The Sorensen Monologues

Afterword on responses to college rape comic

My recent graphic journalism piece for Fusion about my friend’s sexual assault got a large response. Here’s a post I wrote on the feedback I received.


“Conversations” we won’t see at chain restaurants

Many a wisecrack has been made about Starbucks’ “Race Together” campaign, which until Sunday had encouraged baristas to write the slogan on coffee cups and initiate philosophical conversations. There are some discussions begging to be had about low-wage work, but most multinational chain restaurants probably wouldn’t want to go there.



Degrader, the wearable insult watch



Graphic journalism: “The phone rang. It was my college rapist.”

Today I can finally share a big project I’ve been working on for weeks: a comic account of my friend’s sexual assault in college. 33 years after the incident, she received a phone call from her assailant.

rapecomicPANEL600px

If you haven’t checked out Graphic Culture, the comics section I edit for Fusion, please do. And follow us on Twitter and Facebook!



Special Preferences

Longtime readers might recognize this one, but it’s the first time it has appeared anywhere in color (and possibly on the internet at all). Still, it bears repeating every decade or so. I’ve been hard at work on an enormous special comic that I’ll be posting a link to here tomorrow.



“Right to be a jerk” states

For years, I’ve been meaning to do a cartoon on the ridiculous phrase that is “right to work.” Unfortunately, Scott Walker has given me an opportunity.

“Right to work” is a classic example of linguistic framing by market fundamentalists. Every time we use it, we invoke their agenda. Personally, I’ll take the “right to work for more than peanuts through collective bargaining.” Let’s call “right to work” what it really is: an attack on the right to unionize.



Punditspew: ISIS edition

The right-wing media has been having a field day over a State Department spokeswoman’s suggestion that merely killing ISIS isn’t going to solve the problem — that we also need to look at underlying causes of why some are drawn to terrorism. She was clearly suggesting that having decent jobs might prevent people from becoming terrorists. You can agree or disagree with this point, but it is dishonest and patently absurd to say that she is advocating jobs for violent jihadis.



Cartoon: If we treated our homes like we do the earth



The Screen

Who says the world isn’t flat? Sometimes I do miss the third dimension, though, with all those smells and tactile sensations.



Digital Doctor Deniers: The truth about so-called “webcam abortions”

The Arkansas House just passed a measure banning the safe practice of doctors interacting remotely with women taking RU-486. Similar uses of technology in the field of telemedicine have been around, and largely unquestioned, for decades. But in recent years, Republican lawmakers have suddenly expressed a curious concern for women’s safety when it comes to this particular usage. Pre-emptive bans are being passed in states where the technology has not even been used yet in conjunction with RU-486. It’s almost as if there’s something else going on here…



Useful Tips from Senator Joni Ernst

Freshman Senator Joni Ernst’s rebuttal to Obama’s State of the Union address provided me with some much-needed comic relief after the turbulent news of the past few weeks. Of course, it’s only funny until she starts doing the things she talked about.

While Googling images of a Hardee’s biscuit line, I realized that the restaurant chain has trademarked the phrase “made from scratch” with regard to said biscuits. They are Made from Scratch™. Now, I’m sure they are fine biscuits, but generally speaking, most things made from scratch don’t involve a federally-registered trademark saying so.

Hope you enjoyed the Hand-Drawn™ cartoon.



In the Minority

I spent a lot of time last week reading Muslim cartoonists’ responses to Charlie Hebdo, as well as interviewing some myself. Many hold complex views like the one in the fifth panel of this cartoon. All support free speech and deplore the attacks, despite having varied opinions on Charlie. Many operate under threats themselves. Some mention cartoonist Naji al-Ali, who was assassinated in London in 1987. Most Westerners don’t even know about this.

I haven’t seen any cartoons yet from the perspective of a French Muslim immigrant wrestling with these difficulties. One Charlie cover, in reference to killings of Muslims in Egypt during the 2013 coup d’etat, showed a Muslim man holding a Koran, both being sprayed with bullets under the caption “The Koran is shit.” Were this a Jew holding the Talmud, we would rightly recognize that as anti-Semitic. To say such a cartoon in this context is only about religious cosmology is a narrow, literalist interpretation worthy of our current Supreme Court. Religion and identity are hopelessly intertwined here, amidst a backdrop of history that hasn’t always been pretty.

I’ve seen a number of statements to the effect that we cannot — must not — talk about the Charlie Hebdo cartoons because that would be tantamount to blaming the victims. To be clear, I disagree with the Pope’s oddly-pugnacious phrasing that if one mocks religion, one can expect a punch. That’s a very unsettling way of putting it that excuses violent behavior. I do, however, agree with many Muslim cartoonists that we can blame the terrorists AND exercise our freedom of expression to talk about the cartoons. We can hold these two thoughts in our head. They are not mutually exclusive.




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Jen Sorensen is a nationally-syndicated political cartoonist whose work has appeared in The Progressive, The Nation, Daily Kos, Austin Chronicle, NPR, Ms., Politico, and many other publications. The recipient of the 2014 Herblock Prize and a 2013 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, she tweets at @JenSorensen.

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