Today, a guest post from Etelka, the blogger behind the hilarious Wretched Refuse blog, which you all should read every day.
Thanks for letting me sit in, David! As I was telling you, I recently did some rooting around in a unique cranny of pre-manosphere media: sexist vintage cartoons. In the late ’40s and ’50s there were a lot of them published in books like this. (Some of the book covers that follow have been borrowed from the Vintage Sleaze blog here.)
My investigations had a purpose: I was blogging about castration anxiety, and I thought I might find some old cartoons that had something to say about it. Not likely. The vast majority of these artworks have two themes: Young women are hot, and old women are dried-up and useless.
Often expressed in the same panel.
Some dramatize the existential terror that gnaws at the core of every PUA:
Still, I’ve always liked looking at these old cartoons. There’s something uniquely voyeuristic about them. After all, they were never meant to be glimpsed by women. These cartoons are as pure a conduit into the male id as the girlie mags of the period.
I find they elicit a surprising range of emotion. Some give you a smug sense of how far we’ve come…
…if not in attitudes, then in comedic chops.
Others provoke meditations on whether we’ve come that far at all — and where we’ve ended up. This one reminds me of a certain dicey scene involving a thumb in the movie Bring it On. (That being the dicey scene in which the guy cheerleader nonconsensually violates the girl cheerleader’s nether parts with said thumb.)
This cartoon invited men to snigger at the idea of uninvited vaginal probing; 50 years later, Bring it On invited teenage girls to do the same. Progress?
Yep, it’s definitely the undiluted male id we’re talking about here. That’s why this next group of comics is so strange. They’re from this book:
But that’s nothing to what’s inside. If sexist cartoons reveal the male id, then what are these revealing?
Ha ha! I guess!
Um… ha? No. No ha.
These cartoons aren’t just unfunny, they’re downright surreal. They remind me of those Nancy or New Yorker caption contest parodies where people deliberately put in non sequitur captions. (You’ll notice that the front cover of the “French cartoons” book up there doesn’t make any sense either.) If I were a psychoanalytic literary critic, I’d wind this up with something about how repressed urges can explode into incoherent displays of hysteria. (The non-funny kind of hysteria, obvi!) Instead, let’s conclude with one more mystifying example, this one from “Satan!” magazine.