"Onwy connect."
October 29, 2010 7:13 PM   Subscribe

"You know, for a second there I thought maybe this would turn out different than every other time a woman has said anything on the internet about sexism." A comic about the seemingly inevitable trajectory of internet discussions of sexism by Gabby Shulz.

Gabby Shulz (a.k.a. Ken Dahl), incidentally, is not a woman.
posted by ocherdraco (255 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
 
Shulz's comic's context: Kate Beaton.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:16 PM on October 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


Sadly, it's not completely accurate, because the guy never tells her to go make him a sandwich.

Wait, did I say "sadly?" I meant "thankfully."
posted by Dr-Baa at 7:18 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I predict this thread will be delightful.

No, really, because you're all swell people.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:18 PM on October 29, 2010 [12 favorites]


I predict this thread will be delightful.

What could go wrong?
posted by Forktine at 7:19 PM on October 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Is there a world where I can say that I didn't care for the comic without it being implicitly read that I hate women and all things related to them?

Because I don't, I just didn't especially care for it, and I wonder.
posted by paisley henosis at 7:20 PM on October 29, 2010 [11 favorites]


Joking aside, I think it misses a lot of what goes on in sexism discussions here (which is pretty much the only place on the internet where I follow them), though it may well be correct for Twitter, I don't know. Here, there's a bunch of pretty mandatory steps along the way, including angry sensitive guys, some women who are not in agreement with the call-out, etc.
posted by Forktine at 7:22 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks, Sticherbeast. A link to this was sent to me without indicating the context.
posted by ocherdraco at 7:22 PM on October 29, 2010


paisley, I think it's fair to say that if you didn't like that comic strip, it's doesn't say anything about what you think of women. You might just like decent comic strips.
posted by JaredSeth at 7:27 PM on October 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


shakespeherian: "I predict this thread will be delightful.

No, really, because you're all swell people
"

Comments like these poison threads and hurt Metafilter.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:27 PM on October 29, 2010 [38 favorites]


ugh, it doesn't. Me talk goodly some day.
posted by JaredSeth at 7:27 PM on October 29, 2010


I'm sure this comic strip will change everything.
posted by crunchland at 7:30 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I liked the part where she said women are this way and men are this way.
posted by found missing at 7:34 PM on October 29, 2010 [24 favorites]


Comments like these poison threads and hurt Metafilter.

Not to mention make the baby Jesus cry.
posted by amro at 7:35 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I thought the comic strip did a good job of illustrating what some people find frustrating about situations like that.

Kate Beaton is swell and I know she's mentioned frustration with some of the inappropriate comments she has gotten in the past. It's a shame.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 7:36 PM on October 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


I like how the men are wrong and the women are right. That cleared a lot of stuff up for me.
posted by unSane at 7:37 PM on October 29, 2010 [19 favorites]


Penny Arcade pretty much sums up the real reason why this is happening. People are dicks, and men are assholes.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 7:37 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


So if women say that they love a male author/artist/fictional character and want to marry him and have his babies, are they making a blow for the matriarchy?

Or maybe it's just that sometimes people make their admiration known in silly ways. Me, I mostly declare my undying love for fictional characters and dead actors, because I'm funny that way.
posted by jb at 7:38 PM on October 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


"I like your work so much I want to have sex with you" is asinine and insulting whether it's directed from a man to a woman, a woman to a man or persons of same gender. PERIOD. Those who argue otherwise are insensitive assholes (so that should represent 30-40% of MeFi membership). It's okay, just accept your assholishness and don't try to communicate with people who are not, thank you.

There is an odd variation of the line: "I like your work so much I want to have your babies" (NOTE: not YOU have MY babies, which is treating the other person as a less-than-human reproduction machine). When said by a woman it's a sign of total lack of self-esteem. When said by a man, it is obviously a joke, the wit content of which is always over-estimated, because it is a BAD JOKE.

That should settle that. Anyone wishing to argue with that should go fuck themselves and have their own babies.
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:39 PM on October 29, 2010 [10 favorites]


Kate Beaton's twitter kerfuffle is unfortunate because the example that she commented on ("I want to marry you and have your babies") is not really the best example of what she's talking about -- but what she's talking about is SO real, and she gets SO much of it, and it IS really unfair and creepy and bad and people should stop it.

(She gets a lot of comments, mainly in her internet venues like her livejournal etc, about whether she's hot, whether people would like to do her, etc. If you haven't followed her, it would be easy to miss this background. She has mentioned it in the past in terms of "please stop commenting about my looks, thanks").

But she happened to choose a bad example (the risk of doing this over twitter) and the response was largely "hey your example is not really a shitty thing to say", which -- fair enough, but set aside the example; the phenomenon she was pointing out is real and sucks nevertheless.

I think the comic linked to here is actually... not that helpful because it hyperbolizes in the other direction.

But of course, what you'd need to do to make the problem vivid is make up a big list of actual shitty comments people have left (often intending to be nice or pay a compliment)... which would be unhappy work, time-consuming, and you'd be posting these comments that are kind of humiliating or upsetting to YOU, posting them for everyone to look over and debate the merits of them ("well, this one says you have beautiful hair, and you do have beautiful hair, so how can you get upset over it", or "this guy obviously meant well, so I don't think this one belongs on the list" etc)... So, in lieu of exhaustively listing the problematic comments, you pick one that is bugging you at the moment, figuring that other people will recognize the common thread you're seeing.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:39 PM on October 29, 2010 [30 favorites]


Shulz's comic's context: Kate Beaton.

God I hate to be that guy, but I don't think "I want to have your babies" is remotely sexist and has very little to do with sex. I see it said about male and female artists with equal regularity.

That said, I'll now just watch the trainwreck that this thread is destined to become from the sidelines. I'd kind of like to see what happens if the men on metafilter just decide not to comment and let the women discuss this amongst themselves and see how the discussion unfolds. Just as an experiment, really.
posted by empath at 7:39 PM on October 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


I wish the panels were numbered, so in future threads we could cite where we are in the process.
posted by nomadicink at 7:40 PM on October 29, 2010 [7 favorites]


I liked the part where she said women are this way and men are this way.

If you're referring to the creator as "she", you shouldn't -- he's a man.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 7:40 PM on October 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


I liked the part where she said (found missing)

Gabby is a man.
posted by ocherdraco at 7:40 PM on October 29, 2010


oops
posted by found missing at 7:41 PM on October 29, 2010


"I like your work so much I want to have sex with you" is asinine and insulting whether it's directed from a man to a woman

I think the lead singer of every band since the dawning of time would probably disagree with you.
posted by iconomy at 7:42 PM on October 29, 2010 [16 favorites]


Kate Beaton has also now said that in retrospect her example is not a great example of the phenomenon she's describing. So, yeah. The example was a bad example, although it obviously bugged her; everyone now accepts that it was a bad example. So if there's any discussion to be had about this, it's about the larger phenomenon.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:43 PM on October 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'd kind of like to see what happens if the men on metafilter just decide not to comment

Too late?
posted by adamdschneider at 7:43 PM on October 29, 2010


Man I was hoping no one would post this here. Anyone else considering making lulzy sexist jokes and then claiming you're just being ironic, please don't. Or save us some time and post them directly to MetaTalk.
posted by jessamyn at 7:45 PM on October 29, 2010 [14 favorites]


I'd kind of like to see what happens if the men on metafilter just decide not to comment

Too late?


never too late.

Okay, fellas, let's play 'the quiet game' starting now.

First person that talks loses.
posted by empath at 7:46 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


*makes popcorn*

*leaves thread*

*watches movie*
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:46 PM on October 29, 2010 [6 favorites]


I can see where Beaton would be getting more than a little sick and tired of people commenting on her looks, especially if it's continuous -- doing that is just crass and pointless, and people should stop.

Besides which, the sexiest person associated with her comic is clearly William Cecil.
posted by jb at 7:46 PM on October 29, 2010


I didn't really like the comic either, except for the part where she shoves the comic into the Internet.
posted by monkeymadness at 7:48 PM on October 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


The panel that begins "But see...2 + 2 = 4..." brought me right back to the Schroedinger's Rapist thread. Of course, the facts common to so many women's lives are not immediately obvious to many men, for understandable reasons like men aren't the targets of it, or if they are targets it's not a regular occurrence for decades on end, it doesn't happen when they're around, etc. So it's not immediately obvious like 2+2=4. Not, at least, without their first taking an interest in the phenomenon and then making a point of learning about it. So "2+2=4" is not a fair comparison.

Still, it does bring me right back to what it feels like to participate in and witness the repeated explaining and illustrating of big and small indignities and harms that are common to a non-dominant demographic. And then the overrulings, trivializations, and dismissals by people whose ill-founded assertions make it clear they think their experiences are universal so all the other people must be deluded or exaggerating or lying.

unSane: I like how the men are wrong and the women are right.

Yeah, too bad about the "all the women are right and all the men are wrong" characterizations. The comic would have been much stronger and less polarizing with a little heterogeneity on both sides. And as Forktine observes, more accurate for metafilter!
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 7:54 PM on October 29, 2010 [12 favorites]


Happy friday, jessamyn.
posted by boo_radley at 7:55 PM on October 29, 2010 [5 favorites]


I think the lead singer of every band since the dawning of time would probably disagree with you.

One could argue that music tends to have such strong, overt sexual overtones that there's a certain degree of "asking for it" if I may be pardoned for using the phrase. Also that approximately one million times more people get into bands specifically hoping to meet members of the opposite sex for funtimes than get into cartooning, or pretty much any other line of work.
posted by padraigin at 7:55 PM on October 29, 2010


haters will hate, sexists will sex... or something like that..
posted by HuronBob at 7:58 PM on October 29, 2010


For what little it may be worth to the folks taking part in this discussion, Kate Beaton did agree that this comic generalizes too much about the genders.
posted by Gator at 7:58 PM on October 29, 2010


You know, I really liked this comic as a comic. The ink art was good, crisp and accomplished, able to stand on its own in panels where no words were used, the colors worked well to emphasize the various levels and volume of conversations, the lettering reflected tone and nuance, everything was all around good. Never mind the subject matter for a moment, just look at the combination of art and writing, it works together incredibly well. Kudos to the author.
posted by nomadicink at 7:59 PM on October 29, 2010 [6 favorites]


The explanation of his pen name, Ken Dahl:

The original idea for the name came from an old co-worker, who used to mockingly call him a Ken doll >
posted by bearwife at 8:00 PM on October 29, 2010


Heh. The comic sure rang some bells for me.
posted by rtha at 8:02 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I appreciate the frustration this artist is speaking of as much as I can (disclaimer: I'm a guy). But this is a silly comic because I often agree with "the women" in these sorts of situations. You know it's fine, she's blowing off steam, I get that. But it's not all men in one corner and women in the other, as far as I can tell; and I don't see how this comic does anything other than not really make it's point so well.
posted by dubitable at 8:03 PM on October 29, 2010


Ah. I see I didn't read carefully that the comic is by a guy. Nevermind, it all makes sense now.
posted by dubitable at 8:04 PM on October 29, 2010


Here's my beef. The comment she was objecting to was:

dear internet, you are well meaning, but I’d like to make a point. when you tell a female creator you like her work so much you want to marry her and have her babies, you’re not doing anyone any favors. first of all, as cute as it sounds in your head, it’s a shitty, disrespectful ‘compliment.’ No one makes comics looking for sexual attention


But the comic says: "I like your work so much I want to fuck you."

It seems to me that drawing an equivalence between these two undermines the point of the exercise; anybody who might have made the first statement would look at the second and say, no way was that my intended message, and dismiss the idea of sexism on the internet as a mirage.
posted by angrycat at 8:05 PM on October 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


Besides which, the sexiest person associated with her comic is clearly William Cecil.

WRONG
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:11 PM on October 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Man I was hoping no one would post this here. Anyone else considering making lulzy sexist jokes and then claiming you're just being ironic, please don't. Or save us some time and post them directly to MetaTalk.
posted by jessamyn at 10:45 PM on October 29 [+] [!]

Holy crap, threadshit much, Jessamyn? I was actually about to flag that comment.
posted by The Bellman at 8:15 PM on October 29, 2010 [5 favorites]


what
posted by found missing at 8:16 PM on October 29, 2010


you make bad decisions dude
posted by elizardbits at 8:18 PM on October 29, 2010


Bellman, I got the feeling that she'd already deleted some comments. Don't think it's preemptive.
posted by boo_radley at 8:18 PM on October 29, 2010


Fair enough, boo_radley, makes more sense in that context. Felt more like the kind of preemptive "this will Wendell" comment Jessamyn has trained us all to flag, but I can see what you're saying.
posted by The Bellman at 8:23 PM on October 29, 2010


Um, it's written by a guy. I think any comment by anyone would be ironic. Best we all not say anything, like empath suggests.
posted by fungible at 8:29 PM on October 29, 2010


One thing I love about the internet is that I needn't disclose whether my genitals go in or out, and I can be judged by my words , not a predetermined concept of who I am by the way I look.

In my all too frequent moments of utopian delirium I hope people will eventually look upon gender as many now look upon race; a needless distinction which divides humans and blinds us to the necessity of treating all humans with equal dignity.

This comic plays upon those needless distinctions. If I were to encounter people who argued similarly to the strawmen in the comic I would want to cut them down, but the problem isn't men or women, it's how we conceive of gender.
posted by banal evil at 8:31 PM on October 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


Um, it's written by a guy. I think any comment by anyone would be ironic. Best we all not say anything, like empath suggests.

It's a trap
posted by found missing at 8:33 PM on October 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


I do think it's kind of hyperbolic, but I remember having this conversation with my ex, who liked to rely very heavily on his feminist cred because he voted Democrat and liked that I made more money, and okay he was in some respects, but I tried to have this conversation with him about the way he and some friends were referring to a girl they didn't like as a cunt and a whore, and it didn't go well.

I don't think all guys are that way. But I do know quite a number who are basically good people who are not, like, completely misogynist or anything, who I'm really uncomfortable trying to raise minor issues of their behavior with because of just this problem. It's harder to say, "Look, this little thing you're doing makes me uncomfortable and really isn't a positive thing for women, and I don't think you've ever really thought about it, but I wish you would," than it is to call someone out for, like, literally thinking that all women belong at home barefoot and pregnant.
posted by gracedissolved at 8:35 PM on October 29, 2010 [10 favorites]


Sorry, should have been clearer. I deleted a shitty lulzy sexist comment that was maybe trying to be ironic. Please do not do that anymore in this thread. Thank you.
posted by jessamyn at 8:36 PM on October 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


If I were to encounter people who argued similarly to the strawmen in the comic... --- But it's not an argument. It was drawn solely for the purpose of commiseration, not to convince anyone of anything.
posted by crunchland at 8:38 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


The author's a guy? So, presumably the "I want to have your babies" echoes the experience the male author has had at the hands of female readers. Only he does a gender reversal in the comic to present it as a woman being sexually objectified.

I... um...... little help..?
posted by LordSludge at 8:39 PM on October 29, 2010


No thread about sexism on Metafilter is complete without the obligatory link to Hi, Watcha reading?
posted by biochemist at 8:39 PM on October 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


But it's not an argument. It was drawn solely for the purpose of commiseration, not to convince anyone of anything

I was referring to the men in the comic who erected a monument to a phallus, not the comic itself.
posted by banal evil at 8:40 PM on October 29, 2010


lol

penis statue.
posted by Bonzai at 8:48 PM on October 29, 2010


♀? ♂? ≠. ⚐!
posted by XMLicious at 8:49 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, because rampant stereotyping of people you disagree with is such a great way to make your point and encourage thoughtful, intelligent discussions on the internet.

Is there a real, really serious issue? Yup. Do we need good, constructive talk about it and action to deal with it? Hell yeah. Is this "comic" going to result in either of those things? Holy fuck no.
posted by ubernostrum at 8:50 PM on October 29, 2010 [8 favorites]


The comic was too whiny for me to enjoy.
posted by planet at 8:50 PM on October 29, 2010


try ironic enjoyment; that's how I enjoyed your comment, for example
posted by found missing at 8:54 PM on October 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


People:

I like how the women are all right and the men are all wrong.

I was referring to the men in the comic who erected a monument to a phallus, not the comic itself.


this is a COMIC STRIP, not an academic dissertation. Almost ANYTHING that gets written for the public gets distilled and simplified for the sake of brevity, and things that are intended to be humorous also get exaggerated details thrown in for comedic effect.

I imagine that the bulk of people reading this took it as already understood that the author did not really think that LITERALLY all men were wrong and all women were right, and LITERALLY men were thinking we should build monuments to other men in these discussions. Most people do understand this about the author's intent precisely because they KNOW that this is a comic strip and that's how comic strips work.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:55 PM on October 29, 2010 [15 favorites]


so you'd cut me the same break if I made a comic strip where all the men were right and all the women were wrong?
posted by unSane at 8:57 PM on October 29, 2010 [7 favorites]


Well, that would probably only be possible in a comic strip.
posted by crunchland at 9:02 PM on October 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm with unSane. I think feminism is stronger when it eschews the categorization of genders. To not take a critical look at how this comic is doing it is giving it a bigger break than is just.

The comic was too whiny for me to enjoy.

Oh, man.
posted by angrycat at 9:05 PM on October 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


EmpressCalipygos: my second comment was to clarify that I meant that the strawmen I referenced initially were the men constructed in the comic to make stereotypical male arguments, not the arguments of the authors. I have no issue with the authors doing this as it is frequently a trope in comics, as you mentioned, for brevity. I have no doubt many men make the arguments shown in the comic.

My sincere apologies if my comments were written unclearly.
posted by banal evil at 9:06 PM on October 29, 2010


"so you'd cut me the same break if I made a comic strip where all the men were right and all the women were wrong?"

On an alternate Earth where a feminarchy entertains itself with porn that humiliates men by coming on their faces you'd be given that break. By the way, on which planet did you read a comic that suggested all men are wrong? Can you link to that world please?
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 9:10 PM on October 29, 2010 [12 favorites]


Also that approximately one million times more people get into bands specifically hoping to meet members of the opposite sex for funtimes than get into cartooning, or pretty much any other line of work.

What blows me away is the number of great musicians who say it was the reason they got into it.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:10 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't see what the deal is. Guys like those in the strip exist. I am not one them. Getting upset because a comic went to extremes seems silly.

The point of the strip isn't the guys. It's the female. If the character seems a bit weak and timid, it's because whatever thoughts, feelings and emotions she had or has have been either ignored or shouted down. That's fucked up and wrong and not fair. That's about the extent of the message here.

Guys like those in the comic exist. Don't be that guy.
posted by nomadicink at 9:15 PM on October 29, 2010 [37 favorites]


What blows me away is the number of great musicians who say it was the reason they got into it.

that's because it's true - it works - at least it day in my day. 1976, pick up a guitar, get laid. kind of never failed.
posted by victors at 9:17 PM on October 29, 2010


Onwy connect!
posted by onlyconnect at 9:19 PM on October 29, 2010 [7 favorites]


I actually had to stop hanging out with one of my cartoonist buddies because he wouldn't knock this type of shit off. We were walking around Stumptown Comics Festival 2010, a convention which always seems to have a healthy population of female cartoonists, when I realized the first thing he said about any of the creators we were meeting was what he thought about her looks. What he thought about her work was generally the third, fourth thing he mentioned. If he mentioned it at all. Christ, what a drag. I'm just glad he didn't stand in line with me to meet Kate Beaton.
posted by EatTheWeak at 9:22 PM on October 29, 2010


so you'd cut me the same break if I made a comic strip where all the men were right and all the women were wrong?

Is the comic strip about something germane to the MALE experience, like "what it feels like to be kicked in the nuts"? Then yes, I would.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:25 PM on October 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


I guess cartoonists gravitate towards caricatures. Hey ho.
posted by unSane at 9:27 PM on October 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


well at least we all agree that downloading music files is morally and ethically wrong.
posted by philip-random at 9:29 PM on October 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


Yeah, we got that sorted out lickety-split. We'll have this fixed in a jiffy.
posted by unSane at 9:33 PM on October 29, 2010


It seemed to me that the comic was commiseration, not communication. Judged on those grounds it succeeded. Were I to place bets I would bet that it was a net negative for improving the situation, but again I don't think that was the purpose. It's sort of a visual "FAQ: You're Wrong."
posted by verb at 9:41 PM on October 29, 2010


On an alternate Earth where a feminarchy entertains itself with porn that humiliates men by coming on their faces you'd be given that break.

What? Be careful about statements that are less about what you intend and more about you.

Can't the woman in the comic shrug it off in the first place? I mean, she made a work of art and put it on the INTERNET. The only thing she (or anyone) can control is how she reacts to the situation.
posted by CarlRossi at 9:47 PM on October 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've been trying to step back as much as possible from the privilege/subjugation dynamic for awhile now in my head. Every time I get to a certain point, I start thinking that the principles we see in action--perceived homogeny, adversarial calculation, dismissiveness/denial, etc.--are present in any situation involving a minority and majority with concrete divergent attributes. I say that because it has become integral to my (vastly changed in the last two years) understanding of racism, sexism, and most any other -ism you can imagine.

For instance, it has become clear that the first stage of identifying an imbalance is denial. There are situations that some men don't see virtually whatsoever, but that are regular experiences for most women. Likewise, there are lots of inter-male dynamics that might not be noticed by women who relate differently. And in these situations, on both sides, you see lots of posts up front--"That can't be true, that's totally outside what my life experience has told me."

Further into the discussion, you can almost always tell how intolerant someone is being based on how condescending they're being. From the men's side it's the patriarchal "You think that's how it is, but really, no, it's not, I Know (tooth gleam)" while you tend to hear more "Look, I'm using my words!" ironic talking-to-kids tone from women. Now obviously those correlate to male- v. female-specific cultures, rather than any kind of intrinsic difference between the sexes. I don't mean to say that men say ___ while women say ___, I'm just relating what seem to be the most common output from each camp.

The interesting part, in fact, is that it seems that it's nothing to do with the gender and position correlating at all. More than once I've seen the roles reversed, and there was lots of behavior on the part of women that would colloquially be called "boyzone." I think that the mental connections we make to our gender peer groups keep us from addressing the real logical fallacies behind our cultural inequities, and in fact perpetuate them.

And I think the comic highlights this. There was a good point hidden there somewhere, but it was lost because several missteps were made--the sexes were laid out poorly, the particular instance chosen was a bit of a mixed signal, and so on. The point that the comic makes, although I'm not sure if it meant to, is that any place that men or women (not and) are developing homogeneous opinions is somewhere the lazy path is being taken by some or all. And given a sufficient power imbalance in either direction, the same traits will emerge--injustice on one side, denial on the other, -ism on both sides, bottlenecked communication between factions, and lots of stereotyping.

I have become much more reticent on statements to the effect of

"On an alternate Earth where a feminarchy entertains itself with porn that humiliates men by coming on their faces you'd be given that break."

What's the point? As much as the modern day is a product of history, you can't drill the history of a gender down and spike a particular member of that gender on it. If we agree (for instance) that not all men are a chauvinist bloc, it must follow that any given male, while having performed an action which can be seen as chauvinistic, may in fact have performed that act in good faith and may not rise to the title of chauvinist. I think the phrase is "benefit of the doubt." This is not the Schroedinger's Rapist situation, where safety is at stake. In fact, there's a far handier parallel--Americans are sometimes disliked abroad because of various international policies and actions. But what role does any given American play in that dynamic? They may be fully counter any policy problematic to the outsider. And it's the same way with the gender discourse we often see. When you start proscribing behavior based on gender history, you're running backwards into what started the power imbalance in the first place.
posted by Phyltre at 9:51 PM on October 29, 2010 [16 favorites]


If you're not the sort of guy that comic strip describes, then it's not about you. There's a sort of need people have to say "HEY THAT'S NOT FAIR WE'RE ALL NOT LIKE THAT."

The cartoonist is a man. I suspect he knows not all men are like that. He's not talking about you.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:53 PM on October 29, 2010 [13 favorites]


"On an alternate Earth where a feminarchy entertains itself with porn that humiliates men by coming on their faces you'd be given that break.

What? Be careful about statements that are less about what you intend and more about you."

Exsqueeze me? Are you suggesting I look at porn? I do. Is there anything else I'm giving away to online mindreaders?
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 9:55 PM on October 29, 2010


That being said, I don't know that this cartoon is especially useful in a setting where there isn't a consensus about this sort of behavior. I agree it is meant as commiseration, and, outside that context, it's less likely to inspire conversation than fightiness.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:57 PM on October 29, 2010


how many feminists does it take to screw in a light bulb?

One. They're not fucking idiots.
posted by philip-random at 9:58 PM on October 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


I almost did a post about this the other day but decided to stay far away from it fearing the ensuing shitstorm.

I though it was a bad example to use because, really, when you're making a point such as this especially on the internet it helps to have an example that really hits your point home. 'I want to marry you and have your babies' is a shitty example because its obviously over the top and non-sexual because men cannot have babies On the scale of sexist remarks its down the bottom because its not about the fan wanting to have sex its about the fan wanting to procreate and continue the awesome of the creator. It's a dude saying he wants to have children! Doesn't that go against the common idea that men have a 'Hump 'em and Dump 'em' attitude? The Twitterati that were claiming the comment was all about 'ownership' and 'domination' made me facepalm hard.

BUT- it seems thats not the point. And I sympathise with female creators because geeks and socially inept men can be awful. Am I allowed to do that?
posted by AzzaMcKazza at 9:59 PM on October 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


Comic points out that when a particular woman says "Hey that's sexist" a particular man says "nuh-uh, why are you persecuting me?" and then many other men say "Yeah, stop it mean lady feminist liar!"

And then the comic gets posted to Metafilter, and this thread happens exactly as the comic predicted it would, with guys saying "That's sexist!* I'm not like that!** But also, why is she so uptight about men commenting on her fuckability when she is creating stuff!"***

It's like magic. Horrible horrible magic.

*It would be sexist if it were untrue or if any feminists were saying "all men are like this!" Neither of which is the case. It does happen. Nobody thinks all men are like this.

**Great! So...why are you unhappy about it? Because you do think it is about you, or you think that women shouldn't call out dudes who rate them on their fuckability, or that women are making it up? Not every statement about sexism has to carry a long list of Dudes Who Are Not Sexist. There are many places on the internet where women thank dudes who are not sexist, and celebrate them. This does not happen to be one. You should not take that personally.

***Because it's gross, scary, and quite frankly, often seems to be a way for a dude to change the power dynamic from "you are a person who is accomplishing something I'm not which is kind of intimidating" to "you're a really amazing potential fuck target for me to fantasize about." It's not that there's a problem with fantasy--it's that telling the other person you fantasize about them is really an intrusion and an imposition--it's forcing them to deal with your sexual ideas about them.
posted by emjaybee at 10:16 PM on October 29, 2010 [30 favorites]


"geeks and socially inept men can be awful"

You are allowed to say that because it's a massive problem that has wrapped up in it a partial solution to overpopulation.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 10:17 PM on October 29, 2010


Hamburger... with cheese and bacon and provolone and salami (and those delightful fried and battered onion strings).

One's (a) work is so great such that one (b) would wish to mingle one's (b) genetic material with one (a) regardless of who (a or b) need to carry the genetic union. A male (XY hom.sap.) stating that they'd want to have babies with (a) is kinda crude, if (a) is a (XX hom.sap) which presuposes that (a) carries the parasite/child (and in current Western culture; be burdended with raising the progeny).

If (b) is stating that they'd be willing to undergo the childbearing process... that's a neutral compliment... no? No forcible anything on (a), (b) is taking on all reponsibilities and considers it a mark of esteem (to a) for (b) to carry the genetic union to term and care for the result of that genetic union.

Yes, many potential (b)'s don't think this way and are total creeps.

I dunno - for a man to say "I want to have your child." is really ambiguous in my mind, but I can easily see how it can be interpreted as "I want to impregnate you and have you birth a child of mine."
posted by porpoise at 10:19 PM on October 29, 2010


This is not the Schroedinger's Rapist situation, where safety is at stake. In fact, there's a far handier parallel--Americans are sometimes disliked abroad because of various international policies and actions. But what role does any given American play in that dynamic? [...] it's the same way with the gender discourse we often see.

Phyltre, I do believe you've illuminated me. As a Canadian (reasonably well-traveled), I've had occasion to notice that Americans (as a whole) are kind of annoying abroad (as are Australians, it's worth noting). And yet, some of the coolest humans I've ever had the pleasure of knowing are Americans (and Australians). That's a darned precise analog to the situation of the decent guy in these post-post-something-or-other-sexual-politix-related times. It actually strikes me mute. I think I'll shut up for a while on this topic ... having barely gotten started anyway.
posted by philip-random at 10:20 PM on October 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


"it's forcing them to deal with your sexual ideas about them."

Announcing to a person she's going in your wank bank is apparently a human right online.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 10:20 PM on October 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


OK. Let me make an admission.

When I see a girl doing something really interesting, and really creative, I become significantly more attracted to her.

Am I doing something wrong here?
posted by effugas at 10:31 PM on October 29, 2010 [7 favorites]


it's that telling the other person you fantasize about them is really an intrusion and an imposition--it's forcing them to deal with your sexual ideas about them

I think that's a good explanation. Of course, not all people have a problem with hearing those things, but enough do that the default proposition should be not to say them unless you know otherwise. People of both genders can be bothered by it, and also people of both genders can be ok with it or even want it (people who start bands to get laid, as described above, which clearly happens). Similarly, many people want to see porn, but I don't show random people porn unless they ask.
posted by wildcrdj at 10:32 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Am I doing something wrong here?"

Only if the thought turns into words that enter her consciousness.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 10:34 PM on October 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


Similarly, many people want to see porn, but I don't show random people porn unless they ask.

Wait - random people ask to look at porn with you? Are you in a band?
posted by XMLicious at 10:41 PM on October 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


METAFILTER: random people ask to look at porn with you
posted by philip-random at 10:51 PM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Expanding on my previous thought...

If, as has been suggested multiple times, this comic's point is indeed "commiseration", then it's just "I hit you because I love you" hiding behind prettier words.

If, as has been suggested multiple times, "don't be offended by the stereotype because it's not about you personally" is the correct reaction, then it's just "bitch can't take a joke" hiding behind prettier words.

That shit ain't OK. If you were under the impression it was OK because it suits some theory of power dynamics you subscribe to? It still isn't OK, and your theory needs some serious re-examining.
posted by ubernostrum at 10:55 PM on October 29, 2010 [4 favorites]




A joke about some men isn't about all men. And please don't compare "gosh, it's hard that many men behave so badly online" to "bitch can't take a joke." These are terrible parallels -- although you have pretty much mastered the art of false equivalency, so kudos to that.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:05 PM on October 29, 2010 [5 favorites]


"If you were under the impression it was OK because it suits some theory of power dynamics you subscribe to?"

Wow, way to craft a laughable personal victimhood story. So, on your journey of life, do you ever come across any cans of Harden Up? Drink those, because if you feel feminism is making you feel less than you have only one option: be a man.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 11:06 PM on October 29, 2010


Here, there's a bunch of pretty mandatory steps along the way, including angry sensitive guys,

Maybe sexism discussions would go better if people weren't so quick to dismiss certain viewpoints as "angry sensitive guys."
posted by John Cohen at 11:23 PM on October 29, 2010 [9 favorites]


I don't show random people porn unless they ask.

Is this an oblique reference to Alvin Green's felony charge?
posted by marble at 11:27 PM on October 29, 2010


Maybe sexism discussions would go better if people weren't so quick to dismiss certain viewpoints as "angry sensitive guys."

There is one particular viewpoint that I'm calling "angry sensitive guy"; naming it isn't the same as dismissing it. (In fact, I give it a lot of weight, because it is contradictory in being both from the position of a supposed ally, and containing a lot of criticisms.) There's also a ton of other viewpoints -- and that was my point, that the comic isn't at all an accurate portrayal of how these discussion go on this site, where there's a lot more nuance and complication than the simple male/female dichotomy portrayed in the comic.
posted by Forktine at 11:30 PM on October 29, 2010


Great! So...why are you unhappy about it? Because you do think it is about you, or you think that women shouldn't call out dudes who rate them on their fuckability, or that women are making it up? Not every statement about sexism has to carry a long list of Dudes Who Are Not Sexist. There are many places on the internet where women thank dudes who are not sexist, and celebrate them. This does not happen to be one. You should not take that personally.

It's more irritating in that it's an example of lazy generalization. If a dude misbehaves I'm all for calling that dude out. If I fail to call him out then I personally become fair game for someone else to call out. Carpet-bombing an entire group from an altitude of 50,000 feet just burns up goodwill. It's not that hard to stick to specifics.
posted by Ritchie at 11:32 PM on October 29, 2010 [6 favorites]


And please don't compare "gosh, it's hard that many men behave so badly online" to "bitch can't take a joke."

Someone posts a comic that stereotypes a group. Members of that group are offended. They are told not to take it personally, it's not about them, or that it's somehow OK because it was meant as some sort of bonding exercise.

Yeah, gonna call that one like I see it.

be a man

That's a great phrase to trot out in a thread like this.
posted by ubernostrum at 11:36 PM on October 29, 2010 [13 favorites]


"be a man

That's a great phrase to trot out in a thread like this."

That's why I did it. We're not talking about trans/bi/fat/homophobia here, we're talking about a group of men who have magicked away thousands of years of paternal bullshit so they can join in on what they see as some kind of really awesome victim party.

I'm a man. I find it easier to be one than cry like a little bitch because the ladies aren't given it up to my sensitivity and feewings.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 11:42 PM on October 29, 2010


Not sure you're helping with that.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:48 PM on October 29, 2010 [8 favorites]


There is one particular viewpoint that I'm calling "angry sensitive guy"; naming it isn't the same as dismissing it. (In fact, I give it a lot of weight, because it is contradictory in being both from the position of a supposed ally, and containing a lot of criticisms.) There's also a ton of other viewpoints -- and that was my point, that the comic isn't at all an accurate portrayal of how these discussion go on this site, where there's a lot more nuance and complication than the simple male/female dichotomy portrayed in the comic.

I wonder if you could point to a single example of a comment in any thread on MeFi by an "angry sensitive guy."

How can you tell just by reading someone's text that the person is "angry"? OK, maybe if they're cursing and using all caps and exclamation marks. But I sort of doubt that's what you mean.

I'm a guy. I like to make comments in threads on gender. I go out of my way to question the conventional wisdom on gender politics. But if there's a standard feminist point that I agree with (which is very frequent), I generally won't point it out because I'd consider that boring and not very useful. (Most people on this site already know the standard feminist points by now and don't need me to elucidate them.) I place a low value on signaling group loyalty; I care more about expanding the range of viewpoints that are on the table.

Because of all this, I would imagine I'm one of the people you'd call an "angry sensitive guy." But actually, you'd have no way of knowing whether I'm angry. And I'm not angry. Am I "sensitive"? What does that even mean? Is that supposed to be a bad thing?
posted by John Cohen at 11:51 PM on October 29, 2010 [7 favorites]


"Not sure you're helping with that."

I. Don't care. I've lost patience with men who expect women to walk on eggshells.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 11:57 PM on October 29, 2010


You're insisting that we infuse every word and thought with a righteous and censuring perspective on thousands of years of patriarchy - to comment on internet comics. If that's not expecting people to walk on eggshells I don't know what is; you should not anticipate being taken seriously if you don't have the patience to tread carefully yourself.
posted by XMLicious at 12:13 AM on October 30, 2010 [8 favorites]


I read this comic after just learning about this tweet earlier today from this post. This comic seemed like a funny, if highly exaggerated caricature, of how I've felt many times during arguments about feminism on the internet.

I read the comments in this thread and saw many people expressing that the comic was sexist and stereotypical. After reading the comments, I went back and read the comic again, to see if I was looking at it from a biased point of view, to see if it really was sexist.

It seemed more sensible on the second reading.

If you think that this comic is making a statement about all men, I think you need to step back for a moment and try to recognize that the attitudes that this comic is exaggerating for, well, comic effect, exist in just about every argument related to women on the internet. And if you don't recognize that, you may be the one perpetuating this attitude.
posted by girih knot at 12:34 AM on October 30, 2010 [7 favorites]


"You're insisting that we infuse every word and thought with a righteous and censuring perspective on thousands of years of patriarchy."

I'm not doing that. I'm reacting rather generously to a bunch of baby men who miss the point so hard it's got to be malicious.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 12:45 AM on October 30, 2010


As for being taken seriously? Who by? Men who live in a bubble of porn and energy drinks?
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 12:47 AM on October 30, 2010


The cartoonist is a man. I suspect he knows not all men are like that. He's not talking about you.

I just think he's clearly a pretty shity illustrator / writer then, who has a poor understanding of symbolism. Making the face of every guy an anonymous "Male Symbol" says, to me, "These characters represent Every Guy. Every Guy Is The Same. We can reduce them a identical symbols".

The point you make is fair - if you assume the comic isn't about ALL guys, but just SOME guys, it makes a lot more sense. Unfortunately, the artist failed at conveying this message.
posted by Jimbob at 1:05 AM on October 30, 2010 [11 favorites]


It's a wonder any of us were even conceived and born.
posted by eegphalanges at 1:16 AM on October 30, 2010


While making a very important point that is demonstrably based in reality, the gross generalisation is, ironically, incredibly sexist. No, all internet discussions of sexism do not end up with sexist males v non-sexist females. Outside of the Idiot Boards and YouTube comments you will almost always see a good number of men attacking behaviour such as that described in the first part of this comic.

Now of course, it could be better, Much better. There are still far, far too many men (and depressingly, in my experience, far too many young men) who respond with the sort of knee-jerk sexism described. It sometimes seems that after a steady diet of "Loaded"-style magazines, lap dance clubs and a complete inability to discern irony, the young heterosexual male no longer even understands what sexism is. This is a problem. But the way to address this problem, I would suggest, is not to respond with broad-brush sexism in return. Unless it's done in an obviously satirical way - which this cartoon is not.

I. Don't care. I've lost patience with men who expect women to walk on eggshells.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 7:57 AM on October 30


Me too, but also vice versa - e.g. the recent almost tragically absurd "OMG don't say 'pussies', you sexist beasts" thread. Being anti-sexist does not mean turning into a hymourless, hypersensitive special flower with zero sense of proportion.
posted by Decani at 1:52 AM on October 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


"Hymourless"? Let's try "humourless" instead.
posted by Decani at 1:53 AM on October 30, 2010


Those who argue otherwise are insensitive assholes (so that should represent 30-40% of MeFi membership).
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:39 AM on October 30


I appreciate this sensitive criticism of insensitive assholes.
posted by Decani at 2:00 AM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wish I could down-vote this post or at least "hide" it so it wouldn't show up on my front page. Can I have my $5 back?
posted by Wash Jones at 2:02 AM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


I find it easier to be one than cry like a little bitch because the ladies aren't given it up to my sensitivity and feewings.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 7:42 AM on October 30


Than to cry like a little what? :-)
posted by Decani at 2:09 AM on October 30, 2010


I'm surprised nobody has commented on the bit where he compared it to slavery.
posted by fullerine at 3:08 AM on October 30, 2010


Geeks and socially inept men are lonely and have no sex lfe.
So they turn to terrorizing the twin towers of femininity with their entitlement mentality. They should really stop and compete harder.
posted by vertriebskonzept at 3:23 AM on October 30, 2010


I am a guy who was raised feminist and extremely liberal / progressive. I have experience and literacy in the comics world.

I have no problems with the comic. It didn't knock my socks off with its artistic message but it effectively conveyed a point of two that I agree with.

One of the many things that tends to really get to me in the sorts of discussions the comic describes as well as this discussion here on MetaFilter is that in my feminist upbringing I learned a strong ethic about humility that the vast majority of men I have met seemingly do not share.

I think my humility helps me identify from a sexism point of view when I am about to let my defensiveness make me put my foot in my mouth.

I wish more men I know had the same sensibilities.
posted by kalessin at 3:44 AM on October 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


the twin towers of femininity

Can you be more specific about what you mean, here? I wouldn't want to infer that the twin towers of femininity are Motherhood and Wool-based Crafts, or Sassiness and Cookery if that were to be wholly wrong.
posted by Grangousier at 3:47 AM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


At the risk of being the guy enveloped in his 'logic forcefield' again, I think, here on Metafilter, the dynamic described in the comic bifurcates at the panel with the "And so... I agree with you dude," with parallel support groups for the different factions, so I think that's at least progress. I'd be interested to see how an agenda post like this is handled in other web communities, like Digg or Reddit or Slashdot.
posted by crunchland at 4:16 AM on October 30, 2010


(For what its worth, I just tried searching over on Digg. This comic strip doesn't seem to have been posted, and a search on the word "sexism" brings up stories the majority of which only have one or two "diggs." As for Reddit, I can't even figure out how to do a search without having an account, but clicking on 'most controversial' doesn't seem to bring this comic strip up. And on Slashdot, there are only 2 stories that come up with the word "sexism" in 2009/2010 -- though I guess it's not fair to necessarily assume something like this would come up on a technology blog.)
posted by crunchland at 4:30 AM on October 30, 2010


Yeah, I think this would play out quite differently on Metafilter than on standard blogs or communities with more of a boyzone attitude. We get more variety here, for sure.

Beaton has previously mentioned how creeped out and annoyed she is by some of the responses she gets. She's done a couple of quick comics about it before (1, 2), but this time all she did was a couple of tweets and she gets this kind of attitude:
I’m sorry Kate, but at the end of the day a compliment is just that: A compliment. You don’t have to agree with the end message, you can feel uncomfortable receiving it, but until you’re sure of the intent you can at the very least be a gracious recipient. Anything else seems disrespectful, not to mention uncomfortable, sexist, and unfair.
In other words, shut up and smile when someone compliments you, even if they do it in a scary, sexualised way. The dude might turn out to be nice after all!

Women are under no obligation to be nice to every man who talks to them. They're allowed to say when they think a dude is being inappropriate. But the mob tells them off if they get cranky or point out that he's crossed a line. Yet if they don't say something, and he does something awful, then the mob says it's her fault for not speaking up sooner. So this kind of "can't win, don't try" situation is deeply frustrating, and causes people to make sarcastic comics which can then be misinterpreted by guys who want to retain the right to say whatever shit comes into their heads instead of taking 5 minutes to consider another person's feelings.
posted by harriet vane at 4:55 AM on October 30, 2010 [33 favorites]


I think this comic works reasonably well as a description of how internet discussions can turn into us vs. them arguments. Once the argument gets going, everyone is transformed into a ♂ or ♀. ♂ arguments become "solemnly erecting a granite monument to your dueitational rightness," ♀ arguments are as logical as "But see ... 2 + 2 = 4"? This is how it seems when you're in an argument like that. Of course, it seems that way to the other side too: "You tell the woman." If Gabby's characterizations seem over the top, it's might be because they're intended as parody. Any chance of seeing sense on the other side, or examining arguments made on ours critically, is lost. Which side you're accused of being on does not necessarily have much to do with your actual gender or beliefs. The same kind of thing happens in atheism/religion threads when an atheist who believes in religious tolerance gets mocked by other atheists for believing in the tooth fairy.
posted by nangar at 5:17 AM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


I guess cartoonists gravitate towards caricatures.

Well, duh. That's why they're cartoons and not portraits.

What's your point, unSane?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:23 AM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's a little annoying when men who are arguing with you are presented as tantrum throwing privilege denying babies with no powers of logic. Entitled trolls on the internet don't present the kind of conversation dynamics that people arguing in good faith do, so then people get by in normal conversations by labelling dissenters with having the same personality as the trolls and that ends that.

All conversations on the internet aren't equal and though this is probably true for comics, youtube videos and imdb it probably isn't in other places.
posted by shinybaum at 5:26 AM on October 30, 2010


I'm just gonna leave this here:

This is what happened when Kate Beaton visited the Something Awful forums

sorry for the horrible color scheme
posted by ymgve at 5:29 AM on October 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


Cf. Joanna Russ' book, How to Suppress Women's Writing.
posted by Carol Anne at 5:33 AM on October 30, 2010


I just think he's clearly a pretty shity illustrator / writer then, who has a poor understanding of symbolism. Making the face of every guy an anonymous "Male Symbol" says, to me, "These characters represent Every Guy. Every Guy Is The Same. We can reduce them a identical symbols".

I didn't see it that way at all. The artist clearly choses a lot of individual men, of various ages, as witnessed by the different clothes and haircuts. The point is that these individuals are reducing themselves to a symbol, one that rather funnily resembles a dick in the artist's very capable hands.

Individual men are turning themselves into these ugly caricatures, not the artist. He's just reporting what is seen, to a bitterly humorous effect.
posted by nomadicink at 5:37 AM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm a man. I find it easier to be one than cry like a little bitch

Dude, you may have a point in there somewhere. I don't know. I'm afraid it's being utterly lost in the way you're phrasing it. It would really be nice if you could take a look at your comments for a second or two before hitting the post button, and sort of review how they're going to either advance or detract from your particular cause, if it's something you feel passionate about. We're not going to vanish if you give it an extra couple minutes while you think this over.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:39 AM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


As for Reddit

It did get posted to a couple of subreddits, /r/comics and /r/TwoXChromosomes. (And to the main reddit.com, but it got downvoted into obsccurity before a discussion could take place. Happens a lot; the main reddit.com is frequently inundated with spam.)
posted by Gator at 6:23 AM on October 30, 2010


A bunch of angry women are depicted bombarding a man with LOGIC? Hahaha! Tremendous laughs.

That comic is seriously suggesting men have a problem with logic?
posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:05 AM on October 30, 2010



It's a trap
posted by found missing at 8:33 PM on October 29 [2 favorites +] [!]

posted by...? holy crap, now i just want to crawl back into bed
posted by tigrrrlily at 7:06 AM on October 30, 2010


From the comic:
WOW, look at all of the hits I got on my blog!
... that means I'm right!
It's not sexism which is the problem... it's the fallacy of popularity as measure of truth.
posted by MikeWarot at 7:12 AM on October 30, 2010


That comic has all the subtlety, nuance, wit and originality of a sledgehammer.

I think he could have been more clear with his cariacatures. And used ALL CAPS for more effect.

I don't think feminism is progressed any further by fighting for the equal right to promulgate stupid and patronising stereotypes in the name of teaching people how to behave better towards one another.
posted by MuffinMan at 7:22 AM on October 30, 2010


Was he actually trying to progress feminism, though, or maybe just expressing frustration with stupid commenters? Sometimes people aren't trying to save the world, they're just blowing off steam.
posted by harriet vane at 7:31 AM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, arseholes will be arseholes. More so on the internet.

He's pretty clearly trying to say something more than that. The problem with the internet is, apparently, one of a dominating patriarchy.
posted by MuffinMan at 7:47 AM on October 30, 2010


I liked the comic, partly in a "yep, that's often how it goes" kind of way. But it also made me laugh, but mostly by exagerrating the serious point being made to the maximum possible level, and then making some funny visual humor out of that.

I wasn't offended by the depiction of the men in the comic, because it was clear to me that it was making fun of a particular group of men who behave a certain way--specifically, those who post comments like "your comic is so good it makes me want to fuck you".

I don't feel like part of that group, so it doesn't feel like it's aimed at me. And it does feel like it's aimed at a group that doesn't really have a right to be protected from being made fun of in a comic like this, a right they forfeited by posting those kinds of comments.
posted by FishBike at 7:56 AM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


i liked the art. I found the story to be an oversimplification of a legitimate issue, but that's what comics usually do. (Which is why I don't care for political cartoons. Nuanced topics painted with broad strokes don't help anything.)

The idea that "hey, nice work, i want to have your babies" is sexist seems a bit silly.

I have personally said it to men and women and merely meant it as shorthand for "You certainly have skills, etc. that I feel should be passed on to benefit future generations. Kudos." I hope that's what most people mean. I've certainly never meant it as "You've made me sexually aroused and I want to lay conquest to your genitals."

The idea isn't the "hidden" sex request, it's the overt desire for more of this in the future.

Unfortunately when sending human traits through to the future, sometimes sex is involved.
posted by Flotsam Rosewater at 8:09 AM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sometimes people aren't trying to save the world, they're just blowing off steam.

Sure, but when I blow off steam I do it where people won't witness it. I don't do it in front of an audience in the expectation they might learn something from my wild gesticulations and hootings.
posted by Ritchie at 8:10 AM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


I fully endorse an apocalyptic dystopian world where people do nothing but think about sex, talk about sex, and crassly sexually proposition each other like ill-mannered libidinous chimpanzees.

That said, this a pretty good comic. Funny concepts, good design sense, and a fair enough expression of female exasperation with the ever-marauding male boner.
posted by dgaicun at 8:10 AM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't actually want to have babies by or with anyone, but if I felt strongly enough that a woman was possessed of some Grade-A primo genetic material I could probably set up an appointment with a specialist to have some of her eggs harvested and frozen. You know, for the greater good.
posted by Ritchie at 8:21 AM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sure, but when I blow off steam I do it where people won't witness it. I don't do it in front of an audience in the expectation they might learn something from my wild gesticulations and hootings.

1. I strongly doubt that you've always been so sedately-behaved in public. Not because I doubt this about you -- but rather because of HUMAN NATURE. Everyone I know -- EVERYONE -- wants, at times, for their grievances to be heard and at least acknowledged.

2. Not everyone who does something before an audience has the expectation that "they might learn something."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:35 AM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't do it in front of an audience in the expectation they might learn something from my wild gesticulations and hootings.

That's my procedure too, but I am continually surprised at how many people are not like that.
posted by jessamyn at 8:44 AM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm a guy. I think it is a bad comic (as I said above). It just doesn't make its point well. If some comic showed up that was expressing the same sort of frustration and describing the double-standard of how female artists (scientists, performers, politicians, etc. etc.) get this sort of sexist treatment, but did it in a subtle and clever way that even, say, made me laugh, which is certainly possible, I may have looked at that comic and posted something positive in the thread, or even just not posted anything but favorited it. Maybe that's bad; good stuff just gets a nod and I move along. But this one annoyed me because it is heavy-handed and flame-baity. It is intellectually lazy; and being intellectually lazy when trying to say something important about a sensitive subject is an invitation to disaster (see, for example, this thread).

EmpressCallipygos, I want to respond to your point here:

this is a COMIC STRIP, not an academic dissertation. Almost ANYTHING that gets written for the public gets distilled and simplified for the sake of brevity, and things that are intended to be humorous also get exaggerated details thrown in for comedic effect.

I see your point, but I feel that he chose the wrong things to simplify here. It's not that we don't get that he's making a generalization, of course anyone would—but I feel like he's making the wrong generalization here, or at least drawing his dividing lines incorrectly. He could have divided the groups up as "feminist" vs. "sexist" and then could have included people of both genders in either group—but then maybe he couldn't have used the facile trope of replacing faces with "♂" and "♀". If he had done something more thoughtful the point could have been made even more powerfully, and more usefully if you want a solid discussion to come from such a thing. There's a good point to be made about how offensive it is that women artists often get responses such as "I want to have sex with you" when presenting their work...but this comic isn't up to the task.

I also want to add that these sorts of generalizations reinforce stereotypes. It's a problem that guys may not understand or feel like they can be called feminists. And any comic that is progressive enough to put men in the category of feminist is not placating "the angry sensitive guys," but rather encouraging a positive stereotype about who men can be. Any comic that continues to divide men and women up along these simplistic lines is doing men and women a disservice—especially women—because, perversely, it continues to reinforce negative stereotypes about who men are and what they can aspire to be, and doesn't help these younger guys who we're talking about in this thread as being saturated with negative reinforcement about gender roles at every turn. This comic is just the flip side of Maxim magazine, as far as I can tell.

At MetaFilter many of us seem to be more aware than most of how images in media reinforce societal roles. But sometimes it seems to me that here there some strange lack of awareness about this, even defensiveness, when it comes to talking about issues related to men as feminists. Are we not allowed to intelligently critique media that is supportive of women and critical of sexism but does a bad job of it? Sure, it's just a comic; but the discussion is serious and worth having.

And I think another issue here, that I don't understand why more people haven't brought up, is that it is really weird to me that this is a guy pretending to be a woman, writing comics about how women feel. I mean, isn't that kind of fucked up? What is that about?
posted by dubitable at 8:47 AM on October 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


As I woman, I often have gonad-level responses to people's work that I as a rule keep to myself, well, because it's embarrassing to think, "You created this immaculately-crafted, beautiful thing, and as thanks, I would like to rub my body against yours." And I often don't even know what gender of what creature created the work. It's the one pathetic and naturally powerful thing we have to offer, our sex. It's like saying, "The only humble genius I have to offer in comparison to your work is in my genome, which I don't even possess, but would so keenly like to recombine with yours." It ridiculous, but sexist? It's just human, creature.


Perhaps we should look at this level of adoration as akin to a small dog humping your leg. They're just showing their appreciation the only way they know how, but still, you'd shoo them away without feeling threatened or victimized. And a thousand small dogs on a web page...perhaps it's good to value one's anonymity. It's impossible to have an abiding, Christian relationship with 1000 small admiring dogs...not in a moral sense, just in the poop-scooping upkeep--so think of the perversity of the truly famous. It's an unclean thing.

Do you create and create online because you must create or never sleep or because you want 1,000 online chihuahuas to sire your puppies? Or give you the proper feedback you feel you deserve? We all feel just like you feel, in the exact same way, too, believe me. You express it so well. Big deal. Madonna still yearns to be taken seriously as an artist...and How do You smell?

Do you think once you become a public commodity that you can control the way your stock is traded? I'm not talking about idealized notions of equality here, but how nasty people--men and women both-- really are. Once you are an image and a name and piece of work you have to both distance yourself from the image and the name and the piece of work and hire a crew of thugs to beat back the worst aficionados, I'm afraid.

If people think you possess some secret thing they do not--that you created something or own some special bliss--it's stalkers, blackmailers, gold-diggers, tale-tellers, saboteurs...for any poor little nothing with a clever idea and a corner of dirt somewhere, worldwide, since all time, not restricted to one particular gender. And oh, there's some "nice" people, too. Heh.

I am reminded of my brother and his teenaged male friend who in the 1980's attended a professional wrestling bout and screamed to Rowdy Roddy Piper, "RODDY! I WANT TO HAVE YOUR BABIES!" Because what else should a teenaged boy yell to a male professional wrestler in some nowhere town...genius teenaged boys they were. Because it was a crummy town and everybody knows wrestling is a fixed, though bloody painful sham for the participants and spectators alike. When you make yourself a spectacle or are made into a spectacle you can't control the gaze of the crowd, whether your intention was to make yourself a spectacle or not. You can try, but there'll always be some shithead yelling "Freebird!"

I have quoted Thomas Merton before here and I will quote him again: "People are constantly trying to use you to help them create the particular illusions by which they live. This is particularly true of the collective illusions which sometimes are accepted as ideologies. You must renounce and sacrifice the approval that is only a bribe enlisting your support of a collective illusion. You must not allow yourself to be represented as someone in whom a few of the favorite daydreams of the public have come true."

And Father Merton? Oh, yeah, I'd have had his little forbidden Trappist babies. Hubba hubba. Shameful, ennit?
posted by eegphalanges at 9:06 AM on October 30, 2010 [8 favorites]


>: "And I think another issue here, that I don't understand why more people haven't brought up, is that it is really weird to me that this is a guy pretending to be a woman, writing comics about how women feel. I mean, isn't that kind of fucked up? What is that about?"

I think it's mostly about that even the most cursory glance at the second page linked demonstrates that "he's pretending to be a woman" is a problematic interpretation at best. Further glances at the other bits on his pages also make "he writes comics about how women feel" likewise problematic.

"Problematic" in this case is being charitable for "not even wrong."
posted by Drastic at 9:12 AM on October 30, 2010


I think people here may not be used to sites other then Metafilter. It's something of a bastion of not being sexist. Look at how sexism is discussed on a site like reddit, for example. Or check out the youtube comments on this video (of a woman making a sandwich - ostensively to make fun sexists and 1950s values) most of which are "OMG perfect woman!!!"

That said I don't really think a man saying "I want to have your babies" is really that much of a sexist thing to say. It's a common meme that's really been divorced from it's sexual connotations for most people - and when I say "most people" I mean people who run around spouting memes without thinking about them, rather then being original.
"I like your work so much I want to have sex with you" is asinine and insulting whether it's directed from a man to a woman, a woman to a man or persons of same gender. PERIOD.
That's about the most absurd thing I've ever heard. For a straight man, being told by a women that she wants to have sex with you is fantastic. Whether it's for your work or your looks, it doesn't really matter.

I suppose for actors and people who hear it all the time it could get annoying. But given the frequency that it happens for most men it's a huge ego boost. IMO. I think it would be more of an ego boost if it was for work, rather then looks.
so you'd cut me the same break if I made a comic strip where all the men were right and all the women were wrong?
Post it to reddit, and you'll probably make the front page!
"Not sure you're helping with that."

I. Don't care. I've lost patience with men who expect women to walk on eggshells.
Then why do you think men should walk on eggshells?

---
My perception is that both douchebag men and oversensitive women exist on the Internet (also, douche-bag oversensitive men. Check out /r/MensRights on reddit) . It's not an either-or thing. My reaction to the comic was "Lol, so many dudes on the internet are like that". At the same time I don't think saying "I want to have your babies" to a women is really that broadly offensive.
posted by delmoi at 9:15 AM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think it's mostly about that even the most cursory glance at the second page linked demonstrates that "he's pretending to be a woman" is a problematic interpretation at best. Further glances at the other bits on his pages also make "he writes comics about how women feel" likewise problematic.

Okay, fine. Then, a new question. What is going on with him using a woman's name at all? I don't get it.

I realize that perhaps it's not entirely germane to the specific subject at hand (although it's certainly related in some way, shape or form)—but it's just something that me, as a guy, would never in my right mind consider doing. As a guy, I think using a woman's identity in any way would be really strange and problematic, depending on the context. And this context is already chock full o' problematic, no?

So, I don't really feel like it is "not even wrong" to bring up, I think there is something there. I'm just not sure what it is—I'd like to have a conversation about it, and not be dismissed as being "not even wrong," but if you don't want to talk about it, you know, you can just...not post anything.
posted by dubitable at 9:24 AM on October 30, 2010


"Gabby" is not necessarily always a woman's name.
posted by Gator at 9:25 AM on October 30, 2010


The idea that "hey, nice work, i want to have your babies" is sexist seems a bit silly.

I'm just a hetero normative guy, so I may be mistaken, but the lesson I got from this comic was a bit different.

My understanding is that polite versions of "hey, I have noticed your talents and now want to insert my penis into you" are offensive, especially from the point of view of talented women who are told this every single day.

This differs from the reverse gender situation (e.g. male rock star with groupies) because of homo sapiens' asymmetrical rape and sexual power dynamics.

I thought the sexism we were more concerned about was the social reaction to such offensive comments.
posted by anthill at 9:27 AM on October 30, 2010


"Gabby" is not necessarily always a woman's name.

Fair enough. The guy is using two names, which is weird enough but definitely not germane.

So I'm probably bean-plating this one. Hell, it is MetaFilter after all...
posted by dubitable at 9:29 AM on October 30, 2010


If "I want to have your babies" is intended as "You should pass on your genome to future generations", there's got to be a better way to say it. Also, complimenting someone's genome for their hard fucking work and dedication is a bit strange too.
posted by anthill at 9:33 AM on October 30, 2010


If "I want to have your babies" is intended as "You should pass on your genome to future generations", there's got to be a better way to say it. Also, complimenting someone's genome for their hard fucking work and dedication is a bit strange too.

Yes, it's perverse. I go further and think it's strange that we respond to the creative person instead of their work, when it's the work that usually reminds of some shared human reality. As in music--it's your personal response to the song, your own associations and memories and feelings, that give it life. Or any great discovery of humanity--science, physics, math--a great body of people make the work alive. It's a wonder we can communicate anything at all, ever, and reading these threads makes me doubt it really ever happens.

And I know there is hard fucking work and dedication involved in the work that people create--but if it's really all that awesome, it ends up being something bigger than the creator/discover/hard fucking worker can control. And if all things are equal--there's not much any one clever person can control. You give up your life for the dance, the song, the research, the theorem, the web comic. It consumes peoples' lives like my crappy job does mine. Everyone is fighting a battle, you know. I'm not particularly clever. I was lied to alot. I think we all are...about the nature of Mind. It's a shame anyone is ever bored or lacking wonder.

I think, maybe, in a way "I want to have your babies" is a satirical way of bringing creators down to earth, of cutting the umbilicus between creator and creation. They need to be reminded of babies and the potential of babies and the awesome cuteness of babies, even as yet-unseen theoretical teen boy-on-pro-wrestler man babies. So that someday these babies will have their own clever ideas, so we'll all continue to eat and have roofs over our heads, or some such hopeful thing --- we'll all be entertained, equally, by their great gender-neutral cleverness, even if someone's feelings are terribly hurt in the process. There will be babies.
posted by eegphalanges at 10:38 AM on October 30, 2010


... it is really weird to me that this is a guy pretending to be a woman, writing comics about how women feel. I mean, isn't that kind of fucked up? What is that about?

I think it's worth remembering that regular readers of Gabby's blog, his presumable intended audience, would be well aware that Gabby is a man, and not assume that he's a woman, that the female character was supposed to represent him, or that he thinks the ♂ characters are a universal representation of men.

The title, "In which we betray our gender," might also have been a bit of clue.

I'm not defending this as a great comic. I get it. But I didn't think it was terribly funny or insightful. Actually, the author wrote:

... this cartoon will be of no help at all in changing our stupid, sexist culture of rape, murder, domination and bad tv — in fact, it hardly even qualifies as entertainment ... But drawing this certainly made me feel better, so it made the cut.

Just for the record, I've always taken praise in the form of 'I want to marry you you,' 'I would gay-marry you,' 'I want to have your children' - or 'If X were a woman, I would make love to her,' when applied to inanimate objects - as humorous hyperbole based on the double meaning of "love" in English. I can understand stand that other people interpret it differently.

The "real" meaning of phrases like this aren't really relevant to the cartoon. The cartoon presents a version of the meme the way the female protagonist hears it: "I want to fuck you." She responds to the commenter, now seen as ♂ rather than a person, with irritation but politely, "Thanks for liking my comic. Also ...." The commenter responds angrily with a long chain of justifications. (He could have just said, 'Sorry. I was being facetious. I just meant I really, really like your stuff.' That might have transformed him back into a person. But that would be weak, right?) A massive argument ensues; people take sides.

The moral of this tale is rather clear.
posted by nangar at 10:51 AM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


anthill, I thought the premise was "I want to have your babies" is inherently sexist. So I suppose my point was this: The initial premise was flawed. Not only did it hyperbolize the actual scenario so much that it invalidated any meaningful commentary on the subject but it also completely distorted what was originally said.

So the lesson I took away was this: Telling a woman in point blank terms that you like her work and want to use her to put another notch on your belt is bad. If you didn't already know that saying "nice art, let's fuck" was bad, then this won't help you.

I do not see "nice art, let's fuck" as an equivalent statement to "nice work, I want to have your babies". There's more to babies than fucking.

An addendum: "I want to have your babies" can be elongated to "I like what you've done there. I want you to pass your genetic material to future generations. I want to be a part of your life and see what sort of great things you make/do in the future because, hey, you really impressed me."
posted by Flotsam Rosewater at 10:55 AM on October 30, 2010


When I see a girl doing something really interesting, and really creative, I become significantly more attracted to her.

Am I doing something wrong here?
posted by effugas


Only if the thought turns into words that enter her consciousness.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg


Gamien, in your estimation what is a legitimate reason for a man to tell a woman he is attracted to her? Because what I'm hearing is that finding a woman/girl/lady attractive because she's more than a pair of breasts and a vagina isn't ok. But, then, we also agree that finding a woman attractive because she's got nice breasts and a well sculpted body isn't really ok either.

When can I tell a woman I am attracted to her then?
posted by Flotsam Rosewater at 11:05 AM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's fine to be attracted to someone for how they look or who they are or what they do, just try not to start out with variants of "Wanna bone?!"
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:16 AM on October 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


I think it's more the forest rather than any particular tree. Even though one comment/event/incident may be something you'd find in a perfectly equal society, take a step back and look at the big picture, and it's pretty bad.

I mean that's what a lot of sexism/racism/what have you is nowadays. Sure there are still bigoted douchebags and they make life a little more terrible. But the bigger problems are the systemic ones that come from quite possibly reasonable actions adding up to an unreasonable whole. So much that, for example, women earn about 80% as much as men on average, and that figure hasn't seen a whole lot of movement for a while.

Throw in sex and it becomes even more of a thorny, tangled mess to address. In addition to the power dynamic, we've got old puritanical values compounding society's nerouses about sexual behavior as well. Ideally in a society with ready access to birth control, sex should be a fun thing that two responsible, consenting adults do together (as equals), but the reality of how sex is viewed... well let's just say it is far from ideal.

I mean to move to a more equal society there just needs to be less sexual commentary and behavior, especially of the cruder sort addressed towards women by men. Or more addressed towards men by women, but that isn't the society I want to live in so I'm sure not going to advocate for that. But the people who are doing the worst of it aren't the guys who listen to these sorts of ideas. I mean the guys who do could make less sexual remarks, and that might help a little, but even if they all went around acting like asexual beings it still wouldn't be enough and would be an unreasonable imposition anyway.

Heck, I don't know what the answer is; when I'm around people making this sort of behavior I generally just suppress the urge to slap the person and shake my head and sigh. I don't know what's going to change their mind, and I'm terrible at verbal communication anyway. But if someone knows stuff that does work to stop stupid, sexist behavior, it would be a welcome reprieve from the rehashing of the same old argument, even a reasonably polite and nuanced one as we are trying to achieve here.
posted by Zalzidrax at 11:27 AM on October 30, 2010


Sigh. This is what happens when you take a figure of speech literally. I assume that when a woman says to me "OMG, thank you for doing that brief for me, I want to have your babies," that they are in fact using hyperbole as a comedic device, not that they have so little self-esteem that they literally want me to fuck them until they are pregnant and then raise my child.

I understand that that is tangent to the point of the comic. I also understand that there can be opposition to certain figures of speech. Just, can we make a distinction between people having picked up a figure of speech you have issues with, and people saying and meaning sexist things? I suspect the artist actually realizes this, because he went to the trouble of changing "have your babies" to "fuck you" to make it more offensive and thus support his point.

Other than that, old observation of behavior is old.
posted by ctmf at 11:44 AM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Where does it put me on the male/female/sexist/not sexist Descartian coordinate plane if I say I don't think Kate Beaton's cartoons are all that?
posted by Sebmojo at 11:48 AM on October 30, 2010


I think you'd be fine so long as you want to have her babies even though you don't care for her work.
posted by found missing at 11:50 AM on October 30, 2010


It seemed to me that both Kate Beaton's example of "I want to have your babies" and the comic's example of "I want to fuck you" were just examples of the patronizing, sexually-based commentary that women get.

Picking apart "I want to have your babies" as not being sexist is missing the point. That particular comment may be innocent and well-meaning as an expression of adoration, but it's still a weird goddamn thing to say to a stranger because you like their comics.

When can I tell a woman I am attracted to her then?

When you know her personally and there's actually a chance of a relationship developing? Not when she's just creating work for the public sphere?
posted by girih knot at 12:13 PM on October 30, 2010 [9 favorites]


I like how on the Internet your argument is invalid if it isn't 100% accurate.
posted by Legomancer at 12:24 PM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I thought the caricature was strong, the quality of line (which I initially thought of as "inking" but there may not have been ink involved) was clear without being soulless, and the color spotting was pretty good as well. I was a little thrown off by the one panel where the protagonist had those weird Adam Warren fish lips* but otherwise thought the talent exhibited here was pretty obvious. Not sure about all the cries in this thread about OMG THIS IS JUST A BAD COMIC when it seems to be pretty well-made.

* if you are reading this Mr Warren I love your work and have gotten past the thing with the fish lips
posted by jtron at 12:37 PM on October 30, 2010


it is really weird to me that this is a guy pretending to be a woman, writing comics about how women feel. I mean, isn't that kind of fucked up? What is that about?"

The comic we are currently discussing was drawn in RESPONSE to an incident which happened to a FEMALE cartoonist. If you like, he was illustrating her story.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:36 PM on October 30, 2010


As for Reddit, I can't even figure out how to do a search without having an account, but clicking on 'most controversial' doesn't seem to bring this comic strip up

This is not surprising. On reddit, this wouldn't even count as "mildly diverting", let alone controversial. One of many reasons why I like reddit.
posted by Decani at 2:08 PM on October 30, 2010


When can I tell a woman I am attracted to her then?

When you know her personally and there's actually a chance of a relationship developing? Not when she's just creating work for the public sphere?


So what is a crush? What about online dating? For the most part that's just not how reality works, and most relationships don't start that way. All these things are wrong?

You know most of the stuff people say about sexism around here makes sense and I agree with, but when people start refining down to the nitty gritty and we get to attraction = sexism I can't help but to start shaking my head and rolling my eyes.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:11 PM on October 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


Americans are sometimes disliked abroad because of various international policies and actions. But what role does any given American play in that dynamic? They may be fully counter any policy problematic to the outsider

Funnily enough I was talking to my wife about this subject just last night. She observed that while she had encountered plenty of hostility to US government actions and policy, in the years she lived outside the US, she had never come across a case of that being translated into hostility against her, as an American. Rather it was her experience that people outside the US were clear about the difference between the US government and US citizens, and were often careful to distinguish between them. On the other hand she has encountered plenty of Americans who believed that people outside of the US would dislike them just for being American. This belief could colour their perceptions to the extent that they were unable to see that this was not the case, and would even insist it was so in cases were it clearly wasn't.
posted by tallus at 2:16 PM on October 30, 2010


we get to attraction = sexism

No one (or almost no one -- I think there was one particularly silly example above) is really saying that, however, right? I think that just about everyone understands that what goes on in your head is your business and is pretty much ok -- you can look at photos of America Ferrera or Jude Law and drool all you want. Crushes -- based on someone's looks, their voice, their talent, their writing, whatever -- are fine. The question of ok/not ok comes when you go to put it into action.

There are a million fine (and often effective) ways of expressing attraction; "nice comic, wanna fuck?" usually isn't one of them (but even then, in the right context, it would be awesome and funny).
posted by Forktine at 2:19 PM on October 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


This comic reminds me of this one. Except my linked one is a parody.
posted by Snyder at 2:26 PM on October 30, 2010


The question of ok/not ok comes when you go to put it into action.

There are a million fine (and often effective) ways of expressing attraction;


Sure, but the hyperbole switcheroo of "do you wanna fuck" is probably closer to the truth than most people would like to admit

Probably not the best example but I think there's truth in that. There probably will always be that duplicitous relationship between what's implicit and explicit in an interaction when two people meet.

I'm not trying to make an argument for "hey, it's just a basic instinct" but rather I'm disagreeing with idea that people shouldn't approach each other unless it's in some kind of enlightened non-attached way.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:03 PM on October 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


A an elderly man recently flirted with me on the street, saying "I wish I was 40 years younger so I could chase after you," to which I answered, "Thank you, sweetie, I wish I was 40 years younger, too, I could start all over with a clean slate."

I've also had a tranny hooker grab my ass near the same block, to which I replied, "Honey, that's assault and battery--and I think I like it!"

You can be playful with really peculiar people IRL who are harmless and deal with absolute shit from somebody who's really very decent and "feminist", I find. Words don't mean much separate from the being that utters/creates them. Context, delivery, the way a persons eyes crinkle or head nods when they talk, irony--all that gets lost in these kinds of communications. I like how comics try to bridge that gap, but they're often just as polemical as anything else.

When your selfhood is so diluted down in a creative work to the point that there really isn't any self in it to be proud of, when you're just really Inspired* instead of Trying to Make a Political/Identity point, it inspires some kind of rapturous awe in those who one really manages to commune with in a true sense.

I think that's why I've often had crushes on teachers, because they help you find that point where you do your best work, your hardest work, yet lose yourself inside that work, nonetheless. And then they let you go, if good teachers they are. The most universal works, the most enduring things, are impersonal like that.

Apart from street guys and tranny hookers, I have very dear friends whom I'd worry about if they didn't make admiring comments about my ass. I'd worry about my ass, too. Sure, I want to be respected for "my mind" or whatever, but the long-term state of my mind is no more guaranteed than that of my ass. You lose both these endearing qualities someday, so it's nice to be reminded that they're both still attached, as it were, and functioning.

*"If the thorn of a rose is the thorn in your side/then you're better off dead if you haven't yet died"
posted by eegphalanges at 3:22 PM on October 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


My favorite part about all of this is where any opinion that doesn't fit with the norm gets to be dismissed as anti-feminist, misogynist, male answer syndrome, etc.

It's like watching Bill O'Reilly.
posted by gjc at 4:22 PM on October 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


Yeah, but it gives the control freaks a chance to tell everyone how to behave and pretend that everyone's listening to them and nodding.
posted by unSane at 5:00 PM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, but it gives the control freaks a chance to tell everyone how to behave and pretend that everyone's listening to them and nodding.

Nice comment!

Wanna fuck?
posted by Sebmojo at 7:21 PM on October 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


STOP THE PRESSES I HAVE THE ANSWER:

"Your (creative product) is so awesome that I want to fuck it!"

It's not about the artist, it's about the art! It's the MetaFilter magic solving the problem! And I know it's right because I asked a woman! You're all welcome!
posted by NortonDC at 7:53 PM on October 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


Kinda like what Sebmojo said.
posted by NortonDC at 7:54 PM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you have no idea how to approach a woman maybe you could try talking to her like a human being and not a potential customer. That changes everything.

I realize my comments have put people offside, but again, I don't care. I'm not the sensitivity police, I'm just wanted to talk about this shit so I can clarify my thoughts about the comic and the many reactions to it.

Because I think this kind of shit is the revenge of the nerds. It's fucking putrid.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 8:38 PM on October 30, 2010


A person who thinks "If I can't say something creepy and stalkery, how can I get together with people???!!!" probably needs to work on their getting-together-with-people skills.

But really, this whole thing isn't about how a dude can never express his attraction for a lady via the Internet. It's about how a dude, when he's been told that his particular way of doing so icks her out, should either lay off or apologize and take a different tack in expressing said admiration.

It's a social skill that needs to be learned, not a hill that Masculinity needs to die on.

And it could apply to women talking to men also, sure. Perhaps sometimes it does.
posted by emjaybee at 8:57 PM on October 30, 2010 [8 favorites]


No one (or almost no one -- I think there was one particularly silly example above) is really saying that, however, right? I think that just about everyone understands that what goes on in your head is your business and is pretty much ok -- you can look at photos of America Ferrera or Jude Law and drool all you want. Crushes -- based on someone's looks, their voice, their talent, their writing, whatever -- are fine. The question of ok/not ok comes when you go to put it into action.

There are a million fine (and often effective) ways of expressing attraction; "nice comic, wanna fuck?" usually isn't one of them (but even then, in the right context, it would be awesome and funny).


I have to absolutely disagree. There is nothing inherently sexist about approaching a woman (through e-mail or in person or however) and asking if they want to fuck in a non-creepy way. ("I really love your comic, would love to take you out to dinner sometime and maybe more, etc") It may well be sexist if the invitation is given/intended in a way which implies it is owed to the asker, or any other sort of sexist thing to do or say, but there's nothing inherently sexist about the act. Now, a very direct "Love your comic, wanna fuck?" is certainly rude, unless it's agreed to, in which case the rudeness does not signify.

The sexism here is not in the proposition, but in the refusal to accept rejection and the subsequent public shaming of a woman who dared to be so impertinent as to address the misdeeds of a man. Certainly the fictional protagonist in the comic is confronted with a rudeness and responds politely - imagine if the antagonist had accepted the refusal graciously; would you then consider his actions still sexist?

In this light, the true purpose of spending time getting to know someone before advancing a proposition is to reduce the rudeness of it. Which is a good and necessary thing, but it has nothing to do with making the question not sexist.
posted by TypographicalError at 9:27 PM on October 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Since it was mentioned earlier, worth pointing out that reddit has produced a much more accurate version of the "cycle".
posted by ubernostrum at 9:33 PM on October 30, 2010


Why can't I tell someone I have a crush on her? Is it sexist to have crushes? (paraphrased)

It's fine to have crushes. We don't always need to tell people when we have crushes on them. It can be an awkward imposition on them, in fact. Sometimes considerateness dictates we keep our traps shut about things like that. We can engage with them about specific subjects rather than talking about our crush on them.


But more generally, put yourself in the female comic artist's position, in interpreting comments made on her website/twitter/etc. You get a bunch of comments that are about you, rather than your work specifically. How to take these comments?

There are at least four possibilities for how these comments come to be made:

1. Platonic admiration of your art, phrased like admiration for/a crush on you personally.
2. Actual crush.
3. Irrelevant comment (pro or con) on looks/sexiness/etc.
4. Ironic comment which only pretends to be 3, possibly intending to convey 1 or 2.

Notice what the comment thread on your web comic looks like now:
I love you
You're awesome and I have such a crush on you
You're my new girlfriend
I love the way you draw women, is that what you really look like?
I wanna do you
Marry me Kate! I will bring you flowers and chocolates!
I saw Kate at a convention and she was so beautiful, love you Kate
I saw her at that convention and she didn't look so good, plus her art is overrated
Baby you know I'm your man, whenever you're ready I am available
Kate is hotter than Paris Hilton dying in 1000 suns
She's fugly
No, she's hot
I've read your comics and I think you're not so great, but if you blow me I will change my mind ha ha just kidding
I have a girlfriend but I will totally dump her for you, come over and let's get busy
I don't even know what you look like and I will do you anyway, that's how good your art is
You are a great artist and also so pretty
I want to marry you and have your babies
So -- which of those are of type 3? Maybe not even all that many.
Which are paying more attention to you as a generic female who can be dated/married/slept with/crushed on, than they are paying attention to your art? Can you see why it feels exhausting to sort through all the comments that are couched in terms of your lovability/attractiveness/marriagability/fuckability, and why you might think, this is kind of a drag even though some of these are meant to be totally nice compliments.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:31 PM on October 30, 2010 [11 favorites]


Drink those, because if you feel feminism is making you feel less than you have only one option: be a man.

I'm a man. I find it easier to be one than cry like a little bitch because the ladies aren't given it up to my sensitivity and feewings.

Because I think this kind of shit is the revenge of the nerds. It's fucking putrid.

So you're calling men who are insensitive to women effeminate, but you don't care that you're insensitive yourself, because you're a man? It's like a mobius strip of sexism.
posted by Pyry at 8:00 AM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Related real life story:

Yesterday, while walking out of the grocery store, I noticed and heard some heated back and forth in the parking lot. A woman and a man in car clearly traded words and she was walking away from him, her face set in anger. The guy pulls his car around to where she's walking and as he passes her, snarls "I was trying to give you a compliment". Without pausing, the woman snarls right back "Fine, thank you." The guy mutters something else as he drives off and the woman keeps walking. I have no idea what the original exchange was, but the nastiness in the guy's voice as he snarled stopped me short for its ugly tone.

Strange, the things that occur in broad daylight, in a public space.
posted by nomadicink at 8:08 AM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


(P.o.B.) So what is a crush? What about online dating? For the most part that's just not how reality works, and most relationships don't start that way. All these things are wrong?

You know most of the stuff people say about sexism around here makes sense and I agree with, but when people start refining down to the nitty gritty and we get to attraction = sexism I can't help but to start shaking my head and rolling my eyes.


You seriously don't see the problem with expressing to someone who is essentially a stranger to you that you're attracted to them? I'm not talking about the fact that this is online. A person's work != the person. It's perfectly possible to develop a crush on someone based on a webcomic they make, but the crush is not mutual. They do not know you at all and to assume that it's your right to express that attraction to them is entitlement and it's creepy.
posted by girih knot at 9:53 AM on October 31, 2010 [5 favorites]


I'm kind of baffled by the number of people here who seem to think saying "Your creative endeavor makes me want to fuck you" to someone is totally okay, and anyone who has a problem with it is an uptight man-hating prude. That's really upsetting. What can also be really upsetting is when you create something, you work really hard to make something that affects people, that touches them or makes them think or makes them laugh or just changes them in some tiny, tiny way -- and the response you get back is less, "Wow, your work is really great, it really affected me/made me think/etc.", and is more, "OMG, now I totally want to bone you."

Now, some of you have asked what the problem is with comments like, "I really enjoyed your work and I'd love to take you out to dinner sometime if you're interested," or similar things, and asked what's so wrong about a comment like that, how could anyone be offended by that. That comment is pretty danged different from "I want to bone you." Yes, I know that in dating an invitation to dinner is quite often an implicit invitation to bone. But we're not talking about dating, you guys. A lot of you seem to be missing that. We're not talking about dating. We're talking about communicating your enjoyment of some art to the person who created the art.

Try to think of it this way: you spend a large amount of time on a creative endeavor. Say, you write a book, or illustrate a graphic novel, or compose some music, or direct a film. Whatever. You work hard on it. You want it to really affect people, you want to them to think, you want to challenge their current view on something, you want to move them. You put this work out in the public realm, and what do you get back? Not comments like, "Wow, your work really made me think. I really liked when XYZ happened." Or, "I didn't understand this part, but I thought about it some more and I think it means this -- is that what you meant?" But what you get is, "Hey, you're hot! I totally want to bone you."

It takes the work that you've done and reduces it to nothing. You may as well have just posted a picture of yourself on the internet with your tits out, because you would have gotten the same insightful commentary. It makes you wonder why you even bother trying.

Can't you guys understand how much that sucks? Don't you have any empathy, or ability to look past the end of your own nose?
posted by palomar at 10:01 AM on October 31, 2010 [13 favorites]


I'm kind of baffled by the number of people here who seem to think saying "Your creative endeavor makes me want to fuck you" to someone is totally okay, and anyone who has a problem with it is an uptight man-hating prude.

I don't think anybody here is actually saying they think "Your creative endeavor makes me want to fuck you" is an okay thing to say. What people are saying is that what was said in the initial exchange, and what is frequently offered all around the internet as a compliment to both men and women, is never intended to be literal and not in and of itself a bad thing to say. They're also saying that it is not the same thing as "Your creative endeavor makes me want to fuck you", which somehow has been grounds for disagreement from you and the artist in the OP and others.

When one side is saying "The comment isn't a big deal, it's not like it's supposed to be taken literally" and the other says "But if you do take it literally and add a lot of other baggage and interpretation on top, then you're basically saying it's okay to tell someone you want to rape them", there's not a lot of room for a dialogue.
posted by kafziel at 10:49 AM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


the crush is not mutual. They do not know you at all and to assume that it's your right to express that attraction to them is entitlement and it's creepy.

So any time you express attraction that's not mutual, it's entitlement? The words you are saying do not make any sense.
posted by TypographicalError at 11:23 AM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


kafziel, I did not in any way equate the comment with rape, and for you to accuse me and others of doing that is incredibly unfair and inappropriate.
posted by palomar at 11:49 AM on October 31, 2010


So any time you express attraction that's not mutual, it's entitlement? The words you are saying do not make any sense.

Let me point out the words you seem to be missing, then.

They do not know you at all

I really, really do not understand why it is not blatantly obvious how creepy it is to express romantic intentions towards someone with whom you do not personally know at all. I realize the role of internet celebrity isn't incredibly significant, but this is the parallel of sending Megan Fox a letter saying, "You're so hot! I love you! Will you go out with me?" The difference is that Kate Beaton is putting her intellectual property out there for you to ogle instead of her body, but that doesn't make it less creepy to direct this sort of attention at her. You are a stranger to her. This is not okay.
posted by girih knot at 11:52 AM on October 31, 2010 [4 favorites]


So any time you express attraction that's not mutual, it's entitlement?

If the reason it's not mutual is because THE OTHER PERSON HAS NEVER ACTUALLY OFFICIALLY MET YOU IN ANY WAY, SHAPE, OR FORM BEFORE THIS, then yes, yes it is.

You HONESTLY wouldn't be a little disturbed if a complete and total stranger came up to you suddenly and said "I want to ride you like a show pony"? Honestly? Even just for a minute?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:05 PM on October 31, 2010


If the reason it's not mutual is because THE OTHER PERSON HAS NEVER ACTUALLY OFFICIALLY MET YOU IN ANY WAY, SHAPE, OR FORM BEFORE THIS, then yes, yes it is.

You HONESTLY wouldn't be a little disturbed if a complete and total stranger came up to you suddenly and said "I want to ride you like a show pony"? Honestly? Even just for a minute?


I'm a little surprised you can't conscion that some people might enjoy things you would find creepy. You would find it creepy, and that's fine. Other people might not, and that's fine too.
posted by Phyltre at 12:18 PM on October 31, 2010


Girih knot, so suppose I'm out at a bar and I see a woman who I find attractive. I should keep my fat mouth shut because she doesn't know me? If I do say something that it's entitlement on my part?

Or is it different because Kate is famous and the girl at the bar is not famous?
posted by Flotsam Rosewater at 12:38 PM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Look, this is not rocket science. If you're a guy and you like a girl, expressing a genuine interest in what she's doing instead of what she looks like gives you something to talk about and develop interest in each other. Most of the time she can tell if you think she's attractive, so there's no real need to express that so directly*. She'll send signals if she's interest, but considering the crap she has to deal with from creeps and what not, you may have to flirt and get to know her first.

* Except in situations where the chemistry is clear but that's a more advanced class.
posted by nomadicink at 12:43 PM on October 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


Girih knot, so suppose I'm out at a bar and I see a woman who I find attractive. I should keep my fat mouth shut because she doesn't know me? If I do say something that it's entitlement on my part?

Don't be obtuse. No one is saying "you're not allowed to TALK to girls", we're only saying "I want to have sex with you" be the VERY FIRST THING EVER YOU SAY TO A STRANGER is considered by the overwhelming majority of people to be deeply creepy.

I'm a little surprised you can't conscion that some people might enjoy things you would find creepy. You would find it creepy, and that's fine. Other people might not, and that's fine too.

I'm a little surprised you can't fathom why the number of women who WOULD embrace the idea a stranger offering sex out of the blue is so vanishingly small so as to make little difference. Please don't make such an insulting argument.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:49 PM on October 31, 2010 [7 favorites]


At a conference a bunch of years back, there was a woman who spoke on a panel discussion I went to who I thought was really interesting. And hot.

A couple hours after the panel I saw her in the lobby of the hotel where the conference was; she was standing by herself, looking through the conference program booklet. I walked up to her and said I'd been at her panel and really liked what she said, and what did she think about XYZ. We got into an interesting conversation, which progressed to a drink, which progressed to making out, which progressed to a sort of lost weekend at her apartment, which progressed to a fiery affair that lasted about a year. And all because the first thing I told her was that I liked her brain.
posted by rtha at 12:51 PM on October 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


Girih knot, so suppose I'm out at a bar and I see a woman who I find attractive. I should keep my fat mouth shut because she doesn't know me? If I do say something that it's entitlement on my part?

This:

Don't be obtuse. No one is saying "you're not allowed to TALK to girls", we're only saying "I want to have sex with you" be the VERY FIRST THING EVER YOU SAY TO A STRANGER is considered by the overwhelming majority of people to be deeply creepy.

With the addendum: you can expect people go to bars to meet potential dates. They generally don't make webcomics to find dates.
posted by girih knot at 1:05 PM on October 31, 2010


I'm a little surprised you can't fathom why the number of women who WOULD embrace the idea a stranger offering sex out of the blue is so vanishingly small so as to make little difference. Please don't make such an insulting argument.

I'd absolutely agree that men would be be, in general, more welcoming to that kind of proposition than women. But who exactly is the concept (of some people being open to advances that you aren't) insulting?
posted by Phyltre at 1:34 PM on October 31, 2010


I bet Jonas Salk got some major tail.
posted by eegphalanges at 1:39 PM on October 31, 2010


Phyltre, honestly, it's kind of disturbing to me that you're so latched onto the idea that having your first contact ever with a particular woman be you telling her that you want to have sexual relations with her. Not "Hi" or "I liked what you said about XYZ, can I ask you more about that?" or anything else. "I want to have sex with you." That's what you're telling us that you want to do. And you're telling us that you can't fathom why that's off-putting?
posted by palomar at 1:43 PM on October 31, 2010


argh. that should read, "the idea of having your first contact etc. etc.".

my kingdom for an editing pony.
posted by palomar at 1:48 PM on October 31, 2010


it's kind of disturbing to me that you're so latched onto the idea that having your first contact ever with a particular woman be you telling her that you want to have sexual relations with her.

Who here has literally outright said that "I want to fuck you" is okay?

Honestly, no hyperbole, literally.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:01 PM on October 31, 2010


Phyltre, honestly, it's kind of disturbing to me that you're so latched onto the idea that having your first contact ever with a particular woman be you telling her that you want to have sexual relations with her.

I never once advocated doing that, said that I would do that, or even said that it was a good idea or tasteful. My reply to other posters was largely in response to

So any time you express attraction that's not mutual, it's entitlement?
(and then replied to with by)
If the reason it's not mutual is because THE OTHER PERSON HAS NEVER ACTUALLY OFFICIALLY MET YOU IN ANY WAY, SHAPE, OR FORM BEFORE THIS, then yes, yes it is.

Because that could be either a failure of tact or an exercise of privilege. And even given that, the argument that--literally--

expressing attraction that is not mutual is an exercise of entitlement

is a pretty huge pill to swallow. In most situations it's probably not a good idea, but "not a good idea" and "exercise of entitlement" aren't the same thing. Please don't think that I'm advocating hostile male behaviors. I am merely reacting to the wholesale positing of absolutes in response to those behaviors, that serves only to further muddle the waters for people who really need a clear signal if we hope their behavior to change.

And just a little bit, yes--people posting talking to strangers about sensuality is creepy really is marginalizing the people who actually do enjoy that kind of thing. That's not a should, that's a do. Just because the patriarchy regularly abuses that route doesn't make it any less acceptable to people who are more open with their sexuality. And as someone who sees our culture as sexually repressed, I personally don't think that's the right direction.
posted by Phyltre at 2:21 PM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


You guys and gals sure are still codifiying your normative behaviour standards? Come on, chop chop. We need an answer. Oh, hang on, actually we don't. Thanks anyway.
posted by unSane at 3:18 PM on October 31, 2010


I don't want to read this whole thread so I'm probably retreading here, but how is "I like your comic and I want to fuck you" sexist? It's rude, inappropriate, and downright assholish, but it isn't making a sweeping generalization about gender. It wouldn't be sexist if a man said it about another man, it isn't sexist when a man says it to a woman. It's just a really fucking ignorant and offensive thing to say.
posted by tehloki at 4:58 PM on October 31, 2010


"expressing attraction that is not mutual is an exercise of entitlement"

ahahaha you have no idea how people interact what the hell
posted by tehloki at 4:59 PM on October 31, 2010


Yeah, that's already been covered Loki.
posted by nomadicink at 5:14 PM on October 31, 2010


Ha when I read the comic I didn't like it and didn't see how useful it would be for discussion. But shoot me if the conversation didn't go just the way it predicted, the dudes coming out of the woodwork with their stupid "But WHY can't we make unsolicited comments about your body and what we want to do to it???"

To all of the people arguing with them and saying "but really? you don't get how that is creepy?" No really, they don't. It's part and parcel with disregarding what women tell you about their experiences and going with your own ignorant reality because you know "how people interact" (as IF is = ought, that is the ENTIRE ISSUE).

And oh ho, they turn the tables right around with "don't take my kinks away!! how dare you judge me!!" As if you have a right to impose your kink (which is I guess going around to strange women and letting them know what you want to do to them) non-consensually. No doubt "YOU'RE THE REAL SEXIST" is next. Because nothing is sexist until they declare it to be ("rude and inappropriate but how is that sexist" which is the only concession these types of dudes make in ANY discussion about sexism).

It does not matter how much we explain and explain and explain, they know "reality" and they're the ones being oppressed. Group hug fellas.
posted by Danila at 5:24 PM on October 31, 2010 [5 favorites]


tehloki--

Nah, it's just most people won't touch this thread with a ten foot pole.

To be blunt:

1) People don't get to tell each other what's allowed to be attractive or not.
2) That being said, being attracted to a girl because of her creativity is not a bug, it's a feature.
3) Hitting on a girl even if you don't know she's already into you -- this is normal, healthy behavior. It's not entitlement or antisocial or anything like that. Seriously.
4) Posts on an internet forum don't qualify as hitting on a girl. Those are just catcalls, group behavior for other guys to see. Nobody should be surprised that this stuff is really annoying to girls -- it's messaging for other people sent to them. See also, SPAM.
posted by effugas at 6:11 PM on October 31, 2010


I don't want to read this whole thread so I'm probably retreading here, but how is "I like your comic and I want to fuck you" sexist? It's rude, inappropriate, and downright assholish, but it isn't making a sweeping generalization about gender. It wouldn't be sexist if a man said it about another man, it isn't sexist when a man says it to a woman.

If a man was EQUALLY likely to say "I like your comic and want to fuck you" to BOTH men AND women, then no, it wouldn't be sexist.

However, something tells me that most men are NOT equally likely to say "I like your comic and want to fuck you" to both men AND women. Something tells me that the men who ARE likely to say "I like your comic and want to fuck you" to women would instead say "I like your comic and want to have a beer with you" to men. He is NOT relating to the male comic in a sexual way, but a non-sexual, "hang out and talk more" way.

So you have a guy who has one non-sexual response to a man, and a sexual response to a woman.

How's that NOT sexist?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:22 PM on October 31, 2010


Having different responses to the sexes is not sexist per se. You need to establish that the invitation to beer has a different power relation implicit in it than the invitation to have sex. Which no doubt it does, but you need to show your work.
posted by unSane at 6:36 PM on October 31, 2010


This thread would have been much better if all of the guys had taken my advice and not commented.

Even when it's sexist guys arguing with white-knighting guys, it's still just a bunch of guys arguing with each other, for the most part.
posted by empath at 6:55 PM on October 31, 2010


empath,

So, as a guy, you're either sexist, or white knighting?

Amusing. Anyway, you're right. If you don't already know this stuff, one thread ain't going to help.
posted by effugas at 6:57 PM on October 31, 2010


Another element of it, I would think, is the fact that it's probably not even possible for the two individuals to fuck... even if it was remotely likely that the cartoonist would respond affirmatively anyways. It all adds up to the "I want to fuck you" message being extremely gratuitously and pointlessly sexual - in terms of practicality, at least.

If the objective is that the guy gets off on randomly sending sexual messages to women over the internet, as some have suggested above - well then we're back to the commenter casually using the cartoonist for his prurient entertainment, which is pretty obviously exploitative and sexist. (The guy might not be thinking exploitative or malevolent or otherwise negative thoughts but that's one of the things about it - you can completely innocently say or do something that is sexist by thoughtlessness or negligence.)

Count me among those who think that the "I wanna have your babies" comment does not necessarily mean "I want to fuck you" but at the very least, if Kate Beaton or others say that creeps them out, we should have no problem just not saying stuff like that to them.
posted by XMLicious at 7:14 PM on October 31, 2010


By the way, guys say "I want to have your babies" to each other all the time. At least ones I know. They refer to bikes as 'fuckable'. And so on. It's a metaphor.
posted by unSane at 7:34 PM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


I read "I want to have your babies" as "I think everything about you is great and if we joined together our DNA, we would make genius children with superpowers."

I have never understood it to mean anything about actual sex, especially since when a male says it to a women, it's referring to a physically impossible act.

It doesn't actually mean: "I want to have sex with you." or "I want YOU to have MY babies." or "I want to impregnate you." It just doesn't mean that.

If they had meant that, they'd have said that. Believe me, guys have no problem making crass sexual comments to people online.
posted by empath at 7:40 PM on October 31, 2010


On a deeper level, I think there may be an element of submission when a male says it to a female, which gets into some weird psycho-sexual areas, but I definitely don't think that's the surface meaning of it.
posted by empath at 7:46 PM on October 31, 2010


It does not matter how much we explain and explain and explain, they know "reality" and they're the ones being oppressed. Group hug fellas.

I am not certain in what universe this kind of thing furthers discourse, but I'm pretty sure we're not in it.
posted by Phyltre at 7:53 PM on October 31, 2010


Also note, it's "I want to have your babies", not "I want to give you babies". The implications are pretty different.
posted by unSane at 7:58 PM on October 31, 2010


But at the very least, though, "I wanna have your babies" is expressing Platonic or non-sexual attraction through a sexual metaphor, right? I don't think most guys would be meaning it that way but it's ambiguous enough that I'd expect, long-run-statistical-averages-wise, that a significant percentage of the times someone says that to Kate Beaton they are conveying sexual attraction (perhaps quite clearly accompanied by other things they say) and as she says those individuals probably think that they're expressing cute, harmless sexual attraction, but instead it comes across as sexist and creepy.

It's not so much that use of the phrase is inherently or absolutely sexist, it's that with the proliferation of its use and the sexual metaphor content, to people who hear it alot it will inevitably start to sound creepy and sexist. So this whole situation is saying have pause before you use that phrase - or other ambiguously sexual phrases - when you're trying to express Platonic adoration or attraction to a woman because the way it comes across may be significantly different from what you'd expect.
posted by XMLicious at 8:05 PM on October 31, 2010


Gentlemen:

Do you seriously mean to tell me that you are discounting the entire premise of this cartoon because of SEMANTICS?

....Would you kindly tell me what words we DO need to use in order for you to finally at long last take seriously the complaint that there is indeed sexual inequity still present in society? Because if the basis of your dissent to this argument is solely a matter of WORD CHOICE, I'd like to just cut straight to the chase and use the words you ARE looking for.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:18 PM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


They refer to bikes as 'fuckable'.

See, that right there is a good example. The instance of calling a bike fuckable is by itself innocent and non-sexual but the reason why it's become a common expression is probably because those guys, or maybe other guys they hang out with, regularly refer to women as "fuckable" (probably outside of the earshot of those women...)

So whereas it's a mundane and not especially notable thing for those guys to say around each other, to some women it's just a horror show hall of mirrors of sexism, reflected back again and again wherever they turn, reminding them of shitty stuff that's happened to them or shitty ways they've been treated. Not even saying whether it's right or wrong or fair or unfair, that's just how it's going to come across in some cases.
posted by XMLicious at 8:23 PM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


OH NO! SEMANTICS! WHAT WORDS ACTUALLY MEAN! FUCK THAT!

Did anyone say that sexual ineqity does not exist in society? Because I must have missed that.
posted by unSane at 8:24 PM on October 31, 2010


Er, no. These are right on guys who do not describe women as fuckable. They describe bikes as fuckable because it is, ironically, funny, especially coming from a right-on guy. They say "I want to have your babies" because it is, ironically, funny, since it positions the speaker as a WOMAN WHO WANTS TO HAVE THE OTHER GUY'S BABIES.

101 stuff, people, c'mon.
posted by unSane at 8:26 PM on October 31, 2010


I have a degree in semantics, maybe I can help out here? No?
posted by jessamyn at 8:27 PM on October 31, 2010


I dunno, Jessamyn. Only if you are willing for guys to have your babies I guess.
posted by unSane at 8:30 PM on October 31, 2010


If a guy would have my babies for me, it would save me a lot of headache. What do I have to do to get this to happen? Draw some sort of comic strip?
posted by jessamyn at 8:42 PM on October 31, 2010


Only if you are a guy, unfortunately.
posted by unSane at 8:46 PM on October 31, 2010


unSane: yes, I do understand that the guys in question think it's funny, and probably think it will sound funny to anyone else who hears it. Just realize that no matter how exasperated you get at it not meaning the same thing to other people, it's not going to change what it sounds like to them even if they understand that you think it's funny.

Something like a rape joke can definitely actually be funny - heck there are female comedians who tell rape jokes on stage - but to someone who's actually been raped even if they laugh there's probably going to be a sour taste left in their mouth afterwards. In the same way, a joke or expression that turns upon some aspect of sexism is going to be somewhat blunted, and maybe even unpleasant, to someone who has experienced sexism. Again, it's not that the joke is inherently or absolutely wrong or bad, nor is it that you're wrong or bad for laughing at it, it's that communicating that joke to other people in some circumstances is a bad thing, tasteless and, well, sexist, especially if you know that there are reasons it might not come across very well or it might make them uncomfortable and you tell the joke anyways. (Speaking of 101 stuff...)
posted by XMLicious at 8:49 PM on October 31, 2010


It's not a rape joke. It's calling a piece of machinry 'fuckable'. Who exactl is it suppose to make uncomfortable? A Honda?

(By the way, 'fuckable' is gender neutral. Plenty of women of my acquaintance use it. Mostly of men they don't know. OH THE HORROR.)
posted by unSane at 9:03 PM on October 31, 2010


Are you saying that this is some special kind of joke that it is not possible for anyone to find tasteless in any situation, and can't remind anyone of sexism?

You realize that I think it's a funny joke, and I'm just using it as an example, right? Because "you can't tell certain jokes in certain situation or with certain company" isn't 101 stuff, it's more like kindergarten stuff, and it amazes me that you appear to be disagreeing with that and simply repeating "come on, it's FUNNY, that's OBVIOUS, it's 101 stuff, no one can take that as anything other than funny."
posted by XMLicious at 9:12 PM on October 31, 2010


I don't even know what you're saying. Sorry.
posted by unSane at 9:18 PM on October 31, 2010


"You can't tell certain jokes in certain situation or with certain company" - you don't know what that is saying? I can try to explain it if you really feel that you don't understand.
posted by XMLicious at 9:22 PM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


certain situations, sorry
posted by XMLicious at 9:25 PM on October 31, 2010


Er, yeah, I'll be the judge of that, thanks.
posted by unSane at 9:30 PM on October 31, 2010


You'll be the judge of whether or not there are certain jokes you can't tell in certain situations or with certain company, is that what you're saying? (By "can't tell" I mean "can't tell without causing offense or conveying something unpleasant, like sexism" of course.)

So you did understand me, you just don't agree with me? So... you're saying that for some jokes, it's always you who gets to decide whether a joke is funny, not the person you're telling the joke to? You're always the judge of that?
posted by XMLicious at 9:35 PM on October 31, 2010


You'll be the judge of whether or not there are certain jokes you can't tell in certain situations or with certain company, is that what you're saying?

Er, yes, that's what I'm saying. Since I am the person who's telling the joke. Other people can decide if they're funny of not. That's how jokes work. You're welcome to your opinion, as is everyone else.
posted by unSane at 9:43 PM on October 31, 2010


For example, since I am English, many of my friends, male and female, call each other cunts. In fact, only today, a friend of mine callled me a cunt on Facebook. Apparently that puts many American noses out of joint. However, we all managed to survive somehow.
posted by unSane at 9:45 PM on October 31, 2010


I just realized that up above where you said "you need to show your work" you weren't talking about the person making the sexual comment needing to show their work, you're saying that the woman who says she's offended by it needs to show her work to demonstrate her right to be offended by it.

So you seem to be saying that the teller of a joke gets to decide whether it's funny and anyone who might think it's not funny or who might be offended by it has to justify themselves, is that right?
posted by XMLicious at 9:49 PM on October 31, 2010


Also, full disclosure, Imma remove this thread from my history since it's making me want to give up living. People, go outside. Say hi to someone. Fly a kite. Learn from my mistake. Don't sit in here chewing on a meaningless bone about a cartoon some guy wrote about what happened to chicks who wrote cartoons on the internet. There's more to life. Really.
posted by unSane at 9:50 PM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Do you seriously mean to tell me that you are discounting the entire premise of this cartoon because of SEMANTICS?

Personally I never dismissed it because it actually has something important to say, but we are far afield of the actual point. The example was meant to show a group that the disapproval of an abject situation they don't realize exists, is not a good thing.
What we've ended up talking about is the gradations in what people say. Which you really can't give a yay or nay on because it really does depend on the situation. Regardless of what you want you think. Text conversations takes on a whole different context than IRL and are more constricted in conveying meaning. Nonetheless I'm not saying that comment was totally copasetic but saying that statement is obviously wrong then... *shrug* whevs. No one is going to come to an understanding in this.
posted by P.o.B. at 9:53 PM on October 31, 2010


But anyways, though, unSane - if you're saying "Other people can decide if they're funny of not", the jokes that is, does that also include them being able to say whether they're sexist or not, and so are they allowed to tell the internet "please don't send me messages saying 'I wanna have your babies,' because it's not as cute as you think it is?"

I don't see what you didn't understand about what I was saying above or what's been discussed here, nor why you keep shouting "It's FUNNY" - as though people can't be offended sometimes, then. What I was trying to do above was describe various aspects of the situation that might lead a woman to not entirely find this stuff to be funny.
posted by XMLicious at 9:56 PM on October 31, 2010


Oh, okay, I missed the "Learn from my mistake" thing. FYI it would be easier for people to learn from your mistake if you more clearly explained that you made a mistake or what it was.
posted by XMLicious at 10:04 PM on October 31, 2010


XMLicious, his "mistake" was "spending too long in this thread." He did explain it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:27 AM on November 1, 2010


Ah, I see... discussing this sort of situation makes him feel like he wants to give up living. How inconvenient for him.
posted by XMLicious at 9:10 AM on November 1, 2010


It takes the work that you've done and reduces it to nothing. You may as well have just posted a picture of yourself on the internet with your tits out, because you would have gotten the same insightful commentary. It makes you wonder why you even bother trying.

Can't you guys understand how much that sucks? Don't you have any empathy, or ability to look past the end of your own nose?


I know this can be really frustrating to women. Being a male, I can't know how women truly view sexuality, but i have a feeling that if women knew on a whole how integral sex is to not just their motivation, but their entire being, if i could somehow illuminate that, I think it would just be deeply upsetting.

That said, the first bit, about "reduces it to nothing", again, men don't understand why this shit isn't complimentary because "woman wanting to have sex with you" as a result of a guy's work is not only viewed as an indication of success, but is more likely their reason for even bothering to do so in the first place. This really goes for just about anything most men do, including getting out of bed in the morning. Why do think so many movies, from Alexander to The Social Network, seem to be about a man who is spurned by a woman and builds an empire to win her back (literally or figuratively) instead of going "Oh well fuck her" and try dating around? Because that is seriously how driven by our dicks some of us really are.

Finally, the thing about "You may as well have just posted a picture of yourself on the internet with your tits out, because you would have gotten the same insightful commentary." Again, if men could post pictures of their dicks and have it be worth something, most of us would view it as a shortcut. Hell, ChatRoulette is evidence that most men don't care that it DOESN'T work and try anyway.

tl;dr, A distressingly large percentage of males are grosser than you can possibly imagine.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 4:32 PM on November 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


not just their motivation = most men's, sorry
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 4:33 PM on November 1, 2010


tl;dr, A distressingly large percentage of males are grosser than you can possibly imagine.

I think what we're trying to say is "we don't have to 'imagine' it, because we are confronted with it every single damn-ass day and this whole conversation is actually about is saying we'd rather NOT be, thanks."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:23 PM on November 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I don't need to imagine anything about the grossness of men on the internet. It's out there for the whole world to see.

It's the same as the "I'd hit it" comments - no-one cares about a boner except the dude who's got one. At best, everyone else finds it boring. At worst, telling people about it (via YouTube comments or private email) is a threatening and creepy thing to do. Just keep it to yourself.
posted by harriet vane at 3:04 AM on November 2, 2010


It's a dude saying he wants to have children! Doesn't that go against the common idea that men have a 'Hump 'em and Dump 'em' attitude?

Er, no. I don;t think the sort of person who thinks this is an appropriate response to a stranger is well versed on the hunter/nurturer dichotomy and what that means for current gender relations.

I went ot see a band once with a female bassist. I was surrounded by shouts of 'get yer tits out!' So a girl I was with started shouting 'Get your knob out!' The filthy looks I got told me all I needed to know about how much casual sexism towards women is barely noticed these days.
posted by mippy at 8:42 AM on November 3, 2010


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