sensitive men to watch out for

August 21st, 2007 | Strip Archive

smtwof detail

Here’s a little something I ran across recently that I thought you might find amusing. It’s from the 1991 April Fool’s issue of the Madison Insurgent, a progressive paper that DTWOF once ran in. Someone–I’m not sure who–did this rather delightful all-male spoof of the strip.

85 Responses to “sensitive men to watch out for”

  1. pc says:

    kind of odd how everyone looks just like their DTWOF counterparts wearing paste-on beards — Harriet (Harry?), in particular.

  2. Ng Yi-Sheng says:

    rotfl! This reminds me of your “Straight guys to watch out for” calendar art!

  3. katie higgins says:

    beautiful. I grew up with DTWOF as bathroom reading in my grandmother and her partner’s home. My grandma has passed but her partner is actually in town right now visiting me. I’m going to have to share this with her tomorrow.

    You do good work. thank you.

  4. Josh says:

    Ha ha! “Menergy”! Must … work … into … sentence … somehow…

  5. Aranea says:

    In response to pc writing “kind of odd how everyone looks just like their DTWOF counterparts wearing paste-on beards ”

    That’s because everyone in this strip *is* a DTWOF with a paste-on-beard. That’s strip #96, “Dancing in the streets”, with the words whited out and the beards scribbled in.
    In the original, the sign in the top right-hand corner reads “No blood for oil” (depressing how some things don’t change), and Mo can’t believe the rest of the gang is making the most of the opportunity for some serious dyke-spotting.
    Thanks for posting this, Alison, and giving me an excuse to pull out my DTWOF collection and get totally engrossed in it – oops, I mean, to flip through it before I get back to work. *sigh*

  6. read Fun Home recently says:

    Um… I didn’t know where to add this remark(computerphobic). It’s not connected to the amusing photoshop work someone did up there.
    Anyway, despite the review I read in “Haaretz” a few months ago, I couldn’t find Fun Home anywhere in Israel, so I bought it in California while visiting friends (first time to SF for an Israeli- it was great!). I read it with my father, and though I saw all the great reviews it got I couldn’t resist giving mine- Your accuracy is amazing, catching the general atmosphere through the tiny details. I could see myself in every frame in that book (it helped that I look a little like tha drawings of 17-year-old you for some reason), and of course, the drawings are incredible.
    Thanks for writing it, Talia.

  7. Jeremy says:

    I may never stop laughing! I’m sure Lois has said before how cute a guy Mo makes, but Ginger with a beard! Awwww!

  8. DSW says:

    This is hilarious! Mo looks great with a beard. 😀

  9. bindweed says:

    Yay! It’s like a whole phalanx of Stuarts!

  10. jam says:

    “…a whole phalanx of Stuarts!”

    now that’s a truly terrifying image

  11. --MC says:

    “Phalanx of Stuarts” sounds like a good idea for a fake punk rock band patch. I should make one up for my sketchbook cover. I could use the happy smiling symbol from the “Menn YAY!” sign in the third panel.

  12. Madison says:

    I remember this comic while in Madison, WI during my junior year of college! I used to read the DTWOF strips at the Sunprint Cafe on State Street – quickly became addicted to coffee and A Bechdel at the same time.

  13. DeLandDeLakes says:

    SCREEECCHHHHH! This is so freakin’ awesome. I went to high school at an arts magnet school just outside of Minneapolis, so naturally we had to have that old blowhard Robert Bly come in to talk to us. I’m having flashbacks even now.

  14. mlk says:

    Ginger and Clarice are awesome with beards! I wish Moe, though, would just go with a mustache . . .

  15. Lydia says:

    I agree that Roberty Bly does come off as a blowhard when you’re a burgeoning feminist teen and you’d much rather be reading Willa Cather or, um, Alison Bechdel…but after reading Norah Vincent’s ‘Self Made Man’, my perspective on the ‘men’s movement’ was altered. I might go back and read some of that Robert Bly.

    http://www.amazon.com/Self-Made-Man-Womans-Journey-Manhood/dp/0670034665

  16. Duncan says:

    I think Bly is a blowhard — and a racist, sexist, homophobic blowhard at that — and I’m not a burgeoning feminst teen who’d rather be reading Willa Cather. I’m a middle-aged gay man, who liked Mim Udovich’s description of Iron John as reading as if it had been fact-checked, if not actually written by a junior-college drama major on acid. I haven’t read Vincent’s book, and it’s not high on my list — right-wingers just don’t pique my interest much. Maybe she’s grown up, but her earlier writings never indicated much intelligence. Sort of a Cynthia, without Cynthia’s intelligence.

  17. Suzi says:

    Alison… you’re not fooling me. You did this, right? It’s the eyes, they’re a giveaway… and the fact you still have it in your files.

  18. falloch says:

    It’s kind of a shame about Bly – I first encountered him way pre-Iron John in the mid-1970s, when he was giving readings of his own poems and translations of Rumi, Mirabai, Rilke, telling stories from the Mabinogion and giving Jungian interpretations, talking about the Great Mother, etc. And then what happened?? Backlash? Retreat into Lawrentian anti-feminist rhetoric. Maybe all that revolt against strict Minnesotan Protestantism went through a looking-glass into Iron John-ism. I admit I was a mere student at the time, and only grasping at poetry, counterculture, feminism, etc. like a baby first learning how to grasp a rattle, but I still remember a bit of Bly’s translation of Mirabai’s poem ‘Why Mira can’t go back to her old house’:

    I’ve sat astride the shoulders of an elephant, and now you want me to ride a jackass?
    Try and be serious!

    or something like that…maybe I’ll try and google Mirabai – I’ll probably come up with lots…

    Anyway, it’s sad when people you’re first elated with let you down with their subsequent turns of thought, but maybe it’s a case of respecting their early efforts and lamenting their later ‘maturity’; I’m sure they’d lament my continuing ‘lack of maturity’.

  19. Wendy says:

    Alison,
    The drawing of Ginger with a beard reminds me of how you draw Carlos.

  20. Lydia says:

    As an avowed left-winger, I like to read right wingers and every-other-wingers. Reading ‘self-made man’ changed my opinion of the ‘men’s movement’. Now where is that Robert Bly?…

  21. Silvio Soprani says:

    Lydia,
    Reading SELF MADE MAN forever changed the way I (a woman) walk down the street. [Duncan,I was not aware of her earlier writing or her politics.]

    I used to always make eye contact with everyone I passed on the sidewalk, thinking it was the friendly thing to do. (Residual 60s culture still operating.) I was always a little hurt at how studiously the men walking past me would avoid eye contact and they would never smile.

    After reading her revelation that [“the typical”] man avoids eye contact unless he is looking for a fight, (somewhat like dogs, right?) I realized that life (and walking) was so much easier that way.Just erase everyone you pass from your consciousness and you don’t have to worry about fear. It becomes a non-issue. (I am talking about city living here.)

    Now if I thought about it, I would be very sad at this change in my relationship with my environment. It basically takes compassion right out of the equation. But in terms of safety and self-confidence, I feel it gives me a head start.

    Whether or not I have reversed my own personal evolution, this is the lesson I learned from Norah Vincent’s book.
    She actually displayed quite a bit of simultaneous detachment and compassion as she infiltrated various men’s spaces in drag. Somewhat like Barbara Ehrenreich in NICKLE AND DIMED, she deceived communitities of people for a certain length of time, and then confessed to them what she had been doing and faced the consequences. Surprisingly, neither of these authors seems to have pissed off the people they were deceiving, probably because the latter felt affirmed by the author’s interest in their issues.

  22. DeLandDeLakes says:

    Lydia-

    I actually like Robert Bly’s poetry- it’s his books like “A Little Book on the Human Shadow” that I just can’t stand, mostly because I think a lot of what he does in these writings is just Jung Lite. And in person, he really does come across as an enormous dick. When I saw him lecture, I found his equivocations of man with the brain and woman with the soul to be pretty tedious, and on an earlier visit to our school, he abruptly pounced upon a female lit student who was whispering to a friend while he was talking, and proceeded to ream her out and make her cry in front of her peers. Not such a nice guy. That doesn’t mean his work doesn’t have value- after all, we wouldn’t have many great artists if you had to be a good person as well as a great talent. 🙂

  23. Ginjoint says:

    Hi Silvio! I haven’t seen a whole lot of posts from you lately. I hope you’re well.

    I’ve not read Vincent’s book, but maybe I will. I don’t know much about it, just the basics, and what Duncan’s said has made me a bit leery. “Nickel and Dimed,” however, is a favorite of mine. I think the reason Ehrenreich didn’t piss off those around her with her “deception” was simply because she was toiling in the trenches right alongside them, in a public arena (their workplace) vs. a private one (a support group, for example.) As you mentioned, she also obviously cared deeply about the issues affecting them, and I think that kind of empathy softened the blow of any “deception.”

    ::whispering:: um, off-topic, if, like me, you’re a breast cancer “survivor” (ugh) who can’t stand all the pink ribbon schmaltzy stuff (double ugh), ehrenreich wrote a great essay called “welcome to cancerland.” here: http://www.bcaction.org/Pages/LearnAboutUs/WelcomeToCancerland.html ). it’s pure ehrenreich.

  24. Silvio Soprani says:

    Ginjoint,

    Thank you kindly for the shout-out.

    EXCELLENT article! As you say, “pure ehrenreich.”
    Leave it to her to manage to focus on the environmental pollution issue in the midst of her own physical discomfort.

    I myself am a “veteran” of thyroid cancer…they haven’t managed to designate a ribbon for it… but in the midst of various treatments and scans and whatnot, I have found myself in various hospitals, some horrible and some really wonderful. And I have to confess, that I liked best the hospital with the nice furniture, the beautifully decorated walls, and the good circular facility design that allowed every patient to see where the doctors and nurses were at all times, rather than being sequestered in some chilly corner with the door shut. Let’s face it, why be bored and miserable when you could feel a little more human?

    But I found Ehrenreich’s exploration of the “cult” of the pink ribbon world of breast cancer interesting, and it reminded me of some feminist discussions in the early 90s of how so much psychotherapy was disempowering feminists; robbing them of their valuable anger.

    I did lose two very old friends to cancer last year. Jayma Abdoo died of breast cancer, and Sarah Tosi died of mouth cancer, probably caused by chemicals used to treat lumber, which she handled in her job in the construction trade for the last 25 years or so. Both Jayma and Sarah were members of the anti-war activist group, the Camden 28, in the 1970s. We all grew up in the 60s in the Catholic school tradition, of which anti-war activism is an essential part, although you don’t hear much about it these days.

    A film was made about the court case trying the Camden 28 for destroying draft records during the Viet Nam war.They were the first case to be won using the argument that the war was immoral. (Try winning a case these days with that argument…) The film is going to be shown on PBS public television on (of all days!) September 11th. (see link below.)

    http://www.camden28.org/

    One last note–the sanest book I have read in a long time is Mark Kurlansky’s (he of the Codfish fame) “NONVIOLENCE: Twenty-Five Lessons From the History of a Dangerous Idea.”

    Glad to see that the people of the blog have lost none of their vivaciousness.

  25. a different Emma says:

    That cameo is about the coolest thing since sliced socks.

  26. a different Emma says:

    I mean pastiche.

  27. a different Emma says:

    Spoof? Cameo? Pastiche? All-in-one? Sliders version? A little help anyone?

  28. born-again rhetor says:

    As blog comments are often times a repository for the curio-contributions of regular readers (I observe), so I contribute my first association with:

    MENERGY: http://youtube.com/watch?v=AGEycdQ5SVI

    And on an equally unrelated note, I would like to suggest the newly made-up band Frumpy Drag Queen (which my prof. pointed out no one [apparently] wants to be) could open for Phalanx of Stuarts.

  29. Alex K says:

    @Duncan: Norah Vincent is right-wing? Who knew?

    SELF MADE MAN was a good read; it reminded me of time in the optometrist’s chair, concentrating on the crisp or blurry variations in those shifting letters, revisiting and refracting experience again and again as the lenses of gender clicked in and out of the sightpath.

    Not that my experience is any guide for you, but still. You just might like it.

  30. Kaptain Equinox says:

    Some cartoonist — don’t remember which one — said it best: “um, you’re going to go learn about manliness from a poet?”

    TONIGHT: it’s the WWF literacy smackdown! T.S. “Choir Boy” Elliot takes on NASCAR superstar Emily “Because death would not stop for me, I ran the bastard over” Dickenson.

  31. The Cat Pimp says:

    I really like how the spoof artist was able to come up with dialogue to fit the pre-existing word balloons. “roar”.

  32. DeLandDeLakes says:

    Silvio, I’m sorry to hear about your friends. From your description, they were a couple of true heroes, and the world is poorer without them.

  33. Ginjoint says:

    Silvio, hmmm…”veteran”…I think I like that. Certainly better than “survivor,” anyway. The link for the Camden 28 is currently not available, but I will watch the special on the 11th. PBS has aired, in the past, one of the best, BEST shows regarding 9/11 that I’ve ever seen – “Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero.” Put briefly, it examines religious in/tolerance from several faiths, and where was God that day anyway? It’s very moving, and I hope they show it again.

    born-again, I’ve seen that clip, but not in a long time – it’s hysterical. MENERGY!! So you’ll be good at SPORTS!!!

  34. Andrew B says:

    Alex K: Well, whoever wrote the wikipedia article on her knew.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norah_Vincent

  35. Silvio Sopprani says:

    Deland,
    Actually I was surprised to learn from reading Kurlansky’s NONVIOLENCE the distinction between pacifism and nonviolence. The latter specifies activism, whereas the former just refrains from being violent. So a pacifist might agree to drive an ambulance in a war, but a person who identifies as nonviolent would demonstrate, scheme, and connive at how to disrupt and prevent war.

    By those definitions, Schindler (and his list) exemplify the latter.

    I am not denigrating pacifists at all; it just made me really think about the difference for the first time in my 55 years!

  36. Riotllama says:

    apparently this was a response to the above video.
    unfortunately, there are no unicorns, but its still good.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5gX8fbprqE

  37. Duncan says:

    Ginjoint and Alex, Vincent has been around a long time. She had a column in the Advocate, as I recall, before moving into heterosexual media. The only Advocate column of hers I read, that I recall, was about being anti-choice, which she presented as a bold contarian position for a lesbian. And so it is, but being a contrarian is not sufficient reason in itself for any opinion. Richard Goldstein discussed her in his 2002 book The Attack Queers: Liberal Society and the Gay Right. And I wrote a comment on one of her LA Times pieces, at http://www.idsnews.com/news/story.aspx?id=4031 — the headline is, typically for the IDS, the exact reverse of what I wrote. And typically for glb right-wingers who appear in straight media, Vincent doesn’t seem to be very bright, or very knowledgeable about much of anything. She believes in a strange caricature of what she thinks of as the gay left, and doesn’t realize just how much her views are of 70s gay radicalism. Urging everybody to come out, for instance, was one of those crazy radical stands we took back then; now it’s something for people like Vincent and Andrew Sullivan to advocate.

  38. Annie in Hawaii says:

    Aloha all, What’s next–NeoCons, New more gentle sensitive Republicans to watch for?; take strip #96 and fill in your own blank!!! Spoof is one thing but just pasting beards on is just so bloody lazy-ass. Tess (is that really a real person?) should give more than a nod to you. Raarrgh!

  39. Writer, Rejected at www.literaryrejectionsondisplay.blogspot.com says:

    Wow! It puts a whole new spin on all things to watch out for!

  40. van says:

    Panel 3, Little Richard, is that you?

    “um, you’re going to go learn about manliness from a poet?”
    LMAO! Bad….

  41. Alex K says:

    @Duncan: Thanks very much. Backstory is very important, and I didn’t know Norah Vincent’s. Perhaps had I known I shouldn’t have been so taken as I was by the NYTIMES review of SELF MADE MAN, bought the book at all, or, having bought it, enjoyed it so much as I did. (“When ignorance is bliss…”?) I now have to re-visit my experience of the book — to use that metaphor again, to see it refracted through the additional lens that you’ve handed me.

    If you do get around to reading the book itself, I hope that you’ll share your perceptions of it.

    @Andrew B: Thanks. I’m not yet used to “reading around” public figures through a Wikicheck. It may be a habit that I should develop.

  42. Sir Real says:

    If female folks would like the experience of being read as a man, perhaps you could seek out Diane Torr’s “Man for a Day” workshops… http://dianetorr.com/drag%20king/frameset5.htm

    Has anyone here taken it? I believe Diane is currently working in Scotland…

    and there are various other drag king workshops available, though they may focus more on man-personas designed for the stage, not nessesarily on passing in daylight.

  43. SimonE says:

    Or come to cologne and hang out with the
    http://www.kingdom-of-cologne.de
    Which existed for 5 years (IIRC), before anybody would go on a stage and still consists mainly of people who don´t perform on stage. Janus has been doing Drag Workshops that went beyond the stage stuff. My picture is even in the first german language book on Drag kings, though I´m more of a frumpy queen (and somebody in that pastiche should have half a beard. It´s such a cool thing to have.)…

    SimonE

  44. Ellen O. says:

    Has anyone read Donna Minkowitz’s account of going to the Promise Keeper’s in drag? It’s surprising.

  45. Feminista says:

    Yes,I read it in Ms. magazine several years ago. Those guys are fundies with a sensitive new age make-over,in some ways more dangerous than the haters.

  46. mlk says:

    Silvio, I’ve got Norah Vincent’s book on my reading list now!

    I make it a practice to make eye contact and greet (or acknowledge) men on the street, especially black men. I’ve noticed that they — desperately, sometimes — want to be acknowledged and it seems important to them that *someone* isn’t afraid of them because of their color and gender. this sometimes elicits unwanted attention or requests for money; in those cases I don’t respond and keep walking.

    my experience has been that black men frequently make eye contact and speak when passing me on the street. it seems a simple courtesy to say “hi” or let them know how I’m doin’ (if they ask).

    I became more intentional about this in 2004 when I was canvassing for Kerry on the south side of Columbus (not a good part of town). I was going up to houses and leaving flyers. when I passed several (black) men who were getting materials to work on a house one of them asked if I was going to give him what I was handing out. I took this as a challenge, like “don’t walk past me without speaking! don’t act like I’m not here.” I stopped and explained that I walked past because I saw “men working” which diffused the tension. we had a brief conversation about the election and who we were supporting; he was behind Kerry.

  47. Feminista says:

    Good point,MLK. I’ve noticed people in Latin America,for example,will routinely greet you on the street,except in huge places like Mexico,D.F. (25 million people). It’s something one can get used to. Usually I feel safer in developing countries than I do in the U.S.

    We U.S. women have become very sensitized,and rightly so,to our safety on the street,and sometimes we want to be left alone. When I was teaching women’s studies courses which covered issues of violence against women,I became hypersentized because of all the stories I heard and read about from the students. I’d be filled with a mixture of rage and fear at yet more reminders of the many ways women in this country aren’t safe. Not wanting my students to be even more terrifed,I offered alternatives such as showing a video about self-defense training set in the SF Bay Area,featuring a women’s collective which included my sister. It was called In Defense of Women and was produced in 1982 so may be out of print,but it’s very well done.

  48. mlk says:

    I believe that not prejudging members of a group that is feared or antagonized and treating them humanely makes us all safer. and I don’t want to walk around each day fearful of what might happen to me. I don’t think this is a form of “it won’t happen to me” denial so much as a choice about how I want to live in the moment. some day I may change my mind but for now I figure that I’ll deal with danger and trauma when they actually happen.

    admittedly, I haven’t been raped or assaulted and so haven’t had my safety threatened.

  49. Hariette says:

    Is it wrong of me to notice that the word “you’re” in that last panel is misspelled? Or is that just too anal?

  50. Silvio Soprani says:

    Hariette,
    With hand-drawn letters, I hesitate to apply the rules that govern computer-generated fonts. Having said that, usually the Anal Among Us do spot those things so that the rest of us don’t have to.

    Feminista and MLK,
    good points. I agree; this whole eye contact thing may have more to do with class than race; I notice that “working men” (of any skin color) seem more affable on the street than their suit-wearin’ brethren. It must be a fresh air thing.

    I do remember one time about 10 years ago (back in my two-step dancing days), I came out of a club around 2 AM and on the way to my parked car, a black guy steered himself toward me. I crossed the street to avoid the solicitation and the next thing I knew I heard his voice behind me across the street saying, “Now that hurts my feelings!” (that I would cross the street to avoid him.) My reaction at the time was a bit belligerent: I think I said something like “I am a woman walking alone at night; I don’t care about your feelings.” However, being me, I stayed around for a little more of the conversation and he turned out to be okay. So we talked about race and class and gender and life for about 10 minutes, and then as I was leaving, he finally said, “So could you spare a few bucks?” Just a tollbooth on the highway of life…

    From my observations even of feminists in the early 90s (I came in on it a bit late, but whatever…) learning to negotiation power issues among themselves, it always did seem to me that people practice their survival skills on those more vulnerable than themselves, gearing up for the big confrontations with the truly dangerous further down the road. That is what makes a politiccal community so exhausting while you are learning the whole protocol. To practice true compassion, one must have an enormous store of strength.

  51. shadocat says:

    The “no eye contact rule” must be more of an East Coast/West Coast/Big City kind of thing. Here in the middle of the country, most people I’ve passed along the street are greeted with a Good Morning, a comment (hot enough for ya?) or just a plain “Hey” (that is if they don’t greet me first, which is often the case)no matter their race or sex.
    Could this just be more of a regional thing, rather than class or race?

    Years ago, when I was but a wee Shado, my Dad had a chace at a big-time job in a major American City. He turned it down , because on the interview trip , he found the people there to be extremely “cold”—he complained no one would look him in the eye on the street, or return his greeting when he said hello….

  52. Maggie Jochild says:

    Re safety and regionality: When my ex and I moved to Texas in 1989 from Oakland, the first week we were here, traffic came to a stop on the main freeway (I-35) downtown. In Oakland, people were shot on the freeway — often. Driven off the road. One woman who lived in my building saw a man stabbed with his own radio antenna during a fight — the assailant snapped it off his car and lunged at him. So when guys in the cars and pickups around us began getting out and running toward whatever had stopped traffic, we rolled up our windows (despite it being August and my Honda having no AC) and locked our doors, putting on “shielding auras” so no one noticed we were two women “alone”. Waiting for the bloodbath.

    But a few of those guys returned, laughing, and when the folks next to us turned their radio up loud and got out of their car to dance there on the overpass, I finally got up the nerve to roll down my window part way and ask, with a sweat-soaked face, what was up.

    Looking at me curiously but Texan polite, they explained someone’s wheel had come off and the car had skidded sideways, blocking the lanes. A bunch of strong guys were trying to muscle the car to the side so we could pass — they’d let us know when it was okay. In the meantime, nobody was in a hurry. Why not get out and dance?

    My partner looked at me and said “We’re not in Kansas any more.” But the truth was, we were in Kansas again. I began an attitude adjustment that day.

    Which is absolutely not to say that any woman who perceives danger needs an attitude adjustment. Shielding auras worked for me in San Fran (which I encountered MUCH more anti-woman and anti-Lesbian shit daily than I have experienced here in Texas), and the no-eye contact mantra was essential around males there.

    And yes, we do aim it more heavily at men of color, at working class men, and at teenaged boys. Overcoming the conditioning which teaches us that certain target groups are dangerous (when in fact it is Cheney in the bright daylight we should fear) will not obviate the fact that masculine conditioning teaches boys to direct their anger and upset outward, and that females are where they should direct it.

  53. Feminista says:

    Interesting discussion. And women and girls of all backgrounds are most at risk in their own homes,the place where battering and other forms of abuse are most likely to occur.

  54. Silvio Soprani says:

    Hey, Shado; Hey Maggie; Hey again, Feminista;

    Was just remembering the fact that whenever I visit my brother in the Poconos (Southeastern Pennsylvania…I think…), he lives at the top of a long mountain. As we drive up or down, he waves at every single car that passes him and every single neighbor standing in their yard, and they all wave back. People on the mountain wave at absolutely everyone, whether they know them or not. I like this custom very much.

    Just last week, I was visiting a friend in Colorado. She drove me up the mountains of Boulder. I was surprised that no one was waving. Don’t know why.

    There is no doubt in my mind that if someone starts it (waving, greeting, smiling), others will join in.

  55. Ellen O. says:

    My experience is that on the smaller mountain roads west of Boulder–Magnolia Road, Sugarloaf, Lick Skillet,etc.–people do wave.

    You might have been on the main mountian roads, 119, Peak to Peak Highway, US 36. They are full of tourists and city folk.

  56. liza says:

    Vermonters wave more than Queen Elizabeth. Vermonters are the politist drivers in the United States. I have statistics to back me up.

  57. Aranea says:

    Hmmm. Sounds as though this greeting-or-no-greeting issue might be less regional than a country-vs-city thing. No one’ll be surprised to hear that you get few hellos from strangers in Paris, but in the village where I grew up, it was expected you’d say “Bonjour” to anyone you met, known or unknown. Still is, and seems to be true in most very small towns I’ve visited.
    From what I’ve seen, though, I’d say smiling at strangers is much less widespread here and for that reason is easily misread. I learned early on, as a young female, that smiling to myself in public was often read (by men) as an open invitation. Unwelcome attentions seem easier to avoid if you put your face into neutral.
    I’d be curious to hear if this makes sense to anyone who’s been a visitor to France, and maybe had their just-friendly smile misread or wondered why everyone looked so grim on the metro.

  58. Silvio Soprani says:

    Aranea,

    “Put your face into neutral…” What an eloquent expression; I like that! Does it derive from a French idiom?

    I have not been in Paris since 1966, and I was 11 years old then. People were very nice to me, and I was just a tourist, but I was just a kid. Also, I was trying very hard to use my high school French, so possibly I earned a few points that way.

    Ellen O., I was being driven up “Gold Mountain” in Boulder, and was told that it was quite an exclusive enclave. I think if I were able to live up there in Paradise, I might be sceptical of strangers too. After all, appearances aside, the 60s are long over (except in my psyche.)

    Liza, earlier, I forgot to mention my favorite form of politeness on the highway (and come to think of it, I first discovered it in Maine.) Way back when, it used to be a truckdriver’s convention to flash their lights if it was safe for the vehicle ahead of them to pass into their lane. Then the truck that passed would flash lights twice to say thank you. Once this was explained to me, I always participated and felt very gratified to get that two-flash “Thank You.”

    Truck drivers still do this, but not as many as previously. I think it is dying out like that (some say sexist–but I like it) custom of men letting a woman get out of the elevator first. Except that the truck driver thing has nothing to do with gender, it is just about consideration.

    I think the real point of these various politenesses is that people are considering others as well as themselves. Must be a good thing.

  59. debi says:

    Geez! What a flashback! I remember when this ran originally, and we thought _you_ had done it. Guess we’rre still April-Fooled after ll these years. LOL

  60. ready2agitate says:

    Oh man, smiling in Paris – I was 20 years old when I learned that I should definitely NOT reply to all the smiling “ca va?” ‘s I was being offered on the street. A painful memory because I was young and wanted to be friendly and found myself unpleasantly trailed by unwanted men. I recall actually going into a museum and paying in order to get rid of one guy (!), and then being afraid to leave afterward b/c he might be waiting outside. Of course this was over 20 years ago and I was young and naive and didn’t quite know how to put my face in neutral yet…. And Silvio, I’m all for courtesies, no matter the form.

  61. Aranea says:

    Silvio – thank you! No, not derived from any French idiom I can think of ; I made it up all by myself. 🙂 Your comment is all the more appreciated.

  62. Josiah says:

    Aranea, there’s certainly a country mouse/city mouse element to the eye contact business, but there are also regional elements. I grew up in a small city in Virginia, where it was expected that one would make eye contact with passers-by, and usually smile and nod if not say “hi”. When I moved to a Connecticut suburb, I had to adjust my habits because people looked at me as if I was wearing a frock coat or something equally anachronistic.

  63. Ally says:

    Interesting, that you say that josiah. I am from a small town (under 3000 people) in CT and I have begun my own informal sociological study on the greeting. I call it the “neighborly wave.” The neighborly wave consists of putting a hand up in the air and making eye contact, smiling or saying hello. Not only is it a friendly greeting, but also a secret handshake if you will – a way to deduce out who is legitimately part of the community who’s allowed and who is tresspassing and therefore does not have the interests of the community at heart. In a very homogenous small community, people are extremely protective and discriminitory of their territory. Very interesting.

  64. Maggie Jochild says:

    Just to plug Josiah — He’s written an extremely thought-provoking and insightful post over at http://maoistorangecake.blogspot.com/, partly about our interactions with each other and how sexism intrudes. Rock on, Divo.

  65. ready2agitate says:

    Wow that was certainly worth the occasional visit to the great orange cake-makers. And it makes me recall varied experiences with anger, authority, and activism (notably, door-knocking for Kerry in NH and our — me and my (male) partners’ — mutually “alpha” response to an angry guy who swore at us and chased us out of the private complex I guess we were mistakenly in… and the straight guy who was with us who wasn’t triggered at all by the frothing-at-the-mouth guy and who kept me and my partner calm and focused (eyes on the prize).) (Apologies for the sentence structure!) Nice post, Josiah. I hope you will take it completely endearingly to notice that you’re a straight guy who’s also a friend of Dorothy’s! 🙂 My sister read me all the Oz books as a child and I haven’t thought of Ozma in years. (Sorry again – this post prolly goes into the cake mix not here.)

  66. Josiah says:

    No prob, ready2agitate: I’m happy to be considered a friend of Dorothy. 😀

  67. Josiah says:

    Actually, Ally, I do know the “neighborly wave” you speak of. But the rules in the neighborhood seem to be slightly different from those in town. In the neighborhood, you do smile and wave at your neighbors. But if you smile and wave at people in the grocery store, or at the gas station, you get suspicious looks (unless they’re people you’re actually acquainted with). The difference I’ve found between the North and the South is that in the South (at least, where I lived) you give the “neighborly wave” to everybody. In the North, you don’t give it unless you’ve been introduced, or at least have some idea who the person is.

  68. SparrowRocks! says:

    OMG I fell down laughing so loud, my partner yelled from the other room!

    Great Spoof!

  69. TeratoMarty says:

    Lois is hot as a dude. But then, we knew that.

  70. Laura says:

    I am wanting to leave a comment about the Book fun house and Alison’s dad….as a person. Where can I leave that Just wondering.

    thanks if you can tell me.

  71. Josiah says:

    I’m not sure what the best place for that would be, Laura. Perhaps someone else will have a suggestion.

    I just wanted to note that the irony of Maggie recommending my MOC blog post in the thread titled “sensitive men to watch out for” has not escaped me. I certainly hope that I don’t come across like the bearded fellows above!

  72. Maggie Jochild says:

    Josiah, honestly, I didn’t make that connection! I was noticing the similarity between folks talking about how they interact and where that comes from. I WOULD call you a “sensitive man to watch out for” but not in a sarcastic or patronizing sense. Rather, as a true cake-eater and having it too.

  73. Laura says:

    I meant Alison’s latest book Fun Home. Also has anyone checked out the interview frm San Diego Comic con. It was put up on the home of this blog/archieve/month strip page?

    thanks Josiah for even a lil help

  74. Ellen Orleans says:

    Laura,

    This is a pretty free form, non-threaded blog, so I’d say you can leave your thoughts on _Fun Home_ here among the comments to the latest posting.

    As a rule, though, we comment on Alison’s work and professional activities, and not on her personal life. I know those boundaries can be pretty murky, what with posts of insects on toothbrushes and early morning snow shoveling and beaver dens and birds nesting under the porch overhang…

  75. Grisha says:

    Hey – Alison. Just checking in on Ashley. Summer’s almost over. How’s her internship going?

    Hope all is well.

    Grisha

  76. Laura says:

    well I was gonna only comment on what she put in the book Ellen and Grisha who is Ashley???

    My feeling is that I totally understand that this is a blog about the cartoons and what she has done and not HER and I wouldn’t do that.

  77. Bella says:

    Laura

    Sounds good. Looks like you get the guidelines and are ready to roll.
    So, what did you think of Fun Home?

  78. ready2agitate says:

    Ashley, Ashley, isn’t she Ginger’s right wing lesbian student who was applying to intern at the CIA? No, that’s not her name…. Or is it? The heat’s getting to me….

  79. Grisha says:

    Yes – Ashley is finishing her internship at the George Bush Center for Intelligence at the CIA headquarters in Langley VA.
    https://www.cia.gov/about-cia/todays-cia/george-bush-center-for-intelligence/index.html and will be returning to Buffalo Lake for Grad School.

    She’s gotta have some great stories. A friend of mine in the IC says he doesn’t believe the Agency properly values its women officers (This after dating one for several years). I wonder how they’ll react to a lesbian?

  80. Ydnic says:

    Grisha and ready2agitate: Her name’s Cynthia. I can’t wait to see what happens with her, either!

  81. mlk says:

    Ashley is the left wing student that was (unsuccessfully) seducing Cynthia. Cynthia’s seduction was equally unsuccessful. they make quite a pair!

  82. ready2agitate says:

    Of course Cynthia! – How could I forget? Maybe she got some new glasses…. Maybe she got a tattoo (ha). No question she will traipse into Ginger’s office (and Ginger & Samia’s lives) with some juicy stories (alongside the requisite rants). Ah… DTWOF – would that you were a daily dose…

  83. Laura says:

    well have just started the book and like it. I have known a few people who have had family committ suicide and you always wonder WHY……I had a good friend do that and it sent me on sort of a wondering mission…..and in a round about way got the answer. It seems exactly as Alison Puts it in the Book that her dad was missin in Action even when he was there…..know what that is like. It is a major page turner. the art is great. He also seems Mean is the feeling that it seems that Alison is trying to portray

  84. Bohemia says:

    Hello Alison:

    I wanted to let you know that I am a fan of your strips and I recommended you as a blog to visit on Blog day

  85. Gita in Tucson says:

    Wow! What a blast from the past — I was a collective member of the Madison Insurgent and I remember working on that issue (the April Fool’s Issue) — we had a blast, probably experiencing some of what our more enlightened Madison brethren down at The Onion experienced on a daily basis (for once!). Thanks for re-printing this here. I used to love that we ran your strip because in many cases, it was the main reason lots of folks read our rag. Thanks for making us popular — and fun!