SUSAN! Susan Susan Susan Susan Susan AAAAAAAAAAAA Susan you’re so rad it’s weird that you have your midriff exposed but you rock for reals YAAAAAAAAAY
Susan was initially inspired by me being a teenage guy who was frustrated about gender roles in general, commonly NOT interested in “guy” stuff (and ridiculed by both men and women because of it), confused about why sexism was even a thing as early as kindergarten (if not sooner), very rarely witnessed instances of guys being sexist jerks in real life, and knew a lot of girls who generalized a LOT about guys (either jokingly or sincerely).
Also, Home Improvement was on the air. Screw you, Home Improvement. Except you, Al. You rock that flannel. And I guess Wilson was rad, too. Whatever. The show should’ve just been Tool Time.
So basically, I had a lot of frustration about male stereotypes and was naive about how much sexism women still have to deal with, and Susan was someone who was, by design, going to say a bunch of stuff that annoyed me so that I could provide counterpoints to them.
And then Susan was all like “I am NOT your strawman”, hit me with a hammer, and developed into one of my most favoritist characters ever in anything.
But, yeah, she didn’t originate from a good place. On the other hand, perhaps this sheds some light on why I actually respond to people of the “not all men” variety on social media, and do so with patience and the best logic and reason I can muster.
Usually, anyway. I can be a jerk if caught at a bad time, after all, but is there anyone that statement DOESN’T apply to?
Commentary added September 24th, 2014
the author, commentary to this strip (posted 29 May 2002)
ok so I misread the commentary at first and got the impression that in 2014, Dan Shive was still inclined towards saying not all men, but actually on rereading it sounds like this commentary is talking about trying to gently sway people who go not all men out of being shits. like, i can understand from this history why Dan Shive wants to do that but it’s not something I have the patience for personally? and I no longer feel all that confident that ‘logic and reason’ are necessarily going to sway someone out of believing something that’s deeply emotionally ingrained.
i guess like, ‘cool story sis’ time, but back when i was about 16, i also caught a mild case of ‘not all men’/’misandry’ type shit, and said some shitty things (i once told my librarian that ‘sexism goes both ways’, i once said ‘misandry’ as if it’s a real thing that exists when appealed to as the ‘clever one’ in an argument in a schoolroom) that i still regret and can’t really forgive myself for, even though i’m probably the only person who remembers that I ever said them. so like. i would be a hypocrite to act like people cannot change, that closeted trans women and camab nb people can’t once have bought into some bullshit masculinity or that that invalidates the fact that we’re women.
all the same i hope this character here grows beyond Dan Shive’s original intentions quickly and doesn’t spend too long as the straw feminist.
(i do not, in fact, feel like she says anything particularly objectionable in this strip, actually. haha)
also like it really bothers me not just that the school principal is modelled after Hitler, but also that in the retroactive commentary where this character is first introduced, while Dan Shive acknowledges it was a shitty decision, this is framed as being ‘offensive to German people’, rather than really nasty and alienating to Jewish readers.
2014!Shive Shive literally quotes the definition of ‘retcon’ in the commentary on this strip, but apparently 2002!Shive wanted to change Tedd’s abilities, but didn’t consider going back on that single-panel gag and instead doubled down.
we get explicit confirmation that Justin is gay and an allusion to the possibility that Nanase might be too.
i feel like, given how badly it started, Dan Shive’s showing a lot of signs of getting more mature? it’s still not amazing but it’s a lot more promising than it looked to begin with.