Article written by :: (RSS)

Lauredhel is an Australian woman and mother with a disability. She blogs about disability and accessibility, social and reproductive justice, gender, freedom from violence, the uses and misuses of language, medical science, otters, gardening, and cooking.

This author has written 1612 posts for Hoyden About Town. Read more about Lauredhel »

35 responses to “Racist artwork from Marcotte’s Seal Press book “It’s a Jungle Out There””

  1. su

    I just don’t get it. How can someone* understand the points made regarding the original choice for the cover and then fill the book with images that are still explicitly racist? Fark. Clearly they didn’t understand at all.

    *Someone meaning whoever had some say in the use of those images- I have no idea whether or not Amanda had that power.

  2. Deborah

    I have read Pandagon for a long time, but I have been increasingly uncomfortable about some of the material there, in particular, the attitude towards Hillary Clinton, which seems to me to border on hatred. It does seem to me that Amande Marcotte is interested in Amanda Marcotte. Some of her material seems to me to be based in fear and hatred, rather than in affirming life.

    But even that’s a hard thing to say; I hate criticising other feminists, even when their feminism doesn’t sit well with mine. I figure that feminism is a broad church. However I am increasingly worried that it’s a white women’s church, and that some of our most prominent voices can’t see that.

    I still haven’t worked out how I am going to respond to these concerns myself….

    Deborah’s last blog post..ANZAC Day Atheist

  3. Sheana

    That’s an, ah, “interesting” interpretation of feminism. If only there were a smiley that could simultaneously express screaming, cringing and projectile vomiting at once.

    I’m seriously curious to see how she’s going to respond to this one. How completely ignorant to the history and current reality of racism do you have to be to not get how horrifyingly racist those images are? I wish I could say surprised, but the whole ignoring privilege/perpetuating white privilege/racism thing seems to be a common theme coming out of the Pandagon camp.

    Where’s that smiley again?

  4. Brooklynite

    It’s completely flabbergasting.

    The mind just reels.

    Brooklynite’s last blog post..New Student Activism Blog!

  5. K.A.

    The mind just reels that people don’t get ironic retro imagery. It’s not her fault you don’t get it.

    And this coming from someone who doesn’t consider herself a fan. But it’s absurd to me how many people don’t understand the nuances of context.

  6. Brooklynite

    KA, I carried around a “Campus Queen” lunchbox for a year in the mid-eighties, when I was a (straight male) high school student. Don’t tell me I don’t understand kitsch. Don’t tell me I don’t understand retro.

    I thought the revised cover was okay. Hell, I sorta-kinda defended the original cover.

    But no. No. When you’re a white woman talking about how hard it is for women in the workplace, you don’t illustrate your book with drawings of black savages menacing white people.

    The line may be fuzzy, but that crap is nowhere near the line.

    Brooklynite’s last blog post..Can White People Be Trusted?

  7. tigtog

    I am a big fan of Amanda’s writing. I totally get the idea, the wit, and the appeal of using ironic retro imagery. I do “get” the context. I don’t find the context justifying.

    * They couldn’t find images of Jungle Girl fighting poachers?
    * Or a rogue elephant? (Think of the relevant symbology for the US there.)
    * Or even Nazis? (ironic subversion of “feminazis” alert)

    Because I can find artwork online (not all of it retro) of all three with a few minutes of searching. Poachers (and a bonus python). A rogue elephant (OK, technically mammoth – hey, even better!). Jackpot: here’s a review of an issue of a jungle comic where the jungle-girl fights “Velociraptors, sabretooth tigers, and Neanderthal Nazis! Oh my!” Fighting a scary prehistoric-looking lizard. Fighting a scary bear. Fighting hyenas. Here she’s looking strong and purposeful on her own, but that is a full moon, so let’s assume a werewolf nearby.

    OK? A few minutes was all that took.

    As the publishers of Amanda’s book obviously had access to an archive, do you expect anyone to believe that they couldn’t find enough pictures of Jungle Girl battling baddies/overcoming perils who weren’t tribal natives to illustrate a dozen or so chapter heading pages? Or that even if they hadn’t looked for such originally, that they shouldn’t have looked after the upset over the original cover artwork? If they truly couldn’t find it, then there’s actually not a shortage of feminist comic artists out there who could have been commissioned to create it, and been glad of the exposure in return for a small drip of any royalties.

    Without a statement from Amanda, we don’t know how much control she had over the images chosen inside the book. First-time authors often don’t have much, and at least she was able to persuade the publishers to change the cover-art. However it went down though, the publishers should have known better after the eruption over the original cover art. Their failure to exercise different choices once they had been clue-sticked that such images are considered offensive cannot be excused.

  8. K.A.

    I corrected myself at the other site, but I’ll leave it here too for posterity: I wasn’t reading carefully since I tend to skim through my news, and I wrongly assumed this was an offshoot of an early conversation re: Aryan pornbot cover, and whether context matters there. I had no idea there were images inside and totally missed what image people actually had a problem with. Mea culpa! I agree that the images are appalling and inexcusably racist. There is no interpretation that could possibly explain why they were included, which interestingly may change how much benefit of the doubt I can give the cover. It was likely regarded in the same light as the racist comics inside.

    I decided today I was going to read the book after all because I need to release some stress over feminist issues, but after catching up with all the new info about BFP and especially those pictures, I changed my mind.

    Sorry again about my mistake!

  9. Laura

    Also … what is up with the ultra-skinny blonde lady as the shining heroine meme? Is that supposed to be fun and ironic? Am I supposed to look at her and think about all feminists — regardless of size, color, gender, etc. — as being represented and welcomed here?

    Oh, guess not.

  10. tigtog

    Thanks for the clarification, K.A.

    As per Lauredhel’s latest update post, Seal Press have now made an apology, and as they’re currently setting up for a reprinting the images will be removed from the next run of the book. So perhaps you could wait for one of these revised versions to be printed and get one of those.

    There’s still Amanda’s reaction to the whole BFP issue, of course. I’m disappointed that she’s retreated into being just so bull-headedly defensive on that, including clinging to a strawman argument about what people (and particularly BFP herself) are actually upset about. Until she gets her act together on that I can’t in good conscience promote her book, which is a shame, because I would have really liked to.

  11. Flynne

    What is wrong with a little camp?? Are you people so convinced that your lives are going to be so changed/tainted/threatened by a freakin comic book? It’s going to set the “feminist” movement back a milinea? I think not. Get over yourselves already. It’s a comic book, not the new feminist bible. Learn to laugh and not take yourselves so damn seriously. Life is a helluva lot better when you can laugh at stupid shit and get on with it.

    Someone on another blog said: “A book or picture that offends no one – if this is even possible – will be so bland as to be of no interest whatsoever.

    People may be “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights”, but I don’t think “the right to never be offended” is one of these.”

  12. Flynne

    Another quote:

    “We got a crowd of over-sensible people out there who got offended by very little (or non-existent) factors. Maybe those people need to find themselves a new cause like substance abuse, teen pregnancy or education in the African-American community. It’s a lot less fun than the “Blame Whitey!” game but it’s a lot more constructive.”

  13. Flynne

    last post, I swear –

    I’m sure the person I quoted above meant “overly-sensitive”. English is not his native tongue.

  14. KateCoe

    Seal Press published Peggy Seltzer’s fake gangbanging memoir. Brooke and Krista need to hire some black folks, quick. They obviously are clueless white girls with blinders on.

  15. Flynne

    Spare me, please, a little facetiousness apparently is a rare occurance. I KNOW it’s not a comic book, but the huffery it’s generating is close enough.

    PS – “Abusive chest puffer”? Hardly. Was the book written in a humorous vein? No? Mea culpa, then, but I was under the impression that it wasn’t to be taken all that seriously. Lighten up.

    The first quote came from “bradley13″; the second from “Toubrouk”. Happy now?

    If you take yourself too seriously too much of the time, bitterness sets in for good. Just sayin’.

  16. Helen

    Was the book written in a humorous vein? No? Mea culpa, then, but I was under the impression that it wasn’t to be taken all that seriously. Lighten up.

    Oh please. Get a sense of humour ladies. Lighten up. Jeez we have never heard THESE exhortations before. Would it kill you to add some actual analysis and interest to the thread instead of boring antifeminist buzzwords we’ve heard so many times we have a bingo card to tick them off?

    And in response to your remark above, no, in a way the book was to be taken seriously. Although written in a lighter vein, it’s meant to be a primer for younger feminists. I don’t know if you were trying to be offensive there or you just can’t help it.

  17. Flynne

    Well then, if you HAVE heard these extortions before, shouldn’t you maybe pay a little bit of attention to them? Advocating equal treatment for all is not the same as advocating special treatment for certain groups of people who whine the loudest, you know. Have some cheese?

    A primer for younger feminists? To perpetuate the false “victimizaton” agenda? Wonderful. You go. Keep widening the gender gap in the name of feminism. Great. Teach them when they’re young how “victimized” they are, even when it’s a lie, instead of insisting they grow a backbone where their wishbone is, and get where they want to be on their own merit. Watch out, girls, the “patriarchy” is EVIL.
    Okay, then. Good luck with that. But this card-carrying member of HBI (Heartless Bitches International) doesn’t believe that’s a viable solution. YMMV

  18. Flynne

    Why bother getting your panties in a twist over something that had nothing to do with you in the first place? It just doesn’t make sense.

  19. tigtog

    Well then, if you HAVE heard these extortions[sic] before, shouldn’t you maybe pay a little bit of attention to them?

    Felicitous typo there, but the endless exhortations to just have a sense of humour and not make those flinging casual insults around uncomfortable by objecting to their insensitivity are indeed a form of extortion, carrying an implicit threat that if we don’t shut the fuck up then they’ll be even less “nice” than their current mode.

    Strange, I could have sworn that the approved moral approach to bullies was to stand up to them, not to cave in. Or does that only apply to the folks who aren’t meant to be submissive?

  20. Flynne

    Oh good gods, get over yourselves already! Ah, yes, I’m SUCH a bully! Wonderful. Honestly, I’m curious as to why you all have your backs up over something that has nothing to do with you. They’re pictures in a book, ferpetesakes! Are they really such a threat?

  21. tigtog

    Oh good gods, get over yourselves already! Ah, yes, I’m SUCH a bully!

    You’re certainly allying yourself with bullies. “Get over yourself” is nothing but a dismissive attempt to silence others.

    Honestly, I’m curious as to why you all have your backs up over something that has nothing to do with you.

    There would be no social progress at all if people were only concerned with behaviours that directly affect them personally.

    Incidentally, why are you so bothered by “us” being bothered about this? [edited to add] After all, this thread had been quiet for weeks until you popped in.

  22. Flynne

    *sigh*
    It was just something I saw on another blog, so I wanted to check it out. I’m having a hard time wrapping my pea-sized brain around the idea that social progress has anything to do with complaining about stupid pictures in a book; I would think it had more to do with taking care of children that have no parents, or homes; or focusing on helping people achieve viable job skills, to assist them with their lives; or trying to eradicate the government’s over-involvement in people’s private lives, and its unjust practice of implementing laws that have nothing to do with making things better for the people, and everything to do with increasing big corporations’ bottom lines. Something as mundane as pictures in a book, no matter how “offensive” to some, really aren’t much of a social problem, compared to homeless children, or the over-abundance of criminal activities in this country. Of course, YMMV.

    When I say “get over yourself”, I’m not saying it as a “dismissive attempt to silence” anyone; it just means that I think if you spend too much time being too serious about too many things, the bitterness takes a firm hold, and doesn’t let go. It’s not healthy to not see the humor in some things, once in a while.

  23. tigtog

    As if complaining about racist imagery in a book stops anyone from working to further other areas of social progress? It’s part of the big picture of anti-oppression activism, not a distraction from it.

    I find humour in many things, most recently in your blithe assumption that because I don’t find that the humour trumps all in these images that I’m somehow a bitter hag. How can you navigate the world wearing those blinders with your knee jerking like that?

  24. Mindy

    In fact, we can go all that and get the kids ready for school in the morning, teeth brushed and hair combed! Just because it’s not a big issue (for you) doesn’t mean we have to ignore it. It is a huge issue for a lot of people out there, and they deserve our support too.

  25. Mindy

    we can even do all that

    note to self: preview before posting snark.

  26. tigtog

    Indeed, Mindy. Today I’m finding that I can get the kids to school early for band practise, clear the path to the water-meter out the front and get the weekly supermarket run done all while still complaining about this racist imagery, analysing the effect of this week’s Federal Budget, donating some money to aid efforts for Burma and China and getting some washing on the line.

    Try taking a both/and view of life’s options and challenges instead of the either/or view, Flynne. It’s either/or that leads to bitterness.

  27. Mindy

    It’s the bloody washing on the line that trips me up everytime Tigtog. Either I forget to put it out, or forget to bring it in.

  28. Flynne

    Thanks for your concern, tigtog, but my “blinders” were cast by the wayside long ago. (Oh, and I can get my children to school on time, and accomplish many more things, including holding down a full time job, without needless complaining about silly pictures in a silly book.) Obviously the point about freedom of speech/freedom of the press for all is lost on you, so just I’ll wish you all well. (I just wonder about “anti-oppressive activism” that includes snarking at those people whose viewpoints differ from your own. A tad hypocritical, that.)

  29. Helen

    Flynne, it wasn’t just a differing viewpoint at issue. It was a bunch of pictures that really seriously p**sed off a goodly chunk of latino and african american feminists in the US, because it portrayed africans in the “ignorant savage” manner of the 50s. You’re not addressing what the issue is here. It’s not just Tigtog stumbling on the pictures and deciding that they offend her.

    And if you want to say that the US feminists should lighten up, you had better be a “woman of colour” as they call it yourself. Well, what I mean is, you can say it. But you’d have no standing.

  30. tigtog

    Quite, Helen. Lauredhel was responding to a growing debate across a broad number of blogs that we regularly read – how exactly is that “nothing to do with us”?

    I’m also extremely tickled that Flynne could in her very first post write this:

    People may be “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights”, but I don’t think “the right to never be offended” is one of these.

    and then as her parting shot write this:

    Obviously the point about freedom of speech/freedom of the press for all is lost on you, so just I’ll wish you all well.

    Well, Flynne – the principle of the freedom of speech/press may well protect people’s expression of ideas from government censorship, but I don’t think that “the right to never be criticised” is part of that.

    As to mocking supercilious denigrators being in any way “hypocritical” for anti-oppression activists, the mind boggles. Supercilious denigrators are amongst the oppressors, FlynnyFlynnFlynne.

The commenting period has expired for this post. If you wish to re-open the discussion, please do so in the latest Open Thread.