Tuesday, August 10, 2010
According to Rolling Stone's Tim Dickinson, the earth must be protected by a now-dead climate bill. I can get down with that. I can agree with that. They have a pretty smart article about it, but the picture used to represent it is not so smart.
In the above illustration by Victor Juhasz, Obama cowers next to a feminized Earth, with pronounced lips and a 1950s-style bikini body, while a hulking personification of oil companies piping smoke kicks sand on them.
This is straightforward sexism, as Rolling Stone seems to specialize in. The implication, the humor, of this cartoon lies in Obama's emasculation and failure to protect Earth. Earth is in need of protection and thus is feminine.*
It's meant to evoke the 1950s Mr. Universe type ads, which were, guess what, sexist - that whole phenomenon was a great example of the patriarchy hurting men, too. It’s not critiquing the ad for its outdated sexism - it’s copying it without critique of anyone but the sufficiently masculine oil companies and the insufficiently masculine President. If this were Mad Men, I might would give them a pass, but Rolling Stone is not a source that I trust.
There's not a ton more to unpack, frankly. The sexism here is pretty blatant: women are in need of protection from hulking men, and if other men fail to adequately protect them, then they are failures for their substandard masculinity.
Climate control and environmental issues are a big deal. But protecting the environment is not a measure of Obama's masculinity: it's a measure of his effectiveness as a President. Men having to measure up to certain measures of masculinity is unfair and a product of sexism, and women are not there to be protected. Climate control has nothing to do with sexism; Rolling Stone has imbued the issue with sexism where there is no relevance or cause.
*The reason for personifying Earth as female is not solely tied to sexism, I must admit. Earth is often personified as female, i.e. Mother Earth, and these reasons tend to be more pagan-feminist from my point of view (I could be wrong, not really an expert, just wanted to give credit where it's due).