Dave Sim's blogandmail #196 (March 26th, 2007)
Fifteen Impossible Things to Believe Before Breakfast That Make You a Good Feminist
1. A mother who works a full-time job and delegates to strangers the raising of her children eight hours a day, five days a week does just as good a job as a mother who hand-rears her children full time.
2. It makes great sense for the government to pay 10 to 15,000 dollars a year to fund a daycare space for a child so its mother - who pays perhaps 2,000 dollars in taxes - can be a contributing member of society.
3. A woman's doctor has more of a valid claim to participate in the decision to abort a fetus than does the father of that fetus.
4. So long as a woman makes a decision after consulting with her doctor, she is incapable of making an unethical choice.
5. A car with two steering wheels, two gas pedals and two brakes drives more efficiently than a car with one steering wheel, one gas pedal and one brake which is why marriage should always be an equal partnership.
6. It is absolutely necessary for women to be allowed to join or participate fully in any gathering place for men, just as it is absolutely necessary that there be women only environments from which men are excluded.
7. Because it involves taking jobs away from men and giving them to women, affirmative action makes for a fairer and more just society.
8. It is important to have lower physical standards for women firepersons and women policepersons so that, one day, half of all firepersons and policepersons will be women, thus more effectively protecting the safety of the public.
9. Affirmative action at colleges and universities needs to be maintained now that more women than men are being enrolled, in order to keep from giving men an unfair advantage academically.
10. Having ensured that there is no environment for men where women don't belong (see no.6) it is important to have zero tolerance of any expression or action which any woman might regard as sexist to ensure greater freedom for everyone.
11. Only in a society which maintains a level of 95% of alimony and child support being paid by men to women can men and women be considered as equals.
12. An airline stewardess who earned $20,000 a year at the time that she married a baseball player earning $6 million a year is entitled, in the event of a divorce, to $3 million for each year of the marriage and probably more.
13. A man's opinions on how to rear and/or raise a child are invalid because he is not the child's mother. However, his financial obligation is greater because no woman gets pregnant by herself.
14. Disagreeing with any of these statements makes you anti-woman and/or a misogynist.
NEW! 15. Legislature Seats must be allocated to women and women must be allowed to bypass the democratic winnowing process in order to guarantee female representation and, thereby, make democracy fairer.
Jack Baney continues:
Maybe your perception of my open letter to you was colored by the fact that I once sent you an article, rejected by The Comics Journal, in which I put down your work. The February 17, 1998 letter you sent me in response to that article read in part: "…I think your review probably got rejected by The Comics Journal because it sort of emphasized my point that it's all just opinion. There are things that you like about Cerebus and things that you don't. You wrote a review expressing those opinions. I didn't find your views to be sneering or arrogant. They were just views I don't share."
I'm still impressed that you responded to me so graciously. I regret writing that article and sending it to you, although writing it did make me realize that I'll never be any kind of critic or reviewer.
Well, that's pretty much always been my nature and my approach to debate (although I'll grant you that that's seldom recognized by the vast majority of the comic-book field – it's a core trait of leftists that once they have demonized you they are completely incapable of seeing any good in you whatsoever). Even with your Israeli-Palestinian "screed" I didn't read it and take offence, I just read it and thought "This is just TOO radically left wing to run in Cerebus." And then I tried to think of some place radically left wing enough to run it. The lines that you quote from my letter, again I'm not taking offence I'm just pointing out to you that your conclusions ran afoul of the Journal party line that there is an objective reality to what makes a good comic book and that it isn't just contrasting opinions. It's unfortunate, in my view, that you didn't continue to criticize and review because I think you would have been very good at it.
My respect for Cerebus has increased a lot since I wrote my stupid article, partly because so much of your best work is in the book's final third. Kim Thompson has often said that Cerebus used to be a great comic and that High Society is a classic but that your work started falling apart as you gradually devolved into a misogynistic nutcase. Bart Beaty makes similar remarks in The Comics Journal #263, writing that "Dave Sim ran out talent (and sanity) somewhere back in the early 1990s," that Cerebus used to be funny but eventually became "funny only on occasion," and that Rick's Story was his "personal nadir" in the book. I couldn't disagree with those guys more. I hated High Society and didn't think the first third of Cerebus was funny at all (no offense). But your work in Rick's Story, particularly the bits with the religious imagery and the arguing parts of Cerebus's mind, was a personal high point of the book for me. Also, while your sense of humor is generally a lot different from mine, I enjoyed a lot of the humorous touches in Latter Days, including the shepherd and five-bar gate issues; the clever idea of drawing Woody Allen in the styles of Crumb, Feiffer, etc.; and, especially, your Comics Journal parody (since I disagree with most of your opinions about The Comics Journal and Gary Groth, I was surprised at how right you got them there). And I think that the afterlife sequence in Cerebus #300 did a pretty amazing job of using your entire 26 years worth of work on the book to express the religious beliefs that eventually emerged as the book's main point.
Well, much obliged for the kind words. I think again, this is an example of the Journal attempting to discern an objective reality and since Kim Thompson is perceived as speaking both for (and to) that objective reality, the viewpoint has tended to get entrenched by those who share in the idea that there is an objective reality attached to the medium and that we can all become attuned to it if we just follow the Journal's "logic of the next step" approach. Except for the "This Aardvark, This Shepherd" and "If Five-Bar-Gate Be My Destiny" I had pretty much abandoned my ambition to make people laugh out loud and had moved over into the realm of trying to scratch a different itch. The people I made laugh out loud on a regular basis felt (naturally enough) betrayed by that since there are very few laugh-out-loud things in the world (Kim Thompson was one of them, Peter David was another) as I found when I was trying to do it. What IS laugh out loud funny? Some Warner Brothers cartoons, some scenes in the Marx Brothers' early movies, some Monty Python, Richard Pryor. The list is not long and most of the rest of comedy – or "comedy" – is of the "inward smile" variety. I just re-read my two books of Bloom County strips and only laughed out loud twice, I think. I did read all of them and all of them did produce an "inward smile" that kept me reading. Once I was addressing religious questions, though, it was an area next to "inward smile" that was more of an "inward something else" that I discovered the vast majority of people don't have. If you liked Rick's Story, you have it. If you intensely disliked Rick's Story, you don't have it.
About the question as to whether or not you've gone nuts…
…even though I've read massive amounts of your writing, I'm not sure what to make of the way you think. A lot of your statements, like your speculation that the tsunami may have been caused by the completion of Cerebus, suggest to me that at least some of your thinking is seriously off-base. There were even some parts of your replies to me, Allen, and Renee Stephen in The Comics Journal that struck me as very strange – for example, I'm not sure how you deduced from Renee's letter that she is "fundamentally amoral" (although she very well could be, for all I know). On the other hand, you're obviously able to function in this world at a much higher level than I can or probably ever will. I doubt that I'll ever be a respected artist or a successful entrepreneur like you are, and Saturday Night's mention that you live in a "museum-neat" home caused me to reflect that I'll probably never achieve that, either (or even trick a visitor into thinking I have). And whatever else is going on inside of your head it contained enough idealism and determination for you to self-publish a magazine in which you shared your creative efforts and described the truth about the world as you saw it, despite the increasing unpopularity of your descriptions, for 26 years straight. So I guess I'd tentatively describe your mind vs. other people's the same way that you once described men vs. women – you seem to have more of the good and more of the bad. You may think that this view is not only wrong but typical of the degenerate mentality for which I and my pathetic ideological comrades are so justly despised by our moral and intellectual superiors, but that's the way I see it.
Tomorrow: Everyone re-read Jack's last chunk there a few times and I'll take a swing at it tomorrow.
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REPLIES POSTED ON THE CEREBUS YAHOO! GROUP
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