Every day, without fail, I read three webcomics.
Cyanide & Happiness, SMBC, and Sinfest.
Here’s what greeted me when I read Sinfest today:
Now I’m going to address Ishida directly, in the off chance he actually stumbles across this post in our dark, forgotten corner of the internet.
Ishida- I like you.
I really and truly do.
I’ve read each and every Sinfest cartoon, I love your style, and I think you’ve got a ton of great stuff to say.
But come on.
I think your newfound feminism is great. I don’t know what triggered this epiphany of yours, but it feels like you’re starting to get the whole point of gender equality twisted. I keep reading your stuff and waiting for you to flip some of the more extreme conclusions you arrive at on their heads, but those strips never come.
Let me break it down for you.
I. Men Are Not Hardwired To Be Sexist
In spite of this idea that men are inherently pigs (as Dilbert’s sexist cartoonist Adam Scott maintains), this just isn’t the case. Sexism is learned– it is not natural. Take a kid, raise him in isolation, and turn him loose in the world- is his immediate reaction going to be an assumption that these things called women are inherently inferior to him?
Of course not.
He’s going to make that assumption because TV tells him to.
II. Not All Men Are Sexist
…even in spite of our culture. I won’t label that as some sort of heroism; treating women as equals should be the standard, not the exception. Point is, there are (and always have and always will be) men who recognize the equality of the sexes, and Ishida, I’m just not seeing that anywhere in Sinfest. Show me one straight guy in series who isn’t a vicious sexist or the devil.
I’ve been rolling with what you’ve been doing for the past few months, but are we seriously never going to get to see a guy with at least a semblance of reason?
III. Women Aren’t Innocent Of Sexism Either
And I don’t mean towards men.
I’m talking about women perpetuating lies of inferiority and commodification towards women. For all the crap men pull, we are facilitated by a host of… whatever the gender-relations version of “Uncle Toms” are.
This entire publication is pretty much women telling other women how best to be greedy, shallow, male-worshiping consumers.
This rag of steaming **** has had women for editors since 1965.
Again, do men perpetuate sexism? Tons. But this one‘s not on us, and Ishida- I’m seeing about as many lousy females in Sinfest as I am good males (and the devil strippers don’t count, since it’s pretty clear they’re intimidated into doing it, and the fembots are, well, bots).
IV. Sexism Isn’t Just Sexploitation
The flip side to the idea that women are all whores is that they’re all Madonnas. There is a substantial culture in this country (and around the world) that women should be chained to the kitchen, not the strip club. Repression, denial of sexuality, the promotion of the idea that women are porcelain dolls in need of protection- this is a very real problem too. Yet for all your feminist battle cries, I’m never seeing anything but objectification addressed. Sexism covers so much more than that- from this kind of Victorian prudishness to wage inequality, the inability of (American) women to serve in combat, and a host of other issues. If you’re going to be a feminist, you can’t pick your battles- it’s everything or nothing.
V. Feminists Aren’t All Cold, Patriarchy-Smashing Ninjas
Not that I have a problem with that. Heck, I really enjoy and admire the whole warrior-princess attitude.
That said, I’ve yet to see any character except the kindly grandmother who isn’t a laconic little ball of anti-establishment fury.
And as much as I enjoy the revolutionary direct action, like uploading a virus into the fembot factory (lest anyone accuse you of being too subtle), even I think you’re neglecting alternative ways of getting the message across.
Why can’t we get some feminist awareness campaigns? Or debates? Or legislation?
Again, it seems like men are being presented as a lost cause in Sinfest, in which case- how do you explain yourself?
Ishida, you think of yourself as a feminist. Of sorts, at the very least- why else would you be doing all these comics? If men are so inherently twisted, how do you deal with the fact that you’re a man? I mean, what are you advocating here? Gender segregation? Matriarchy? Voluntary extinction?
What do you want from us?
Look, even if this isn’t your intent, your pro-women message is devolving further and further into “**** men!”
I don’t know how long you want to keep it up for, but at some point you’re going to exhaust your ways of showing how depraved we all are, and you’re going to have to start offering some solutions.
I guess I’m just getting tired waiting for that to happen.
Just so you know, women can actually serve in combat roles as of January 2013, though it amazes me that it took a full two years after the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell to acknowledge that women were also fully equal human beings. Good post.
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I think you hit the nail right on the head. I used to read Sinfest. But after the feminist arc, I stopped reading because it stopped trying to be funny and was dealt with gender issues rather poorly. And I feel a lot of it has to do with what you just said.
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