DTWOF episode #510

July 12th, 2007 | Strip Archive

510 detail

Jeez, you guys*. I totally fucked up. I was supposed to put up the new episode yesterday, not the archive one. I don’t know what the hell I was thinking. Thanks to the people who questioned the order.

*I considered deleting the ‘you guys,’ given the mild uproar my recent exclamation of “man” provoked. But I’ve used ‘you guys’ in a gender neutral way all my life, and feel attached to that conception, so I’m going to let it stand. Precision in language matters, but so does a judicious elasticity (and by that I don’t mean the elasticity so recently and shamefully employed by the judicial branch of our government.)

282 Responses to “DTWOF episode #510”

  1. LondonBoy says:

    Worth waiting for !

  2. mlk says:

    oh, my!

    in another vein, the kitty on Mo’s chair reminds me of Julia on Alison’s chair way-back-when. a memory that’s both sweet and sad.

  3. AvidLibrarian says:

    Alison, this is your blog, and you don’t have to apologize for anything you say on it — Period(.) If people object, there’s plenty of room in the blogosphere for them to create their own forum. And I like the last panel of this strip — the look on Mo’s face as she swallows her own angst to listen to a friend’s is painfully familiar. Great job, as always!

  4. Al, et al. says:

    Ok, so we have the new episode. Now I’m totally depressed. Sorry I said anything. I am, of course, kidding. Great ep, as always. Love the facial expressions on everyone, esp. Toni.

  5. Dianne says:

    Mo and Clarice are getting back together after all these years, maybe? Please? Or at least moving in together platonically since they both need to get away from their exes really badly. The suspense is killing me. I know AB’s gotta do what she’s gotta do, but I’m hoping she can get back on a every 2 weeks DTWOF schedule sometime soon. Once a month is just not enough.

    The news report in the background is wonderful too. Wilding supreme court justices. Perfect.

  6. bellemalheur says:

    love it !

    i think it’s ridiculous that someone started hoopla over the usage of the word ‘man’ in that post. do they not have better fish to fry in the world of gender equity than yelling at AB’s vernacular in her own blog. Clearly Alison is the foremost facilitator of patriarchy…..

    also, AB i do hope you’re not offended in my referring to you as a fish…. 😀

  7. Al, et al. says:

    Bellemalheur– What do you say if you’re vegan? “Better beans to braise”?

  8. Alex the Bold says:

    Oh, Mo. If only you knew how many of us would be ready to take your call.

    Here’s my advice Mo:

    Change the locks. Smash Sydney’s iFone into about two pieces. Hurl both pieces out the window. Follow them with all her clothes, books, writing, computer disks, etc.

    Step outside.

    Douse pile with lighter fluid.

    Go inside, pack a bag, put the cat in her carrier and then put bag and cat in car.

    Set the pile on fire.

    Drive away.

    Don’t look back.

    SydNEY
    CheNEY

    Coincidence? I think not.

  9. ryan says:

    Mo! I want to hug you!

  10. Daisy says:

    Your politics are just so cool, calling those Supreme Court justices a gang!

    I love how you illustrate the ways language is used to prop up some people and denigrate others.

    **kisses and hugs**

  11. JenK says:

    Wow, Alison, this is AMAZING. Where to begin?

    Mo & Sydney – Syd looks like she’s checked out, or can’t deal. Maybe it’s temporary, or maybe she’s on her way out.

    Clarice – OMG, what is with that “Do you want to do something?” Is Clarice trying to build a friendship, or is her “attracted to the unavailable” kicking in – with Toni as Ms Unavailable?

    Toni & Clarice – WTF is this “I can’t keep living here if you’re involved with someone” agreement?!?!? Maybe they’re scared of how they’d feel if the other brought someone home, but damn, talk about UNREALISTIC much???? Not spending time with friends, etc, because it MIGHT lead to being involved is going to cause more isolation and pain. Not to mention the having sex is low on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Choosing to live without (partnered) sex thing is one thing, but /having/ to do so is another entirely.

    Raffi – LOVE that his voice changed, and Mo’s reaction. Crazy grins abound 🙂 🙂

    Clarice spilling – Yay Clarice for asking for help.

    Mo’s reaction – Yay Mo for acting like a grown-up!

    And yeah, the Supremes is good. 🙂

  12. JenK says:

    Oh – more on Maslow’s hierarchy is at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow's_hierarchy_of_needs.

  13. Kelli says:

    Another wonderful episode. I kind of feel like I got a twofer this week, with both an archive episode and a new one. I’m so new to this comic, and while I’ve gone as far back in this blog as I can, I’m disappointed in the presentation at PlanetOut, and wish there were a better way to read all the books-full worth of archives.

    I’m disappointed (but not surprised) that the Boredom/Wafflebooks where I purchased Fun Home didn’t carry any of the DTWOF treasuries. I guess I’ll just have to go to Amazon; there just aren’t any indy bookstores around my side of town.

  14. fruitfemme says:

    Hey Kelli–no need to go to amazon. Try firebrand instead: http://www.firebrandbooks.com/store/commerce.cgi?product=Cartoons&cart_id=302331.4297

    great strip.

  15. Erica says:

    This is getting depressing. Is there anything exciting on the horizon for any of the characters? How is Jezanna? Maybe there is something good in her life.

  16. Grisha says:

    Dean Haverstick should talk some F*****g sense into Mo.

  17. ksbel6 says:

    I also like the 2 episodes in one week deal…keep the archives coming I say! I remember the first time I saw that Batwimmin t-shirt…I really want one of those 🙂

    I would like to see Toni and Clarice patch things up though. It is sad to me that no one in the strip seems to make it for the long haul.

    Kelli—Firebrand is the best way to get the old DTWOF books. I’ve been reading the strip in Funny Times for years and just decided to get the books over the past few months…they are definitely worth owning. Especially when Alison pops up with one of her “name all these butts” games 🙂

  18. judybusy says:

    Alex, I totally agree with you! I couldn’t believe Sydney totally blew off couples counseling. I just don’t think she cares!

  19. Rohmie says:

    I know that this has been commented on a thousand times since it is one of the big defining characteristics of her strip, but I love how Alison Bechdel ties each episode into the moment. It’s more impressive when she does it in flashbacks, meticulously researching old clothes and hairstyles – 1978 is 1978, 1982 is 1982 – but it’s still a lot of work to keep the strip up to date and in the moment. She does it subtly and logically without having characters step out of character. For instance, of course Sydney would have to have an iPhone. And Raffi’s voice changing is in stark contrast with so many strips in which everyone is frozen in time forever and rapidly become anachronisms.

    The Michael Moore movie mentioned is excellent, BTW.

    And, hey, I think they *should* call Carlos. I miss him.

  20. Jana C.H. says:

    Kelli– Another option is to walk into your favorite independently-owned bookstore and ask them to order AB’s books for you. That’s how I got almost all of them.

    Jana C.H.
    Seattle
    Saith WSG: Man, sprung from an ape, is ape at heart.

  21. Sir Real says:

    Heh, I recall a strip (coming up soon in the old strip recap) where Mo was whining to Clarice on the phone, asked Clarice how she’s doing, then promptly cut her off when the response was `Great!…’. Either Mo has learned to put her own stuff on hold, or else misery seizes her attention more than content.

    Or maybe Mo’s is embarrassed that she hadn’t guessed Sydney’s infidelity before… or, cause if someone else knows about it, it’s more real…

  22. DeLandDeLakes says:

    I love Raffi’s new look. He looks like he’s been taking some bong hits for Jesus himself (maybe while camped out in the basement, listening to some vintage Black Sabbath.:)

  23. TiredLitMama says:

    I like to see Mo dialing on the old landline phone suspended just over Sydney’s now empty “iFone” box.

  24. Deb says:

    Awwwwwwwwwww, the pain I feel for everyone in this episode. Gawd!

  25. panorama says:

    the hose pipe held by Tony looks like a dropping gun, or am I wrong?

  26. Duncan says:

    JenK — the reason Toni asked Clarice if she had any plans for tomorrow night was not that she was sending out any kind of reconciliatory feeler; she wanted to make sure Clarice could get Raffi after his all-day field trip. Which seems fine to me; in the past Clarice often was too busy to handle such scutwork. It’s Clarice who’s having second thoughts, but then she’s not dating anyone. (I don’t think there’s much future for Gloria and Toni, myself, at this point they’re kinda stuck with each other because they broke up each other’s couple for each other … but we’ll see.) Still, those who complain that by breaking up Toni and Clarice, somehow Alison is encouraging stereotypes of lesbians — well, I have two reactions. One is that Toni and Clarice have always had a rocky relationship, which they always tried to shore up with self-conscious landmarks — the joint checking account, couples counseling, the union ritual, having a baby, buying a house, the civil union, the civil marriage — which tided them over until the next crisis. So I’ve never seen them as exactly a monument to monogamy. Second, by breaking up they *are* acting like the heterosexuals so many Homo-Americans want to emulate: get divorced today, beat the spring rush!

    In addition to other details noted in the strip, how about Raffi reading The Dangerous Book for Boys? Katha Pollitt had a good piece on that thing in The Nation recently.

  27. Will says:

    The silhouettes in panel six are priceless–especially the hose pointed at Clarice. Similarly, the diagonal line of family members in panel ten, each in a different room, is a great (and awfully concise!) image. It sort of sums up their family situation and blows it all wide open in one tiny frame.

    Is it just me, or does Mo look like 10 years older recently?

    Looks like Alison’s back to making Sydney as hateful as possible. I was almost getting to like her for a bit…but now we’re back to no-feelings-no-vulnerability Sydney.

  28. spoil sport says:

    I have three sons, and I love watching Raffi’s transformation, fron infant to young man. I think you captured Raffi’s changing voice, with his new hairstyle.

  29. Lauren Z says:

    Hah! The iFone box is a fabulous touch! Anybody paying attention – oh say the last few years – knows that Sydney covers up her pain and feelings with stuff stuff stuff.

    But it’s all imploding. It’s about time. Had to happen. But I do question the “agreement”. How you a couple agree to be together logistically but agree to not have meaningful romantic or otherwise type of relationships with others? Its kind of F’d up. Its like saying “If we can’t be together, then I’m not going to let you be with anybody else. So there!” Doesn’t make sense and doomed to failure.

  30. Ed says:

    Poor Raffi. Puberty and a broken household. I’d say he’s either depressed, lethargic, too cool for it all or just a mixture.

    Oh god, he’ll be having sex soon won’t he????

  31. shadocat says:

    Mo and Clarice! “Together Again…” that’s what I’m hoping for!

    Great background re:”The Sub-prime Court”.

    And Raffi’s voice is changing! God,I feel old.

    I’m just glad Alison hasn’t killed the other cat yet…

  32. Deborah says:

    1. Fab strip, as always. Thanks!
    2. As a Californian, I find “you guys” totally gender neutral. When I taught summer school in New Orleans, however, I was called out for being sexist, and told to use “Y’all” instead.

  33. a different Emma says:

    I love switching between the archive episode and the current one to see how Mo has changed — and remained.

    That thing about Mo’s reaching out and still finding herself falling into the role of comforter instead of comforted is so familiar it’s kind of creepy.

    New gadgets and old habits. Sigh. Seems like a lot of stuff might Die Hard this summer.

    Definitley go with ordering through an indie book store as option one, and save firebrand as option two.

  34. a different Emma says:

    And dig Raffi’s eyebrows! Yowza!

  35. shadocat says:

    AND he’s reading “The Dangerous Book For Boys”—how un-pc of him!

  36. anonymous says:

    Great episode – in response to comments about whether anything exciting / less depressing on the horizon – what’s going on with Mo’s library career? I was so excited about that plotline, and I assume many folks have seen the much buzzed-about press about the “hip librarian” crowd. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/08/fashion/08librarian.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

    Lots of the links and references in there yeild other great sites, blogs, even a librarian comic strip! http://www.unshelved.com/archive.aspx?strip=20070709

  37. Eva says:

    Alison, excellent use of tiny pin-pricks for eyes on everyone in this strip, as it expresses so well the exhaustion and fear they are all experiencing.

    There were some tender moments between Sydney and the “gnarled little shrew”. (So weird feeling Sydney’s experience and Mo’s hurt at the same time…such is the life of a comic strip reading voyeur.)

    I understand Mo wanting Sydney to own her psychological motivations, but this relationship is probably not going to last much longer, since Sydney can’t even make attending couple’s therapy a priority, much less work on the relationship. Their experiences are so different now, it’s like they’re not even in the same relationship!

  38. Norwegian Black Metal says:

    Who really still gets after people for gender-specific vernacular slang that’s known to be innocuous anyways? My hometown fought that war a long time ago. There was no winner except for the mortgage companies and the local cynics who had a field day with it anyhow.

    Maaaan, New York is hot tonight. Time to hit LES and grab a pint.

  39. sillipitti says:

    The torture builds… I am sooo sympathetic, Alison, to your need to free that energy, creativity, and time that 50% of dropped strips represents, but as you’ve done that, you’ve upped the narrative pressure, going from more-or-less independent vignettes (like the archive strip you just put on the site), to a soap-opera-like “omigod! what happens next? **can’t wait**”. You’re really toying with your addict playthings, aren’t you?

    And it’s no comfort to us Otakus that the quality of the strip is the phenomenal–it only makes us want the next hit sooner!

  40. ready2agitate says:

    Brilliant.

    Oh, and reason #934857 why I love Alison Bechdel: “…And defecated on widely valued social and economic policies of the last century.” Guffaw-haw-haw! (I mean, yes, it’s actually true — sad — but DTWOF is still majorly cathartic for me regarding the sad state of affairs in our world. I mean, it just helps me get through my day, as Ani DiFranco says….)

    I, too, was starting to like Sydney, especially when she was emotional when Vanessa died (or was it Virginia sorry!). Now her immature ways are just grating. But the fact that Mo is with someone so totally different from herself is kind of reassuring, just b/c it’s so much like real life. So, I’m agnostic on their r-ship, as I am about Toni & Clarice. They are truly complex characters. Bravo, AB! (I mean, Brava!) : )

  41. anon-eponymous says:

    I think the usage that offends us is the usage that was used to hurt us when we were younger.

    I _hate_ “guys and gals” or “guys and girls” because it was always used by people in contexts where I was the only female, or one of just a very few, and the people who said it always simpered in a way that drew obnoxious attention to me.

    I like “guys” just fine, ’cause the people around me almost never attach any gender to it, except when they suddenly feel self-conscious about their usage.

    I _hate_ being called a “lady” because I was often chastised for being unladylike as a kid. In my family, it carries a whole freight of class and race distinction which makes me queasy. And, there’s a particular saying, “Horses sweat, men perspire, ladies only glow.”, which I heard from my mother often when I was young, which I really hate, because it implies that women are less corporeal, or at least must hide the fact that they are real human beings who take on extremely physical tasks, like childbearing. My mother’s physical condition is quite bad as a result of having so many children—for the last twenty years both my parents have pretended this wasn’t so and as a result she has not gotten proper medical attention. However, if I were at a royal audience, and it was announced, “Ladies and Gentlemen, Her Majesty”, I would not have any negative associations as the context would be so different.

    When I was in my early 30s, a professor called me “the girl with the chalk”, and I wasn’t offended because he was a rather elderly person and meant nothing by it accept that he didn’t know my name. I wouldn’t remember the incident at all, except that it was associated with a funny story. However, I would be offended if I were called a “girl” by someone nearer my age, or who was using “girl” to diminish me.

    I don’t think anyone can get it right, because different usages are used to hurt didn’t people in different contexts. A usage that one person thinks is just fine will upset someone else who has had a different experience.
    For that reason, I don’t think anybody can really pronounce on what is _the_ appropriate usage.

    Makes it all very difficult, doesn’t it?

  42. Aunt Soozie says:

    I love “what is so erotically compelling about that gnarled little shrew” Way to tell off your cheatin’ girlfriend, Mo.
    I give you a high five for that nasty little bit of business.

    But, as a clinician, I gotta say, Mo…it’s time honey, kick her to the curb and move on. She’s walking out the door, nixing therapy and minimizing her accountability for her deception. Don’t you deserve to be treated with kindness and respect? that’s what I’d tell you if you were in my office…just like that.

    And please…Raffi “taking some bongs hits for Jesus himself”!!! That is hysterical!

  43. allakimbo says:

    I would like to point out that anon-eponymous doesn’t seem to mind one bit when I call her my girlfriend! But who knows? Maybe I’ll soon find I’m wrong!

  44. Al, et al. says:

    Am I getting too involved here, or is it significant that these “unavailable older women in postions of authority” (Madeline and the dean) are also both cancer survivors? And does any of this relate to Sydney’s long-ago bailing on the ailing Thea? (Syd left her for Madeline, right?) And is it significant that Sydney is so self-centered that she couldn’t deal with illness (MS in that case) when she was healthy, but is more interested in cancer survivors than in her own lover now that she is a survivor herself? Or do I just need to get a life?

  45. shadocat says:

    Yep, so much going on;

    Now all we have to do is wait another month…

  46. Defining My Self says:

    “eviscerated language and defecated on widely valued social policies”

    The attempt to move language away from male default is, clearly, a defeated battle. Alison just did the two-step on its dust with her “I’m attached to it, so there” stance. Of course you’re all attached to it — misogyny is what’s normal. But if you don’t equally use “you gals” to refer to a group of mostly men, you’re bullshitting yourself and everyone around you. In every other context, guy means male.

    What’s next, rolling back African-American to colored? Because, believe me, there’s huge chunks of the population that were real attached to it, too.

    When people who consume your art tell you they find certain kinds of expression oppressive, I wouldn’t call your choice to deliberately continue it judicious elasticity. You have every right to speak however you wish, and so do we in protest. This is not a kingdom (and I use that word purposefully). And I say, to all those reading, Alison’s defense of a woman-diminishing form of address does not speak for me or the feminists I know.

  47. Clarice+Mo - Happily Ever After??? says:

    I cannot believe this – but the last two panels, Mo calling Clarice, is exactly what I would expect to see if AB decided to foreshadow a future relationship btwn Mo and Clarice.

    Months ago, I pondered who is the perfect partner in the DTWOF world for Mo and Clarice fit perfectly, because her strengths AND weaknesses perfectly compliment Mo’s.

    They are as close to the perfect Yin/Yang combo in the DTWOF universe, but alas I was only indulging myself and I never thought I’d see it happen.

    Clarice’s biggest strengths are (when things are going well) she’s driven, she’s focused on her career and making a difference

    The synergy between Clarice and Mo would turn Clarice into a dynamo, and Mo as well as both enjoy the big benefit of being part of a happy, well-adjusted relationship.

    If Mo and Clarice were to become involved, Mo would finally have someone to focus her like she needs, and Clarice would have someone who could compensate for her workaholic ways AND BOTH would have a partner that sees their weaknesses as good things.

    I can’t imagine Clarice NOT getting Mo’s political anxiety.

    Rather than dismiss it, Clarice would quickly focus her.

    For Clarice this would be especially easy. Since Mo and she share the same political feelings.

    This would feed into Clarice’s sense of being a successful driven person. Watching Mo transform from an ADD like character into someone who gets things done and things that Clarice cares about just as much would be an endless adrenaline rush for her.

    Mo in turn would be able to compensate for Clarice’s emotional disconnect characteristic of the “doer” personality.

    Mo does love doing this. It’s part of her attraction to Sydney. Sydney though is far more reptilian than human, and instead of creating a 2 way connection, Mo created a parasitic connection in which Sydney drained Mo of her energy and gave little in return.

    What we see now is the end result.

    I’m keeping my fingers crossed. It would be so cool, and a thrill to read the beginnings of a Clarice/Mo matchup.

    Maybe this is AB’s first steps in giving all fans a “happily ever after” ending to this very long running strip – that in terms of quality and writing long since passed any comic of similar talent (Bloom County for example.)

  48. Clarice+Mo - Happily Ever After??? says:

    I wonder if AB reads these comments.

    If so I wouldn’t be surprised if she decided to make a point with Sydney.

    I for one was getting tired of all the people making excuses for her clear and undeniable selfish behavior.

    How anyone could see her has “caring” beyond that which some find entertaining escaped me.

    She always struck me as a reptile – almost a sociopath – luckily for Mo though – one who expressed her anti-societal feelings with massive debt not killing anyone.

    I wonder if she was put off by how many people felt something in common with Sydney if she had meant her to be an unlikeable character.

    I can just imagine being a bit flummoxed by all the posts that said – in effect – Sydney was not selfish, mean or cruel or even a liar for wanting to maintain her space and boundries.” yeah uh ok.

    So perhaps she said enough. I can’t be subtle anymore. It’s obscuring just how cruel and selfish I intended Sydney to be.

    So rather than the expected “I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I’ll never do it again. You’re right Mo. Please don’t cry it makes me cry” schtitk that most probably expected, she made her act like the reptile she always has been ith the characteristic selfishness and cold emotions she always have, but many missed, because AB never took it out of context.

    Her alone, not in a group or social setting, just Sydney and Mo. Sydney acts her true self. She sees NO reason to ameliorate her behavior to prevent any onlooker/friend from seeing the snake inside Sydney’s skin.

    It’s a dose of reality really.

    Most anyone who’s been in more than one relationship has been with someone like that.

    We learned a lot of hard, painful lessons, and all too often many became cynical and cold themselves.

    Will that happen to Mo – I doubt it. I imagine AB has something special for everyone in the future in her regard.

  49. AB "you guys" is right says:

    It’s a regional thing too.

    Where I grew up it was a ‘very generic way’ to refer to a group of people.

    It did NOT refer to the gender make up.

    And regarding using ‘man’as an expilitive – C’mon where is the “revolutionary wimmin spirit” that can see what this does to that word.

    By turning it into a “generic explitive” it’s diminished, belittled as word.

    Now rather than just referring to what many see as the “oppressor gender” it is a silly word used to express transient frustration or annoyance.

  50. JenK says:

    Duncan – I asked what was up with Clarice thinking that Toni was going to suggest something. I did not mean to suggest that /Toni/ was missing Clarice, only that /Clarice/ may be wanting to get back together with Toni.

    Remember that the only thing that’s made a dent in Clarice’s workaholism since Raffi was born was a) Raffi and b) the thought that Toni might leave. (I don’t mean she’s available to Toni – I mean that if Toni focuses on someone else, Clarice panics. Jealousy, not devotion.)

  51. Aunt Soozie says:

    The “you guys” thing is regional.
    and it is gender neutral according to my dictionary.

    in re the regional part…my paramour, who was raised in the South, detests “you guys”…it hurt her ears. She was used to hearing y’all but says that you guys has entered the Southern vocabulary and is fixin’ to take over.

    I use “you guys” often and heard it often growing up. Of course I head “youse” too and have refrained from that one.

    The word guys doesn’t offend my feminist sensibilities. I also use the word women…though some feminists do not due to it’s origin. Unlike using “Gentlemen” to address a mixed audience or saying mankind when you mean humankind, both of which I’d never do and would note as archaic if I heard someone do so, to my ears, and frankly, my mouth, “guys” is gender neutral. So guys…that’s my two cents right there.

  52. Aunt Soozie says:

    uhm, I HEARD youse…I don’t use youse.

  53. AK says:

    Mo’s face as drawn in the first and last main panels, represents some of the best work with expressions I’ve seen in the last few strips. *Really* good work implying movement and suppressed/controlled emotion.

    I could stab Sydney. And I’ve been known to like the occasional Syd. I mean, really, if rowing’s more important than your long-term relationship, then just call it like it is and get the eff out. Someone. Anyone. I don’t care which one. Just GO.

    And I really feel for Raffi.

  54. Pamela R says:

    @ Al, et al: Your comments on Madeline’s interest in women who had her condition really rang true to me- thanks for that insight!

  55. Straight Ally says:

    Alison, thanks for posting the new episode (and the archived episode)!

    Folks,from my perspective, Mo called Clarice because Clarice is a dear old friend, not as a foreshadowing of a romance. But then, what do I know?

  56. Straight Ally says:

    In fact, it’s not clear whether Mo asked to speak with Clarice in particular; Toni too is a dear old friend.

  57. elisgem says:

    i love “the dangerous book for boys” and the way raffi sits there devouring it with the food.
    another wonderful strip! so glad you messed up so we got two 🙂

  58. shadocat says:

    But Clarice is her ex—-am I the only one who has done te “sex with the ex” thing?

  59. kellan says:

    Yeah, I don’t really think that Clarice and Mo could be heading for happily ever after, just because they’ve been there, done that – and it didn’t work out.

    In terms of when C+M-HEA (looks like one of those equations the blog got so excited about awhile ago) said, “I can’t imagine Clarice NOT getting Mo’s political anxiety,” isn’t that exactly what happened the first time around? I don’t have the first books with me, but I remember a scene in which Mo is whining about her white liberal guilt after not voting in some presidential election that Reagan won (must have been 1984), and Clarice, exasperated, pulls on her shitkickers and goes stomping over to Tanya’s (is that her name?) instead. Maybe the intervening years of political deception and disillusionment have worn Clarice down to Mo’s level? But I’m not sure that would be a good thing, just because Clarice has always been so much more action-oriented than Mo, even when she was so depressed.

  60. Berkeley Expat says:

    AB, Please, please, please, do something to ease the pain we, your adoring readers, are going through, next time! (I felt this avalanche of hurt rush through me while reading this episode. Too much!)

    On an up-note: To you newbies, out there, find yourself a copy of “The Indelible Allison Bechdel.” I thought, for sure, that I’d been saturated after hunting down and reading “Fun Home,” and every DTWOF book in the series. Then I happened upon the “Indelible” book in one of my web searches…. Here I am, going on 47 years old, hauling out this book to show my various friends AB’s “self-portrait” in the DTWOF Factory — and making a perfect fool of myself by laughing out loud, yet again, as I show them. Got some quizzical looks from my friends — but I’m confident they’ll figure it out. I just hope I get the book back.

  61. Al, et al. says:

    Oh, boy (or man, or what have you), are we really going to go through the wole “guys” thing again? Please, PLEASE stop telling us what we should be offended about! (That about which we should be offended?) You go ahead and Define Yourself, but leave me out of it!

  62. Al, et al. says:

    Whoops. I meant “whole”, not “wole”. Must caffeinate.

  63. kellan says:

    I agree, Al, et al.

  64. mysticriver says:

    Defining My Self: This isn’t a kingdom, but it’s not a democracy or republic either; it’s an artist’s personal blog.

    AB is an artist and her vocation is to create, and we as the rest of the world either are into her creations or we aren’t. She can *choose* to change her work – or herself – to meet other’s expectations or she can tell us to jump in a lake, but she doesn’t *have* to do anything. If she wants to use language that others find offensive or post photos of her toenail clippings or whatever, that’s fine – you either read it or you don’t.

    We as fans may think we “own” AB or that she owes us or whatever, but this is an artist-audience relationship, and telling the artist to change isn’t part of this sort of relationship. I’m pretty sure AB would be creating the strips and writing blog posts even if nobody were reading, because as an artist that’s what she’s driven to do. A true fan would respect the whole person – or take what they wanted and leave the rest. Whine at the band that you like their old stuff better when they want to play songs from their new album, but if you truly are a fan of the band, you’ll at least listen to what they have to say.

    AB herself actually had a fun take on the whole artist-fan relationship in a strip from one of the calendars (now found in “The Indelible Allison Bechdel.”) Mo is excited because her favorite author is coming to read at Madwimmin, but she slowly becomes disillusioned as she finds her idol doesn’t match the image she envisioned after reading her books(“she drinks Diet Rotsi?”)

    When we respond to an artist, we want them to be exactly like us in all things and feel somehow betrayed if they say or do or are something we don’t agree with. But as with any other healthy relationship, it’s okay to have differences.

    Anyway, why quibble over “you guys”, instead of reflecting how great it is to be addressed by our favorite artist at all? If AB called us “you gnarled little shrews” I know a lot of us would still show up here to read!

  65. kellan says:

    Warning!!! Seriously off-topic comment to follow!!

    For anyone who was following the discussion about Janis in the comments on episode #509, SF Weekly has a (frankly enormous) article about the subject of trans kids and puberty blockers. The kid at the center of the article was adopted at birth by a lesbian couple. http://www.sfweekly.com/2007-07-11/news/girl-boy-interrupted/1

    I’m not suggesting that the article be discussed here, since Mo’s and Clarice’s problems are pressing enough, but some conversation about the topic is still ongoing on the #509 page in the strip archive. And I just wanted to put the article out there for anyone who’s interested in the subject.

  66. mysticriver says:

    Oh yeah, loved “Dangerous Book for Boys” and loved the way Raffi does that yelling-while-still-holding-the-phone-rather-than-putting-the-phone-down-and-walking-into-the-next-room thing that teenagers do so well.

  67. Alex K says:

    Are you my mother?

    Sydney to Madeleine.

    And, more poignantly, Mo’s realisation that no, Clarice is not.

    I hate those moments in which I have to accept that there is nothing and no one to guard me, that the problem is no one else’s to deal with. Poor phoebes, fledged and flown.

  68. Hayley says:

    Pittsburghese “Yinz” is pretty gender neutral. It makes me want to gag, but it is gender neutral.

    Love the strip, AB.

  69. shadocat says:

    Re: the “sex with your ex” deal-
    My curernt partner , was my second girlfriend, about 10 years ago. Or relationship ended, because then, we both had a slight case of commitment phobia, and honestly, still had some growing to do.

    But we always remained friends, and one night in 2003, I went to her place to watch a movie, and the rest, as they say, is “herstory”.

    We just celebrated 4 years together–so far, so good…

  70. NLC says:

    Concerning Raffi’s new look:

    Is it just me, or has it seemed to anyone else that in recent strips that Raffi has started looking an awful lot like the late-pre-pubescent version of our heroine in _Fun Home_?

  71. Andrew B says:

    Alex K — exactly! Except there’s nothing wrong with a mentor, if you can find one. I love it that the Dean has a DRAGON boat crew. D’you suppose she wears her pearls while she’s paddling, to intimidate the opposition? I have been hoping Sydney would strike up a friendship with the Dean ever since they were in that cancer walk together.

    And for those who hate Sydney for walking out on couples counselling — remember her toxic mother, and her “Buddhism, Psychotherapy, and Compassion” conference? There’s no way Syd’s going to play the therapy game. She can’t possibly trust it.

    I am really glad to see Mo getting out of her own head and paying attention to someone else for a change. There is hope for her yet.

    Now if only Clarice could do the same. She has got to make a serious play to hang onto her relationship with Toni. She can’t just keep letting it fall apart when she obviously cares. And she and Raffi had a great thing going for a while there, before she got so caught up in her relationship troubles. I don’t think there is anyone in the strip who’s exactly right for Raffi (which makes him a real adolescent), but Clarice when she’s paying attention easily beats Carlos.

    Duncan — that’s what monogamy is. You work at it. It can be good. Work is good. (Of course “can be good” does not imply obligatory.)

    I don’t know what’s going to happen with Toni, but she has no future with Gloria. Gloria is nothing but the physical manifestation of Toni’s boring side.

  72. ready2agitate says:

    “…and telling the artist to change isn’t part of this sort of relationship.”

    Amen, mysticriver, Awomen.

  73. Riotllama says:

    Re- all the furor over you guys.
    First off, Aunt Soozie- I say yous, I’m from Philly and proud of it. i wasn’t always. Growing up, I thought my accent made me sound stupid. I even tried to adopt a Canadian accent in my teens after living with some for a summer and deciding they sounded hot. Now I recognize my accent shame for the classist bullshit it was and gladly pronounce my yous and wooder and shtreet. (although apparently I’m stuck with canadian versions of “sorry” and “about”)

    Secondly, while I consider defining myself’s arguments boring second-wave minutae, the kid has a point.
    (the usage of “kid” here does not equal child. In my community, kid is used to refer to someone within the community, a friend of yours, be they of your age group or not. as in “The kidz are alright.” I acknowledge that some might find this usage belittling which is why I’m explaining its context. It also lets one avoid using gendered pronouns.)
    As was pointed out earlier int he comments, a great number of people feel comfortable and grew up with using colored as the polite way to refer to African Americans and would be happy to have an excuse to continue doing so. This is uncool.
    Likewise, who among us does not cringe to hear the middle schoolers on the bus calling this and that distasteful thing “gay”? The word gay, they will argue, does not refer to the homos, but has become common vernacular for stupid, tacky. be that as it may, we know that this usage is hurtful, is gaybashing, and is uncool.

    Thirdly, when you are watching planet unicorn (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omhB15G2dY4)with your flaming friends and they say “OMG! This is soooo gay!” you all know it is being used as an amazing compliment. (watch the link now. it is amazing)
    There’s also the example of it being ok for black folks to use the n word between themselves and not for anyone else to use it.
    We can glean from these examples that words, when used by those they are meant to oppress can be subverted and reclaimed.

    Therefore, I posit that A.B.’s usage of you guys is perfectly fine as it is used in full knowledge of its implications. If your friendly neighborhood male-identified person was the one using such language, Defining, then yeah, give the kid some learning, but in this case, go get yr underpants in a bunch about something more productive, like my horrible punctuation and sentence structure.

    I don’t believe in things like, we’ll deal with sexism after the revolution, but seriously folks, priorities a little?

  74. ready2agitate says:

    Love how Mo’s posture/stance in the second panel mirrors Clarice’s later on — both women are outraged.

    Are you my mother? I was thinking that Sydney was reminding Molison of her own mom – she’s checked out and defended (see Fun Home)….

  75. ready2agitate says:

    Planet Unicorn Heyyy!!!! (Thx Riollama! – what a fun Friday I am having! : )

  76. thistle says:

    Apparently unlike a lot of people here, I’ve always liked Sydney. But she just seemed incredibly cold here. It feels like she and Mo are pretty definitively over–which makes me sad.

  77. Riotllama says:

    Also, in relation to people remarking on how raffi looks like AB’s childhood renderings of herself, that hair is just the fashion right now. 70’s surfer mope redux. ron’s still got it in the new harry potter.

  78. Aunt Soozie says:

    uh oh…you used the name Molison…did I start something or are you just ready to agitate?
    I do (think I) see Alison in Mo’s expressions this episode. I know she’s her own model but still…excellent illustrations, really beautifully drawn.

    Shado…that’s disgraceful. What kinda lesbo goes back and sleeps with an ex. oh, wait a minute…uhm, okay,well after taking a good look at that clustr map…you know I ain’t gonna give you my personal history here. maybe some other time. brave of you to spell it out honey…sharing with folks on every friggin continent. (clarification for shado’s lurker fan club…the preceding was said with total love and admiration)

    Riotllama…no offense intended. Yous can say yous. I never said it, even as a kid. Since you grew up in this town you know that each neighborhood in Philly had it’s own language. In South Philly, South Philly was known as sow-filly…like a pig and a horse.

    But, I think as a city we all say f-oh-n for telephone and wooder for water and awe-n for on. I’ve rid myself of wooder cause I did have some shame…but I still have a mild (to my ears)philly nasal twang that’s not going anywhere.

    I tend to call my little clients on using “gay”. Like if a kid complains (oh, and I mean kid in the traditional sense, wait, not a goat…oh you know…) about a parent being overprotective, not wanting the kid to be alone with a paramour, the kid might say of the parent’s concern, “that is so gay”.

    I might say, “nope, it’s not gay that their worried about, it’s totally hetero”.

    Of course if something like that happened and I was sitting there thinking “I am so darn witty”, the kid, with a puzzled expression might have said back to me, “what’s hetero?”

    But, truly, if you don’t know what “hetero” means…are you really ready to do the hetero wild thang? I say no, but then, I’m all opinionated like that.

    Some times I’ll poke like this… “It’s gay? Your teacher gave you an assignment on homosexuality for extra credit? Cool. Your school sounds really progressive. You’re so lucky.” but, you gotta say it with the right expression on your face or they might hit you…or worse, not come back.

  79. JJ says:

    All around, a great episode! We could tell by Rafi’s appearance that his voice would be lower.

    About “you guys” and other widely used expressions:

    Alison and anyone else has every right to use the words they want to use but other people don’t have to like it.

    “Guys” has always grated on me but maybe part of that is because I have always felt 100% female although not always the way some people would define female.
    In my opinion, it is not a gender neutral term.
    How would a man feel if someone came up to a mixed group of men and women and called them “hey girls”?

    This has been a long standing battle with me but one I have had to concede that I can’t win because the majority wants to keep using gender biased words.

  80. Aunt Soozie says:

    uhm, if you use their when you mean they’re…
    should you be allowed to have a license to practice psychotherapy?

  81. anuddafan says:

    {Am I getting too involved here, or is it significant that these “unavailable older women in postions of authority” (Madeline and the dean) are also both cancer survivors? And does any of this relate to Sydney’s long-ago bailing on the ailing Thea? (Syd left her for Madeline, right?) And is it significant that Sydney is so self-centered that she couldn’t deal with illness (MS in that case) when she was healthy, but is more interested in cancer survivors than in her own lover now that she is a survivor herself?}

    Al, this is a great observation. As a cancer survivor I can say yes, being with other survivors is often more comforting, comfortable and necessary than being with your own lover. I have many outlets for being with other survivors, even if we are not always talking specifically about it. There are things about having experienced cancer that no other person who has not can even imagine, even if they have gone through it with you, even if they try, even if they think they do.
    Something no other blogger has mentioned, and YAY Alison! Dragon Boating has become a way of recovery for many breast cancer survivors. There are entire teams of bc dragon boaters. If I wasn’t landlocked, with no lakes, I’d be right there with Sydney and the Dean!

    http://avalondragonboating.com/

    I picked this site to link to because they have a beautiful and right on description of why bc survivors dragon boat.

  82. Dianne says:

    While we’re matchmaking for cartoon characters…After thinking about it, the person who is right for Clarice is Harriet. Clarice is just what Harriet was looking for: someone energetic and engaged like Ellen but capable of intimacy like Mo. Also Clarice doesn’t seem to be all that into babies, but she can get into preadolescent kids (ie her and Raffi’s involvement in the 2004 election). So she could be helpful with Harriet’s kid, whose name I’ve forgotten.

    I’m not sure Mo and Sydney are really over, unfortunately. Remember, Mo doesn’t leave people. There’s this meme running around that Mo left Harriet over a VCR. She did not: she complained to Harriet about the VCR and Harriet decided to move out. And Syndey isn’t going to leave. Why should she? Mo gives her the implicit right to behave however she wants and acts as her free housekeeper. They won’t ever work it out, but they may stay together in limbo for a very, very long time.

  83. Jana C.H. says:

    I know others feel differently (as is their right), but I refuse to be called a “survivor” of breast cancer. I got sick, I had treatment, I got well. There’s a 20% chance I’ll get sick again, but if there were ONLY a 20% chance I’d ever again have another migraine, or siege of depression, or any of my other chronic ailments, I would certainly consider myself cured. We all react differently. I feel I have more in common with other migraine sufferers than I do with others who’ve had cancer. That doesn’t mean, however, that I’d necessarily want to sleep with one.

    Jana C.H.
    Seattle
    Saith WSG: Am I not the worst of Nature’s blunders?

  84. anuddafan says:

    If you had been in a car accident would you say you survived it? Would you then call yourself a survivor of a car accident? I only use the word survivor of bc for lack of a better term, but as a result of this conversation I am now more comfortable with it. I understand it better. I wish I could have walked away with your perspective, Jana, but I didn’t. We are all different for so many reasons. BTW after 7 years I only just began to thrive. Before I was just existing and trying to find ways to move on. Maybe Thriver? That isn’t as comfortable to say as survivor. We tend to use common words. New usages take a while.
    P.S. I didn’t say anything about sleeping with anyone else. I go to other survivors for friendship and support. I am monogamous in a 13 yr relationship, 3 of those as married.

  85. K.B. says:

    Mo should watch it. She’s not so far from the “gnarled little shrew” stage herself.

  86. Elisablue says:

    Jana C.H., I do completely agree.

    I don’t feel myself either as a cancer survivor,I just fell ill at one point in my life and got cured. But it certainly did change my perception of life as well as the perception of my body … and it made me understand that the frontier between health and sickness can be uncertain … as in a way is the frontier between life and death.

    Virginia Woolf wrote something very beautiful on illness, the title is On being ill, and I can’t resist quoting the first, beautiful, very long sentence of that essay ..

    ” Considering how common illness is, how tremendous the spiritual change that it brings, how astonishing, when the light of health go down, the undiscovered countries that are then disclosed, what wastes and deserts of the soul a slight attack of influenza brings to view, what precipices and lawns sprinkled with bright flowers a little rise of temperature reveals, what ancient and obdurate oaks are uprooted in us by the act of sickness, how we go down into the pit of death and feel the waters of annihilation close above our heads and wake thinking to find ourselves in the presence of the angels and the harpers when we have a tooth out and come to the surface in the dentist’s arm-chair and confuse his “Rinse the mouth – rinse the mouth” with the greeting of the Deity stooping from the floor of Heaven to welcome us – when we think of this, as we are so frequently forced to think of it, it becomes strange indeed that illness has not taken its place with love and battle and jealousy among the prime themes of literature”.

    Ok. Ahem.
    VW word’s are so breathtaking that’s it’s a little difficult to write anything after. I just wanted to add that I like Syd. I know she’s behaving like a, well, like the most uncaring, selfish person, but, well, I just like the way she’s drawn, like when she goes, looks at Mo before shutting the door up there … 🙂 … She is one exasperating and attractive woman, I would say.

  87. lisa says:

    Oh, I had just such a rush of love for DTWOF after reading this strip.

  88. LJ says:

    Kelli – Powell’s the portland independent bookstore carries the DTWOF books – and they are on the online site. It’s a great place…. http://www.powells.com

  89. Norwegian Black Metal says:

    Wait, is Raffi EMO? Noooooo….

  90. Jana C.H. says:

    Elisablue– The reason I didn’t find the discovery of my physical vulnerability transformative is that I learned that lesson so young that I don’t remember it. One of my chronic ailments is a genetic condition that gives me brittle bones. Between the ages of six and seven I had three broken legs and a broken collarbone. As far as I was concerned, broken bones were just a normal part of a surprising world.

    I have always been vividly aware of the fragility of the human body, which has made me quite the coward. A sensible coward, but a coward nonetheless. This has also given me an odd sort of courage, since I face actual injuries with exasperation rather than woe. “Oh rats! Another stupid broken bone! Another aching body part! Another set of pills to take!”

    Jana C.H.
    Seattle
    Saith JcH: At least my feet don’t hurt.

  91. Kelly says:

    I love you chicklet! Your pictures and words are so damn perfect it hurts sometimes. I wrote to you long ago in a zine called Oh! (I’m Batman). Anyway the Dangerous Book for Boys is a perfect touch. I just shelved this book two days ago in the Bangor Public Library (Maine) where I work. As always Ms. Bechdel you fucking rock!

  92. mlk says:

    I love the humor in the strip and on the blog! don’t have much to add to the whole language discussion except it seems valid arguments have been made that point in different directions. I’m relieved that some humor’s been brought to the whole controversy.

    oh, and I believe black people’s use of the “n” word to neutralize its venom isn’t serving the community too well just now — as I believe is being noted by columnists like Wm. Raspberry. ’bout time, in my opinion. maybe that use of the “n” word has outlived its usefulness?

    I agree that Sydney looks winsome in this strip and Mo’s the one who looks, well, shrewlike. an unfortunate side effect of such strong emotion.

    it remains to be seen whether Mo and Clarice could make it work. Mo’s matured quite a bit, is more active — I don’t think she’s missed voting since Reagan was elected in 1980 — and seems she’s come a long way in respect to being both less judgemental and guilt ridden. still, there’s that more recent Nader/Kerry difference of opinion between Mo and Clarice. it’s likely to be quite tense between those two during election years.

    I’m still hoping that Clarice can get past her jealousy and insecurity following Toni’s fling because she’s gonna have to do let that go if she wants to be with Toni. so far as I can tell, that’s what she wants and Toni’s waiting to see if Clarice will come through. not waiting, likes he’s tapping her foot and looking for action, but I think that if Clarice comes through, she’ll take her back.

    I’d like nothing more than to see them get back together AND for Clarice to pull her weight with household/parenting responsibilities. despite all the upheaval, I see a lot of love in that family.

    Mo . . . I’d like to see her ditch Sydney (without torching Sydney’s belongings) and do something daring — like see what’s up with Naomi (who may have moved away by now). maybe Naomi’s left the strip for good . . . or maybe she and David are kaput and she’s waiting in the wings. I’d love nothing more than to see a bi woman who’s been w/a man come back to loving a woman. something about seeing ourselves in the strip . . .

  93. CountessEntwistle says:

    Okay, first off…Mo needs to do this to Sydney’s iphone:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qg1ckCkm8YI

    Secondly…I for one wouldn’t mind seeing both Mo and Clarice start over relationship wise, maybe even with each other. BOTH Toni and Clarice have had opportunities to make things work, both have not done so. I realize that Clarice has made many mistakes, however Toni has made her fair share too. Their relationship has been a steady decline over the past few years, neither is really making much of an attempt (as far as I can see) to REALLY fix what’s wrong. Mo needs to leave Sydney. Change the locks, leave all her expensive stuff out on the lawn (preferably in the rain). Sydney obviously doesn’t care and/or takes Mo for granted. Leaving Sydney would serve as a huge wake up call, providing if Sydney even still cares. If she does, then it will make her want to sit down and TALK to Mo and hopefully fix it. If not, then Mo will be free to find someone else.

  94. Straight Ally says:

    How embarrassing. I thought that I knew most of the backstories, but I didn’t know that Clarice is one of Mo’s exes.

  95. Tera says:

    It’s about time for Mo to stand up for herself! She deserves better then the way Sydney treats her. It seems like Sydney has no insight into her behavior and how destructive it is. I can’t believe how grown up Raffi is! on the language note- I’m all for awareness around gendered language, and using non gendered alternatives, but sometimes you just need a phrase that fits- and “you guys” just flows off the tongue. there are just limited available phrases to refer to groups of people, and no matter how hard I try- I can’t stand “y’all Plus, having the characters use language that isn’t always “pc” is a reflection of the way real people talk. and art imitates life-right?

  96. Vanlibris says:

    what might also be interesting is to see the effect it would have on the friendship group of Mo, Clarice et al if one of the characters took on a new partner. The new partner having to fit in with the long-established group and learning years’ worth of in-jokes and so on. I’ve seen that scenario often and it can make for lots of drama, although I was lucky this time around. I married one of my best friends’ siblings, so I already knew most of the players (and all of the in-jokes). It telt a bit incestous at firt but no more so than picking up a date at a lesbian potluck.

  97. Jaibe says:

    I think the frame where Sydney is going out the door is *exactly* like the frame where she announces she’s going to a meeting rather than staying home the night Thea finds out she has MS. I don’t think she’s coming back.

    I agree with Dianne that Harriet and Clarice are right for each other — I’d like to see them both go back to being super-achievers. It was great when there were a few people in this strip who were actually professionally addressing the status quo instead just complaining about it. Though Mo & Sydney & Ginger are at least educating the masses, but nurturing is so trad female.

    And speaking of, I used to be offended by the anti-male slanted language thing, but I now am totally convinced it’s right. If you read old books that routinely refer to a citizen or scientist or programmer as male, now that it’s unfamiliar you can feel how distancing it is for a woman. We take a lot of our social cues at an implicit level. The same for populations who refer to each other as “boys” and “girls” — they are all disempowered (e.g. blue-collar, older women, black). Those of us who still use male-biased language are just showing our age, and I don’t think we should defend the habit. I’m still trying to break the habit of saying “guys” myself. We shouldn’t accept the fact we’ve internalised our own marginalisation.

  98. Jaibe says:

    I do hope Clarice and Mo at least go out and have dinner, maybe make a weekly habit of it. Why are we so cut off from our friends?

  99. mysticriver says:

    Amen Jaibe! Forget romance between Mo and Clarice, just having the two of them hang out for a long face to face conversation would be great.

    Other thoughts: how about Sparrow doing an intervention for her friends?

  100. mysticriver says:

    Just realized that last suggestion could be considered “telling the artist to change [her work]”.

    Withdrawn. 🙂

  101. Helene M. says:

    Anybody else remember when Electric Company led off with that woman yelling, “Hey, you guys!”?

    I never felt like she was only calling boys.

    Anyway, I’d have been reprimanded for using Youse (ignorant) or Y’all (an affectation unless used by someone from the south).

    You guys works.

  102. shadocat says:

    I find that y’all is divinely inclusive. It’s a contraction for “you all”, and if “y’all” bothers y’all so much, try the long version. I find when I ask most people what it is exactly what bothers yhem about the term, they generally say it sounds “stupid”. When pressed as to why it is “stupid”, they cite it’s general “southern-ness”. Because we all know southerners are stupid, right? Southerners like Flannery O’Connor, or Harper Lee, or William Faulkner—idjits all, fer sure.

    As jj said , one would not think of addressing a group of men as “you girls” and we would never say, “Hey women!” Why? Because, for some reason, that greeting would be insulting to them. So what, “you guys” is a compliment? Because everyone knows it sucks to be a girl and so much better to be a boy?

    You all can continue to address each other whatever way you’d like; I will continue to revel in my southern stupidity and continue to say Y’ALL.

  103. Veracious says:

    Good strip, well drawn.
    check out this website,
    it is like totally the
    opposite of yours.
    http://www.aimhigherbooks.com

  104. sunicarus says:

    Hey Y’all!

    shadocat~I like y’all and I’m a yankee. ;o) I think y’all is neutral and inclusive. I also like the fact that you listed my three favorite southern writers! Have you read the biography of the elusive Harper Lee? It’s title is simply, “Mockingbird.” I highly recommend it.

    I’m fixin’ to go to class. Hope y’all have a good weekend.

  105. Josiah says:

    The woman who yelled “HEY, YOU GUYS!!” on The Electric Company was none other than the amazing Rita Moreno. I have to confess that when I was little that exclamation used to scare me. It probably had something to do with the fact that The Electric Company was on after Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood — the transition from Fred Rogers’ soothing, comforting world to the brash, noisy Electric Company was too much for my four-year-old brain to take. A few years later I did grow to appreciate The Electric Company, especially “Letterman” and Morgan Freeman as Vincent the Vegetable Vampire. Actually, looking back on it The Electric Company had some pretty astounding talent, between Moreno, Freeman, and songs by Tom Lehrer.

    As for “y’all” sounding like an affectation: for generations, Southerners have been taught to lose their regional dialects in order to get around in educated circles. I think it would be a refreshing change if we accepted that different regional dialects all have something to contribute, and were willing to accept non-sexist language that has evolved naturally rather than trying to force awkward neologisms. As I see it, using “y’all” for the second person plural is the same as using singular “they”, and is greatly preferable to any invented substitute.

  106. Tim T. says:

    Apropos of nothing:
    In panel Five, does it look to anyone else as though Clarice is taking a clip in the head from a couple of 2×4’s? I dunno–maybe I’ve been spending too much time at the Comics Curmudgeon site…
    Best wishes to all.

  107. Rubicon says:

    I just keep waiting for Mo to lose her sh*t with Sydney, like she did way back when. You know, the time Harriet called her a liberal.

    I want Mo to really get mad , throw things, get in Sydney’s face.

    *sigh* Poor Mo, poor Clarice…

  108. shadocat says:

    oops, again,,, that’s supposed to to be “bothers them”. Only I would write a post trying to prove the intellegence of the Southern writer, and then misspell a simple word…

    and suncarious, yes I read “Mockingbird” and enjoyed it very much (although I read somewhere that Mizz Harper detests it thoroughly, an when referring to it, calls it “that awful book”).

  109. Jeffster83 says:

    Helene M! I haven’t thought about the electric company since sixth grade! Whoo! My fifth grade teacher brought a television so we could watch the very first episode. To have a TV in a classroom was very unusual in 1971, even in Southern California. We never watched the other episodes in class. I watched a few on TV at home, but just like Sesame Street, it was so overtly NYC-centric that I would rather read books.

    If I remember right, Rita Moreno’s character was always yelling up at “you gu-uys!” in an upstairs apartment for some misspelling they had committed on a flyer left on the stoop. I always thought she was yelling at a group of men, and fairly stupid ones, too. Who else would litter and commit poor English at the same time? Those same guys, or their sons, now have Internet access. They post comments in forums and other people’s blogs; which comments are not only homophobic, racist and sexist, but incoherent, poorly structured, and revoltingly spelled.

    “Hey you gu-uys! See you later!”

  110. Lauren Z says:

    “Guys” doesn’t get my goat for some reason. It has become such a generic word. I do however have a problem with “girl”. I’m 41 years old and still a “girl”. I think its the double standard of the use of “boy”. We would be very hard pressed to find the term “boy” used for a 41 year old male in some professional context, but could hear “girl” often in that context. It wasn’t until my husband and I were watching a tv show on HBO (six feet under) and he was talking about something about one of the actresses – one of the character’s mom – was AT LEAST late 50’s maybe early 60’s. He referred to her as a girl. It just sounded so freakin’ odd. But the the odd thing was his explanation. He grew up in a society (cult) of Jehovah’s Witnesses and the adults would use the term “woman” as a derogatory term. Like: “What did you put in this food, WOMAN?! Tastes’ awful” kind of comment. So he grew up with “girl” being a more kinder comment. Hard to imagine. It’s also hard to imaging someone referring to me as WOMAN that way. His sh!t would be out on the curb faster than you can say WO-MAN.

    Anyway – I wanted to throw out that girl thought I had.

  111. A Reader says:

    Change of thread here…

    There was a nice homage to Alison and Fun Home in the comic strip unshelved last week.

    http://www.unshelved.com/archive.aspx?strip=20070708

  112. --MC says:

    You know, “The Electric Company” was a hidden treasure for theatre geeks of a certain age during the 70s. I mean, the original cast included Bill Cosby, Rita Moreno and Skip Hinnant! The “Letterman” segments were animated by the Hubleys, and featured Gene Wilder, Joan Rivers, and Zero Mostel! Irene Cara was a member of the Short Circus!

  113. Becca says:

    I would like to confess that I not only shopped at Costco the other day, but I almost bought “The Dangerous Book…” For myself. Who is not a boy. Today. Thank you.

  114. Becca says:

    Incidentally, when you bolded the “unavailable older woman in positions of authority,” I felt like you were speaking right to me. It warmed the cockles of my little heart. Now I’m off to buy some books. And possibly a life.

  115. Jeffster83 says:

    “Boys” can be an in-group term, as in the phrases “poker night with the boys” and “the boys in the band”. Fred Flintstone and Ricky Ricardo would call themselves and their men friends “boys” just as much as they would refer to Wilma and Lucy and their friends as “girls”. Granted, poker night is not a professional context, but playing in an orchestra in a night club is.

  116. Al, et al. says:

    Ah, the Electric Company! Let’s not forget Mel Brooks and Tom Leher, both of whom showed up in animated form. Some episodes of the show are now available on dvd, by the way. I bought ’em for my kids, but ended up watching them myself.

  117. Doctor E says:

    And don’t forget Morgan Freeman as Easy Reader, the Phonics Pimp!

    As for this “guys” thing, it seems very simple to me. “Guys” can mean either a group of men, or a group of PEOPLE. Words can have more than one meaning. I don’t see a problem.

  118. Suzanonymous says:

    Maybe Mo will put the couples therapy session to good use on her own, to talk about how Syndey treats her. For that matter, to talk about why she continues to be freshly surprised every time at Syd’s behavior. Let’s hope there’s some advice like Aunt Soozie gave her.

    Andrew B, you said, “Now if only Clarice could do the same. She has got to make a serious play to hang onto her relationship with Toni. She can’t just keep letting it fall apart when she obviously cares.” But they have split up: they have separate wills and they only live in the same the house for financial reasons.

  119. Suzanonymous says:

    Isn’t there an irony intended with the dangerous boys book? A lot of the more active of the “dangerous boys” stuff actually was stuff we were into as girls. Looking at the table of contents, there’s a lot of science, history, and sports stuff I don’t see as dangerous, and the rest of it isn’t terribly alarming. We built a fort, made slingshots, tortured spiders and bugs, tormented little sisters :-(, made paper airplanes and boats… LOL…The most jarring thing is to read excerpts because they are so retro in tone I as a girl would have laughed at them in the 1960’s and ’70s. Definitely, and I wasn’t even much of a tomboy.

    Suzanne, going over her self-imposed internet fun time limit for the week. Sigh.

  120. holli says:

    I loved the Electric Company. Fave PBS show of all time. As a 4 year old, I fanatasized extensively about being a member of the short circus.
    ‘Guys’ doesn’t offend me(the strong responses gave me pause to give it some consideration), but I don’t use it. I tend towards ‘cuties’, ‘babies’, and ‘kittens’ for sexually mixed groups that I know well or socially (like my assistants).

  121. Pixie says:

    Oh dear, I’m afraid to confess that I did, in fact, buy “The Dangerous Book for Boys” & my son loves it so much, he takes it to camp every week to introduce to the other kids & counselors. (they change every week) AND, I call almost everyone, from peers to relatives to students of any gender, “Dude.”

    I also show my littler son youtube clips from The Electric Company pretty much daily.

  122. So UN-pc says:

    There are plenty of words in the English language that have both proper and every-day-use definitions. As one who grew up in the flurry of discussion about ebonics and the theory of the reclamation of certain words by those who were/are affected by them, I can only say that the limit to which certain words are acceptable speech depends upon the audience with which they are used; much in the same way that my friends and I can sit around and call each other dykes and fags and a whole slurry of other “offensive” words.
    Personally, I’m a little more emotionally grounded than to be offended by the word “man” or “guys” or any other male identifier. Perhaps its because I am mistaken for a dude on a daily basis. Perhaps its because my father saw nothing wrong with me playing Little League with the boys. Perhaps its because I can get behind the reclamation movement. Perhaps the Nintendo culture of plugging in and tuning out has created and entire generation of the completely semantically apathetic. Or maybe — just maybe — it doesn’t really matter and we should all just have a coke and a smile.
    I have no use for political correctness, here or elsewhere. I can thank Alison and those who have come before me for blazing a path of queerness to the bonfire of normalcy. I may look different. I may act differently. But I don’t FEEL different, and I’m certainly not going to speak differently.

    As a small aside, can any of you guys see the “bonfire” comment as a slogan for some Waco-esque lesbian anti-culture? 😉

  123. Jaibe says:

    Wow, we’ve been witnessed at! (for anyone who didn’t follow Veracious’ link…) Like the web bot though, decent voice synth.)

  124. Jaibe says:

    Speaking of sexism, I picked up a second-hand book called “Fun for Boys” from 1943 a few years ago which seems just like “Dangerous book…” I have it on my shelf because I thought it was so funny & retro to have to spell out what boys like (magic, ju jitsu, identifying planes, training your dog, etc., and guess what, chapter one is “The Secrets of Cartooning” by Chuck Thorndike.) But I guess if girls are interested in those sorts of things they *still* can’t have any gender-identity issues.

  125. Marshalldoc says:

    Jes’ like the Supremes & Vanilla Fudge:

    You keep me hangin’ on…

  126. Deb Levheim says:

    Totally off Topic (TOT?)–
    I am re-reading Fun Home because my wife and #1 son are off to AB’s home state to attend the Dyke Docs conference in Burlington (the wife is a Doc, I, a mere librarian). So, in re-reading, I realized how much of AB’s life and her re-telling of her fathers life is bound in the classics of literature! I have been thinking of starting a reading list based on the books in Fun Home, I think it would be great to read (or reread) some of these in the context of the beautiful telling of Fun Home. Here is a partial list:
    James Joyce (esp. Ulysses), Camus, Proust, Colette, Woolf’s Orlando. Ect. Well, I’m not sure where to post this idea, so I’m putting it off in the ether. If there’s any interest, maybe we could start a tertiary blog?

    So gang, what thinks you(se)?

    — Deb Levheim, Mistress Librarian, wrangler of books and databases.

  127. liza says:

    Deb – be sure to visit pine street art works while you are in Burlington for the conference, and drag along all the docs and signifcant others you can. You can see (and buy) framed original drawings from Fun Home and DTWOF. And other cool stuff.
    http://www.pinestreetartworks.com

    I’ll make sure to have a bunch of gallery postcards at the hotel for the conference. Sheesh. I wouldn’t have even known about it if you hadn’t posted and I googled it.

    thanks for the heads up.

  128. Anonymous says:

    It’s all very well to claim that men have privilege, and the whole world is set up to please and reward and promote men, but that only applies to adults. What do boys see? Nancy Drew, but not the Hardy Boys. Mandy is clearly a better person than the repulsive Billy. DeeDee is smarter and always comes off better than Dexter. Jackson is no more than an idiotic comic foil to Miley/Hannah.

    GI Joe and other action figures are not as prominent as they were when I was a child. Boyish behavior is punished or treated with drugs and therapy. Most school libraries and children’s bookstores promote books that are either perfectly gender-balanced (“Magic Schoolbus” and “Magic Treehouse”) or girl-centric (American Girl). There are lots of movies about ordinary girls in almost-realistic situations (“Bratz” and “High School Musical” and “Cheetah Girls”) but boy-movies are always fantastical and unattainable (“Transformers” and “Lord of the Rings” and “Star Wars”).

    Perhaps the _Dangerous_Book_for_Boys_ is a balance (not a backlash) to the feminization of American childhood.

  129. filosopher says:

    Wow, what children have you been hanging out with, Anonymous? The girls in my life are all but drowned by the boy-centered toy industry. SpiderMAN, BatMAN, X-MEN, Rescue Heroes, at least 80% of action figures are male. Name a Pixar movie with a prominent female character. And the books that sell the most, from Harry Potter to Captain Underpants, are heavily male. Plus — Nancy Drew was not a positive role model for me as a girl, not when I wanted to make my own way without the heavy-handed influence of a father figure or the compulsory heterosexuality of a vacuous boyfriend.

    I agree with you that boys are treated with drugs to make them into good little worker bees for the corporate system, but all children are being medicalized in the name of conformity, one way or the other. Girls are having make-up and dieting pushed on them by toddlerhood. Gender freedom is labeled a disorder to be treated, not the wisdom of children trying to reject the conditioning of boxes. The sexual dimorphism of current American culture, with its fascistic emphasis on femininity vs. masculinity and insistence that these are biological reality instead of made-up, dehumanizing fantasies, has not been this strong since the 1950s. I don’t equate the push to make children malleable and consumers as “feminizing” them, but then, I don’t believe in femininity and if I did, I wouldn’t see it as any more negative than masculinity.

    The fact that a book full of interesting activities for children was labeled as “For Boys” in order to sell really proves the point.

  130. the what? says:

    the feminization of american childhood!? You’ve got to be kidding me! BWAHAHAHHAHAA where the fuck do you live?

  131. So UN-pc says:

    Wow. Clearly you guys (whoops) need to meet and wrestle to the death.

  132. Al, et al. says:

    My six-year-old daughter is already asking me why there are so few girls in movies and books that she likes. She says she wants to write stories about girls when she grows up. My budding feminist! I couldn’t be prouder.

  133. Straight Ally says:

    Re “Hit it, boys!”:

    People sometimes post song lyrics on my favorite jazz message board, nearly always by way of making a joke. Even the most civilized male posters preface such lyrics with the “traditional” cue “Hit it, boys!” When I do it, I put “Hit it, boys and girls!” or occasionally “Hit it, girls!” Next time, maybe I’ll use “Hit it, folks!” or even just “Hit it!”

    (I could also use “Hit it, girls and boys!” but believe me, I can’t get away with “Hit it, men and women!/women and men!/wimmin and men!” etc. The context just doesn’t permit it.)

    P.S.–
    It’s a woman-owned/womon-owned jazz message board. Egregious expressions of misogyny and homophobia are officially taboo. Y’all come and see whether you’re comfortable with the extent to which some of the posters need edjamacating–

    http://speakeasy.jazzcorner.com/

  134. Andrew B says:

    Suzanonymous, I don’t know how to pinpoint the moment in the process of a relationship’s disintegration when the couple has definitively broken up. If Clarice and Toni have already passed it, then Clarice needs to make an effort to get back together. She wants to be with Toni. I tend to think Toni wants to be with her — she’s just gotten fed up with having to do all the work in the relationship.

    Duncan, if you’re still reading, I shouldn’t have said that’s what monogamy is. That’s what a committed relationship is. Conceivably you could have a committed relationship without monogamy. Certainly you can have monogamy without real commitment. The point I wanted to get at is that Toni and Clarice have something worth saving (or recovering), monumentalism notwithstanding.

  135. Andrew B says:

    Ok, not much to do on Sunday night here… Looking back at a couple of other comments — remember how Clarice broke down and sobbed after she and Toni got their civil union? She does care. She is not just jealous. (Although she plainly is also jealous, which is something she’d better get over.)

    Regarding separate wills: yeah, and they hired the lawyer who can’t keep track of daylight savings time to write them. It’s hard to think of a more blatant way to sabotage the process.

  136. Kelli says:

    I think those who insist on finding — or even sometimes instigating — conflict revolving around every single slightest possible way that our culture (and it is just that: OUR culture) reflects some sort of bias are doing themselves and their cause a disservice.

    To paraphrase Freud, “Sometimes a turn of phrase is just a turn of phrase.”

  137. Kimboi says:

    Thanks for the explanation. I was starting to think I’d turned into Syd’s dad.

  138. Ginjoint says:

    Holy crap…all these comments, and we’re still talking about a) the strip itself, and b) what Alison wrote. Usually by now, we’re on to quantum physics or pet-safe upholstery or zoning laws in Scandinavia or women-born-women spaces or…or…that GODDAMNED ORANGE CAKE.

  139. Revcat says:

    The English language does need a second person plural. A long time ago, at least according to what I have heard, “thou” was singular and “you” was plural. Since that time we’ve come up with various ways to make up the shortcoming of our language. Personally, I favor “you all” (maybe because I grew up in central Missouri).
    But I do remember with affection the “Hey you guys!” from Electric Company 🙂 Thanks for all the remembrances here. I was young enough at the time that I didn’t realize all the amazing names connected with that show! I grew up listening to Tom Lehrer, on the vinyl record that was instrumental in bringing my parents together on one of their first dates…it makes sense that we would have tuned in to Electric Company if he was involved!

  140. riotllama says:

    http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=12394812
    hey, Joss Whedon (creator of Buffy and Firefly and other nice things)gives props to fun home in this video clip on myspace.

  141. Jeffster83 says:

    The post about ten entries above this one wasn’t supposed to be anonymous. My browser used to put my nick in automatically and I didn’t realize until just now that it hadn’t. Let me type it here in case the browser messes up again: Today’s anonymous post at 3:57 pm was from Jeffster83.

    To “The What?”: I live in Southern California.

    To Filosopher: I’ve been hanging out with my two daughters and their friends, taking them to movies of their choice, watching “Zoey 101” and “Lizzie McGuire” and “Hannah Montana” with them. My daughters don’t seem to find it difficult to find entertainment that interests them. I don’t care for most of it myself, but their mother and I do take the time to ask the girls their opinions on these shows and how the shows portray young women, convey attitudes about food and clothes, and how the male characters treat the female characters.

    I also pay for their purchases at Claire’s and Justice Just for Girls and American Girl Place.

    I volunteer fifty hours a year at their elementary school, where until this year boys were not allowed to play football at lunch time. One boy ran for student council president one the one-plank platform of getting football allowed. He won. After petitions and letters from parents, the principal finally allowed it, but only if each game is closely supervised by two adults ~other~ than the five paid paraeducators who patrol the yard. It’s not easy to get parents to volunteer in the middle of the work day.

    Some girls formed a knitting club, the tools of which violate the district’s policy on pointy things that can be used as weapons, but they ran in to no opposition.

    I could point out that the principal, all the paraeducators, and 29 of the 30 teachers are women, but surely that is an irrelevant fact.

    Slightly aside from the point, there are three or four girls who play football, and two of them are among the top five players. There are a couple of boys who knit. I’ve never heard anyone comment positively or negatively about these particular children, except to praise without condescension the two girls’ football skills.

    Filoosopher, I don’t have any sons, so my exposure to boy-centric children’s entertainment is less overwhelming than yours appears to be. The action figures you mentioned are all fantasy characters with super powers, unlike GI Joe whose powers were all ones that an ordinary human could strive to attain.

  142. Aunt Soozie says:

    I checked out the dangerous book today at the local bounders.
    I thought my daughter would love the content but as a proud ten year old girl…when she saw the title, she refused to even look at it. Shame, really. Lots of stuff inside I knew she’d adore reading about. So, there you go. I agree with the kid pop culture responses above…thankfully there are some girls but still more male than female role models and heroes.

    I remember once I was helping my dad work on one of our cars. He had been ill and couldn’t do as much physical work as he was used to so he was using me as his apprentice in the garage. He was coaching me along and I got something right, I don’t even remember what we were working on. He was holding the light for me, which had been my usual job before my dad had his surgery. He was so proud of me for getting it right, whatever it was he was talking me through…that he said, “Atta boy!” and then he kinda choked and said…”uh, girl”.

    I was maybe 19 or 20 and already out of the closet. I think he was embarrassed but I was thrilled. It was so spontaneous and sincere. I felt like an accomplished tomboy/androgene when he praised me that way.

  143. ready2agitate says:

    Riotllama, d’you know roughly where the Fun_Home ref. is in the interview link? [After thoroughly enjoying “Planet Unicorn,” I’ll watch any link you post! (smile) …um, except that I didn’t really want to watch the whole interview….] (Sorry to trouble.)

    A propos of (@?) the “feminization of American childhood,” I am not a parent, so while can’t claim direct knowledge of contemporary cultural treatment of US children, I find the following statement untenable: “It’s all very well to claim that men have privilege, and the whole world is set up to please and reward and promote men, but that only applies to adults.” Unless one believes that men are *not* actually primarily in control of institutional power, resources, wealth, public voice, and decision-making in the US (I am talking about embedded systemic power, not the power to have a principal or teaching position within a school), it just doesn’t follow that the patriarchy would be alive and kicking but boys are simultaneously emasculated.

    Agreed that banning US football (assuming we don’t mean “soccer” here) in a US school may in some ways be (or be seens as) anti-male, but it might be because football is more widely viewed as violent (or loosely equated with violence), than say, something like knitting (e.g. no girl ever broke her bones knitting to my knowledge).

    So in the end I find the comment so over-the-top that it sounds to me more like textbook backlash than something I should genuinely be concerned about. However, it’s useful to consider different views of the impact of feminism/egalitarianism and to ponder any negative ramifications it may be having on the broader society or individuals. So thanks for sharing your provacative views, Jeffster.

    (There ya go, Ginjoint, a shift in topic! 🙂

    PS Thx for the Electric Company nostalgia, y’all – I loved that show (esp. Rita Moreno – she was soooo cool!!!)…. Shall we move on to “Zoom”?

  144. Mother of Two Siamese Cats says:

    I think Sydney has had a lot of issues; two biological parents who obviously divorced many years earlier, an alcoholic mother (from a recent episode), a father in the early stages of Alzheimers, breast cancer, chemo and demons of her own past (walking out on Thea). Mo may be there for Sydney in the physical sense but showed no emotion when Sydney developed cancer, which could be interpreted as abandonment, indifference o simply “not being there”. Mo shed tears when Ginger’s dog Digger had to be euthanized but no tears for Sydney. Sydney has had a lot of shit heaped on her plate that no person would want. The spending binges and affairs with other women (either because they are cancer survivors or maybe because Sydney was abandoned by her biological mother) are ways she copes. It’s doesn’t take a Psych 101 course to figure out that Sydney is hurting and has been for a long time.

  145. emma says:

    why is everything so grim. or maybe i’m not the miserable 9 year old i was when i started reading the strip almost (eeeek) 15 years ago. i did like that little bit that mo thought she had the wrong number but can’t something happy happen?

  146. So UN-pc says:

    Right on.

  147. Alex the Bold says:

    In response to Mother of Two Siamese Cats.

    Yes, I realize that Sydney “has had a lot of shit heaped on her plate that no person would want.”

    This is called the human condition.

    A lot of Sydney being, well, such a douche, just doesn’t get excused because her mom left her or her dad’s losing his marbles or she had cancer and Mo didn’t burst into tears every five minutes.

    The first instance of Sydney being Sydney (that we know of so far) is what she did to Thea. Then there’s her spending, which seems more like an enviro/genetic trait passed down by her father (“Jennifer thinks I spend too much, a little more won’t hurt.” [My God, I’ve got the strips memorized.])

    Then she gets cancer. Mo tries to speak to her about her spending and closing herself off and Sydney puts her headphones on and shuts her eyes.

    Then, Sydney goes to her cancer person with cupcakes and discovers that the woman’s son has been killed in Iraq. That upsets Sydney and she bursts into tears when Mo, unknowing of the death, berates her for being so insulated and academic about something real-world life-and-death.

    There’s a scene in one of the new Doctor Who episodes where an alien (from the planet Raxacoricofalapetorius) is trying to convince the Doctor not to return her to her planet, as she has been sentenced to death in absentia.

    Part of her plea is that she could have killed a human woman earlier, but she let her live. And the Doctor says something about how letting someone live once in a while just so you can feel good about yourself not being enough.

    That Sydney can have one human feeling every 45 episodes simply isn’t good enough. That doesn’t somehow magically qualify her as some deeply complex person. Maybe she is. Or maybe she’s just a self-righteous smug greedy selfish pig.

    That she apologized to Thea is great. Or is it Sydney making sure she can take the high road? That she occasionally realizes that Mo has been there for her over and over and makes efforts to be supernice, especially when she thinks Mo is attracted to a librarian, could be extra effort. Or she realizes that if Mo leaves, she’s going to have to declare bankruptcy.

    Now we’ve got Sydney blowing off couples therapy and just waltzing off on Mo to go boat rowing (with about eight seconds of warning).

    Why? Partly because Mo is a patsy. Poor dear Mo whom I love to pieces can’t see that Sydney is just plain toxic. I’m sorry Sydney’s childhood wasn’t all candy bars and fuzzy teddy bears, but so far, I haven’t seen an excuse presented that justifies anything more than the slimmest margin of sympathy — no, strike that, make it pity — for Sydney.

    I think it’s Martial (or maybe Juvenal) who said something about how if all the troubles in the world were put into a common pile, and everyone was required to take an equal share at random, most of us would keep the troubles we’ve got. I certainly wouldn’t want Sydney’s problems, she’s more screwed up than a lightbulb convention.

  148. Grisha says:

    My co-worker in the next cubicle is a 42 year old lesbian supermom w/ a 7 year old son. Much of her and her partner’s time is spent carting the kid from one activity to the next. Soccor, Jazzercize, Judo, piano, swim team etc. etc.

    I, who am 58 commented to her that when I was kid we made our own fun. Sand lot base ball, etc. Then I remembered 1) We dug tunnels in vacant lots that could have collapsed and killed us. 2) We made a homemade rocket that narrowly missed a neigbor’s house. 3) We made a raft an floated it down a filthy irrigation canal with one guy who couldn’t swim on board and .. went hunting a 16 when one guy shot himself in the foot w/ a .22 pistol.

    I don’t know about the “feminzation of Americanm boyhood” but good grief, I can’t believe any of us survived to graduate from high school

  149. Jeffster83 says:

    I thought more about it and decided that “feminization” was too strong a word, but then so it “emasculating”. It’s more a case of “de-masculinizing.”

    Ready2Agitate, you are welcome, and let me thank you in return for your kind words and your openness. I’m not lashing back, at least not in the way Susan Faludi described. I don’t want gender relations to go back to the 1950s.

    I haven’t actually found any cases of of rules that are consciously anti-boy. They so far always turn out to be oversights, poor planning, or “we didn’t think boys would be interested.” I think you are right about the football ban being about avoiding injury.

    Grisha, i am a little younger than you, and I grew up in a suburb, but we still had some opportunity to do the kinds of things you described. Wasn’t it great? I wish there were woods nearby where my daughters could explore.

  150. riotllama says:

    ready2agitate, it’s a little more than a quarter of the way in.
    yeah, sorry, I should have realized that not everyone caress about Joss spouting comicnerdiness.

  151. Jana C.H. says:

    Schools switching from American football to soccer has to do with liability insurance, not feminization.

    I agree about the over-organization of childhood. With my brittle bones I wasn’t allowed to ride bikes or ski (everyone skiied in my town), but my parents let me play in a nearby wooded gully and take long walks alone all over town, even though I could break a leg just by tripping. I didn’t learn until years later how worried they were, but they didn’t want to squelch my independence or deprive me of any more activities than was absolutely necessary.

    Jana C.H.
    Seattle
    Saith WSG: Man, sprung from an ape, is ape at heart.

  152. mlk says:

    Andrew B, I am so with you on Toni and Clarice, their choice of lawyer and wanting them to reconcile!

    now, about Sydney . . .

    we all know about the troubles in Sydney’s childhood/life that she didn’t ask for. I think if we dig into Mo’s past, though, we’ll find she (like all of us) has had a few of her own. yet folks talk as though all of Mo’s problems are of her own making.

    OK, maybe Mo’s traumas are less dramatic than Syd’s. here she’s been out to her parents for decades, though, and she gets little-if-any support from her parents in any area of her life. maybe Paul can’t keep Sydney’s girlfriends straight, but he’s accepting of the reality that his daughter’s a lesbian. irritating as it may be at times, he’s supportive of Syd’s academic career.

    let me see now, when Ellen came out on TV Mo’s mother left a message saying “how nice! maybe one day you can manage a bookstore like Ellen instead of just working in one.” maybe Mo’s parents are proud of her new career. I wouldn’t be surprised, though, if her graduation and new job went more-or-less unrecognized and uncelebrated. Mo is an attentive aunt to her niece; Scott jokes about not wanting to have to take care of her when she’s in her 70’s. we don’t hear too much about Mo’s family, but I don’t recall anything that affirms or values her.

    despite this, seems to me that Mo’s there for the people in her life. she made efforts to reconcile to Lois’ “choice” to transition while Lois just stood back, looking for Mo to stop being such a jerk about it all. good thing they had that misunderstanding where Mo asked if it’s possible to change(she was asking about Sydney during that time when she was considering whether to risk it with a cad).

    Mo hasn’t been exactly ambitious, and people seem to think less of her for that. while I understand Toni and Clarice not asking her for a recommendation when they were seeking 2nd parent adoption, I also understand Mo’s hurt that they didn’t do so.

    here I’m writing as though I’m Mo’s only fan, but I know there are many out there who are also Mo supporters. it’s probably time I step off the soapbox.

  153. ready2agitate says:

    Completely off-topic, 2 quick questions for DTWOF nerds like me:

    1. What’s the sked of AB posting DTWOF, roughly? Is it roughly every 2 weeks on Mondays?

    2. Can someone remind me what happened years ago in the episodes in which Sydney was having some kind of on-line affair, and I think some friends (Toni, Clarice, Lois, Ginger…) discovered it and didn’t want to tell Mo? Did it end up being Mo in the end?

    Tx.

  154. ready2agitate says:

    PS – Am enjoying both threads above (re: US childhood issues, and decontruction of Mo & Sydney).

    Have a good day y’all! 🙂

  155. Al, et al. says:

    ready2agitate–

    A new or archive ep every 2 weeks (roughly– don’t know if there’s a usual day).

    And yes, “Good Thing” turned out to be Mo. But in yet another example of Sydney being heinous, it turned out she was selling these online sessions to “Panthouse” magazine w/o Mo’s knowlege. She was about as contrite then as she is now about the afair. Mo should have been tipped off by her own observation back then that she needed to talk to someone who didn’t have a personality disorder. (She turned to Harriet that time).

    God, I need a life!

  156. The Cat Pimp says:

    I am chiming in late, but I am from NYC and we say “Youse” or “Youse guys”. I like Y’all. However, AB is in Vermont and is doing us all a huge favor by posting her stories here FOR FREE. So, be gracious.

    Now, onto the theories. I love, love, love the person who suggested that Harriet and Clarice get together. I’d not have thought of that. Neat. However, in real life, people move on and meet other folks (or not).

    Sydney’s always been troubled with her narcissism and shopping addiction. She’s always been difficult, but she had a good thing with Mo. Now, its run its course and she’s checking out. Sometimes love dies. I personally would like to see her move out and disappear entirely. She never struck me as being anywhere near the heart of the storyline. Bye, Sydney, don’t let the door hit you on the ass on the way out. I’d like to see Mo learn to live with a little celibacy and work on her career and maybe put her money where her mouth is with her politics.

    It looks like Mo was calling Clarice for some comfort and sympathy and, after Clarice’s statement, realizes she has to put her needs on a back burner. Lois has matured so much, its a shame she can’t help Mo. I think Lois could coach Mo to ask Sydney to leave and take her toys with her.

    The way Raffi’s voice change was handled was awesome. There’s no soundtrack and the confusion Mo has was a wonderful way of showing us what happened to Raffi. It will be so interesting to see what kind of man he will become.

    I don’t know if Toni and Clarice can patch things together, but Clarice’s seeming hope that Toni was wanting to do something with HER was so nicely presented.

  157. Josiah says:

    Filosopher, your point about the boy-centredness of popular culture is well taken, but I get the impression that there are a lot more options for girls now than there were twenty or thirty years ago. (Also, two asides: I think that Jessie in Toy Story 2 may be the most three-dimensional Pixar character, and despite the X-Men’s sexist name, some of the most interesting characters in that comic are the female characters like Storm, Rogue and Kitty Pryde. I digress, but I suppose that I could claim a connection with riotllama’s Joss Whedon video, since he’s writing for the X-Men these days.)

    Jeffster, I don’t think that the gender imbalance of elementary education is irrelevant at all. Early elementary education has become not only female-dominated, but almost completely female, which is unfortunate for both boys and girls. A few years back I worked as a teacher’s aide in an elementary school — the only other male adult there was the janitor. On my first day, I was supervising recess, and a little girl came up to me and asked if I was the new principal. How sad is that, that she assumed that a new male adult had to be in a position of authority over all the women? If there had been any other male staff at the school, I doubt that she would have made that assumption.

    Ready2agitate, I loved Zoom too. I even had a red-and-blue striped polo shirt that I would wear when I watched it. But somehow Zoom hasn’t stayed in my memory the way that Sesame Street, The Electric Company, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and 3-2-1 Contact have — I remember liking Zoom more than I remember Zoom itself. Does anyone else remember Powerhouse? It was a kids’ drama series on PBS which I remember enjoying — one episode was about one of the kids getting his bar mitzvah, and facing up to some anti-Semitic bullies. Pretty cool stuff.

  158. Jaibe says:

    Jeffster83, thanks for all the info! I agree w/ the liability diagnosis on the football thing, but on the other hand, having *all* the authority figures being female could very well explain why boys are stopping doing school. What an irony — women take the jobs because they are low paying & seen as nurturing, feminism gets us all the way into the principal’s office, but we still don’t get men taking 50% of the jobs throughout the system, so then boys think school is just a girl thing.

    On another thread, Dykes has `only’ been going 20 years & I remember a big episode where Mo came out to her folks, so she can’t have been out for “decades” 🙂

  159. Jaibe says:

    On the less happy note, how can Clarice love Toni & not want her ever to have a partner again 🙁 I can see her not being able to watch Toni date, but I can’t see her being able to watch Toni not date!

  160. little gator says:

    as to the “horse sweat” thing.

    I’m a woman and I sweat. lots. So did my father and I think i
    inherited the condition.

    all this was *before* menopause, so now I sweat twice as much.

  161. Al, et al. says:

    I heard that “ladies glow” thing form my mother, too. She was a southern lady, but also a feminist, in her own way, so I never really took it to heart. I just thought it was funny.

  162. aerAK says:

    All this chat about where the story and relationships and love-interests will go makes me think about the ‘Indelible’ screen-savor strip of the DTWOF factory. It features a panel of Alison chained helplessly to a drafting table under the ‘illusion’ that she actually creates the cartoon. Brilliant.

    AB commented that the panel reflects how the characters and the stories almost write themselves in her mind. I imagine that her best plans run amok as the characters flesh out and start to skitter around on their own. Are we the ones under the illusion? Do we think that AB has _control_ over what happens here?

  163. Andrew B says:

    Alex the Bold: When Syd tried to write a paper following Brent’s death, that was her trying to use the skills she has to cope with something that was emotionally devastating to her. Mo’s condescending, anti-intellectual response was just destructive. We all work with what we have. What Sydney has is her mind. That is how she deals with the “real world”. It’s not an escape into fantasy.

    NLC: I don’t see it. Raf and the young Alison were both skinny adolescents with unruly dark hair. I don’t think that’s enough to identify them. Hope you weren’t planning on parading around Brattleboro naked. I gather they’re cracking down on that.

    God, how I identify with Raffi, although he’s a much cooler kid than I ever was. I wish somebody — Clarice, his soccer coach, somebody — would start looking out for him. At least he’s got Stella for a “little sister”. You could do worse.

    American football: it’s bloody expensive. The school has to pay for all that equipment. Schools that are cutting it are as likely to be doing it for that reason as any other. God help me, I still like it. I suspect that what schools are forbidding at recess is not football but “kill the guy with the ball”, aka “smear the queer”. Aside from that latter name, which I won’t defend at all, I really don’t see what the problem is.

  164. holli says:

    Ah yes. In my childhood it was called “Kill the Carrier”.
    Fun for girls too, though.

  165. Ginjoint says:

    We called it “Smear the Queer.” However, none of us had any idea of the homophobic slur. That didn’t come until later.

  166. Andrew B says:

    Aunt Soozie, I love the story about you, your dad, and the car. To me that’s what it’s about. Doing the work that needs to get done.

  167. van says:

    Very enjoyable analyses, guys. Really, this strip is just BEGGING for its own drama sitcom.

  168. liza says:

    Great idea, Van.
    Joss! Are you listening?

  169. Jen says:

    re: elem schools being all female led–I’m in nursing and in nursing in a pediatric centre. Where are the men?! They’re only in the ER or in the admin. I don’t get it. The med school here had 60% women admissions over the past few years, the nursing school: 10% Why? It’s slightly better in adult hospitals for male nurses, but not much.

    re: Joss Whedon heading up a DTWOF drama sitcom: I’d worry that casting would take all of the real looking & acting representations of dykes that Alison draws and L-word them into a pretty Tara/Willow/Buffy redux. That, and soon in the main storyline they’d all be morphing thru time or physically injuring inner demons or something

  170. ladiesbane says:

    Poor Mo! But, as Thea might mention, “You knew she was a scorpion when you picked her up.” Exactly the same blow off and turn toward the door (sorry, babe; can’t process — gotta do something impersonal now) that Thea received when she dropped her diagnosis on the table. Sydney’s still running.

    Will Mo, who knows how non-introspective Syd is, get over her own needs enough to coax her lover into pointing that highly-honed perception inward?

    Or is Mo still so weak that she would have to go doormat to try to pull it off? (In such case, better not to try, of course.)

    Breakups sometimes throw a person back to the emotional age at which the relationship started. I would love to see Mo be strong, tell Syd to fuck off, and not allow any high-flown blandishments and mind-blowing sex to fog her mind, as Syd would only be having a greedy moment, and the childish woman does get what she wants. Time to take a breather, process, cultivate old friendships, and maybe call Fiona….

    But Sydney needs to stick around. We’ve invested too much time in her. She could start stalking Madeleine, deal with her father’s decline, and eventually hook up with her grieving stepmother. Teach Freud a lesson! Electra, Oedipus, Orestes (and Jerry Mathers, AS the Beaver!)

    P.S. — I miss Lois, her valiant spirit, and her love of old movies. “Non, je ne regrette rien….”

  171. liza says:

    I dunno. I loved Firefly and I’d be happy to see Gina Torres play pretty much anybody.

  172. filosopher says:

    Gina Torres as TONI! Omigod.

  173. Jen says:

    Sorry in the above post re: nursing stats that should read 10% male admissions to the nursing school vs the 60% women admitted to the med school

  174. Angi says:

    Nice iFone drop — subtle, yet blatant

  175. Alex the Bold says:

    One of my co-workers has an iPhone. God, I can see why people want them. But I still can’t see paying $600 and waiting in line for two days. I’ve decided it’ll be my gift to myself for my 40th birthday, 11 months away. Oh God, I’m so old…

  176. B says:

    Not sure if people are still looking for books with strong female leads, but I discovered Robin McKinley when I was 5 and am still a devoted (rabid) fan 21 years later. Tall, amazing, strong women who aren’t conventionally beautiful and don’t follow the rules taking on the world and saving the day. Relationships do tend to be primarily hetero, but they certainly aren’t the center of everything.

    Highly recommend to anyone — young or old — who is sick of reading male-dominated fantasy-type books and trying to imagine themselves into them.

  177. spoil sport says:

    How about “yins”, the Western Pennsylvania slang for “You all”. This always makes me giggle.

  178. Andrew B says:

    If anybody wonders what the hell I was talking about in my comment to NLC, see this:

    http://www.reformer.com/headlines/ci_6373889

    The town of Brattleboro, Vermont, has no law against public nudity and it’s creating an interesting situation. I thought people would be amused but forgot to include the link. This really has nothing at all to do with NLC — I happened to remember he went to Alison’s reading in Brattleboro last month.

  179. a different Emma says:

    YES IT BLENDS!

  180. shadocat says:

    Alex,

    You, at 39, are still a baby, for Chrissakes! You CANNOT say “God, I’m so old,” until you are at least, say 52.

    God, I’m so old…

  181. Suzanonymous says:

    I’m not so sure Clarice wants to be with Toni more than she’s just resistant to the change that has clearly happened, almost in denial. When we see her jump at the chance to be with Toni, she’s interrupted while attending to something else: she is speaking before thinking, it appears. Hard to tell. I (dare I say we?) have to remember this is just a comic strip. 🙂

    Andrew B, That was funny about the ditsy lawyer they hired, you made me smile, she amuses me. But regarding your point, they also hired her to make Clarice Raf’s adoptive parent, so were they trying to sabotage that too? Probably not, the law is the law, and that lawyer was able to do both of these things well enough, even when the dog kept eating the paperwork. LOL.

    Alex the Bold, I agree about Sydney. It’s near-impossible to judge Sydney (or anyone) objectively, but she’s not good for Mo. That is a legitimate judgment for Mo to make. I think relationships are are best when they make each person stronger.

    Grisha, tunnels! I wanted to dig tunnels as a kid, but the only ones we did were snow tunnels. Unlike you, I had an instinct a dirt tunnel would be at risk of collapsing, so I just drew those. 🙂

  182. Josiah says:

    For what it’s worth, Joss Whedon had to fight pretty hard to get even the sanitized Willow/Tara relationship on TV. At one point the network was demanding that he pull back on the relationship (this was when it was almost completely subtext), and he threatened to quit. His letter to the WB bosses ended with a postscript saying something like “Oh, and by the way, I turned gay over the weekend, and so did most of the camera crew. So nyaah.”

    Of course, eventually the homophobic bosses realized that they were OK with having lesbians as long as it looked like hot girl-on-girl action. (Insert rolling-eyes smiley.) Which gave us the pointless Kennedy character in Buffy season 7…

    The network bosses also vetoed the actress Joss originally wanted to play Willow — he had planned for Willow to be overweight, as you can see in the unaired pilot here on YouTube. Joss has said that he wanted a wider range of body types, but had to compromise in order to get the show made.

    All that said, re: Gina Torres as Toni — “I’ll be in my bunk.”

  183. shadocat says:

    ladiesbane; Yeah I miss Lois too—for a long time she seemed to be Mo’s one true “friend” friend (as in not an ex, or someone she met through an ex). Too bad she’s not in her life anymore; Lois could probably give her some good advice on how to deal with this “Syduation”.

  184. Feminista says:

    Re: Buffy. Well,I watched the pilot,and aside from Willow being a young woman of size,I see nothing else that’s particularly feminist about young women in a mostly-white middle class so-cal school being catty to each other. *Yawn*

    Don’t know who Gina Torres is,but as I suggested long ago,in another planet far away,Margaret Cho should play Sparrow,with Marga Gomez as Toni & Barbara Smith as Ginger. Add to that these suggestions: AB as Mo,Whoopie Goldberg as Clarice,Rebecca Walker as Jasmine,Richard Dreyfuss as Stuart…

  185. Liza from pine street art works says:

    Josia- the bunks will be rocking.
    Gina was awesome as Zoe in Firefly and as just as good and twice as *bad* in Alias as the African-Russian spy Anna Espinoza.

  186. little gator says:

    the way i learned it was “women glow” and always as a joke.

    so I’ve been hoeing crabgrass out of the veggie patch with temps near 80. My clothes are soaked and the hair on top of my head is lathery like a sweaty horse.

    and…oh never mind. it would only gross you out.

  187. Brazenfemme says:

    Does anyone remember the episode that AB created showing the characters as opposite to themselves? Sparrow chugging diet rotsi, Mo being worried about people at work knowing she is a lesbian, etc. It was hilarious! I think it was created for an April fools joke. Ah here it is! Page 145 of the Indelible. That would be my fear of DTWOF turning into a TV series.

  188. Ginjoint says:

    Shadocat – wait, why isn’t Lois in Mo’s life anymore?

  189. shadocat says:

    I think they’ve just lost touch with each other—remember when they used to meet for a bit of “girl talk”, go to the movies, etc? Why, the first vintage strip Alison posted here was of the two them meeting over a cup of something…maybe they’ve grown apart, like the way some people tend to do, especially when they’re trying to work on a partner relationship.

  190. HWHD says:

    I know it’s a couple of days ago and fifty or so posts, but as a reply to Deb Levheim’s post, I think it would be fund to have a FunHome-related book discussion. I haven’t read any of those books that get mentioned in Fun Home. I’d be keen to.Maybe it could be like an on-line book club. Anybody else?

  191. mk says:

    I like Joss Whedon’s work, especially the Buffy series. I watched the Willow/Tara romance unfold wishing that I could have watched that when I was coming out in my early 20s, rather than when I was in my late 30s. Plus, the scene in the musical episode where Tara sings a love song to Willow and they end up levitating on a bed is so wonderfully dorky.
    However, I tend to regard Whedon as a sci fi /fantasy writer/director and DTWOF is not his genre. What about Allison Anders as a director for a DTWOF movie?

  192. filosopher says:

    A Different Emma — did you see where the dust is for sale on E-Bay?!!

    And — DTWOF is pure sci fi/fantasy.

  193. Feminista says:

    Brazenfemme–Yes,the scene you described was/is very amusing,especially Clarice as the Log Cabin Repub (Repug?) and Lois like we’ve never seen her. I also remember Homosexual Ladies to Watch Out For,with our faithful crew all deeply closeted conservative femmes.

  194. ready2agitate says:

    Ahem, I tend to avoid all conversations and references to the Indelible since I lent my copy out a couple of years ago and never saw it again (grimace!). BUT – I loved the “backstage” strip where Alison shows us how all the characters *really* are when they’re not in role/off-stage. (Is that the same as the April Fool’s one on p. 145?) It was ingenious, hilarious, let us see who *really* was with whom, etc. Brilliant. I often think of it in the way all roles in organizations/groups are kind of different underneath for each of us. Yup, me needs a life as well…

  195. AnnaH says:

    Reading the comments concerning Sydneys behaviour.

    Many people critized Sydney for not being vulnerable, for saying mean things and for concealing her feelings.

    Looking at panel 2 she is clearly not the only one doing so. Mo does not admit her jealousy or her fear of loosing Sydney, but puts down Sydney choice of interests, that is older women. This is a very mean thing to say. From the look on their faces in panel 1 I interpreted that the fight had been going on for some time. I actually think it is good for having a break of fighting.

    I still like Sydney best from all the characters, maybe because of her kind of bluntness and because she first considers herself and her own wishes, without the martyrdom some of the others put on.

  196. shadocat says:

    A mean thing to say? She just caught her girlfriend cheating on her! What should she say-“Poor,poor thing, let me draw you a bath, and get you a cup of honey-lemon tea???”

  197. Alex the Bold says:

    There’s nothing wrong with first considering your own wishes. What’s wrong is when those wishes cause someone you’re in a long-term relationship with great unhappiness.

    Sydney’s entitled to bag all the women she wants. She is not entitled to sneak around behind Mo’s back while doing it, however. Compare Lois.

    This is the same sort of debate I have with people who are terrified that the children (“Won’t somebody think of the children!!”) might see something on television.

    Spike TV recently showed the Godfather. Every other scene in the movie is violent. Michael, after killing two people in a restaurant, hides out in Italy or Sicily (I don’t remember which) and meets a young woman. At one point, she disrobes. After seeing shooting, mayhem and all sorts of things, we are finally greeted, at the only scene of genuine tenderness in the entire movie, to a pixellated breast.

    Guns, death, blood, what have you, is fine. But a breast?! We MUST control this pornography. Someone MUST think of the children!!

    To which I reply, if you don’t want your children seeing a breast, shut off your television. Or don’t have one. Over 99% of the human race never knew what a television was.

    In the same way, if Sydney wants to sleep around with past lovers, she either has to clear it with Mo, or she has to stop living with Mo. But for Sydney to consider herself and her own wishes first isn’t a sign of non-martyrness. It’s a sign of selfishness, and I think it satisfies the clinical (not the popular) definition of sociopath.

  198. bean says:

    Maybe the problem isn’t with the breast, but with the “pixillated” breast. Or, maybe the problem is with it’s proximity to all that violence. Or, maybe the problem is the violence to begin with.

    Buffy said it well: “Sex and death and love and pain it’s all the same damn thing to you!” and somehow no one calls her a man-hating, sex-negative, 1970s leftover…

  199. JJ says:

    shadocat, thanks for explaining my feelings on this matter:

    “one would not think of addressing a group of men as “you girls” and we would never say, “Hey women!” Why? Because, for some reason, that greeting would be insulting to them. So what, “you guys” is a compliment? Because everyone knows it sucks to be a girl and so much better to be a boy?”

    I believe the feeling that it is better to be a boy than a girl is also strongly related to the oppression of gays.
    Men who are too feminine are though of as being like women and therefore are considered lesser types of men.

  200. Michelle says:

    I wonder if MO will leave sydeny for good. I knew that sydeny did have an affair with other women many times!!! She hurt MO for that!

  201. ready2agitate says:

    I recently called my mate, who is male, “girlfriend” (as in, “hey girlfriend, how are you?”), and he smiled slighly befuddled. So I said it’s OK if I call you that, right? since pple say “you guys” and “dude” as gender neutral terms? But he said that personally, he’d rather I didn’t. I was disappointed. Anyway, so look at the trouble this blog is causing me!!! (huge grin, since y’all know I love to agitate!) 🙂 Thanks for pushing the envelope, girlfriends.

  202. HWHD says:

    We only have to go as far back as the movie The Departed to see how a group of men react to being called “girls”. When Mark Wahlberg’s character walks into the room of cops and sneers, “Ok, girls…,” we know it is meant to humiliate the men in the room. There is nothing gender neutral about the exchange. That being said I am forever saying “you guys” to my female friends. I try to say “folks” but it does feel a bit forced. “Folks” is a good alternative, though.

  203. mlk says:

    just want to say “hey” to bean. maybe you’ve been lurking and I’ve missed it; maybe you’ve been posting and I’ve missed it. but it’s good to have you back!

  204. Tone says:

    As far as I can recall we don’t know which agreement Mo and Sydney have had for their relationship in regard to having sex/relationships with other poeple. I can’t imagine Sydney agreeing to a monogamous pact though. That would seem very much against everything she stands for. And maybe Mo just doesn’t want to hear about it? Maybe that has been their agreement? As I recall, Mo was very much “sneaking around” during her affair with the woman from library school.

    I think Sydney was the best thing that could have happened to Mo (and to the strip!). Mo got great sex, she got pushed intellectually, she learnt a lot of new things and she was forced out of her self-righteous and self-absorbed little bubble. It does however seem like it’s been a while since anything good was going on in that relationship. It probably would be best for both of them to move on.

    (But please, please, please keep Sydney or someone like her on the strip. She has been so interesting/hilarious/cute and I have learnt so much about American academic queer culture from her being in the strip!)

    And while I am defending my favorite character (besides Lois): I totally agree with the person commenting on Mo’s low involvement in Sydneys cancer. I was honestly shocked by her lack of compassion (even though we have seen it before, both in regard to the stressful adoption process and not to speak of the terrible way she reacted to Lois depression).

    And for Toni and Clarice, pleeeeaaase, let them have some more good things happening before they die! They are both such great persons and have been in such a rut for so long. Also time to move on to better things!!!!!

  205. Norwegian Black Metal says:

    My friend Kate, when addressing groups of people, will say: “Gentlemen!” IF the group is all male. If there is even ONE woman in the group, it is: “Ladies!” A reversal from the romance languages.

    Needless to say, it’s amusing. Then again, I grew up in a left-wing back-water, so I’m used to it. 🙂

  206. Al, et al. says:

    Mo didn’t have an affair with Fiona. There was a kiss, but Mo decided she couldn’t do it becasue of Sydney.

  207. Laura says:

    Someone I know uses “Gentlefolk” or “Gentlepeople.”

  208. Dale says:

    *stares at Mo*
    I think Mo and I are in the same boat.

  209. Jana C.H. says:

    In our culture, a partnership is assumed to be monogamous unless explicitly defined otherwise. That’s the way it is. Polyamorists may want to change it, but it hasn’t changed yet.

    Mo and Sydney have never even discussed a polyamorous relationship, much less explicitly agreed on one. The way Mo handled her relationship with Fiona shows that she is monogamist through and through. If Sydney can’t change being polyamorous, they need to split up. Or else Mo has to live with having her heart broken on a regular basis. There are people who learn to accept that sort of thing, but I would hate to see Mo’s spirit broken that way.

    And I see nothing wrong with the way Mo supported Syd during her cancer. She gave Sydney every bit as much support as my parents gave me, which is lots. Some people bring up Sydney’s former cancer as if it were a lifetime get-out-of-jail-free card. She was sick, and now she’s well. She might get sick again, but until that happens she deserves no more free breaks than anyone else. She didn’t even get her tit cut off, and I know that seriously traumatizes some people, though it’s not like losing an arm or a leg. I don’t even bother with my plastic tit except on special occasions.

    I’ve never been a Sydney-hater. I stood up for her here on the blog when she wanted to handle the psychological stresses of her cancer privately instead of asking for the emotional support of the entire cast. But I’m annoyed with people who make excuses for her behavior because she once had a serious disease. Serious disease is a commonplace of human life. It isn’t a permission slip to cheat on your spouse.

    Jana C.H.
    Seattle
    Saith WSG: Lastly, when three-score and ten (and not til then), the joke is over!

  210. filosopher says:

    Hear hear, Jana. Over one fifth of Americans have a disability (which can include serious or chronic disease) and all of us face cancer if we live long enough. It’s a big deal when you’re facing it, yeah, and it scares the crap out of you at the time. But frankly not as much as the Constitutional Crisis we’re facing now, not for me personally.

    I also, heretically, question whether the sex with Sydney is actually all that great. Strap-ons are just silicone if the trust and connection aren’t there. Acting out objectification may have felt cathartic for Mo at one point, but looks like it ain’t working now.

    Which leads to another question which, of course, Jana C.H. can leave unanswered: Which occasions are special enough to rate the plastic tit? I see a musical comedy number possibility in that answer. Not to mention the wordplay between tits (bird and mammarian).

    I consider it disrespectful to deliberately call people any term (or gender pronoun) they have asked me not to use, however much I may prefer the bias with which I was raised. My preferences do not trump their self-definition; at least, that used to be the way things worked, before liberal and lesbian became terms of ridicule under our New Social Order.

  211. ready2agitate says:

    Am totally with you that self-definition trumps all re: gender pronouns, Filo (may I call you Filo?). (So I won’t be calling my partner “girlfriend” however much I wish he could find such an endearing term not only acceptable but flattering — or at least fun…)

    Self-definition was a huge issue betw pro-choice and, er, pro-life women who came together covertly in Boston over a period of two years to try and build some mutual understanding and trust following the brutal Boston clinic murders of 1994. Some pro-choice women refused to use the term “pro-life” to describe their counterparts. But the anti-choice/pro-life women insisted on being named according to their world view…. There was a superb Boston Globe article exploring the dynamics and outcomes of the dialogue (once it became public), including its benefits, processes, conflicts, aggravations, and resultant hopefulness of sorts.

  212. filosopher says:

    R2A, those who know me best call me Feelo.

    If you have the link to the Boston Globe article, I’d love to read it. The divide between us in this country is so severe, I need good news about folks trying to bridge it. We are in grave peril from this divide.

    This week Bill Moyers’ journal had an extraordinary simultaneous interview with Constitutional scholar Bruce Fein (a die-hard Reaganite who wrote the first article of impeachment against Clinton) and John Nichols (from The Nation and author of a book The Genius of Impeachment). These two guys from very different places on the political spectrum (one far right though not evangelical right which seems to make all the difference and one center-ish although he considers himself a progressive) are both arguing for the immediate impeachment of both Bush and Cheney because to not hold this administration accountable means setting a precedent that will remove governmental balance and most of our civil liberties, no matter who gets elected in 2008. It’s on the web and worth watching, especially for how these men find common ground. They especially agreed that the allegiance to party (Republican or Democrat) has to be dropped in a search for the greater good, and the dismal fact that people have lost this ability since Reaganism.

    I believe this has occurred not just politically but culturally. I think we long for connection and trust once more (like Toni and Clarice, perhaps) but the work to create this involves training not available from either fundamentalism or the leftie cynical backlash against so-called political correctness. We have to name truths, even if they feel divisive, own our own attachment to them, and proceed as the way opens, establishing incremental trust along the way.

  213. Alex the Bold says:

    The whole “girls/guys” thing. I’m gonna mangle this, sorry. I just don’t know how to say it precisely enough.

    Is it possible that this has to be approached from a beyond-gender-specific mindframe? That is, do men use a word and it’s translated by other men in one specific way and by women in a second, specific way? But, because they’re men, the men don’t understand that the women don’t like it because the men never knew the word had a second interpretation? Like when someone says, “I was raised in a very catholic family.” If you’re not aware of the meaning of lower-case-c catholic (ordinary), you might think that meant two crucifixes on every wall, holy water from all the taps, a nun in the attic, etc.

    And would the same be true for women when talking to men versus women when talking to women?

    NOT trying to start a war. Just asking.

  214. Grisha says:

    On the way to work yesterday I found myself wondering if Mo and Sydney ought to stay together because Sydney wouldn’t last a month with another Type A careerist and Mo and a soul mate would depress each other to death. After all some of the best matches among my friends have been opposites. Della the lawyer and Kristin the artist. Dan the architect and Katrina the accountant..Then it hit me …. WAIT …. THESE PEOPLE DON’T EXIST. THEY’RE COMIC STRIP CHARACTERS. HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MIND? ARGHHHHHHH!

  215. anon-eponymous says:

    Let’s say there’s a boss, a reasonably nice man. Never behaved in a sexist way, maybe sometimes a bit gauche. He has a mixed gender bunch of employees.

    One day, at the end of a meeting he says, “I guess that’s all, guys.” Woman A gets very angry at him and says, “Don’t you know ‘guys’ is a gender specific pronoun? There are women here you know.” And Woman B says, “You know, I don’t think ‘guys’ is gender specific. All my friends use it in a gender neutral way, and so do I.” And Women A says, “Well, I don’t care. From now on you’ld better use ‘guys and girls’ when addressing us.” And Women B says, “Gack! I hate that. Just hearing that phrase makes my hackles arise.” And she thinks “Why is that? Oh, ’cause all my life people have used it to put me down. Huh.” And Women A says, “I don’t care. It’s the _correct_ way to address us.”

    What’s the boss to do?

  216. --MC says:

    Start adressing everbody as “citizens” or “comrades”?
    Some people address groups as “team”.

  217. straight girl fan says:

    About “guys” and “women” and “girls” and “ladies” and so on: I think one reason it has been so hard to get “women” established as an easy casual term to use is just the fact that it is two syllables. Regardless of what’s “right,” people prefer to say things that roll off the tongue easily. I really got this clearly when I realized that in American Sign Language, people are much more likely to sign WOMAN than MAN, because WOMAN moves from the chin to the chest (easy), while MAN moves all the way from the forehead to the chest (harder). Instead, they are much more likely to use a sign that gets glossed as GUY, but is actually a derivative of the sign BOY.

  218. ready2agitate says:

    Here’s the link to “Talking with the Enemy” about a clandestine dialogue betw pro-choice and anti-choice women, published in the Boston Globe, Jan. 2001. (The first Google hit I got came from from feminist.com, a site I’m new to.)

    Feelo, enjoy.

    http://www.feminist.com/resources/artspeech/genwom/talkingwith.html

  219. ready2agitate says:

    PS When addressing a group of women (who self-define with those gender pronouns), I often say “what’s up, women?” “Have a good day, women” (ack – this is to ALL the administrative assistants in my former job/dept. within a prominent NGO) or I’ll email my friends: “Dear women,” or close with “All for now, women.” And it feels very natural and easy! Folks get more comfortable with the term as a warm and respectful one as we evolve as a species :).

  220. Maggie Jochild says:

    People. Human beings. Folks. Colleagues. Associates. Crew. Gang. Allies. Neighbors. Friends. Cats. Cousins. Mortals. Compadres y comadres. Peers. Chums. Members. Rank and file. Gentry. Everyone. Homies. Ragtag and bobtail. Souls. Earthlings. Trill-hosts.

    Judy Grahn, who wrote so eloquently about her quest to murder the King’s English, links plainspeak to language clarity. We have almost unlimited options in English because we adopt/steal from other languages so freely and we have chosen to be a gender-free language structurally. Gender, class and race residue in English remains where the cultural implications of kicking free from the traces are frightening, make you stop and think.

    Judy also said “What you will do matters. All you need to do is to do it.”

  221. Sir Real says:

    I concur that referring to any group of people as `guys’ grates on me. (Except perhaps a group in which every member of whom I specifically know would accept that term.)

    But, as Alison has considered the matter – and I’ve seen evidence that she can and does think things through thouroughly, and often profoundly – I’m not gonna contest her usage. A wee niggling thing, when the vast bulk of what she does/says I approve of and enjoy.

    Other folks, if you’re open to persuasion – 🙂 I’m with Maggie Jochild – there’s a host of terms available in English, and they add color and _fun_ to language to break `em out!

    Note to filosopher – sure, a strapon is just a tool, it doth not great nookie make. But Mo right out declared that it was the best sex she’d ever had, while chatting with Lois. `Course, that was when the affair was new… [In which volume? I think near the beginning of _Split Level_]

    And to quote filosopher – “I consider it disrespectful to deliberately call people any term (or gender pronoun) they have asked me not to use, however much I may prefer the bias with which I was raised.”

    I would agree – and go farther, to assert that I feel it disrespectful to call people any gendered term or gender pronoun that they have not _specified_ that I may use. Why? Cause you never do know how people identify themselves, genderwise, and I feel it very presumptious to guess based on appearance.

  222. shadocat says:

    The freedom to grow and adapt is one of the things I love about the English language. There are those that argue for hard and fast rules, but the language goes on; as we grow as a people, our language comes with us. We have no official “language police”, as some others do; for example, the French government (not to dump on them, but in this case, I think they’re wrong) sends out representatives to other French-speaking countries to make sure it’s spoken “properly”.But ours is a truly “democratic” language, and as our culture takes the journey to becoming more aware of our gender, class and race, so our languge kas little choice but to be there by our side.

    on another topic, we’re discussing another “minority group” you may have never considered a minority on http://maoistorangecake.blogspot.com/ Hint; You probably know one; you may even BE one!

  223. shadocat says:

    Here we go again-“our language HAS”

    maybe we could have another pledge drive to buy Alison a “preview” button?

  224. filosopher says:

    Sir Real, you make a good point about assumptions. I think it’s fine to ask what gender term/pronoun people prefer, just as I ask disabled folk if they want assistance (once, and only if it seems apparent they might want it) and what kind they prefer, or friends what races/ethnicity (including white) what they want to be called if it’s necessary to use such a term. And if people get upset by being asked, well, I hear them out. Usually the upset is because of how they’ve been crapped on in the past, not really because I asked. It’s an honor to be entrusted with the hearing of it.

  225. Sir Real says:

    Oh – a note on how upset Mo is – I’m guessing she’s really losing it to use such a traditionally anti-woman insult such as “shrew”!

  226. ataraxite says:

    Anon-eponymous’ scenario gives the answer to the question: One woman’s tofu surprise is another woman’s poison. No matter what you say, those who are so determined will find a way to be offended–for reasons political, grammatical, or otherwise. Since you can’t avoid this, you might as well say what you want to say.

  227. Dr. Empirical says:

    Agreed, ataraxite!

    Thank you!

  228. Aunt Soozie says:

    I’d bet crew, gang, homies, gentry, chums..if you check out their origins were birthed in male-ness. Crews and gangs were male…were the gentry composed of strictly “gentlemen” at one time? Chums…aren’t they traditional male? Like “fellows”? homies are for sure male…cause I know that homies is from…my home boys..and that got shortened to homies.

    I have been known to say…
    “you go, girl” to a male because that phrase means something that nothing else does…for me…”you go girl!” is all about being the underdog and getting it done well and right and with courage and strength..so, yeah, I use you go girl regardless of gender.

    If someone specifically asks me not to address them a certain way I’d for sure comply and be respectful…but, if i was addressing all of the people on that clustr map…I’m certain though I would give it some thought, were some readers to lodge a complaint… and perhaps if I was atad bit OCD or even somewhat pathologically considerate of others feelings or mildly obsessed with being honest and true I would give it some serious consideration..should some folks complain about my language usage. But, I’d have to move on and decide if I was willing to change my language based on some concerns or proceed as I have…speaking that way I do…and let the chips fall where they may…at the risk of seeming inconsiderate or not PC enough…but because I’d know that I’d go insane if I had to find a way to communicate that would consistently please all the folks…all of the readers.

    My paramour has clearly told me that “guys” grates on her nerves but I don’t think she has the right to tell me I have to change the way I speak. She could tell me I’m not welcome in her bed anymore, or in her house..but, she can’t say, talk the way I want you to and agree with me that that is sexist language. I try not to address HER that way, I might slip sometimes. I will continue to use it in addressing others because it has different meaning for me than it does for, say, example, Maggie or my paramour. Can we respect a difference of opinion on guys? Can we agree that for some of us it’s grown beyond it’s origins and is gender neutral? If not…well, you all aren’t welcome in my bed anymore. All of youse. So, there!

  229. Mo n Clarice I'm even more certain now LOL says:

    OK, for the first time in ages I do not recall a trivial detail (this has been something I’m always good at – and especially things that are absolutely no use to me) I don’t recall EVEr reading about the relationship that Mo and Clarice had.

    I want to believe that rather than a relationship it was “dating” as I’d call it.

    But honestly I do not recall.

    I’ll have to dig the books out. I actually bought “Dykes to Watch out For n More Dykes Etc.” way back in 1992 or 1993 I think. It’s been a long time.

    Anyway, what is interesting is so they were in a relationship a long time ago.

    I didn’t know that having been in a relationship that didn’t work out with someone was a barrier to getting back into a relationship with them later when you’re more experienced and know your own feelings more than you did as younger people.

    Why the cynicism? There are plenty of couples that re-unite sometimes more than 2 times.

    In Mo and Clarice’s case – how she reacted then is NOT the determinant of how she’d act now.

    Nor would Mo be absolutely the same.

    Sometimes the thing that 2 people who are ideal for each other need are some heartbreaking experiences with others whom they thought fit better.

    In the end, after all the experiences we have, some of us realize that that person who didn’t seem “quite right” was actually the best thing we ever had, but life doesn’t give us 2nd chances in romance very often.

    Luckily this isn’t life but a comic strip.

    Both Mo and Clarice are shattered….

    As emotionally vulnerable as both can be…..

    Both have learned that their partner is/was NOT their ultimate, and worse yet decided that n their own basically….

    It’s human nature to bond with people who can “understand your feelings” as they are happening “in the moment.”

    The extra here is packs some potential – the shoulder both may cry on is familiar and someone they once considered a potential partner even if it ended.

    Who knows if AB will do it, but the re-uniting of Mo and Clarice is a classic romantic ending retold in endless novels, movies Etc.

    It’s the “return of the prodigal” + “letting something you love go free to see if it ever comes back to you” combined.

    Obviously I’m a sucker for romance and the fact that Mo and clarice had a prior involvement makes a future together far MORE exciting and dramatic. It does NOT diminish the potential in any way.

    Unless you’re too cynical to believe in romance or rather your name is Sydny 😉

  230. shadocat says:

    Mo and Clarice came out together in college; they were each other’s first lovers. I think it would be kind of romantic to see them find their way back to each other after all these years…

  231. ready2agitate says:

    Since Aunt S. mentioned the word “fellow,” I wanted to add that I’ve never been able to find a suitable alternative that conveys its meaning (as in: “I ran into a fellow thus-and-such” yesterday). Sometimes I’ll write “a fellow/sister…” to be more inclusive (although this is still a binary inclusiveness). I just can’t get around this one easily, so sometimes I just say, “she’s a fellow non-profit worker,” or whatever.

  232. filosopher says:

    To state that those who seek and request non-biased language are “determined to find a way to be offended” is an attempt to trivialize/dismiss them and acting (however unconsciously) as a tool of the system. As Dr. Phil says, How’s that workin’ out for ya?

    To believe that you cannot find a way to speak which includes and engages those to whom you are speaking is hopeless. Admitting your hopelessess is one step on the road to recovery. Declaring it as a manifesto is not, per se, but we all start somewhere. Thanks for contributing.

    Aunt Soozie, you’re right that many, many words for human in English have male origins or associations at one point. Perhaps all of them. Even woman was developed because the original word for people, man (way back in the mists of time) got taken over to mean male and they had to come up with something to mean not-male, which is more or less what woman means. English is a language in the process of evolving from gender tyranny to gender freedom. But all of those terms for people in the list above are now used for mixed groups without there being a singular version that is used exclusively for males.

    There is such a thing as a homegirl, by the way. In very strong, proud use. Homies means both homegirls and homeboys.

    This is definitely not about sharing your bed, Aunt Soozie. My criteria for that is stringent in other ways, and private.

    You can use language any way you wish. When you use a term for me that either doesn’t make sense or doesn’t seem to include me, I’ll ask you about it, we’ll have a conversation, and you can do what you want with that. Of course. But those who know that addressing me in a particular way reeks of not choosing to display respect are ilkely to find that I simply won’t answer. Or read what they’ve written. It actually is not much to ask. Yet, apparently, it is far too much to ask. Such is the power of language.

  233. ready2agitate says:

    Filosopher/Feelo, are you a fellow inclusive language person?

    (said lovingly tongue-in-cheek, not mockingly)

  234. Jana C.H. says:

    When to wear the plastic: it’s more a matter of certain garments than of certain occasions. I have a few clothes that look just horrible without both boobs. My most common dress-up events are operas. When possible I try to wear something appropriate for the specific opera: a kimono jacket for Madama Butterfly, a cowboy hat for Girl of the Golden West, a tartan shawl for MacBeth. If an outfit looks good enough without the prosthesis I don’t bother with it, because I’ve always hated wearing bras. Comfort is more important to me that appearance. If I had been younger when I’d had my surgery I might have worn the plastic more often, but I just don’t care any more.

    Jana C.H.
    Seattle
    Saith WSG: Oh, willow, tit-willow, tit-willow!

  235. filosopher says:

    R2A, tongue-in-cheek is second only to tongue elsewhere. You can call me a Feellow inclusive language person. Or maven, except I’m pretty sure that’s gender-specific. Don’t speak Hebrew, can someone correct me on that? Is maven for women only, and if so, is there a different gender neutral choice?

    Jana, you get the points for most threads tied into one twist: G&S, birds, tits and Buffy in a single quote! Do you have a plastic cone tit for when you go to see Madonna in concert?

  236. Naava says:

    I don’t think maven is Hebrew at all.

    Hebrew’s tricky, because it’s one of the gender-specific languages. A person can’t be addressed as “you”, or say “I”, they *have* to pick a gender. And non-gender specific sentences are clunky to put together and have a forced, uncomfortable feel. What is generally considerate practice is referring to a person in the gender they refer to themselves in, or to ask. With genderqueer folk, sometimes the gender shifts mid-conversation and back again, depending on the person, how close you are, how they’re feeling that particular day. However, that’s pretty much relegated to feminist/queer settings- mainstream Israeli society is hardly interested in respectful language, to put it mildly.

    (Just to be clear- I’m Israeli and fluent in Hebrew, not just coming down on Israel randomly. Just my two cents from this part of the world!)

  237. kellan says:

    shadocat, I ran across this quotation the other day: “English is a language that lurks in dark alleys, beats up other languages, and rifles through their pockets for spare vocabulary.”

    (that is a condensed and somewhat sanitized version of the original, which can be found at http://www.funtrivia.com/askft/Question41640.html)

    Propriety (or PC-ness) in language, particularly one with as few formal stylistic rules as English, is heavily determined by context. I do not think that using deliberately provocative language in an attempt to shock someone else into recognizing that “that’s just the way things are” is ever appropriate (except maybe using the word “queer” or something around your mom) and do not advocate tossing words around and letting the chips fall where they may, but I don’t see AB doing this at all. The same is true of pretty much everyone on this blog. I have to agree with what some others have said that anyone looking for offense is sure to find it.

    And Aunt Soozie, you crack me up!

  238. Maggie Jochild says:

    Naava, nice to hear from you. Your comment sent me to Wikipedia, where I found this: The word maven comes from the Yiddish meyvn and Hebrew mevin, with the same meaning, which in turn derives from the Hebrew binah, meaning understanding. It was first recorded in English around 1952, and popularized in the 1960s by a series of commercials for Vita Herring created by Martin Solow, featuring ‘The Beloved Herring Maven.’ Since the 1980s it has become more common since William Safire adapted it to describe himself (‘the language maven’). The word is mainly confined to American English, but had not yet appeared with the publication of the 1976 edition of Webster’s Third New International Dictionary. In network theory and sociology, a maven is someone who has a disproportionate influence on other members of the network. The role of mavens in propagating knowledge and preferences has been established in various domains, from politics to social trends.”

    So, now I know — it is gender neutral according to Wiki (for what that’s worth), but Hebrew users may be attaching a gender to it, in which case the way around the lack of options for those trying to be sensitive is to “mix it up”.

    Kellan, you and others seem to be insistent that if one of us asks not to be called a male term (ESPECIALLY on a predominantly Lesbian blog), we are “looking for offense”? Is that really what you think I’m doing? How does that play out, then, if you object to some term addressed to you as transphobic and you get told you’re just “looking for offense” — is that going to be something you agree with or find helps the conversation along in any way?

    Alison referred to me, to all of us, as guys, after several people had earlier specifically requested not being addressed as generic males. Now, again, some of us have said “I’d rather you not call me that, I’m not a guy.” How is that different from someone saying I’m not that gender which you have just assigned to me?

    It actually does seem deliberate and provocative to me. There are plenty of other options, vibrant and expressive, and the “I’m attached to it” argument has been used for decades now to defend resistance to social justice — it just won’t fly anywhere among progressive folks. When somebody says “That’s not who I am” and you keep addressing them as that, what other conclusion is rational to draw from it except that their self-definition is not being respected?

    I loved your quote about English. I think it’s a great characterization. English started off as a small dialect in a region repeated invaded by conquering cultures and languages, and it got flexible/acquisitive in order to survive. Which I am NOT using as an excuse for it being forced on the rest of the world through imperialism, please don’t misunderstand me. I mourn the loss of all languages tie to culture and geography — we need every one of them.

  239. Doctor E says:

    Maggie, I think the “Looking for offense” lies in your insisting that addressing a mixed group as “guys” is the same as calling you, personally, a male. It’s not.

  240. Maggie Jochild says:

    Dr. E, if I’m part of the group that’s being addressed, it does include me. And if I’ve told you I don’t believe I’m a guy, what more do you need to hear to understand that addressing me as a guy clearly indicates you’re not hearing me or talking to me as I self-identify?

    A recent essay (March 12) at Alternet by Sherryl Kleinman addresses the “you guys” issue very well. The intro reads “Gendered words and phrases like ‘you guys’ may seem small compared to issues like violence against women, but changing our language is an easy way to begin overcoming gender inequality.” It’s a compelling read, located at http://www.alternet.org/story/48856/

    I want to quote just one section from it to reply to you:
    “In 1986 Douglas Hofstadter, a philosopher, wrote a parody of sexist language by making an analogy with race. His article (‘A Person Paper on Purity in Language’) creates an imaginary world in which generics are based on race rather than gender. In that world, people would use ‘freshwhite,’ ‘chairwhite’ and yes, ‘you whiteys.’ People of color would hear ‘all whites are created equal’ — and be expected to feel included. Substituting ‘white’ for ‘man’ makes it easy to see why using ‘man’ for all human beings is wrong. Yet, women are expected to feel flattered by ‘freshman,’ ‘chairman’ and ‘you guys.’

    I’m not offended. (Ya’ll the ones who keep using the term offense, not me.) I’m just not included, very deliberately so since those who have the same analysis have made our self-definition clear and requested inclusive language. I’m not buying the line which wants me/us to shut up and accept a definition that doesn’t include us. And, because in this instance the personal is political, I’m speaking out. To quote from the essay again (she really covered it well): It’s important “Because male-based generics are another indicator — and more importantly, a reinforcer — of a system in which ‘man’ in the abstract and men in the flesh are privileged over women.”

  241. JJ says:

    “When somebody says “That’s not who I am” and you keep addressing them as that, what other conclusion is rational to draw from it except that their self-definition is not being respected?”

    “Maggie, I think the “Looking for offense” lies in your insisting that addressing a mixed group as “guys” is the same as calling you, personally, a male. It’s not.”

    I believe it is the the same thing. A supervisor of mine always enters the room and addresses us as “gentelmen” even though I am here. The rest of my coworkers are male. He has been asked to use a gender neutral term several times but still doesn’t. I do appreciate that my male coworkers do call him on it every time and say J is here too.

  242. Liza from pine street art works says:

    Maggie, I adore Douglas Hofstdater!!~

    This is from Jane Lazarre’s book “Beyond The Whiteness Of Whiteness: Memoir of a White Mother of Black Sons” She is describing a moment, in 1966, when she, a white Jewish woman, was teaching a class consisting of all, or almost all, African American students in NYC.

    “During one lesson, referring to my particular class, a large number of whom have not done their homework that day, I refer to them as ‘you people,’ ‘You people have to do this work if you want to learn to write better,’ I say, or something like that. Their faces urned to stone. Eyes move instantly away from mne. Mild, muffled curses are heard”…

    “After class, I describe my experience to Douglas [her fiance, who is Black] who explained in one sentence,’when you said ‘you people’ they thought you meant Black people, and they assumed you meant it derisively, as in you people never learn.”

    “But I didn’t mean it that way at all.” I explained “I mean you people – in this class”

    “It doesn’t matter what you meant,” I remember him telling me. I was convinced by his interpretation but deaf to his deeper warning. It doesn’t matter what you meant when you are moving against a tide of history and social reality far more important than one white person’s mistake. A white American either accepts the weight of this hisory or relinquishes the respect and possibliity of authentic connection to Black Americans.”

  243. Maggie Jochild says:

    Ah, Liza. What an extraordinary story. Makes my chest ache.

    Yeah, so much of what I learned, really learned, about communication came from crossing class and race boundaries, or trying to. Me from the target position on class, non-target on race. One mentor (again, a white Jewish woman) told me if I seriously wanted to communicate something to somebody, I had to keep finding a way to say it until they got it — that the responsibility was mine, if it mattered to me. I argued with her for two years, because it directly contradicted what I thought I was hearing from the victim stance of identity politics, that it was up to the “oppressor” to find a fucking way to hear me.

    But eventually, I came to understand what she meant about the empowerment in coming back to communication from a new angle, then another new angle, then another one, until something got through.

    Implicit in this approach, of course, is the belief that people who are on the non-target end (what some people on this thread refer to as the privileged end) are not holding onto their privilege willingly. I believe when people seem to be refusing to hear, or unwilling to learn, they are afraid to grow, afraid to face the lies our beloved parents told us. Afraid of revolution, afraid they will have no recognized worth in any new order.

    And folks who are afraid are really shitty listeners. So I can, as Anne Lamott says, either be right or be kind. Find those who do get it, draw strength from each other, and then, as Fran Winant said:
    eat rice have faith in wimmin
    what i don’t know now
    i can still learn
    if i learn first, i will
    come back to teach you
    if you learn first i must believe
    you will come back to teach me

    And, one more lesson I learned from Nancy Kline, who teaches listening in the U.K. and is the mentor who turned around Princess Diana’s life before her death: The upper classes/white people/men always want credit for good intentions. They get hysterical about that credit, because part of how their brutal conditioning gets laid in as children is in denying that they mean well. Those of us on the target end usually get furious about being asked to grant any meaning to “good intentions”, it’s put up or shut up with us. But understanding that — understanding that what I’m hearing is a plea to be recognized as human, even as you continue the same behavior without comprehension, a plea that comes from a mistreated manipulated child — well, it can help me take a breath and find another way to say things. Not walk away and not do the work for you, but stay in communication. Looking for that “authentic connection”.

  244. Andrew B says:

    May I suggest that there is no clear cut right or wrong answer to the network of questions that are being raised here? Some people do seek offense. But some accusations of seeking offense are nothing but a cheap and easy way to dismiss people who have serious concerns.

    What matters is what’s being communicated, including underlying assumptions, not the pattern of letters or sounds used. Remember the business Alison borrows from Joyce in Fun Home? “What were his thoughts about my thoughts about his thoughts”, etc? That’s what we do when we communicate. The white teacher needs to ask herself what her Black students are going to think she means when she says “you people”. They also need to ask themselves what she expects them to think she means, although for several reasons I agree that in that case she was in the wrong.

    “You guys” is problematic when it suggests a real assumption that only males are being addressed or that only males need be addressed. To take Alison’s use of “you guys” that way — to believe she was addressing only me, Dr. E, and the other males who read the blog — is ridiculous. But someone else’s use of “guys” in a different context might well carry that assumption. The issue is not the acceptability or unacceptability of the word “guy”. It’s the thought being conveyed. That is a matter of interpretation, not cut and dried rules.

    There are some words which some people just shouldn’t use, because they are virtually guaranteed to be interpreted negatively. But these are special cases in which interpretation is sharply constrained. They aren’t examples of the magical power of words to transcend all interpretation.

  245. Diane says:

    I haven’t seen this comic in some time, but a friend forwarded this one to me because of the dragon boat reference. Love dragon boats! One thing about the boats though, they’re paddled, not rowed. We dragon boaters are a bit (too?) sensitive on the matter.

  246. ataraxite says:

    The insistence that “it doesn’t matter what you mean” is disturbing. Yes, the speaker has a responsibility to foster respect and compassion–but so does the listener! To insist on hearing only the speaker’s words and not reaching to hear her meaning seems needlessly stubborn.

  247. Mother of Two Siamese Cats says:

    Mo’s expression at the end of the strip is so reminiscent of her expression strip #139 (Go Fish) after Harriet announced she was moving out. It appears the curtain may fall on her relationship with Sydney. Mo’s character probably realizes that labeling Harriet’s indulgences on an occasional cheeseburger and a VCR an “addictive spiral” (and better for her to quit now) were extreme compared to Sydney’s cyber-sexed, megalomaniacal spending, credit card debt-induced “addictive spiral”. Mo never had it as good as she did with Harriet but drove her away with her complaining with no action or resolution but that served to be more of bark than bite. Everything that Mo feared would become of Harriet came true with Sydney.

  248. Jana C.H. says:

    Filo– I don’t know how I managed to reference Buffy, since I know nothing about her. I haven’t watched TV since the mid-eighties. And all my taglines this month are quotes from W.S. Gilbert because I’m doing in-house video for the Seattle Gilbert and Sullivan Society’s production of “Princess Ida.” Lesbian separatism in the Middle Ages. Getting great reviews, runs though the end of July. Look for me at the back of the house, left side, with a small video camera.

    Jana C.H.
    Seattle
    Saith WSG: Isn’t your life extremely flat with nothing whatever to grumble at.

  249. van says:

    “English is a language that lurks in dark alleys, beats up other languages, and rifles through their pockets for spare vocabulary.”

    Heh, I like this quote. But a rosier look, I’d rather see it as a wonderful young sponge, soaking and spicing itself up over time. It’s such a (geek)trip to see a new word make it to a dictionary, regardless of cultural origin or level of sophistication. Though an “underground” language, Urbandictionary.com is an interesting peek into an English that works.

    ataraxite, yes, it is disturbing, but I suppose the bigger burden really does fall on the speaker as not everyone’s inclined to a political/philosophical discourse to validate someone else’s thoughts. And to address a collective!

  250. QKelly says:

    On the issue of sexist language — I’ve been around this debate since the 70s, and it seems to me that whatever small ground was gained in the past has been almost completely lost now. I could fill pages and pages of this blog with examples of non-inclusive language that I’ve seen in just the past six months, on public signs, in the media, even in lectures/speeches given by prominent people. I don’t see even a slight attempt by mainstream media to use gender inclusive language any more, and no one seems to notice (at least I hear no public comments about it). The 70s doesn’t seem all that long ago to me, but it was the Middle Ages for my (college-age) students. So much of what went on then is understandably (but often unfortunately) lost to them. In a “Sexism” seminar last year, for example, only 1 out of 28 students knew what “Ms” meant and why it’s used. Every single other student thought it was just a short version of “Miss” and were confused about why, on forms, people are often offered the choice of “Miss” or “Ms.” “What’s the difference? They mean the same,” the kids said. When I bring up inclusive language in my composition classes, most students are politely adamant that “mere” language can’t possibly affect the way people think.

  251. van says:

    QKelly, in connection with female address, here’s the definition for madam, so nice how #3 just slides right in there:
    1:lady —used without a name as a form of respectful or polite address to a woman
    2: mistress 1 —used as a title formerly with the given name but now with the surname or especially with a designation of rank or office
    3: the female head of a house of prostitution
    4: the female head of a household : wife

  252. Jana C.H. says:

    I think of the English language not as a thug but as a meal. Meat and potatoes are Anglo-Saxon and Norman French. Vegetable and salad are Latin and Greek. All the other languages of the world contribute side dishes, sauces, beverages, desserts, soup, garnishes, and so forth. Some languages provide major dishes, and some only a tiny pinch of spice, but they all contribute something unique to the menu. For those of us who speak English, the world is our banquet. Bon appetit!

    Jana C.H.
    Seattle
    Saith WSG: Cursed with an appetite keen I am, and I’ll subdue it with cold roast lamb.

  253. Suzanonymous says:

    Jana, at the end of one of the books was an add-on where Syd and Mo were considering polyamory and Syd got jealous when Mo went to see Harriet (I think having her baby). Mo said something like, “Ha! You can’t handle polyamory!”

    And I agree that Mo was appropriately supportive during Syd’s cancer diagnosis and treatment. Hey, as I remember it, at least when they first found a lump, it was Mo who was more worried. I felt Syd couldn’t have hoped for better support than Mo gave, realistically.

  254. Mother of Two Siamese Cats says:

    In response to van, the writer is right about English language. In the book The Story of English, early English was a bastardized street language used by commoners since the arrival of Angles, Saxons and Jutes to the south of what was a dividing line called the “Danelaw” and to the north were the Norse and Swede languages. Eventually the two langauges blended and (after 1066) French was thrown into the mix. In England Latin was the language of science and law and French was spoken in the Royal Court. The English language does absorb various nouns, verbs, adverbs and adjectives from langauges all over the world in which England invaded or colonized. It is, in many respects, the language of thugs. Think of the Artful dodger who pickpockets and put on heirs with hi newly-aquired booty.

  255. Naava says:

    Maggie, thanks for the clarification. You certainly learn something new every day! “Mevin” is gendered male, the female would be “mevina”. But to use it as as an adjective is kind of old-fashioned.

    I love language geekery 🙂

  256. anon-eponymous says:

    I think it would be great if some other person established a little vote page. Anybody on this blog can post a term that they would be happy for us all to be addressed by. Any other person on this blog can veto that term if they object to that term. If any term survives for more than a week without being vetoed by someone we can call that term “acceptable”. But I bet hell freezes over before any term is deemed acceptable.

  257. Montrealais says:

    I heart emo Raffi, BTW.

  258. Doctor E says:

    Maggie:
    “I’m not buying the line which wants me/us to shut up and accept a definition that doesn’t include us. ”

    It does include you. You are the one who is choosing not to be included.

  259. liza says:

    Dr E: Which of these forms of address makes you feel most included?

    Ladies, women, wimmin, womyn, chicks, girls, gals,amigas, girlfriends?

    I’d be happy to address you with any of the above.

  260. ataraxite says:

    I’m sure Dr. E would prefer none of those terms, BUT–The point is not that nobody feels left out by any term.

    It’s that EVERYBODY feels left out by SOME term.

    The only way to solve this problem is for Alison to cease to address us. In a way, I suppose, using a word–any word–to describe or refer to someone else is “defining” them in some way they may not like.

    But seriously…Can’t we, like, deal with that? Like I tell my 1st graders, “Just because he called you a poop head, does that mean you are one?”

    Even they know the answer to that one.

  261. Andrew B says:

    Liza, you didn’t ask me but I can’t resist responding. Imagining, contrary to fact, that you were offering to apply one of those terms to me in a genuinely open and inclusive spirit — as we all know Alison meant “you guys” to be genuinely open and inclusive — I would kind of enjoy being called a womyn. Having been at an oppressively pc college in the early 80s, I would be happy to be reminded of the powerlessness of spelling to affect meaning.

    Ladies would be fun too. I can definitely appreciate the power of somebody like Dean Haverstick.

    Or you could call me bitch.

    But that is, again, all on the counterfactual assumption that you were offering Dr E the choice with the intention of being genuinely open and inclusive — as we all know Alison intended to be. Given that you are in fact offering those terms with the attitude of a misogynistic drunk trying to pick a fight in bar, I’d just as soon you didn’t address me at all.

    Why would I want to talk to somebody who thinks that a term that’s conventionally applied to women must be an insult if it’s applied to me?

  262. Maggie Jochild says:

    Basic lesson in power dynamics 101:

    Power does not flow equally in both directions.

    There is NO SUCH THING as reverse discrimination. Without the backing of cultural/systematic inequality, what you call someone who is nontarget does NOT have the same impact as a term used for ages to reduce or modify the full humanity of a target group. I’d lament “Why is this so hard to take in?” except that the American myth of “We all start off equal in this discussion” is the primo lie. Do try to get past it.

    The situation here is: Someone used a term that a number of people in a target group objected to being called. (It really doesn’t manner who uses a term of objectification/diminishment, if the target group objects.) A discussion ensued. That term was used again, deliberately and either flippantly or with calculated provocation. A second discussion has continued, with some of us still holding out the notion that repeatedly being called a term with which we do not identify is not accidental or “inclusive”. Just like Isaiah Washington continued to use faggot in reference to T.R. McKnight was not “inclusive”. Yes, some gay men do refer to themselves as fags, but T.R. McKnight vocally did not, and he gets to define himself.

    But not Lesbians, apparently. Not if we object to being included in a male generic. We’re supposed to be honored, or entertained, or accused of simply not understanding how language is used.

    Given how the analogies to racist language continue to go over your heads, I have some faith that we’re not the ones failing to comprehend how the terminology of oppression is used to maintain power inequality.

    Bitch means a female dog, and its eventual use against women was (and remains) vicious misogyny. Comparable to nigger in its singular dehumanization. Oh how fun it is to hear you offer to be called that, how wonderful that you’ve personally moved past and dismantled millenia of female objectification, manifested by lifetimes of not just second-class citizenship but open contempt, violence and denial of the means to survive. Yep, that’s all over and done with.

    Ataraxite, your hopelessness about finding congenial terms of address is not reality. And if your first-graders were calling one another fag, or kike, would you advise them “just get over it?” Would one of you say “Hey, it’s an honor to be included in that group?” or “The person calling you that didn’t mean to misidentify you against your wishes?” Would you say “Well, nobody’s going to agree with EVERYthing so lighten up, you just go ahead and call them a kike”?

    Deliberately calling a group of women by male generics, when they have requested otherwise, is a volitional act designed to enforce/support male power ascendancy. The notion of “inclusiveness” only applies if the group being addressed AGREES with your intent, especially with regard to a slang term where every other usage means “man”.

    It’s an easy fix. The obstruction is not coming from those who say “That’s not who I am”, even though of course part of the conditioned sexist definition of women means we are supposed to laughingly accept whatever you choose to call us. Our resistance to an inappropriate term is not the problem here.

  263. kellan says:

    Maggie, I was carefully working on a reply on my open browser over the weekend, and somehow it has been lost in the shuffle! Now I have only 12 hours before I leave to spend two weeks at the end of the world in Kamchatka, and I am expressly not allowed to muck around with the computer instead of packing. So I can only say something briefly:

    My comment about looking for offense is actually specifically about the reaction to AB’s use of “man” in the post before this one, since I am as surprised as anyone else that she chose to poke at a proven sore spot by addressing us all as “you guys” – why not “you all” or “everybody”?

    With regard to “man,” I suspect (though the original poster – Defining My Self, I believe – is welcome to challenge me on this) that the objection was a kneejerk one, raised to the mere resonance of the word “man” on an avowedly lesbian-dominated blog, without any consideration of the way in which the word was being used. I believe that it was very inappropriate of the original poster to get up in AB’s face on that occasion and claim discrimination on behalf of women everywhere: just because you don’t like it when the word “man” is used in your presence doesn’t place it on the index of forbidden words, and in any case, its use in situations such as this does not make it a rude address to you or an inaccurate description of your person or of the group as a whole (for clarity’s sake, I should say that I believe that it was a pejorative interjection that was intended as invective, not address).

    The question then is how AB should have reacted to that original telling-off. I agree that it was probably irresponsible of her to stoke the fires lit by “man” with the subsequent “you guys,” even if she believed herself to be wrongly accused the first time around (and I believe she was). However, given the confrontational tone that the original accusations on the subject of “man” took, I’m somehow not surprised that in this post, when she decided to use “you guys” – presumably because she wrote it without thinking and then decided not to be cowed into deleting it – she claimed attachment to its gender-neutral usage and left us all to duke it out by ourselves.

    And with regard to objecting to transphobic comments and being told in response that I’m just “looking for offense” or “trying to be put on a pedestal,” that happens all the time. It’s called the rhetoric of second-wave feminism.

  264. kellan says:

    What my second-to-last paragraph means is that I agree with all of the arguments raised against the generic use of “you guys,” since I think “guy” is pretty unambiguously male. What I dispute is the legitimacy of the origins of this discussion.

    Some might say that it’s important to have this conversation no matter what its origins. In this case, I disagree, for one major reason: AB, whom some might call the original offender, is no longer in the conversation. Thus, her motives are totally opaque, and we’re left chasing each other in circles about implied and assumed meanings. Do we not have anything better to do than pillory people like AB for some language tic that no one can be sure they understood correctly in the first place? If we’re going to talk about and educate each other about the oppressive uses of language, fine. But then leave the obsessive counting of the number of times that she may or may not have called us all “generic males” out of it.

  265. kellan says:

    Ok, that wasn’t brief. Sorry, all. Don’t worry, now I’m in trouble on this end…

  266. friend of bean says:

    Maggie Jochild Says: “Basic lesson in power dynamics 101: Power does not flow equally in both directions.”

    Ummm, since you want to give us lessons, how about you remind us of who it was that said, upon looking at a picture of a slave in chains and a master holding the end of the chain, that both were enslaved–the slave to the master, and the master to fear of the slave?

    The problem with “first wave” and “second wave” feminism is that both of them hold tightly on to the idea that there are men (a class which can never change) and wymmin (a class which can never change). Language, apparently, has a fixed sign/signifier relationship which is independent of time and space.

    Why? Because there isn’t going to be a “feminism” if the bright line between men and women ceases to exist. So, by all means, let’s defend that boundary. And, while we’re at it, let’s all attack each other for uses of language which we scrutinize for the slightest deviation from the party line.

    What I find amusing about this discussion is how easily I could take a few words out, substitute others, and come up with one of those passionate outcries on the part of evangelicals who insist on being called “Christians” with a capital “C.”

    For example–take the dig about “it just won’t fly anywhere among progressive folks.” Try “it just won’t fly anywhere among us true believers.” In the first–everyone else is a “regressive”; in the second–the rest of us are either believers in false things or unbelievers.

    You do realize that Rush Limbaugh does very little more than take the language of people such as you and turn it in upon itself–substituting hateful word for hateful word–to parody people like this. He’s not original “woman” (since I can’t use “guy”)–he’s got to have fodder, and you just hand it to him.

    Why are you so angry?

    That Alison asterisks her mention of “you guys” to let everyone know that she is in fact sensitive to the earlier criticism, and that she goes on to take the time to explain why she is using it anyway (to be true to the way she speaks to her own friends–many of whom I am sure are lesbians and are fine with it–and among whom you should be pleased to be placed), is not the same thing as simply persisting in a use someone has repeatedly asked not be employed. You are imposing your world view on others.

    I’ll give you an example. A famous feminist rhetorician, I will not name drop, was at a conference and about to give a lecture on a class I had been a part of. She told me ahead of time that she was going to quote me–she did not ask permission; she did not ask if I were comfortable. She told me. She then went on to quote my words in an angry voice–and interpreted my comments as coming from a confused and oppressed world view.

    I am a woman of color–the language I was using was a slightly self-deprecatory tic that I use when I feel that I have been too pendantic. The people in class who knew me well understood that and even laughed at my jokes. Dr. Academic Feminist, however, got to take my words to make her own point–very much like you are doing now. My own language was taken from me–my meaning and my voice.

    You know, sometimes people are coming from a different time and space than you are. What would be insulting or angry in your time and space is not insulting or angry from theirs. That you will not accept that there is a diversity of meaning in the world–and that you impose your own on otherwise well-meaning people–is your problem.

    Power flows both ways. Power is available to those who know how to seize the kairotic moment and make something of it by forming bonds between people of good will. If this were not true, women would still be property, unable to vote, and slaves would still be in chains. Power may not flow equally yet–but fixating on the point and antagonizing one another will not bring it to equilibrium any more quickly.

  267. van says:

    I would suggest AB just become an equal opporunity offender and address everyone as jackass, but she’s too nice for that.

  268. Jana C.H. says:

    It won’t work, Van; “jackass” is male. She’ll just have to call us assholes. We all have those, no matter what equipment we have up front.

    Jana C.H.
    Seattle
    Saith WSG: To everybody’s prejudice I know a thing or two.

  269. Jen says:

    I prefer Janeass. Thanks.

  270. Juliet says:

    iPhones BLEND (http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=qg1ckCkm8YI)

    Oh please please! It would be so perfectly zeitgeisty…

    (and Sydney deserves it).

    x

  271. Guy says:

    I hope Toni and Gloria will find happiness… and I love Dianne’s suggestion of Mo and Clarice getting back together!

    Mo’s expressions in the first and last panels are striking in their realistic, less “cartoony” style. Very moving.

  272. Grisha says:

    Just as a random comment on gender addresses, in the clasic WWII movie “The Sands of Iwo Jima” When his (all male) squad gets the order to move out, John Wayne tells them “Saddle up girls.”

  273. lioness says:

    Poor Mo! I am going through a breakup and it hurts like hell. Maybe she will keep me company. She deserves better than Sydney!!!!

  274. Josh says:

    I never “got” the relationship between Mo and Sydney. Its as though Alison wanted someone in the regular cast for Sydney and couldn’t find anyone suitable so she picked someone at random. I don’t see what Mo gets out of the relationship, except for the weird-fantasy-driven sex, though I can’t see her being especially into it with anyone else.

    Mo’s past relationship to the heavy-set, calm, almost unflappable woman who’s name I forgot made sense to me. They were complementary, but in ways that undoubtedly helped Mo maintain her sanity. I’d thought Sydney might have gotten to be a better person after her cancer, but she’s back to her same old responsibility-evading, self-indulgent self. I want to see Mo actually get herself together, and like Jane of Jane’s World, surprise everyone by showing initiative and dumping the arrogant, mind-fucking girlfriend.

    And I don’t think I’ve ever seen her refer to someone in her circle in as mean-spirited a way as she did here (“gnarled little shrew”). She’s been pushed farther than I think I’ve seen before, and I don’t remember Mo ever being as directly angry at another person as she is at Sydney now. I’ve been where Mo is with the anger and it’s not fun, but somehow it’s good to see her ever-present anxiety get forced out of the way and for a time not mask her other emotions. I think Sydney won’t like what will come of this. Or I’m hoping she won’t.

    Clarice’s years-long depression has been putting a steady strain on her relationship with Toni, who needs more emotional and physical response from Clarice than she’s been getting for some time now. No surprise that she’s felt the need to be intimate with another woman, if only once so far. I remember an earlier episode where Toni was drinking a glass of wine and another character (not Clarice) said something about her state of mind, and Toni stared back at her silently, and looked SO unhappy. I don’t know where their relationship can go, but I hope it has a better fate than (I hope) Mo and Sydney’s will.

    Poor Mo, she just wanted to get some much needed support and ends up being the shoulder someone else cries on.

    Alison has an amazing mastery of the world of her many characters and of their complex interactions. As always I’m deeply impressed.

  275. Josh says:

    When Raffi hollered out that Mo was on the phone, it’s interesting that Clarice took it.

    Is Clarice the one Mo was trying to reach, or would she have talked to whichever partner answered the phone?

    The answer to that is not clear to me, but if it is to anyone else (and anyone is still reading this thread), I’d like to know what you think about this.

    Probably there’s a good chance Mo wanted to talk Clarice since perhaps she thinks the two of them are in the same boat.

    I don’t think they are, though, because Toni went outside the relationship due to Clarice’s emotional and sexual unavailability, while Sydney is the emotionally unavailable one in her relationship, not Mo.

    Its imaginable that Mo could get together with Clarice; she has shown she can handle being in a relationship with someone who has emotional problems, and she’s not ever evidenced a great interest in sex other than with Sydney, so she could probably put up with Clarice, who since the first election of Shrub has been in bad shape. Clarice may be making good money and living up to her professional commitments and keeping up with the basics of running a home, but emotionally she’s almost a basket case and needs someone who can take care of her. That lets out most of the cast of DTWOF. It remains to be seen whether Mo can or will be her caretaker.

  276. GenderNeutral says:

    WHOOOOAAAAAA!!!

    Hold the frick’n iFone!!

    “Unavailable older women in positions of authority”??!!!?!?

    That’s a LESBIAN thing??? I thought it was just my own private neurosis.

    Can we talk about this?

    (AB, how DO you do it???)

    Although I’m the first to admit Syd’s a cad, I also have to admit that those UOWIPOA are pretty danged hot.

  277. mlk says:

    Josh, my guess is that Mo would’ve spoken with either Toni or Clarice. she’s been friends with both for years and despite the speculation on the blog about her getting back with Clarice it doesn’t seem that the thought has crossed either of their minds.

    your comment, though, made me consider why it was that Clarice came to the phone. not too hard to figure out: Clarice wanted to get away from the conflict. she’d totally misread Toni’s comment and was probably feeling pretty shaken up.

    sad to think of Mo becoming a caretaker to Clarice — that’s what’s gotten Toni so worn out. I think you’re right,though, about Mo having lower sexual expectations and while Clarice strayed with Ginger she hasn’t repeated the mistake. I think Clarice has learned monogamy, which may be what’s making it so hard for her to get over Toni’s infidelity. Clarice and Toni are both in obvious need of healing just now — C may be a fine partner once she’s in better shape.

    Mo’d certainly understand Clarice’s depression about political matters. and she doesn’t have a kid so Clarice wouldn’t have coparenting responsibilities with Mo.

    them’s my thoughts . . .

  278. zeitgeist says:

    “When Raffi hollered out that Mo was on the phone, it’s interesting that Clarice took it.
    Is Clarice the one Mo was trying to reach, or would she have talked to whichever partner answered the phone?”

    Josh, Clarice knew Mo longer, they were each other’s fist lover. It makes sense that Clarice took the call.

    I’d like to comment on something that I’ve noticed in the series. It’s bringing me down, really! I mean, I’ve read this strip since Alison Bechdal’s Womenews days, what, 1986? Now, these lovely character were never a barrel of monkeys. They’ve always been serious kvetchers, however honestly, I can’t help feeling like, the characters are freefalling into a mental and physical abyss. Is it just stereotypically, they are aging women? Goddess forbid all women over 40 should just throw themselves over a cliff because THIS can happen to you? Has this strip become a modern day “Well of Loneliness?” I hope not, because as somebody pushing 50, yes, I’ve had issues in my life, but you keep going, you find your bliss and you have assets like perspective and wisdom. You don’t necessarily mope with a haunchback (as I see Toni doing, which as a person who seemed to be in good physical condition relatively recently is odd). I have a lot of respect for Bechdal’s work, and I really hope this isn’t some affirmation for 20 somethings out there to think, there is nothing but hell after 40.

  279. Josh says:

    The big problems are between four characters in two couples. Given the way those relationships are going, most of those problems look temporary. All the other characters seem to be having normal amounts of trouble for DTWOF.

    As for 20 somethings, CIA Cynthia’s life isn’t any bed of roses, at least in regard to other eligible women….

  280. kara says:

    ooh, i know you are very busy, but please, pretty please when’s the next strip coming? thank you!

  281. Grisha says:

    Allison —

    Please, please. What’s happening with Cynthia’s internship at the CIA? I really hope she meets someone there. How about a slightly older, Russian emigere, super patriot?