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NYT Columnist: Cartoon Skunk Pepé Le Pew Perpetuates Rape Culture
Portrait of skunk in grass - stock photo
Jemini Joseph via Getty Images

Advocating the banishment of six Dr. Seuss books for apparent racial imagery, New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow also complained about a cartoon skunk named Pepé Le Pew for supposedly perpetuating rape culture.

“As a child, I was led to believe that Blackness was inferior. And I was not alone. The Black society into which I was born was riddled with these beliefs,” Blow wrote in a Times column published Wednesday. “It happened for children in the most inconspicuous of ways: It was relayed through toys and dolls, cartoons and children’s shows, fairy tales and children’s books.”

“Some of the first cartoons I can remember included Pepé Le Pew, who normalized rape culture,” the writer claimed.

The French romantic skunk forever looking for love became a popularized Warner Bros. Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies character in the mid-1900s. The lovable skunk was featured in numerous films, including the 1997 movie “Space Jam.”

After “right wing blogs” took notice of Blow’s critique, the Times writer doubled-down on his “rape culture” claim via Twitter.

“[Right wing] blogs are mad [because] I said Pepe Le Pew added to rape culture,” he wrote on Saturday. “Let’s see. 1. He grabs/kisses a girl/stranger, repeatedly, [without] consent and against her will. 2. She struggles mightily to get away from him, but he won’t release her 3. He locks a door to prevent her from escaping.”

“This helped teach boys that ‘no’ didn’t really mean no, that it was a part of ‘the game’, the starting line of a power struggle,” argued Blow. “It taught overcoming a woman’s strenuous, even physical objections, was normal, adorable, funny. They didn’t even give the woman the ability to SPEAK.”

Left-wing actress Allison Tolman took the criticism of the cartoon skunk a step further: Pepé is also transphobic, she argued.

“Listen, this is not a point I would have made on my own but since were talking about it: so Pepe Le Pew is promoting rape culture, but does anyone feel it’s vaguely transphobic as well? Stay with me here,” Tolman posted. “The cat is presenting (in her case accidentally) as something other than what she biologically classifies as. What would happen to her if Pepe found out he’s been making passes at a cat he thought was a skunk? Did we ever see him find out?”

Blow received support from left-leaning folks online, though he was also met with mockery.

“This is a great point. Studies* show that 87 percent of sex offenders named a cartoon skunk as their primary influence,” Daily Wire podcast host Matt Walsh mocked. “*These studies exist only in Charles Blow’s fevered imagination.”

“Viva la France you absolute lunatics,” posted popular law account @beyondreasdoubt. “[By the way] I’m assuming Charles Blow has come out against every rapper ever, right? Because if you think Pepe Le Pew is a problem, hoo boy go listen to the music I grew up on.”

“Even as a kid I thought the French-accented Pepé Le Pew was the butt of the joke – he thinks he’s suave & debonair & that women are lucky to catch his attention, but he’s a cringe loser & literally a skunk that the female cat runs from,” wrote conservative Jerry Dunleavy. “Pepé also hates it when roles get reversed.”

“Finding offense everywhere you look is just self-importance disguised as virtue,” podcast host Bridget Phetasy posted on Saturday.

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