In my previous posts, I have been especially attuned to the ways in which women have utilized the written word to gain ground in the struggle for equality and empowerment. Today, though, I happened to be leafing through The New Yorker as I loafed through my lunch break, parked and idling there on a park bench in the perfect ease of a blissful pre-autumn afternoon, and I noticed the cartoons with a new and different set of eyes.
Hmmm…I got to thinking- I wonder about how women have been faring in the world of political and editorial cartoons? The pages of The Atlantic and The New Yorker and such have been rich, lately, with the female perspective. Much of the latest issue of The Atlantic dealt with the record breaking response to Anne Marie Slaughter’s piece from the previous edition, for example. When it comes to essays and articles, female authors are regularly featured, and articles regarding the struggle for equality and empowerment fairly regularly printed.
But, what about the cartoons? Within the realm of political discourse, the cartoons are heavy hitters. The images often strike a nerve in a way that the articles cannot. Furthermore, it seems cartoonists are allowed a certain measure of leeway in the practice of their art that writers are not. Much of the controversy surrounding Slaughter’s piece was in response to her use of the phrase “have it all” in her title. Frankly, cartoonists get away with quite a bit more.
This got me thinking. I hit the Google engine, with interesting results. Indeed, women are strangely absent in the world of political and editorial cartooning. The statistics suggest that men occupy something like 98.5% of all full-time jobs for cartoonists. (Not that there are an abundance of those jobs to begin with, but those statistics are outrageous.)
I eagerly jotted down some names I intend to investigate. Keep an eye out for my findings – I’ll try to feature some of their work here. However, in the meantime, I happened upon a very inspiring female cartoonist from Egypt. She’s Doaa Eladl, and The World has put together a really cool and very brief video about her work.
Check it out HERE.
A couple of her drawings:
To further compound my intrigue, I learned of Alice Sheppard’s Cartooning for Suffrage, a book that explores women who took to cartooning to combat injustices and further the cause of women’s suffrage. I ordered the book immediately and will, of course, devour it when it arrives and share what I learn here.
In a slightly different vein, as I was researching, I discovered a site dedicated to the research findings of a study that examined all political cartoons for evidence of stereotyping and sexism. And, not surprisingly, sexism and stereotyping abound. For further exploration, you might find the site interesting.
My little foray into this medium has excited me far more than I anticipated it would. I imagine this post won’t be my last on the work of female political cartoonists.