1793 Love Song.

This is my second favorite version of the song Carol is singing.

I want to respond to a really long comment & I always worry that the responses get lost in the archive. Here it is, with bits I don’t feel like I have anything worthwhile to add to edited out, with my annotations:

I have to give you major props for the way you depict women in your comic. It’s really wonderful to see “larger” women as main characters who, moreover, are pursued and considered attractive by other characters. This is rather personal to me because I am kind of a “larger” woman myself. (My body type is actually quite similar to Carol’s except that I’m taller than she is.) I used to be very skinny when I was younger but age, a sedentary career, and this one medication I was on a while ago that made me want to eat ALL THE THINGS ALL THE TIME caught up with me. My long-term partner tells me I look great and I still get compliments from other people. However, to some extent I’ve sadly internalized the U.S. “beauty myth” that asserts that dangerously thin = beautiful and sexy and not skinny = ugly and disgusting. So I really appreciate the representation of different female body types in your comic.
This is something that makes me wonder how much outrage comes down to personal preference, because these things listed as positives are often served up to me as negatives by people who don’t like my work. I make little attempt to hide my personal preferences when it comes to women and the range is pretty vast. I get bored drawing the same kinds of bodies all the time as well, so very little of the positive representation is altruistic at least as far as art goes. I just want to draw what I want to and tell my story my way. I like backstory and personality. Writing blank sex toys, even when I’m writing porn, is not easy because I’m attracted to women as intelligent beings with agency. Like, if porn crops out the woman’s head it ruins it because reducing a woman to just parts doesn’t work for me. Anyway, if nothing else anything I do that reads as positively portraying women isn’t virtue signaling. It’s what I like. I don’t know if that gains or loses me points and, at this point in my life, I find it very difficult to care either way.

In one of my comments a few years ago (I ran across it in my archive binge) I complimented you for being such a positive male role model in the Teen’s life. I’d like to repeat that now. While I am not and never will be a parent, I *do* teach students, some of whom are teenagers (freshmen). I can say with some assurance that sometimes it takes quite a while for one’s help and guidance to sink in, and you never know exactly how that’s going to happen. Doing the archive binge really highlighted the change in the Teen’s posts from soon after her father died until when she was in college. Not only did her grammar improve significantly (yes, I’m sorry but I always notice that whether or not I want to – English professor in the house!) but also her maturity level seemingly increased. I have no doubt that is mostly due to you and how much you guided her. It’s easy for me and maybe other women to get jaded about men in these post-Weinstein days. (Trust me, neither I nor most women I know were at all surprised about the revelations regarding how many powerful men have harrassed and/or assaulted women. We all live with this. I don’t want to have a #metoo moment all over your comments section, but I have been sexually harrassed and assaulted. And what I’ve suffered is *mild* compared to what a lot of women I know have suffered.) It’s just cool to have confirmation that sleazeballs like Weinstein are the exception, not the rule, and that there are great guys like yourself out there. :)
I don’t often feel like I did enough to help her, but I did as much as my health allowed, which reduced over time as it deteriorated. A lot of what really my whole family did came down to being ourselves and her adapting to us. My parents expected a lot from my sister and I and as a result we don’t speak, or act, like, for lack of a better term, average people. We also tend to gravitate to above average people, so my perspective on how people interact is skewed toward a slightly better version of reality. The Teen got a lot of that via osmosis.

Please take care of yourself and I hope the new year is kind to you. I really enjoy your comic and will be reading regularly again. After my archive binge I started thinking about why I enjoyed reading your comic so much. I realized it was because it’s not mean-spirited in any way. Take it from someone who makes their living reading things and thinking about those things: too often “mean-spiritedness” (yes I know that is not really a word) gets taken as depth, or “cutting-edge,” or incisive and insightful. I say *expletive deleted* that. There is enough meanness out there right now, especially so since Trump seems to have “turned over the rock” and revealed all the vermin of xenophoia and hatred of people in the U.S. We need more kindness and more empathy and I honestly think your comic (and blog posts, of course!) is helping to provide that.
As someone who always seems stuck apart from people there’s kind of a longing voyeurism to my comic. It’s a little window into my memories, but also kind of a depiction of what I want. Just general happiness and people being mostly reasonable. It really pisses some people off how little happens, but it’s kind of a more real depiction of the pointless ramble of life. There aren’t always big story points. Sometimes you just spend a decade working in a shop and nothing really happens so you manufacture drama to fill the void. Just enjoy what you can as long as you can and try not to do much harm to others. If you can do something good do that too.

As a final note – do you mind if I reference your comic in my teaching and/or professional work? One of my areas of specialty is feminist/gender theory and I’d like to use your comic as an example of positive representations of women. :)
If you think my work can help you in the classroom you have my blessing.

Alright back to just me talking. I find it amusing that this post is under Carol singing in the shower. I framed it so there’s nothing to see, but posted the full sketches to patreon because you have to draw more than you need to get a pose and it seemed like such a waste. Nudity in the main comic is out since there’s no age filter. Even though there’s swearing since Americans hate nudity so much I can get away with cursing but not random boobs.


Well, Friska adds the second part harmony…

Americans have a long history of blue-nosed hatred for the Human body. I can’t figure it out for sure, but it seems to go back to Prohibition. Maybe there was something about the teetotalers that inhibited the public’s sex drive, but as England was recovering from the Victorian Era’s prudishness, we seemed to embrace it as we tossed out the bottles. The Temperance Movement seemed to be anti-anything fun. Just like the SJWs today.

Or, maybe there’s a deeper reason. I mean, have you ever seen a picture of Temperance leader Carrie Nation? She’d drop a wet blanket on the party in anybody’s pants.

I’d link it more to our heavy puritan background, even hundreds of years later New England is still influencing things.

The Puritans get something of a bad rap, actually. While they had a fairly restrictive view of what constituted proper sexual behavior, they were actually pretty positive about sex within a marriage. I’ve even read records of Puritan congregations that censured men who were insufficiently, um, affectionate towards their wives.

Khade pretty much has it, Calvinist England was where the puritans came from, and they believed a lot of crazy things, including witches being inherently evil, and similarly our bodies were, because they were material, not the perfect spiritual bodies we are to receive at resurrection, also inherently bad. There’s stuff in there about original sin too. The Calvinists also had a strong influence on Quakers, Presbyterians and Methodists, which groups also strongly settled in the Mid-Atlantic and Southern states.

In fairness, we also got the protestant work ethic which built the US as the economic powerhouse it is today, and gave us the leisure time to properly complain about it. :)

Wow. You get good with the bad, bad with the good when you deal with people, who knew? :)

Nah, it predates that. While we generally consider the Victorians hopelessy respressed and uptight, Victorian Brits actually joked about how terribly prudish contemporary Americans were. If you’ve ever heard the thing about covering table legs to prevent lustful feelings, that wasn’t something the Victorians did; it was something they joked about Americans doing.

What’s more “slice of life” in a story than singing in the shower?

Making toast? ;)

Cutting a pizza!

In the shower?
Please be careful! :D

Yeah, if you get that pizza wet Maddison will box your ears until you’re pie-eyed.

I just wanted to add a story to compliment the story you replied to. A while back, my good friend was commissioning an artist to draw a character based vaguely on her in a story she writes. The artist did a great job on the initial sketch, but was just plain not getting the character… well, fat enough. My friend came to me and a few other close friends with the conundrum of “this is really good, but not what I want. How do I convey this because there just are no good references for big women.” and so on.

I immediately came here and sent her a link to every appearance of Madison that I could find. She was in awe, and the artist turned out a drawing that is downright amazing of a smug-looking fat girl.

Interesting piece of trivia. the man who wrote that song, that carol is singing, also voice the penguin in Batman the Animated Series.

am i the only one who cant help but hear the boing! sound every time carols breasts bounce i can just picture her in my mind has she moves around and her breasts bounce along with her making that Boooing! sound at every bounce………no?….just me?…..ok.

-goes and stands in the corner- I’ll see my self out now.

My man Paul Williams! I remember hearing him sing this song on a rerun of the muppet show!

Muppets where awesome. They even had Alice Cooper on the show, and that was one awesome episode.

Haven’t commented in a while, but I’ve always kept up. Anyway, I’m curious which version of the song she’s singing. The only one I know is 3 dog night.

“Feminist/gender theory”? That has confirmation bias built right in its name. If women AND men are going to be living happily ever after all together now, then you can’t start out by saying someone must be wrong and let’s find all the individual faults real or imagined in that side only, shall we? Yet that is what that “theory” is doing exactly. It’s easy to fix: Drop the “feminist” part, and the rather grandiose pretensions of “theory”. Then go the even-handed descriptive route. Both genders, from both viewpoints, and so on. Positive AND negative portrayals of women AND men. Just how do we treat each other? Why, how, what for? But of course that’s not in the cards, now is it?

That makes the question more honestly phrased as “do you agree to let me use your work for my ideological propaganda?”

Interesting take BUT I would hazard that the label, or in this case the course name, may not always equal the contents. I have been on both sides of the lectern and one thing I grokked early on with regards to anything in the Humanities program is that the course name does not reflect either the CV or the lecturer. Please take note that courses and programs live and die by the perceptions and bigotries of the board of directors, biased as they may be and the feedback surveys of the students at the end of the semester. A course name, if nothing else is advertising. As the saying goes, there are lies, damn lies and then there is advertising. =P

You may well be correct about that particular segment of the movement, I have had dealings with such rabid examples in the past, yet thankfully they are the rare exception and not the norm. Just like those in positions of power that have been in the news of late, that abuse is the exception and not the norm. If nothing else, review the CV for the program before denigrating our esteemed author or tarring the lecturer or the program and let them pour the bucket on their own heads, figuratively speaking.

Especially the feedback surveys. Try teaching the special snowflakes what they need to know in a real subject (science), and they’ll complain in the survey that it was too haaard.

Feminism was a movement, whether you like it or people who currently use the title feminist, doesn’t matter. There’s a history of feminists that literally changed their societies. Much like Queer Theory, which deals with LGBT issues, despite the fact that queer is more often used as a slur now, the name is just that, a name. So, no, it’s not propaganda, that’s like saying learning about WW2 is Nazi propaganda, because you learn WHY they did what they did. These sorts of courses deal with histories, how things changed, how they can be better for the future, and answering WHY things are the way they are. And I’ve taken Anthropology of Gender, those sorts of courses do discuss men’s issues too. I know you don’t actually care about this and you’re just looking to shit on feminists because… whatever your reasons are. But clarification for anyone else who reads this, feminist theory is not about women wanting to rule the world, it’s about history and how that history has shaped perceptions today.

I think that feminism-the-movement was useful but is done here in the west: Women are free to pursue careers other than “run the household”, among other things. Because different individuals are prone to make different individual choices given the freedom to do so, some differences will remain. The choice is no longer forced, and in that, feminism-the-movement was flat-out succesful. If you must have a label, it’s “equal opportunity”, not “equal outcome”.

What passes for feminism these days has no truck with the former and as to the latter, “equal” just isn’t enough. Notice that we call learning about WW2 “history” and not “theory”. This sort of naming is telling, regardless of whether it is done to appease bigoted faculty directors or staff themselves.

And no, you don’t know jack about my motivations. If you’re going to call out my assumptions, do it with stuff I made up, not stuff you assume I made up, IOW stuff you made up. As someone who claims to’ve been in academia you ought to know that. Unless your own perception is really all that matters to you. Did they teach you that?

Let me give you some background so you have at least a sliver of reality to base your assumptions on: We just had a professor get a state prize for lifetime achievement, and when you look at her work, it’s “feminist” up one side and “gender” down the other. The content, though, is proudly unscientific and “post fact”. She’s quite open about it, too, in interviews and her own writing. Because scientific method and reproducibility and all that are just claptrap to this [i]professor[/i] with 40 years of publications to her name. That’s just one example, and we have several sociology departments full of such people in this country. Excuse me while I puke on that sort of abuse of academic freedom.

I’m sure you have reasons for feeling the way you do, but you are not presenting yourself well here.

In your third paragraph above you criticize someone for making assumptions about you and not addressing your actual statements. How is that any different from what you’ve been doing? An example from your first post — you wrote “… you can’t start out by saying someone must be wrong and let’s find all the individual faults real or imagined in that side only …”. This is not only exactly why you are doing, but also what you are criticizing!

@Ugh and other commenters: I am a college professor who teaches literature and composition. And YES, I DO specialize in certain things because saying “I am going to teach and learn ALL THE THINGS IN THE ENTIRE HUMAN HISTORY OF LITERATURE” gets, if you don’t mind me saying, more than a wee bit overwhelming.

I would ask everyone who has responded: do you have a problem with someone saying they specialize in African-American literature? Or that they specialize in ancient Greek literature? Or that they specialize in racism against people of colour in the contemporary U.S.? Or that they work in Queer theory? It IS a THING to look at how women are depicted in literature and in culture and I think that can be a very important invesigation.

I have given a couple of academic presentations basically saying that “feminism” is NOT a “dirty word.” It does NOT mean that women are “better” than men. It does NOT try to denigrate men. My definition of feminism is basically that ALL people, whether male, female, or otherwise defined, deserve equal rights and equal treatment. My definition of feminism comes partially from people like Jessica Valenti and Kimberle Crenshaw. (Heck, my feminism is “intersectional feminism,” a term coined by Crenshaw, which involves investigating the lack of privilege people of colour, women, and LGBT*Q have. Please check out her TED talk!)

One of my very favourite “feminist” bookstores (that is how they advertise themselves) has a weekly open discussion on masculinity and the problems that men face in our current society.

I am well aware that some of the people who identify as “feminists” have said some very unfortunate things. (I refer here to the radical feminists and the TERFs.) But that is true of ANY group – we should not judge a group by its most extreme members. Listen: HUMAN RIGHTS ARE NOT A PIE. Women talking about their lack of rights and asking for more rights does NOT mean that we will be “taking things away from men.”

I identify as a woman and visually present as a women. And YES, I have been harrassed, assaulted, looked down upon, told I wasn’t good enough, and been excluded JUST because I am a woman. It’s too painful to go into too many personal stories, but when I was in graduate school for physics (I got a master’s in physics before I switched to English and got a Ph.D. in that), there was a male professor in my well-regarded college who actively TRIED to make female students (and NOT male students) cry if they failed the comps. Everyone knew this and no one did anything about it. It was considered a “rite of passage” for the few women in the program.

To be perfectly honest, it kind of HURTS that I feel like I need to keep reassuring men that “Hey! Feminism won’t hurt you! You don’t need to worry about things being taken away from you!” Meanwhile, I’ve been told more than once, explicitly, that I’m not “good enough” because I’m a woman, or that I’m “weaker” because of the chromosones with which I was born. (BTW, Trans* identity is a WHOLE other topic that I don’t really want to address right now.). I do NOT want to position myself “above” the men in my life. I’d just like to be treated with the same consideration they are, and maybe not be criticized and belittled and gaslighted. And I might say that women’s rights are being marginalized in the post-Weinstein era and by a President who openly bragged about “grabbing women by the p*ssy.”

I am so white I practically glow in the dark. In terms of institutional racism, I try VERY hard to check my privilege and understand what people of colour in my country suffer. I don’t think it’s TOO horrible of a request to ask people who identify as male to think about what so many women suffer.

My cat watches me in the shower and if I leave the sliding door open a bit he will reach in and play with the splashing water and try to play tag with my feet.

Well that was interesting. I am hoping one day to see the word feminism used in a public forum without the immediate mansplaining that ensues. I also look for seven leafed clovers.

But more seriously, there is a reason I keep saying “‘feminism’ isn’t a dirty word.” I have lost track of how many men have told me that feminism is out-dated, or unnecessary, or actually harmful to women, or just not natural, or…I am sure you can fill in the blanks here. ;)

I don’t try to explain to people of colour that Black Lives Matter is “unnecessary” or “out-dated” (I TOTALLY support Blacks Lives Matter – this is just an example!). I was born in the U.S. and I don’t try to gaslight immigrants’ concerns about being deported.

D’oh! Stupid iPad – I wasn’t done with that post!

In any case, I try really, really hard not to “explain” the experiences of groups of people of which I’m not a member to them. As a white person, it’s not my place to start explaining racism to a person of colour. It IS my place to listen to them and try to understand. But somehow it kind of feels like it’s become okay for men to “explain” feminism to women. Note that I am NOT saying that men can’t be feminists or care about women’s issues. However, it feels to me like the men who try to “mansplain” feminism mostly focus on how it supposedly doesn’t matter and women just need to “get over it…” After all, it’s all just “locker room talk,” amirite?

(Sorry if this came off as bitter. I’ve probably been reading too many news stories today. I should know better!)

As someone white, what are the typical racist things you do to black people? What’s the most racist thing you’ve done?

Well, as a white person who lives in a major U.S. city with a VERY diverse population, I benefit every day from being white. I’ve never been stopped and frisked by the police. The ONE time I was pulled over for speeding, the police officer was super friendly to me and let me off with a verbal warning. When I go shopping no one follows me around the store to make sure I’m not shoplifting. I was arrested once during an act of civil disobedience and I received much better treatment and consideration than what people of colour receive if they are arrested. (The arresting officer actually apologized to me and left the cuff (zip-ties) so loose that I could slip out of them.) When I applied for my current apartment in a predominantly not-white neighbourhood, the landlord flat-out told me and my also-white partner that we were “exactly the kind of people I want in the building.”

That’s white privilege and I try to be aware of it.

I also try very hard NOT to be racist…but when I think over my life, I will admit that sometimes I have been. I’ve gotten ticked off when characters in books that I imagined as white in my head get portrayed by actors of colour in movies. I remember going off on a VERY unfortunate diatribe about Felix Lecter being played by a Black actor in one of the old James Bond movies. Once while I was on the subway going to a club night I started getting nervous because a large group of very loud and seemingly drunk Black men got on the subway a few stops after me. I got my preconceptions challenged that night – it turned out they were on their way to the same club I was and that I knew a few of them from previous events! When talking to (white) people I’ve sometimes felt embarrassed about where I live because it is coded as “Black” and “poor” – two things that far too often go together. (If you look at the stats about poverty in the U.S., you’ll see that people of colour are disproportionatley represented amongst the poor. The reasons why are SUPER complicated – bell hooks wrote a great text about it called “Representing the Poor.”) I have remained silent while people I know, including family members, have said racist things. I’ve also pulled the very unfortunate “But I work with and have friends and neighbours who aren’t white!” argument while asserting to others that I’m not racist.

The most racist thing I’ve ever done…is not something I’m okay with going into in detail. Suffice it to say it involved me being VERY angry with someone and saying the n-word out loud for the first and last time in my life. It is one of the worst things I’ve done in my entire life and is one of those moments my brain loves to dredge up at 4 AM when I can’t sleep to remind me of just what a terrible person I truly am. :(

Malcolm X said that any white person who lives and grew up in an inherently racist system is by definition a racist. Perhaps one of the most racist things about me is that I didn’t *understand* how pervasive racism is because for much of my life I had the luxury to be able to ignore it. I grew up in a mostly-white upper-middle-class suburban environment. I did my undergraduate work in Boston, which is a famously non-diverse and racist city. I didn’t live in a cave or anything in terms of things happening elsewhere, but it was easy for me to minimize racism because I was in a “bubble” of white privilege. I’ve learned differently since and I try to be mindful of that now, and to actively “check my privilege.”

This isn’t a comment about Jackie, or about Between Failures, but his idea of:
being a cartoonist or artist, having a [longing, voyeuristic feeling?] reminded me of a [1990s?] Russian, scifi film, which said something like this, about artists + authors:

An artist’s fans are sort of like vampires- they come to him or her, + feed off of his/her art, to keep going, and to keep them feeling good.

Meanwhile: The artist is also a vampire, feeding off of the fans’ attention, in order to keep going, and to feel good.

I like this idea about artists + authors, but YMMV. C’est Tout.

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