Steve Kelley Replies to Charges of Misogyny


Steve Kelley has responded to accusations that a number of his recent cartoons are misogynistic through NEXTpittsburgh and Andrew Conte:

Last week, Kelley had agreed to sit down with me to talk about the three recent cartoons that have drawn objections. He then opted to cancel that interview and instead sent me a seven-page letter on Monday that talks about his perspectives on the cartoons, the subjective nature of humor and the criticisms against him and his work.


“I try to avoid seeing people as members of groups,” Kelley wrote. “My job is to produce five amusing and provocative cartoons each week addressing the shortcomings of government or individuals, some of whom are women. In order to treat everyone the same, I look at no one as privileged or underprivileged. To do otherwise would mean that I’m not treating people fairly.”

From the letter Steve makes the cases for a letter-writing campaign:

The blitz of letters to the newspaper about my work has many of the hallmarks of an organized campaign, with certain words and phrases appearing repeatedly among them. They almost without exception suggest the cartoons are misogynistic, aren’t funny, and their attempts at humor are rooted in the 1950’s or 1960’s.

Kelley defends himself by showing cartoons from women cartoonists who show women as victims, and from the union that has a long-standing feud against the newspaper. Both Liza Donnelly and the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh disparaged the cartoons in question. Kelley also makes the case that long-standing tropes are regularly used in editorial cartoons, noting:

Part of the problem may be that as women become more integrated into positions of power, especially in government, some will undoubtedly say and do things – as men have done forever – that are foolish, ill-considered or illegal. Naturally, that will increase, not decrease the amount of criticism directed their way. I would encourage them – and the rest of us – to get used to it.

The NEXTpittsburgh article is here.

They produce Steve Kelley’s letter in full here, where he also defends his three cartoons individually.