It might even be the the greatest day for American women since August 18, 1920. “That will be a national day of celebration for feminists (and, really, for all human beings) everywhere, with dancing in the streets, parades, and fireworks. That is the day that the final Cathy comic strip will be published.”*
For those who are unfamiliar with it, the comic strip, which has been running for 34 years chronicled the life of a woman who spent most of her adulthood freaking out about her weight, embracing a variety of tropes about the planetary origins of men and women, desperately trying to find Prince Charming, and dealing with her mother. Pretty much every strip involved a gag about how Cathy didn’t fit into a bathing suit, a state of complete and total agitation, followed by making a total mess and winding up covered in chocolate. About 30 years into the strip, Cathy married her hapless boyfriend Irving after many, many years of terrible jokes drawn from The Rules and other similarly awful dating advice books. And for the most part, Cathy had the personality of a poorly drawn wet mop. I honestly have no idea how it lasted so long telling the exact same five jokes over and over.
I’ve always gotten the impression that Cathy was meant as something for women to bond over, but for the most part it just reinforced a lot of wretched stereotypes about women: chocoholics who are always desperate to lose weight but can’t part with the carbs, women who ruin their finances by splurging on overpriced handbags and shoes, being mean to Nice Guys™ knowing in the end that they’re the reliable and steady kind you want to marry, mortal panic about being single, etc.
I can remember reading the comics in my local paper at about the age of nine and thinking that Cathy was particularly ridiculous. Wasn’t she ever going to DO something? Didn’t she like herself? What was going on with all the chocolate, shredded wrapping paper, and bemused looking dog? I really wanted her to have a decent relationship with her mother rather than one premised on her mom’s desire for her to find a nice young man and have a respectable life, and wondered why she had the same conversations over and over and over.
Looking back on it, I have (probably vain) hopes that whatever replaces Cathy in most newspapers will feature a strong female lead character who grows up, has adventures, and evolves in her relationships with other people. It’d also be really nice if there weren’t jokes about being single, PMS references, or an attempted genetic explanation for chocolate consumption. (If anyone knows of a good comic strip or webcomic that meets such criteria, please share in comments!)
*The blogger hopes that Cathy will go out as a suicide bomber and take out a handful of other noxious comic strips. I’m not a fan of that idea, but I have to hope that the end doesn’t involve metaphorical muzak with slow motion montages or whatever the comic strip equivalent is.
Hat tip to Melinda for the link.