I've been so busy for the past few weeks, at home and at work, that I've barely read the newspaper, listened to NPR or grabbed my Daily Show fix. But I've been riveted by cartoonist Gary Trudeau's Doonesbury strips skewering laws on the books (in places like Texas, and shortly, Idaho) mandating invasive (and medically unnecessary) forced trans-vaginal ultrasounds for women seeking abortions. Despite the fact that about 50+ of the 1,400 newspapers that carry Doonesbuy daily have censored the strips, Trudeau's satire's gone viral. You can find the week's worth of strips here, here, here, here, here and here. If you haven't seen them, please go take a look.
Trudeau, predictably, has received some pretty nasty criticism from anti-choice activists and conservatives for his depiction of the 10-inch hard plastic ultrasound "shaming wand" as an instrument of rape. He's also received tons of support. I, for one, am grateful to Gary for taking on these harsh, demeaning and degrading laws in a graphic, uncut, and sometimes, very funny way. (The line about Rick Perry on March 16 was amusing!)
While I'm disgusted by the latest attacks on women's reproductive rights by state legislators, there is a small upside to the Trudeau strips. They've made me remember why I love Trudeau and Doonesbury so much. Trudeau has always been a strong advocate for women, tackling everything from entrenched institutional sexism to reproductive rights to "command rape" in the military through memorable women characters such as Lacey Davenport, Joanie Caucus, Ginny Slade and J.J. Caucus (and through their male partners, bosses, colleagues and friends). As Alyssa Rosenberg at ThinkProgress pointed out last week, Trudeau's "amazing work" with women characters over the years gives him real credibility now on the forced ultrasound issue.
Trudeau's also been an advocate for working moms. Who can forget Joanie Caucus' struggle to find high-quality daycare for her son for less than $400 per day? Or her husband, Rick Redfern's bumbling attempts at "hands on" parenting while he chronicles his caregiving for The Washington Post. And, of course, Trudeau's been married to journalist Jane Pauley, who anchored NBC's morning shows in the 1970s and 1980s, for more than 30 years. He clearly has some real credibility on working mom issues, too!
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need go find out what Trudeau's taking on in Doonesbury this morning.
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As a bonus, here's a wonderful piece about working moms in the comics, including Doonesbury, from the January 1993 (yes, 1993!) issue of Working Mother magazine by one of my favorite authors, Anita Diamant. (It's indexed by GoogleBooks and starts on p. 24 of the issue.) It's eye-opening and truly funny!