Star public editor: Don’t write women out of the picture

Kathy EnglishBy Kathy English, public editor for the Toronto Star

Three weeks ago, as sexual assault allegations against Jian Ghomeshi unravelled and women around the world came forward to share long-hidden stories of sexual assault and harassment, Star editorial cartoonist Theo Moudakis penned a piece that seemed to perfectly capture the nation’s state of mind.

That cartoon was so powerful in depicting the hopeful sense that significant change would and must come about for women as a result of these revelations that it was published on the Star’s front page, a rare occurrence for an editorial cartoon.

Moudakis’s cartoon showed a mother and her young daughter walking side by side, with the daughter stating, “Know what mom? When I grow up I’m not going to take any crap.” To that, the mom replied: “If this week’s given us just one thing . . .”

Moudakis got that entirely right. Women everywhere are fed up with all of the “crap” rooted in the gender inequality and discrimination that sadly still exists despite decades of feminism. Indeed, many of us are mad as hell and don’t want to take it any more.

This week, Moudakis caught some of that hell himself when he drew another Ghomeshi-related cartoon regarded by some as being insensitive to the gender issues inherent in this scandal.

“Court Appearance,” Moudakis’s Thursday cartoon, depicted Ghomeshi’s appearance in court following his arrest for sexual assault. It showed the disgraced former radio host standing before a judge, handcuffed, with a handcuffed “Big Ears” teddy bear at his side. Flanking Ghomeshi were two male lawyers.

Here’s the thing that provoked fury: the two lawyers in court with Ghomeshi that day were women. So too was the judge who presided. But as many women pointed out, Moudakis’s cartoon eliminated these accomplished women from the picture entirely, replacing them with “generic male suits.”

“I respect the role of the editorial cartoon to provoke and comment on current affairs, but the Star made a poor choice in publishing Theo Moudakis’s cartoon depicting a male legal team,” reader Laura Meil told me. “This very public trial is centred around women being assaulted and marginalized. If you can’t show Ghomeshi being defended by powerful women lawyers, what message are you really sending to your readers?”

To continue reading this column, please go thestar.com where this was originally published.

You may also like...