Don't Be a Dick: How Comics Can Alienate Women and Trans Folks

Today's new Ladydrawers' strip, drawn by non-binary Chicago-based queer art maker Rachel Swanson, is the third in our Don't Be A Dick series of comics about the feminist issue in the comics industry. These comics are all written by Janelle Asselin, edited by Anne Elizabeth Moore, and drawn by six great artists. Our first two comics in the series were a rundown of how to talk about comics and the history of lady-centric comics.

 Today's strip looks at how content issues can limit female or trans readership. It features a cat named Snips!

a comic called "these comics have issues"

The Ladydrawers Comics Collective (AKA “The Ladydrawers”) is an unofficially affiliated group of women, men, transgender, and non-binary gender folk who research, perform, and publish comics and texts about how economics, race, sexuality, and gender impact the comics industry, other media, and our culture at large. We're doing another series at Truthout called "Our Fashion Year," finishing up our documentary Comics Undressed, and travelling the world talking about gender and race diversity in comics. You can send us samples of your work or look over the Don't Be a Dick artist's roster.

Related Reading: Three New Comics Featuring Great Female Characters

SOURCES: Statistics on women working behind the scenes at Marvel and DC are via Tim Hanley. The article “So What Kind of Person Buys a ‘Torture Variant’ Cover Anyway?” was published in August 2013 on Comics Beat.

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10 Comments Have Been Posted

This is the best comic I have

This is the best comic I have ever read. Rae Swanson is my new favorite artist. More like this please.

I'm not sure how the title of

I'm not sure how the title of this article is ringing true to the final caption. You state, " you have the right to read comics that don't make you feel bad about your gender." Surely, "Don't be a Dick " is going against the very principal you are trying to advocate. Inclusion, not alienation, is the vehicle by which we can persuade people of our plight. Insults directed towards males are just as unacceptable I'm afraid.

The title honestly has

The title honestly has nothing at all to do with anyone who possesses a dick. It's about the dickish attitude. Women can certainly be dicks.

Isn't "bitch" a gendered

Isn't "bitch" a gendered insult as well?

I appreciate the token trans

I appreciate the token trans inclusion in this comic, that still doesn't make up for the extremely cissexist title.

And FYI, it should be "women, men, and non-binary gender folk" not "women, men, transgender, and non-binary gender folk ". The way you have it written says that transgender people are a separate group from and aren't "really" women and men, so again thumbs up to the tokenism but that doesn't erase your cissexism.

The title literally has

The title literally has nothing at all to do with actual dicks and is entirely about attitude. Just like if I accuse someone of being an asshole, it should not be offensive to all people with assholes. The term "dick" means more than just the genitalia.

In regards to the "tokenism," you clearly aren't familiar with the Ladydrawers collective, our members, and our general approach to inclusiveness because that couldn't be further from the truth. As far as the use of transgender as a separate category in our description, while I didn't write it, in my mind that's entirely to avoid erasing the transgender creators who are an important part of the collective and who are too often ignored in comics.

When a trans person critiques

When a trans person critiques you on how you're talk about trans people, telling them "no your opinion about yourself is wrong" is 100% the wrong thing to be doing.

At what point did I tell you

At what point did I tell you your opinion about yourself is wrong? I was trying to explain the context for both the title and the phrase you called out.

I'm curious, genuinely, if you take issue with the title of this magazine/site being Bitch or with the Wil Wheaton "Don't Be A Dick" thing? Or is it just in this particular context? I'm not trolling, either, I really do want to know. If you don't take issue with either, why is our title an issue? And if you do, then is it any use of words like bitch, cunt, or dick?

I'm late to the conversation

I'm late to the conversation but I'm going to back up what Uppity Trans Bitch wrote -- a lot of the phrasing here such as "women and trans folks" has the tendency to cast trans folks as a third-gender and thus delegitimize the identities of trans women.

I know you mean well and you want to include non-binary folks (such as the artist) in the discussion and that's GOOD. But it's not good if you do it at the expense of excluding someone else.

Even if you'd written "women and/or trans folks" it would have been better. Instead, the phrasing you've used throughout the comic is problematic in the way it's written. I noticed this from the title onward and it made me increasingly less comfortable throughout the read of the comic, and now I'm a lot less inclined to recommend the whole series to my friends to read. (I was quite enthusiastic about it after reading only one comic.)

PS: The objections are to the title of this particular issue, not "Don't Be A Dick."


I have read this comic and I love it.

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