Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Gender in Comics: The Women As Objects Edition

I'm going to pick on F-Minus a bit this week, but that's not because I think it's more of a problem regarding gender stereotypes than any other comics. In fact, it's often better around gender and race. I love F-Minus. So think of this as tough love.

What Better Present Than a "Secretary"?
The root of this joke is pretty funny, actually--the idea that somebody would employ somebody around their home for writing daily emails or whatever (though how a secretary would do that with a steno pad isn't clear--I think the steno is there in lieu of a nametag that says "secretary", as an identifier). Thing is, as it stands, it's just creepy, what with the short-ish skirt and the fact that, by default, the secretary is a woman.

Even Creepier: A Womb as a View
Or is my title for this comic even creepier? Probably.
I think what bothers me most about this is that this represents at least a couple of things going on here that are only very slightly magnified for so-called comic effect--things that people do and experience daily. The sign isn't far from how some men talk and think about women. And the experience of having to walk by such a sign, as a woman, isn't far from the general harassment many women go through daily.

Dating Women as a Class of Things
There's an interesting storyline going on in Monty over the past few weeks, which I'll probably talk more about, because it's relatively nuanced for a comic. But some of the first strips are great examples of what men sometimes do: They attempt to date a gender, rather than a person:
Single? Check. Woman? Check. And that's all it takes, because they're interchangeable objects!
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