What Women’s Lib Doesn’t Know…

Link to Today’s Strip.

Oh wow.

After taking the bold stand that women have been unappreciated for their contributions to comics, (something that hasn’t been true for literal decades,) Batiuk now declares that WOMEN BE SHOPPING.

And I’m pretty conflicted on it. Because on the one hand, it’s a tired old stereotype. It’s Pluggers level humor. It’s an insult to Cayla’s character. And who is Cayla or Batiuk fooling? She hasn’t changed her hair in any meaningful way since Les paid the chemically relaxed shoulder length cut an anemic compliment back in 2011.

You like it? I will literally never ever change it again.

But on the other hand WOMEN DO BE SHOPPING THO.

I feel like we can be too reactionary against stereotyping in general. Stereotypes are usually based on observable trends. Moreover stereotypes are such a fundamental part of human humor, that trying to go on a moral crusade against them is a dumb and fruitless as Baptists trying to ban dancing. (See what I did there.)

Some of the oldest written comedies we have are full of humor based in gender, generational, or cultural stereotypes.

LYSISTRATA: Hello Lampito, my dear friend from Sparta. How beautiful you look, so sweet, such a fine complexion.  And your body looks so fit, strong enough to choke a bull.

LAMPITO : Yes, by the two gods, I could pull that off. I do exercise and work out to keep my butt well toned.

Lysistrata, Aristophanes. 411 B.C.

CHREMES: He maintained that women were both clever and thrifty, that they never divulged the Mysteries of Demeter, while you and I go about babbling incessantly about whatever happens at the Senate.

BLEPYRUS: By Hermes, he was not lying!

CHREMES: Then he added that the women lend each other clothes, trinkets of gold and silver, drinking-cups, and not before witnesses too, but all by themselves, and that they return everything with exactitude without ever cheating each other; whereas, according to him, we are ever ready to deny the loans we have effected.

BLEPYRUS: Yes, by Posidon, and in spite of witnesses.

The Ecclesiazusae, Aristophanes. 390 B.C.

It’s not the dumb shopping stereotype that’s the problem here.

It’s that an obsession with shopping is literally the only character trait other than doormat that Cayla has been given in the TEN PLUS YEARS she’s been part of the strip. Nothing makes her unique. She has no agency or desires of her own. Except for her skintone she is identical to Cindy, or Holly, or Mindy, or Jess.

Every female character in this strip is as thinly drawn as the forearms of HE WHO SHALL NOT BE MENTIONED.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

42 responses to “What Women’s Lib Doesn’t Know…

  1. Epicus Doomus

    Why is Dick Facey acting like this is an unexpected surprise? I mean after all, he DID write the f*cking movie, did he not? He was heavily involved in the location scouting and the casting, wasn’t he? So what, when they actually began filming he just went home, assumed his work was complete and that’d be the last he’d ever hear of it? More proof that BatYam doesn’t even consider thinking this claptrap through before he stuffs the word balloons with his gibberish.

    And of course Cayla’s mind immediately turns to…shopping. Poor, poor Les, everything is just another burden to him, another cross to bear, another uphill climb. I guess best-selling books and Hollywood screenwriting credits don’t pay particularly well nowadays.

  2. J.J. O'Malley

    Well, congrats to everyone who yesterday predicted the “shopping spree” exclamation (i can’t bring myself to call it a joke). And mind you, this is just the wrap party, which while a lavish do by Ohio standards isn’t necessarily an all-out soiree for the Tinseltown crowd. Just imagine the weeklong arc we’re in for later this Autumn when wife-who-is-not-Lisa decides she needs a gown for the film’s premiere at the Horny Cupid Gentleman’s Club (formerly the Valentine rep theatre).

    But, what about the Subterranean?

  3. Mr. A

    His facial expression in panel 2 is so overdramatic. Like the judge just handed him a ten-year sentence. You’d think a professional widower would have a better sense of what qualifies as tragedy.

  4. billytheskink

    Math has never been one of Les’ stronger subjects.

  5. So, Batiuk gets worked up by all things comic book related, to the extent of trying (and generally failing) to get every detail right…but his human characters are just “Ah, whatever. Women are always worried about appearances. And they’re always shopping, I’ll just throw that in there. It’ll be a funny joke for the readers. Now, where’s my copy of Flash 123?”

  6. William Thompson

    You have to admire respect acknowledge avoid ignoring the look Batiuk put on Cayla’s face in P2. It’s an entire internal monologue in itself: “So much shopping! So little time! Can I get them to postpone the wrap party so I can hit all the necessary boutiques? Will K-Mart and Walmart and Zody’s and ThriftiMart have everything that meets my generic style demands? Most of all, can I create an ensemble which properly complements my husband’s piss-yellow shirt and Keds?”

    • “Only the finest for you, Mrs. Moore. My chauffeur will drive you to the Goodwill in the nice part of town.”

    • Charles

      Yeah, Les should be pleased that Cayla’s willing to do her shopping spree in Ohio rather than doing it in Beverly Hills. A $500 tab becomes a $50000 tab rather easily.

      Also, contrast the Les’s reaction to this and where our sympathies are supposed to be to the earlier sequence where Darin blew more money than he got paid at Kitch Swoon’s (wtf) comic art auction and Jessica was annoyed about it.

  7. louder

    It really is insulting that Cayla is presented like some bumpkin-hick-from-the-sticks, in awe of Hollywood, while in contrast, you have Mr. Blasé himself. Just the idea that the screenwriter is not present all throughout production is stupid beyond belief. I guess it would blow BatHacks mind to find out rewrites during production are so common, that each time a page is redone, there’s a special color for how many times it’s happened to that one page. I can’t believe how bad 2021 has been for this comic.

    • Hannibal's Lectern

      It is interesting that HE seems to have been completely uninvolved in “Dead St. Lisa’s Story” since the Burning of Hollywood (done much better in “Day of the Locust,” by the way). Then again, there was some dithering at the beginning of the “Masoné Jarré Remakes DSLT” arc* about whether HE should just trust Masoné to make the movie and not be constantly micro-managing. Then again again, the whole reason HE was out there during the Burning of Hollywood sequence was to micro-manage, so I guess that’s settled.

      In the real world, the original script writer takes the money and leaves early on, and “script doctors” (other writers, not always credited) make the day-to-day changes during shooting and post-production. Perhaps that is happening here, and Masoné has (wisely) chosen to not tell HIM about all the changes going on behind HIS back. Won’t HE be surprised when he sees the final product for the first time, on the screen of the adult theater in Centerville?

      *is that the right word to describe the trajectory taken by the coyote after he runs off the cliff?

  8. Gerard Plourde

    I guess that TomBa never travels or goes to events. I see nothing unusual in using an upcoming trip to a celebration to take stock of my wardrobe to see what needs to be replaced. I would also consider whether I needed to get a haircut before I went across the country for an event.

  9. Hitorque

    The studio should pick up his expenses… Am I the only one who remembers Les is like co-producer or whatever?

    And I still want to know why Les hasn’t had any involvement with the movie production since last summer…

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Yeah but he was disrupting the production so Mason pulled him aside and said: “Your writing is so wonderful, want don’t you go back to Ohio and work on a prequel. Your time is too important to waste it here.”

  10. Mela

    You’re right-the shopping stereotype is not the problem. Cayla’s reaction here is a lot more believable than her “go and protect Lisa” moment. If my midwestern middle-aged self somehow got invited to a Hollywood party, you bet I’d be shopping for something glamorous and glitzy. The problem is the other stereotype-the “my wife likes to spend (my) money” one” . It worked for Ralph Kramden and Fred Flintstone (although Alice and Wilma had little tolerance for their shenanigans), but women working outside the home has been commonplace for decades now. Cayla contributes to the household income and Les just pointed out that the trip is paid for so go buy something smashing! As someone pointed out yesterday, Les can’t be happy about anything so the least he can do is shut his yap and let Cayla enjoy this.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      We also saw this problem a few Sundays ago, when Funky angrily chastised Holly for buying stuff at “Bullseye” and generating a credit card notification. And Holly reacting defensively, as if she knows she’s not allowed to make minor purchases without Funky’s explicit approval.

      Keep being a champion of women, Tom Batiuk.

  11. Take My Wife, S'il Vous Plait

    Well, the cancer put a stop to Lisa’s shopping.

  12. Sourbelly

    And now, another episode of… “The Bitchingtons”!

    CAYLAFEMBOT: Oh, another chance to spend, spend, spend, spend, spend! I have no option but to gesticulate wildly in ecstacy!!!
    VOLDEMOORE*: Ugh. This female! I hate her so! Just as I hate everything! Except for Lisa, who is so perfectly, purely dead!

    *I’m going to use this just a couple more times.

  13. Banana Jr. 6000

    It’s basically a template at this point.

  14. Since this arc promises to be boring on a spectacular level (um…) I just want to point out that Sunday’s cover bothers me. Specifically, how the actual cover shows the guy with a normal if somewhat tiny head (it reminds me of one of the Puppet Masters, I forget his name though–Pinhead, I think).

    In the masthead however, the face is God-awful looking, resembling a cheap Luchador mask. Clearly not drawn by the cover artist, but by either Tom “Who Cares” Batiuk or Chuck “Where’s My Check” Ayers.

    When quality control is the last thing on your list….

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Batiuk is showing alternative versions of The Subterranean cover on his blog. That awful, badly proportioned cover is exactly what he wanted.


      And no, he still hasn’t said anything about resurrecting Phil Holt, but he’s showing us alternate versions of an imaginary comic book.

      • Rusty Shackleford

        It’s almost like he has no experience with comics at all, no sense of composition, no imagination.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          For a guy who’s obsessed with comic books, Tom Batiuk is amazingly bad at creating them.

          I don’t know much about comic books, and even less about art. But I read the Funkyblog, and the comic book covers he constantly exhibits are just… unremarkable. They’re perfectly competent, and I’m sure a lot of skill went into making them, but I just don’t see the novelty.

          And I get this. When I was a child, my thing was trading cards. Every single one is a little pop art masterpiece. There’s a recent series called “Project 2020” that expands on this idea; the Topps company hired a bunch of artists to put their own spin on some historically famous baseball cards. The results are, well, interesting:


          I could talk about these things at length. So it’s baffling why Tom Batiuk has so little to say about the comic book covers he talks about so much. His blog has highlighted hundreds and hundreds of comic book covers, and he rarely even writes a sentence to explain what he finds interesting about them. Not that it would help, because his writing is even worse than his art. His monthly The Flash reviews and occasional Asimov commentary are painful.

      • Gerard Plourde

        I’m curious what he proposes The Subterranean’s superpower to be. From the final choice it looks like “Hulk Smash!” is a major component of the concept.

  15. be ware of eve hill

    If Cayla does get to go shopping, I’m willing to bet whatever she buys will be magenta and black. Every time we see Cayla she’s wearing magenta and black. Westview High student Logan Church is also always seen in magenta and black. I guess that color-combo is the official uniform of Westview African-American women.

  16. be ware of eve hill

    As much as I enjoy seeing Les miserable, his negativity is really starting to wear thin. If Cayla said that it was a beautiful morning, Les would complain that there was a cloud in the sky, there was no breeze, or the birds were too loud.

    I used to work with an older woman who was a constant complainer like Les. There was also an older man in the office, a good old boy from West Virginia. He frequently teased the woman. He used to call her “Old Miserable” to her face. From now on, I think that’s what I’ll call Les.

      • Hannibal's Lectern

        Of course, in French that would be pronounced “Lay Miserable,” which makes me wonder who CauCayla fantasizes about when she does that thing.

      • J.J. O'Malley

        “Les Miserable”? Well, yeah, because if Cayla gets her way then, “At the End of the Day,” he’ll no longer be “Master of the House.” You know, once “I Dreamed a Dream” that “Suddenly” I would “Look Down” at the comics page and see this ridiculous Hollywood storyline wasn’t continuing “One Day More.” We were, however, back at Montoni’s, staring at “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables.”

        • Anonymous Sparrow

          Oh, this is priceless! It also reminds me of how I learned of Victor Hugo’s epic masterpiece: in a reprint of a *Kid Eternity* story in a *Superman Super-Spectacular” (#245, 1971), in which the Kid called on Javert to help him with a villain.

          “Eternity?”, said Frankie Lee
          With a voice as cold as ice
          “That’s right”, said Judas, “Eternity
          Though you might call it ‘Paradise'”
          — Bob Dylan, “The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest”
          (not referenced at Jerome “Bull” Bushka’s funeral)

          • J.J. O'Malley

            My first “Les Miz” encounter was the Classics Illustrated adaptation, but–at the risk of sounding like Batton Thomas–I was also a Kid Eternity fan thanks to ’70s reprints. A teenager killed before his time who can summon any historical or literary figure by shouting “Eternity!”? What a concept!

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Les would never be that direct. If he showed up with a sad face and you asked him what’s wrong, he’d just roll his eyes and sigh. “Oh… it’s nothing.” And you know it’s Lisa, because that’s the only thing in Les’ life. He’s manipulating you into asking him what’s wrong, so he can talk about Lisa some more, as if he’s sharing some big personal secret with you for the 75,000th time. He is an absolute sociopath.

  17. Professor Fate

    And to be fair – this is an event – I remember when my nephew was going to get married one of my first thoughts was “I’m going to need a new suit, the old one’s a bit long in the tooth” – and why should Cayla not want her and Les to look good – again this is an event, I haven’t been asked to any wrap parties and it’s not like she has a closet full of shoes that she never wears so this is really not so outrageous. And seeing as the unnamed has gotten money TWICE for the movie rights to “Lisa’s story” it’s not like you’re poverty stricken you cheap bastard.
    As much as one despises the unnamed, one has to imagine that being him, unable to take any joy in anything other than being the put upon artiste.

    Side bar regarding Aristophanes – Athenian women were pretty much shut up inside all the time – except when going to market which was a great contrast with Spartan women who as they were expected to breed strong children took regular exercise outdoors (naked or in short skirts) and were a subject of scandal and secret desire in Athens.
    He also painted Socrates as a fraud and a lunatic but that is a tale for another time.

  18. Professor Fate

    It’s almost as if he isn’t very good at this. I mean really the man has NO taste.
    And one wonders less and less why Marvel said no.
    (by the by did he ever try DC or some of the smaller publishers or was that it like many of his characters they are rejected on some manner and that’s it they sit and do nothing after that.)

    • Some time ago, Batiuk regaled he blog readers with his auditions for both DC and Marvel. I don’t remember all the details, because it’s dull, but he met with Roy Thomas who was friendly and not discouraging, but said his stuff wasn’t for Marvel.

      The unnamed DC guy was rude and short-tempered, but gave Batiuk some original art pages to study so he could improve. He then dismissed Batiuk and said “And don’t tell everyone DC is giving away artwork!”

  19. batgirl

    TB did this same joke back in January of 2020. I mean same – free trip to Hollywood, OHNO SHOPPING MAKES IT NOTFREE!!!

    • be ware of eve hill

      Cayla in a lavender top?! Oh well, batgirl just shot down my ‘Cayla always wears magenta and black’ comment without even trying.

      I looked through the archives for Logan Church. She’s always worn a magenta top except for her earliest appearances where she’s wearing purple pants (with a black sweater). Purple pants? Just who does she think she is? The Incredible Hulk? Logan smash!

      You have to admit, though, an awful lot of older women in the strip predominately wear clothes in the pink/purple/mauve part of the spectrum. For example, Ruby Lith (goes with the name), Holly, Harriet Dinkle and not-so-special guest star Lillian McKenzie. Various St. Spires choir members and bit player receptionists wear those colors too. Does anybody ever wear stripes?

      Cindy Summers has frequently been drawn in pink/purple/mauve too, as was Linda Lopez-Bushka. Speaking of which, Linda, can you please shoot us an email or send us a postcard? Let us know you’re okay. We’re worried about you.

      My weekend project will be to get rid of all the pink/purple/mauve clothes in my closet. Those are old lady colors.

  20. “Meeked”?

    Also, nice invisible saucer in panel one.

    • Maxine of Arc

      I absolutely do not care enough to go look this up but I assume it’s a reference to Starbuck Jones sidekick Moon Mile Meek, who…. had some kind of personality trait I guess.

    • Gerard Plourde

      And two spoons!