Talking about Misogynony and Cerebus

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Cerebus Book 9: Reads

Writer: Dave Sim

Artists: Dave Sim And Gerhard

Aardvark-Vanaheim Comics

Mothers and Daughters Part 3

“I’m not here to make you feel good. I am here to make you think. And to make you think, I have to make you see.” –Dave Sim

“Reads” is at the same time a spectacle of literary genius and a philosophical minefield for the politically correct. Sim entangles the reader in a series of different narratives that direct themselves toward one goal: Truth. Or truth. Or even “truth.” You may certainly not agree with Sim’s views on creative/intellect and destructive/emotion, and especially the allocation of gender to either, but the phenomenon he discusses is worth thinking about…

Davis/Sim provides many examples of how feeling is vile, the best of which will ring true to anyone whose has ever been in a relationship. “Reason, as any husband can tell you, doesn’t stand a chance in an argument with Emotion. There are no rules to Emotional Argument. You simply wander around in rhetorical circles until you feel Happy again. And then the argument is over.” He then applies this same argument to culture and how emotion destabilizes the rational examination of societal problems, providing a hasty and insubstantial “feeling” as the solution. “Political positions are judged on the Emotional Basis of whether they are Popular or Unpopular. Popular is good. Unpopular is bad. Most political positions based on Reason are Unpopular. Most political positions based on Emotion are Popular – provided that Emotion provoked is happiness; if the Emotion provoked is unhappiness or anxiety or uneasiness, then that political position is Unpopular and therefore bad.”

I agree with this assertion. So much of American politics and media coverage of it is belabored in what one “feels”. How do you feel about overturning Roe V. Wade? How do you feel about having a black man as candidate for president? How do you feel about a women serving as vice president? Replace the word “think” in any of those questions and monitor how your answers differ. I found myself examining the very vapidity of the questions in the first place. What does it matter how I feel about a given politician? Doesn’t matter more what this person will do in office? Yet, political scene is waist deep in this baseless analysis of how society “feels” at the cost relevant thoughtful examination. The build up to the Iraq War is a current example of emotion destabilizing intellect. The majority of Americans, including the ones whose jobs it was to examine political phenomena, were swept up in the positive feeling of unleashing their anger over events of 9/11 in support of a unilateral invasion of a supposed enemy.

Yet, to place the blame solely on women and feminism, as Davis/Sim does, is a little harsh. If you ever heard of Dave Sim, you probably heard the word “misogynist” connected to him. This is the volume and the section of it that many refer to as inexcusably offensive to women. Case in point: “Behind this Lesser Void of White Collar Male-Work Programs, the stultifying sameness of ass-covering and ass-kissing, the endless postponement of decision-making in favor of ‘further study’, ‘further discussion’, lies the Greater Void, the Omnivorous Engine which drives every committee, every study group, every institutionalized waste of human time and energy, in point of fact, our entire degraded society. The Wife and Kids.” The void he refers to represents emotion, which is female. He goes on to describe women’s emotional control over men graphically: the man smiles submissively as the woman laps up blood and brain tissue from a gash in his head.

Its hard to analyze any of these particular assertions seriously as they seem to come from a place of personal anguish. I surmise that women have jaded Dave Sim. I have no proof of this save the text itself and what little I know of his personal life, but one can ascertain that there is as much emotion in these passages as there is in what he is analyzing. Nevertheless, he does acknowledge that some women can and do have the Male Light of creativity and intellect, such as Coco Chanel, Colleen Doran, and others.

Davis/Sim could have easily skipped over this section in the narrative and write some appealing continuation of the Cerebus story. He could have simply disregarded his views on how the hegemony of suppliant emotion has deteriorated the bastion of reason and thought. And he didn’t even have to label either the Female Void or the Male Light. But where would Viktor Davis/Dave Sim be after 300 issues of NOT writing any of these down? Would he be as empty and unfulfilled as Victor Reid? Say what you about this section of the book, but read it. Don’t have someone summarize its aims or characterize it as baseless venom.

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