R. Crumb’s sexism, racism, antisemitism, and other -isms. 3

As immediately recognizable R. Crumb’s work is to me, I cannot say that I know much about him. Apparently, however, his various isms are well documented. I and many other bibliobloggers have been linked by J. K. Gayle at the blog “Aristotle’s Feminist Subject.”

bibliobloggers on Robert Crumb: few mentions of his sexism and racism

Bibliobloggers are talking up a storm about Robert Crumb’s comic book of Genesis.  But none of them has mentioned Crumb’s sexism or his rape portrayal or his antisemitism or his other racism.

Given my ignorance admitted above and the fact that I only just received the book today I had no reason to comment upon any of the various -isms listed by Gayle. As I read the book now, or more accurately view the images, I will take these things into consideration. It of course brings up the age old questions of authorial/artist intent and how much we should allow our (pre)conceptions of the author/artist influence our reading of their work.

So, until I have a chance to really study Crumb’s Book of Genesis, my verdict will just have to wait.


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3 thoughts on “R. Crumb’s sexism, racism, antisemitism, and other -isms.

  • John Hobbins

    Hi Chris,

    Here’s a link to a review of Crumb’s work by Paul Buhle in the Forward, a Jewish Daily.


    Buhle puts the charges of anti-Semitism and sexism against Crumb made by some into perspective. To judge from the company he keeps, Crumb is not anti-Semitic, nor is he a misogynist – far from it. If he is, he has managed to fool a lot of Jews and a lot of feminists. But Crumb doesn’t have a politically correct bone in his body.

    • J. K. Gayle

      Thanks for the link back – You’re getting us thinking about “intent” and “reading” more!

      John Hobbins is reading Buhle who is reading Crumb in order to better “judge from the company he keeps” and to conclude rather definitively that “Crumb is not anti-Semitic, nor is he a misogynist – far from it.” Crumb has kept company with women, and Jewish women at that; his first wife is a Jew and a woman, and so is Crumb’s second wife.

      So does Crumb intend to love women as equal to men? Would Buhle or his wives deny that his art is often “violently misogynistic, as he graphically poured what were essentially his masturbatory fantasies onto the printed page. Women were raped, dismembered, mutilated, and murdered, sometimes all at once.” http://www.popmatters.com/pm/feature/no-girls-allowed-crumb-and-the-comix-counterculture In the documentary “Crumb,” he says, “I do this stuff, and then I’m horrified and embarrassed when I see it on the paper, and I say, ‘Oh, my God,’ but somehow I can’t stop doing it. I have this hostility toward women.” Would Crumb’s wives or Buhle deny what Crumb says about his intentions against women?

      So does Crumb intend to love Jews? Would Buhle or his wives deny that he laughs at the self-loathing of Kafka, a Jew? In Jewish Art in America: an Introduction Matthew Baigell notes how Crumb uses his book R. Crumb’s Kafka to explore “Kafka’s difficult relationships with women, his father, his self-hatred as a Jew, and the anti-Semiticism he faced … In fact, Crumb quotes Kafka’s famous diary entry … ‘What have I in common with Jews? I don’t even have anything in common with myself [and should stand very quietly in a corner, content that I can breathe].’ Crumb explains that assimilated Jews turned anti-Semiticism inward against themselves ‘which [Crumb says], in its humorous self-deprecation is exactly what [Kafka] had in common with the Jews.'” (pages 161-62)