There was some feedback that the last comic (The System 586) seemed sexist due to the fact that a male character was helping a female character with a computer issue. The original comic was based on a real conversation between me and my mom a while back (sorry Rossmom, it happened), so I just kept the genders the same. Anyway, here’s a new version of it to balance it out.
Truth is, I have a lot of respect for women and think about gender roles. Unfortunately, the way these symbols are set up is a perfect example of what is the case in a lot of our culture where “male” is seen as the default and “female” is seen as the variant. Seen below is “arriving flights”, “waiting area”, and “water fountain” aka “dudes doing things”.
I don’t know the exact history, but my guess is that since these were created in 1974 (more about the original set here), that was just the thinking at the time. For the sake of the philosophy of the icons, there was a need to have a default character, and in this case they made it a guy (which you can argue is gender-neutral, except the same one is used for “men’s room” as well so there goes that idea). For this reason I try to switch up the gender of characters when the jokes don’t rely on gender. Generally my default is a man and a woman talking, simply because they are different-looking in this very simple style, so it’s easier for the audience to read as separate characters. My default narrator is myself, and therefore a male character and therefore you have a male character talking to a female character, and dialogue ensues (and sometimes fart jokes). Sometimes I make a point of changing this “default” approach and it works out, like Jimmy the Murderdog’s first strip. Sometimes it doesn’t, like this joke I wanted to do about Zeno’s Paradox which, upon reviewing, kinda sends the wrong message.
So my point, if I have one (and I’m not sure that I do) is that women are great. They do everything men do and more and manage to smell better. Sometimes they are the butt of jokes in these comics, and sometimes they aren’t. One thing you’ll never see is a comic that says “she’s X because she’s a woman,” and you never will. That kind of joke has no interest to me, and I don’t believe it to be true. I’ll generalize designers, coffee drinkers, and the Internet as a culture, but not women or men for that matter. So there.