Despite the fact that I don't necessarily represent my characters or endorse all of their actions, I'm the only one that can sort of explain the whys and hows of the things they do and say. This all comes to bear because I received an e-mail from a gentleman in Sweden a while ago and it got me thinking that there are others who think like this, and it's worthy for me to explain and clarify the notions addressed by this person. All the points made therein are ones that I commonly hear, really, and they ammounted to very slow, lingering pitches clean over home plate for me to knock out of the park. They mostly involve a misunderstanding of the general way I've constructed the Better Days world and how it doesn't jive with traditional willy-nilly "furry" perceptions of a "furry" world.
The E-Mail and my reply.
Thank you for the kind words. I will reply to your comments one by one, below.
On another excellently drawn page in Chapter 3, I can quote "only man in this family" and "feminist bitches". Being a Swede, and being a wannabe left-wing
intellectual cum excellent furry webcomic creator (give me some time), I can spot some bothers.
Sheila is from a different culture and time, without the systems of political mores we have drilled into our heads, which can be argued to be either good or
bad (personally, I believe they're trite and decadent). She doesn't ascribe to the idea that male strength is an automatic negative, and female strength is
an automatic positive, and she recognizes the differences between men and women, both biological and traditional. Whether or not you, or anyone else chooses
to recognize them, is beside the point. She's just a character and she is how she is.
1. How can words derived from the linguistic base "mankind", such as man or woman, appear in a world populated by animals? Since Africans only appear as
hyenas, is your comic only symbolical in its depiction of Furries? (hopefully not, I would be insulted if I was black)
I use the terms "man" and "woman" as generic terms of gender, not as a species-significant name.
Every enthicity in the world is represented by a breed of animal in my comic. I'm not sure why being cast as a hyena (an animal indigenous to Africa) is
insulting, but being cast as a cat from Europe, or a raccoon of Native American descent, isn't. I think your mind is too quick to find offense, and you've
developed a hypersensitivity to anything remotely race related and you've developed an emotional response ("I would be offended if I was black") as opposed
to a rational, intellectual response to the depiction of different races. We call this sort of irrationality on the part of white people "White Guilt" when
they overreact to these matters, and it's not a compliment. As an aside, East Africans are depicted as African wild dogs, since they are a different ethnic
shade, but we don't see them until Fisk becomes an adult.
2. The word "bitch", while nowadays overused by insecure women and men who look at their penises too much (same thing basically), was originally a term
used for female dogs. If human lingo is completely adapted in your comic and its reality, one thing does not add up:
That a sensible female (Sheila) would carelessly use such an ambiguous term as a degrading adjective (in a world populated by said "bitches") is as weird
as her using the term "african" in the same context. Hardly consistent for an otherwise intelligent and likable character. Well, unless the word "bitch"
evolved without the connection to female dogs, but then we move into logics, and I'm only good at being a smart-ass. (Maybe even female dogs use it in your
world, like when people originating from Africa call themselves "niggers").
The word "bitch" is used in common language to describe a particularly crabby, abrasive, or obstinant woman. It's rarely used in common language as a casual
reference to an actual female dog anymore, unless you're talking amongst dog breeders or furries who like to dwell on it's proper usage. Just like the words
"faggot", "wench", and "nigger" have gradually changed inflections (and sometimes entire definitions) over the years, I'm going on the premise that the word
"bitch" has become a term most commonly used to refer to an abrasive or obstinant woman, in the world where BD takes place, and not necessarily religated
only to female dogs.
You can call Sheila sensible if you like, but she's not a perfect woman, and even responsible, sensible people say harsh things, make mistakes, and even
engage in calculated misbehavior that they hope they can get away with. If you've never called someone a bad name in your life, you're a better man than the
vast majority of people on the planet. Sheila's left her kids alone to fend for themselves, before. She's had sex with people in the early phases of their
relationships. She accelerated the divorce of her neighbor by enticing him to cheat on his wife. She's a strong woman but she's in no way infallible. She
may be sensible, but her judgement has lapses on occassion, and she can succumb to temptations, often learning her lessons on the hard way. When I was 20
years old, I was a very different man than I am today, seven years later. I don't expect my characters to be the exact same people as time progresses, and I
definitely don't try to make them perfect.
I'm not sure what spawns these e-mails, sometimes. I gave this gentleman the benefit of the doubt since he may not be acclimated with American culture. If he were American, I would have presumed he (like the majority of my readers) would know what was meant when the word "bitch" is uttered in that context by the characters, and he could conclude what it should mean, and I what I want it to mean, by the way it was written into the story. Another thing that took me by surprise was the reaction to the depiction of race. I'm really caught off guard when people presume I'm making derogatory statements about one race or another by depicting them as an animal indigenous to their ancestrial origins. I'd always thought this sort of overt racial hypersensitivity (I refered to it as "white guilt" in the e-mail) was an American trait, and didn't know it manifested in Europeans as well. I'm not sure I can see the logical connection between my using species to depict ethnic lineage and a "negative" depiction of a particular race. But, I've seen a lot of strange emotional leaps of reason before. I've been called all sorts of names, including racist.
This particular e-mail, however, was somewhat pleasantly tame, and less "accusatory" than the usual ones I get.