“Today, in bio class, we were studying the reproductive system. I don’t like talking about this stuff, and I twitched every time my teacher said “penis” or “vagina.” When I told my family, they laughed and kept repeating those words just to see me twitch. FML”—Fml
and realized that instead of talking about what should happen to a woman who gets pregnant from a rape, politicians should be talking about preventing rape all together, and then i wondered why none of the politicians have thought about it that way.
“I recall my grandmother and father telling me, when I was about 10, about a relative who courageously fought back against and killed a white jailer who attempted to rape her. I did not hear the story again until I read about Joan Little in graduate school. It was only then that I learned that Joan’s fight for survival had made national headlines and transformed U.S. attitudes about racialized sexual violence and victims’ rights. Before I was old enough to grasp the intricacies of Little’s case, I understood that the tales about her were a lesson about our family values–about preserving one’s honor and dignity in the face of pervasive racism and sexism. Now that I know the full story, I know that Little advanced those values on a larger scale than I’d ever imagined: Her case galvanized a diverse movement of activists across the nation to band together and demand justice for Joan, as well as for other women of color, sexual assault survivors and victims of police brutality. After growing up in challenging circumstances of racism and economic inequality, Little was arrested for breaking, entering and larceny in Washington, N.C., in 1974. Later that year, the 20-year-old Little was charged with using deadly force against Clarence Alligood, her white jailer and would-be rapist. Little escaped from prison following the assault and disappeared for a week–during which time local officials called for her to be shot–then surrendered and was quickly indicted. Throughout the case, various whites and even blacks in the community opined that Little was guilty of seducing and then killing Alligood in order to escape jail. Her detractors denied Little’s innocence because of her criminal background, so-called “fast” lifestyle and rumored “immorality.” For some, Little could never be a rape “victim” because she did not meet their standards of social respectability. The prosecution capitalized on these attitudes, characterizing Little as a depraved seductress. They were “[more] interested in sending black women to the gas chamber than the truth,” Little later recalled. In spite of all this, Little remained self-possessed and maintained her plea of self-defense. Historically speaking, the odds were against her. Only a few decades earlier, in the 1940s, it had been “nearly impossible for black victims of sexual violence to receive justice in the courts,” writes Danielle L. McGuire in her landmark history, At The Dark End Of The Street. In 1944, Rosa Lee Ingram had been given the death penalty by an all-white jury for killing a white man in self-defense in Georgia. However, in the intervening years, the “ritualistic rape and intimidation” of black women by white men had become one of the catalysts for the civil rights movement. Over the course of the 1940s, 50s and 60s, thousands of black people mobilized to defend women’s bodily integrity and dignity.”
I will focus on just one aspect of Anne Spurzem’s problematic letter: the charge that Smith is a “lesbian” school. This accusation has been around for a long time; in 1992 then Smith College President, Mary Maples Dunn, devoted a column in “The NewsSmith” addressing the hidden meaning underlying the fear of lesbianism at women’s colleges (The NewsSmith, Spring 1992, p. 12.) It’s been twenty years, and we’re still afraid of lesbians on campus?
Dunn argued, rightly, that the extraordinary concern of lesbianism “masks deeper fears of female independence and self-sufficiency.” If young, straight women are afraid to apply to Smith because they’re afraid of being seen as lesbian, then sadly homophobia has had a seriously negative effect by denying these women the fabulous education that they could get at Smith.
Dunn pointed out what is still true today: that some more conservative people are afraid of the openness of same-sex intimacy on women’s colleges, an openness that is perhaps particularly obvious at a women’s college. What these people ought to be afraid of is not that their daughters will become lesbians or the slim possibility that their daughters will have to fend off the sexual advances of women, but instead the far more likely prospect that their daughters will experience unwanted sexual advances – including rape – from men. Unfortunately, (hetero) sexual assault on college campuses, including Smith, is widespread and a much more serious concern.
To suggest that if Smith becomes “all lesbian,” it will lose its diversity is somewhat true, I suppose, but rather simplistic and myopic; one could also argue that if the population is “all heterosexual,” so too will diversity be diminished. Diversity is defined, as it should be, by more than students’ sexual orientation. The more students of color, students of low socio-economic status, and foreign students the better… . no matter who these spectacular women are sexually attracted to.
I was originally going to go in a completely different direction with the Station/Lt. Potter conflict. My first idea was that she’d take the shares, cash them out, be ecstatic about her sudden wealth, and get drunk as hell, which would no doubt lead to hijinks of some kind at the party.
But the more I thought about it, the more uncomfortable I got with that idea. Station’s offer of the shares was made entirely with good intentions on his part, but Potter accepting them might send the wrong message. That you can simply buy your way out of trouble if you’ve got the means, or that money is an acceptable substitute for contrition.
One of the things I’ve learned over the years of writing the strip is if something I’m writing makes ME uncomfortable, even only a little bit, it will probably offend other people as well, and I should rethink it. The times I’ve ignored that impulse, or told myself “no, it’s only problematic if you take an extremely narrow interpretation of the strip,” guess what: people got offended.
You as an author have control over the intent of your work, but you do not have control over how other people will interpret it. And if someone’s interpretation of your work differs from your intent, while you can defend your intent, it does not necessarily render their interpretation invalid.
Since I knew there was something problematic about the way I had originally planned this story, I decided to take it in the opposite direction. And I think it makes the Lieutenant a stronger, better character. It also gave me some new ideas for her in the near future, which will be a lot more fun to write than my original plan.
It’s very easy, when you’re writing a humor comic, to accidentally put out negative messages in the quest to be funny. Lord knows I’ve been guilty of it in the past, and I’m sure I’ll screw up again in the future, because I’m not perfect. And you’re never gonna please everybody. But I do try my best, and I think that in this case, I did it right. At least, I hope so.
This is why I love reading QC. It’s funny, but unlike a lot of people who focus on making their work funny and just that, he actually thinks about how people react to the work. It’s more human than most things I read online.
oH MY GOD I HAD TO WRITE A REVIEW OF A FILM WE WATCHED OVER THE WEEKEND FOR A CLASS REPORT AND IT WAS MIDNIGHT IN PARIS but on accident I wrote MIDNIGHT IN PENIS AS THE TITLE AND I DIDN’T REALIZE UNTIL I PRESSED SEND FUCK I CNA;T CHANGE ITR OSMDFGLSJDKF
I’ve been seeing a good number of comments and posts exclaiming that sexism, specifically in comics, is now over. Why? Because of Red Hood and the Outlaws #6, in which Jason Todd is walking around in the buff. Because of these images, many people are calling advocates of comic book equality hypocrites, because we have no problem with Jason being “objectified”, but we go up in arms about Starfire in RHatO #1.
Let’s get one thing straight. There is a vast difference in the depictions of these characters in their respective states of nudity. The problem with Starfire was not her bikini. It was her portrayal in that bikini, the fact that her body was placed in a multitude of pornographic poses to show off her assets, the fact that her personality was virtually nowhere to be found, and the fact that her shining moment was sex with Roy Harper.
Jason…was a guy walking around naked. His personality and characterization were in tact, he was not placed in porn star poses to show off his business, and he was not hyper sexualized with a large bulge in his pants in order to pander to readers, much like Starfire was with her breasts and butt.
And honestly, even if he was, do you really think one example, or even ten examples, of male sexualization accounts for the thousands of female examples? Do you really think that suddenly makes things equal?