Early last month, cat-and-dog duo Mooch and Earl celebrated the arrival of spring while chatting with some of nature’s most skilled pollinators — bees!

One of the strips within this week-long series caught the attention of actress Geena Davis, known for her roles in films such as Thelma & Louise and Beetlejuice, as well as for her advocacy for women in media.

Ms. Davis, who in 2004 launched the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, sent us a kind and insightful note to point out an error in the MUTTS strip that ran on Thursday, May 2. The original comic strip and Geena’s insightful letter are below.

Can you spot the blunder?


The Letter from Geena:

Hi there! This is Geena Davis. Let me start by saying I am a gargantuan fan of MUTTS and Patrick McDonnell! I have to see it every day.

I have had a research institute for a dozen years now that looks at how female characters are portrayed in media made for little kids. It’s actually pretty appalling not only how female characters are presented to kids — mostly narrowly stereotyped and valued for their looks — but how FEW female characters there are! I believe we are training kids to see women and girls as less valuable by not showing them taking up half the space and doing half of the important things.

So I notice everything, even tiny instances where we could do a teeny tiny bit better. I noticed in the strip today (very funny) they were talking to a bumbling bumble bee. I would like to point out to Mr. McDonnell that worker bees are ALL female; pretty much any bee you see out and about is female. Also, only female bees have stingers. Therefore, the bee in the strip today is definitely female, though it is referred to as male.

This is such a tiny point, as I said, but it’s useful to illustrate how easily we default to male. I was once in a park with my twin boys when they were young. I saw a cute squirrel, and thought about how we usually refer to all animals and bugs as “he.” So I said, “Look at the squirrel, she’s so cute!” Both boys swung around, alarmed, and said, “How do you know it’s a GIRL?!?”

We all constantly default to male simply because we were all raised to have unconscious bias. No matter how enlightened we think we are, it’s very hard to root it out unless you pay very strict attention. Nothing to feel bad about — it’s unconscious!


Patrick and our team are so thankful for Geena’s letter and for her organization’s work in helping to create a world in which women are represented equally on screen — and in print!

A new version of the May 2 comic strip is below. (This corrected image will appear in our MUTTS Shop as well as in the next annual MUTTS Treasury book.)  And we’re pretty sure that those bees will be buzzing around MUTTS again soon.

Female Worker Bee Comic Strip

Thanks, Geena!



Comments (69)

I am so sick of these thin skinned , abortion loving Hollywood liberals telling me what I should think and what they believe is right and wrong. They have one job and one job only and that is to entertain me. Other than that shut the hell up !

michael edwards

Thanks for the update on that strip . It is quite a honor to be a long time member of Mutts fan base. I give your book as gifts to my family who are great animal lovers and enjoy them so much too. Great catch Geena.

Arlene Terry

Yes, of course, let us be very accurate in a comic strip because they are known for accuracies, such as dogs and cats philosophizing about life and carrying on conversations. Although the bit about that pink sock is soooo true.
Geena I understand where you think there is an issue but I think you are being a bit triggered on this one. I also think being gender neutral is not the answer, whether the mailman delivering my mail is male or female is not the issue (Why should we care? Why should we notice?) the issue is about respecting the person doing the job.


While it is true that in honeybees the bees foraging in flowers are workers, and therefore are all female, that is not true of bumblebees. In the early summer, the bumblebees that are foraging on flowers are female workers, collecting pollen and nectar. However, later in summer, the nest produces males (drones) and new queens; they will mate and the queens will establish new colonies the following spring (they hibernate underground). At this time of year, the males are feeding on nectar and the new queens on nectar and pollen. The males don’t have a nest to go back to, so they just hang out on the flowers – even sleeping on them. So, it depends on the time of year – since your strip was from May, those would be female workers if they are bumblebees. In August, they would more likely be drones. The populations of some species of bumblebees are declining in North America (one species has been listed as endangered – https://www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered/insects/rpbb/) so bringing attention to the importance of native pollinators in the environment is critical. Thanks!

Carla Hass

If Ms. Davis reads this, I just want to say how grateful I am for her work to benefit youth and women; I hope younger celebs take note of your example of contributing to causes outside their own skin. Great work! I also want to thank Mr. McDonnell and the Mutts staff for demonstrating how to graciously respond to criticism/correction. I saw the strips following this one w/ the bee explaining to Earl and Mooch how all worker bees were females. Something that could fuel an angry reaction instead was transformed into benefit to others. Good sign of Patrick’s practice fruition! (My all-time favorite strip is when Mooch does his meditation and his mantra is “YUMMM-SUUPP-AHHH!”) With love and appreciation for all of you, Linda Willow

Linda Willow

This is such an important point! Thank you for correcting the strip!

Doris Lin

Learned something new in that Bee series! Loved how you worked the correction in and carried it through a few more panels


I think much ado about nothing. I just love this comic strip period. Thank you Patrick !


Now you can perhaps, create an image of a clear-headed, focused female bee rather than a forgetful, less than organized one – or even a ‘bumbling’ boy bee sans stinger. After all, all pollinators have a heavy work load since some of their comrades are ailing.

Kat Grausso