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article imageWhy an Austrian male editorial cartoonist pretended to be a woman

By David Silverberg     Feb 8, 2011 in World
In Austria, the journalism community is buzzing over Rachel Gold. She draws editorial cartoons for the national Wiener Zeitung and Tiroler Tageszeitung newspapers. But Rachel isn’t real, but instead the creation of cartoonist Markus Szyzkowitz.
We might be used to female novelists trying to pass for men, such as the Bronte sisters, but this story reverses gender roles.
As MSNBC’s Cartoon Blog explains, “Rachel got a job, and a paycheck, as a cartoonist at the Wiener Zeitung, replacing Markus, who was forced to leave his editorial cartooning job under pressure from his editor, because his cartoons had offended a politician who would later become Austria’s chancellor.”
So why did Markus create her? Her cartoons tended to more left-leaning and biting than Markus feels he can get away with, and her gender also played a role: editors find female cartoonist to be a rare bunch, since male cartoonists seem to dominate the editorial pages. Their voices might be heard more in the niche industry.
Markus also told MSNBC Rachel might be a favourite because he made her to be Jewish. Austria’s harsh history might encourage executives to be open-minded to Jewish staffers, Markus believes.
When Markus/Rachel began working at Kronen Zeitung, he began arousing suspicion. His editor hired an off-duty policeman to tail him and eventually the gig was up. Markus was fired, and now works at Wiener Zeitung and Tiroler Tageszeitung.
MSNBC reports Rachel’s identity, although not a secret, “isn’t known outside of a small community of Austrian cartoonists and journalists. Readers have no idea that Rachel is actually Markus.”
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