The webcomics blog about webcomics

A New Perspective

Still ramping back up into what’s happening in webcomics these days. I expect it’ll be a while before I’m fully caught up.

Erika Moen & Matt Nolan’s Oh Joy, Sex Toy is very nearly always educational for me. I learn about things that people do in ways that I do not that sound awesome. I learn about things that people do or like that have no interest for me, but which makes me more empathetic — just ’cause I’m not into it, don’t mean it’s a bad thing is a lesson we can all stand to learn. But best of all (for me) are the sexual health lessons, because I almost always learn something useful.

Today, I learned something that in retrospective is blindingly obvious, but which had never been taught to me or occurred to me before. I happened to have a reasonably complete and comprehensive sex education experience when I was in high school — it was the mid 80s, AIDS was poorly understood, and at least my school district decided to respond with the best, most up to date information possible. None of this abstinence-only nonsense — here’s methods of birth control and STI prevention, here’s the odds they work as intended, here’s the ways you can mess up using them and cause bad outcomes. In retrospective, it was great.

There was also a really good anatomical component each year (starting back in fifth grade, as I recall), and one of my teachers being a breast cancer survivor, there was a no-bullshit discussion of self-exams with absolutely no snickering tolerated from the male portion of the class. This is how you catch things as early as possible; this is how you keep from dying was her message. But we never got the message that came near the end of today’s update, where Moen’s character delivers this exhortation:

So get familiar with your funbags (or where they used to be) and keep an eye out for anything that looks or feels unusual for them! [emphasis mine]

or where they used to be encompasses both survivors who’ve had mastectomies and those undergoing gender transition. Trans* issues wouldn’t have been taught to me back in the mid 80s because it just wasn’t a topic of discussion; the gradual increase in trans* visibility means that where they used to be is perfectly logical¹. It’s actually the concept of survivors and recurrence that caught me flat-footed. We were taught you lost your breasts to cancer and that was it; you might get other cancers in the future, but not breast cancer again.

It’s a sobering thought, delivered in an almost offhand manner. It’s made me think a lot. It’s a hell of an accomplishment for six words. And that’s why I love what Moen and Nolan are doing, week after week.

Spam of the day:

HURRY_UP! Online dating that is worth your time.

The partially-clothed young woman pictured in this spam has been Photoshopped to render her incapable of fitting her breasts into a mammogram scanner without the aid of industrial sedatives and a forklift. Reminding myself about the bit above re: just ’cause I’m not into it but jeeze. I’m surprised anybody thinks she can stand upright.

¹ In the notes below the strip, there’s also links and resources not only for assigned-male-at-birth transwomen, but also cisgender males. Fun fact, a small (but measurable) fraction of breast cancer cases are in cis-men, which often are not caught until disastrously late because they don’t do self-exams or get mammograms. Heck, most penis-havers can’t be bothered to do self-checks for testicular cancer, so they really aren’t checking their manly pecs for breast cancer. Once again, knowledge to the rescue.

RSS feed for comments on this post.