Hard on the heels of the cancellation of beloved children's author Dr. Seuss, a New York Times columnist is taking aim at Pepe le Pew.
The amorous animated skunk was featured in dozens of Warner Brothers cartoons. In a case of mistaken identity, he was always pursing a cat that looked like a skunk.
Times columnist Charles M. Blow claims the skunk "normalized rape culture."
"Some of the first cartoons I can remember included Pepé Le Pew, who normalized rape culture; Speedy Gonzales, whose friends helped popularize the corrosive stereotype of the drunk and lethargic Mexicans; and Mammy Two Shoes, a heavyset Black maid who spoke in a heavy accent," Blow wrote.
“As a child, I was led to believe that Blackness was inferior. And I was not alone. The Black society into which I was born was riddled with these beliefs,” he wrote. “It happened for children in the most inconspicuous of ways: It was relayed through toys and dolls, cartoons and children’s shows, fairy tales and children’s books.”
After blowback, Blow took to Twitter to say that right-wing blogs "are mad bc I said Pepe Le Pew added to rape culture. Let’s see. 1. He grabs/kisses a girl/stranger, repeatedly, w/o consent and against her will. 2. She struggles mightily to get away from him, but he won’t release her. 3. He locks a door to prevent her from escaping."
"This helped teach boys that 'no' didn’t really mean no, that it was a part of 'the game', the starting line of a power struggle. It taught overcoming a woman’s strenuous, even physical objections, was normal, adorable, funny. They didn’t even give the woman the ability to SPEAK," he wrote.
Blow later added: "Misogynists - just like racists and homophobes - will defend to the death their 'right' to exercise their harm, and to in fact excuse the harm as harmless."
It's not the first time Pepe Le Pew was targeted. In a Vocal Media piece published in 2018, writer Richard Wright wrote: "Anyone familiar with Pepe Le Pew from the Looney Tunes cartoon menagerie will get the same image in their head. A male skunk merrily bouncing towards a terrified female black cat who had the misfortune of somehow getting a white stripe painted along her back."
"Pepe Le Pew provided just one of many cues I received as a teen in the 80s that normalized rape culture and patriarchy," Wright wrote.