Cidu Bill on May 24th 2013


This was considered humorous in 1935. In fact, since it was published in the New Yorker, it was apparently considered to be sophisticated humor.

Just this once, feel free to say it…

Filed in Bill Bickel, New Yorker, comics | 52 responses so far

52 Responses to “Cad”

  1. James Pollock May 24th 2013 at 03:49 pm 1

    Have you listened to the lyrics of the Beatles’ “Getting Better”? And that’s on a record that’s frequently cited as one of, if not THE, best rock albums of all time.

  2. squeepy May 24th 2013 at 04:13 pm 2

    I’ll bite.
    “Christ, what an asshole.”

  3. fj May 24th 2013 at 04:31 pm 3

    re: “Getting Better”
    One of my least favorite Beatles songs, but at least the singer persona’s woman-beating days are in the past tense (and he’s getting better all the time), unlike the guy in “Run for Your Life.”

    re: New Yorker comic
    Well, at least the guy is the butt of the joke: he actually is a cad. However, I’m pretty surprised that the New Yorker would have sank that low, even in 1935. Insensitivity over racial or gender-equality issues would not surprise me, but even in the male-dominated culture this was aimed at, I would think that wife beating would have been considered rather reprehensible.

  4. James Pollock May 24th 2013 at 05:36 pm 4

    Now wait. In the cad’s defense (sort of), there’s no sign he’s hit HER. He’s broken things, but that’s at least an order of magnitude different.

  5. Mark in Boston May 24th 2013 at 05:43 pm 5

    And Peter Arno, of all people. I used to respect his work.

  6. Chakolate May 24th 2013 at 06:00 pm 6

    James Pollock @4,

    If you’d lived in a house with rages and violence, you’d know that it doesn’t take getting hit to scare the living daylights out of you.

    I found this damned cartoon very triggering.

  7. Ian Osmond May 24th 2013 at 06:05 pm 7

    fj @ 3: You’d hope that wife-beating would be considered over-the-top, wouldn’t you? But it wasn’t. Spanking grown women was seen as funny through the Sixties; “I don’t hit her, I just slap her around a little” was considered a perfectly reasonable sentence. “To the moon, Alice” is a domestic violence joke.

  8. jp May 24th 2013 at 06:58 pm 8

    OK, just this once, since you asked…

    “It’s the New Yorker — it’s not supposed to be funny.”


  9. Bob in Nashville May 24th 2013 at 07:09 pm 9

    And at least as late at the early ’70s “reverse” domestic violence in which the wife beats the husband, usually with a rolling pin, was considered a punch line in children’s cartoons.

  10. James Pollock May 24th 2013 at 07:40 pm 10

    “If you’d lived in a house with rages and violence, you’d know that it doesn’t take getting hit to scare the living daylights out of you. ”

    You should be more careful when making assumptions.

    My ex-wife used to break things when she was raging, and I know full well that this is not at all on the same level of violence as the case where someone is actually getting hit. (She also routinely made impotent threats, including threatening the life of our pre-school-age daughter when she (the daughter) was misbehaving or non-compliant. This had no effect whatsoever on the behavior of the child, except for getting her suspended from school as a first-grader for threatening the life of another little girl.)

  11. fj May 24th 2013 at 08:36 pm 11

    >>Now wait. In the cad’s defense (sort of), there’s no sign he’s hit HER.

    I interpreted the fact that she was seated on the floor as either an indication she had been knocked there, or was cowering there in fear of being hurt. But yes, that was an assumption on my part.

  12. Cidu Bill May 24th 2013 at 10:26 pm 12

    Interesting that only squeepy made the comment. Usually when I run a New Yorker cartoon, two or three people try to slip it through. I guess it’s not as much fun when it’s not verboten.

  13. Kilby May 24th 2013 at 11:03 pm 13

    @ Bill - I would have taken the invitation, but first I read through to see if someone had already done so, although the comment I was initially looking for was not that one, but rather jp’s @8. I think that we all agree with squeepy (@2), but once he said it, it wasn’t necessary to repeat it.

  14. Kilby May 24th 2013 at 11:04 pm 14

    P.S. And I think a number of us do agree with jp @8, as well, but that one doesn’t need to be repeated, either.

  15. Danny Boy (London Derriere) May 25th 2013 at 01:50 am 15

    I’m always a bit shocked to hear a certain style of tee-shirt/tanktop called “wife-beater”. Even if not quite said in a way that accepts domestic violence, it seems at the least to be buying into some kind of ethnic/socioeconomic stereotyping.

  16. James Pollock May 25th 2013 at 01:58 am 16

    If you look, all of the damage/disarray is behind him, so I don’t interpret that as indicating she was knocked to the floor. And I don’t see cowering in fear so much as a combination of sadness and powerlessness (she’s wiping away a tear with the back of her wrist because that’s all she can do to stop him (and it seems to have worked).)

    Again, this is not to same that he’s in the clear, just that he’s not in the same league as, say, Andy Capp.

  17. mitch4 May 25th 2013 at 04:06 am 17

    At a local high school where I used to go to work with their computer tech team, there was a specialty lab for Computer-Aided Design, in a cluster with the art studios and so on. The room sign panels said

    CAD / Modelling

    which always put me in mind of the era of this cartoon — it brought to mind some models confronting ill-behaved men who had been at their fashion show and now proved themselves cads.

    (I suppose if it had been the more frequently encountered “CAD-CAM” we could still picture our character, but now being spied upon, and in very modern parlance.)

  18. Just passing by May 25th 2013 at 04:59 am 18

    Uhh, James Pollock (10), unless you were joking, I think your daughter threatening the life of another child in first grade is a good sign that she was severely affected by the violence in the home.

  19. The Bad Seed May 25th 2013 at 07:43 am 19

    @Chakolate #6 - I’m totally with you on this one, it totally triggered memories of my Dad’s rages when I was growing up. Maybe that visceral reaction has a lot to do with how young I was when I first remember them, both in how impressionable I was and how much larger and stronger (and crazier) my Dad was than I was, but I’m not sure it’s something that can be truly felt by someone who wasn’t themselves imprinted by something like it at a similar age. But a couple of years ago, an ex-military guy at work who outweighed me by at least 50 lbs got angry with me and assumed that stance over me while I was sitting at a desk - clenched fists and all - and after that I had to fight the urge to sprint away every time I saw him in the hallway, and I was elated when he got laid off.

  20. Lola May 25th 2013 at 08:02 am 20

    And then there’s bandmate on bandmate violence - see the 1 minute mark. Supposedly, Jim Morrison was the assailant.

  21. zookeeper May 25th 2013 at 11:23 am 21

    Man, I was mean, but I’m changing…
    and I’m doing the best that I can.

  22. Richard May 25th 2013 at 12:30 pm 22

    I’m going to defend Peter Arno and the New Yorker on this one. There’s no way this cartoon is saying that domestic violence is funny or otherwise okay. They way Grace is drawn is, in my opinion, clearly intended to evoke sympathy. The point of the cartoon is that the man is a cad, but is such a cad that he doesn’t realize how caddish his actions are.

    Is this any worse than today’s “La Cucaracha” cartoon by Lalo Alcaraz, which uses humor to make a point about children killing people with guns?

    Is this cartoon significantly different from the joke about the definition of chutzpa being someone who murders his parents and asks for sympathy because he is an orphan?

    Arno’s cartoon is definitely different from the old “Bringing up Father” strips which actually treated spousal violence as funny. Is anyone else old enough to remember the Mad Magazine article that showed what “Bringing Up Father” would look like if Maggie’s and Jigg’s violence was drawn realistically?

  23. Richard May 25th 2013 at 12:34 pm 23

    Here is a link to the Mad Magazine article that showed what the domestic violence in “Bringing Up Father” would look like if drawn realistically:

  24. Chakolate May 25th 2013 at 03:49 pm 24

    Bad Seed @18 -

    Yes, that’s exactly what I experienced. My father wasn’t a large man, but to a small child he was monstrously large. And one blow could send me across the room.

    Very often, though, it wasn’t the actual violence, but the implied threat. That stance you described, towering over you, his fists clenched… just the description was enough to trigger me. I lived in fear of him, even though I knew he loved me.

    I recall one scene not unlike the cartoon, with me cowering in the corner with my hands over my head, crying, “I’m sorry! Please don’t hurt me!”

    Unhappily, the scene repeated over and over. Generally with him saying something about how he didn’t *want* to hurt me, it was me that made him do it.


  25. Inkwell May 25th 2013 at 04:19 pm 25

    Yes, we’re obviously supposed to find domestic abuse bad… but that doesn’t make it a good cartoon. Realistic damage, with the abused reacting realistically, and hell, even the abuser is acting realistically: he’s passive-aggressively defending himself and making the problem out to be all in Grace’s head. It might be a good commentary on domestic abuse, but then why on Earth do it as a cartoon?

    Maybe I’m just a little sensitized, but when I see one spouse breaking things, the transition to violence is a given. I know it’s not like that in every house, but it isn’t rare, either… and given that Grace is huddled down below, away from him, I think she looks scared. Maybe even already hurt. His stance isn’t helping.

    By the way, I admire you guys for being able to talk about your experiences. Maybe it isn’t for you, I don’t know, but to me that’s incredibly gutsy. Even when there’s no violence involved, it’s still hard for me to read. None of you deserve any of that crap.

  26. Richard May 25th 2013 at 04:36 pm 26

    All of the things that Inkwell mentions, the realistic depiction of the damage, the abused woman acting realistically, and the abuser acting realistically, all are points in the cartoon’s favor. I think it is good commentary on domestic abuse. It would be much more offensive if it wasn’t so realistic, if it wasn’t so frightening.

  27. Lost in A**2 May 25th 2013 at 09:48 pm 27

    And yet, Tom Jones hit #2 with Paul Anka’s “She’s a Lady.” (*Anka* wrote that!?)

  28. The Bad Seed May 26th 2013 at 07:49 am 28

    I’m not saying that Arno or The New Yorker have necessarily done anything wrong, but it’s just not a funny cartoon to me for personal reasons. Similarly, there are some lovely and happy songs that make me sad because they remind me of some old times or people that have passed, but I’m not saying that they shouldn’t be played. This particular cartoon comes a little more under the “dark” or “mean-spirited” genre, which I generally don’t prefer in any case. I love sarcasm and biting humor, but I don’t enjoy humor that seems just mean, like Don Rickles or the old Mutt & Jeff’s that sometimes show up here. I’m not even fond of shows like Frasier, where the lead is pretty much a buffoon who’s usually the butt of the jokes. I’m fine if other people like it, but it’s just not my thing and that’s OK.

  29. Keera May 26th 2013 at 08:14 am 29

    Chak @24, I hear you. Any kind of abuse damages a child, including neglect. The abuse in my home was emotional. My response to it was to hit my mother at one point. More importantly, I struggled with trusting her until last year, which meant our relationship was harmed for far longer than my childhood. Violence doesn’t have to physical.

  30. Mark M May 26th 2013 at 08:32 am 30

    Was it insensitive of me to laugh when Daffy Duck got his head blown off by Elmer Fudd?

  31. Jeff S. May 26th 2013 at 09:06 am 31

    We sell tin signs at Bass Pro and just last night, I had a woman who is involved in domestic abuse cases complain about this sign –

    She asked me if any other women had complained about it. Since it was so new, it was the first time I had seen it, so I said “No one has, yet.”

  32. Francisco on the Prairie May 26th 2013 at 10:20 am 32

    I am also deeply impressed by those who have spoken so openly of their experiences in this thread. And deeply saddened by the number of people who have such experience. (Ref: Inkwell @25)

    Yes, this is a cartoon. Cartoons are often funny, but they need not be. They are often social commentary, deeply emotional and they can be very sad; this one is in that category. Not funny and not meant to be.

    @Just passing by (18) re James Pollock (10): I assumed that James was saying that the negative effects weren’t necessarily evident to those who knew the child casually but were, nonetheless, deep and profound and began to evidence itself early.

  33. Detcord May 26th 2013 at 12:37 pm 33

    Well Bill (12), squeepy (2) apparently made the comment you were looking for - and it would have been rude (let alone redundant) to repeat it.

    In any case, I found the heartfelt comments that followed (and preceded) squeepy to be equally - if not more - relevant. Likewise, I found this link apropos.

    Just curious, but what prompted you to reach back to 1935 and pull this carton into the 21st Century?

  34. farmer May 26th 2013 at 12:55 pm 34

    Don’t know how many more stories we need here, but my experiences give an angle I haven’t seen discussed yet.

    JP #10, were you afraid of your wife when she broke things in a rage? That makes a huge difference. I was afraid of my father, even though he never hit me. My mother and household items, that’s a different story. Emotional damage should be considered as harmful as physical damage, perhaps more so because it last so much longer and is much harder to heal properly. I’m still scared of myself, because I know what I learned from him lurks inside me. My wife knows about it and we trust each other to manage my temper properly, and so far always have.

    If given the choice between living in fear but without physical pain, or living in pain with stable/loving emotions, I’m pretty sure I and most people would choose the latter. So the cartoon, to me, is evoking the worst of the two options, even though in many cases it’s not so clear. Dismissing the cartoon wife’s emotional pain is like dismissing PTSD as a “lesser” injury than a physical wound; it’s wrong, dangerous, and heartless.

  35. Chakolate May 26th 2013 at 01:12 pm 35

    Keera @29,

    Sometimes I think the emotional abuse is worse than the physical. Bruises heal, but you can spend a lifetime trying to overcome the effects of emotional abuse. And in my case, a lot of money on a shrink, as well.

    But every day is a new opportunity to make my life a little better, and I try to focus on that.

  36. Chakolate May 26th 2013 at 01:21 pm 36


    I give you props for being able to control that learned response of violence. One of the main reasons I never had children was that I was afraid I’d do to them what my father did to me.

    I play-adopted the son of a fellow grad-student, and became his play-grandma, and I found myself sometimes reacting the way I had learned from my father. It frightened me so much. I never hit the boy, and most of the time he was completely unaware of my impulse, but it still made me glad I had decided against having children of my own.

    These days I work at controlling the impulse to anger. If something sets me off, I try to take a step back and examine my feelings. Most of the time I find that anger is simply not the appropriate response. It’s a work in progress.

  37. Cidu Bill May 26th 2013 at 01:23 pm 37

    Detcord, I happend upon a collection of New Yorker comics. Some were scannable, though many were not. Don’t be surprised if some of the former show up here in weeks to come.

  38. Cidu Bill May 26th 2013 at 01:27 pm 38

    Danny Boy, another name for the “wife beater” is a Dago shirt. Truly this is the most politically incorrect article of clothing in any man’s wardrobe.

  39. James Pollock May 26th 2013 at 02:39 pm 39

    “JP #10, were you afraid of your wife when she broke things in a rage?”
    No. Well, sometimes if she happened to be standing near something expensive when she went off, but that’s not the kind of fear you’re talking about. (I should point out that because of my name, and the popularity of a certain brand of ethnic humor in the 1970’s, I was involved in hundreds of fistfights as a child. As an adult, it’s VERY difficult to goad me into anger, but I’m not afraid of physical confrontation.) I still maintain that there is a substantial difference between raging that is directed at things and raging that is directed at people… the way I differentiate between my experience and some of the others’ experiences reported here, is that the rage they saw wasn’t truly confined to breaking things, and there was uncertainty as to whether it would STOP being confined to breaking things at any point along the way.

    In response to #18, it was just the opposite. My daughter learned from my ex-wife that the way to handle frustration is to scream at the person who’s frustrating you, making extremely dire threats that you have neither the intention nor the capability to actually carry out. This is not a productive behavior, but neither does it indicate any kind of psychological harm. (Because she did NOT fear any actual violence).

  40. Lost in A**2 May 26th 2013 at 07:21 pm 40

    I had always thought it was spelled “Dago,” but it’s not a word many folks would put into writing.

    I recently read The Taking of Pelham 123. And people complain about the language in Huckleberry Finn? Of course, Pelham isn’t likely to show up in a high school literature course.

    My typo, since corrected. Thanks for the head’s up - Bill

  41. farmer May 26th 2013 at 07:48 pm 41

    chakolate #36,

    I don’t have kids either, and that’s one reason why. I can control it with someone equal to me, who can stand up to me and has situational and self-awareness. Not sure if the same would be true with a child. Don’t want to find out.

    JP #39,

    Thanks for the thoughtful response. I think the problem is that one never knows when rage at things will suddenly change or develop. Perhaps your history of experiencing and handling violence better prepared you for your situation; that’s an advantage (if it can be called that) that many people, particularly women, never have.

    Image the cartoon for a minute, but with the genders reversed. It provokes a very different feeling, at least for me.

    Lost #40,

    I’ve always seen it written Dago, too. A quick Google comes up with lots of slang definitions for Dago, none for Dego.

  42. James Pollock May 26th 2013 at 10:00 pm 42

    I have self-control now because I did not have it then.

  43. Proginoskes May 27th 2013 at 01:40 am 43

    @ jp (8): You took mine! Now I’ll have to say …

    “They can’t all be zingers.”

  44. Meryl A May 29th 2013 at 01:36 am 44

    And Ralph Kramden was always threatening to send his wife to the moon (and not in a rocket) and it was comedy.

    Don’t forget how the shrew was tamed.

  45. Chakolate May 29th 2013 at 10:50 am 45

    I never understood why people thought Ralph Kramden was funny. Or likeable. Or in any way sympathetic. Yeah, he was an underdog, but he took it out on those around him.

    Or maybe I just read too much into it.

  46. mitch4 May 30th 2013 at 07:08 am 46

    Yes, Ralph Kramden is hard to take.

    Reportedly, Jackie Gleason was himself rather nasty, and quite a bad boss for the writers, both during the half-hour Honeymooners era and the expanded hour-long comedy/variety show era. (I once attended a taping of the latter in Miami Beach, but was too young to really understand it.) As for co-stars, I don’t recall Art Carney giving many retrospective comments, but I think Audrey Meadows(?) did speak out about it being a tough situation.

  47. Treesong May 31st 2013 at 08:04 pm 47

    As a kid watching The Honeymooners I never took Ralph’s threats seriously. Nor do I now. Nor did Alice. ‘To the moon, Alice!’ was a totally unrealistic threat. And don’t forget that his other threat was ‘One of these days, Alice, one of these days, POW! Right in the kisser!’ One of these days; in other words, never once before.
    Which is not to deny that he was a jerk. Of course he was. The women were the competent ones.

  48. Bob May 31st 2013 at 11:10 pm 48

    Agree with Treesong - Ralph’s threats weren’t serious. “Baby, you’re the greatest!”

  49. Andy Onimus Jun 22nd 2013 at 12:17 pm 49

    The cartoon isn’t clear at all to me.

    This could easily be my mom sitting there, after a furious rage, broken down and crying. My dad having picked up a piece of the broken lamp, and feeling the blame for her rage.

    I was beat late into my teens, with the reason very often, that I remind her of my father. And afterwards, she always broke down, emotionally totally empty, crying, and making sure I was responsible.

    I remeber one time, coming back to consciousness, her threatening to call the police on me.

    And later, a psychologist not believing what I was saying, and one of her reasons for not believing was that I was bigger than my mother and should have hit back.

    And that was a court psychologist.

    And of course there were reasons she hit me, and was never punished. And that her testimony was more reliable in court, part of which was included how she had irreversibly ruined my ability to ever act rationally in a family situation. Sometime in my thirties I gave up on her. I can’t say I will ever be over it. But things are much better since I don’t have any contact.

    Stupid. Bah, the court psych even said it was lucky I wasn’t addicted and drunk, but the tone of the report was absolutely negative.

    From my point of view, I simply don’t buy the idea that women are victims. Even, or especially, when the cry.

  50. Chakolate Jun 23rd 2013 at 01:25 am 50

    Andy, I think you’re right that we just tend to jump to the conclusion that if there’s domestic violence, it’s male on female. I suspect women tend to be more destructive in less obvious ways. As you know.

  51. Elyrest Jun 23rd 2013 at 11:45 am 51

    Andy Onimus - I’m sorry for your childhood. No one should ever have gone through what you did as a child. You got a raw deal and the court system didn’t help. There isn’t anything I can say that will change anything, but please remember that all women aren’t your mother. Some women are victims and have few choices. And crying is something that, for many women as well as men, isn’t a manipulative act. It’s something that can’t be, or usually should be, controlled. I cry when I’m happy, sad, frustrated, or angry. These tears all mean something different and I have never intentionally tried to use them to manipulate a situation.

    Take care of yourself.

  52. Andy Onimus Jun 29th 2013 at 01:12 pm 52

    I didn’t think Bill would let my post through. It was pending moderation, so he had to willfully let it through. Some respect there.

    Chocolate, men and women both have strengths and weaknesses. One thing I’m pretty sensitive to is when a person abuses their strengths. I so wish that emotional abuse were well-defined and that it could be punished by a court. Women complain that physical abuse harms them emotionally. Direct emotional harm is considered irrelevant once a person has grown up.

    And tearing people down emotionally is so much a part of life in the states. I sometimes would rather have the slap in the face.

    Elyrest, I’m not sure whether you intend to contradict. Just to reassure you, I didn’t say that tears are manipulative. Just that they don’t signify that the person crying is a victim. I think you agree with that.

    I can say I don’t have good relationships with women in general. I lose respect very quickly when I feel a woman is being unkind or insulting, especially to a loved one. And that happens so very often.

    I do have a family, and my kids are kind of strange, but definitely respectable. Proving my mother wrong. And contrary to many parenting articles, I have never allowed people in my house to disrespect one another.

    The society of blame is so hurtful. And blame turns to punishment, and punishment that doesn’t hurt is somehow not enough for the people doing the punishing. So we have an army that punishes by killing civilians, torturing enemies. A police that takes it as their responsibility to make sure a suspect is preliminarily punished before getting to court. Women who punish their signifant others with emotional abuse instead of resolving the conflict rationally. Yeah, men too, but that gets talked about a lot already. What about the wounds that don’t heal, that are caused by people tearing others down. That emotional stuff is a strength that women have. Use it recklessly with each other, if you must, like men and their physical activity.

    a long post.

    no need to be sorry for me. better to look at people like elementary school shootings and wonder why it happens. Or suicide bombers and wonder why it happens. Or army members going on killing sprees and wonder why it happens.

    I can understand them all. I am NOT saying I approve. Just that I think I understand.

    And I stick by my statement that women aren’t victims.

    They’re simply humans. Like men.

    The statement that “some women are victims and don’t have choices” is unnecessarily sexist. Change women to persons. Period.

    Take care of yourself, too. Enough crazy stuff happens in life without people making it harder for each other.

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