"The women of Bikini Kill let guitarist Billy Karren be in their feminist punk band, but only if he's willing to just "do some shit." Being a feminist dude is like that. We may ask you to "do some shit" for the band, but you don't get to be Kathleen Hannah."--@heatherurehere

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Gender Trouble in the Comics

This is actually one of my favorite Calvin and Hobbes comics...funny, I didn't remember the first two panels (click to enlarge):

C&H is strange is this respect, because it often acknowledges the sexism in the traditional gender roles that it tends to enforce--and the first two panels are a perfect example of this. You're supposed to get a chuckle at her husband's awkward thoughtlessness--but you also notice that we don't see 'mom' (do Calvin's parents have names in the strip?) coming out to join them, or remarking that Calvin better learn how to do dishes or some such. And the more I think about it, the more I can't remember that we see Calvin's mom in any other role but mother/housewife. At least we see dad at work sometimes (he gets to leave the house)--and there are his famous camping trips that mom and Calivin get dragged along, so we know he likes the outdoors. I guess mom has done some gardening, so maybe it's not part of the sexism that she's mostly the mother role--Calvin's dad doesn't get to do much other than be a dad.

Still, I think it's interesting to note that, for all of the progressive-ish-ness of C&H -- it critiques modern education, our ways of dealing with the environment, and the idea that in whatever ways we can, we ought to support keeping the positive aspects of childhood through adulthood--it also depends, largely, on gender stereotypes. And it seems to me that it didn't have to.
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