Friday, January 11, 2008

Pat Oliphant proves that sexism really is alive & well in the presidential campaign

By Diane Silver

I've always been a huge fan of cartoonist Pat Oliphant, but his offering today showing a crying Hillary Clinton is as sexist as you can get. It plays into every sexist stereotype about women, including claiming that women get hysterical once a month because of PMS. (I kid you not.)

This is garbage, pure and simple. Call me naive for even entertaining the thought that this ridiculous view of women was losing its grip.

I have problems with Clinton's positions at times and with other aspects of her campaign, but Oliphant's cartoon shows that Gloria Steinem was right: The double standard is alive and well.

To say that I'm angry is an understatement. If I could vote today, I'd vote for Clinton, for no other reason than the fact that this kind of BS has to end.

IMAGE: Just a bit of Oliphant's absurd cartoon. See the rest for yourself.


Huntsu's post on the topic at Daily Kos and the resulting comments.


michael said...

huntsu over at Kos has provided an email address for the people who syndicate Oliphant, I sent them the following email:

I am writing to protest Pat Oliphant’s recent political cartoon which shows Hillary Clinton tearing up before a group terrorists.

This is the most sexist piece of garbage I have ever seen. You would never release a cartoon which used the n-word to refer to Obama, but this is the equivalent. It’s not only sexist, it’s stupid—I’m referring to the little side comment, “This is when PMS goes nuclear, yuk, yuk.” PMS is a condition experienced only by pre-menopausal women, which Hillary is not.

I understand that it is not an editorial cartoonist’s place to be “fair and balanced”, whatever that is. But this is beyond the pale. It’s on a par with the comment made by Imus that got him bounced from radio. Pat Oliphant deserves the same treatment, though he won’t get it, because sexism is far more pervasive and acceptable in this society than racism.

This is disgusting. You should be ashamed of yourselves, but of course you won’t be because the one emotion journalists never feel is shame. Your education has bred the capacity out of you.

May said...

Amen, sister! Sexism is a big part of the reason why I'm 100% for Hillary.

Nancy Jane Moore said...

I'm shocked at Oliphant, too. What really gets me is that he could have made fun of Hillary Clinton coming across as someone who has emotions -- as opposed to the rather hard-edged image that is usually attributed to her -- without using gender. But it's easier to make sexist jokes about women who cry, even when they don't really cry.

I really appreciate the fact that people can't get away with racist jokes anymore, but it's outrageous that sexist humor is still okay in this day and age.

I personally still lean toward Obama, but the sexist cracks, not to mention the articles suggesting that Clinton is playing the gender card every time something like this comes up, infuriate me. Women can't win -- if she's tough, she's not feminine enough; if she shows a softer side, she's too weak for the job.

michael said...

There is a news story this morning about Bush tearing up at Auschwitz. You think that will draw comment on his ability to deal with adversaries?

To May: I'm flattered that you referred to me as sister, but I'm afraid it can't be, though I could be your brother.

KJ said...

I couldn't agree more. Good grief, you'd think this sort of thing would be a thing of the past by now. Shame on Pat Oliphant and bravo to you, Diane, for telling it like it REALLY is.

Anonymous said...

In my high school NY Regents exams, we were always asked to interpret historical editorial cartoons in light of what we had learned about that period of American history. This would be an excellent one to use. Initially, my disgust with the cartoon was balanced by hilarity at the cartoonist's delusion that 60-year old-women suffers from PMS. One of the great things about turning 60 is that both PMS and menopause symptoms are a distant memory. Hillary is an excellent exemplar of the postmenopausal zest of older women that the anthropologist Margaet Mead spoke about.

The more I thought about it, the more I suspected the cartoon has been completely misunderstood. According to Wikipedia, Oliphant's trademark is a small penguin character named Punk, who is often seen making a sarcastic comment about the cartoon. The PMS remark is an important clue. Hillary is depicted as an old women and people still rant about PMS.

In 2005, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee expressed concern that some of Oliphant's caricatures were racist and misleading. That is important to know. Oliphant is criticizing sexist media attacks on Hillary by equating them to the rapid misogyny in some of the Arab world. After all, the world leaders repeating the US media attacks.

The demand of some liberal bloggers for Oliphant's firing is far more offensive than the cartoon. Pat Oliphant is 72 years old. The New York Times has described him as the"most influential cartoonist now working." In addition to winning the Pulitzer Prize, Oliphant won the National Cartoonist Society Editorial Cartoon Award seven times in 1971, 1973, 1974, 1984, 1989, 1990, and 1991, the Reuben Award twice in 1968 and 1972 and the Thomas Nast Prize.

The responsibility of political cartoonists is to offend us enough to shake up our knee-jerk assumptions and reactions. When a cartoonist with such a superb reputation produces something at first glance so offensive, we owe him the respect of thinking about it. My 31-year -old daughter instantly "realized that it was completely tongue-in-cheek and making fun of the idea that some people actually think this is what it would mean to have a woman president".

michael said...

Redstocking: I have looked at this cartoon, and looked at it, and yes I have thought about it, but I'll be damned if I can see it as anything but a sexist attack. If there is some kind of crypto-feminist message here, it sure as hell went right over my head, and I'm a reasonably intelligent man with a good sense of humor.

You mention Punk's sarcastic remark. I agree that this character usually provides a much needed reality check in Oliphant's cartoons, but in this case, it's just the opposite. The penguin's comment compounds the offense.

I am not one of those calling for Oliphant's head, or anyone else's for that matter, but I don't believe this should be allowed to pass without a cry of outrage.

Anonymous said...

Michael, I have surveyed my 4 daughters, 34 to 25, and they agree with my interpretation. Didn't the stupidity of accusing an old woman of PMS strike you? Some commenters actually mocked 72 year old Oliphant for not knowing that. Hillary is probably at least ten years beyond PMS. It is hard to mock sexism without depicting it.