Gender and Trees

Today, I submitted this cartoon to a site I work for.  They are a wonderful site, reporting on women’s issues around the globe, and I am proud to have a weekly cartoon there.  But after I emailed this cartoon to her, my editor wrote me and said, “No gender angle.”    I have a couple of thoughts on that–although I did send her another cartoon to run in the meantime.

First, there is a subtle gender angle here.  The people in the cartoon are both women. This is more unusual than you might think.  “Everyman” in a cartoon still is usually a man, and I try to buck that by drawing women whenever I can.

Secondly, Christmas Tree Issues are fraught with gender role considerations. This woman is not following her prescribed gender role by grabbing the tree and presumably carrying it to her apartment. How many of us have gender roles when it comes to Christmas Things?  Men usually carry the tree into the house,  set it up and put on the lights. The women are the decorators.  In our house, my husband does indeed carry the tree, but I am the one who puts on the lights, and all of us–three women and my husband–decorate it.

I know, this may be pretty far fetched. The details in life sometimes tell us a lot.  In the division of duties as a couple, my husband is still the one who takes the tree down. Is that a gender defined role? Who knows?  I don’t care. I don’t want to do it.


About Liza Donnelly

Cartoonist and writer and live drawer for The New Yorker, CBS News. Speaker for TED and others. Books: Women On Men,
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1 Response to Gender and Trees

  1. Interesting. But I admit I had to look several times to see the “gender angle” – because while my husband put up the tree, it was so, simply because the tree arrived on top of our car & our car is quite tall – and I am not. Thus, it made more sense for him to fetch it down. We all decorate the tree together, as a family. Last year, I took our tree down & dragged it out to the woods and expect to do the same this year.

    So I’m not sure if it is that this cartoon doesn’t show dramatic gender-bending, or if its more that with this specific issue, we already do things with more regard for convenience and practicality, and far less with regard to gender roles.

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