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Comic about discussions of sexism on the internet provokes anti-feminist backlash, proves its own point

This past weekend, I was forwarded this comic about discussions of sexism on the internet. Perhaps you’ve already seen it too—apparently it’s caused quite the sensation.

Now, when I read it (what’s pictured above is just the couple of panels), I laughed and nodded and made little sighs of agreement—and then my roommate and I immediately contacted the creator to request a high-quality poster version that we could frame and prominently display on our wall.

But others—in particular some men’s rights activists who were alerted to it—read it, flocked to the creator’s blog, and left hundreds of hateful, anti-feminist comments before the comments section was closed. They called the comic’s creator Gabby Schulz (who happens to be a dude, which is very cool in my opinion) all those lovely names they usually reserve for ladies who write something about sexism on the internet: bitch, cunt, dyke, feminazi.

As Gabby noted in an update after closing the comments, the reaction to the comic could not have illustrated its point more clearly. It was almost like an inadvertent performance piece.

“Most of all, thank you for replicating and thus validating my own comic’s meager thesis to an exponent higher than anyone could have ever deliberately orchestrated. If anyone out there was concerned as to the general health of sexism, misogyny, and general denseness in our world today, hopefully this chunk of pixels may stand as proof that, yeah, actually, that stuff is out there, doing its creepy, hateful, jurassic dance of dumb.”

Nonetheless, he ends on an optimistic note:

“BUT ALSO, I am very happy to report that these comments are also chock full of real-life dudes who actually, vocally are down with the concept that women are humans! This is an assurance I, for one, could not possibly hear enough, these dark, post-feminist days.”

Thanks to Gabby for stepping (perhaps unwittingly) into the shitstorm of misogynistic MRA crap on behalf of women all over the internet—and to all the dudes out there who buy into the crazy notion that women are humans and quietly live by that idea every single day.

Atlanta, GA

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director in charge of Editorial at Feministing. Maya has previously worked at NARAL Pro-Choice New York and the National Institute for Reproductive Health and was a fellow at Mother Jones magazine. She graduated with a B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. A Minnesota native, she currently lives, writes, edits, and bakes bread in Atlanta, Georgia.

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Editorial.

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  • Kellie Peterson

    Is it just me that finds it exceptionally fitting that Gabby turned off the comments when the count hit 666?

    • Jenny Gonzalez-Blitz

      Number of the sun. Look into it.

      I told Gabby on Twitter that the commenters pretty much proved the comic’s point and I’ll say it again over here. I’ve dealt with angry online comics nerds through the years over everything from “Dave Sim is right”* to outright rape apologism. I’m glad Gabby (and Kate Beaton) have managed to call more widespread attention to this kind of nonsense. My hope is that as the comics world becomes less insular (and it has) there will be more “regular” people looking in, not only to enjoy our creations, but to call out bullshit like this for what it is.

      *referring to his anti-woman and anti-gay essays, not his work on Cerebus

  • Lindsayq

    I think this comic was also in response to Kate Beaton’s twitter posts:

    “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

    secondly, by doing so you invite others to critique that person’s works based on their looks, which is uncomfortable, sexist and unfair.”

    Which caused a huge debate among other comic artists as well as fans.

  • Mighty Ponygirl

    I saw that comic and the only thing that was missing was the panel with the line “I’m a woman, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this (now please give me many pats on the head, boys!)”

    BTW, if any of you were wondering about what the comic was in response to, it was supporting Kate Beaton for a pretty innocuous twitter comment that turned into an unholy shitstorm of its own.

  • nazza

    Many internet forums end up like frat houses. People want to be validated and they want people to agree with them more than they want to advance notions that actually cause people to think. But I’ve discovered that delayed gratification is much more effective and flattering than the instantaneous knee-jerk response many post writers are after.

  • v

    Ha. These teenagers who think they’re so damn rebellious are EXPECTED by sane feminists to rebel. They sit at their computer screen smirking as they write something they may not believe but just HOPE to be inflammatory. As feminists though we should perhaps ask ourselves, who ARE these guys who accuse us of being Feminazis? Are they people who understand how evil the Nazi regime was? No. They’re basically unpleasant little bullies hiding behind a screen while knowing absolutely nothing. They smirk at the idea we get pissed off by them so how about we ignore them?

    • Jenny Gonzalez-Blitz

      Erm, v. I need to point out–not all these types of people are teenagers. At least not chronologically.

    • Susan C Mitchell

      (Oops, I hit Report Comment by mistake — mods, please ignore!)

      “Ignore them”? Isn’t that what victims of vicious bullying are always told: “Just ignore them and they’ll leave you alone”? What’s next, v? “Why don’t you just tease them back?” is popular in such situations. And there’s always the classic “They’re only teasing you because they like you!”

    • A. M.

      Ageism is in no way better than sexism.

  • v

    @mighty ponygirl

    “I saw that comic and the only thing that was missing was the panel with the line “I’m a woman, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this (now please give me many pats on the head, boys!)””

    You’re so right and it reminds me of the recent trend for women to claim “feminism” to undermine and insult other women. It’s great if stripping off empowers one lady but she must respect the fact that for others it does not do the same. Everyone has the same idea of empowerment but please, if a lady doesn’t share your view? Don’t tell her she’s wrong.

  • Matt

    I’m getting a 404 error. It looks like someone ate up all the bandwidth. >_>

    Do you have a transcript by any chance?

    Sort in line with v, I would go with the idea of not paying so much attention to haters. They exist, and they will always exist. You can occasionally say a few clever things at their expense, but you ultimately want to stick to your message.

  • Judy

    If you want to read a great feminist cartoonist, try Nina Paley. She is fantastic!