Jen Sorensen

392. Calling out racists in cartoons makes them angry

Jen Sorensen gets hate mail — she has a folder she checks with some regularity — but it’s not quite the pit of despair and misogyny some might expect. 

“There isn’t quite as much misogynist hate mail as I thought there’d be,” says the cartoonist. 

That might be due to the alternative press outlets in which her work is primarily circulating. 

“Some people aren’t seeing my strip who might react strongly to it.” 

But being a woman, and a woman who creates political cartoons, and one who does this work during the Trump era, presents other challenges. 

The lack of broad attention is keeping some of the important topics she explores out of reach of the masses. 

“In the midst of a traditionalist movement that’s so antagonistic to women and women’s rights, that’s a part of the story that’s getting overlooked a little,” Sorensen says. “You think there might be more attention on women political cartoonists when there doesn’t seem to be more than in the past.” 

Most of the complaints she does receive are from people who don’t appreciate their views and political allegiances called out as racist. 

“I think they don’t understand that just simply by supporting Trump and accepting this rhetoric and everything he’s doing with immigrants and immigrant children, they don’t see the connection” with racist thoughts and practices, she says. Instead, they’re more likely to argue that “liberals, by noticing race, are the racists.” 

Despite the misogyny, despite the angry emails, despite the struggles, Sorensen says it’s the simple act of drawing attention to unfair or slanted situations that help make change happen. Ten years ago, people weren’t having the same level of conversation about things like representation in media that are happening now. 

“There are always going to be people who take things too far,” she says. “It’s never fun to be criticized, but this is the way social progress happens. Instead of dismissing it, we need to recognize that this is people responding to a racist environment, to the Trump administration’s lies about immigrants and people responding to attacks on civil rights.” 

Producer Michael O’Connell is joined again this week by political cartoonist Jen Sorensen to talk about being a woman with a platform and a voice in the time of Trump, the feedback she receives and why calling out social problems and racist thought might be the only way to move society forward.

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Ed Madison is an assistant professor at the University of Oregon.

299. Can journalism survive in a post-truth world?

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