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Wrong on the internet, part 2: Women in newspaper strips

Hagar the Horrible: Same old same old

The Daily Cartoonist put me on to this research paper by a graduate student at the University of Florida, which concluded that women are underrepresented in newspaper comics:

An analysis of six of the most popular nationally syndicated comic strips over the course of a year shows that women appeared less than half the time and when they did the gag was on them, said Daniel Fernandez-Baca, a UF graduate student in sociology. He presented his paper at a meeting of the American Sociological Association this week.

“When they do appear, for the most part, women don’t say anything funny or act humorously, but merely set up the joke and allow men to create the humor,” he said.

Other than being a straight man or foil to the laugh-inspiring male character, women were used mostly to reinforce certain humorous stereotypes, such as the harried or henpecking housewife, Fernandez-Baca said.

“Other research on comic strips typically looks at where women are portrayed – in the kitchen, in the work force, inside the home or out in the world at large,” he said. “This study goes a step further by asking why women are in comics in the first place and how they contribute to the humor of the situation.”

There is a certain circularity to this study, a logical flaw that should disqualify it as serious research: Continue Reading »

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