'Dilbert' cartoonist Scott Adams draws feminist outrage


Image Credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Images

A week after posting — and subsequently deleting — a blog post about “men’s rights,” Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams continues to be criticized for comparing society’s treatment of women to the coddling of children and mentally handicapped persons, while lamenting the unfair treatment of men. In his lengthy post (which you can read here), Adams writes:

“The reality is that women are treated differently by society for exactly the same reason that children and the mentally handicapped are treated differently. It’s just easier this way for everyone. You don’t argue with a four-year old about why he shouldn’t eat candy for dinner. You don’t punch a mentally handicapped guy even if he punches you first. And you don’t argue when a women tells you she’s only making 80 cents to your dollar. It’s the path of least resistance. You save your energy for more important battles.”

Adams took down his original post after people began to object, but he defended himself on the Feministe blog, which he claimed had distorted his meaning. “Is this an entire website dedicated to poor reading comprehension?” he wrote, before concluding. “You can see that the comments about the piece were little more than name-calling. When confronted with that sort of reaction, would it be wiser to treat the name-callers as you might treat respected professors with opinions worthy of consideration, or should you treat the name-callers as you would angry children, by not debating and not taking it personally? You’re angry, but I’ll bet every one of you agrees with me.”

On Sunday, in a post titled, “I’m a What?” Adams reinstated his original post as the backlash refused to subside. “I didn’t take down the piece just because I thought doing so would be funny, or because I wanted attention,” Adams blogged, expressing some delight in the furor he had ignited. “Those were bonuses. The main reason is that when a lot of drive-by readers saw the piece, and they didn’t know the context of this blog, it changed the message of the post to something unintended. As a writer, unintended messages are unbearable.”

Adams insists that his post was some sort of forensic exercise that his loyal readers — he presents them as some sort of über-rational Dilbert nation — understand, but he did eventually offer an apology. “To the best of my knowledge, no one who understood the original post and its context was offended by it. But to the women who were offended by their own or someone else’s interpretation of what I wrote, I apologize,” we wrote, before signing off. “Thank you for making my week so interesting.”

Are you buying this, PopWatchers? What do you make of his original post? I assumed he was half-joking throughout because — well, because a lot of it was straight-up cuckoo. Are you still a Dilbert fan?

Comments (117 total) Add your comment
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  • Laura

    Mansplaining at its finest.

    • Funback Joe

      I’ve never heard the term mansplaining. Can you womansplain it to me?

      • MG

        “Mansplaining” is a derogatory term for when a man tries to explain to a woman what is going on in her own head, as if he knew and she didn’t. It can also refer to any instance of men insulting women under the guise of an explanation. Hope that helps.

    • Tom

      Some people need to learn how to take a joke. Get a life you freaks.

      • dm

        What makes you think Adams comments are a “joke?” That’s an easy way out of a true defense for something.

    • Mr. Man

      Typical woman… blah blah blahing like someone actually cares about their opinion.

    • LOL

      That pie ain’t gonna bake itself!

  • amy

    As a working woman and mother to a mentally disabled child I am offended by his comments, but not surprised. His careless attitude shows how little he actually knows about the subject. Not that I would argue with him about it since I don’t argue with morons.

    • So…

      …would you say not arguing with morons is the path of least resistance?

    • Jay

      Yeah, Amy takes the same position as Adams here (the path of least resistance), then critcizes HIM for it.

      See what you did there…?

    • kgb

      Thank you Amy, for proving Adams correct.

    • K

      You guys know he said that it was MEN who take the past of least resistance, right? She’s not actually proving his point.

      • Maddy

        He said sometimes it’s best to pick your battles and that men were more likely to do it, not that women didn’t. Just saying.

      • evilpat

        he said society ,not men or women.
        reading comp fail.

    • Your Mom

      Sounds like someone should be making some sandwiches and polishing a helmet instead of posting on the internets…

      • EveryOtherDudeBroCommenting

        I try to resist the call, but this responsibility has been passed from manhole to manhole for generations.
        I must put her in her rightful place
        I’ll make a joke of it so she’ll surely see my superiority as a human being
        I have to
        make a kitchen joke
        That’ll show them

  • Louise

    I read the ENTIRE post, not just the blurb that was printed. While I disagree with him and found his argument flawed and glib, I didn’t find it offensive.

    • Kat

      I was pretty annoyed by his flippant treatment of men making more money than women for the same jobs. I understand the cognitive differences between the sexes playing a role in salary negotiation and so on…but the discrepancy is still too big.

  • Frank

    It was AN ANALOGY. And people have indeed proven that they are too stupid to understand an analogy.

    He is most certainly right about one thing. If a woman complains about her salary, and you point out that the situation regarding her salaray isn’t accurate, then you, the male, become somehow antifeminist. I work in an environment where the majority of my co-workers are women, and my salary is lower than many. When they complain about gender-based pay disparity, I couldn’t point out that they make more than me, or I would be pilloried. THAT is the point he’s trying to make.

    • Sammy

      That’s not the situation you don’t argue with a child because they are too imature to understand. You don’t hit a mentally handicapped person because they again do not understand their actions. A woman can understand arugments for pay schedules. That is why the analogy is not appropriate.

      • Kris

        I think the analogy was to compare the behavior of men in the two situations, rather than compare women with children/handicapped/whatever. He should have picked something different to make the analogy, although I don’t think it would have made any difference in the response it generated. Interestingly, the writing of the piece does exactly opposite of what he recommends his male readers do, and that is, basically, deal with it.

    • Brenda Barrett

      @Frank: Do you work at Wal-mart?

  • Cris

    Something tells me Dilbert won’t be straightening his tie any time soon …

  • Sammy

    He is such a weird person and a jerk. He calls women stupid and compares them to the mentally ill and children. Then when women are naturally offended by this he again calls them too stupid to understand his little joke. While never trying to give it context or explain it. On top of that the panders and talks down to the people who are complaining. What is wrong with him?

    • Kat

      To be fair, he wasn’t actually comparing women to the mentally ill or children. He was comparing men’s responses to each of those kinds of people. It was poorly done, however.

  • whit

    It’s just one person’s opinion. I don’t agree with all (any?) of it, but expressing an opinion is not wrong. It’s not his fault that some people are uncomfortable with what he sees to be the reality.

    • dm

      everyone is absolutely entitled to his/her opinion, just as everyone is entitled to agree or disagree with it.

  • casting couch

    LOL @ “mansplaining.” Pop lingo has been verbally emasculating the American male for a few years now: “metrosexual,” “bromance,” “manscaping,” now “mansplaining”? What’s the female equivalent to “mansplaining”? Oh right there isn’t one because women don’t have to explain sh**.

    Scott Adams’ only crime is that he actually wrote what people are actually thinking, another un-PC thought crime in Oprah-fied modern-day USA, where he have to tiptoe around fragile female egos.

    When men can decide to retire by marrying a rich guy or having a kid or both, when men can fail and move back home without being labeled losers, when women stop expecting a man to be on her financial level at the same time she’s taking what few jobs there are left, when women like Laura quit using reverse-sexist terms like “mansplaining,” I will support equal pay.

    A man’s goal is to get rich. A woman’s goal is to find a rich guy. See the difference? Until that changes, I support Scott Adams and his free speech rights.

    • whatevs

      You’ll support equal pay as long as the only sexist terms that exist are the ones aimed at women? You’re the perfect example of the kind of person Scott Adams is accusing women of being.

      • casting couch

        And you’re the perfect example of reading what you want to read, which is exactly why Scott Adams deleted his original blog post.

      • whatevs

        Judging by your other comments, it’s clear how insecure and unhappy you are. So have fun trying to belittle everyone else on here because it’s the only way you try to compensate for lacking in every other area of your life.

      • dm

        casting couch – I dismiss your comments entirely, as no reasonable person makes such ridiculous sweeping generalizations about an entire gender.

    • Ann

      You do understand how your last point is extremely offensive, right? “A man’s goal is to get rich. A woman’s goal is to find a rich guy.” Actually most women, including myself, are striving to succeed in the job market. Additionally, the choice of having children is often difficult for working women, who wish to both spend time with their child and continue to succeed in a career.

      • casting couch

        I’m offended daily by one thing or another, but as a man I have to take the knocks and keep it moving. Maybe you should do the same?

    • Stef

      “A man’s goal is to get rich. A woman’s goal is to find a rich guy.”

      You could not sound more ignorant if you tried. I know plenty of men and women who would beg to differ; in fact, I’m not sure I know ANYONE who would agree with you on that point. But hey, everyone’s entitled to their opinion, regardless of how stupid and antiquated it is!

      • casting couch

        LOL any check of a celeb/tabloid site is chock full of actor/athlete-chasing golddiggers who wouldn’t look twice at a guy if his paycheck wasn’t up to snuff. and those are only those we know about. Try again, Stef. LOL.

      • dm

        yeah, because celebrites represent such an accurate cross-section of the American public….

      • Stef

        @casting couch: There are at least two things wrong with your rebuttal. dm has made the first point for me so I won’t repeat it. Second point, do you actually know these “actor/athlete-chasing golddiggers” personally? Doubtful, in which case you shouldn’t be using them as a basis for your argument against ALL women — it makes it clear you don’t know what you’re talking about. Get a clue and get over yourself!

    • Sara

      I’m pretty sure men have made repeated references to the same idea – claiming women think differently, which causes a lot of misunderstandings between the genders. The most frequent representation of “womansplaining” I’ve seen men employ is rolling their eyes and making “yap yap yap” gestures with their hand.


      Perhaps what you need is a better marketing strategy.

    • Ashley

      Wow. What world do you live in? Since when can women “decide to retire” because they get married or have children? First of all, here on planet earth, in most households both mothers and fathers work. Second of all, when you’re married you make important decisions (such as staying home to raise children) together with your partner, not on your own. So if a couple decides that the woman is going to stay home to raise their children, that holds absolutely no bearing in your argument whatsoever. Also, if a person (male or female) fails at something and has to move back in with their parents, they aren’t considered a loser unless they don’t get back up to try again. And what is this about women expect men to be on the same financial level while they takie the few jobs left? I’m sorry, who the f— are you? I hate to break it to you sweetheart, but women wouldn’t be able to “take the last few jobs left” if they weren’t qualified. So maybe instead of whining like a 5 year old about it you should challenge yourself to better your skills. But why would someone like you have to do a thing like that? You’re a man so you deserve to have everything handed to you right? Wrong. It sounds to me buddy that you feel the way you do because you’re a middle aged man, still living with his parents, working dead end job after dead end job (if you even have one), and you can’t stand that not only are many women more intelligent than you, and many women have a better job than you, but no woman ever gives you the time of day because of what a loser you are.

    • servo

      wow. misogynistic much?

      • casting couch

        LOL @ any critique of female behavior no matter how benign, being “misogynistic.”

  • whatevs

    What’s there to understand? He’s obviously comparing women to 2 groups of people who don’t have the mental capacity to reason or be logical. I don’t see the similarity between eating candy for dinner and make 20% less than a man for the same job.

  • Rolo Tomasi

    Truth hurts

  • Brad

    How is it that you all know better then he does what he ment? At what point did he say something that wasn’t true? He didn’t tell you that women are worthless. He gave his reasoning for why he thought women were not treated equally. You are all just jealous that anybody cares what he says.

    • casting couch

      Brad, women a) Always know best and b) Must always have the last word. Know this and your relationships with women will be smooth. LOL.

      • Brenda Barrett

        I doubt a misogynist like you has many “relationships.” Paid encounters are more likely…

      • Sara

        We’re actually empowering you fellas by giving you the most important choices you make every day. Would you rather be right, or happy? Choose carefully!

      • Fingerlakes Dave

        I just “love” how Benda knows you CC, never having met you.
        Then defines you and comments on your relationships.

      • L

        Stop feeding the troll.

  • ChristineT

    I’ve been reading Dilbert since I was little and have always read any of Adams’ work with the self-aware, ironic edge the cartoons had. If I was reading this as an ten year old, I would have thought this was funny. Now, even with that ironic tone, it does just seem insensitive.

  • Eli

    This whole scandal: funnier than any Dilbert comic.

    This guy has always been a tool.

  • paisley

    i had forgotten all about Dilbert until this story….I suppose bad publicity really is better than no publicity at all, right?

  • Beth

    I read the entire post, and it does need to be read in context to better understand what he was saying, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t clear in his meaning. However, I don’t think it’s enough to get steamed over.

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