Right-wing cartoon depicts Obama raping the Statue of Liberty

I’m wondering the same thing as Amanda: Why are anti-healthcare conservatives so obsessed with rape metaphors? And this is not new. Conservatives routinely accuse progressives of “raping” America, or they use language that hints at rape to describe political processes that they dislike — healthcare is being “rammed down our throats,” we’re being told to “bend over and take it,” etc.

But Darleen over at Protein Wisdom takes it to a new level in a cartoon that images Obama raping the Statue of Liberty (seriously). It’s below the cut and is also at that link, and may be triggering. I would also not recommend reading the comments at Protein Wisdom, which are basically a series of rape jokes.

…yeah. As Cara and Sady have both pointed out, rape is not your personal metaphor. Having legislation passed that you do not like? Not the same as being forced into sex! Not really comparable, even. But if you are fond of using this metaphor, it’s at least a good indication that you’re an even bigger douche than Dane Cook. Which I suppose is good for someone like Darleen to know about herself.

Also, as Amanda points out, it’s interesting how conservatives clearly understand that rape is about power and intentionally doing harm when they’re imagining themselves as the metaphorical victims, but when it comes to actual rape — you know, the kind that happens to real-life human women — they’re quick to image it as a miscommunication or a misunderstanding or a straight-up lie. (They don’t, in most instances, seem to recognize rape that happens to actual real-life human men, unless it’s in a prison context, and then it’s either a joke or well deserved). Which makes the rape metaphors all the more enraging.

Thanks to Marcos for sending the cartoon on.

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28 comments for “Right-wing cartoon depicts Obama raping the Statue of Liberty

  1. Katie
    March 29, 2010 at 8:36 am

    Thanks for this, Jill– well done as always. However, I am now thoroughly disturbed on my Monday morning after NOT heeding your warning and reading some of the comments on ProteinWisdom… must go vomit now…

  2. Georgia Eliot
    March 29, 2010 at 8:49 am

    I wrote Ms Click about this:
    subject: rape cartoons
    …are never funny, no matter how much you hate the President. How can women complain about our rape culture and expect it to change when we are putting out this kind of garbage?
    I feel sorry for you, and sorry about you, and sorry for the women who will have to work harder to create a culture for our daughters where we all reject this kind of “humor” because of women like you, who think this is ok.
    for shame –
    Ms Click replied:
    I don’t buy into “rape culture” trope. Rape is a heinous crime. It is not off limits as a political metaphor (there is nothing “funny” or “humorous” about my political cartoon) about the partisan, corrupt and dishonest way 2700 pages of transformative (fundamentally changing the relationship between citizen and government) legislation was passed. Nov 8 didn’t not mean everyone sit down and shut up while Obama/Pelosi/Reid get to tell us what is good for us. That is not American principles that is Social Democrat Europe. I will not idlely sit by and see my children and grandchildren future squandered by a Nannystate enthusiasts. You have a choice and only one. You are either for American principles of liberty, limited government, self-responsibility OR you are for unAmerican principles/European Social Democrat principles of being a dependent on the Government to “take care of you” from cradle to grave financed at the expense of your neighbors. Creator or looter. Your choice.

    a little more from both of us but she stopped, I guess because I refused to argue about health care.

  3. haloHawk
    March 29, 2010 at 9:15 am

    Fantastic post, Jill.
    Is there going to be a post about the disappointing perpetuation of DADT, with only the most perfunctory oversight tacked on? Was there a post and I missed it? is it just too depressing to contemplate and deal with? If so, I truly relate, but I would like to see a contributor’s take on it. Maybe there is something(for good or bad)I am missing.

    Georgia Eliot-
    WOW. Ms. Click’s response reminds me of this bit from George Carlin.(and I paraphrase). “Live Free Or Die? Really? Those are my only options? That doesn’t sound like freedom and liberty to me.”

    It’s illuminating to view this situation in comparison to the rash of death threats and violence in the wake of the passage of the health-care bill. Violence being indefensible as an action but, as rhetoric, not at all culpable for inflaming the situation vs. Rape’s value as a symbol to scare constituents into concordance, while claiming the action as a “misunderstanding’ in practice.

  4. March 29, 2010 at 10:07 am

    This cartoon is revealing in the way it supports the denial of marital rape as real rape and supports the view that wives are the property of their husbands who lose all control over their own bodies on their wedding day. It attacks Obama but the dialogue actually blames Americans who voted for Obama for consenting on election night. Basically, America consented not only to rape but to the promised gang rape.

    This cartoon shows such extreme bias that Darlene should never be allowed on a jury for any sex crime trial. She doesn’t buy into “rape culture” because she’s selling it.

  5. Cha-Cha
    March 29, 2010 at 10:37 am

    I agree with everything that’s been posted… and I just need to say, I’m not going to articulate this well probably (haven’t consumed enough caffeine yet), but I strongly feel that this cartoon wouldn’t have happened to a white president. The trope of “Black men as rapists” has been around for a long time – it’s dangerous, and it’s racist.

  6. March 29, 2010 at 10:48 am

    I was thrown for six by what I found a totally randomly pre-emptive “oh and by the way I’M NOT RACIST” disclaimer and comments.

    Seriously? Is there something I’m missing?

  7. truncheon
    March 29, 2010 at 10:58 am

    “How curious that a mob fond of likening President Obama to Hitler knows so little about history that it doesn’t recognize its own small-scale mimicry of Kristallnacht.”


  8. March 29, 2010 at 11:28 am

    Actually, I retract my last comment after realising that Jules Crittendom pointed out the race implications before Darleen made the edit, and in light of Cha-Cha’s comment. I guess I was so caught up in the horror of the rape metaphor that I didn’t notice the racial implications.

  9. March 29, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    I agree that this cartoon is racist. The positioning of our president as a rapist along with the actions of other conservatives who use words and imagery which evoke violence helps those who hate Obama move closer to crossing the line into violence.

  10. Evrybdy44
    March 29, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    I think this cartoon would have been the same regardless of the race of the president in it. I am most bothered by the rape metaphor. It’s so disgusting I can’t even tell you how mad it makes me. It also makes me really really sad.
    I am NOT a fan of the current solutions for the health care crises posed by our President and government as a whole. I do NOT feel that socialized health care is the answer. I know that’s not the consensus on this website, but it doesn’t make me uncaring or less of a feminist. I have an issue w/the govt taking over anything really. Once upon a time they took over the postal service and well. . . . that’s gone so well! Not that it will necessarily be the same. Anything is possible, and I really do hope the govt proves me wrong. I hope that it all works out well. I just don’t trust a govt that is in the massive amt of debt that it is in(regardless of the fact that the debt it really not Obama’s fault at ALL) can take this one right now.
    And blaming the President for something they don’t like is ridiculous. He didn’t pass this. He pushed for something he believed in. People should really take issue w/their representatives if they have a problem. Although when they do that. . . maybe not w/death threats like so many reps have received. Strongly worded letters. Communication. Rallies. Anything but death threats. C’mon GROW UP!

    • March 29, 2010 at 12:45 pm

      Once upon a time they took over the postal service and well. . . . that’s gone so well!

      Are you being serious? Do we have a non-functioning postal service that I’m not aware of? Last I checked my mail came pretty regularly…

      But ok, health care is not the subject of this post, so let’s keep the discussion to the cartoon please.

  11. March 29, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    why, hello, long-held stereotype of black men as sexually threatening and violent. do you ever take a break?

  12. prairielily
    March 29, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    Actually, Jill, I think it’s a pretty accurate indicator of what will happen. Socialized medicine will operate quietly, unless people are complaining about it, and no one will appreciate the majority of the time when it runs effectively. And if you try to take it away, people won’t even know what to do with themselves.

  13. prairielily
    March 29, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    I was talking about real socialized medicine, of course. Not this bill.

  14. Georgia Eliot
    March 29, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    Ms. Cliclk wrote me again this morning, oddly enough just as I was posting the comment above. I had written: “The fact that you think it’s ok proves the pervasiveness of rape culture. You accept rape so easily you think it is ok for you to use it to promote your point of view.”
    she replied:
    “the fact remains you are using rape to promote your POV”
    Ms Eliot, do you object to history text books that refer to the “Rape of Nanking”?
    I accept rape because I have used it as a metaphor? You are really reaching with trying to use a Moral Authority Card in an attempt to Bowdlerize speech you do not like or approve of.
    You want to see a real “rape” culture, try Islamist theocracies.

    in other words – others do it, others do it worse, free speech. I guess rape culture is ok if it’s in a “christian nation”.

  15. Bushfire
    March 29, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    The picture is incredibly disturbing to me and I’ve never been sexually assaulted. I can’t imagine what it looks like to someone who has been.

    She doesn’t think she’s “accepting” rape. She thinks that the reason feminists are against rampant and unnecessary depictions of rape is because we “don’t like her opinion”, so we’re playing a “moral authority card”. Conservatives can’t bother to take their heads out of their asses long enough to notice any common sense. As if being against the casual depiction of a horrific and frequently unpunished crime is merely “bowdlerize”ing speech we “do not like or approve of”.

  16. wiggles
    March 29, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    There was this message board I frequented during the Bush II administration. The signature of one of the members bore a rather large jpeg of a cartoon of GW Bush actively raping a struggling and screaming Statue of Liberty.

    And did anybody see Bill Maher’s closing bit on Real Time this last weekend?

    Right-wingers have been quite lately nutty with the rape analogies, and obviously nobody should be equating rape with anything other than rape, no matter what his or her politics, but let’s not pretend inappropriate rape imagery is the exclusive domain of conservatives.

  17. wiggles
    March 29, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    *nutty lately

  18. indigo blue
    March 29, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    Ms. Click’s response to Georgia tells me a lot:

    “Creator or looter.”

    That’s Randroid language. So she’s just perpetuating her idol’s fondness for forcible relations.

  19. March 29, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    From Darleen Click’s e-mail:
    I will not idlely sit by and see my children and grandchildren future squandered by a Nannystate enthusiasts.

    Americans will be forced to buy private insurance. Oh my God! Socialism!

    I’m sure McDonald’s hate if people were mandated to buy Big Macs. Ditto for Apple, if people were mandated to buy the I-Pad. Darleen has no concept of what socialism is. Can people remind conservatives that the Cold War is over.

  20. Georgia Eliot
    March 30, 2010 at 7:10 am

    @wiggles – agreed. It should be called out by whoever can, when they can; we all have to decide when we need to speak up. Maher’s new rule last week quoting Tiger Wood’s text message is an example – does it cross your line? Is it more acceptable because he was quoting someone?
    I made it clear, particularly in my last email to Ms Click, that I was writing her one woman to another. (Just call me sexist, but I expect more of women.) So far, she’s not replied.

  21. wiggles
    March 30, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    Yes, Georgia Eliot, the part that Maher made up after the Tiger Woods quote definitely crossed the line. And liberal guys make rape jokes and analogies and apologies every day. It’s just like losing at Halo! What was she doing at a frat party? etc.

    (The Tiger quote was nasty, but what people say to each other when they’re getting freaky is their business, as long as nobody gets hurt. I’d have preferred not to hear it.)

  22. brandi
    March 30, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    @ Michael Hussey,

    They don’t know. They’ve only heard the word for the past two years. Not a clue of its meaning.

    This cartoon is past disgusting.

  23. rocio
    April 1, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    I am extremely offended as a sexual assault survivor.

    I hated Bush but I would NEVER use a rape metaphor for the Patriot Act or Military Commissions Act.

    Nothing is like rape except rape. It is never an appropriate political metaphor.

    I think that the only people who have ANY authority on what rapes is like, are sexual assault survivors and the vast majority of them are horrified at it being compared to anything that is not sexual assault.

  24. SJ
    April 6, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    Using rape as metaphor is rather sick. I suppose this person does not know (or does not realize if she does) any rape victims. I do.

    By the way, only 2 states make rape victims pay for the rape kit–Alaska and Texas. Doesn’t that tell you something? Yeehaw, let’s blame the victim!!

    And if you want to talk about people desecrating this country, think about the president who sold our national park land in trust for the country and the one who blindly rushed into war wasting lives of our honorable military.

  25. Ardilia
    April 6, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    @Georgia Eliot
    I didn’t notice if anyone else mentioned it already, but as far as the example of the rape of Nanking from the email she sent you… um during the massacre at Nanking tens of thousands, maybe close to a hundred thousand, women were actually raped. So it isn’t really so much a rape metaphor as it is an accurate description of events. Unlike comparing president Obama to a rapist in response to healthcare reform.

  26. April 8, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    Dear Darleen Click,
    If you’re going to make a joke out of rape, please at minimum- have the talent or hire the talent to make it well executed. Because, well… your drawing skills are at best amateur and you made Obama look like a poor man’s Emmanuel Lewis with a lip piercing. So please, before you continue to embarra…ss yourself and do a half-ass job at communicating your message– learn to draw.
    ♥ Porky Palin’s Cartoonist

  27. Vivian Aaron
    April 8, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    Vulgarity, violence, bigotry, is the message I get from this Cartoon, not much else. As an female & an Artist I find this offensive to say the least.

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