GHC Member Sean Carleton reviews Willow Dawson’s Hyena in Petticoats and the Story of Suffragist Nellie McClung on Women Suffrage and Beyond

Historically, women have not fared well in comic books. As a traditionally male dominated medium, derogatory depictions of women figure prominently in both past and present comics. Even portrayals of iconic female characters from the 1940s and 1950s, such as the US-generated Wonder Woman and, in Canada, Nelvana of the Northern Lights (Bell, 2006), often conform to what scholars Erving Goffman and Sut Jhally have called “Codes of Gender” (Goffman, 1959 and 1978; Jhally, 1987 and 2009). In short, this graphic form commonly represents women as deferential, submissive, and highly sexualized. Even the empowering attributes of superheroines, of which there are admittedly some, often take place within an overarching patriarchal framework and thus adhere to stereotypically constricting gender roles.

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About the website ‘Women Suffrage and Beyond’:

[The website] provides various points of entry to the debates over suffrage and the extension of democratic rights. As today’s gatherings and protests in every part of the world suggest, politics at its best requires conversation. We embrace that insight. In order to evolve, we invite readers to submit suggestions and to add to its coverage. We are very interested in contributions that speak to a wide and diverse audience.

We are based at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. The head of our team is Dr. Veronica Strong-Boag, Canadian historian with the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Social Justice and Educational Studies at the University of British Columbia.

Women Suffrage and Beyond is an electronic academic journal (ISSN 2292-1060) that is always open to new submissions. If you are interested in contributing, please contact us at