Crazy Little Thing Called Rape

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I generally like the writing at The Situationist blog a lot, but how can the clip of a “Pepe Le Pew” cartoon at the end of this post represent anything except extremely coercive, unwanted sexual contact? Pepe Le Pew cartoons aren’t even subtle. Rape isn’t funny, and it certainly isn’t “love.” From the official Looney Tunes site:

Pepé Le Pew has all the qualities of a great lover. He is a born romantic. His enthusiasm knows no bounds. His ego is as big as the Eiffel Tower. He showers les femmes with flowery come-ons, champagne, and gifts. He purrs. He coos. He cajoles… All in that entrancing French accent.

But like all great heroes, he has a flaw: his natural, er, “perfume.” That skunk stench has been known to make flowers wilt as he walks by. Buildings clear out the moment the amorous Pepé enters. Marble statues:which have survived hundreds of years of rain and wind:melt in his presence. But worst of all, that stench makes the ladies run away from Pepé in horror. Love may be blind, but its ability to smell is A-OK. But luckily for our olfactory-challenged lover, he has one other abiding quality, perhaps his best: He won’t take no for an answer.

Perhaps Pepé Le Pew would have less trouble with the lovely ladies if he stuck to his own species. Pepé has an unfortunate habit of falling not for skunks, but for discolored black cats with white stripes painted down their backs….

… In Past Perfumance, a movie director needs an “odorless skunk” for his picture. He needs it so desperately that the casting director paints a passing black cat. The result for our Romeo is the same: Pepé falls for the hapless cat. When Pepé strokes the fur of his love gently and tells her, “You are my peanut. I am your brittle,” his love runs away, slams a door, and bolts it shut. As usual, he thinks she is just playing hard to get. Hilariously, our star-struck lover never catches on that he’s chasing a mis-colored cat who’s running for dear life. …

There are episodes in which the cat actually tries to kill herself to avoid sex with Pepe. Those cartoons made me uneasy as a child, and now I find them truly sickening.

–Ann Bartow

UPDATE: Props to the folks at The Situationist for reacting to this with decency rather than defensiveness. If everyone was as open to re-thinking assumptions the world, and certainly the blogosphere, would be a better place.

Also, read this great post situating Pepe Le Pew in rape culture.

This entry was posted in Acts of Violence, Feminism and Culture, Sexism in the Media, Sociolinguistics. Bookmark the permalink.

0 Responses to Crazy Little Thing Called Rape

  1. Pingback: Crazy Little Thing Called Love « The Situationist

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  4. TheAnyKey says:

    So I take it you have also have a problem with Fifi la Fume from Tiny Toon Adventures, and the Kanker Sisters from Ed, Edd, and Eddy, assuming you watch those shows?

  5. stinger says:

    just a little thing…
    the cat who pepe want to make love with (her name is penelope pussycat) is in love with him. In many episodes she want to make love him too
    Relationship with Penelope Pussycat

    Pepe’s behavior is not entirely one-sided, as Penelope Pussycat has been shown to actually be attracted to Pepé, trying schemes in several cartoons to rid him of his odor so she can be with him.

    The Academy Award-winning 1949 short For Scent-imental Reasons ended with an accidentally painted (and now terrified) Pepé being romantically pursued by a madly smitten Penelope (who has been dunked in dirty water, giving her a ratty appearance). Penelope locks him up inside a perfume shop, hiding the key down her chest, and proceeds to turn the tables on the now imprisoned, and odorless, Pepé.

    In another short, Little Beau Pepé, Pepé, attempting to find the most arousing cologne with which to impress Penelope, sprays a combination of perfumes and colognes upon himself. This resulted in something close to a love-potion, leading Penelope to fall madly in love with Pepé in an explosion of hearts. Pepé is revealed to be extremely frightened of overly-affectionate women (“But Madame!”), much to his dismay, as Penelope quickly captures him and smothers him in more love than even he could imagine.

    And yet again, in Really Scent, Pepé removes his odor by locking himself in a deodorant plant so “Fabrette” (in this instance a black cat with an unfortunate birthmark) would no longer be afraid of him. However, Fabrette had decided to make her odor match her appearance and had locked herself in a Limburger cheese factory. Now more forceful and demanding, Fabrette quickly corners the terrified Pepé, who, after smelling her new stench, wants nothing more than to escape the amorous female cat. Unfortunately, she will not take “no” for an answer and proceeds to chase Pepé off into the distance, with no intention of letting him escape.

  6. Ann Bartow says:

    You seem to be under the mistaken impression the coerced sex is only objectionable only if a male is pressuring a female. All of the episodes you describe also seem to promote a rape culture by endorsing coercive acts and normalizing them as good clean fun.