The great divide

This column has spotted an unexpected difference between the sexes in the way that political cartoonists portray Hillary Clinton. The observation is far from a scientific study, but the words and pictures running on a variety of editorial pages suggest a marked contrast between the genders when spoofing her. Male artists seem to go for the jugular and for the quick sure laugh. Their female counterparts tend to peel the onion, so to say, and look under the layers. One talks on the tops of things. The other goes deeper. See for yourself.

For the Columbus Dispatch, Nate Beeler sketched Hillary with a giant Pinocchio-like nose as a reporter confronts her saying he’s concerned about her health. And for Cagle Syndicate, Sean Delonas pictured two secret servicemen holding a slumping Hillary up saying, “She’s fit as a fiddle.” Both drawings are single panel slap shots.

Fill in the blanks

In contrast, Jen Sorenson, winner of the coveted Herblock Prize for political cartooning, works in multiple panels to extend her broadsides. In a four-panel cartoon for Fusion titled “Playing the woman card,” she shows Hillary talking about equal pay for equal work in one panel while another has a Trump supporter in ball cap and T-shirt emblazoned with “Trump that bitch” saying “It takes stones to point this stuff out.” And in a two-panel drawing, Sorenson presents lists of pros and cons for Hillary. Included on the pro list is Hillary’s advocacy for economic equality and her friendship with Bono. Part of the cons list is Hillary’s support of the Iraq war and her friendship with Henry Kissinger. 

Deciding factor

This gender difference in political satire calls to mind a Michigan States University study of some 500 men and women a couple of years ago that pointed to a disparity in the way the sexes judge #Art. Men tended to base their decision on the artists’ bios while the females decided by the merits of the art.   

Sorensen told the Washington Post why she’s given to looking past her nose in her work: after 9/11, she didn’t feel like doing frivolous, silly cartoons any more. Other women in her field also have expressed their interest in digging deeper in their work. Signe Wilkinson told the Huffington Post that most of her cartoonist-colleagues at the The Philadelphia Inquirer, among other papers, were men who began in the ‘90s to characterizing Hillary as a witch, “as a really negative caricature.” 

Getting to the point

Anne Telnaes, editorial cartoonist for The Washington Post, experienced similar sentiments, repeating what people around her talked about, such as, Hillary is too loud. She yells. She’s not personable. But, Telnaes doesn’t thing that’s what we should be faulting.” Sorenson acknowledged that she goes back and forth between criticizing her on the issue (she drew her as Napoleon for her war vote), and wanting to defend her against sexism.