Thursday, November 01, 2007

Pop Culture Influence of Comic Strips

Last week there was some talk about the following comic on various blogs:


It's sort of strange, I suppose, that I haven't posted about it yet, given that I do regular posts on gender and comic strips every Tuesday. Thing is, sometimes something happens that is just so beyond the pale that one is sort of speechless. And that's how I felt about this comic.

Having had a few more days to reflect on it, I'm struck by two things that I haven't yet seen floating around the feminist blogs around this comic. First of all, this comic is a great example of authors who are blind to their own male privilege (although men might do well to carry mace to protect themselves from violence, they don't tend to, and they don't do so with rape in mind)--and it's not just a great example because of this comic, but because one of the authors who does Crankshaft (Tom Batiuk) also does Funky Winkerbean, which is often a heartfelt, semi-complex little comic. And for me, this just goes to show how much privilege can blind us...I think that Batiuk can be pretty progressive and smart, and yet he still somehow thinks jokes revolving around being attractive enough for rape (as if rape was all about attractiveness) is fair game.

Secondly, I think it's interesting that such an obviously horrible comic brings out ire in us, but some of us make light of some of the less egregious examples of gender stereotyping and reinforcement of traditional gender roles that go on in comics every day. Of course, there's plenty of all of that going around in pop culture in general--but I think that's why things like comic strips are a good example of how ingrained in our culture this stuff can be. So ingrained that it doesn't seem harmful until somebody steps over some line. For me, the comic above is no more or less a good example of policing traditional gender stereotypes than any others that I tend to post here on Tuesdays. It's more explicit, it's worse in its level of ignorance, perhaps, but it's the same sort of animal.
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