CSotD: Gender Politics

Given that Kansas promotes itself as the “Land of Ahs” — with or without that apostrophe — it’s hardly surprising that cartoonists capitalized on the connection to Frank Baum’s book or, more accurately, the classic 1939 movie based on it, in discussing the vote to preserve reproductive rights there.


Clay Jones invokes Glinda the Good in noting the disconnect between the Court’s opinion and that of the people of Kansas, and part of the underlying humor is that Kansas isn’t particularly liberal, despite having a small city of that name.

But Kansans are clearly more on the side of reproductive choice and, while they weren’t directly voting for or against Samuel Alito’s carefully cherry-picked pseudo-historical argument, they rejected the chance it gave their own government to invoke faith-based legislation.



It’s important to note that the vote in favor of preserving the state’s constitutional right to choice exceeded the number of people voting in the concurrent Democratic Primary, meaning that this was not a Democrat v Republican exercise. Plenty of Republicans voted in favor of choice.

Such that, as Nick Anderson (Tribune) makes clear, it was a stunning defeat for the Republican juggernaut, which discovered that even having a strong majority within the state did not mean that they could dictate attitudes on such a personal decision.


Over at the New Yorker, David Ostow depicts it as an answer to SCOTUS, but more in the sense, as Dorothy says here, of who was there for her and who wasn’t, calling out the six conservative justices rather than the entire court.

This, we should note, is a scene entirely from the movie. In the book, it was not a fantasy and Dorothy really did visit Oz, Baum having left the door open for 13 sequels to “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” which I mention because not only was the vote in Kansas not a dream, but we’ll be seeing sequels for some time.

Sequels rarely exhibit the imagination and spirit of the original, but we can hope.


And speaking of literary tie-ins, I had taken a vow not to feature any more Handmaid cartoons, since they quickly became a lazy way to summarize the anti-choice atmosphere, but I’ll make an exception for this Mike Luckovich piece because it encapsulates the crossover voting of women who the Republicans and others may have assumed would avert their eyes and obediently do as they were told.

We’re not at the Midterms yet, but the Kansas vote may inspire some more “good girls” to vote their own interests once behind that curtain in November.


And another traveling woman

Nancy Pelosi’s stopover in Taiwan continues to show up in political cartooning, though Patrick Blower’s contribution could have appeared anytime in the last 73 years. It’s well-established that China — once known as “Red China” or “Communist China” — considers Taiwan — formerly “Nationalist China” — part of its territory, as it did Tibet and Hong Kong until it was able to make those opinions into a reality.


As Matt Davies puts it, there’s something ludicrous in the notion that Pelosi’s visit is any more provocative than the language constantly leveled at Taiwan and the frequent “military drills” in that part of the South China Sea.


Bob Gorrell (Creators) views the visit as a provocation.


While his fellow conservative, Michael Ramirez, seems more willing to see China’s autocratic regime challenged in the name of freedom and democracy.


Them Too

The Deshaun Watson massages/sexual assaults matter has been taken up in large and very vocal part by people who have not followed the story closely, which is too bad, because it’s complicated enough that a thorough investigation would bring out some interesting and important points.

I generally admire Adam Zyglis’s work, but this cartoon fails on several levels.

To start with, Watson’s suspension indeed will cost him about $345,000 in game checks and, far from giving him a back rub, the NFL is appealing the suspension, arguing that he should have been forced to sit out the entire season.

As for that stack of “assault lawsuits,” he has settled all but one, though three of the 24 original suits remain in final negotiations. That seems a small point, except that they were civil suits and attempts to bring criminal charges failed because, while what he did was exceptionally creepy and not-okay, nothing rose to the level of criminality.

The importance in getting it right is the opportunity to address issues involving a non-criminal level of sexual abuse in which the level of compulsion was less direct than a boss/secretary relationship or the ability of a studio head to make or break an actress’s career.

It’s also a chance to look into management/union relations, since the NFL and the Players Association have an agreement on how the Commissioner can punish players “for conduct detrimental to the integrity of, or public confidence in, the game of professional football.”

The process was followed and the judge appointed to make the determination filed a report outlining how she interpreted both the evidence and the rules governing it. 

Her ruling makes fascinating reading, but not if you’ve already decided what happened.

She threads some interesting needles — like the degree to which fame is a coercive factor, and how many women need to voice objections before you obviously know your requests are inappropriate — and she’s frank in how the application of rules can conflict with satisfying the parties to the process.

She also does a good job of summarizing how other cases have played out, both before and since the process was developed.

What remains on the table — besides the League’s desire for a harsher punishment and the Players Association’s demand to follow the union contract —  is the lack of action over Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft’s solicitation for sex in a Florida massage parlor and the ongoing, never-ending internal investigation of the sexist sewer within the Washington Commanders’ offices.

I have a suspicion that the NFL wants to punish Watson less for what he did than for how much his creepy behavior has embarrassed the League.

Again, Judge Sue Robinson’s decision is worth reading, and pondering.

But I’ll leave the final word to sportscaster Lindsay Rhodes: