Dykes to Watch Out For

Bechdel, Alison. (1983-2008). Dykes to Watch Out For.       http://dykestowatchoutfor.com/dtwof

I vividly remember the first time I read a Dykes to Watch Out For strip. I was 10 years old and accompanying my sister while she looked at colleges. In Seattle, I was parked at a bookstore while she went to do her interview, and I discovered the lesbian section. I sat on the floor and laughed and laughed, even though I didn’t get all the jokes. But I was so thrilled to see sassy women talking about sex and not shaving their armpits that I blew all my allowance money on two of the books.

A cartoon panel showing a waitress giving a plate of pancakes to a seated woman. The waitress says "Here's yer pancakes! Anything else?" The customer is thinking "Can I please lick the maple syrup from your fingers?" as she says "Uh...no, thanks."

Today, I’m still enamored by Alison Bechdel’s hilarious posse of queers. Dykes to Watch Out For was a cultural institution and ahead of its time, and it’s still cutting edge today. The strip follows a close-knit group of friends as they struggle in working class jobs, date and explore relationships, have fights and make up, marry and have children, and battle the patriarchy. It’s like a time capsule of dyke culture and it skewers all the cultural quirks with witty dialog and expressive lines.

A comic panel showing a woman in a bookstore saying "Um...I'm looking for a copy of 'The Wheat-Free Guide to Creative Visualization in Co-Dependent Past-Life Relationships."

What I like the most about Dykes to Watch Out For is that Bechdel is not afraid to show dykes as complex, three-dimensional people with flaws. Over the years, the strip has tackled trans-exclusive radical feminism, ableism, racism, and other bigotry within queer culture. Furthermore, the group is very diverse, with people of color, people with disabilities, femmes and butches, people of all different shapes and sizes, and transgender and gender nonconforming people.

This comic is a must-read for lesbians and non-lesbians alike.

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About Charlie McNabb

Archivist, Folklorist, Librarian, Legend Tripper, and Queer Activist
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