See All Topics

Home / Section: Controversies

NOW protests cartoon of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

bramhall-now

The New York State chapter of the National Organization for Women has released a statement denouncing New York Daily News Cartoonist Bill Bramhall for a recently published editorial cartoon depicting Senator Kirsten Gillibrand as a “loud mouth need of gagging.”

In their statement they write,

And exactly what is Bill Bramhall’s gripe? Could it be that the Senator speaks her mind, is a strong advocate for the people of New York, and has aspirations for her career? Possibly it’s all of the above.

But the cruel reality is that strong women have an uphill battle, simply because many cartoonists, comedians, and average guys just can’t handle women who reach for what is rightfully theirs – equality! Some men look at women like Senator Gillibrand as a threat to their masculinity, their careers, and their power bases. But our Senator is in good company, what with her predecessor Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, and a host of other women politicians having endured similar treatment.

Bramhall’s phallic symbols send a clear message that women are good for only one thing. And the disrespectful cartoon certainly touches on concerns feminists have had for centuries. What contributes to violence against women is the general attitude about women in general.

NOW-NY has demanded that the Daily News show more respect toward the senator and all women.

Community Comments

#1 Wiley Miller
July/15/2009
@ 7:37 am

Oh, please. This is the sort of thing that keeps NOW from being taken seriously. If the senator was a man, would they be demanding to show more respect toward the senator and men in general? Which part of equality don’t they understand? You can’t demand to be treated equal and special treatment at the same time.

#2 Rob Tornoe
July/15/2009
@ 7:52 am

Doesn’t Pappas realize that by comparing Gillibrand to Sarah Palin, she’s insulting her more than Bramhall ever could.

#3 Mike Lester
July/15/2009
@ 8:04 am

“You canâ??t demand to be treated equal and special treatment at the same time.” -Wiley

-You mean sort of like the ass kissing contest passing for a job interview / confirmation hearing happening in Washington?

#4 Mike Peterson
July/15/2009
@ 8:16 am

“You mean sort of like the ass kissing contest passing for a job interview / confirmation hearing happening in Washington?”

Yeah, I remember when I saw my first confirmation hearing, too! Really makes you rethink what you learned in social studies class, doesn’t it?

Meanwhile, about the cartoon — I was watching the hearing when Gillibrand went over time and just thought it was kind of mildly humorous. Then I was watching the post-hearing analysis on Faux News and they were talking like she’d mooned the panel or something. Geez, Louise, what’s the big deal?

I didn’t hear these arbiters of decorum complain during the Thomas hearings when a professor who had worked with Anita Hill at EEOC was testifying, and the GOP brought in the head of his tenure committee for the day to sit next to John Warner in the front row wearing a pro-Thomas button.

Next to that, I’d say going 20 seconds over the time limit isn’t exactly showing disrespect to the system.

#5 Beth Cravens
July/15/2009
@ 8:16 am

See, that right there is why I would never join NOW. Too shrill and they take themselves way to seriously. There are worse portrayals of women coming from the radio and TV and they picked a cartoon? For real?

Let me explain it as plain as possible,
The man is a EDITORIAL CARTOONIST
therefore he is expressing his opinion.
You don’t have to agree with it, but you don’t need to get all stupid about it either.

#6 Ben Carlsen
July/15/2009
@ 9:01 am

The basic point is that this is not a cartoonost portraying a woman. This is a cartoonist portraying a person, a politician, and saying what he thinks about that person. The fact that the person happens to be female should make no difference.

#7 Michael Grimm
July/15/2009
@ 12:46 pm

I think the phallic symbol comment is a bit of a stretch.

I had to look for it, but the two socks in the middle outstretched hand does resemble a flaccid cock-a-doodle do. Some people see flaccid cocks everywhere.

Ooh, and if you combine the words “corks” and “socks” what do you get? If you say “sorks” I’m going to punch you in the neck.

#8 Jesse Cline
July/15/2009
@ 1:05 pm

sorks LOL

#9 Garey Mckee
July/15/2009
@ 4:49 pm

I’d imagine most of the active members of NOW probably haven’t seen a ‘sork’ in years. If they had some ‘sork’, they wouldn’t be so uptight.

#10 Dave Stephens
July/15/2009
@ 5:07 pm

If someone porked a sork, would the porked sork still work, or would the poor sork sulk? Seriously, ’cause my sulking sork still works, and would want to know about other sorks suffering, sincerely, since a sad sork in need a pork might search out something severely borked…

:))

#11 Jesse Cline
July/15/2009
@ 5:35 pm

Dave I had a mouth full of soy crisps and just spit them out all over my desk. THANKS haha

#12 Jill Miller Zimon
July/16/2009
@ 9:59 am

I left this comment at both the WaPo article from today about this, as well as at Daryl Cagle’s blog’s post from yesterday. It continues to represent how I feel about the cartoon:

The cartoon is sexist, period. Show me the portrait of Bill Clinton going on too long at the DNC convention, or anyone else for that matter, and having â??Gagsâ? pushed toward his face. If you can show me that, Iâ??ll back down. However, not all manners of showing certain sentiments with illustrations work the same on men as they do on women â?? to wit, there is a commenter at Daryl Cagle’s blog’s post who mentioned a 1980s era cartoon with a â??dickheadâ? arrow on Reaganâ??s head. We donâ??t call women â??dickheadâ? for the most part, so that would not work on a woman.

Would the socks, corks and gags have worked as well with a man having his mouth shown wide open as Sen. Gillibrandâ??s is shown?

No. Why not? Because the stereotype is of a â??loud-mouthed womenâ? and bolsters the notion that women talk more than men, canâ??t stop talking, etc.

Again, show me some portraits in political and editorial cartoons that show loudmouthed men in elected office â?? and there are many who drone on (Mark Sanford â?? anyone do a corks, socks and gags one of him after his four hour chat with the AP?), and then I might back down.

Otherwise â?? yes, itâ??s sexist, no matter what rationalizations in fantasyland you come up with.

#13 Karyl Miller
July/16/2009
@ 2:55 pm

I totally agree with with the Jill!

#14 Karyl Miller
July/16/2009
@ 2:55 pm

I totally agree with with Jill!

#15 Karyl Miller
July/16/2009
@ 2:56 pm

I totally agree with Jill!

#16 Clay Jones
July/16/2009
@ 2:57 pm

I’ve told a lot of guys to stick a cork in it so yeah, the concept works with men too.
Anyone angered by this WANTS to be angered by something.

#17 Scott Metzger
July/16/2009
@ 3:09 pm

“Again, show me some portraits in political and editorial cartoons that show loudmouthed men in elected office â?? and there are many who drone on…and then I might back down.”

I found this in about five seconds with Google image search. I’m sure there are more out there.

http://z.about.com/d/politicalhumor/1/0/Y/Q/2/biden-gaffe-sac1024cd.jpg

Biden gets slammed all the time for being a blabbermouth who doesn’t know when to zip it.

#18 Mike Lester
July/16/2009
@ 3:39 pm

Jill, I don’t know what you do but good editorial cartoonists make fun of EVERYBODY and they do it for a living. I have people go Brer Rabbit on me regularly, “Please don’t put me in a cartoon!!! (wink, wink”). Like this pol. they’re dying to be in a cartoon. Whose Gillibrand? Nobody. Put her in a cartoon and -jacks-a-donut, she’s got gravitas.

Sen. Tom Coburn used the Ricky Ricardo “got some splainin’ to do” iconic line at the Sotomayour hearings. Somebody got their depends in a wad so he had to apologize and have his nose hairs plucked for the offense.

This synthetic indignation is Gilda Radner’s Emily Litella on the juice but w/out the “nevermind” at the end.

I would think women would find it more logical to demand that they be lampooned and caricatured as equally and offensively as men. And I intend to do my part every GD day.

#19 bill jones
July/16/2009
@ 4:10 pm

“”Again, show me some portraits in political and editorial cartoons that show loudmouthed men in elected office â?? and there are many who drone on (Mark Sanford â?? anyone do a corks, socks and gags one of him after his four hour chat with the AP?), and then I might back down.””

http://assets.nydailynews.com/img/2009/07/02/bramhall.jpg

same cartoonist. same mouth on sanford. i wouldn’t expect him to use the same…. ehem, gag though.

#20 Ted Rall
July/16/2009
@ 4:17 pm

This Ivy-educated middle-aged white guy sez women definitely take it on the chin for yappin’ too much more than their male counterparts.

Can we find examples of pols like Biden being told to button it up? Sure. But it’s fairly obvious that women like, say, Hillary Clinton are far more likely to be criticized as “shrill” than guys (by guys, natch).

I don’t have much problem with this particular cartoon, but women who take umbrage at these portrayals aren’t just making stuff up.

#21 Scott Metzger
July/16/2009
@ 4:47 pm

“Can we find examples of pols like Biden being told to button it up?”

No pun intended but yes we can.

http://olbroad.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/shut-him-up.jpg

http://blog.al.com/jdcrowe/2008/10/10-22-08JoeFortuneTeller.jpg

#22 Dave Stephens
July/16/2009
@ 8:00 pm

JILL: Would the socks, corks and gags have worked as well with a man having his mouth shown wide open as Sen. Gillibrandâ??s is shown?”

Me: Duh. Just as well. Of course. Sheesh…

JILL: No. Why not? Because the stereotype is of a â??loud-mouthed womenâ? and bolsters the notion that women talk more than men, canâ??t stop talking, etc.”

ME: Stereotype? You mean, the stereotype of a LOUD MOUTHED POLITICIAN? That stereotype? The stereotype that politicians talk more than other people, can’t stop talking, etc… Is that the stereotype? Sheeeeesh again.

#23 Shane Davis
July/16/2009
@ 8:08 pm

“Bramhallâ??s phallic symbols send a clear message that women are good for only one thing.”

What? Doing the laundry?
Hey, it was a sock…

#24 Jim Lavery
July/16/2009
@ 10:29 pm

Ironic that Jill has the most to say on this. Just sayin’.

#25 Dave Stephens
July/17/2009
@ 12:04 am

Bill branded Gillibrand as a loudmouth, and then Jill demanded Bill amend his stand on Gillibrand because she agreed with NOW’s brand of anti-man agenda…

Is that right? ;)

#26 Amanda Montague
July/17/2009
@ 12:13 am

I agree with Jill on this too. The two other cartoons of Biden and Sanford are not the same. The one of Biden uses a hook like this one does, but you’ll note that none of the items coming at him are headed straight for his gaping mouth (nor is his mouth gaping, in fact). Nor are any of the objects coming at him actually meant to go *in* his mouth to shut him up; they’re meant to drag him offstage.

The one of Sanford has phallic objects pointed at his mouth, but they’re microphones — objects meant to receive the words coming out of his mouth, not objects meant to stop up his mouth. Despite its reference to Sanford’s verbal diarrhea (which has been far more in evidence, over the course of several speeches, than Gillibrand’s in this *one* speech), it is not showing anyone trying to shut him up — quite the opposite.

Look at Gillibrand’s face in this cartoon — she doesn’t look smug or full of herself as you’d expect of a politician being mocked for talking too much. She looks kind of freaked out and like she’s completely out of control of her gaping mouth, which is opened up wide enough to swallow all of those phallic and/or violent things being pointed at it.

This cartoon is close enough to how other wordy politicians are portrayed for plausible deniability, but if you compare the images, there is a big difference between how Gillibrand is portrayed and how male politicians are. The only time you’d see a male politician with his mouth gaping like that and male hands thrusting phallic and/or violent objects at it is if the politician was gay.

#27 Dave Stephens
July/17/2009
@ 12:42 am

If you think male and female politicians AREN’T commonly drawn with gaping mouths over an expanse of PHALLIC microphones, you aren’t thinking too clearly… Hello!!?

Political Correctness at the expense of logic and sanity, is that the new, “Breakfast of Champions”?

#28 Dave Stephens
July/17/2009
@ 12:47 am

Someone should contact Camille Paglia about NOW’s latest shenanigans – a REAL feminist like Camille would never stand for such malarkey, not for one second.

#29 Henry Clausner
July/17/2009
@ 8:22 am

unbelievable…the guy is a cartoonist! please,don’t get me started…

#30 Jim Lavery
July/17/2009
@ 9:30 am

Of course the news item that the cartoon is based on was about Gillibrand going on and on, ignoring Leahy’s gavel banging, forcing him to say her five minutes were up and then she asked for more time–which he wouldn’t give. But if Amanda and Jill want to go on and on and on about sexism and phallic mouth insertions no one will bang the gavel on them.

Oh no, did I say bang? I’m screwed–ooops, there I go again.

#31 Scott Metzger
July/17/2009
@ 10:08 am

“The one of Biden uses a hook like this one does, but youâ??ll note that none of the items coming at him are headed straight for his gaping mouth (nor is his mouth gaping, in fact). Nor are any of the objects coming at him actually meant to go *in* his mouth to shut him up; theyâ??re meant to drag him offstage.”

http://blog.al.com/jdcrowe/2008/10/10-22-08JoeFortuneTeller.jpg

#32 Nelson Dewey
July/17/2009
@ 3:59 pm

Boy, do I feel stoopid!
When I first looked at the cartoon, I saw a woman who was being threatened by men who were trying to intimidate her into not saying something they didn’t like.
I actually thought the cartoonist was trying to support her.

#33 Henry Clausner
July/20/2009
@ 9:45 am

I heard the Whitehouse ordered a couple more teleprompters ….

#34 Theresa J. Lindley
March/26/2012
@ 8:54 am

Hey, that sounds a bit offensive!
No, really. That’s the 21st century, and they should stop thinking about women like about a device for one thing, no matter what he ment.
On the other hand, there are some spheres of our life, which are just for men, I’m sorry, ladies. But I don’t mean politics.
Oh, all this stuff is so complicated…

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.