a woman’s face, presumably the person he’s talking to.

MAN: Feminism used to be about fixing inequality but now that’s solved and it’s just about giving women unfair advantages!

PANEL TWO

A group of protestors stands holding protest signs, mostly about apartheid and about President Reagan – “Musicians against apartheid,” “human rights now,” “Reagan sucks,” and “Divestment now” can be read. A big red brick building and trees in the background make this look like it’s probably a college campus in autumn. Centered on the panel, A man with glasses is talking to a woman (the woman is wearing a pink triangle button).  This panel is pretty much how I remember protests at Oberlin College in the 1980s.

MAN: Feminism used to be about fixing inequality…

PANEL THREE

A hillside in what looks like a public park on a warm, sunny day. In the background, we can see groups of young people sitting on the grass. In the foreground, we see a man and a woman dressed as hippies – her in long straight hair, loose floral dress, flower headband, and holding a tambourine, him with long hair and a full beard, wearing a necklace of large beads, and a vest, and holding a guitar.

MAN: But now that’s all solved…

PANEL FOUR

We are inside a cave, looking at two stereotypical cartoon cavepeople, one female and one male. They are holding big drumstick-looking pieces of meat and sitting around a small fire.

CAVEMAN: …and it’s just about giving women unfair advantages!

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One Response to Cartoon: Feminism Used To Be Good

  1. 1
    Polaris says:

    “Positive” discrimination is still discrimination.

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