Report to Readers: Is it sexist to call a woman a lapdog?
Among the many, many letters to the editor we’ve received in recent days about Sen. Kelly Ayotte’s vote against a gun control measure last week was one that caught me by surprise.
The letter, published yesterday, came from a Concord writer who objected to the cartoon drawn by Mike Marland on Wednesday’s Opinion page.
It showed Ayotte as a lapdog to National Rifle Association honcho Wayne LaPierre. She’s sitting on his lap as he pats her and says, “Go-o-od girl!”
Our critic found the drawing sexist.
“Marland drew her head positioned in the crotch of this pinstriped caricature sitting in his NRA thrown and stroking her head and she paws at his thigh and eagerly wags her tail. This suggests a combination of subservience, sexuality and gender roles that is highly offensive.
“Would Marland have ever drawn this cartoon replacing Ayotte’s head with the head of a male senator? I don’t think so,” he wrote.
The cartoon was certainly harsh – Marland was clearly disgusted by Ayotte’s vote. But was it sexist? If New Hampshire had any men (or any other Republicans) in its congressional delegation, might Marland have depicted them as lapdogs too? (“Go-o-od boy!”)
I asked Marland if he’d ever drawn a man as a lapdog in the same way. He was pretty sure he had but couldn’t immediately find one for me.
After all, he noted, he’s drawn 5,000 cartoons for the Monitor over the years.
A couple years back, Marland published an enormous collection of his work, Tweaks Pokes and Dope Slaps , and while I was able to quickly find all sorts of embarrassing depictions of men (Bill Clinton in his underpants, Dan Quayle as Mr. Potato Head, a shirtless John H. Sununu with a Seabrook tattoo on his chest, George H.W. Bush as Judd Gregg’s teddy bear, a naked Steve Merrill as the emperor with no clothes), I didn’t see any lapdogs.
That said, the notion of depicting politicians – men and women alike – as dogs is apparently irresistible to cartoonists.
Check out the accompanying images: Sarah Palin as a pitbull, John Boehner on a leash, Mitt Romney infested with fleas, and on and on.
Was Marland’s Ayotte cartoon out of bounds? Let us know what you think.