Thanks for speaking the truth, Kate and Scott and Gabby. It’s hard enough to scrape together the time, energy and creativity to make comics in the first place — but when you have to face this kind of sexism afterwards, sometimes it feels like it’s not even worth your while. It’s so wearying, and when you do find the energy to speak up about it, the backlash is even more exhausting. And yes, while I’ve used the same phrase myself, there is a difference between when men and women say it. (For example: when a woman says it, she’s rhetorically offering to carry someone’s child for nine months. When a man says it, he’s rhetorically offering to … have sex.) That being said, “I want to have your babies” is a kind of creepy thing to say if what you’re intending to do is compliment someone, and this is a good reminder for me to check the difference between my language and intent. Time to stop using this phrase.
Though If you’re hung up on that specific phrase, Kate does points out that “I want to have your babies” is only one example of the harassment she receives, and perhaps not the best to illustrate the entire process, and acknowledges that not every woman feels the same way about the phrase. She also points out that Gabby’s cartoon is too restrictive on gender roles during a discussion like this, something I’d agree with — but overall its portrayal of events isn’t terribly far off the mark.
These caveats aside, this isn’t an isolated incident for Kate: Take, for instance, this interview, where a guy — probably a well-meaning guy — tells the world that Kate Beaton’s number one on his list of “Internet Girlfriends”. Man, that’s inappropriate to say in private, let alone in a public video. I’m not even saying this guy’s a bad guy, just that his behavior is sexist, and inappropriate. So if you say something like this? Reconsider your terminology. Please. Seriously. A lot of people, myself included, don’t think it’s a compliment. If you want to tell a woman you like her work, just say “I like your work.” Full stop. Wasn’t that hard, was it? The same goes the opposite direction: men don’t deserve to be treated that way, either. It’s dehumanizing, period. Let’s judge each other by the strength of our character, and the quality of our work, shall we?