Political Animal


March 10, 2012 2:29 PM Pro-choice = “Inappopriate”; Racism and Misogyny? Not So Much

By Kathleen Geier

Jim Romenesko is reporting that the St. Paul Pioneer Press and The Oregonian, among other newspapers, will not be running next week’s Doonesbury strips, which deal with the effects of those anti-abortion/mandatory ultrasound laws that are making their ways through a number of state legislatures. From Romenesko’s description of the cartoons, it doesn’t appear that they’re sexually explicit. But politically, Gary Trudeau is not pulling any punches. To wit, here’s how one cartoon is described:

In the stirrups, she is telling a nurse that she doesn’t want a transvaginal exam. Doctor says “Sorry miss, you’re first trimester. The male Republicans who run Texas require that all abortion seekers be examined with a 10″ shaming wand.” She asks “Will it hurt?” Nurse says, “Well, it’s not comfortable, honey. But Texas feels you should have thought of that.” Doctor says, “By the authority invested in me by the GOP base, I thee rape.”

Frankly, I’m a little shocked that a strip that for years more often than not has been so toothless is now being so uncharacteristically blunt.

Spokespeople for the newspapers which are banning the strips say their reason is that the material is “over the line” and “inappropriate.”

I wonder when the day will come when these extraordinarily nasty examples of unadulteratedly racist and misogynist (not to mention witless) political cartoons are also considered “over the line” and “inappropriate.”

Kathleen Geier is a writer and public policy researcher who lives in Chicago. She blogs at Inequality Matters. Find her on Twitter: @Kathy_Gee


  • Hedda Peraz on March 10, 2012 3:11 PM:

    “over the line” and “inappropriate.”
    In my day, so was Walt Kelly's Pogo. ("We have met the enemy, and he is us.")

  • Texas Aggie on March 10, 2012 3:17 PM:

    Speaking of over the line and inappropriate, how about the laws that are being made fun of?

  • Michael W on March 10, 2012 3:18 PM:

    Ms. Geier, your "righteous" anger (rage?) seems to be misdirected. Garry Trudeau is merely stating the facts, in an overblown way, perhaps, but the facts just the same. Your anger/rage should be directed to those who would remove a woman's right to her own body, and her choice over what happens to it. I haven't seen the strip yet, and I doubt my local paper will ban it. I don't know if it's racist or not. Misogynistic it most certainly is not, though. He appears to be speaking in support of women and their rights.

    I think you went a little awry on this one.

  • Texas Aggie on March 10, 2012 3:23 PM:

    Ms. Geier, I think Michael totally misunderstood your comments. Rest assured that your column was right on target.

  • Danp on March 10, 2012 3:25 PM:

    I don't think of Doonesbury as toothless, but it's usually a little more subtle than this. Even a dittohead would get it. And that makes it offensive right there.

  • Cybrguy on March 10, 2012 3:26 PM:

    Michael W... I think you need to reread that column. I don't believe that Ms. Geier is condemning Gary Trudeau at all, even though she is a little surprised at his commitment on this issue. Instead, she is criticizing the newspapers for refusing to publish left leaning cartoons when they readily publish right wing cartoons that are MUCH more offensive.

  • Kathryn on March 10, 2012 3:29 PM:

    @Michael W......Don't think Ms. Grier was referring to the Trudeau strip when she spoke of racist and misogynist political cartoons, I think she was talking about other offensive cartoons mostly found on the right, that's how I read it anyway. Pretty bold for Doonsbury, will check out tomorrow.

  • Anonymous on March 10, 2012 3:30 PM:

  • MaxB on March 10, 2012 3:37 PM:

    I had seen the other cartoons cited in some blog posts and on Darryl Cagle's site...but did any papers actually run these?

    P.S. I hate Captcha.

  • liam foote on March 10, 2012 3:57 PM:

    It's true that Trudeau and Doonesbury tend usually to be a bit more subtle, but perhaps this is not a time for subtlety. And while the political cartoons said to represent Ms. Fluke are obviously wrong in many respects, the Doonesbury strip is based primarily upon fact.

    Also, welcome to TPM. Thanks.

  • SandyT on March 10, 2012 4:30 PM:

    Doonesbury is usually too subtle for the ditto heads to pick up on. They probably won't even bother to read this out of habit. Personally I can't wait to see if my local Gannett paper will publish this. The reaction ought to be interesting if there is one.

  • MichMan on March 10, 2012 4:36 PM:

    Why don't we ask the Pioneer, etc, if they would ban those misogynistic cartoons too for being over the line?

  • Memekiller on March 10, 2012 4:56 PM:

    Can anyone explain Joel Pollak's contention that Bell is extreme for opposing White Supremacy? Is there a movement to re-image white supremacy to mean white majority?

    Pollak is a fascinating nut - married to a black woman, he immigrated from South Africa to the US. Worked for Tony Leon, a major opponent of Apartheid (i.e., white supremacy). However, when he went to work for him, he was the leader of the post-apartheid, token white party that became the greatest opposition to Nelson Mandela's government. A Jew, he has also written about the Jewish minority in South Africa and politics of denouncing Palestinians.

    I have no idea how this shaped his thinking, but curious that South Africa closely parallels post-civil war and post-civil rights angst in the US. Also, becoming the minority, after holding power, is a resentment he probably knows very well. What scares me is that he probably has an insight and genius regarding racial animosity and Southern id that is unique, and ought not be underestimated.

    The game is clearly racial, and he is openly opposing opposition to white supremacy, which I thought was a fairly mainstream position. Then, a month ago, I thought birth control and wanting your kids to get a college education were mainstream position.

    What's up with this guy?

  • mellowjohn on March 10, 2012 4:58 PM:

    thanks for the tip. i'm sure the chicago tribune will bail and i'll have to look for the arc on line.

  • Cybrguy on March 10, 2012 5:45 PM:

    "thanks for the tip. i'm sure the chicago tribune will bail and i'll have to look for the arc on line."

    Bet they don't...

  • j on March 10, 2012 6:42 PM:

    Two comments on the womens health situation -
    1. Now the rethugs are trying to treat women as property to be owned and controlled by them, it seems that would qualify as Sharia Law.
    2. Where are the doctors in all this?

  • Steve P on March 10, 2012 8:12 PM:

    Many papers run Doonesbury in the editorial section, which I have no beef with, and that Mallard thing in the comics, which I also have no beef with--sharing space with Marmaduke and Mary Worth is its natural home.

  • beejeez on March 10, 2012 8:53 PM:

    Hey, Ms. Geier: You need a little deeper resume before you knock Garry Trudeau for being toothless. Or for anything, for that matter.

  • Anonymous on March 10, 2012 9:58 PM:

    The Fort Worth Star-Telegram already publishes Gary Trudeau on the editorial page along with the remarkably lame and unfunny Mallard Filmore. They announced today that those of us who want to read these cartoons will have to go to the website.

    It's no wonder the newspaper has shrunk to 1/3 the size it was five years ago. It's now a bit larger than most college newspapers, mostly because of foreign wire service reports. Plus they recently sold the building they were in.

    But this is the conservative Southern Baptist theocracy of Texas, of course. The only reason they are angry about Sharia Law is they can't deal with the competition.

  • Skip on March 10, 2012 11:12 PM:

    Women, it's time to demand that the sperm donor of these unwanted pregnancies be required to have the same type wand shoved up his backside for the same frivolous reason, not to teach him a lesson about abortion and the prudence of not assisting in getting a woman pregnant, but to learn the full extent of the power of the GOP.

    WOMEN DON'T GET PREGNANT ALONE, YOU CREEPY REPUBLICANS!!!!!!!!!!!!! No egg can be fertilized without the help of a sperm.

    Yet, 2012 and here we are, men letting men get off absolved of all responsibility.

  • Rich2506 on March 11, 2012 4:07 PM:

    Wow! Absolutely fascinating. The very last link leads to a two-picture cartoon wherein the cartoonists tries to draw an equivalence between the government messing around with a woman's uterus and taxpayers footing the bill for her birth control. In what &#*@ing universe are two situations even remotely equivalent?!?!?!
    I think this cartoonists is the same one who got in trouble several years back in Philadelphia when he drew a pro-choicer raising an axe to slaughter a baby in a womb while the mother looked on with no apparent concern. Really bizarre crap. He was let go from the paper shortly afterwards.

  • SqueakyRat on March 11, 2012 7:02 PM:

    Michael W, what are you high on? Nobody can be that stupid without help. Try opening your eyes when you read.

  • Raymond on March 13, 2012 8:56 AM:

    I have made a pledge(men who read it should join me)after seeing the 112th Congress, particularly the majority Rethugnut House of Representatives, pass HR 3 and HR 358, and seeing a total of 1100 abortion anti-women bills in the states and the US Congress, in 2011 alone, this is my response, and my pledge:
    "There is far too much violence, inequality, & disrespect shown to women in the forms of sexism, misogyny and more, around the world and it must stop NOW & I as a male Feminist pledge to do what I can to that end."