Chicago Tribune Cartoonist Doesn’t Like Our Critique

Remember this cartoon? The cartoonist didn’t like our ideas for a caption very much. 

Nearly every critique we make at Name It. Change It. is grounded in the principle that criticism of a woman politician is fine, but criticism of a politician because she’s a woman isn’t. Unfortunately a lot of members of the media seem to miss that important distinction. Case in point: Chicago Tribune cartoonist Scott Stantis.

Last March we noted he had apparently decided there was nothing sexist at all about drawing a 46-year-old woman, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, repeatedly depicting her as a little girl (and not just a little girl but one wearing a pink shirt and her name dotted with a heart!) Somewhere buried in that depiction is the idea is that Madigan is the puppet of her father, Michael J. Madigan, who is the Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives.

Actually it’s not at all clear what Lisa Madigan, in her capacity as attorney general, has done to annoy Scott Stantis, other than be elected. Maybe according to Stantis, Madigan shouldn’t be allowed to be elected by the voters of Illinois three times – becoming the state’s first female attorney general? None of Stantis’ cartoons about Madigan have any other criticism of her except for implying she only got her job from her father. (She was also previously an Illinois State Senator).

In any case when Stantis ran a “caption contest” for a new cartoon about Madigan we offered up some suggestions and I posted some criticism to his page. I didn’t notice until yesterday that shortly after the original caption contest Stantis had posted a video as a direct response to my critique (titled “Responding to hate mail” because all criticism is “hate mail?”). You can watch his response below to our critique, which he quotes in full.

Two points: If I did misspell Stantis’ name that is unfortunate, but it’s also worth pointing out he incorrectly identifies the Women’s Media Center as the “Women’s Media Group.” That’s okay Stantis, we all make mistakes.

Secondly he says he drew the cartoon exactly the way he did because “I did want to hurt her reputation because I think her father has done a bad job.” So he admits the only issue he has with Lisa Madigan is with her father. That doesn’t seem quite fair.

He asks whether she’d be in the position she is today if her last name was “Stantis.” We don’t know that answer, but the fact is she’s been elected three times. It would seem better to judge her on the job she’s doing rather than the fact she has the job at all. In either case our critique isn’t because we’re on Team Madigan. It comes because we’re on Team Anti-sexism.

Stantis is on solid ground when he criticizes women politicians for their policies, for their political views, for their work, but when he implies they are just little girls who shouldn’t work in politics at all because of who they are—sorry but that’s not fair criticism, that’s sexist. That goes for whether it’s said about Sarah Palin or Lisa Madigan. It’s unfortunate Stantis can’t see the distinction and considers it his “job” to make sexist jabs at women politicians.


Published by Kate McCarthy on 05/21/2013

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