"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, January 08, 2008

Tuesday Gender in Comics: Stereotypes and Double-Standards

MmmmMm...Canned Soup and Waffles...
First up, Calvin's dad provides the model for the supposed 'typical' dad, when faced with preparing dinner:
Gender stereotypes are interesting, especially when they feel sort of rooted in reality. Men aren't encouraged to learn to cook as much as women are (unless you get to the 'chef' level of cooking, and then there are more jobs for male chefs than female chefs, and a lot of sexism from higher-ups, apparently). But of course lots of men do love to cook, and lots of women are happier making soup and waffles. My stepfather loves to cook, and my mother (like me) doesn't like it so much. It works out great for both of them, because she often cleans up (and enjoys his meals!), and he gets to do what he thinks is pretty fun (I don't get it), and make meals.

Growing Fat and Love Handles
A 'classic' For Better or For Worse spells out a double-standard pretty clearly:
It's interesting to note that this 'classic' strip is probably 15 years old, at least (rather than just retire outright, Lynn Johnston has opted to do some new strips and some 'flashback' strips), so it may be slightly dated, but still mostly holds true. I think things are changing in this regard, at least in the realm of the pressures of advertising. Men are more and more encouraged to buy products that help them appear/feel younger-looking, thinner, hairless and the like. I would be happy that things are evening out if it weren't for the fact that they are evening out in the 'wrong' direction; instead of people of all genders being happier and healthier at various sizes, men are becoming (to some degree, anyway) objectified in ways that will likely not be good for their self-value.

It's Just That Simple
Mutt 'n' Jeff sum it up:

Men like to read. Women like to shop. Enough said!


lilith attack said...

Great Post! I love your commitment to digging up sexist comics, a really refreshing idea! It's amazing and maddening that clearly there is a response and demand for sexism. Since Gary Larson's retirement newspaper comics are tragically spiralling toward the lameness that is Family Circus!

Anonymous said...

My father always thought he knew how my mother should do things better than she did, and was always criticizing her housekeeping.

When he retired, he started micromanaging her handling of the kitchen even more than before. She got mad and told him to do it himself, and so he did. He did all the cooking and most of the cleaning in the kitchen from then on until he died, except when he was in the hospital. Did a lot of the laundry, too.

Jeff Pollet said...

lillith attack--
Thanks for the kind words. I would love to put some Larson stuff up here, actually, because The Far Side is rife with subtle sexism (nothing against Larson or anybody I take to task here, really--I think this is one way that deeper culture affects pop culture), but Larson keeps a strangle-hold on his stuff, not allowing it to be shown online at all, as far as I can tell.

There are lots of good comics out there, like F-Minus (which is sorts far-side-esque, but it's hard to beat The Far Side.

Jeff Pollet said...

That's really interesting. Good for your mom for finally standing up to him, and good for your dad for putting his money where his mouth was, eventually; I wonder, though, why not handling the kitchen more before he retired...? It may have simply not occurred to him, depending on his generation.