To the editors:

Once again, Norman Dog defies reality in favor of his particular brand of misogynist mythology. Once, he cast a wife as the threatening abuser shooting at her husband. “Do you always have to start as soon as I walk in the door?” says the poor guy. Granted, portraying women as the crazed aggressors, out to kill or debase the poor long-suffering male is a common theme in comics, even though it turns reality on its head. (One-third of all murders of women are committed by their husbands or boyfriends. By contrast, only 4 percent of murders of men are committed by wives or girlfriends, according to the U.S. Surgeon General.)

But December 11th’s comic really makes me think this guy needs a reality check. He portrays a woman surrounded by down-and-out white men (in suits) all asking for a handout (“please,” “help”) while the woman (presumably employed: maybe she stole their jobs?) only notices a dog on the street with the comment “Oh look . . . the poor little doggie is hungry!” Anyone who walks the streets in these days of desperation knows full well the plight of so many needy people. And it has been my experience that far more women than men respond to their appeals.

Apparently, Norman is blind to the large numbers of nonwhite and nonmale people on the street–there’s a whole bunch of homeless and desperate women and children out there–and they are disproportionately people of color. So Norman, next time you go pondering the ironies of life, stick a little closer to the facts.

Mary Ellen Croteau

N. Troy

Norman Dog replies:

I suppose I must plead guilty as charged of being an Oafish Insensitive White Guy. And as I firmly believe in the credo “Write what you know,” almost all of my cartoons are about Oafish Insensitive White Guys saying and doing stupid things. Every once in a while, however, I make the punch-line bearer a woman–for variety.

OIWG that I am, I am aware of all those homeless people on the streets. As you note, many are women with children. And certainly there is nothing knee-slappingly funny about such heartbreaking circumstances. Rather, it is the confused, guilty, embarrassed feelings that the homeless create in those of us who are more fortunate that are comical.

The point of the “Hungry Doggie” cartoon was not that women are mean, or that all bums are white. It was that a starving animal is more likely to evoke pity, and likelier to be fed, than a starving person. Homeless people know this, of course. “It’s not for me–it’s for my dog!” a panhandler once hastened to assure me, presuming that this news would make me feel better about my donation.

You correctly perceive the other cartoon–wife shooting at the husband–as pure OIWG self-pity. It’s going too far, however, to equate this situation with murder. The husband is after all still alive, and judging from their dialogue they’ve been doing this for a while. Who knows, maybe he likes it.