On Deadspin, Julie DiCaro highlighted the problematic nature of the Pepe Le Pew character, writing that since his World War II-era creation, “we’ve learned a lot more about consent and women have fought and won more recognition of their bodily autonomy. And yet, we continued to see these same old ‘she’s just playing hard to get’ trope[s] in entertainment even today.”
One of the biggest debut events in comics unfurls on the West Coast this weekend, and although only about one-fifth of its 100-plus featured guest cartoonists are women, that is still a far better ratio of representation than you’ll find on your typical newspaper comics page So just what shift in thinking is behind this improved representation?
As a visual commentator, Ann Telnaes — the first woman to win both the Pulitzer and the NCS Reuben Award — believes cases like Thomas and Kavanaugh spotlight why her profession, like others, needs a broad tapestry of voices. “Because I have a personal stake in [such cases] — when you’ve experienced it — it’s heartbreaking,” Telnaes said. “That’s also testimony to the fact why you need to have diversity in editorial cartooning. You can’t just have a bunch of white guys. You’ve got to have people — like women, like minorities — to tell [their] story to other people.”
In the original Star Wars series, Leia (Carrie Fisher) was often the token female fighter surrounded by male humans, male droid voices and male “walking carpets.” Since then, the theatrical films have added Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman, portraying one female senator who could not be silenced), Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) as the leading female figures in their own films. With “The Last Jedi” (opening Friday), however, Disney, Lucasfilm and writer-director Rian Johnson give us at least four Resistance characters who receive featured prominence as fierce women warriors.