Saturday, March 8, 2014

Michael ffolkes: Spanking the Maid

Here's another sad example of violence against women being used as the basis for a not-very-funny cartoon. The cartoonist is Michael ffolkes, usually a favorite, and the watercolor appeared almost a half century ago in Playboy. Playboy usually claimed that it promoted a certain lifestyle, but was that lifestyle ever supposed to involve spanking the help?

Well, perhaps. Spanking the maid is such a ludicrous male fantasy that it's difficult to regard it as a serious threat to women, and it does offer a scenario with gratuitous nudity, not in itself a bad thing. There are several things that concern me here and spoil whatever fun is intended. First off, the maid is not having a good time. Her look is alarmed and perhaps a bit impassive, but she is certainly not happy. It appears, in fact, that she is being hurt and that all this is being done to her against her will.

I might have enjoyed a similar cartoon under other circumstances. I'd prefer it if there were some indication--a sly smile, perhaps--that the housemaid had engineered this punishment for herself, and that therefore it was not punishment at all. The reddened buttocks do nothing for me. Best of all might have been if the roles were reversed, and the maid were spanking the master perhaps for making a mess, but in 1973 that would never have appeared in Playboy. It's just not the Playboy lifestyle.

Michael ffolkes, "And this is for not dusting the bureau, and this is for not...."
March 1973

Note:  An even more egregious example of a cartoonist attempting to find humor in domestic violence appeared here earlier today.

A couple of posts about Michael ffolkes may be seen here.


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