DTWOF episode #516

November 27th, 2007 | Strip Archive

516 detail

Fresh and local.
 

338 Responses to “DTWOF episode #516”

  1. martina says:

    am i the first? unbelivable. great again

  2. Pearlie Mae says:

    OMG, they are so getting back together. Fingers crossed.

    Way 2 go, martina.

  3. Fräulein says:

    and i, the second? wonderful and painful.

  4. Fräulein says:

    ah, the third. doubtful on the getting back together front.

  5. Gwen says:

    Poor Clarice… Stewart’s not exactly being sensitive. “I’ve never regretted making my family my top priority” to a woman who’s going through a difficult divorce. Isn’t he usually a little nicer?

  6. Sarah says:

    I love how Stewart keeps changing his t-shirt! 😀

  7. meg says:

    Now that Sparrow has (for her) sold her soul to the system, I guess someone had to take up the slack in sanctimony…

  8. Cynthia-Symp says:

    Poor Clarice! I think Clarice should get back together with Mo (though I’d like Mo to get back together with Harriet even more–what’s the matter with me?). Then again, if Clarice can’t take Stuart’s preaching, she couldn’t handle Mo full-time.

    Now, other than the obvious glitch, Mo and Stuart …

  9. Brittany says:

    Isn’t it “locavore?”

  10. Lisa (Calico) says:

    Nice Mad-Magazine-esque T-Shirt switcheroo on Stuart.

    😀

  11. dzieger says:

    Y’know, In my thirst for entertainment, I was so looking forward to Clarice moving in with Stuart, Sparrow, et al., that it didn’t occur to me just how miserable it might be for her. Now I feel bad, embarrassed by my selfishness. As she’s a fictional character, this is probably not a healthy reaction 😉

    Since this thread is just getting started, this seems as good a place as any to mention that I just recently purchased and read the entire DTWOF bibliography in chronological order over approximately a two-month span and a) Wow. Just, wow… b) aren’t we about due for another book? and c) since I can’t really justify buying all of the books again just for the thrill (much as I want to support AB and all), anyone got any recommendations?

  12. capers says:

    I like the parallel universes – both Toni and Clarice are having dinner with another adult and kid, but they are worlds apart. While Toni is playing fun spoon-on-the-nose games, Clarice is literally shivering in her new, sad little room. A tear jerker!

  13. syd says:

    She’ll get used to it… ; )

  14. zeitgeist says:

    Always loved the tee-shirt switcheroos. I seem to remember Lois’ tees get switched and the Midwifes, few others….

  15. ksbel6 says:

    Stuart’s expression while bragging about his family is also mean…is there some reason he doesn’t like Clarice?

  16. judybusy says:

    I hope I never have to eat kasha varnishkes, salt or no! And Toni and Gloria have wine, probably not allowed at the Local Only house!

  17. commentingperson says:

    What are kasha varnishkes, anyway? Stuart–even though he’s sensitive, he’s also kind of a zealot.

    Clarice could get a space heater. Hopefully she will start to feel like she’s in control of her own life and can make decisions about what she wants out of it.

    I think Toni is too happy having Gloria and Stella over for dinner (…the BRADY bunch…) to get back with Clarice.

    Maybe in a couple of years Clarice will find a new love and will take what she’s learned the hard way to make it work?

  18. Juliegrrl20 says:

    Awww poor Clarice… and then Toni looks so annoyed that she would call her. sniff…sniff… can you get her a kitten or something AB?

  19. Deena in OR says:

    I remember, not all that long ago, being that person huddled on the side of her bed, doubting her decisions and living with the consequences. Hang in there, Clarice…it does get better.

  20. Greg McElhatton says:

    Oh, Clarice. It says so much that my heart is going out to her; when she’s reaching out for a lifeline with her phone call to Toni (her hand grasping the wall for both physical and emotional support), there’s that look of loneliness and isolation and sadness just all over her face.

    Hopefully things will start to get easier rather than more difficult. And hopefully I will remember before too long that she is, after all, a fictional character.

  21. advorunnermom says:

    dripping with irony. My heart breaks for Clarice.

    Kashka varnishkes: buckwheat groats and bowtie pasta, among other ingredients. Here’s a good link: http://wordstoeatby.blogspot.com/2004/12/madelei

  22. Patti says:

    Aaaah, poor Clarice! This one made me so sad!!

    Had to laugh about the 64 degrees though. I live in MA, its cold here, and I always know exactly whose house I must bring a hat to. (To whose house I must bring a hat?) I will never be a REAL New Englander, because I like to keep the heat at (get ready to be shocked) seventy!

  23. M. says:

    64? That’s balmy! We keep it at 60. I’m from California but live in Iowa now–and I don’t understand why people in cold climates keep their heat up so dang high.

    Am I being insensitive?

  24. dicentra formosa says:

    It’s going to be cool to see Jiao R.?. now that she’s becoming person. She and Stuart could have an interesting dynamic. It’s interesting to see Clarice feeling nostalgic for her family after all the years of feeling impeded by it. I like this new setup; it gives the characters fresh situations and lets us see them from new angles.

  25. leighisflying says:

    Frosted Fruit Bats! Just like Raffi… I want some now.

  26. Lee says:

    Huh, where we live, it’s “locavore”…?

  27. Jaibe says:

    Stuart has been incredibly self-righteous and insensitive, mostly at Sparrow lately, but also at Janis. I don’t know why it seems different here except people are more sensitive to someone going through a break up.

    I feel sorry for Toni though too! She’s trying to put her life back together and here she is having a wonderful time and she gets brought down by Clarice again. I’d feel more sorry if she hadn’t kept the house, but then she was the one who wanted it. I hope she isn’t taking Clarice to the cleaners financially. Houses are by their nature unfair — harder to deal with than marriages or kids, because there’s only one and you can’t get the value back out of it to split.

    If I were Clarice I’d start working late and texting with Sparrow and/or Lois to figure out when it’s safe to go home.
    May as well make more money while you are miserable so you can spend it on someone when you find them.

  28. K.B. says:

    For Kasha Varnishkes, see “Feed Me Bubbe Episode #15” (google it yourself, I’m not going to put a link that messes up the beautiful formatting of this page). Although Bubbe does add salt…

  29. Jaibe says:

    PS Stuart can’t stop Clarice from buying her own salt and coffee, can he? “We” must mean him and Sparrow, right?

  30. Tivity says:

    Ouch…though I realize Clarice wasn’t exactly a bystander in her divorce, it still hurts to see her like this…and for Toni to have seemingly moved on so easily…

  31. Cat says:

    I’ve always wondered what Sparrow saw in Stuart. He’s really quite rude – wouldn’t they have explained the house “rules” to Clarice before she moved in? (Did Lois agree to all this, or is she at Jasmine’s all the time so she can get some salt into her system?)

  32. JenK says:

    Jaibe, I bet Lois is still drinking coffee with her doughnuts.

    Re: wine, there are local vineyards all over – but God, eating local in winter sucks! At least in summer there’s fruit and greens ripening, not just root vegetables!

  33. Deena in OR says:

    JenK…ah, yes, that fine Minnesota wine. Think I’d rather have a Leinenkugels.

  34. YouveGotRedOnYou says:

    Dang. I *like* Stuart, and even *I* want to smack him upside the head this time around. And just to give you a basis for comparison, I’ve never felt that way about Sydney.

    Say…is this the first actual dialogue JR has had? It’s the first I remember.

    This is just one of the many reasons I don’t ever, EVER want to have kids: the fear that their first words will be, “I want Frosted Fruit Bats.”

    Jaibe: I get the feeling that “We” means Stuart. And because everyone else in the house is too busy trying to get by in 21st-Century America to arrange their own meal plan, it also means everyone else in the house by default. Stuart, being Stuart, mistakes this exhausted resignation for consensus.

    Ksbel: Stuart would never ADMIT that he doesn’t like a member of the happy little family depicted in this strip, that’s for sure. But why wouldn’t he like Clarice. Hmmmm…Gloria was persona non grata among some of the characters for a while because Clarice’s affair with her nearly broke up her and Toni years and years ago. Having lived with Ginger for so long, could it be that he somehow feels a similar hostility towards Clarice as the villain in that scenario? And really, who knows what Ginger has said about Clarice in the intervening years?

    DISCLAIMER: I like Ginger (I like EVERONE, don’t I!), but…it always seemed strange to me that she didn’t experience more lasting consequences to her actions; there were certainly lasting consequences for Toni & Clarice…in fact, I think they might not be where they are today if Clarice had never consented to making a two-backed beast with Ginger. Really, it hadn’t even occurred to me until Ksbel suggested it that there might be a fellow cast member Stuart passive-aggressively didn’t like, or that it might be Clarice, and if so, that there had to be a reason why. So don’t blame me. :->

    Oh, and Pearlie, I’ve been rooting for Clarice and Toni since their troubles began. You’re not alone…

    Still pulling for more face time for old, even forgotten characters…

    Ray

    P.S. It’s a pity Clarice and the rest of our endearing Sapphic Justice League don’t live in Seattle. For us Seattleites, “eating local” means you can have just about anything you want. Extremely varied terroir and growing/climatic/agricultural/wildlife conditions within a relatively small radius. We’re lucky that way. :->

  35. tylik says:

    Is it just me, or does life not seem to be going so swimmingly for Toni, either? I mean, there’s the charming scene, but she is looking awfully worn.

    I recently moved from Seattle to Cleveland… and this will be my first winter of learning what eating locally here really means. (I’m not hard core. Every January I lose it and buy Mexican red peppers and zucchini. But while I adore our farmer’s market, I’m already in WA veggie withdrawal. Wah…)

  36. Bryce says:

    “Local only”? Cut that man’s WiFi off!

    Stuart is a self centered git. “I’m sorry you broke up with Toni. Go invite Toni over for a celebration.” He’s been pretty oblivious to other people for a while now.

    Git git git.

  37. Aunt Soozie says:

    Clarice needs a companion to keep her warm and cozy this winter. I think she should meet up with a sex positive, fun loving, vivacious, creative woman who salts her kasha and is openly and pathologically optimistic… a nice counterpoint to the doom and gloom that Mo espouses.

    I do 60 degrees by night and 65 or 66 by day…but then again, I’m perimenopausal so the internal furnace is always burning.

  38. little gator says:

    After years of practice I’ve learned I can tolerate 66 but 65 makes me miserable. So you can guess where my heat setting is. The upstairs is always a degree or two cooler.

    I don’t wear gats indoors ut frewuently wear hoodie sweatshirts.

  39. (Sir Real) says:

    Hmm, that looks like leafy greens and cherry tomatoes, though, so either there’s a late crop in their undisclosed location, or perhaps a bit of greenhouse action going on.

    Yup, Stuart is acting a tad like the insensitive zealot… and Clarice appears to be on the woe is me dramamongering tip, mining for misery! A tip: Rolling down your sleeves is a handy first step to warmth…

  40. Erica says:

    Watching other people’s breakups is really depressing.

  41. Feminista says:

    Have any of you read Barbara Kingsolver’s latest book Animal,Mineral,Vegetable? It’s about the decision of her and her family,who live on a farm, to eat local for a year. They’re in SW Virginia,which makes it much easier. And I don’t think they’re self-righteous about it.

    Barbara’s husband Stephen was featured recently talking to David Broncaccio on PBS about the cooperative farming group he’s helped start. Economic necessity has made some neighboring tobacco farmers switch from growing tobacco to raising organic veggies. So it isn’t just “self-rigteous” progressives who’re doing things differently.

    But I can see how trying to buy locally in a Midwest winter would be very difficult. Perhaps Clarice can utilize her well-honed persuasive skills to instigate a compromise.

  42. Dr. Empirical says:

    I keep it at 65 here. Having personally replaced all the doors and windows, I can guarantee it’s not drafty, so 65 is plenty warm.

    Stuart has always been self-centered. I’ve never liked him.

    The final panel was so sad!

  43. JenK says:

    Hi tylik, yeah, it’s me. One question is, how do you define “local”?

    Deena, I thought Alison said it had a twin cities feel but she tries to keep it relatively regionless (although the annual snowfall does eliminate some regions – like western WA). Re: wine, I started to list WA, OR, CA, MI, NC, NM, NY …. and gave up and said “all over” 🙂

    Re: the ritual, it *could* be a helping-to-move-on thing to include Toni in the ritual. If, you know, Clarice also wanted to do the ritual. Which we don’t know.

    Gah. I don’t remember Stuart as being quite so insensitive. I keep wondering what Lois would interject to his babbling if she where there – thoughts?

    (Oh, and I’m not saying that Alison SHOULD have had Lois there. As the point is to show Clarice in a state of culture shock / OMGWTF-have-I-done?, Lois’ leavening would not be useful to the strip 😉

  44. Erica says:

    That was always my dad’s response when I complained about our house being kept cold in the Michigan winter: “Go put on a sweater.” I would then point out to him that I was already wearing a sweater, and occasionally two.

    FWIW, sleeping bag manufacturers say that, on average, women “sleep colder” than men and thus require more insulation to maintain the same degree of comfort. Based on my personal experience with thermostat battles, this seems right to me.

  45. fan#y767586840 says:

    how come that Lois and Sparrow agreed with this “keep it local” – no coffee etc., thing? hardly can believe it. also, why is Stewart getting so much space? is all well in Sparrow’ and Stewart’s relationship? sex-wise? or why is he becoming this “überhousewife” ? just some thoughts..

  46. The Cat Pimp says:

    I used to like Stuart, but a friend of mine insisted he was horrible and a control freak. Okay, Pat, I believe you now!

    What a kilt-clad butthead.

    Love where J.R. is going with the “I wish I was fousands of miles away!” “fousands”!!!

  47. Riotllama says:

    yes, eating local in the winter seems like a ridiculous (and expensive) challenge int his modern era.
    I really empathize with Clarice in this strip. Since this past summer I have had multiple instances of forgetting and calling my ex to tell a story or get support and received the cold shoulder and the reminder that I am no longer a part of their life and they are happier that way. It hurts like a knife. Actually, it hurts a lot worse than that. It hurts like loads of stones pressing down on your chest for day, slowly breaking your ribs.

  48. mlk says:

    I suspect that Clarice will “get used to it” by spending as much time as possible away from home. that seems to be Lois’s tactic.

    wonder whose home is the warmest and has the best food? Clarice may want to hang out with Sydney — or Ginger?

    YouveGotRedOnYou, I suspect that Ginger didn’t have more lasting consequences for her fling with Clarice simply because she’s single. Ginger’s friends don’t seem to credit her for Toni and Clarice’s marital problems, and I can imagine their not wanting to shun one of their own.

    interesting to consider how Toni’s doing just now; we don’t have much to go on. maybe that’ll be revealed in another strip?

  49. Pam I says:

    I don’t have a thermostat, I use the cat. The tighter they curl, the colder it is. Paws over the nose means I put the heating on – one room at a time. But then I do have my own inbuilt insulation layer.
    Oil has gone over that $100 barrel. Get used to cooler rooms, people, and leave some oil for our grandchildren.

  50. markmaker says:

    Oh wow. I’ve been Clarice fairly recently, only I didn’t call my ex, I just flew through the Netflix pretty fast. (and I didn’t cheat on anybody)

    Somebody from California wondered why northerners keep their thermostats up so high. Two thoughts:

    1) used to be wood heating or radiators, so there was a heat source and therefore more of an ability to self regulate by sitting nearer or further from the hot spot (and wood stoves had to be hot to keep the chimney cleaner), so people are looking for the same general experience but with a heat pump furnace thing. (cultural habits not individual habits)

    2) I once heard that people don’t get cold in Alaska. Either they’re war, or they’re dead. I’m guessing that the consequences for getting a little chilly in CA are that you get a little chilly. In NY, unless you do something specific to turn it around, you’ll only get chillier and then you’ll get sick. That induces a little cultural paranoia. The death rates from flu and pneumonia are lower than 100 years ago, but not as low as we’d like to think

  51. markmaker says:

    warm. Warm, not war. Either they’re warm or they’re dead.

  52. shadocat says:

    Put me in the camp that wants to smack Stuart upside the head. No salt? No coffee? How babaric can you get?

    I know it’s fairly early to get OT here, but I found out about this little rumor, and I pray that it’s true–have y’all heard about this?:

    http://slog.thestranger.com/2007/11/you_go_out_to_lunch_and_all_hell_breaks

  53. Jen says:

    no salt = goiter
    no fruit all winter = scurvy
    no coffee = cranky

    all point to redefining “local” to be a bit more generous

  54. Norwegian Black Metal says:

    Seventh Picture Panel: Notice potential stabby-grip of fork in Clarice’s hand.

    /that is all.

  55. RI Swampyankee says:

    Stuart has been getting on my last nerve since he quit his job to become a stay at home dad. He has become a one-man, closed rhetorical circuit. No one is there to tell him he’s over the top so he takes the silence for agreement.

    The path of least resistence for Clarice would be to spend evenings with Sydney, watching HDTV and drinking single malt. What she really should do is is march over to the thermostat, crank it up, and tell Stuart,”you’ll get used to it.”

  56. Feminista says:

    Now the mystery of where Jasmine and Janis are living is solved: they have their own place. I know,Lois could move in there and Moe could move into her room. Then she and Stuart could be self-righteous together.

  57. chriso says:

    Could I love Jiao Raizel more? I think not. This was another awesome installment. I can so relate to Clarice right now in my own way. Ouch.

  58. K.B. says:

    Some of us get more miserable than others in cold rooms. And the smugness of people who can handle low temperatures is tiresome. For me it’s 74. No lower than that.

  59. Maggie Jochild says:

    Shado, the rumor indeed is strong that Trent Lott is a “Wide Stance Republican”, which is preferable to calling him gay, even of the closeted variety. At this point, any conservative who makes a noise condemning queers seems likely to be doing kink behind closed doors. Even with the greed motive (for Lott) tossed in, it seems likely.

    And Hastert has resigned as well. His willingness to cover up for Foley no doubt arises from more than partisan motives.

    The thing is, I don’t think they really are gay. Not as I would define the term. Yeah, they’ll pay for or troll for sex with men, but they also are pedophiles/pederasts, rubber suit wearers, diaper wearers, goat blowers — they’re not just reacting against compulsory heterosexuality, they have no sexual boundaries at all. Except the confusion of sex with power, that’s a constant.

    On another note: Stuart was once a refugee taken into that household under sufferance of others. I’ve never seen him as having strong self-esteem, and this current behavior just reinforces it: Clarice is now the “outsider” seeking succour, and he doesn’t quite know how to extend that when it’s not in his direct self-interest to do so. I think in that regard he’s much more like Sydney than Mo. Mo’s heart actually does bleed.

    Clarice is beginning the journey of finding out how to create her own happiness, not lashed to the life-goals of another. Either she’ll find the thrill at its root or she’ll go for quicker comfort.

    I adore kasha varnishkes, but to eat it without seasoning and yummy add-ons is, well, depressingly gentile.

  60. Suz says:

    Have you ever lived somewhere where it gets cold enough to be cold indoors, markmaker? Most of us turn the heat up because it’s really uncomfortable to be cold, not because of any cultural heritage.

    I draw the line at two sweaters (or one sweater plus one hoody), which indoors means around 62. Adding another layer makes it hard to bend my arms.

  61. WASP coming out says:

    Now that Jiao Raizel is talking, I feel even guiltier that I don’t know how to pronounce her name.

  62. Jen in California says:

    I used to love Stuart, until his insensitivity to Sparrow’s pregnancy concerns went over the top. I used to think he was a good match for Sparrow, who could sometimes be pretty preachy and self-righteous herself. But then he completely ignored her need for individualism and identity during the pregnancy. I got this creepy feeling that she was nothing but a baby making machine during that time. It made me hate him, and that made me totally sad.

    Since then I’ve also been annoyed at his close-mindedness with Janice, and now his flat-out mean-ness to Clarise.

    And yeah, I have to say, I don’t know who is a little vague on the locavore concept, Stuart as a character or AB as the writer. But I wonder where they live that is actually producing Kasha locally? Or Bowtie Pasta? Or that nice salad in Winter? Actually out of all the things that COULD be produced locally, salt is likely to be one of them. Since many areas have local salt flats, or can make salt from other sources if they really want to. And tons and tons of places across the country now have soybean farms since soybeans are easy to grow and often government subsidised. So getting tamari made locally is also not too difficult in soybean producing regions (including much of the midwest). Although if you are both local and organic it does narrow things a lot as well. Maybe it’s just my ignorance of east coast crops, but Stuart’s explanation of “local” seems wierd to me.

    As for Clarice and Toni, it seems sad but inevitable. As a workaholic (my definition for Clarice, YMMV), of course she hasn’t really built any support structures for herself, she’s been too busy with work. So when she needs help, she has no one but Toni to turn to. And Toni, as the other side of that, is just kind of tired of carrying the emotional burden for Clarice and doesn’t have any more to give. But what does mystify me is that I have a vague memory of some strips in the last year or so where Toni and Gloria tried to have some kind of relationship together and failed miserably. So why are they pictured in domestic bliss in the last two strips? Was the relationship failure simply due to their guilt over cheating on their partners, or was it some sort of fundamental incompatibility. I can’t remember and might be way off base. Can anyone correct me and help me figure it out?

  63. Dianne says:

    Some of us get more miserable than others in cold rooms. And the smugness of people who can handle low temperatures is tiresome.

    Patience, your time is coming. I’m fine with 65 in the winter. It’s the no A/C in the summer that makes me want to die or get an MBA and hang out in over-air conditioned office buildings. At which point the smugness gradient reverses.

  64. (they call me) Sir Real says:

    Hmm, Stewart’s implied criticism of Clarice’s not putting family first – and the placing of that suggests maybe even a veiled accusation that this caused the breakup – is a tad ironical considering Sparrow’s working late… again.

    Stuart’s chosen family first… it seems like the family in question has different ideas, however!

  65. G. says:

    Sigh. It looks like Hi Flagston has gone back to the number one position on my list of most esteemed comic-strip dads.

  66. Anonymous says:

    Um… I don’t think anyone else here has said this yet. But here’s what I see down the pike. You have Clarice, a divorcee who’s driven by culture and professional aspirations, living in the house with ‘put my family first (and make all their decisions for them)’ Stuart, who is married-with-child to Sparrow, who’s driven by society and global aspirations and ever more distant from the ‘family’ Stuart put ‘first.’

    My only question is whether Stuart will somehow keep the house (where would he get the money?) or if Sparrow and Clarice will.

  67. PKbackintheUS says:

    Clarice and Sparrow…hmm. Housemates–yes. Couple–hmm. kinda a stretch. Even if that’s not what you meant.

  68. Douglas says:

    Is Stuart the Yellow Kid grown up? They’re both bald and they both own multiple-message shirts.

  69. Hilliard Addison Erskine says:

    Doleful!

  70. Kaitlin Duck Sherwood says:

    I read once (*once*, and never saw it anywhere else, tho lo these long years I have looked) that women have tighter control over their core body temp than men. If a man’s core body temp goes down by half a degree, well, it goes down by half a degree. But if a woman’s core temp drops by half a degree, the body pulls blood from the extremities to the core to keep the temp stable… because there might be a fetus in there. (You’d think the circuitry to actually *check* would be cheap and easy to install, but apparently not…) This makes hands and feet cold and overall generally miserable.

    What I take from this:
    1) Men are in fact reptiles.
    2) When I’m freezing and the men are walking around like it’s no problem, I can think to myself that women’s superiour core body temp just might explain why women live longer than me. This lets me say to myself, “I might be miserable, but you’re going to die eight years earlier!”

  71. byrdie says:

    In partial defense of Stuart, I have to wonder who exactly he was talking about with that “put my family first” line. Was he actually claiming that this was Clarice’s fault, or was he trying to sympathize with her by suggesting that it was Toni’s fault for having the affair rather than putting her family first and abstaining? In the best of times I wouldn’t care if Stuart fell down a manhole, but even for someone so socially oblivious I have to wonder if that barb was directed towards someone who could easily fork him to death while he slept.

    As to the look on Toni’s face, well — she’s the single mother of a teen who deliberately attempted to destroy her life and who has been venturing into drug culture. Having her look a bit tired and fed up shouldn’t be surprising. Add on to that having her ex-spouse unexpectedly call to whine at her during the dinner hour, and I can understand her attitude. Clarice was the one who was saying that she couldn’t live with Toni if Toni insisted on making dates with Gloria, and then promptly moved out — why should Clarice’s adjustment period have to disturb her creating a new life on her own? Shouldn’t that call have gone to a third party, or involved voicemail to their therapist?

    I notice that this is the happiest that I’ve seen either Raffi or Stella in a very, very long time. Frankly, I think that Clarice might be incapable of making her own family happy, and thus her moving out was the best thing for them. I wonder if Raffi’s acting out will continue if Toni and Gloria become a serious item, or if instead having Stella as a step-sister will be the balancing influence he needs?

    And to Anonymous, who mentioned “Stuart, who is married-with-child” – wait, did I miss something? Did Stuart and Sparrow actually marry after her mother let fly about the inheritance?

  72. Andrew B says:

    I think Stuart is the stereotypical married man. (Yes, I know they’re not technically married.) During the courtship he was all sweetness and diffidence. Now that he thinks he’s established, he has become totally self-centered. It’s not any worse than the more typical flowers and chocolates before, beer and football after type guy, but it’s more disappointing. You’d hope Stuart’s principles would extend to some awareness of his own treatment of women. Unfortunately a lot of feminist men seem to have trouble with that.

    Stuart really ought to stop and think about how vulnerable he would be if Sparrow dumped him. He could start with feminist analysis of the dangers of financial dependence.

    Sir Real, completely agree about the sleeves. It is so sadly typical of Clarice to whine about the cold but not put on a sweater. It could be good for her that nobody’s taking care of her. Could make her pull herself together.

    When is JR going to get fed up with that ridiculous hair style, and those silly elastics with the marbles? It’s sort of like the hippy version of a father who makes you wear a barrette all the time…

  73. Jetto says:

    Wow…no one mentioned that Stuart is cooking dinner and inquiring if Clarice is okay with her room and if she got connected to the lifeblood (wifi). Doesn’t this count as nurturing behavior at all?

  74. Jetto says:

    I like how this points out what happens when lesbian men become more lesbian than lesbians.

  75. mk says:

    Wow tylik, west to east, the opposite of me. I went from Cleveland to California. One thing I noticed is that homes in warmer climates are just so poorly insulated, if you heated them the way Clevelanders do in the winter you would go broke.
    Echoing what someone else said, somehow if it is colder outside, say 25, 65 feels colder inside, than if it is 60 outside. Don’t know why.

  76. JenK says:

    Byrdie,

    Thanks for raising those very good points. I think Stuart, in his mind, was trying to be the hearty hail-friend-well-met-you’ll-be-comfy-in-no-time – but the strip turns on Clarice putting the worst possible spin on everything.

    OTOH I recently reprogrammed our thermostat to go up to 68 (horrors) at 6:30 every morning and again when we get home from work. And something tells me local sources of salt and soy sauce could be ferreted out … but will Clarice want to take the time? 🙂

  77. elisgem says:

    no salt for the sake of eating only local? that is quite extreme (or am i just the ignorant european?).

    i also wondered how lois deals with all the restrictions stuart has introduced; i do remember that she seemed less than happy about how things went in the little commune when she told clarice that they had a room for her.

    love it how this episode centers on folks who have been on the margins of storytelling – must be due to the return to a two week-rhythm. thank you so much! (and poor clarice …)

  78. Feminista says:

    JenK–Thanks for coming to Stu’s defense. I find him a sympathetic character,and didn’t see his remarks to Clarice as being insensitive.

    Re: temperatures,many officemates and household members argue about wear the thermostat should be. I think compromise is in order,and it’s high time for a collective household meeting to iron our these probs. It helps that they have long-standing friendships.

    I could tell some horror stories worse than this from my days of collective living in the 70s,but I’ll restrain myself.

  79. Chris (in Massachusetts) says:

    Clarice, you can stay with me. You’ll be much happier, and warmer, and there’s coffee and salt and WiFi, and local Chinese and pizza delivery. Real pizza, from a pizza joint run by Greeks.

    None of that Domino’s stuff.

    Yes, I’m a straight white male. No, I’m not at ALL like Stuart.

  80. Feminista says:

    Oops,that should be where,not wear,and out,not our,in the second paragraph.

  81. Nina says:

    Dear WASP coming out,

    Having loved the name Jiao Raizel since first reading it, allow me to help. Jiao officially has a “tone”, but since that’s impossible to communicate, we’ll go just for pronunciation: j?-‘au(with a dot over the u I can’t find the symbol for in html) For a link to the auditory pronunciation, try . (The recording is a slow version, when sped up, the sounds run together beautifully.) As for Raizel, start saying raisin, but when you hit the hard “s” sound, finish the word with an unvoiced “l” in the back of your throat. I hope that helps

    And Kaitlin Duck Sherwood,
    Men ARE reptiles and the world is cold for those of us with natural inclinations towards the tropics! (I just came back from South East Asia where I was blissfull, much to the confusion of my hosts who expected “the silly ang moh (white person)” to melt.) I’ve taken to making business suits out of fleece for myself and my female friends. Pics available upon request – suits available if you’re extremely nice to me. 😉

  82. Nina says:

    oops, the link to the pronunciation of Jiao seems not to have worked –
    trying again http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/jiao

  83. Alex K says:

    @Kaitlin Duck Sherwood: Yes. Reptiles. You just noticed?

    My bet is that Stuart makes kasha varnishkes with vegetable, not chicken, stock, and leaves out the egg.

  84. straight european says:

    Of course the point of eating local is that so much energy gets wasted in moving things, which is certainly no reason to skip salt, as the amount you eat is so negligible. Coffee is harder. I buy “local” coffee, but it only means locally roasted.

    I actually don’t feel that Stuart behaves like a standard married man. He behaves, unfortunately, like too many stay-at-home moms, just as Clarice behaves as too many workaholic fathers (and me). I can assure you that the facial expression and the “I’ve never regretted making my family my top priority” totally remind me of one of my daughter’s friend’s SAH-mother.

  85. Vicki says:

    I wonder if Clarice is enough up on history to tell Stuart that denying people salt is what the British did in India, and was the center of some of Mohandas Gandhi’s organizing. Or what he’d say, if accused of being the oppressor to her Mahatma.

  86. Amananta says:

    We are keeping our heat between 60 and 65 this winter, not because we like it that cold, but because we can’t afford to keep it any higher. Yay, the economy.

    On Stuart – I”ve had people say really insensitive things about all manner of stuff, the one that irritates me most is when they start bragging about how their good health habits will keep them from ever developing the malady you’ve just told them you have. I don’t think it is meant to be insensitive – I think it is more that they fear the same fate befalling them and the first urge is to start explaining how one is immune. Stuart may be reassuring himself more of the stability of his own marriage, and seems oblivious to the effect his own words have on Clarice.

  87. Alex the Bold says:

    Although I feel bad for Clarice, eating terrible food in a cold house with a crazy man at the controls …

    I want to ask everyone to visit this site: http://www.prettybirdwomanhouse.blogspot.com/

    It’s a battered women’s shelter on the Standing Rock Reservation in South Dakota. Recently, their shelter was burned to the ground by men who broke in to steal computers and televisions.

    Now they’re trying to buy an available house situated across the street from a police station (which is about as safe as you can get). And they need money to do it.

    If you can’t give money, many credit cards allow you to donate points to a charity.

    I usually never ask people to give to a charity, but this is just heartbreaking. So I hope a few of you will pass this along to other interested parties.

  88. Alex the Bold says:

    And speaking of the heat …

    I once wintered in western Massachusetts in an unheated attic after my arranged housing fell through at the last minute. Ambient temperature about 55 degrees.

    I can’t imagine 64 is any better.

    Is it possible Stewart has had a stroke from all the spinning and is now insane? And no coffee? Has he issued an edict on tampons and maxipads yet?

  89. Andrew B says:

    “I’m sorry you broke up with your lover of over twenty years and left the kid you’ve helped raise when you moved out of the house you’ve lived in for ten years. Y’know, I’ve never regretted making family my top priority.” How can that NOT count as insensitive? Of course Stuart isn’t trying to be cruel. He’s just completely self-absorbed.

    In the context of this strip, “come [straight] out” is a cleverly twisted phrase. (Clever of Alison, not Stuart.) If Stuart is going to suspend the house constitution, he needs to come straight out and say so. As it is, his constituents seem to be voting with their feet.

    Stuart exemplifies the trend on both (all?) sides of the contemporary American political spectrum of conflating displays of personal virtue with meaningful political action. Refusing to eat soy sauce does not support local agriculture. If he’s in the midwest, among soybean farmers, it could possibly have the opposite effect (infinitesimal, of course).

  90. Leslie says:

    Something tells me that Sparrow makes a stop by Starbucks for a large somethingorother on her way to work.

    And I have to chuckle at the heat conversation. We just had central heat/air put into our old house (to replace electric baseboards – gah!) and our wonderful contractor (who is a perfectionist who keeps fine tuning a system that I think is fine) keeps getting genuinely puzzled to come over and find me waiting for him in a house that’s 64, and with thermostats programmed only to 66 at their highest (60 and night ane while we’re at work, though we do turn it up from there if we’re too cold). You can tell that he honestly can’t conceptualize anyone wanting to have the temp at anything less than 72.

    I want to send Clarice a care package of her own coffeemaker, some fair-trade coffee, a big thing of sea-salt, a thick down comforter, and some shearling slippers.

  91. mulieribus says:

    Hey, I didn’t have time to read everybody so I hope I’m not just repeating what everyone’s been saying.

    Poor Clarice. Of course I have unstoppable radiators that keep my house way too hot all winter long. But if I even go to someone house where it’s 70 or less, I feel so miserable.

    Two: I think JR should be at that stage where she says Fwosted Fwoot Bats. I heard it that way in my head.

    Thanks for another great episode, Allison. Don’t forget Angus and the bloaters!

  92. jk says:

    I kind of what Sparrow to barf in Stewart’s lap. (It seems like Sparrow hasn’t been central to any storylines since she gave birth. Party foul.)

    “The path of least resistance for Clarice would be to spend evenings with Sydney, watching HDTV and drinking single malt.” –hilarious–

    Tales of cold rooms in winter remind me of a couple years ago when we moved into our first house, broke, and we didn’t turn the heat on hardly ever (in Seattle though, not New England). It’s hard!! Warm showers and baking sure felt good.

  93. Jen says:

    I grew up in and live in Canada and despite frigid temps outside the coldest winters aren’t usually too bad given the efficient (but could be better) housing. In fact, the coldest winter I ever spent was in Ireland where the day time highs were usually around 5 deg C (42F) and the inside temps not much better: 10C (52F) and DAMP that seeps in everywhere. Come in to the house cold and wet and never expect to dry off & warm up even with a fire. Single-glazed windows with no/poor seals, no central heat (crummy radiators) & no insulation; we could’ve had a corner on the peat market and fire blazing all day and never be warm. Of course, posher houses weren’t too bad. I usually slept in long underwear, wool sweater, sleeping bag, quilt, toque, mitts and socks & with a hot water bottle. I’ll never complain about N.American cold again (yes, my fingers are crossed…).

  94. Debbie says:

    JR’s hairdo is EXACTLY like my four-year-old daughter’s. And like mine when she has enough hair-ties….Love the spoon-hanging in the panel with Toni. I so admire the way you draw children!

  95. Grisha says:

    If Clarice stays, and I expect she won’t, she should lay in her own supply of Tabasco Sauce. The troops use them to make the less popular menus of MRE’s palateable.

  96. K. says:

    Yeah, yeah, Stu’s being insensitive. But what character here hasn’t been? They all have flaws, and that’s cool. Insentivity station? Mo, Clarice, Sydney…

    I still love Stuart. And maybe he’s not being insensitive, maybe he’s angry. It seems to be he’d identify with Toni here. His values (family and home first, career second) are the the ones that Clarice has devalued all this time, and now she’s suffering as a result, and maybe that just pisses him off enough that he can’t offer unmixed hospitality. Hasn’t that ever happened to you? You want to be welcoming, and for the most part you can be, but those little comments sneak out…

    Rock on Stuart. You’re all right.

  97. Jude says:

    Since I live in a house where we keep the thermostat at 52 so our second floor is a more livable (and sleepable) 64, I can’t really bitch about Stuart’s thermostat setting.

    But OMG Stuart is a horrible, self-centered, insensitive asshole. The only reason I can think of for Sparrow to stay with him is because he’s free (monetarily, not emotionally) childcare and because she doesn’t have the time to break up with him.

    Possible solution:
    Mo boots Sydney
    Clarice moves in with Mo
    Sydney moves in with Sparrow, Lois, and Stuart
    Sparrow, fueled by Sydney’s ample sarcasm, boots Stuart
    Stuart lives in street, on whatever he can make as a bicycle courier, where he can be superior at everyone in the world
    Sparrow, Lois, and Sydney turn up the thermostat, drink hot coffee, and use Sydney’s vast entertainment system

  98. JenK says:

    Jen – Seattle was hit by a severe windstorm last year. Trees down everywhere, taking down power lines with it. We were without power for 5 days; the only good part was that our nightly lows were in the 30F, so the house bottomed out around 40F.

    But yeah, nothing like a nice bathroom at 40F. I’d run hot water into the bathtub and let it sit. After ten-fifteen minutes the bathroom would be 60F. Suddenly 60F was *MARVELOUS*. But not at *MARVELOUS* as getting power back!

  99. Rosa says:

    The very best thing about not having a roomate this year is that our heat bill and electric bill are down almost by half. The thermostat is the hardest compromise to make – some of us were raised frugal, and some people feel like “I have a job, why should I have to wear socks in my own house?”

    But, yeah, Stuart’s being a dipshit – most locavores eat salt and spices. Greens you shouldn’t have to import, though – we’ve got live parsley, beets, and kale even though it was 5 degrees outside yesterday.

  100. martinet says:

    Hey, don’t nobody denigrate kasha varnishkes! I love them (although eating them without salt would indeed make me shudder). Very little seems cozier to me in the winter than KV with a side of steamed chard with butter and vinegar. They’re even OK with veggie broth in place of the chicken broth–although they’re better with veggie chicken-broth substitute (my co-op has this and it’s been very helpful in recipe adaptation).

    My view on the local eating–why the heck can’t Stuart at least buy some nice sea salt at the co-op (ours has several versions, including foofoo sel de gris), thereby supporting the local co-op, if not necessarily the local food producers? Isn’t that just as important?

    Also–I admit I haven’t read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and am reluctant to, because I did read the essay that apparently started the whole thing, “Lily’s Chickens,” in Small Wonder, and I found Kingsolver almost insufferably sanctimonious, although I’ve previously been a great fan and will probably continue to be such regarding her fiction (like to see her get back to it). However, I do know from book reviews that even she allowed each family member to have at least one exemption from local eating (coffee, I believe, being hers!). Can’t Stuart budge that far?

    You’veGotRed–re Jiao Raizel’s dialogue, this isn’t her first, BUT, it’s actually her second about the Frosted Fruit Bats (they may have even been her first words!). I recall a strip from a couple years ago involving a supermarket tantrum in which Stuart said that JR knew six words and three of them were FFB (at that point, pronounced “Fozzy Foo Baps.”

    Nina–thank you for “Jiao,” but I’m wondering about “Raizel.” Some years ago I was involved with a play in which one of the characters, who had anglicized her name to Rose, was referred to as “Raizel” by her German-Jewish sister. That actor (who did have a dialect coach) pronounced it “Hry-zl” (sort of a gutteral, aspirated R), and that’s how I’ve been pronouncing JR’s name in my head. Am I totally off base?

  101. Aly says:

    Oh! Poor Clarice!

  102. Anonymous says:

    I used to feel bad for Clarice, and hoped they’d get back together but now I feel like saying, “I hope you’re happy with the path you’ve chosen!” and thumbing my nose at her…..But some of annoyance at Clarice might stem from my own personal drama (just found out my partner of 8 years has been flirting with some girl on facebook)…..

  103. Jessica says:

    Sorry–I forgot to add my name to the last post!

  104. Aunt Soozie says:

    Yiddish has multiple dialects and varying pronouciations…as in the continuing argument about how to say “kugel” (noodle pudding)…keh-gill, koo-ghol, kuh-ghol… I don’t think there’s a definitive answer.

    If you wanted to be really polite you could ask Jiao’s parents how they pronounce it. In my family we say KUH-ghol and we’d say RAY-szl (the way Nina explained it).

    I have some friends who ate local because they were macrobiotic. But if you’re concerned about eating local for reasons of conservation…and you buy salt, coffee and soy sauce at certain times of the year…couldn’t you just buy more and stock up? Wouldn’t that have the same environmental impact?

    Did you see the story about the family who was trying to live low impact for a year? They had a box of worms in their kitchen to eat their compost? That was inspiring.

  105. Gaudior says:

    Hm. As a member of a collective household for the past several years, I think I’m noticing one thing about what Stuart’s doing here. Namely: in an established household, there are lots of compromises. One person wants to be local-grown vegan, one person is damned if she’s going to give up McDonald’s cheeseburgers, one person doesn’t care either way but would really appreciate it if there’s some food on the table when she gets home from work, and one person wants Frosted Fruit Bats. And everyone argues about this, pretty much constantly, and you eventually come to a solution everyone likes, or at least one that everyone can live with.

    But when you bring a new person in, everyone suddenly sees that person as someone they could bring in on their side of the argument. I’d be willing to bet that it’s only because Stuart is the only one home that he can so blithely talk about how “we” do things this way. If it were just Clarice and Lois, I bet Lois would be saying that “we” do things very differently (although being Lois, she might be more upfront about the disagreements between her and the other housemates– Stuart’s always been more fanatically enthusiastic).

    I’m hoping Clarice sticks it out long enough to put her foot down, and start pointing out that she is a housemate, not a guest, so she has rights too– to help make decisions, not just “get used to” what someone else decides. Cuz collective housing is awesome when it really is collective, and I could see Lois feeling pretty shoved to the side by the heteronormativity of it all lately. I’ve always found the Lois/Sparrow/Etc. household pretty inspirational, and glad that it’s hung on, despite all the changes everyone’s been through. Go communes!

  106. bigmaninaskirt says:

    Eating local does seem sometimes to become a euphemism for food fascism.

    I had a roommate who violently insisted that we couldn’t use the central heat, no matter how cold it got (to be absolutely fair, this was in Santa Cruz) and unlike Stuart I stopped wearing my Utilikilt at home, ’cause I was freezing. Notice his leggings/long underwear/whatever, Stuart is cold, but his self-righteousness is keeping him toasty….I hope Clarice finds comfort, hopefully with Toni….Dammit! I wish I was ‘fousands of miles away’ eating ‘Frosted Fruit Bats,’ too!

  107. martinet says:

    I think Gaudior’s right, and I also think that Stuart’s doing what he’s doing because he doesn’t have anywhere else to establish a power base. Sparrow has her job and as Executive Director, she’s very much in power. I’m not even sure that power matters that much to Lois, but at the very least she has her job and a relationship outside of the household to diversify her interests and participation in community. Since Stuart no longer has a job, the house is his power structure and he’s assuming authority because he can. Being the more active parent also contributes to that because he has to establish himself as authority figure for JR–I think he’s just extending his parental authority to the rest of his household, in spite of the fact that they’re adults and don’t need a parent!

    I think he should go back to work, even if it’s part-time. Or at least get really involved in local politics rather than blogging and boycotting within his own home.

  108. That Fuzzy Bastard says:

    Re: Men are reptiles

    No, no—if men were reptiles, they couldn’t cope with cold weather; that’s why there’s snakes in Arizona, and not Minnesota. Women, apparently, are reptiles, men are mammals. This is, uh, why men have hair. And women lay eggs. Or something.

  109. mulieribus says:

    Come to think of it Sparrow and Lois and Ginger went through a similar thing before with Milkweed. Saying they couldn’t use their lightbulbs and sneering at what they were eating, etc. Basically, as self-righteous as one may feel about how they eat or live, gently trying to introduce your housemates to it, and influence their decisions by talking about it, is going to be more effective than trying to impose your values on them. With the caveate that I’m lucky if I can feed myself at all, so sometimes it has to be McDonald’s. There’s one across the street.

  110. mulieribus says:

    Ooops, caveat. Hm. Put ate on there. Maybe I’m hungry?

  111. markmaker says:

    Fuzzy Bastard, yer hilarious! Love that post.

    Suz- yeah, I live somewhere where the cold spot of the winter has highs below freezing. I think that counts. If cultures can have cuisines, which are really food and spice habits, why not comfort level habits? Yeah, I’m more diversified in my eating as an adult than just what I was fed growing up, but how many people consider mulled wine a holiday basic? How long do these habits take to wear down to nothing in the child-rearing heritage? I really just don’t know.

    I like the idea somebody posted about Stuart secretly being worried about Sparrow’s being at work all the time. That makes sense to me.

    Yeah to the person who knew about the salt tax in India. It was inforced with a massive hedge around a large swath of India. There’s a book out on it now, The Great Hedge of India. Pretty weird piece o history!

    Have a great Wednesday!

  112. The Cat Pimp says:

    I think Stuart is using the house as a lab for his political leanings. Lois is already checked out. She has her own little family to spend time with. Sparrow is checked out. She’s at work all the time. So Stuart is alone to do whatever tickles his fancy. Clarice has to negotiate her terms with him. Or, she might just go back to work like Sparrow is doing.

    As for Sydney potentially moving, I suspect she has the income to go live by herself if things don’t work with Mo. Mo has been in that apartment for so long, that I think rent control (assuming the fictitious town of Bechdelville has it) would be to her advantage.

    Of course, JR might knock some sense into her daddy. That’d be very deliciously funny. “Fwuitbats NOW, or I go on a hunger stwike! I am being opwessed by the MAN!”

  113. K. says:

    The paralel threads of invective against Stuart and evidence that men are reptiles (i.e. cold-blooded) is beginning to make me nervous.

    I think Stuart is, and has been, acting in many ways like a (stero)typical stay-at-home-parent. Except, unlike Toni, the other stay-at-home-parent we’ve seen, he isn’t complaining about it: he seems happy with his role, if a little self-righteous. But sometimes SAHP’s get isolated. They over-parent (i.e., folks who aren’t their kids). They start to feel, and act, as if the home is their sphere completely and exclusively (after all, they spend all day every day there). It doesn’t have anything to do with his gender. But instead of seeing him as typical (as we might a stay-at-home-mom), instead of gently laughing or pitying him, this forum has impugned his morals, motives and personality and suggested he be dumped and kicked out of the house.

    Do we have any evidence he’s a bad dad? I mean, parents can be annoying or overprotective, but is he harming his child? And is there any evidence that his housemates (and partner) are really unhappy with him–and not just the usual annoyance that comes, sometimes, with co-habiting with other human beings, even ones we love? Would it have been suggested that he was being a whiner, food fascist, and should be ejected from the house if he were female? I think some comments here have smacked of sexism, and the “men are reptiles” bit doesn’t help.

    I’ve mentioned some negatives: Stuart’s isolated, he’s rigid, and his comments to Clarice were, at best, ill-chosen. But he’s also loyal, welcoming, committed, community-minded, and principled. Not to mention, though we don’t see it here, he has a good sense of humor. And incredibly graceful and comfortable in a role in which most men would squirm, and which society laughs at and scorns. Give the guy(s) a break.

  114. Xena Fan says:

    When the trio (Lois, Ginger, Sparrow) bought the house (many, many years ago), I was under the impression that payments and ownership were divided equally. I was also under the impression that Stuart was a renter with the trio as landlords. If this is true, couldn’t Lois and Clarice join together and insist on better and warmer house rules….

    I never liked Stuart and still want Sparrow to toss him out on his kilt-covered butt! Down with Stuart!

  115. YouveGotRedOnYou says:

    Maggie, K. and byrdie: Those are the two most compelling explanations for Stuart’s behavior I’ve heard so far.

    Stuart needs to punch a guy who is threatening to his family or housemates right about now. It would do a lot to remind us why he’s even here. Or maybe Liz Farkas-McLaughlin. Whichever.

    JenK, I’ve always taken it for granted that the action unfolds in Northampton, Massachusetts, but I could be wrong. (I went to U-Mass, so it’s easy to recognize this small, cosmopolitan, lesbian-redolent city as Noho in a way that I couldn’t as, say, South Bend, because I’ve never been there.)

    Vicki: I think Stuart would suddenly become deathly quiet and start staring at the wall for hours on end. Initially, the rest of the house would enjoy the qyuiet, but after a while, it would start to get…SCARY…

    Alex: Damn, that really makes me mad. Someone call in The Equalizer.

    TFB: LOL

    I think that’s everything.

    Ray

  116. notpeanut says:

    Ouch… hang in there, Riotllama… hope it starts going better for you soon.

  117. Ellen says:

    The term “stay-at-home-mom” or “stay-at-home-parent” cracks me up because it seems this parent is the one to spend his or her life outside the house, buying food and clothes, getting the kids to school, the dog to the vet, the car to mechanic, etc. etc.

    Why is Stuart being so over-the-top? In a twice monthly strip with over 30 regular or semi-regular characters, it is tough to nuance each player. While I love Gaudior’s take on why Stuart is playing to his sterotypical ends here (and it makes sense), I also believe there are limitations to how much a cartoonist/writer can do in the time and space she has.

  118. K. says:

    Sparrow & Ginger bought the house. Stuart and Lois are renters (Lois because she defaulted on her student loans, and her credit wasn’t good enough for a mortgage). I don’t know what the situation is now that Ginger is no longer a house-mate.

    Bechdel has said that although the city the dykes-and-sundries live in resembles NoHo/JP/Oakland/Madison/Twin Cities, etc. it’s none of those–an imaginary pastiche.

    Ellen–you’re right on both counts. I do think in part Stuart (the character, as a device) is playing the stereotypical part to set up the interaction between Clarice and Toni, which is the strip’s emotional moment.

  119. Andy says:

    I love all of your episodes. I am amazed at your ability to maintain their personalities. I know how Clarice feels. I almost became her, and then I remembered why I love my family.

    When is the next book Bechdel?

  120. zeitgeist says:

    Oh C’mon, Stuart’s not perfect, far from it, but so are the other characters! Is it just me and my rather un sentimental attitude toward kids or is Jaio a little brat, sort of going the way of Isabel?

  121. Dr. Empirical says:

    I don’t see Lois putting up with house conditions as depicted in this script. It has been suggested that she’s spending most of her time with Jasmine, but that doesn’t explain why whe’d invite Clarice into such an unpleasant environment. Perhaps she’s looking for an ally?

    It’s a measure of our regard for Alison that we’re all dissecting the strip to this extent. No one is assuming that anything is just the result of sloppy writing. We all take it as a given that Alison has thought it all through, and has a plan. Go Alison!

  122. zeitgeist says:

    I really hope Clarice makes her way back home. Toni, just get over that Gloria chick already. I love how thru the years Alison has made Toni the one who waves the Marriage banner, while Clarice seemed a little skittish about commitment. Now we see true colors! I’m in a very long term relationship, and I always root for them. I hope those two survive! Forgot to include it in my comment above about Stuart, but is it just me or is Stuart really eccentric! He could be a riot as a character if he is allowed to grow old in this strip!

  123. martinet says:

    JenInCalifornia, since I don’t think anyone’s addressed your questions about Toni and Gloria’s relationship issues, I’m jumping in on that one. I don’t think their relationship “failed miserably” but it hit some snags largely due to external influences, rather than guilt or incompatibility.

    First there was the issue with Raffi sending the video of Clarice and Toni arguing about Toni’s infidelity with Gloria to the Freedom to Marry mailing list. That made both Toni and Gloria persona non grata with Freedom to Marry (and subject to nasty attacks from Liz McLaughlin-Farkas) because they were seen as detrimental to the cause (i.e., demonstrating that gay people can’t keep it in their pants, so why should they be allowed to get married anyway if they’re just going to cheat). That pretty much put the nail in the coffin on both Ana and Gloria’s and Clarice and Toni’s relationships (both already on the skids) and most likely caused some trauma to Toni and Gloria’s developing relationship. Understandable.

    Then they ran into problems because Toni and Clarice had decided to stay in the house together even though they were splitting up personally; Clarice said expressly that she couldn’t do that if Toni was going to date (anyone, I think, not just Gloria). I think Toni basically blew her off on that (rightfully so) and went ahead with dating Gloria (they went to the movies, Gloria and Stella came over for leaf-raking, etc.); even so, that’s going to put a crimp in a blossoming relationship. Clarice finally moved out because she couldn’t stand seeing them together–but I think she should have anyway, because if she wasn’t going to be with Toni romantically she had no right to dictate who Toni could and couldn’t see. She may have realized that subconsciously, even if she thought she was moving out just to spare herself some pain.

    I don’t know if I’d describe what’s going on between Toni and Gloria as “domestic bliss” necessarily–more as building a gradual connection. They’re happy but it has to be kind of a low-key and cautious happy, because they’re both still dealing with the repercussions of divorce and all its attendant life changes. Having Raffi and Stella and their longtime friendship helps (and I think that definitely helps the kids too).

    Incidentally, I’ve wondered about the legal ramifications of Toni and Clarice’s split, because we haven’t seen anything legal other than the changing of the wills. I’m assuming that Clarice is paying child support for Raffi (I strongly expect she’d do so ethically even if she wasn’t made to do so legally, because she is the higher earner, Toni is the primary parent–especially with Raffi staying in the house–and she’d recognize the need to chip in). Child support *might* be enough to allow Toni to meet the mortgage even if she’s not getting any kind of alimony (and Toni would be able to figure out any money-saving strategies), and Clarice may have been able to afford that, especially if her rent in the group house isn’t too high. I don’t know, it just seemed a little weird to me to have the financial reason for the two of them staying in the house be so prominent and then have Clarice decide to leave. Do folks think it was really just rationalization on Toni and Clarice’s part because the actual, physical split was too difficult–the final statement that the relationship was really, really over–rather than actual financial strain? I tend to lean that way.

  124. zeitgeist says:

    “For me it’s 74. No lower than that.”

    Oh K.B., then c’mon over to my condo! They keep the heat on in this building Cranked to 80! I live in MA. and I go outside and I’m shocked about how cold it is. (Not that I should be, it IS November!)

    I love Kasha Varnishkas! Best Kasha was at 2nd Ave Deli in NYC, but it closed!! But hey, Kasha, it needs salt! Besides, salt is not exactly something that is hard to store in the winter to eat locally, at least that’s what i seem to remember historically before modern times…!

    No Coffee…..now that’s just crazy talk!

  125. Jaibe says:

    Wow, I like Anonymous’ Sparrow + Clarice — maybe when the meet up at a campaign / lobbying function in a hotel together.

    I can’t believe all the people who are calling the one person making a political difference a “sell out”. (Well, one of three if you count Toni & Gloria’s grass roots work, or there’s also Harriet last I knew.) I doubt she’s making significant money, just more than running a shelter, and I’m sure she would be making a difference!

  126. zeitgeist says:

    ‘I don’t see Lois putting up with house conditions as depicted in this script. It has been suggested that she’s spending most of her time with Jasmine, but that doesn’t explain why whe’d invite Clarice into such an unpleasant environment. Perhaps she’s looking for an ally?’

    You know, I do see Lois putting up with it. She may not like it too much, but I always saw her as kind of laid back. She WAS Mo’s buddy for ever, after all. You have to be laid back to deal with her.She does seem to get along with Stuart, too, which is a testament to her easy going nature. With Clarice in the house, things would be more equitable for Lois. Right now, it’s like she’s in the middle of this family, like a stray Aunt or something, its got to be a weird dynamic.

  127. Deena in OR says:

    K, JenK, I know, I know. 🙂 It’s just my own private intellectual conceit that anchors the strip in the Twin Cities, since I lived in St. Paul and worked in inner-South Minneapolis in the late 80’s and early 90’s, when Alison was living and working there. Some of the background artwork and scenes in “Spawn of DTWOF”, in particular, look *very* familiar, even if never specifically identified. I swear I recognize some of the buildings that Mo is biking past on her way home from Raffi’s delivery. They look a lot like the street fronts on South Franklin at the time. Allow me my illusions, gosh darn it !! (grin)

  128. Mojave66 says:

    Yeah, K’s right. There’s no reason to kick Stuart out. He’s been a great dad for Jiao and Sparrow certainly hasn’t felt a need to dump him (as far as we know). He’s being assy, but so has everyone else at one point or another.

  129. Elizabeth says:

    I thought they lived in San Fransisco because they went to city hall in march 04 when the city was doing gay marriages.
    http://www.planetout.com/entertainment/comics/dtwof/archive/436.html

  130. pd says:

    I remember the changing names on the side of the fishing boat in “Pogo”, which predates “Mad” by about 4 years.

  131. bindweed says:

    Hey all you Stuarthaters- I’m a Stuatlover, in all this kilted liberal stayathomedadness. Okay, on the whole Sparrow doesn’t like him or something; Sparrow, of all people should feel comfortable making her own relationship choices if anyone should, working for shelters and NARAL and such! Yeah, she got annoyed when everyone wanted a baby so much, but as soon as Mo affirmed her ambivialance about making such a huge commitment, she strolled right over to the pregnancy books. Has it occured to anyone that Sparrow and Stuart love each other? That maybe they even have great sex? He must be a little special to have won the heart of a lesbian. Everyone talks about Toni and Clarice’s relationship, and beleive me, I’m mourning with you, but they arn’t the ONLY parenting couple in the strip. I think Jaio Raizel (cont)

  132. April says:

    Wow.
    Reeeeely want to feel sorry for Clarice but hey, she did foresee this right? I think a few unfamiliar inconveniences are getting blown up because she’s depressed re: Toni. I wish I didn’t know what that feels like. Chin up dollface.

    Fuzzy bastard you are one hilarious mammal dude. How could I have been so blind? Of course I am reptile! Parthenogenetic lizard woman!

    CatPimp: can’t wait for the Children’s Crusade. “Ceweal fowever! Buckwheat never!”

    K, you are voice of reason, thanks for reigning it in. Yes this is kind of a lowpoint in my appreciation of Stuart, but he’s not a deadbeat! He’s doing a pretty thankless (speaking from experience) job, and getting a bit territorial – so sue him. To me he sounds like the voice of Clarice’s conscience, you know the little angel/devil sitting on her shoulder?

    martinet: “gradual connection”? Didn’t T & G smooch in like, 1994 or something? And didn’t Toni get caught with G’s underwear years ago? I reckon they are waaaaaay into the connection thing.

    And before I forget, thanks AB for clearing up the “where does Jasmine live?” question! Nice exposition!

  133. Jen in California says:

    Martinet, Thanks for the reminder on some of the history, believe it or not, I had forgotten about the video debacle leading to awkwarkness between Toni and Gloria. I just remembered there was awkwardness in there somewhere.

    It’s not really domestic bliss, you’re right. It’s just seems strange because I see them together, but I don’t get any read on their feelings. Maybe everyone’s just a little overwhelmed right now, which probably rings true, considering the situation.

    In reading everyone’s comments on Stuart, I’m rethinking my previous harshness, bourne not out of anger at whole race of “reptilian” males but out of disappointment. I still feel like he’s gotten more controlling and insensitive since the pregnancy, it’s not just a new thing. But some of the rationales provided by Maggie, Byrdie and Ellen are pretty interesting. I guess it’s pretty superficial of me to say that he’s suddenly changed so I don’t like him. It’s a more reasonable assumption to say that he’s got something going on emotionally and he’s freakin’ out a little. He’s still being an insensitive bimbo right now, but at least there might be some underlying cause. Meaning, hope springing eternal, he might come round in some way.

    I love that Mulieribus remembered Milkwood, the persistant house-guest/cultural investigator ! If memory serves, Sparrow eventually caught on to Milkwoods hypocrisy and self-righteousness and booted her butt to the curb. While I definitely don’t want to see Stuart get booted, it might be a good thing for all concerned if Sparrow called him on some of his crap and insisted on some sort of spiritual cleansing (Black Cohash anyone?)

    Truthfully, I’m sure that I feel tons more disappointed and upset and unhappy and low-patience with Stuart’s self-absorption and controlling ways because he’s a feminist. That’s always the way. It’s always high expectations on those we trust and feel safe with. They are the ones we can’t stand to have hurt us. We’ve sadly gotten resigned to being stomped on by the rest. And I’m not bashing on Stuart cause he’s a guy, I feel the same way when Mo or Toni acts hurtful as well.

    I’d like to say the same thing about Sydney, but she warned us right from the start that she was “predatory, yet alluring”. I’ve never trusted that little snake in the grass, speaking of reptiles, (smile). Poor thing.

  134. bindweed says:

    is a lucky kid to have such parents- dads like Stuart arn’t exactly a dime a dozen, and many moms arn’t nearly as empowered and confidant as Sparrow, either.
    Yeah, Stuart could’ve picked his words better, but for heaven’s sake, Clarice does seem to need a wake up call, and she is perfectly capable of buying her own food or eating out. She has an instant place to live,with people she’s known for years and years, which is often not the ways those things go, and as someone who’s spent many a night on nature’s thermostat, pull your head out of your tax bracket and put on a sweater.
    Why does everyone dump on Stuart so much? He’s the only male character we see much of these days, and he’s practically designed to be a feminist’s dream, but does he get kudos for being progressive, nonviolent, enviormentally aware, politically active, a wonderful dad, or welcoming and helping to homeschool Janis who he supposedly can’t accept? No! Yah gotta praise people for doing something right, not just scold them for doing wrong, if you really want a better world. He doesn’t even bug Sparrow to bring another woman to bed! (Of corse, she’d probably throw him across the room. Or would she?) C’mon, people! Give the guy a break!

  135. bindweed says:

    And by the way, thanks for the Jiao Raizel pronunciation! I’d been wondering about that since she was born! My son is just slightly younger than her, she being born in the winter and he in the spring, and it is so cool to watch them grow up together, as it were!

  136. Jeffster83 says:

    K, when you say: “I think some comments here [about Stuart] have smacked of sexism,” you are forgetting that men can never be the victims of sexism, but only the perpetrators and beneficiaries. 😉 It’s back to Re-Education Camp for you!

  137. Eileen says:

    If you want to “eat locally” in a place with serious winters, you need to do a lot of canning and drying and stuff in the summer and fall. But it would be just like Stuart, Sparrow and Lois to jump into something like that head first without thinking it through. And Stuart would tend to overdo it. This will only last until Lois rebels, backed by Sparrow and Clarice.

    Stuart’s “put my family first” remark is probably triggered by a resentment of Sparrow not putting in as much “family time” as he would like. He probably genuinely means to cheer Clarice up, he’s just totally oblivious to her actual feelings, as he tends to be toward reality in general. Clarice should just blow up at him, he would realize what a jerk he’s been and then probably overdo it in the other direction; being overly solicitious with Clarice and with Sparrow. I think this is where Sparrow and Stuart are growing apart, she used to be as impractical as he is, but having a baby and financially supporting the family have brought her more in contact with reality.

    Clarice and Toni will probably play “bad-timing” for a while. Toni will be depressed the next morning (whether she sleeps with Gloria or not) and guilty about brushing Clarice off. She will want to talk to Clarice, who will be mad and not want to talk to her. This can go on until some crisis with Rafi brings them together, at least as friends and co-parents if not lovers. I think Toni will have to have an affair with Gloria, but I don’t see it lasting, maybe because Gloria isn’t an interesting enough character, where would be the *humor* in their relationship?

    Isn’t this fun, making detailed analyses of totaly fictional characters? Next installment, the different self-rightiousness os Stuart, Mo and Cynthia.

  138. mysticriver says:

    Toni sucks.

    (Sorry not to match the usual eloquent insightful posts on this blog, but damn. That’s all I can think.)

  139. DeLandDeLakes says:

    I’m with Jael. Life without salt is not worth living. (Since when did she start talking in complete sentences, anyway?)

    Poor Toni. Stuart is such a sanctimonious shit. The Kuchinich shirt just seals it for me. (Will someone please, PLEASE explain to me why progressives actually back that guy, considdering how he’s fucking ANTI-CHOICE?!?!?)

  140. shadocat says:

    Jude, I love your plot ideas! Who wouldn’t want a crack at Sidney’s “vast entertainment system”?

    Maggie—I agree regarding the Trent Lott/Benjamin Nichols “affair”—Lott is most likely one of those guys who “isn’t gay, just likes to have sex with men.” “Goat blower” was a new one for me, though—that one sent the Diet Coke shooting out of my nose…

  141. Alex the Bold says:

    Stewart reminds me of a scene I saw in a television show or a movie.

    The scene, as I recall it (this is a dim, dim, memory) is of some white teenager dressed up all gangsta and urban, and a black teenager says something to him along the lines of: You dress like me with dreadlocks and all the rest and when you get tired of it, you can get your hair cut and change your clothes and go to the college your parents are going to pay for and you’ll be white and a whole bunch of opportunities will open up for you. I can’t do that; my life isn’t a game for you to play at.

    I guess I’m always waiting for jump-to-this, jump-to-that Stewart to suddenly decide he’s going to go on to something other than living with his bi-dyke girlfriend (they are still not married) because at some level it’s all some sort of game to him, whether it’s selling the car after a revelation of how it’s a sarcophagus, regardless of how it inconveniences everyone else who needed that car; whether it’s homeschooling J.R. with some cobbled-together syllabus (oh, Lois, you can teach her French. Well, that solves everything.); whether it’s quitting his job because, brace for it, someone else’s kid said a swear word learned at daycare; etc.

    Stewart, I’m sorry, but you’re toxic. You mean well, but you screw up left and right and I have yet to see you actually have a disaster handed to you that you caused and that you took responsibility for and that you cleaned up.

    I’ve known a few Stewarts in my time, and each time I see one leaving for the last time, I breathe an enormous sigh of relief.

  142. Dr. Empirical says:

    Zeitgeist, Lois is very laid back, and she’s willing to be lectured and ranted at by Mo or Stuart, but I think she’d draw the line at being told what she can and can’t eat in her own home.

    Stuart says “We’re trying to eat local all winter.” but he never defined “We” and I’ve seen no indication that anyone else has agreed to this. Jiao certainly hasn’t!

  143. bean says:

    i make mushroom gravy to go on my kasha varnishkes. yum.

    and i like stewart just the way he is; imperfect, sexist, and wearin’ a kilt.

  144. Anonymouse says:

    I was the Anonymous that suggested Clarice + Sparrow. I totally just forgot to put something in the box. :p There, I put something in the box!

    Byrdie: No, they didn’t get married-married, but they’re ‘married’ in the sense of shared finances and family, so far as I can tell. The way my peers used to use the term for someone unavailable.

    I don’t actually feel like Clarice and Sparrow are such a stretch. A few years and a few collections ago, sure. But they’ve both changed – they’ve basically become modern professionals. They key in to the concept of mutual respect. They’re pessimists to some degree, although Sparrow is very good at the hope-and-work-for-better thing. They might be too alike, but I doubt it. 😉

  145. K. says:

    Jeffster, you’re kidding, right?

  146. martinet says:

    April: “Didn’t T & G smooch in like, 1994 or something? And didn’t Toni get caught with G’s underwear years ago? I reckon they are waaaaaay into the connection thing.”

    Yeah, they did, but I think there’s a big difference between illicit smooching etc. and actually moving into a publicly acknowledged relationship. There’s got to be some transition, and at this point they’re transitional. That has to be the case not just for them but for the kids, who are going to have to get used to the idea of their moms together (and possibly a change in their own relationship if T&G get serious and they become step-siblings).

    I think the fact that a whole lot of emotional stuff between T&G hasn’t been shown is partially because *they* wouldn’t actually be showing too much of it at this point–out of caution for themselves as their relationship changes (and has permission to change)–out of respect for the kids, and possibly even so they don’t rub salt in the wounds of their exes (well, at least so Toni doesn’t; I don’t know enough about Gloria and Ana’s breakup to say that she wouldn’t want to hurt Ana). I don’t think Toni does want to hurt Clarice, but I also think that she wants better boundaries and wants Clarice to figure out coping strategies other than dumping on her, as someone already said.

  147. martinet says:

    “I don’t actually feel like Clarice and Sparrow are such a stretch”

    Maybe not, but the idea sort of squicks me because I feel like the strip would get too incestuous with a permutation like Clarice and Sparrow or (god forbid) Clarice reunited with Mo. (I mean, what is this–For Better or For Worse, where everyone has to reunite with their childhood sweethearts? Oh, please.) Clarice needs some new blood. I liked Aunt Soozie’s suggestion about the vital optimist.

  148. Johanna says:

    As a European (admittedly, with limited insight into the deeper workings of American politics and economy) I find that Dennis Kucinich is the candidate closest to my heart.
    I do feel slightly unsettled at seeing Stuart rooting for him though; not only because I don’t consider myself anywhere near as extreme (for lack of a better word) as our Stu, but also ’cause, y’know, there aren’t, comparatively, that many locavorous stay-at-home dads in utilikilts around – so if they are the ones most likely to vote Kucinich, he doesn’t stand a chance.

  149. Travis Johnson says:

    That cold you feel is the crushing weight of SINGLEDOM coming to get you! HA! HA! HA!

    MAN, but I am bitter.

  150. eliyanna says:

    i love clarice so much… i feel terrible about saying this out loud… but i wouldn’t be dissapointed if gloria got hit by a bus. i just want them back together.

  151. Maggie Jochild says:

    I was ambivalent about Kucinich to some extent until he announced he’d be willing to run with Ron Paul. That set off major alarms.

    Ron Paul is, under the radar to some extent, getting his numbers and money from the Aryan Nation/Klan segment of the American population. (For details, read through posts at Orcinus which tracks the Scary Right). Any candidate willing to get into bed with those folks is out of the question, and Kucinich is definitely savvy enough to know what’s going on with Paul — so suddenly I’m looking at him with a new lens, too.

    We have to elect a President who is absolutely going to roll back the Constitutional assault of the last six years, or else democracy is permanently gone for America.

    And Jeffster, I know you were being tongue-in-cheek — but if the working definition of sexism is oppression of all the “wrong” genders by the institutions and systems created and controlled by the one “right” gender, then yeah, the power can only flow in one direction. I know Stuart might not feel like an equal to the others in that household, but feelings are not equivalent to actual access to economic survival and influence, which as a straight white male he has vastly more than Clarice.

    I personally prefer guys who claim the access and use it, as an ally, for those who don’t have access. Just like I prefer women who claim their class status honestly, do their best to undo their conditioning, and “share the wealth” in creative ways instead of pretending or attempting to be working class. Nothing wrong with how any of us are born — we all have the option of unlearning the conditioning and dismantling the edifice that makes a “privilege” a joke, to my mind, if you’re a caring individual living fully in the world.

    Shado, WHEN DO WE GET TO SEE PHOTOS OF MOLLY ALICE? Post ’em at your blog, at MOC, or send ’em to me and I’ll put ’em up at Meta Watershed. Or all three — let’s flood the world with pix of your grandbaby.

  152. Johanna says:

    Eeep! That definitely puts Kucinich in a different light. Maggie Jochild, thanks for enlightening me. Over here (Norway), we only ever hear about Obama, Clinton and Giuliani. Clearly, I need to research the candidates further. *is embarrassed*

  153. hetero genus says:

    As always, this episode transcends fiction so perfectly we recognise and care for them. Stuart is real, and his personality transcends gender. He is even archtypical in his looks; a multidimensional, well meaning zealous individual to whom expressed ideals gleefully take precedence over the mundane, which includes the opinions of others. Issues and causes identified in the genre and jargon of his political persuasion are loyally followed, and the fresh salad, buckwheat groats (kasha) and pasta bowties (rejecting local herbal seasonings, including possible home fermented soy) are perfect and consistent as is his gentle co-opting his loved ones (his household) and depriving them of whatever has seized his sensibilities. I love his jumping in a sense, or at least rationalizing a dictators actions and compares it favorably with our situation, as obliviious to the privelages he enjoys of being able to actively dissent and protest publically (not to minimize the attacks on our constitution, but his freedom of speech is as plain as the writing on his t shirts, yet another double standard he is unaware. Both he and Mo have heart and souls beyond the ink and paper they are drawn on. They all do, obviously, in reading the patiently written entries here one can see Allsion has created convincing and loveable characters. And Clarise. That last panel? Perfect. My heart shuddered, for who of us in adult years has not been in that room, cold strange, single bed: The barrenous of the room and the situation. Home should ALWAYS be safe, we should ideally never have to phone to insure it is. Thanks Maggie, for the heads up on Ron Paul. i am not surprised. I am surprised and Dennis K. but that makes my personal decision a lot clearer.

  154. mjesf says:

    The last panel.

    Ouch.

    Ouch.

    Ouch.

    Clarice was bluntly told by Toni, “It’s over.” She realizes it. She now gets to deal with it.

  155. hetero genus says:

    Also, i am puzzled. Why do people think Stuart doesn’t like Clarice. I thought the comment was more knuckleheaded, from his point of view hinking out loud vs. intentional barbs.He’s just not subtle. A person of passion, conviction and committment who does things from the heart often at the sacrifice of his head (he proceesses information cerebrally but makes major decisions based on emotions, without considering their impact on everybody. I do want to see Clarice back with Toni and Raffi, personally. Call me old fashioned.

  156. Emma38 says:

    So Clarice is now sleeping in the room Ginger used to have, where she was first unfaithful to Toni with Ginger? Whoaaa.

  157. Alex the Bold says:

    Just realized (while not eating local and having a cup of coffee): Stewart sez in one panel that he’s never regretted making his family his top priority.

    But has he made them his top priority? Or has he made his ideals his top priority? Perhaps that’s why I have such a strong dislike of him. Oddly, Mo’s idealism has never vexed me anywhere near as strongly. Perhaps Mo is better at realizing that her decision to have “we” live in a 64 degree house and “eat local” actually effect people and can make them unhappy.

  158. Andrew B says:

    Connecting “come straight out” and Stuart’s astonishing insensitivity to Clarice (I’m not slow — I’m deliberate), I wonder if Stuart just doesn’t take a lesbian family, and the breakup of a lesbian family, as seriously as he would if the parents were straight. If so, that’s even more disappointing than his treating Sparrow like a mobile incubator when she was pregnant. It’s hard to think abstractly about the people one is close to. Consequently it’s hard to apply abstract principles to them. Stuart has no such obstacle to applying his principles to Toni and Clarice. Neither of them means anything special to him. If his comment is based on a failure to take their relationship seriously, that’s even worse than if it was based on general self-centeredness.

    A couple of responses to other comments. If “ideals gleefully take precedence over the mundane, which includes the opinions of others”, what remains of democracy? Doesn’t democracy demand respect for the opinions of others?

    To say that as a straight white male, Stuart has “vastly more” “access to economic survival and influence” than Clarice is way too simplistic. Granted that, on average, straight white men do enjoy such an advantage, in this particular case it doesn’t hold. Stuart — who hasn’t held a paying job in years, with no particular educational attainment — is much more economically vulnerable than Clarice, a lawyer with a respectable record in her field. It could matter to the story line, if Sparrow gets sick of being pushed around and dumps him.

  159. Jessie says:

    love the raffi-JR frosted fruit bat connection!

  160. Rosa says:

    Hetero genus, as a former stay-at-home mom who rejoined the paid workforce, there is a whole barbed language that stay-at-home parents deploy at us. I think #1 is saying “It’s because he goes to daycare” every time the kid gets a cold, but “*I* never regret staying putting my family first” (I never miss fancy restaurants or traveling alone/I think every parent has to sacrifice/Some of us value our families more than MATERIAL THINGS) is right up there toward the top of the pyramid.

    It’s mean. It’s smug. And it’s a lie – everyone misses some of the things they give up, everyone has moments when they would really rather do something else than have toddler snot and hate spewed at them (can you imagine him taking JR shopping for brussels sprouts and tiny rounds of local cheese while she dramatizes her deprived status and tries to snag frosted fruit bats off the shelves?). He may not regret it, as a whole – but there have to be some moments, or he’s not human.

  161. DeLandDeLakes says:

    Thank you, Maggie, for your enlightening post- although I still don’t see why Kucinich’s anti-choice stance wasn’t enough to scare off progressive voters BEFORE they found out he was willing to run with the likes of that Ku Klux Kracker, Ron Paul. (I know of a former Naderite who is so enthused about that guy- weird, weird world.)
    A little misfire in my last post- I meant poor Clarice. Toni can go to hell. And I realize I spelled Sparrow & Stuart’s kid’s name wrong, but I can never remember what the hell it is.

  162. hetero genus says:

    Rosa, i am confused, i didn’t see any connection with what i wrote and what you are clarifying in relation to my comments about Stewart. I like his character, he is familiar to me in male, female, parent, non-parent form. He is entirely human.

  163. reader says:

    Frisson of recognition! My landlords keep the heat that low–and I always wear the exact hat Stuart is wearing in this strip!

  164. hetero genus says:

    Yes Andrew, exactly the point. Stuart is a bit dogmatic in his own progressive way. He may idealistically believe in consensus, but doesn’t practice it in his own life. There was no discussion about getting rid of the car, it was impulsive though well intended. He is a riot! I love the panel with him smiling, striking a very manly pose wih the kilt , furry and symbolically familiar hat, and two shirts (i’d forgotten about the mad magazine ones, that is great). I didn’t realize that had been Ginger’s room and forgot about that period. Interesting. It is a real talent indeed to keep such history and intsert it relevantly, bringing the stories back around like that, like life itself. Oh boy, here’s a new can of worms: Alison, I think daytime tv is missing a great opportunity here. “Gays of Our Lives”, a new soap opera for the New Millenium (or century). If MPBM buys it, it could further illustrate their commitment to mainstream television and the common folk=maybe Terri Gross would agree to play Sidney. A movie or animated feature would be ok.

  165. Jeffster83 says:

    Andrew B, thank you for what you said about Stuart and his supposed greater access to goodies just for being a white man. I wanted to say something like that, but you’ve put it better than I would have. I was going to say he is middle-aged and balding and Jewish and progressive, each of which decrease his WHOMP, and all together render it almost negligible. But you went straight to the real point, which is his shambles of a résumé.

  166. beatrice says:

    nina: yes yes fleece business suit! How to contact you? I’m always cold.

    Sir Real: Hi from your busmate from Boston to NYC this summer. fun to have a face and sense of you as i read your posts.

    and I for one am sad at Stuart’s callousness here. He’s always been a zealot–but it was mostly harmless, except when he sold the car without chekcing in with Sparrow…. But I’ve never considered him to be so unkind, so domineering, so oblivious to another, Clarice in her forlorn state. I like Stuart and expect better from him…

  167. Ian says:

    I wonder if I can make Team Toni -v- Team Clarice t-shirts and flog ’em on eBay or would AB sue me? (it’s a joke AB).

  168. bean says:

    k and jeffster – sometimes people have a hard time discussing dynamics of oppression because of differing assumptions and/or definitions.

    if one defines sexism as something which happens between two people in the context of patriarchy where one group of people (men) are given societal power and another group of people (women) are not, then by definition sexism is something that men do to women and not something that women do to men.

    in other words, “sexism” is the word used to define that phenomenon when men use their societally given power to dominate, humiliate or otherwise abuse women.

    it doesn’t matter whether men wanted that power or asked for it. by nature of growing up in patriarchy, they get it, and if they act on it, that is the definition of sexism.

    when women don’t like men, that’s bigotry. it’s different from sexism. sometimes it’s fully warranted.

    when women find themselves in a position to treat men unfairly, (e.g. a woman boss) that might be due to some other societal relationship, such as a class relationship. It’s still not sexism. It might be classism, or any of a number of other social phenomenon.

    lastly, and to complicate matters, and perhaps contradict myself, I think an argument can be made for men suffering from sexism when they are treated as women; for instance, gay men or effeminate men might be treated the same way and for the same reasons as a woman might be treated. gay and/or effeminate men often suffer the same kinds of violence, oppression and discrimination that women are subjected to. some argue that heterosexism and homophobia are really about sexism and male supremacy. i believe that is true.

    hope this clears things up…

    apart from all that, i pretty much agree with all K’s comments about Stewart, and i kind of see where K was going; if all those comments had been made about a stay-at-home mom, yeah, they WOULD be sexist. about Stewart, i think they are just a little short sighted and picky.

  169. Silvio Soprani says:

    Although I confess I have not carefully read every post on this thread, I am totally enjoying the impact of sanctimonious Stuart finally showing his true colors on our very vocal bunch here.

    I just noticed the news flash that Gillian GIbbons (the British teacher in Sudan) was just convicted of “inciting religious hatred” for allowing her 7-yr old students to name a teddy bear Muhammad.

    How idiotic political potentates can be.

    For some reason this ruling is connected in my mind with the Chinese gov’t forbidding American navy ships to dock in Hong Kong to rendezvous with their families on Thanksgiving. Regardless of my feelings about the military and the origins of Thanksgiving, that just seems pretty childish to me.

  170. TM says:

    Actually, I think it will be good for Clarice to live with what Toni has been living with for so long — someone who use political activism to distract them from their relationships with others. Stewart is just a more extreme version of Clarice. Nice to see the shoe on the other foot, but I wonder if Clarice will realize the meaning of this.

    I too want Clarice and Toni back together, but I don’t think there’s much of a hint of that in this strip, really.

    Also, Stewart is becoming more a prop than a character, and not a likable one at that. Or maybe my tolerance for this kind of “living for the activist fad of the moment” is wearing thin.

    And, I think the work is “locavore,” not localvore.

  171. Rosa says:

    Hetero Genus – you said “Why do people think Stuart doesn’t like Clarice. I thought the comment was more knuckleheaded”

    I don’t think it’s knuckleheaded at all, I think it’s hostile. I don’t know what his motivation might have been, but what he said is not just thoughtless, it’s mean.

    Though on second thought, he may have just picked it up from hanging out (online or in-person) in a SAH parent group. But I can’t believe if he uses that kind of language unthinkingly that nobody has called him on it before, and if he didn’t mean to be hurtful being called on it would make him stop using it.

  172. Yellow Cat says:

    Stuart, Stuart, Stuart. Who cares? One more example of the presence of a man sucking attention away from the women in the situation. Remember we figured that out way back when?

  173. Anonymous says:

    JenK — yup, think we had that conversion a while ago (then again, not so many tyliks around, for which I suspect the world is grateful… still can’t believe Dr. C wants both K and I in the same lab, and K’s clearly not a tylik…)

    I should step back and define my terms. First off, I’m talking produce, because I can can’t bear the thought of flying that much chilled water around. Right now “local” means things I bought at the farmers market from the local farmers that grew them… but I’m not going to remain that hard core this winter, considering that I didn’t stick it out in Seattle. (OTOH, both my wheat and rye berries are bought from local organic Amish farmers, and how cool is that?) And K and I have a shared banana budget, which is pretty highly non local.

    I do this because it’s a fun culinary challenge, and suits both my aesthetic and political ideals. (I suspect the latter are a subset of the former anyway.) So if it gets depressing, or compromises my nutrition… I stop. Because that’s not fun.

  174. JenK says:

    The Cat Pimp: “Fwuitbats NOW, or I go on a hunger stwike! I am being opwessed by the MAN!”

    Thanks soo much! I needed that laugh!

    TM: I like the comparison of Stuart to Clarice in terms of putting politics before family.

    Tylik: I’m not sure we had conversed about eating locally. For us, local usually means WA, preferably purchased from the grower. Beef from the MiL is local or eggs from GiL are local. Yet we also consider Tillamook cheese local … perhaps that’s stretching it 🙂

    I do think that eating local meat, eggs, and produce can make a bigger difference than, say, worrying about salt. (I don’t remember the last time I bought salt. Perhaps if I were pagan I would buy more.) But I also agree that health trumps ideology.

  175. LondonBoy says:

    Personally, my idea of eating locally is a nice trip to Gordon Ramsay’s place, or Yauatcha.

  176. LondonBoy says:

    Sorry, couldn’t resist… (grin)

  177. the fruitfemme says:

    wow. how completely sad. just feeling sad.

  178. Silvio Soprani says:

    Yes, it is “locavore;” I think AB was doing her thing and changing jargon to be funny. Maybe a “localvore” eats “locals…”

  179. Nina says:

    Beatrice: let’s email and see if we’re close enough spatially to make fleece provision easy (if not, there are still possibilities) – I’ve always thought that there are enough of us out there freezing that if I ever get really fed up with my life as it is, I can always start over with a full line of fleece business-wear 🙂

  180. Marj says:

    Londonboy, I’m with you. Pity I’m currently living in the Midlands…

  181. bindweed says:

    Okay, so we’re giving Stuart more attention because he’s a man, but it seems to be overwhelmingly negative attention, so how exactly is he benefiting? Sexism is real, a terrible reality, but I know women AND men can discriminate against men and boys, too. How do we learn how to abuse? By being abused, of corse. It just seems to me (Goddess forgive me) that Stuart is less liked because he’s a guy. Frankly, what do people WANT him to be that he’s not? Yeah, he can be an insensitive jerk, but hardly to the point of Sydney, or even Ginger when she was freaking out upon finding out Jasmine is a mother; and (to my knowledge) he has never cheated on Sparrow. Yes, he can get kinda silly with his progressive convictions, but at least he DOES something about what he beleives is right, which is more than Mo seems to do. AND he lives in a communal household where he is the only male (hardly a powerful position) and he was in fact welcoming Clarice into it, when Sparrow and Lois couldn’t be there, when he made one dumbass remark. The guy cooks and cares for a kid! Is there any less valued job? He’s hardly an oppressor, he’s just the only one home! Do people not like him because he took a lesbian out of circulation? Does Sparrow seem like a person who doesn’t know who she wants to love? Seriously, people, what do you WANT him to be?
    And yeah, I’m getting all excited over fictional characters, just like the rest of you, but c’mon, would you want your sons judged this way?

  182. Nina says:

    I’m laughing at my own inability to learn not to use angle brackets in posts here. Beatrice, you can email me at anonnf (at) gmail.com

  183. shadocat says:

    Maggie, et al; Pictures will go up on my blog as soon as I get a spare minute to get ’em up there. Oh, and Clarice should start buying her own food. And a space heater.

  184. Huh! Around here, we say “localvore.” I never heard “locavore” before, but you guys are right. It gets 282,000 hits on Google as opposed to 50,000 for “localvore.”

    I have to say I prefer localvore. Locavore makes it sound like you’re loca. Which you might very well be if you’re eating locally in Vermont in February.

  185. Yeah, jeez! Why’s everyone coming down so hard on Stu? I don’t think he’s being any more annoying than the other characters have been in their time.

  186. Deena in OR says:

    Alison…maybe because in our hearts, we’re all rallying behind Clarice. And in her own (your own?) words…”I’m being frozen, starved, preached at, and forced to take part in a ritual!” And honestly…wasn’t he being just a *bit* self-righteous and smug?

  187. Butch Fatale says:

    I have to say, I love Stuart. I mean, he’s totally obnoxious sometimes, but one of the things I love about these characters is that they *all* take strong positions and are willing to advocate, even antagonize on behalf of those positions. For me, being a loud and opinionated girl, discovering women who got in people’s faces was uplifting and affirming. I think Stuart didn’t behave that way at first because he didn’t have a position. Now he does, and he’s got even more of a vested interest in his politics because he has a kid. I would venture that Sparrow has taken the career path she has in part for the same reason. I love that he’s over the top, and I am especially looking forward to seeing how Clarice, of the heretofore comfortable middle class suburban existence will handle the wacky commune lifestyle. Hopefully there will be processing, but I don’t mind if it happens between episodes. Bring on the left-wing moonbattiness!

  188. NLC says:

    locovore?

  189. shadocat says:

    Remember “Milkweed”? Stuart just “milkweeded” Clarice.

  190. mlk says:

    I guess I’m still in denial about Toni and Gloria being in a romantic relationship. whenever I see
    Toni and Raffi with Gloria and Stella, I read it as time that the two kids are spending together. but really, Stella’s old enough now that Gloria could (and probably would) just drop her off if she and Toni weren’t also hanging out.

    interesting to me that for the most part, when we see Toni and Gloria together, the kids are there too. what does that say about the intensity of their relationship? but, as has been pointed out, the split between Toni and Clarice has only recently been finalized . . .

  191. 123Go says:

    Despite the sadness of its content, I think this is one of my favorite recent strips. Although I know it’s crazy overwhelming for AB to try to keep up with all the storylines and all our beloved characters, I think the ones that focus on one interaction throughout the strip, rather than dividing it into a couple panels each per storyline, are still worth it. You feel more connected to the characters again, and it puts the whole story back in context!

  192. calamityJ says:

    J,R. YOU ROCK!!!!!!!!! Just hoping you don’t wind up a Cynthia in training as the ultimate adoloscrent revenge…

    (& I’m considering roommateicide having to live w/a prima donna w/her own mega-space heater so she can keep the heat at 60, & any other heater blows a circuit, but I’m venting…& I want Fruit Bats!!!!!!)

  193. andrewo says:

    Poor Clarice. Stewart is such a fascist.

  194. andrewo says:

    Oops I misspelled Stuart. My apologies. He just proves once again that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

  195. ready2agitate says:

    Did anyone go to the Radcliffe lecture tonight about women’s graphic narratives focusing on Persepolis & Fun Home? Wow – it really rocked! Alison, I think you woulda dug it – it’ll probably be archived at the Schlesinger Library, since it was being recorded….

  196. j.b.t. says:

    Hi All,

    Going back a ways… Deena, there are some nice (at least decent) MN wines! (yeah, yeah.. laugh all you want now that you’re in Oregon, land of Belle Pont.) At least we have excellent beer. Mmm, Summit.

    Jen – you can get plenty of vitamin C from vegetables, including cabbage (and raw sauerkraut!), FYI. And apples and pears store well… and berries freeze well.

    Aunt Soozie – we used to do vermicomposting and it was all good until we moved and had to put the bin too near the oven (due to space issues) and it got too hot. Poor worms. Check out the book “Worms Eat My Garbage” for more details. It’s by Mary someone.

    I’m for sure in the give-Stu-a-break camp. K., your post was spot on.

    Bean, I thank you for your thoughtful post.

    I LOVED this strip – laughed out loud, felt sad for Clarice and Toni, and was reminded of my days in a communal and too-cold house where the food was, um, of variable qualtiy, depending on who was cooking.

    I have an online meal planning serrvice that emphasizes seasonal (local) foods, but most of my customers (and myself) have families AND jobs, and eating 100% locally in MN or anywhere in the midwest would be outrageously time consuming. And, speaking as a lover of food, boring.

    And BTW, even though soybeans are grown throughout the midwest, they’d still have to be shipped somewhere else for processing and then shipped back.

    Thank you Alison! Thank you! Thank you!

    Jennette

  197. genevieve says:

    This strip really came across to me as being deliberately exagerrated as from Clarice’s POV. I mean, out of the main group she & Toni have lived the most upwardly mobile life, with a lot of comforts, and I’m sure the move to the granola household is a huge shock (leaving aside just the big change in leaving the relationship/family). Yes, Stuart is pushy in his principles and very insensitive, but this is so worst-case scenario it makes me think it’s Clarice’s perception of the ngiht, rather than exactly what happened.

    FWIW, I can’t stand heat being set higher than 60. I don’t have a thermostat in my apartment, just baseboard heaters, but I rarely use them. I don’t have any heaters in my bedroom – I can’t stand to have heat on while I sleep. This has been true my whole life, and I am praying that when I hit menopause I will have cold flashes instead.

  198. Jana C.H. says:

    Why is Stuart being so self-righteous and insensitive? I think it’s because Mo is not these days, and neither is Sparrow. Someone has to do it; Stuart has always done his bit, but now he’s carrying the whole load himself. If Lois, who can be insensitive in her own way, had been around, she could have taken the pressure off Stuart and he wouldn’t have had to be totally obnoxious all on his own.

    Jana C.H.
    Seattle
    Saith JcH: …add four busted ribs and we get… about 25 broken bones. Not much of a lifetime records, but I do my part.

  199. Deena in OR says:

    Jana, did I miss something? That doesn’t sound good.

  200. Alex K says:

    @Bean: “if one defines sexism as something which happens between two people in the context of patriarchy where one group of people (men) are given societal power and another group of people (women) are not, then by definition sexism is something that men do to women and not something that women do to men.”

    Well, yeah. I guess…within that definition. But outwith that definition, as bindweed remarks, women can / do discriminate against men.

    Attempting to draw a parallel with racism, which some might similarly see as a one-way process, from the societally empowered toward the societally victimised, leads me to this question: Is ‘White’ always the absence of race?

  201. cz says:

    lecture at Radcliffe- it was very interesting. I enjoyed it.

  202. Alex the Bold says:

    To reply to Alison’s question about why everyone’s coming down so hard on Stuart…

    Again, I’m having my morning infusion of caffeine, so I guess I DO think better when medicated…

    Stuart is everything I hate in the Democratic Party.

    He screws up everything he tries (the recarpeting that left the house open to the elements comes to mind).

    He is ineffective. Toni AND Clarice have done high-minded things and succeeded at them. The Freedom to Marry campaign, stopping incinerators from going up in poor neighborhoods, etc. I’m NOT NOT NOT saying that Stuart shouldn’t be trying to get Bush impeached. I’m saying that it’s an example of how he takes on these pie-in-the-sky projects over and over.

    Eat locally. Nice idea. Bike to work. Nice idea. Shut the heat off and live like a hermit during the winter. Nice idea. Is Stuart balancing that “lookit, lookit, everyone, see how planet-loving and in tune with nature’s harmonies I am? I don’t celebrate Christmas, I celebrate the solstice because I’m so much more evolved spiritually blah blah blah.” with efforts that will make a measurable difference? Getting a national law passed that increases car mileage even by just one mile per gallon would save enough emissions that Stuart could eat dates hand-picked and flown from Iraq in a 85 degree house every day during the winter and still come out ahead.

    Sitting at home freezing slowly and eating roots all winter won’t do it; we’re far too far down the road to hell for that. But if you asked Stuart, he’d stand there and sputter about how he’s really trying.

    Trying doesn’t cut it, Stuart. You don’t get that and neither do the Dems.

    Worse than ineffective, his choices mangle other people’s lives. Oh, I sold the car, without your input. Oh, your possibly-in-jest comment about it being okay to quit my job, coupled with our superpreciousdarling daughter saying a swear word, and I unilaterally quit my job. Heck, Sparrow works for a women’s shelter, and we all know how lush their benefits packages must be.

    That Stuart tries to be a nice guy is completely besides the point. Let me ask this: Would you want Stuart living in your house? Why?

  203. Erica says:

    I’ve been wondering, myself, why I’m reacting so much more negatively to Stu in this strip than to, say, Mo in earlier strips. I don’t think it has anything to do with gender, perhaps more with where I am and where the characters are in our lives.

    As an environmentalist, I often try to encourage people to make just one small change in their lives, which will hopefully lead them down the road to bigger things. The idea is not that buying 5 CFL light bulbs will make a measurable difference in CO2 emissions; rather, it will give that person the sense of being on the environmental “team.” In my book, that sense of identification is the best possible outcome: someone who self-identifies as “doing something to save the Earth” is more likely to vote for environmentally friendly measures, bring up the issue in conversation, and slowly, without even realizing it, take “one more step” and then “one more step” towards a lower-impact lifestyle.

    But if that person, while they’re still at the lightbulb-buying stage, runs into someone like Stuart, who only sees the world in black and white and gives them a lengthy harangue on how only eco-saintdom is acceptable, they’re likely to think “I can never live in such an extreme way, and if this is what environmentalism has to be, I want no part of it!” Creating hostility and enmity.

    So that explains, I think, my visceral anti-Stu reaction in this particular strip. Then I ask myself “why don’t I feel the same way about Mo?” and I think it has something to do with the fact that Mo’s extremism was purely verbal. As far as I remember (and I’m by no means a DTWOF “expert” like some of you!) she never tried to PHYSICALLY FORCE these ideas on anyone. Lectures, yes, but actually, physically cranking down the thermostat, controlling what food was brought into the house, selling a jointly owned car without consultation (!) no.
    Mo lives with Sydney, who is very different than her, and while there may be fights I can’t imagine her, say, selling Sydney’s big-screen TV while she was out of the house simply because she disapproves.

  204. little gator says:

    Make warm, not war!

    Mr Gator’s always been the heatseeker in this house, even before he was hypothyroid.

  205. Andrew B says:

    Alison sez: “Yeah, jeez! Why’s everyone coming down so hard on Stu? I don’t think he’s being any more annoying than the other characters have been in their time.”

    Oh, this is beautiful. Do you really want us to try to convince you that you’ve misunderstood the strip? I might just give it a try. Gotta think about it first…

  206. dicentra formosa says:

    I don’t understand why everyone assumes that Stuart made these house decisions unilaterally. He might be taking some things further than his housemates would on their own, but I’ve always thought of that whole house as tending towards the self-righteous and self-absorbed end of the spectrum. Of course, Stuart has always been one of my favorite characters, so I’m working from the opposite bias of those who have never liked him. He’s trying to welcome Clarice into the house, he’s made her dinner, he’s asked about the internet connection, and the first thing she does is complain about the heat and the food. As new person in the house shouldn’t she be laying low for a little while in order to see how things really are? I do sympathize with her, too, with her loneliness and confusion, but I don’t think it’s fair to expect Stuart to seamlessly meld with her expectations and comforts. As for his comments, it seems that he’s alone with Jiao-Raizel much of the time–hardly an environment which gives lots of opportunity to practice subtle and well-considered adult conversation. People who spend all their time tending toddlers are often rusty in their social skills, and Stuart’s always been socially awkward. I think this is why I like him so much–I can relate to his tendencies towards awkward timing and foot-in-mouth remarks.

  207. QKelly says:

    Ha! The Kucinich shirt — I once even liked him… The first political activism I ever committed was on his behalf, for his first congressional campaign back in Cleveland when I was in high school.

    And thanks, martinet — I’m glad to see that someone else finds Barbara Kingsolver as smug and sanctimonious as I do (What, me judgmental? You bet.)

  208. Aunt Soozie says:

    I have a profound fondness for all of the characters. I love them with their flaws if not for their flaws. Isn’t it great that Rosa states of Stuart…”or he’s not human!”

    Andrew B…yes, too funny. I’m tempted to say the characters must really be in charge, Alison only there to document the drama. But that would minimize her efforts. Besides (please forgive me this D.) if she truly believes they are coming through her… and are not of her… I may begin to presume a tad bit more extreme a diagnosis than ADD, OCD or PPD.*

    *attention deficit disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, poultry pants disorder

  209. tylik says:

    JenK: I mean the yes it’s you part 😉

    I can’t see any particular reason to worry about salt myself, at least in terms of transportation — heck, salt was one of the few food products people bothered to trade in even when that trade was all on foot. Doesn’t require refrigeration, keep the humidity down and all is well.

    I don’t eat meat, mostly, which is kind of too bad because there is the best organic meat at the farmer’s market. I hardly even eat fish anymore, but that’s mostly the Ohio thing. (I have a New Years Eve date for Sushi when I’m in town. Now the plane ride’s the bit of my carbon footprint I am most distressed by. Someday I’ll try the 50+ hour train ride.)

  210. bean, taking the bate says:

    My assumptions:

    1. discrimination sucks. but it isn’t always due to oppression like sexism or racism. sometimes, it’s just discrimination.

    2. i do believe that racism exists and is a real concept. i do believe that racism happens to people of color. i do not find “reverse racism” to be a concept that does anything more than confuse people, and confuse the dynamic of oppression.

    3. I do believe that through various periods of history various groups of people including jews, irish, catholics, italians and many others have experienced everything from discrimination and systematic violence through outright genocide.

    4. I do believe that the process by which the above mentioned groups of people have become “white” has to do with complicated historical and political phenomena. I do not believe that being white is synonymous with having no ethnicity, culture, race or class identification.

    5. I do believe that white people often suffer oppression. Just not racism.

    6. i do believe that in order to discuss such concepts meaningfully, concepts must be defined.

  211. bindweed says:

    Hey, can anyone tell me which dtwof collection Sparrow and Stuart get together in? I’d love to see how that came about.

  212. Jeffster83 says:

    Bean, you would have been interested in last Sunday’s Opinion section in the _Los_Angeles_Times_. All the opinions were on the theme of the supposed war between blacks and Latinos in LA. Writers of both those groups submitted articles. Some of them believe the war is real, some think it is just an overblown misunderstanding of a statistical quirk. Most acknowledged that black people in LA and Latino people in LA often do not understand each other’s histories, cultures and usages of language. Phrases like “are unaware” and “prejudices imported from countries of origin” and “lack of acquaintance with members of the [other] group” and “bias based on ignorance” abound. It was all very congenial and forgiving, even though they are discussing incidents of drive-by shootings of small children, first-degree murder and ethnic cleansing.

    I’ve read these same writers for several years in the Opinion pages. When they write about white people clashing with any non-white people, they are not as pleasant. They assume that whites are consciously malevolent, that whites plan their every interaction with non-whites to ensure that the maximum amount of ugliness occurs. The writers use the terms “openly racist” and “prejudiced” and “flagrant bias” when discussing such earth-shattering incidents as spilled coffee, a dispute over a parking space, or the height of a proposed addition to a religious building.

    I know the definition of “racism” and “sexism”, pretty much just as you wrote them. I don’t believe, however, that most whites and most men accept these definitions. They are a form of original sin, unforgivable and unredeemable, and therefore just as flawed as that distasteful religious idea.

    Just by being born white and male, the newborn baby son of seventh-generation dirtscrabble farmers in Appalachia is guilty of the worst of crimes, Racism and Sexism. Robert Mugabe’s actions against white Zimbabweans, the Japanese Army’s actions against the Chinese citizens of Nanjing, those are mild historical trivialities. Because the perpetrators aren’t white, they aren’t guilty of anything as hideous as OMG!Racism.

    To your point 6: if you define the concepts in such a way that any possible statement serves your side of the discussion, then you will always win and always be right. The only way for Men or Whites or Straights or (enter Oppressor-Group here) to gain anything from such a discussion is not to enter it at all. That leaves you talking only to yourself. Oh, and also to a few guilt-ridden members of the oppressor class, but after a while it gets tiresome to listen to them whine and grovel, doesn’t it?

  213. April says:

    Hey sorry to stick my head up here, but didn’t the definition of sexism include “using” your power? Yes you have it, that’s a given. It’s using your class/race/gender power that is a “crime” as you say. People with unearned privilege can be constructive allies to those without.

  214. Angi says:

    I laughed out loud about the thermostat at 64 degrees — sounds like my house! But Stuart does seem to be unusually insensitive in this episode — wonder why?

  215. hetero genus says:

    Alison, this strip’s various and sundry commentary entries would make wonderful material for a sociology paper, if one is so inclined. And you must appreciate the potential material for familiar and yet-to-be introduced characters. I usually have neither the time nor patience for blogs, but i lose substantial chunks of time on these, especially this one. All diverse, thought provoking and entertaining, and pretty respectful for the most part.

  216. Maggie Jochild says:

    This is the problem when people use the term privilege — folks automatically start assigning blame and guilt. Neither of which are useful, or even really meaningful on a personal level.

    If you don’t claim your whiteness, your maleness, your upper class status — if you don’t “enter in the conversation” — then you are assuredly complicit in oppression because the default is to your advantage. You have to rage against the machine to undo its effects on you and everyone around you. Yep, it’s an effort — but those of who live it understand it’s less arduous than going with the flow, which steals your soul, denies you authentic connection with whole categories of people because you feel confused and guilty.

    To reply to the example you gave, Jeffster, I am descended (very recently) from dirtfarming, dirt-poor Appalachian whites. I know the howling classism that makes it seem as if we are at the bottom of the barrel. Yet — however stinking poor my father and his male ancestors were, they had an advantage of race that ensured them longer and better lives than their black neighbors. And they definitely were better off than the women around them. The argument pitting them two different oppressions against each other — class against race, or class against gender — is used by the powers that be, especially the current Religious Right, to keep working class males xenophobic and distracted from noticing who most benefits from the systems and institutions. The slice of male advantage extended to them keeps them isolated from the larger reality.

    When you realize that no matter how crappy your circumstances are, there are groups whose existence is that much worse than yours simply because of physical differences which have no intrinsic meaning, it’s painful. In the extreme. Demanding action in order to be resolved.

    Alas, A Blog has a list of “Privilege Lists” which are good for a reality check. Again, I hate the term privilege (also victim and oppressor), but the information there is stellar. Here’s the “Male Privilege List” by Peggy McIntosh. Every one of these are enjoyed by Stuart but not by Clarice or any other of the women.
    1. My odds of being hired for a job, when competing against female applicants, are probably skewed in my favor. The more prestigious the job, the larger the odds are skewed.
    2. I can be confident that my co-workers won’t think I got my job because of my sex – even though that might be true.
    3. If I am never promoted, it’s not because of my sex.
    4. If I fail in my job or career, I can feel sure this won’t be seen as a black mark against my entire sex’s capabilities.
    5. I am far less likely to face sexual harassment at work than my female co-workers are.
    6. If I do the same task as a woman, and if the measurement is at all subjective, chances are people will think I did a better job.
    7. If I’m a teen or adult, and if I can stay out of prison, my odds of being raped are relatively low.
    8. On average, I am taught to fear walking alone after dark in average public spaces much less than my female counterparts are.
    9. If I choose not to have children, my masculinity will not be called into question.
    10. If I have children but do not provide primary care for them, my masculinity will not be called into question.
    11. If I have children and provide primary care for them, I’ll be praised for extraordinary parenting if I’m even marginally competent.
    12. If I have children and a career, no one will think I’m selfish for not staying at home.
    13. If I seek political office, my relationship with my children, or who I hire to take care of them, will probably not be scrutinized by the press.
    14. My elected representatives are mostly people of my own sex. The more prestigious and powerful the elected position, the more this is true.
    15. When I ask to see “the person in charge,” odds are I will face a person of my own sex. The higher-up in the organization the person is, the surer I can be.
    16. As a child, chances are I was encouraged to be more active and outgoing than my sisters.
    17. As a child, I could choose from an almost infinite variety of children’s media featuring positive, active, non-stereotyped heroes of my own sex. I never had to look for it; male protagonists were (and are) the default.
    18. As a child, chances are I got more teacher attention than girls who raised their hands just as often.
    19. If my day, week or year is going badly, I need not ask of each negative episode or situation whether or not it has sexist overtones.
    20. I can turn on the television or glance at the front page of the newspaper and see people of my own sex widely represented, every day, without exception.
    21. If I’m careless with my financial affairs it won’t be attributed to my sex.
    22. If I’m careless with my driving it won’t be attributed to my sex.
    23. I can speak in public to a large group without putting my sex on trial.
    24. Even if I sleep with a lot of women, there is no chance that I will be seriously labeled a “slut,” nor is there any male counterpart to “slut-bashing.”
    25. I do not have to worry about the message my wardrobe sends about my sexual availability or my gender conformity. (The place where Stuart makes an exception because he chooses to deviate from the norm.)
    26. My clothing is typically less expensive and better-constructed than women’s clothing for the same social status. While I have fewer options, my clothes will probably fit better than a woman’s without tailoring.
    27. The grooming regimen expected of me is relatively cheap and consumes little time.
    28. If I buy a new car, chances are I’ll be offered a better price than a woman buying the same car.
    29. If I’m not conventionally attractive, the disadvantages are relatively small and easy to ignore.
    30. I can be loud with no fear of being called a shrew. I can be aggressive with no fear of being called a bitch.
    31. I can ask for legal protection from violence that happens mostly to men without being seen as a selfish special interest, since that kind of violence is called “crime” and is a general social concern. (Violence that happens mostly to women is usually called “domestic violence” or “acquaintance rape,” and is seen as a special interest issue.)
    32. I can be confident that the ordinary language of day-to-day existence will always include my sex. “All men are created equal,” mailman, chairman, freshman, he.
    33. My ability to make important decisions and my capability in general will never be questioned depending on what time of the month it is.
    34. I will never be expected to change my name upon marriage or questioned if I don’t change my name.
    35. The decision to hire me will never be based on assumptions about whether or not I might choose to have a family sometime soon.
    36. Every major religion in the world is led primarily by people of my own sex. Even God, in most major religions, is pictured as male.
    37. Most major religions argue that I should be the head of my household, while my wife and children should be subservient to me.
    38. If I have a wife or live-in girlfriend, chances are we’ll divide up household chores so that she does most of the labor, and in particular the most repetitive and unrewarding tasks. (This one, and the next two, are also places where Stuart deviates from the norm — and SO MUCH extra credit is given to him simply because he chooses to relate equally instead of complying with gender conditioning.)
    39. If I have children with a wife or girlfriend, chances are she’ll do most of the childrearing, and in particular the most dirty, repetitive and unrewarding parts of childrearing.
    40. If I have children with a wife or girlfriend, and it turns out that one of us needs to make career sacrifices to raise the kids, chances are we’ll both assume the career sacrificed should be hers.
    41. Magazines, billboards, television, movies, pornography, and virtually all of media is filled with images of scantily-clad women intended to appeal to me sexually. Such images of men exist, but are rarer.
    42. In general, I am under much less pressure to be thin than my female counterparts are. If I am fat, I probably suffer fewer social and economic consequences for being fat than fat women do. (None of the main female characters in DTWOF get to be fat, although 2/3 of all women and a higher percentage of lesbians are size 16 and above — just Stuart.)
    43. If I am heterosexual, it’s incredibly unlikely that I’ll ever be beaten up by a spouse or lover.
    44. Complete strangers generally do not walk up to me on the street and tell me to “smile.”
    45. On average, I am not interrupted by women as often as women are interrupted by men.
    46. I have the privilege of being unaware of my male privilege.

  217. Rick says:

    God, poor Clarice. [sigh] What’s up with Stuart…? He used to be so nice. Now he’s just coming across as preachy. His whole “you’ll get used to it” spiel reminds me of why I decided to not do the roommate thing: It’s Hell on Earth to walk into a house with [mostly ridiculous] [sorry, Stuart et al] rules raining down on you. If Stuart and Sparrow don’t want salt and coffee, then THEY should cut down. They shouldn’t be forcing everyone else to eat like them. It is, after all, a lifestyle choice. Their being on the liberal side of the fence doesn’t make their sanctimoniousness any less different than that of conservatives/fundies/other-gung-ho-Republican types.

  218. Rick says:

    Maggie said [or quoted, rather]: “Such images of men exist, but are rarer.”

    And they’re mostly meant for gay men. I’m not that big on porn, but I spent about three years as a member of a porn writing group [where I wrote what was probably the least-porn-like porn] for women, and most of the material we found and used as inspiration was geared toward gay men. In fact, we wrote gay porn almost exclusively and then felt the need to analyse and dissect the notion [over and over again] of women making gay porn “their own” in the absence of porn meant exclusively for them.

  219. Andrea says:

    Eating local in the winter is the pits, but we do it at our house.

    As for Stewart, this one I’m not surprized at…he’s a willow

    I remember the doonsbury early on of the adpoted Asian American child that they didn’t want to be tramatized by guns, so there were no toy guns in the house. What was he doing? Using his barbie doll as a gun!

    Kids are influenced by the world Stewart- get over it and give her her cereal!

  220. little gator says:

    “complaining about the food”?

    all she did was ask for the salt. That’s not complaining.

  221. Anonymous says:

    “None of the main female characters in DTWOF get to be fat, although 2/3 of all women and a higher percentage of lesbians are size 16 and above”

    Jezanna? Harriet? How are you defining main? (One of the things I’ve long loved about DTWOF is the diversity of body types. So much cartooning has a single body type, differentiated by accessories…)

    Though it does seem like a disproportionately slender crowd, especially as the years piles up.

  222. dave r b says:

    yeah stewart has a mean selfrighteous streak in him; not what clarice needed

  223. dave r b says:

    stewart reminds me of woody allen’s comment in ANNIE HALL: “I know. I’m a bigot – but for the left.”

  224. shadocat says:

    To be fair, it’s been a long time sine we’ve seen Jezanna or Harriet—and because of that, I would define them as being secondary characters now, at best.

  225. April says:

    Thanks Maggie, I think the one that sums it all up for me is number 44!

    Society expects women to spew huge amounts of validation of femininity. So many straight women I know are exhausted by having to be seen to be cheerful in the face of oppression!

    A good friend who is expecting, told me in a whisper last week: I’m so tired of pretending I want this baby. My heart nearly broke.

  226. Silvio Soprani says:

    Well, there seem to be two kinds of people when it comes to dealing with stress: some eat too much and some don’t eat. (I am of the latter category; I only eat when i am happy. I am a pretty happy person, so i tend to be of a generous proportion…)

    But getting back to our Dykes, etc; I would say there is a fair amount of stress in the plotline as a matter of course. I think Clarice, Mo, and Sparrow are probably the type to not eat.

    I have always thought of Toni as less angular than Clarice. (Maybe she is a trifle happier than Clarice in general, although not lately.)

    Maggie, I thought that list was comprehensive; I had not seen it laid out so thoroughly before. When I scanned the size of the post before i started reading it, I thought, Oh No! This looks like a Major Rant…but then I got totally absorbed and read every word.

    I don’t know if this was just local Maryland news, but on Friday I heard on the local public radio station that the State of Maryland has computed that making gay marriage legal would add at least a million dollars a year to the local budget, what with all the tourist business it would stimulate. It figures that after all the political, moral, and social good reasons have been totally dissed, they would come up with a financial one that might just convince the masses.

    I can just see the banners over Pratt Street in the Inner Harbor (which change, depending on whose convention is in town): “WELCOME, QUEERS! GET IN ON IT!” (“get in on it” is the new official Baltimore slogan that the mayor’s office paid some out of town consultant mucho dollars to come up with. I much preferred the old–if inaccurate– one: Baltimore: The City That Reads.”

  227. bean says:

    bean said:

    “in other words, “sexism” is the word used to define that phenomenon when men use their societally given power to dominate, humiliate or otherwise abuse women.”

    jeffster83 said:

    “I know the definition of “racism” and “sexism”, pretty much just as you wrote them. I don’t believe, however, that most whites and most men accept these definitions.”

    bean replies:

    call it whatever you want. it’s the concept that matters, and the concept is that there is in fact such a thing as institutional power dynamics, and people who suffer under them are in the best position to name them and certainly have a right to discuss them.

    ***

    46. I have the privilege of being unaware of my male privilege.

    I think it is due to this privilege that men think that THEY get to define the discourse around sexist oppression, and that they can alter the reality of the power dynamics by saying “most men don’t believe that.” I think it’s pretty convenient for men to not believe in sexism. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

  228. Hariette says:

    Alex the Bold — OUCH!

    I’ve been following the list’s discussion on how horrible Stuart is but your post seems to have an additional layer of anger in it. Why? Is there is Stuart in your life?

    I have always liked Stuart. Do I think he can be a bit much? Definitely! But you know what? Most of my loved ones can be a bit much, too. They all have personality quirks that drive me nuts and I know they can give you lists about me & my quirks. I look at how he has been treated in this estrogen-fest since he arrived and don’t see much tolerance for him. Rumaging through his wallet? Being the last to know about a pregnancy scare? Being invited to move into the house simply because they need the money and being screamed at the first night there? Sparrow’s indifference to motherhood? He becomes a househusband and his ability to keep a warm, clean house is thanked on the first day and never mentioned again until he makes choices since nobody else is there to participate. Sparrow drags him to an exercise class he admits he is uncomfortable attending and she procedes to ditch him for June. He genuinely welcomed Cynthia to the holiday dinner while Ginger barely tolerated her presence at the table and she’s the reason Cynthia was there. He questions Lois’s behavior towards Janis when Janis is not in earshot (like most parents do at one time or another) but he supports and plays with her as well as homeschools her.

    He’s had to deal with rude comments and behavior from Lois, Ginger, Sydney and Sparrow. He does lack social skills, but I don’t think he’s once been malicious towards anyone. Can they say the same?

    Stuart reminds me of my husband (this bisexual is married to a man) and perhaps this is why I have a soft spot for him. Would I want Stuart living in my house? Aside from the fact that I do I’d still rather live with someone whose social skills need polishing than someone who is being deceitful.

  229. Feminista says:

    Well-said,Hariette. And to add to your list,he put up with a weekend of Sparrow’s parents visiting before JR was born. Stuart is*not*the enemy.

  230. Ian says:

    To bindweed, Sparrow and Stuart hooked up in “Hot, Throbbing …”.

    To Maggie Jochild – I’m a (gay) white male. I’m probably still unconsciously sexist – I winced when I read (in Bean’s post I think) about interruptions. Obviously I can’t speak for reactions to Peggy McIntosh’s list but I’d disagree with numbers 9, 17, 18, 31 and 32 depending on what culture you live in/come from. The capacity and ability to be violent also increases your level of masculinity.

    To Jeffster: stop playing devil’s advocate you naughty boy.

    Re: locavore – never heard of it, but farmers markets and the ‘slow food’ movement sound very similar. When the supermarket you shop in mostly stocks fruit and veg mostly grown in Kenya, South Africa and New Zealand, I start considering stuff from my own continent local. I know I can’t get local tea, coffee, bananas or chocolate ‘local’ which are my 4 essentials so I get the Fair Trade versions. At least they’ll be organic so won’t be polluting developing countries which is my ‘guilt’ trade off.

    By the way, there’s some debate as to whether worm composting actually releases enough nitrous oxide to negate the value of doing it …

  231. SimonE says:

    OK, I´ll do the list…

    1. My odds of being hired for a job, when competing against female applicants, are probably skewed in my favor. The more prestigious the job, the larger the odds are skewed.

    Probably true. Then again, it depends on the job and from my own experience as a nurse, there are quite a few people who´ll rather hire a female assistant nurse than a male one. Not the most prestigious job, but my job right now.

    2. I can be confident that my co-workers won’t think I got my job because of my sex – even though that might be true.

    True. On the other hand, other coworkers won´t think that I got the Job *despite* my sex. When my Amp breaks down I go to the woman in the amp repair section of my local music store, but if I had kids, I´d look for daycare facilities with male employees, because if somebody holds a gender-atypical job, they tend to (have to, sadly) put in more effort.

    3. If I am never promoted, it’s not because of my sex.

    Probably true, but I know a bunch of people in various managements who think they way I do on 2.

    4. If I fail in my job or career, I can feel sure this won’t be seen as a black mark against my entire sex’s capabilities.

    Nope. It will be seen as personal failure. Even if the company I worked for went bankrupt.

    5. I am far less likely to face sexual harassment at work than my female co-workers are.

    It is also less likely that management will respond if you do face sexual harassment at work and complain.

    6. If I do the same task as a woman, and if the measurement is at all subjective, chances are people will think I did a better job.

    Unless that job is associated with “femininity”. Of course I´m incapable of correctly afixing a diaper, I´ve only been an assistant nurse for 7 years. It´s those damn genes.

    7. If I’m a teen or adult, and if I can stay out of prison, my odds of being raped are relatively low.

    They used to be zero in this country until 1996, when the law was changed so that if a man was forced to have sex it counts as rape now.

    8. On average, I am taught to fear walking alone after dark in average public spaces much less than my female counterparts are.

    And that´s a good thing, because I´m only twice as likely to be the victim of an assault as my female counterparts (again, local situation).

    9. If I choose not to have children, my masculinity will not be called into question.

    However, if I choose to reduce my workload because I have children, it will.

    10. If I have children but do not provide primary care for them, my masculinity will not be called into question.

    However, if I do provide primary care for them, it will.

    11. If I have children and provide primary care for them, I’ll be praised for extraordinary parenting if I’m even marginally competent.

    I´ve been missing that part of the Steward discussion… Seriously, this cuts both ways, because the choice is “deadbeat dad” versus “wimp”. Your point is valid as well, there are people who will always think a man makes the right decision, but there are also a lot of people who will always think he makes the wrong one. And, of course people won´t actually evaluate parenting, so if you´re actually doing an extraordinary job, be sure that nobody will see the difference between you and a marginally competent one.

    12. If I have children and a career, no one will think I’m selfish for not staying at home.

    See above.

    13. If I seek political office, my relationship with my children, or who I hire to take care of them, will probably not be scrutinized by the press.

    Possibly true.

    14. My elected representatives are mostly people of my own sex. The more prestigious and powerful the elected position, the more this is true.

    And what does it mean? They still took to 1996 to make it illegal to rape men. They have instituted and not yet abolished the universal male draft. We´ve still got a law on the books that makes it illegal for men to do any householding chores without the consent of their wifes, so technically it is illegal for single men or gay couples to do the dishes. On the other hand, with a female chancelor as head of the executive things didn´t improve greatly for women either.

    15. When I ask to see “the person in charge,” odds are I will face a person of my own sex. The higher-up in the organization the person is, the surer I can be.

    True. No debating point here.

    16. As a child, chances are I was encouraged to be more active and outgoing than my sisters.

    True, but that was because my sister was on the soccer team and I sat in my room reading.

    17. As a child, I could choose from an almost infinite variety of children’s media featuring positive, active, non-stereotyped heroes of my own sex. I never had to look for it; male protagonists were (and are) the default.

    Non-stereotyped?! Can you please show me these media? Then again, my role-model was Pippi Longstockings. Still is to some extend.

    18. As a child, chances are I got more teacher attention than girls who raised their hands just as often.

    Well possible.

    19. If my day, week or year is going badly, I need not ask of each negative episode or situation whether or not it has sexist overtones.

    Not if I define sexism as something that cannot happen to me, no. Then again if I actually take sexism to be discrimination based on sex and think about negative situations then I might find some overtones. I personally find it hard not to see some sexist overtones in going to the cops and getting told that there is no law against getting sexually assaulted while male.

    20. I can turn on the television or glance at the front page of the newspaper and see people of my own sex widely represented, every day, without exception.

    Do I have to comment on that? That´s a priviledge of men and women. If we like the representations is another matter.

    21. If I’m careless with my financial affairs it won’t be attributed to my sex.

    Nope. Just to personal failure. Which is so much more rewarding.

    22. If I’m careless with my driving it won’t be attributed to my sex.

    Oh yes it will. That´s why it cost less to insure a car when female. About 40% less. According to the FAQ of the insurance company which has the greatest disparity in prices, that is because “men ignore all traffic regulations and kill people”. That´s one more reason to take the bus.

    23. I can speak in public to a large group without putting my sex on trial.

    I don´t know. At least writing this reply *feels* like it.

    24. Even if I sleep with a lot of women, there is no chance that I will be seriously labeled a “slut,” nor is there any male counterpart to “slut-bashing.”

    I wouldn´t know, because I don´t sleep with many women (or any women for that matter). However the women I know who sleep with many women are rarely adressed as “sluts” around these parts, polyamourous sex-radical a far more frequently used and not really derogative term.

    25. I do not have to worry about the message my wardrobe sends about my sexual availability or my gender conformity. (The place where Stuart makes an exception because he chooses to deviate from the norm.)

    Seems blatantly self-contradictory, because of course I have to worry about the message my wardrobe sends about gender conformity, especially because I deviate from the norm. And let´s not forget Willie Houston, if that rings a bell.

    26. My clothing is typically less expensive and better-constructed than women’s clothing for the same social status. While I have fewer options, my clothes will probably fit better than a woman’s without tailoring.

    I agree, but only because I´m not restricted to one garment section. Why I can buy a t-shirt in size L and be cool with it in one section, while I have to track down an XXL in the section for pregnant women remains a mystery to me as well. I´m not sure about the better constructed part though, from t-shirts through sweaters to cardigans, the things I bought in the “ladies” section always survived longer. Oh, and have you ever tried to find professional nursing clothes for men?

    27. The grooming regimen expected of me is relatively cheap and consumes little time.

    Has changed. But still, I´m going to notice that new melanome that tad bit later.

    28. If I buy a new car, chances are I’ll be offered a better price than a woman buying the same car.

    How long do I drive this car, how much less do I pay and does the insurance thing make up for it?

    29. If I’m not conventionally attractive, the disadvantages are relatively small and easy to ignore.

    I´m non-plussed by that. I think men who are not called Depp of Pitt might disagree.

    30. I can be loud with no fear of being called a shrew. I can be aggressive with no fear of being called a bitch.

    Good thing, because if I showed such fear, I´d be a wimp.

    31. I can ask for legal protection from violence that happens mostly to men without being seen as a selfish special interest, since that kind of violence is called “crime” and is a general social concern. (Violence that happens mostly to women is usually called “domestic violence” or “acquaintance rape,” and is seen as a special interest issue.)

    See the “they changed that law in 96. Too late” part.

    32. I can be confident that the ordinary language of day-to-day existence will always include my sex. “All men are created equal,” mailman, chairman, freshman, he.

    I don´t know the state of things in the US, but non-inclusionary language is pretty much dead in germany. Sometimes with odd results. The german word for a man is Mann, and there is another word “man”, which is derived from the old germanic “Mane” which means citizen and was gender neutral. Because it sound so similar, people now write man/frau which literarily means “citizens and women”, whew, talk about getting less sexism in the language.

    33. My ability to make important decisions and my capability in general will never be questioned depending on what time of the month it is.

    True.

    34. I will never be expected to change my name upon marriage or questioned if I don’t change my name.

    Rests on the assumtion that I will both be willing and allowed to marry.

    35. The decision to hire me will never be based on assumptions about whether or not I might choose to have a family sometime soon.

    Here´s one where we´ve got a cool law: We´re allowed to lie about this in germany. And since recently the laws for maternety leave became parental leave laws, which allow splitting of time of, it becomes less of an issue. And with laws that allow you to say, “I´ll never have kids” and deliver or become a father the next day with no legal repercussions and the employer not being allowed to fire you for that either it gets reduced. Lobby for it!

    36. Every major religion in the world is led primarily by people of my own sex. Even God, in most major religions, is pictured as male.

    That´s not a priviledge. That´s like saying that I will find more mentally ill people of my own sex. Also true, but not really a boon.

    37. Most major religions argue that I should be the head of my household, while my wife and children should be subservient to me.

    Most religions also argue that I shouldn´t have sex. Come to it, most religions argue that as a non-believer I shouldn´t just face the wrath of their (admittedly male) vengeful deity, but if possible my life before death should be made miserable as well.

    41. Magazines, billboards, television, movies, pornography, and virtually all of media is filled with images of scantily-clad women intended to appeal to me sexually. Such images of men exist, but are rarer.

    True. And very, very sad (fulfilling stereotypes here)…

    42. In general, I am under much less pressure to be thin than my female counterparts are. If I am fat, I probably suffer fewer social and economic consequences for being fat than fat women do. (None of the main female characters in DTWOF get to be fat, although 2/3 of all women and a higher percentage of lesbians are size 16 and above — just Stuart.)

    Ever read “Looking Queer” by Dawn Atkins?

    43. If I am heterosexual, it’s incredibly unlikely that I’ll ever be beaten up by a spouse or lover.

    Not as incredibly unlikely as often thought. But if that happens it is very unlikely it will become public.

    44. Complete strangers generally do not walk up to me on the street and tell me to “smile.”

    No, but they say things like “Shave of that beard, you look like a girl”, which are fundamentally more bewildering.

    45. On average, I am not interrupted by women as often as women are interrupted by men.

    I fall out of that average…

    46. I have the privilege of being unaware of my male privilege.

    Nope. Because even though I´ve argued pretty much all of these points, I would not deny that they are pretty accurate on the whole. But there is this perpective thing, where everybody is more aware of priviledges of others, than those they have themselves. I don´t think any women would in 95 have been aware that the fact that it was illegal to rape her constituted a priviledge. I know women who don´t think it´s a priviledge that they do not get drafted. And that´s a part of the problem, too. Because all of these issues are mixed issues. You think that the media boys get are not stereotypical? Then why do so many of them grow up showing stereotypical behaviour? Likewise there is a pretty stark connection between the draft and violence (the men who fell into the draft gap after WWII and the installment of the Bundeswehr have been the least violent 20-somethings for all the records we have during the 50s, the least violent 30-something in the 60s and so on up to the least violent 80-somethings these days. Almost a drop of 30% only in violent crimes and only in the men. Seems like some connection). I´m sorry if I made these points in a rather viscious way. I´ve just seen the german progressive mens movement turn to shards, mainly because of an influx of bigotted jerks, who would not see the other side. It left the few of us, who actually tried to make a difference stuck between a rather mainstream feminism, who (justifiably in the case of “the second wave”) claimed it was not a movement fighting for men, but against women and said second wave, who´ve shouted down the pioneers, whom they percieve as “traitors”, because we´re “tainted by feminist thought”. I´ve contributed to a reader, which came out today and I know it will have repercussions. I feel it has been 8 years of fighting windmills for me, trying to get people talking, who essentially have the same goals and refuse to realize it. Both feel they are the *real* victims of the system as is and the other ones are the face of the opressor.

    I know some of you have spent more time in that particular quagmire and any tips on how to beat the sense that nothing ever changes would be appreciated.

  232. Aunt Soozie says:

    SimonE.

    I appreciate your courage in speaking up and asking folks to expand their point of view. I do believe that taking a stance of “my minority status is a greater detriment than yours is” or ” you have privilege that I don’t have, fess up” gets us no where. Taking those kind of measurments only serve to split and weaken us. We need to find ways to build community that allow each other our foibles, our pasts, our sins, our colors. The anger towards this cartoon character, Stuart, speaks to how quickly we find fault with and assume bad intentions in others. ( the author herself didn’t see him as anything more than conventionally and appropriately, in the dtwof sense, annoying)

    I’d like to cut Stuart a break and cut all of my co-readers here a break… instead of figuring out what is wrong with them or diagnosing them or deciding/explaining what they need to do to right the inequities of this world.

    Stuart probably knows all about tikkun olam. I hope I expend more energy looking for my role in tikkun olam than in assessing what others need to do to be right and just in the world. (this is the part where I get all teared up but I hold my head high and start humming Michael Jackson’s “man in the mirror” but of course I change that to “human in the mirror”)

  233. Jeffster83 says:

    Bean,

    I didn’t say that “most men don’t believe” that sexism exists. I said that most men don’t accept the definition that the oppressed have come up with. By misquoting me, you have set up a straw person.

    Of course there are laws, practices and customs in our society that work to the disadvantage or even detriment of women. Men who don’t admit this are just stupid. “Sexism” is as good a word for this phenomenon as any.

    Most men are reasonable, though. For specific actions that specific men take against specific women, other men can and do have sympathy with the women, and expect that the women receive restitution, and that the man receive punishment.

    I myself have called the police against my neighbor who beat his wife; I questioned my boss who evaluated my more-experienced female colleague’s work more harshly than he did mine; in my work I strive to write with either non-sexist or feminine pronouns; I am horrified almost to the point of vomiting at what is happening to that British teacher in Sudan. With a little thought you could probably come up with similar examples from men of your acquaintance.

    It’s a simple formula, so simple that even men can understand it:

    0. Man, you start off neutral.

    1. Do nothing, and you are still neutral.

    2. Do good, so that society thrives, and society will think you good.

    3. Do bad, so that society suffers, and society will think think you bad.

    4. Do bad, and then make up for it, and society will tentatively think you good again, and will progressively think you better the more good and less bad you do.

    The given definition of sexism breaks this formula. It goes thus:

    -1. Man, you start off bad.

    -2. Do nothing, and society will think you bad.

    -3. Do good, and although society thrives, it doesn’t count, and society will think you bad.

    -4. Do bad, so that society suffers, and society will have expected that from you anyway, because you are bad.

    -5. Make up for the bad, and you are still bad, no matter how much time and effort and money you put in to the making up.

    This system has no possibility of good behavior, no way to ever be held in any degree of positive social esteem, and no hope of release from negative esteem. It includes all the worst parts of monotheistic religion, but none of the redeeming ones. Do you really think any sane man would sign up for it?

  234. Jeffster83 says:

    Ian,

    Isn’t a devil’s advocate someone who believes in A, but who weakly or fallaciously argues B just to reinforce A? If so, then I am not playing devil’s advocate. I believe in and argue B. If I argue B weakly or fallaciously, it’s from lack of skill, not from any secret belief in A.

    Anyway, I’m white and male and an eighteenth-century liberal, so I really am the Devil.

  235. Kelli says:

    Well, it’s currently 59F (15C) outside, and I have to have the air conditioning on in order to get the temperature down to 70F (21C). I live in a condominium/flat, with well-insulated fire walls and attic, and a concrete slab between myself and the people downstairs. The floor absorbs heat from the flat below and radiates it into my house, and the walls and ceiling do a good job of holding it in. The biggest heat loss comes from the big picture window in the living room, which is old and getting leaky. Putting the thermostat at 64 would be heavy energy usage here.

  236. Aunt Soozie says:

    Wow…Kelli,
    Can you open any of your windows instead of using the a/c ?
    Who lives below you? Jeffster?

  237. bindweed says:

    Thanks, Ian! And way to go, Harriette and SimonE! Some thoughts- we are all in the end siblings. I have 4 brothers and 3 sisters and we were all born innocent into a world laid the burden of history on us. I’ve seen how the world has treated us differently because of gender and others (kid break)

  238. bindweed says:

    (continued) other things, not all in my brothers’ favor. We come from a screwed-up family, and we’ve done some truely awful things to each other, but in the end we’ve, if not always forgiven each other, at least let it lie, because the advantages of being a family and loving each other are greater than advantages of hating each other. I’ve seen that that it is easier and less stigmatized for us girls to ask for help, from the government, mental health, others, ect. I’ve seen that boys can blend in more easily, and also that they are more able to do very hard physical work, and more resistant to cold, ect. (Tho beleive me, I’ve done some very hard work and slept out some very cold nights- I shivered while my guy friend slept). I know that people are much, much more likely to stop and help me change a tire, and my hitchhiking waits are much shorter (tho sometimes “shorter” is still a day or two). I’ve also seen how violent males are to each other as a matter of corse, and how women are more likey to arrouse feelings of mercy. Look at that guy in Hillary’s office- the lady with a baby went first.(Which is a good thing! Children more than anyone need safety and mercy.) Men go to prison, and women go to the mental health system, and jail and prison do incredible harm to anyone, like being taken hostage, except no one has any sympathy.
    And the world IS different than it was 30 years ago- it’s still a unjust, dangerous, and predjudiced place, but things are changing. People may not like me being outspoken, slutty and/or masculine in my dress, bisexual, and an unmarried parent, but they can’t say so without antagonizing alot of other people. A woman, if she has the sense not to get married, will keep custody of her childen, unless the circumstances are very greivious.
    And, of corse, the thing that men have ALWAYS envied of us, we can bear children. A man can’t have kids unless a woman shares them with him. Yes, in many times and places, men took control of a woman’s children by force, and force of religion and society, but nowdays, in this country, women can and do choose their co-parents, or choose not to have them. Let’s face it, sperm is pretty easy to come by.
    Speaking of which, men labor under a burden of sexual desire that does not control women in the same way. It’s testosterone- when I was a teenager, awash with testosterone and such hormones, I had an almost painful lust that would not leave me in peace. Through a collection of circustances, including being very shy and not thought very pretty, I remained frustrated thru most of my teens, and I remember being almost unable to think about anything else at times. That imperitive lust has eased up over the years, but from many close friendships with men, I know that it stays pretty teenager-y for them as the years go by. I say this not at ALL to excuse jerky behavior by guys or sexual violence, or to say we should “give” them sex more often, but only to point out that what is funny to us, is distracting and frustrating to them, and understanding that can help women and men understand each other as people.
    I’ll also point out that women sex workers are favored by hetero privlege. The stigma, while great, is not as bad for women as for men sex workers, and this “woman’s work” is romantisized to a degree – witness all the rock songs by men about lady prostitutes,ect, and all the novels by women about ladies of the night.

  239. bindweed says:

    Also- strait and bi women, and gay and bi men may feel more pressure to be thin because men are more visual. Men tend to like picture porn, women tend to like story porn. If you want to find lots of good girl porn by girls, check out literotica.com, it’s a huge collection of stories posted by readers, and beleive me, lots of it obviously made by women. In fact, the number and popularity of various kinds of stories may reveal more about all our desires than we are really comfortable saying.;)

  240. Nerdo says:

    Ummm… I just have a comment about the strip. I think Clarice and Mo definitely should get back together. They are both totally neurotic about their political beliefs, they’re passionate, and they do love each other (even if only as friends at the time being).

    I am totally fed up with Toni. She has no sense of compassion, she never ended her emotional affair with Gloria, and she is completely clueless about the fact that is giving up on a really good thing (Clarice).

  241. QKelly says:

    “Isn’t a devil’s advocate someone who believes in A, but who weakly or fallaciously argues B just to reinforce A?”

    No. A “devil’s advocate” is a necessary skeptic — a person who takes a position s/he may not believe in order to make sure that all options in an argument are recognized and tested. In order to make a compelling argument for A, you need to be able to identify and answer all the objections that may be made by someone who holds Position B. The devil’s advocate takes on Position B (whether s/he believes it or not) and lays out all the “Position B” arguments so that the holder of Position A can make sure s/he has addressed all the relevant issues. Far from being an unfair or fallacious debater (in theory at least), the Devil’s Advocate is often a courageous position.

    The term originated with the Catholic Church. When the Church would examine a candidate for canonization, a canon lawyer would be appointed as “Devil’s Advocate” who would make the case *against* canonization. This person would be opposed by another advocate (called, I think, although I wouldn’t swear to it, because I haven’t been a Catholic for a long time, the “God’s Advocate”) who would make the case *for* canonization. The idea was that if the God’s Advocate could effectively answer all the arguments of the Devil’s Advocate, then the case for canonization was strong.

    I believe the Church abolished the position of Devil’s Advocate in the late 20th century, which probably accounts for the large increase in beatifcations in the last thirty years or so.

  242. Jo says:

    ‘Can we do this later?’ .. so cold! poor clarice.

  243. Silvio Soprani says:

    Jo,
    Yes, that was exactly my reaction too. As if it were some annoying business transaction.
    On the other hand, we don’t know how many times Clarice has called Toni up when they are supposed to be separated.
    I suppose Clarice’s chickens have come home to roost —all those times Toni needed some emotional support and Clarice was too busy thinking about work or politics. Now Clarice needs the support and Toni is drawing the line. In spite of Clarice’s predicament in Stuart-land, I can’t help thinking “Good for you” for Toni.

  244. Silvio Soprani says:

    By the way, did anyone read the strip’s title “Failed State” as a take-off on the movie, “Fail-Safe”? (In this case, the damage has been done and there is no stopping the consequences.)

  245. ED says:

    Several years ago, after breaking up with my bf I had to move back in with the folks. I felt EXACTLY like Clarice does here, down to calling my ex and complaining.

    After a few weeks, once I reclaimed my room, cleaned it up and established a new routine, I realized it was the best decision I’d made and I was actually happy. I hope once Clarice gets acclimated and hopefully asserts herself to Stuart, she’ll realize it’s for the best.

    And I’ll never like Gloria.

  246. Hariette says:

    Speaking of Gloria…

    I know I asked this before but don’t remember if there was an answer so I’m asking again.

    Gloria’s ex is Ana. Toni was sitting with an Ana on the bus going to the March on DC at the end of “Unnatural DTWOF.” Is this the same woman? They look like the same person and it would add an interesting twist to the whole story.

    PS – if this gets posted more than once I apologize. I clicked submit & was told I couldn’t post more than once every 15 seconds. I didn’t think I clicked it more than once but if I did, I’m sorry.

  247. Alex the Bold says:

    Hariette:

    Almost everyone has a Stuart in their life. I have several.

    My anger isn’t directed so much at Stuart as it is as what he does and why no one has ever sat him down and had “The Talk.”

    Stuart, and I’m gonna catch hell for this, buys into a lot of nonsense. And although everyone has their usual preferred flavor of nonsense, Stuart seems to be very catholic (lower-case c) in his: every crackpot wingding idea out there, he grabs onto.

    A recent episode of Family Guy did a parody of Star Wars and it has the scene where Luke gives Han Solo a lecture because Han Solo doesn’t believe in the Force. And in Family Guy, Han Solo gives the response that would have ended the movie. “Oh, you mean this Force thing you just found out about 15 minutes ago and are now the biggest convert of?”

    That’s Stuart. Gullible, non-critical, clutching at every new thing that comes along. Someone probably mentioned eating local at the supermarket and bang! Here’s Stuart, the biggest convert in the world. It’s his newest “Force.”

    The reason it bothers me so much is that there are far too few people who care. And Stuart wastes himself farting around on this, that, and the next.

  248. Kat says:

    My thoughts on Stuart and the local food combined themselves with the usual thoughts on how much I hate the new chain store in my neighborhood. The results are up over at Maoist Orange Cake.

  249. siena says:

    forgive me if someone’s already said this because i don’t have time to read all the posts, but –
    stuart does seem really heartless here, but remember this strip is from clarice’s view, and she’s extra sensitive and vulnerable right now – and, she’s kind of a suburban lawyer mom, with not a lot of patience for new ageiness. this is stuart through clarice’s eyes, and he’s a bit more annoying than i usually see him, and maybe even more annoying than he actually objectively is.

  250. Ellen O. says:

    Alex the Bold — and in 30 years, when the results of Global Warming have perhaps devasted the poor even more than has already occured, we might look at Stuart as a hero, and wished there were millions of others like him who led the way by giving up their cars and eating local.

    I don’t think the problem is with what Stuart is doing– it is the way in which he is doing it, his tone and inabililty to take into account those immediately around him.

    I also don’t think he clutches at every new thing. Just because the idea of eating local has now made it into mainstream newspapers and stores, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have a long history.

    Do you not think that Margaret Mead was right about a small, dedicated group of people changing the world? Isn’t that what the impeachment struggle is about? What’s wrong with going for the long shot? Don’t athletes, actors, and writers do that all the time? Hasn’t Alison done that here with her drawings and writing, overcome amazing odds?

  251. Erica says:

    Ellen,

    I think what Alex and I were getting at is that, because of Stuart’s offputting preachiness, on balance he may end up doing more harm than good for the cause he is trying to advance.The example of Alison and the strip is actually a very good counterpoint – if rather than being a mix of humor and serious issues, the strip was All Serious Issues All The Time with no poking gentle fun at ourselves – if the strip gave off the message that there is One Right Way to be a lesbian or a progressive or a parent – very few people would read it and it would have so much less impact.

  252. Erica says:

    Or if it were done in non-correctable all italics – that might also diminish something’s readability.

    html typos. grr.

  253. Andrew B says:

    Here’s why I find Stuart obnoxious in ways that no other character is. There are two incidents that I can’t look past: selling the car and his treatment of Sparrow when she was pregnant.

    1. The DTWOF are a noisy and sometimes obnoxious bunch, but they are almost always respectful in their actions. Toni may have harassed and bullied Clarice into moving, but she didn’t sign a contract and present Clarice with the fait accompli. Mo may badger Sydney about her debt, but she doesn’t cut up Sydney’s credit cards. When Stuart sold the car, it was a major change that had a significant impact on Sparrow, but it never even crossed his mind to consult her — not even afterward. He didn’t even show any guilt about it. The only action by another character that I can think of that comes close to this is when Albert told everyone that Jezanna had invited him to live with her. But he is her parent; parents think they have special rights with regard to their grown children and arguably perhaps they do. And if she had wanted to, Jezanna could have told everyone he was making the whole thing up. It would have been awkward for her and she would have lost friends, but it’s not like Albert showed up at her door with a suitcase and nowhere else to go. (Speaking of showing up with a suitcase, there’s Ammar. His character and the story between him and Samia has been left so unclear that I don’t know what to say about it. Samia certainly took her time getting rid of him, so it’s not like he was totally unwelcome.) Stuart’s lack of respect for Sparrow in selling the car goes beyond anything I can think of that any other major character has done.

    2. Even worse was his behavior when she was pregnant. He pushed food at her that she didn’t want, demanded that she turn off the tv when she was bored out of her mind, and generally treated her like an incubator. He continued this when she was nursing, telling her that her work was cutting down on her milk output. Not only did he do this — again, he never showed the slightest conflict or remorse or understanding that there was anything wrong with his behavior. This is fundamentally wrong. Is there a more basic principle of feminism than womens’ right to control their own bodies, including their own reproductive functions? If there is, I don’t know what it is. I wouldn’t blame Stuart for being conflicted about this. Pregnancy is difficult for men. There’s this process that will have all kinds of implications for you, and it’s taking place literally inside someone else. It must be especially difficult for a man like Stuart, who very much wants to have kids. But Stuart wasn’t conflicted. He just went merrily along treating Sparrow like a baby dispenser and never stopped for a moment to think about the principles involved.

    The first time that she thought she was pregnant, when it turned out she was just late, Stuart explicitly endorsed the principle of a woman’s control of her own body. So he is a hypocrite about this. He probably also is a hypocrite about selling the car. He probably would endorse the principles of consensus and respect for others’ needs over the rights of ownership; I have to say “probably” only because I can’t remember a case in which he specifically did so. I can’t think of any other ongoing, major character who has displayed such hypocrisy. The morning after her fling with Gloria, Toni recognized that what she had done was wrong, sincerely regretted it, and never did it again. (She never again ran around behind Clarice’s back while they were still a couple.) That’s an isolated violation of principle, not hypocrisy.

    Those two incidents affect the way I interpret all Stuart’s subsequent behavior. Ideas like turning the heat way down and “localvorism”, which I might be prepared to laugh about if another character were involved, seem self-righteous and domineering when the character endorsing them is Stuart.

    I just don’t understand how Sparrow can have an ongoing relationship with a hypocrite who doesn’t consult her on major decisions, doesn’t respect her right to control her own body — and worst of all, doesn’t even show any understanding that he has done anything wrong, much less remorse or a desire to change. It’s Stuart’s inability (or refusal) even to try to change his own behavior, while demanding that everyone else change theirs, that prevents his other weaknesses from being comic foibles in my mind.

    I realize this is awfully long (but you did ask, Alison), so let me just assert three principles regarding the racism discussion.

    1. There are real structures of oppression in every large, complex society (possibly in every society);
    2. But their interaction is complex and not fully predictable by deduction; e.g. you can’t deduce the status of a middle-class black woman from abstract claims about class, race, and gender; and e.g. a wealthy white woman may have substantial advantages over a poor black man, even though men as a group have advantages over women as a group;
    3. And there are real individual failings; a black person who always behaves like a jerk to all white people is behaving like a jerk, whether or not she is a racist.

  254. Alex the Bold says:

    Yes, we MIGHT look at Stuart as a hero when Global Warming really gets going in 30 years (I’ll be 70, so I might be around to see it!).

    Or, with hindsight, we might look back and realize that if Stuart and others had just sat down with a boring old envelope and a pencil and calculated exactly how trivial one individual’s carbon contribution is, he — and others — might have realized “Wow! Even if I live in a cave off of lichen, I can’t change a single thing. Not even a little bit. All the way down to .0000001 of a percent. Sure, I can still try to limit my impact, but what I simply, absolutely have to put my weight behind is getting the system changed, and that isn’t going to happen with me and my nine friends taking cold showers in the middle of winter or eating dirt or sitting crosslegged and waiting to hear the whisper of Gaia, Mother Goddess of Us All.”

    Stuart, by doing X (which doesn’t solve the problem, only patches it), is taking away time and energy from Y (which does solve the problem). Further, by introducing X, Stuart distracts others from doing Y. There’s a term for this in economics, I can’t remember what it’s called.

    As for Margaret Mead. I think she had it partly right. A small, dedicate group of people can change the world. Provided a larger (or more powerful) group of people doesn’t step up and stop them.

    Also, the impeachment is about stopping a lunatic and his gang. And I have never seen a lunatic and his gang effectively stopped by Stuart’s methods.

    Do you know who’s going to solve the greenhouse gas problem? The graduate student at MIT or UCLA or UMass Amherst who figures out something completely different: a car that runs on static electricity or a chemical process that produces sufficient hydrogen on demand (no tanks, no explosion risk, complete combustion without carbon).

    I can sort my plastic and paper until the cows come home and it won’t stop the planet from being poisoned. Plastic bottles! Do you recycle them? You realize that there’s too many being recycled to use? There’s also NO WAY to actually use them all even if every one of them WAS returned because the plastic degrades each time it’s recycled, so you can’t use ’em over and over.

    You can’t bail this boat out until you patch the leak first. And Stuart’s standing there handing out teaspoons and lecturing people about putting their backs into it.

    And as for “What’s wrong with going for the long shot? Don’t athletes, actors, and writers do that all the time? Hasn’t Alison done that here with her drawings and writing, overcome amazing odds?”

    No. Athletes don’t. Actors? The profession of acting has an 80% unemployment rate. Writers? Hands up everyone who has a novel in a drawer at home. Almost certainly, a few of those novels are really excellent. Truly heartbreaking works of brilliance, flair and humanity. Big, generous offerings. And they will never, ever, find a publisher. Or they’ll sell 300 copies.

    There’s talent. And then there’s talent and luck.

    If you don’t have the luck, it doesn’t matter how talented you are. Same thing for actors, athletes, etc. Going for the long odds on the most important issue there is — the continuation of this planet as a viable place to live — deserves much, much better than picking a number on a roulette wheel.

  255. bean says:

    Andrew B, although i don’t exactly agree with your points about stuart (for god’s sake, he’s a cartoon! at least he hasn’t dropped an anvil on anyone!) i really appreciated your points 1,2, and 3 on the “racism discussion.” in fact, they seem a lot like ones i made earlier.

    those invested in the idea that we all start out even-steven, however do not seem to want to give up on that. and listing off the systemic problems and citing statistics to go with our personal experiences only makes those of us who understand the systemic nature of oppression look like conspiracy theorists in the eyes of those who insist it’s just a personal problem between individuals who encounter a few bad apples. so, i’m done for the moment.

    oh, and i spelled stuart right this time!

  256. Pam I says:

    Alex et al – Think global, act local. What else can I do? I can’t act global.

  257. Roz Warren says:

    Reading this blog has an interesting way of sucking all the available free time out of my life. (BUT ITS WORTH IT!)(Where else would I find out about people who keep boxes of worms in their kitchen??) I keep my thermostat at 72 during the day and 64 at night. I’d turn it down lower at night but then the doves start sneezing. By the way, another brilliant episode, AB. Sad but all too true, just like life itself.

  258. mysticriver says:

    It’s funny with all of the commentary on Stuart, nobody is pointing out how he is basically a balding male hetero Mo. At least Mo 10-20 years ago…Does anyone remember Mo’s comforting words to Toni who was upset when Clarice was with Ginger? It was something like, “Hey, your life could be worse, just think of [something about world suffering and the inevitable destruction of the planet]. Now don’t you feel better?”

    Mo’s gone through a bit too much of her own suffering lately, and I can’t see her saying anything so insensitive about Toni and Clarice. But part of me wonders if a teeny tiny part of her is inwardly thinking, “That’s what you get for getting married, selling out, and moving to the suburbs!”

    There was a great strip that I hoped would show up in the reruns in which Clarice is pulling Mo’s chain by talking about marrying Toni, moving to the suburbs, and looking over their stock portfolio together. It ends with, “I’m just kidding” but everything in Clarice’s facetious fantasy did end up happening.

    This is what is so irritating about Toni. Clarice never really changed at all through the entirety of the strip (even her hair!). The only things that really did change were how much she settled into the life Toni pushed her into. Toni has been asking Clarice to conform to her wishes for the length of the strip and getting impatient when she does acts in a manner (being passionate about work or getting emotionally involved in politics) that was essentially an expression of herself.

    I’m hopelessly sad for the breakup, but once Clarice gets a breath of fresh air, this could really rejuvenate her. She’ll get a chance to be passionate about the things she’s always cared about without getting so much flak at home. Perhaps … maybe even she could run for public office?

  259. mysticriver says:

    Oops – I missed Erica’s post which does compare Stuart to Mo. My bad.

  260. hetero genus says:

    Is this strip’s entries the biggest response number yet? I have not yet counted the comments and compared. I know i keep checking in despite despite myself. We Are Stuart! We are Clarice. We are There! All of Us. I do hope somewhere, all AB’s books and strips and these comments are being preserved in a time capsule. I cannot be the one to do it as i obviously lack the discipline to organize and do it proper (or i would be tending to my real life priorities right now. Yes, like Stuart, i spin my wheels: and at moments make well-meaning inappropriate comments but those who love me know what is on my mind, as with Stuart-not so much with Sidney, who has other issues. Clarice has been consistant and dedicated, though i missed the Ginger episodes. But i recall her (accidentally) vacuuming up Legos in their tenement apartment (looks just like where i grew up), being treated as inconsequential by Toni’s parents who were ready to run off with little Raffi back home to Puerto Rico to be raised by their cultural, genderal preferences and all arguing over arroz con tofu as the case worker (perfectly depicted) shows up for the home study or whatever it was to make Clarice Raffi’s legal parent. She has been a loving and committed parent to Raffi. Stuart has been a devoted parent to Jiao (sp?). None of them is perfect, all of them are good, except maybe the “Elizabehian” clan-talk about self righteous, and even their not really “evil”. I guess they (the little illustratted community) all just remind me of everyone i know to some degree in personalities, including some of the critiques i read here entered by people i have never met.

  261. hetero genus says:

    Hey, eager for a change of pace, i visited the archives. Episode 327: Mo is tranquil with her infant niece strapped to her chest, and her tiny arms are dressed in Mo’s stripes. Is Mo’s niece going to visit the strip again one day, a miniature version of her old Aunt Moey?

  262. Ellen O. says:

    I still don’t understand Alex the B.’s argument that one person making a pro-environmental change doesn’t improve anything. If that were true, one person engaging in an environmentally-damaging behavior doesn’t hurt anything. Doesn’t individual change add up collectively?

    Further, you never know what effect your actions will have. If I take the bus to work, then maybe a neighbor will see me and decide she can take the bus too, and soon enough people take the bus to warrant the neighborhood purchasing discounted group bus passes. With still more people riding, the city decides to subsidize the transit agency, so that the bus can run more frequently. This makes it more convenient, bringing in yet more riders.

    While I do many things individually to ease my environmental impact (driving less, buying wind power, etc), I also vote for candidates who’ll implement greener policies. No, I don’t do it all (I rarely compost, I eat sugar, and I still fly on airplanes-huge carbon footprint) but I do believe that actions add up and send a signal to companies and politicians that we want change.

  263. hetero genus says:

    one more and i am done for now. In episode 115 from 1991 (pre Toni’s pregnancy: Rafffi is not conceived of) Toni basically spells it all out for Clarice, the fiery radical she is in love with).

  264. Deena in OR says:

    Hmmm. Just had a carbon footprint epiphany, which I will refrain from guilting my son with. He plays for the University of Oregon Marching Band. The football team has just been invited to a bowl game. In El Paso, Texas. Which means the the U of O (and probably Phil Knight) will be footing the bill (sorry, no pun intended….) for the Ducks football team, coaching and training staff, cheerleaders, and 200-odd members of the Marching Band to fly to El Paso from December 28th through the 31st. On the other hand…
    MY KID GETS TO PERFORM DURING A FREAKING BOWL GAME ON NATIONAL TELEVISION!!!! (Ok, that’s out of my system now……..)

  265. Ydnic says:

    I happened to hear NPR’s show On The Media this weekend, and was delighted to hear that “locavore” is the New Oxford American Dictionary‘s word of the year for 2007. It turns out that “localvore” is an alternative version; there’s still no consensus about which version will be accepted more widely.

    http://www.onthemedia.org/episodes/2007/11/30/segments/89728

  266. Aunt Soozie says:

    He hasn’t dropped an anvil on anyone! : )

  267. ksbel6 says:

    Congrats Deena in Or, as a HUGE college football fan, I am happy your offspring both gets to play in the band and attend a bowl game 🙂

  268. Andrew B says:

    Bean and Auntie, yeah, and no Acme rocket sleds either. It must be a challenge for Alison to balance comic exaggeration against psychological realism. But I’m not kidding — to me Stuart is worse than annoying. He is, for lack of a better word, bad. (Within the fictional world of the strip, ok? I do still have a tenuous ability to distinguish that from reality.) Since Alison asked, I tried to explain why I think that.

  269. Aunt Soozie says:

    I hear you Andrew.
    Congrats Deena,
    in 1978 and 79 my sister went to Japan (all expenses paid) with our college marching band. Mitzubishi (sp?) imported two football teams, cheerleaders, marching bands, etc. for their Mirage Bowl. The following Fall, a day or two before band camp began, she encouraged me to join cause they needed an extra “silk”. ( A silk is a flag twirler.)

    I was the only woman on the squad who didn’t already possess half leotard panties to go over your underwear so you didn’t flash your actual panties while wearing your polyester flag twirler mini dress, the only one who never twirled a flag before the first day of band camp and the only one, I believe, who felt nauseated when she had to purchase her de rigueur crinkle vinyl go-go boots from the Sears Catalog. But…I persisted.

    Did I go to Japan?

    Nope, that year we traveled via tour bus to the prestigious Garden State Bowl in the Meadowlands. I guess it was worth the experience, being in band for one year, but I would have preferred Tokyo to North Jersey, even with the carbon footprint.

  270. Erica says:

    I still don’t understand Alex the B.’s argument that one person making a pro-environmental change doesn’t improve anything. If that were true, one person engaging in an environmentally-damaging behavior doesn’t hurt anything. Doesn’t individual change add up collectively?

    Yes and no. Yes, it does; but the amount of carbon emissions prevented by 10000 people doing “little things” is miniscule in comparison to the amount of emissions that could be prevented if those people, organizing politically, got a bill passed (at the state level, let’s say) to increase fuel economy and building efficiency standards. Unfortunately, global warming is just too huge a problem to be solved without large-scale government action (i.e. regulations, treaties, and huge investments in clean technology). Voluntary actions can supplement those big government actions, but they cannot begin to substitute for them, and if they’re all we have, frankly, we’re screwed.

    To the extent that the energy you put into living “purely” is energy that you don’t put into making those big changes happen, you’re being counterproductive. That’s not to say it’s OK to live like an eco-pig and use the magnitude of the problem as an excuse. It is to say that there comes a point of diminishing returns to one’s “personal virtue,” as Dick Cheney would say.

  271. Ellen says:

    I see your point Erica, but, again, why does it have to be an either/or situation? The kind of people who would organize politically to get an efficiency standards bill passed are already voting for representatives who would pass it, driving fuel efficient vehicles, and insulating their homes anyway. (Driving less also has a dozen other benefits besides reducing global warming.)

    My guess is that we are more likely to get people to change a light bulb than to lobby their senator.

    More to the point, according to the carbon calculator my plane flights quadruple my carbon footprint. Sounds like we need clean, convenient and affordable high speed trains. And then we need to say goodbye to air travel as we know it.

  272. Pam I says:

    Petrol here (UK) has just gone to over £1 a litre. That’s around £4.50 a UK gallon, $9.27 a gallon my calculator says. How does that compare?

  273. Alex the Bold says:

    Thank you, Erica. You said it far better than I was able to spit it out.

    Ellen, I’m absolutely NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT saying it’s an either/or situation. I use the energy-efficient lightbulbs, I bought the non-paper/non-plastic grocery sacks that Shop N’ Stop offers.

    Sure, these actions encourage others, and I’m all for this, but, honest to God, even if the whole damned country starts carrying their groceries in their bare arms and never uses a light bulb again, it’s the equivalent of paying Visa with my AmEx: short-term and not a solution, just a deck-chair rearranging.

    There’s just not enough science/thought/perspective in Stuart. I would love to see the strip in which Stuart realizes the carbon footprint of raising a child and tries to convince Sparrow (or just undertakes it without discussion) to terminate J.R.’s life for the sake of the planet, and then decides, “Why stop there?”

    Perhaps that’s the last strip? Mo and Stuart squaring off in a blood-spattered room.

    As long as the salad bowl from this strip (which was seen when Mo and Sydney met for the Lesbian Pot Luck) survives!

  274. April says:

    Oh Alex, you made my day. I will now be plagued by dreams of D2Wo4 cage fights. Gawd help meh.

  275. chriso says:

    Wow, I just realized Stuart is wearing a Utilikilt, some kind of leggings AND Crocs. He is my fashion nightmare come to (comic strip) life!!

  276. dicentra formosa says:

    What’s the matter with utilikilts and leggings? Crocs, I agree, are beyond the pale…

  277. Spark says:

    Pam I: It’s been about $3.25 to $3.50 per gallon in the Berkeley area. U.S. gas is ridiculously cheap — let’s just say I’ve never heard of a place in the past few years that hit $4.00 per gallon.

  278. Aunt Soozie says:

    I paid $2.99 a gallon today in NJ.

  279. Deena in OR says:

    Spark: Except for the opportunists on the Oregon coast with working gas pumps over the last few days. Feh.

    Deena, near flooded Vernonia, OR.

  280. Hariette says:

    Alex the Bold —

    I’m still having a hard time understanding the depth of your anger towards a two-dimensional character.
    I also react strongly when you write generalizations such as
    “Stuart is everything I hate in the Democratic Party.”
    and
    “Trying doesn’t cut it, Stuart. You don’t get that and neither do the Dems.”

    Yes, I took this personally because you went past rants about Stuart to rants about a diverse group of people. I’m not a fan of generalizations no matter who they are directed towards. Plus living in the South I get a daily dose of how idiotic us “Dems” are in the local paper. Getting it here is actually worse because I’ve always viewed this as a safe place. Substitute any other group and would it have gone uncommented on?

    Your anger confounds me. You seem so caught up in all the things you dislike about him, can you see anything that you do like? You list all the things you see that were selfish he has done to others, but can you see things have been done to him? Nobody is all evil just as nobody is all good.

    You state you have ‘Stuarts’ in your life. Are they not safe enough to get this angry towards? Is that why you rail against Stuart here? I simply don’t understand the depth of your anger and am trying to understand.

  281. TeratoMarty says:

    Oh, Stuart! I never thought I’d see the day when you turned into my least-favourite hippie man stereotype. I lived with a guy like this once… he was committed to saving the boreal forests, so he re-used tissues; the whole house was full of dirty tissues that he was saving for later. He objected to how much sugar was in juice, so he watered-down the communal juice pitcher, rather than just diluting his own glass. It’s a very autocratic, unexamined-male-privilege thing to do, to assume that you are the only one qualified to make decisions, and then force everyone else to comply. Granted, there are women like this, too- Ginger’s ex after Mo, (Tanya?) for one.

    Ginger’s only solution is to do what I did with Hippie Housemate- MOVE OUT! Heed the warning signs that pop up in your first week. Had I done so, I would have got out of there before Hippie Man and Hippie Woman had a full-bore domestic dispute as to whether to treat their toddler’s 102 degree fever with a trip to the doctor (her choice) or with some dippy homeopathic remedy (his).

  282. markmaker says:

    Alex the Bold is way off the mark when it comes to local foods and environmental impact, or even the impact one individual can make.

    There’s a lot of research out about the “SUV in the Pantry”. Our food consumption habits, from production with enormous machinery, petro fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides, right through transportation, processing, transportation, distribution, transportation, preparation (restaurants, etc), combine with what we choose to eat to form fully _1/4_ of each persons contribution to carbon emissions.

    Add to that the idea that eroded, degraded, ill kept land loses topsoil (and the 4 pounds of water a pound of soil can hold) at a conservation average rate of 17 tons per (acre or hectare, I forget. 1 hectare = approx 2.5 acres) per year (Where does all that soil go? Any chance this adds to the oceans rising??) whereas well kept, organic, healthy soil creates new soil and is capable of sequestering carbon at a rate that would solve most of our carbon balance were all farmland operated in such a fashion. How does the impact that you can make by eating local sound now?

    And, to the second part of my point, it’s NOT just the impact you can make directly on the carbon balance. It’s also the slow cultural shifting of knowledge and understanding that reclaims old lost information we used to have about how to make excellent tasty dishes with turnips, parsnips, carrots, rutabegas, beets, potatos, yams, apples, cabbage, pumpkins, and all the dozens of winter squash varieties and other stuffs that store pretty well in a root cellar. Most folks denegrate eating local in the winter as completely undo-able because we’ve forgotten as a culture the habits that used to be as normal as brushing our teeth: canning, freezing, drying, smoking, cellaring, etc.

    For the record: I don’t do all these things every year, but I’m trying to reclaim a little more of the knowledge each year, and though I think Stuart will win more bees with honey than vinegar, I do think the effort is worthwhile. 100th monkey and all that.

    Sample recipe for those slowly walking this local path:

    try baking carrots and parsnips in a rosemary honey glaze.

    YUM!

    Everything we see is the slow accumulation of countless little behaviors and habits.

  283. shadocat says:

    TeratoMarty; I think you meant Clarice—not Ginger.

  284. alexis says:

    What I would really love to see is Stuart become a freegan and starting cruzing the local dumpsters for discarded boxes of frosted fruitbats. Now that would be local!

  285. Alex the Bold says:

    “Depth of your anger.”

    Although I question whether it’s “anger” Hariette, I’ll allow the word just to get to the matters at hand. First, you’re absolutely right to whack my knuckles about the “neither do the Dems” line. Obviously, I’m not talking about every single Dem. I was, sloppily, referring to a subset: the Dems that still haven’t ended the war, the Dems that still haven’t come up with universal health care, the Dems who keep just sort of treading water and milling around. And I should have taken more care on that. (As to the “Substitute any other group and would it have gone uncommented on?” that you ask. I suspect yes. If I had said neocons are crazed lunatics trying to rape the planet, it probably would have been given a pass…)

    The reason I dislike Stuart so strongly is that when he screws up, he drags a whole lot of people down with him. When Mo decides to not eat sugar (or dairy or chocolate or …) that decision does not mean everyone who lives with her is now in a house exposed to the elements. Clarice not being at the pregnancy class shafts Toni (and to an extend, Raffi) but she didn’t just – in an instant – decide that she was, by God, going to skip the class: an action of omission versus an act of commission. Stuart throwing out his back on moving day? Not his fault. Accidents happen.

    As to the “can you see anything you like about him?” That’s not the issue. You’re right, everyone has something likeable about them. Here’s a Doctor Who answer. The villain of the piece begs for her life, explaining to the Doctor that she had the opportunity to kill a human who had put her plan at risk, but chose not to. She asks if that should count for something. The Doctor says no. You don’t get points for, after all the killings, deciding to be merciful once in a while.

    Now, I’m not saying Stuart’s a homicidal goon. But that he shovels the walk and can bathe his child without screwing it up just isn’t good enough. I’m not expecting perfection, and if Stuart’s FUBARs were less-actively sought out and initiated by him, I’d probably have a lot more patience for him. But Stuart doesn’t seem to have a learning curve. It’s more like a learning flat line, and I can’t think of anything less pleasant than having to, time and time again, foot the bill (emotionally, physically, financially) for someone who keeps not figuring out how to make the less-than-most-disastrous decision.

    The point isn’t that I have Stuarts in my life. As I said, most people do. But Hariette’s right about me not being able to confront them. It isn’t fear though. It’s that it doesn’t work. That’s what Stuarts (work, home, wherever) do. They will not say “Yes. I caused that problem to happen because I did not take a very obvious point into account. As a result of my decision, Sparrow, you now have to walk to work or take the bus. Because of me trying to recarpet the house and ignoring warnings, Ginger, Lois and you will be standing around in your coats for the next week. Ten seconds of thought on my part would have shown me a better course of action, but I didn’t think, I just did.”

  286. JenK says:

    Alexis – W00t. Freegan living. Bet Lois would go with that one.

  287. laura says:

    Now I feel a little embarassed at saying it–the anti-Stuart posts are becoming extremely articulate and convincing, even for me who actually like Stuart with all his all-too-human faults. But I do find it funny that so many of us are berating Stuart so much just a few blog posts away from the one when Allison told us that the which-dyketowatchoutfor-are-you test had classified her mostly as Stuart (sorry, long day, cannot really get myself to check by how much).

    I guess some of us are just telling Allison to stop making Clarice unhappy.

  288. laura says:

    And as for booting Stuart, who knows what Sparrow is doing when she is out to the office so late? Wouldn’t somebody be a tad worried about that–yeah, yeah, it’s a responsibility job, and yes, she has to make more money because he decided to quit his job, but wouldn’t that make somebody even more worried and edgy? Plus, I seem to remember Sparrow and him having troubles with sex some time ago

  289. ksbel6 says:

    Stuart and Sparrow did have trouble with sex. Oral sex. Sparrow apparently doesn’t find it satisfying.

  290. Maggie Jochild says:

    Alex the Bold, first of all — kudos for standing still while someone jumps on you for your anger. If you were raised female, that had to punch some buttons. Good job.

    I think your comparison of Stuart to the milling-around-Dems is apt, because they are both examples of people facing an institutionally-created problem and not seeing their way around it.

    In the case of the Dems, this administration has exploited every single weakness in how our democracy is set up in order to shift power to the executive branch, and in order to “fix” this, those deep in the bowels of the system are going to have to see how they might be part of the problem as well. It’s almost revolutionary, what they are facing. I’m NOT offering that as an excuse — that’s their job, it IS up to them to do it, and some of them see it clearly.

    Not to mention which, the Bushistas have snared the big three — gender, class and race — to bolster their bulwarks, so anyone who is complicit in those oppressions is going to have a hard time thinking straight. (So to speak…) Which is why I’m often frightened, if not angry.

    In the case of Stuart, I think he made a few good choices to step outside of male conditioning and then ground to a halt. Because (to quote Dubya) “It’s haaaarrrd!” Yup. It means going against almost all the information you got about the world before age three and all the “normal” ways of behaving. Nonstop. Because, to quote a post by Amanda Marcotte at Pandagon earlier this week, “Masculinity is not a place you achieve, it’s something you’re always having to defend”. It’s an incomplete form of humanity, and to give it up, to claim COMPLETE humanity, means anomie.

    I don’t see him having the support system for that kind of work. I don’t see him having even looked for it. He’s settled into trying to please females in order to extract comfort and succour from them, which is basic male conditioning all over again. And when he errs from that pattern — i.e., makes unilateral decisions without considering the needs of others — he likely thinks he’s “giving in” so much he deserves a chance to “do it his own way”. Still stuck in the mire.

    You know, Alix Dobkin once said she wrote “View from Gay Head” with its repetition of lesbian 32 times because when she came out to her mother, mom said “Just don’t tell your father, it will kill him”. Alix was intrigued by the notion of lesbian as a word which could kill. What actually occurred, of course, is that her father immediately “forgot” she was a dyke and if it came up again in any form, it was always her had to do the ground work all over again. Like male refrigerator blindness — “I can’t find the butter!” or white denial (“Whaddya mean, ‘Friends’ doesn’t have any people of color in the cast? There was that girlfriend that time, of Joey and then Ross, they shared her.”)

    I agree with you, also, A the B, that confronting someone about gender/race/class is useful only the first time. Say what’s going on, then leave it to them to grow. Or not. If not, shape your expectations for the relationship around their denial (learned that from 12 Step training).

    Which is why at moderated blogs, like Pandagon, Feministing, Bitch Ph.D., etc., if someone gets on asking Feminism/Racism 101 questions, they are treated as a possible troll. The information is out there, and if you haven’t picked it up by now, well — I mean, do you really believe Bush didn’t know about the NIE assessment for Iran until last week?

    A few of the instances of Stuart’s recalcitrance strike me more as arising from class assumptions than gender crap. He’s VERY middle class. But then, so are almost all of the characters in this strip. (And the women of color exist almost entire outside people of color networks or communities.) I take that as a given limit of the strip — can’t do everything on all fronts. But I won’t deny it’s a limit. And Stuart’s limits that arise from gender? — They really are limits, not just foibles. We survive in a patriarchy, as well as a white supremacy. It’s coating everything we do, unless we make a conscious choice to scrub it away.

  291. Eileen says:

    Actually, Stuart is kind of like a stereotypical Jewish mother: genuinely nurturing but overbearing, concerned that you get everything *(s)he thinks you need, but insensitive about what *you* feel. I bet that’s the kind of parenting Stuart got. And I bet he was a red diaper baby, too, lots of pressure from both parents to be socially responsible.

  292. liza from pine street art works says:

    Actually, Maggie, it was my mother, not Alix’s, who said- in 1971 – don’t tell your dad you’re a Lesbian, it will kill him.

    Then Alix had this fantasy of standing in front of the trilateral commission saying, “Lesbian, Lesbian, Lesbian” and watching them all drop.

    Ah, those were the days.

    PS: Dad survived the word.

  293. Maggie Jochild says:

    Now see how memory distorts things? Thanks for the correction, Lize. So glad Lou survived.

    Yeah, my mother said I must never tell my dad I’d changed my last name from the patriarchal surname (his) to the self-chosen matronymic, because it would crush him. But he didn’t care one way or the other. Of course, it wasn’t liberalism on his part, just apathy.

  294. Mira says:

    I really love DTWOF and have for years, I find it entertaining, amusing, insightful, witty, clever, incredibly erudite, compassionate, humane, and very funny — and then there’s this blog, which I check semi-regularly and enjoy reading too (though not nearly as much as the comics themselves!). But sometimes the comments go over the top and I can’t relate to them at all.

    I like Stuart, really like him. Yes, he’s obnoxious, but I do think that it’s part of his _character_ as a comic! Fictional characters often have exaggerated personalities & behaviors for the sake of drama & comedy — in real life, no one runs around moaning & groaning or engaging in witty reparte’ as much as Shakespeare’s characters did for example.

    I can’t believe how terribly Stuart’s being judged and how little tolerance let alone compassion anyone has for his own individuality & humanity. Besides that, I find him actually FUNNY! Perhaps if I had to live with him, he’d start to get on my nerves, but of course none of us do have to live w/ him since he’s, lets not forget, only a comic character. I can’t, truly, having given it some thought, see any reason for such antipathy towards Stuart other than sexism.

    It made me sad too when Maggie Jochild wrote, only peripherally referring to Stuart, that masculinity “is an incomplete form of humanity”. Anti-male comments like this cut me — I have a son, whom I adore, who is wonderful in every way (including in traditional “boyish” behaviors – he’s no shrinking violet) and I can’t bear the thought that there are people in the world who think that his humanity is incomplete. (Fundamentalist Christians think he’s “incomplete” b/c he’s a Jew, and now hard-line feminists think he’s “incomplete” b/c he’s a boy… grrrrr) Masculinity is, in itself, not wrong. Sexism is wrong, and the two shouldn’t be confused.

    And when MJ wrote “He’s settled into trying to please females in order to extract comfort and succour from them, which is basic male conditioning all over again,” I was confused — trying to please people in order to get comfort or help from them, isn’t that a traditionally _feminine_ thing to do? I do it constantly, that’s for sure! So, which is it — Stuart’s “people-pleasing” is criticized for being too masculine, or too feminine?? Oh, wait, I thought he was being criticized for _not_ being a people-pleaser and being too self-centered & autocratic. There’s no consistency in this criticism (other than “if Stuart did it it must be wrong”) — I think Stuart’s critics just have an ax to grind.

    Mostly in this world I want to be happy, which, for me has involved being less angry. Why hate Stuart? At worst, it’s sexism, at best it’s …repetitive & fruitless.

    Oh, it’s Chanukah!
    Chanukah sameach,
    Mira

  295. Maggie Jochild says:

    Mira, masculinity has nothing to do with maleness. Maleness is a biological condition. Masculinity is a made-up idea of what males are supposed to be, that changes from culture to culture, class to class, and time period to time period. To believe that masculinity is determined by biology is essentialist. The reality is, ALL of the attributes assigned to “masculine” or “feminine” are HUMAN attributes, occurring without predictability in any gender, and no gender should be limited in what attributes it gets to claim/celebrate/pursue.

    I have a godson, two grandsons, and a heavy investment in making sure they escape the prison of masculinity. There is no such thing as “boyish” behavior — every single thing I’ve seen a boy do that is labeled as such is also done by girls until it is stomped out of them. If it was “ingrained” and natural, we wouldn’t have to monitor and disclipline them so heavily to behavior “normally”.

    But kids, by 18 months, know which gender they are supposed to imitate. And since they depend on us for every single tiny aspect of their survival, in addition to the very human genetically-based drive to mimic and fit in with the tribe, they will drop behaviors that ARE natural to them and emphasize only the ones which meet with our approval. It’s an overwhelming form of brainwashing, and it’s the first label we receive at birth (or before birth, with ultrasound).

    Sexism is the institutionalized, systematic belief that there is one “right” gender (male) and all others are second-class human beings. The power that enforces sexism flows in one direction. Women may dislike or individually mistreat men, but we don’t have control of the system and therefore cannot oppress them. So — finding fault with Stuart is not sexist.

    I find great fault with male conditioning (to the same extent that I find fault with female conditioning, by the way) and I expect everyone to dig themselves out of the hole imposed on them by their unasked-for conditioning. If they refuse, either through fear or ignorance, I move on to associating with someone who is choosing to lead an examined life and overcome their own misinformation as much as they are working to overcome institutionally-based mistreatment.

  296. ready2agitate says:

    Oh, I didn’t see Maggie J’s comment (which, in fact, was someone else’s comment) as applying to males only. I saw it as a critique of the gender binary culture. If you thought she was saying *your son* is an incomplete human being, then of course you’d be offended, Mira (and rightly so!). But I think she was saying that the social construct of masculinity leaves males incomplete (not their biological maleness), just as the social construct of femininity leaves females incomplete (indeed it leaves females as second-class human beings, to boot). (I actually enjoy MJ’s comments on this blog and find them well-expressed and thought-provoking.)

    I’m bemused by the endless discussion of “can sexism go “both” ways?” — “Can racism go “both” ways?” etc. In my worldview they can’t: they go from powerful to powerless, and cannot be “reversed.” But I appreciate alternative views that continue to stretch me to articulate my beliefs (and values), and although sometimes I just go “ho-hum” and check out, I’m interested in the passion with which various perspectives have articulated themselves.

    ****

    Chag Sameach to you too, Mira. I wonder if Stuart lit the candles with JR tonight….

    And now: Whose post will tip this baby’s scale to 300, pray tell….? Alison, you still with us?

  297. ready2agitate says:

    ps Ouch ouch on the Jewish mother stereotype. I know you pointed out that it’s a stereotype (and we can agree that stereotypes often have a tiny grain of reality in them – emphasis tiny) but I find it sexist in that it demeans women (OK only some women), as well as faintly anti-semitic (like “JAP,” etc.). I swear all people enact these behaviors. Have you never known a nurturing but overbearing Italian? Arab? Catholic? Father? Asian? My mom is reserved and a little distant. Is she a Jewish mother?

  298. GenderNeutral says:

    Ah, geez…

    This one hurt me a little. Ok, more than a little.

    Clarice, go home. Toni, please get over yourself and give everyone just a little slack.

    Ouch, ouch, ouch.

  299. GenderNeutral says:

    Reading over some posts, rereading the strip, and remembering my college days in Olympia got me thinking about the PC aesthetic of asceticism.

    I have noticed a certain vehemence, rigidity, obstinacy, and downright religiosity permeating the cult of the Do-It-Without crowd. It’s as if life doesn’t count unless it’s difficult, tedious, and dull. Add to that the competitive enlightenment of using the correct vernacular (which changes arbitrarily and without advance notice)and with it, the joy of berating someone for not using it properly, and you have….

    The New Puritanism. You’ll Get Used To It. And, REMEMBER: You Should Be Ashamed of Yourself.

  300. Pam I says:

    300 posts and no mention of trans – a first?

    On gender conditioning, a disappointing piece in a local paper yesterday – “Lesbians’ quads’ first birthday”. And smiley-baby pics of the four babies and two happy mums. Three boys, one girl. The boys in little rugby shirts, and the girl in a flowery dress. What’s happening to lesbians these days???

  301. Alex the Bold says:

    Maggie Jochild,

    I’m not sure I understand the term “standing still” in your post.

    And not to get another tangent going, but I don’t think anyone was jumping on me. Sometimes I think a comment is a little harsh, or I just plain out disagree, but, hey, I bet some of my comments are considered a little harsh or incorrect. I’m not sitting here, fingers steepled and cackling wickedly as I muse, “Ah, now how hurtful can I deliberately be?” And I don’t think any of the other posters are either.

    We’re all adults. We can all have our emotional reactions and then move on from there, disagreeing perhaps, but all still trying to be cordial.

    Otherwise it’ll become some huge sort of “And, oh yeah, remember nine strips ago, your fourth comment about Samia’s earrings? Well I design earrings for a living you stupid jerk and you’re the worst person since Hitler…”

  302. Foshan English says:

    Enjoying the discussion, because I’ve done the local food thing, tho almost never had control over a thermostat–and agree with some of the criticism of Stuart, because its a good way to think about how good intentions have to be tempered by something more. Maybe they can help me become less Stuart-like.

    Still, I have a slightly different take on the gender-based discussion. Maggie Jochild, your list of male advantages included 3 things about being able to assume things “won’t be attributed to my sex.”
    “21-. If I’m careless with my financial affairs it won’t be attributed to my sex.” (22 and 23 end with the same phrase)

    But then a few posts later:

    “I don’t see him having the support system for that kind of work. I don’t see him having even looked for it. He’s settled into trying to please females in order to extract comfort and succour from them, which is basic male conditioning all over again.”

    This is clearly a lot less traumatizing than a father or classmate ridiculing a young girl’s performance at driving or carpentry (though boys like Stuart sometimes got ridiculed too). It is also a helluva lot more measured and supportive than “Here, let me do that for you, baby.” But it does point out how difficult it is to think about, and even more difficult to discuss behavior, without essentializing people, often by gender. It’s not sexism, but it does show how difficult gender-free analysis of human behavior is, how tough it would be to completely eliminate 21,22, and 23, and the other ones about the emotional burden of being accountable for the actions of one’s entire gender–and whether the goal should be eliminating all stereotypes or just egregious stereotypes, since gender may actually be the best lens for examining the difference between Mo’s fretting, Sydney’s rationalizing self-absorption, and Stuart’s self-centered selflessness.

  303. little gator says:

    about names-my father was upset that I kept his surname when I married. For a number of reasons but mostly because it’
    s the name I was born with.

    It upset him even more that his disaproval didn’t bother me much.

  304. bingo says:

    I love DTWOF much more than I love the blogosphere, and will never have the time for multi-paragraph posts! but the Stewart-slagging inspires me … Stewart is wonderful here. He’s giving Clarice a taste of her own medicine, in a way – Clarice who has spent the past DECADE criticising Toni for her being middle-class and non-radical and blah blah blah. Stewart HAS to be a total blowhard to out-righteous the Mistress of Righteousness, Clarice.

    Who I love, by the way. There ain’t a character in the strip I don’t love. (Except Cynthia.) But I am a Lois, according to the online quiz, so that explains that …

  305. bingo says:

    Oh, and lest I forget, I read the whole “No salt, soy sauce …” line more as: “We don’t have any to pass you, “we’re* eating locally,” rather than “You won’t be *allowed* to buy salt.” Dunno if that cools the anti-Stu flames any.

  306. Mira says:

    Oh for pity’s sake. This is exactly what I meant about having an ax to grind – one post and I get Intro to Gender Studies 101. I already know all about the difference between sex & gender! And essentialism & social construction. It’s not that I’m ignorant or uneducated – it’s possible however that I simply disagree with you and that I dislike being lectured to.

    I didn’t say that masculinity or “boyish” behavior was innate; what I was meaning to imply was that I am okay with it (or at least some aspects of it), knowing full well that it’s culturally learned behavior. There, I’ve said it, I accept the gender system as part of cultural framework. I think that gender assumptions, stereotypes, limitations can be challenged, changed, broadened, but I don’t feel the need to abolish gender. The great majority of men I have ever known do not seem to feel “imprisoned” by their gender or masculinity, anymore than I feel imprisoned as a woman. (Please don’t reply to teach me about internalized oppression – I know all about it, I’m simply saying that I don’t feel it applies to my gender identity, or to my son’s.) If, as you write, “no gender should be limited in what attributes it gets to claim/celebrate/pursue”, then men & women should have the ability, if they choose, to accept masculinity or femininity (or some aspects of them) without being thought of as imprisoned. I’m not okay w/ gender bias & sexism, but I really am okay with the fact that masculine/feminine differences exist, and yes I do know that they are culturally constructed. People who do not like the current gender system are certainly welcome to challenge it, and I will likely support them in their efforts, but I do not think gender is a universal wrong.

    Back to Stuart. From Wikipedia: “sexism is commonly considered to be discrimination and/or hatred towards people based on their sex rather than their individual merits, but can also refer to any and all systemic differentiations based on the sex of the individuals.” When I said criticism of Stuart was based on sexism, I was using the 1st part of the definition (hatred towards people based on their sex rather than their individual merits); Maggie J’s definition leans towards the 2nd part of the definition. I don’t agree with your definition, but I’ll accept it for now and say instead that in my opinion the great majority of the criticism directed towards Stuart is based in _gender bias_.

    ready2agitate writes “I actually enjoy MJ’s comments on this blog and find them well-expressed and thought-provoking.” –– Yes, I read the blog often enough to know that Maggie J is a regular contributor, and I’m not disputing that her comments are either well-expressed or thought-provoking. I take issue, however, with implicit suggestion that if I do not agree with her then I must be stuck in “hole” due to cultural conditioning and unwilling to dig myself out. I’m not ignorant, fearful, or particularly oppressed. (I do suffer from sexism as much as any woman is affected by it, but I am not psychologically oppressed by my gender identity.) I lead a very “examined life” or I wouldn’t be taking the time to post all of this. Amazingly, I, as a feminist, just have a different point of view.

  307. Maggie Jochild says:

    Mira, I was just trying to explain that being opposed to masculinity was in no way “anti-male”, the charge you laid against me, claiming I was attacking your son’s humanity. I believe, rather, that to SUPPORT the box of masculinity is anti-male. Clearly we disagree — but I’m not anti-male and would never say anything negative about your son. You took it there, not me.

    And since you WERE conflating maleness with masculinity, I did try to explain some basics because you sounded hurt (that you were “cut” and “couldn’t bear” an opinion I was not, in fact, expressing) and confused to me. Didn’t mean to lecture, only to explain.

    My complaints about Stuart are not about his gender or his sex. My complaints are about his conditioning (gender conditioning, class conditioning and race conditioning) and how he’s choosing to express it. Doesn’t fit any of the definitions of sexism you offered. Arguing against oppressive conditioning is not oppression. I haven’t seen anyone here argue that Stuart’s behavior is the result of his having a penis, or advocating discrimination/hatred toward him. If someone was, I’d be one of the first to speak up against it.

    Noticing the thoughtlessness and disrespect that is intrinsic to oppressive behavior, commenting on it and arguing for a change — it’s something feminists do. We often get told we’re being “hard-line” (as if the mistreatment we’re pointing out is fluffy and sweet), too angry, or not funny. Anything to divert us from the points we’re making.

    Stuart is the only regularly-appearing adult male in this strip, so he has a lot of symbolism riding on him. But then, Sydney is the only one overtly owning class (although everyone seems to have access to amazing lines of credit and loans.) Are criticisms of Sydney’s crap around money “classist?” I don’t think so, because (a) power flows in one direction and (b) we’re pointing out what she was CONDITIONED to do by her parents, not finding fault with an inborn attribute she cannot help.

  308. Ellen O. says:

    Aren’t Ginger, Samia, Clarice, Toni, and Sparrow also part of the owning class, since they all own houses now?

    Or does “owning class” mean something else?

    I think Sydney is part of the “owing” class, with all that credit card debt. Or is that what you meant in the first place?

    I don’t think it takes much to get access to credit cards in this country. I’ve never earned more than $33,000 annually, but I am regularly offered huge amounts of credit. Does my college eduation contribute to that? After I bought my house, every other letter in the mail seemed to offer me a loan opp.

  309. Pam I says:

    Found a link to the lesbians’ quads piece http://www.metro.co.uk/news/article.html?in_article_id=78248&in_page_id=34#StartComments
    Am I being churlish in not just going, Ah how cute?

  310. laura says:

    bingo, I agree that the whole strip reads a little like a comeback to Clarice, like she is now sampling what she (has been thinking) she has been yearning for all these years.

    But I think Stuart IS saying “no salt in this house”: he adds the infamous “you’ll get used to it”. But I still like him, notwithstanding all his faults, including some that I had never thought about and were uncovered by the discussion.

  311. anon. says:

    Pam I, I think you spoke too soon.

  312. shadocat says:

    Pam, I do think the quads are adorable, but I see your point. However, looks at those mums—they both look pretty femmy” to me, so maybe they’re projecting that onto their daughter.

  313. Alex the Bold says:

    And another thing!

    Look at the first panel! Stuart stirring a pot of something hot with J.R. right below!

    Bad parent! Bad parent!

  314. hetero genus says:

    Now, picking apart Stuart’s all to familiar sounding(having read all the blog entries here)philosophies and practices (of both fashion and interpersonal), I am bemused to see the judgementalism redireting toward real people, the family with the three boys and a girl. I think that is over the line. It is clear that given free rein, some would impose their gender and behavioral values on others that don’t agree, and believe they are doing so for the good of humanity, like fundamentalists everywhere of every shade. I am not meaning to single out the harmeless reflection, and opinions expressed, but the statements by some, purely semantical, statements that blacks cannot be racist or that women cannot be sexist, though we can call them prejudiced, i think valid issues can be taken with that. For one thing, according to that form of thought, Bullies come in all genders and personal preferences, shapes, sizes, and colors. They share the trait of believing they can prey on others for their own self gratification of achieving power over someone or something they paerceive as vulnerable and consequence-free: any minority in a given situation: any given situation becomes fair game.

  315. annoyed lawyer says:

    Haven’t been here for a while, and don’t even have time to read all these posts (wow!), but I had to post about the lesbian quads. As a very femme mom of a boy and a girl, I wonder if Pam is aware of just how flowery and frilly and pink those moms *could* have dressed their daughter. I suspect given, as Shadocat points out, the moms’ own femminess, they think they’ve dressed their daughter neutrally! I’m not sure it’s so clear the girl’s in a dress rather than a printed top and pants. I would put the top on my little girl without hesitation, and people comment regularly on how cutely “tomboy” I’ve dressed her! (Of course, the moms may not have dressed the kids at all — the paper could have dressed them for the photo and the moms just went along with it for any number of reasons.)

  316. Pam I says:

    The generation of lesbians from the 70s and 80s who were the first to make babies in measurable numbers (and I was closely attached to four of those babies) came from a politicised network engaged in developing a feminist politic. Our babies were mostly reared in families which were out to challenge all the presumptions about gender discussed above. So seeing these quads so clearly gender differentiated in that pic (and there is a clearer pic in the printed paper of just the babes – it is a dress) when the mums had said they were careful to treat them all as individuals, was just a little shocking to me.

    But it’s fun that this was just another baby birthday story and that no-one seems to have responded with hate mail. Quads are the story rather than the two mums. Maybe I should track them down and do a kids’ photo story book. Hmmmm.

  317. Aunt Soozie says:

    Pam…do it!

  318. Aunt Soozie says:

    Oh Gosh,
    those mums look like twins!
    I love the expression on the one dark haired little guy’s face,
    he looks like he’s ready for an ale and then a brawl in the local pub!

    Then I started imagining that the one to the far right is the girl and the one in the dress was born with male genitalia but s/he is already asserting her right to wear more traditionally feminine clothing because she identifies as a transgendered girl. maybe the mums are a lot more progressive than we know and we’re just assuming the one in the dress is the girl.

    But, then Pam I will go and tell me the photo was captioned. Don’t Pam, don’t ruin my illusion!

  319. Maggie Jochild says:

    Maybe the one on the far right was born with male genitalia and identifies as a BOY and THAT’S why he is wearing a dress. Because you don’t have to change your gender to dress however you want. In a world without boxes, that is.

  320. Ellen O. says:

    Or maybe the mothers are dressing the kids in donated clothes, and are glad to get whatever they can, or maybe the newspaper asked the mothers to dress them that way for the photo.

  321. Pam I says:

    Searched around but the same old agency story keeps coming through. This one addition from one version:

    Emma and Melanie have already noticed the babies’ personalities shining through. “We have got them all a cake each as we want them to feel like individuals,” said Emma.
    “But the boys wear the same clothes because it’s easier than picking out four different outfits, though when they are older we won’t do that.”

    QED.

  322. g-lo says:

    I know it’s late, but I want to come in on the whole “locavore” vs “localvore” thing too.

    Up here in east it’s referred to as “localvore” because, frankly, we care less about latin and semantics and more about the location from which our food is provided (love not ending a phrase with a preposition eh, word nrrds?).

    We eat the local and thus we gots us some voraciousness for the local. Anyone for a nucular cowpie?

    Anyway… Everyone except northeast, so far as I can tell, keeps it’s true with the “locavore” label. The rest of us eat. Also, for persnickety types, a single citation is worth all the opinions on earth. 😉

    Just for some record and because maybe this post will get some traction on people trying to figure out how to eat food that isn’t shipped for more than 1000 miles or so. Here’s a few spare links:

    http://www.sevendaysvt.com/features/2006/eat-here-now.html

    http://www.vermontlocalvore.org/learnmore/

    http://www.eatlocalvt.org/coollinks.htm

    http://www.eatlocalchallenge.com/why_eat_local/index.html

    http://7d.blogs.com/omnivore/food_news/index.html

    and my own experience at:

    http://7d.blogs.com/thedailydigest/

    http://localvores.blogspot.com/
    (hit that for agnolloti and the general practical nature of the site)

    Eating local is not a cult.

  323. hetero genus says:

    Quad’s moms’ are mirror images in the metro photo, they look more identicle then any of the kids, despite the clothes. Kids look well, considering some health challenges due to emerging early. They are even getting their own cakes. Moms can dress them however the hell she pleases. They have a warm loving home with good clothes on their little bodies, parents who are tuning into their personalities, so we know they are getting attention. I must say, in a world where some kids go naked, are exploited or cast out, sold to the highest bidder, or being indoctrinated as racists or little suicide bombers, it seems rather ironic to condemn fashion choices. In fact, they are being dressed in their culture’s norm of gender identity which they will, it appears, be free to accept or reject later. Contrast that with depriving them of this basic aspect of humanity which is universal and most kids cherish in a society where they aren’t deprived of rights and privelages because of this. The problem is forcing the kid who doesn’t fit into that mold, making them feel odd, and enlightening other children to kind folks who are different from themselves (whomever themselves happen to be).

  324. L. says:

    Dude…

    in response to some of the above digs on stuart (and communal housing…), i’ve lived communally for about 6 years. it hasn’t always been perfect, but come on. if clarice wants salt, she should go out and buy some, and explain to stuart that it’s important to her, and probably cook her own dinner (plus dinner for stuart and jaio raizel). right now, all she’s doing is relying on someone else to cook dinner and looking unhappy that it isn’t what she would like. maybe it’s generational, but as a queer female-bodied person living in a house with 3 straightish people (2 married to each other, one single fella), i’ve never once felt my male housemates were singling me out with their household expectations, or requesting special praises for their communal sensibility.

    anyway, i guess my point is that from my perspective stuart’s fine. someone may need to stand up to him (and tell him he’s acting like a tool for being so insensitive to clarice’s breakup), sure, but no one has, therefore he shouldn’t be expected to know and accomodate their preferences . why should this whole list be crabby cuz he’s cooking dinner for his family?

  325. L. says:

    oh, and our house is 62. we do wear hats indoors, but like stuart says, you get used to it. we eat a lot of meat, fat and salt though. all local, we’re a west coast house. yum!

  326. liza from pine street art works says:

    L- in this context, what exactly does “Dude” signify? Is it a contemporary version of “dear sir or madam?” but with the madam part left out?

    Or is it more Lewis Carroll-ish, as in “He only does it to annoy because he knows it teases?”

  327. Andrew B says:

    HG – Considering that the sun will eventually become a red giant, swallow the earth, and wipe out all terrestrial life, I think you’re being rather small-minded to fuss about racism and human trafficking. C’mon. Perspective is a good thing, but it needs to be kept in perspective. I agree with Pam I. We do not do kids any favors by imposing gender roles on them, any more than we (would?) do them favors by imposing racist attitudes (also normative in society, also possible but difficult to overcome later in life).

  328. hetero genus says:

    Heh heh, loved your opening sentence. Right, AB, we should neither impose nor deny gender roles, or we can do both, given the grand scheme of things. It is a parents perogative, and as long as it is not the cause of damage, which clothes are not, unless they are ill-fitting, ill suited for the weather, sexually provocative (i saw, in the children’s department, miniature, padded underwire bras intended for pre-teens. It pissed me off, and humored my spouse because he had read that a fundamentalist religious group of woman bought some and burned them outside the store. Politics=strange bedfellows, etc.) or made out of nasty criniline, which tortures young skin of any gender. Some people are truamatized by dogs, though it is a minority, and i believe most overcome it. How a mom or dad dresses their kids probably is up there with things to not worry about given the red giant and ET’s, unless we just have fun gossiping, which we obviously do, myself included. It’s more fun to to gossip about 2D symbols with multidimentional aspects, whose lives we are privvy to, that real, live people, whose lives we know nothing about.

  329. hetero genus says:

    last sentence typo: should read than, not that.

  330. Jeffster83 says:

    Yay for Mira! The definition of sexism that you give does not state that only women suffer from it, and that only men commit it. And yay for you again that you know gender theory but question and even disagree with its most basic axiom.

    When Maggie Jochild said that masculinity was an incomplete humanity, and you took offense on behalf of your son, and then she responded that she also has males in her life, I was reminded of what a lot of white people used to say to black people: “It’s too bad that so many blacks are ignorant, but not you, though; you are very articulate, and some of my best friends are black.”

    The statement that “Power only flows one way” is depressing and hopeless. If the world were to change to a matriarchy, the power flow would have to change direction. If the world were to become completely equal, the power flow would have to stop. But by definition, it can’t stop or change direction. Why should anyone bother to struggle against sexism, then?

    I know that less than one percent of men have positions among the the teachers, the staff, or the PTO of most public elementary schools. (At my daughter’s school, that man is the janitor.) Less than seven percent of men have supervisory or professorial roles in the nursing profession. I doubt that any male-owned sanitation firms were allowed to bid to provide port-a-potty services for the Mychygyn Wombperson’s Music Festival. Yes, these are petty examples, insignificant when compared to the actual sufferings of actual women, but I hold that they are instances of power flowing the other way.

    And for all you Stuart-haters: he was the only one who went to Pride this year. All the characters in the strip who identify as gay, who politically unite as gay, who demand the removal of inequalities based on being gay, just couldn’t be bothered to go. No, I don’t want you to give him a medal, but it would be nice if you noted that on the list of his positive behaviors.

  331. anon. says:

    on “dude”: I’m told that it is often considered a gender neutral term of endearment, but I always insist my friends either call me dudette or du-dah.

    on “suicide bombers,”: we live in a complicated world and a lot goes into making suicide bomber. It is not a “bad parenting” issue but rather an untenable political situation, and only massive political change and justice will bring an end to the phenomenon of suicide bombers. It does no one any justice to simply attribute the phenomenon to “parental indoctrination.”

    And it’s is a totally different issue from dressing your girl children stupidly, with much graver consequences.

    oh, did the use of the word stupid sound like there was a value judgment implied? sorry…um, i really meant, all gender expression is great!

  332. Anonymous says:

    i’m not sure if it’s been questioned since the initial comments, but wouldn’t “locavore” (as opposed to localvore, as printed in the strip) suggest you eat crazy people?

    mmmmmm….zombies

  333. hetero genus says:

    RE: anon’s comment. A lot goes into making a child molester and a wife beater, as well as a clansman or gay basher, Years ago, one could could hear elaborate arguments and excuses for rapists too. What gets spewed out of the medias (both sides) leaves out lots of the stories, but to justify acceptance of violence intended for for the unarmed(especially aimed at children), and to be hostile to people living within that society who speak out against it is condescending to those individuals living with those who glorify this mass homicide.

  334. Eileen says:

    response to ready2agitate: Stuart is Jewish, therefore he would have a stereotypical (and comically exagerated; this *is* a cartoon character we’re talking about) Jewish mother.

  335. anon. says:

    to hetero,

    ok, you’re right. it IS about bad parenting after all. my bad.

    i’m sure if we keep pointing fingers at the parents of suicide bombers, or the religion of suicide bombers, eventually, it will all just go away. thanks for clearing that up.

  336. hetero genus says:

    How funny we’re still here. I guess i didn’t communicate clear enough. People who identify entire groups of other people as inherantly inferior due to circumstances of their birth, to the point of demonizing them and indoctrinating their children into wanting them dead, and praise those who commit mass murder, for what ever reason, religious or racist are, IMHO, worse parents then those who dress their children gender conventionally, and even those who choose to raise their children with conventional values (assuming the messages of hatred and phobias about others, minorities in their midst are not part of the parents tradition). I do believe that criticism should be aimed at any group, be it KKK, neo nazis gay bashers, womaen haters, animal abusers whoever, who who proudly proclaim they desire the death of people who are different, (or the same). Also, at some for not caring as long as their friends, family or group are spared. But i suppose all this is trivial compared to how families choose to dress their babies, or feed them, though perhaps depriving one’s daugher of Frosted Fruit Bats (in coconut milk no doubt, or are they like tiny baseball bats, i wonder) might be pushing the envelope..

  337. Hammerwoman says:

    Hahahaha! It’s a visit to my sister’s house. . . only there the lectures about why we’re eating/not eating something would fill the strip. I love the cold-tolerance thing, too. . . they think they’re saving so much money on heat, but they all eat three times what we eat in our warm house, and I don’t care if you make your own felafel, it’s more expensive than whatever you heat with.