"There is difference and there is power. And who holds the power decides the meaning of the difference." --June Jordan

Friday, April 27, 2007

Feminism Friday: Feminisms. Plural.

There are some great conversations going on around the blogosphere right now that are really making me think about what it means to be a feminist. It makes me happy when there are lulls between the times when we are forced to defend our choice to identify as feminists against an onslaught of ignorance and bigotry - lulls in which we can define and debate and sharpen and refine the different points of view within feminism.

I first saw this post by Lauredhel at Hoyden About Town, which prompted me to read the posts she was referencing: one by Jessica Valenti (author of Full Frontal Feminism) and a critique of Valenti from Infinite Thought. And then I saw that the discussion there made an impression on Sage as well, prompting her to write her own response at Persephone's Box. Lauredhel's post led to some excellent comments about the differences between radical feminism and so-called "sex-positive" feminism - a discussion that started scraping the surface of one of the most divisive issues among feminists.

So, the secret is out! There are differences among us. This is something we all wish the folks who like to lump us all together into one group called "the feminists" would realize. It would be completely impossible for a movement/ideology to have relevance to ALL women (of all ages, races, ethnicities, ages, religions, talents, careers, experiences, sexualities, gender expressions, and general ways of life) the way feminism does if it didn't allow for some subcategories here and there. Our differences are significant enough to allow or require millions of different qualifying labels to go in front of the word "feminist" when we self-identify. Radical, liberal, moderate, sex-positive, sex-radical, pro-positive, socialist, eco, lesbian, multicultural, cyber, pop, postmodern, separatist, spiritual, etc. The list could go on forever, and I love that feminists are so different.

What I've been really pondering isn't directly related to those posts I mentioned above, but they got me thinking nonetheless. I can totally get behind great discussions (like the one at Hoyden About Town) about who believes what and why. It's interesting (and somewhat troubling), though, that so many arguments and criticisms that go on within feminism don't seem to be so much about type, but about degree. What I mean is this: sometimes it almost sounds like people aren't arguing about different points of view, but over who should get to be considered more feminist or better at feminism. And I think that's dangerous.

Is feminism an elite organization to which women are denied membership unless we measure up to some standard? Do we need to have achieved a certain level of consciousness to claim the term? Are we required to immediately shed and reject any and all manifestations of patriarchy in our lives at the clubhouse door (no matter what the consequences) in order to be allowed in? If this were the case, would any of us really be able to live up to the lofty ideal of "feminist"?

It's true that many of the ideas within feminist discourse exist on a sort of sliding scale, from Full Frontal Feminism all the way to the S.C.U.M. Manifesto, but even the most radical feminist imaginable still has more common ground with a liberal feminist than an antifeminist. While it is important to make distinctions about our different beliefs and continue to have discourse, we should be wary of arguments that pit us against each other. Ever hear that old saying that we learn in spirals instead of straight lines? We all have something to learn from each other, no matter where on the scale we happen to fall.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A slippery slope, indeed.

Talk about your oxymorons. Enjoy these juicy tidbits from some seemingly contradictory organizations:

Republican Majority for Choice:
We support the protection of reproductive rights, including the full range of reproductive options. We believe that personal and medical decisions are best made between a woman, her doctor and her family and out of the hands of government. We are deeply concerned with direction of our Party if it continues to endorse a social agenda that is both intrusive and alienating. Our Party is naively discounting its mainstream members for those who represent the extreme right and believe it is their way or no way. These obstinate tactics will ensure one thing - the inevitable erosion of the Republican Party to minority status.

We are working with moderate and conservative members of Congress to promote measures that all Republicans can support, such as positive family planning initiatives, instead of pushing irresponsible laws that actually worsen our social problems. Republicans must demonstrate that they are compassionate problem-solvers, not finger-pointing naysayers.

Democrats for Life:
Democrats For Life of America applauds the Supreme Court for the landmark ruling that up held this ban. The decision closes the book on partial-birth abortions in America and finally puts this deplorable procedure in the history books where it belongs.

The Supreme Court's upholding of this ban is a step in the right direction; however, as indicated by these numbers, much still has to be done to protect the rights of the unborn. Democrats For Life of America renews its commitment to speak for those who can't speak for themselves. The more members we have, the louder our voice becomes. Join DFLA in our fight to ensure that women and their babies are protected!

Catholics for a Free Choice:
CFFC believes in and works toward the following principles:

*The right of individuals and couples to decide on when, whether and how they will form families;
*Women's and men's moral agency, which requires access to the full range of contraceptive choices, safe and legal abortion, pre- and post-natal care and adoption;
*Respect for and recognition of gay, lesbian, bi and
transgendered persons and relationships with all legal rights;
*Support and respect, including treatment, prevention and especially access to condoms, for people living with HIV/AIDS and those at risk;
*Freedom from all forms of intimate violence, including sexual abuse in the family, relationships and the church;
*Social and economic justice that ensures that no one is denied sexual or reproductive health services because they cannot afford them;
*Equality for and non-discrimination against women in government, civil society and all faith groups;
*Scientific and public policies that are determined by evidence-based research, democratic structures and the common good;
*The right of faith groups to participate in public policy formation and the responsibility of legislators to legislate without privileging sectarian religious beliefs.

Feminists for Life:
(excerpted from an Interview with author Frederica Mathewes-Green by FFLA President Rosemary Bottcher)

FMG: The single most important factor in how a woman feels about an unplanned pregnancy is the attitude of the baby's father. If he says, "I love you; I love our baby; I'll do anything to make this work," she is far less likely to choose abortion than if he declares, "I do not want this baby! You must have an abortion!"

RB: How can the former response be encouraged?

FMG: We can affirm and value the male instinct to protect his family. We can respect the man who exhibits character, strength and fidelity by accepting responsibility for the well-being of his mate and his children.

RB Uh-oh. Some feminists aren't going to like hearing talk about male and female instincts, or the need of women to be protected by men.

FMG: Feminist theory sometimes fails to describe reality. Biology has its own logic. Women have a primal bond with their children; were it not so, the human race could not survive. The fact is, human children are born very immature, and they require a great deal of care for a very long time before they are able to survive on their own. Most women want to provide this care, but they need the assistance of their mates, because it is an arduous task.

RB: So you think we need to be nicer to the guys?

FMG: Yes. Male-bashing was a lot of fun, but it's gotten out of hand. Our expectations of men with respect to relationships and responsibilities has plummeted to zero. Men have begun to believe it themselves. They feel powerless, useless and unwelcome. They are denied the pride and self-worth of being a good husband and father, of being noble!

RB: Are you suggesting that women marry the fathers of their children?

FMG: Yes! Children almost always fare better in a two-parent home. If we offer men a parental role that is urgently needed and respected, they may be moved to accept it.

I Heart Ann Telnaes Cartoons...

...and here's why.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Getting the Word Out

Maybe this will help:


As announced, this page will host the April 28, 2007 Take Back the Blog! Blogswarm in support of the rights of women to participate fully in all aspects of our society, including specifically online in the world of blogging but indeed everywhere and at all times, day and night, without fear of harassment, intimidation, sexual harassment, online stalking and slander, predation or violence of any sort. This page will be modified without notice during the next several weeks to accommodate the incoming structure and content for this Blogswarm.

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In the scheme of things, I'm brand new to the blogging community. I started this blog as a way to find and share resources, organize my always-developing thoughts and ideas on feminism and feminist issues, and to hopefully find some sort of community among feminists or other progressive proponents for social justice. In the short time that I've been doing this, I've been completely inspired by all of the amazing thinkers out there, offering up their views and voices on just about everything for public consumption. I love participating in comment threads that teach me new things about people and the word we live in. But I've also noticed some things that are troubling. Like marginalization and co-opting of racial and ethnic issues among privileged folks who masquerade as progressive (something everyone tries to make you think has been solved by the "enlightened" Third Wave of feminism). And the tendency for people's dissent to turn to harassment and intimidation.

This breaks my heart.

There is something very wrong when people need to fear for their safety just for speaking their minds. Especially when their harassers drape their threats in racist, sexist hate speech.

Unless I read it incorrectly, nowhere in this blogger's Comments Policy does it say, "feel free to reduce me to a stereotype or "use racial slurs and misogynistic comments to insult me and threaten me" or "attempt to silence me by asserting power over me" and "while you're at it, figure out my personal information and post it to allow others the chance to do harm to me and my family".

Reproductive Health Reality Check

After mentioning the "contraceptives cause abortions" myth in my last post, I thought I would try to include a little more information about it to make it even more clear how the "pro-life" movement is not only determined to criminalize surgical abortion, but birth control as well. (Practical medical information debunking this myth can be found here, at the Reproductive Health Reality Check website, and from about a million other reputable sources.)

Organizations devoted to sharing factual information about women's health either acknowledge this controversy and deny this ridiculous assertion, or they do not mention it at all and only state the facts, but a quick Google search on the issue will show just how widespread this myth is among churches and pro-life groups associated with the Christian Right. One of the first things that came up in my search was this article at www.catholic.net (The bold & all-capitalized statements are the ones I had to read about fifty times in order to make sure they were actually saying what I thought they were saying. Keep in mind that they aren't just talking about Mifeprex/RU-486, here. They're talking about birth control pills,EC/Plan B, and IUDs.):

by Charles M. Mangan

The Church’s longstanding battle against abortion is well-known. She unhesitatingly raises her voice to protest the unjust slaughter of the innocents. Millions of preborn children annually go to their premature deaths by way of abortion.

It is also recognized that the Church—the Bride of Christ—proclaims the inseparability of the life-giving (procreative) and the love-giving (unitive) dimensions of the marital act, thereby condemning contraception in all its forms.

Some theologians have asserted that the Church is in serious error by prohibiting contraception because, it is argued, abortion is the murder of innocent preborn life while contraception is “merely” preventing conception from occurring. And some pro-lifers argue that the Church should focus her attention wholly on stopping abortion and let contraception alone.

The Church steadfastly rejects this rationale for many reasons, two of which are especially apropos to this discussion: 1) contraception is intrinsically evil and must be unmasked as such, objections to the contrary notwithstanding; and, 2) consistent with the painstaking research of such notable Catholic proponents of Humanae Vitae as Mrs. Judie Brown, Father John Hardon, S.J., Mr. John Kippley, Dr. Steve Koob, Father Paul Marx, O.S.B., and Father Frank Pavone, specific so-called “contraceptives” are actually abortion-inducing (abortifacient) devices and drugs which destroy the preborn life already existing, not disallow the egg and sperm from uniting. It is this second reason which will now be explored.

In an excellent and timely piece of research, Dr. Bogomir M. Kuhar, Executive Director of Pharmacists for Life International (PLI), presents irrefutable evidence regarding the abortifacient quality of drugs and devices which are too often labeled as “contraceptives.” Infant Homicides Through Contraceptives, published by Eternal Life (P.O.Box 787, Bardstown, KY 40004-0787), persuasively demonstrates that the familiar “Pill,” RU-486, Depo-Provera, Norplant, and Intrauterine Device (I.U.D.) and the “emergency contraception” drug extinguish newly-conceived human life.

Sadly, most users of these abortifacient methods are never informed that these drugs and devices induce abortions. These persons believe—and are told by medical personnel—that they will be preventing conception, not ending the lives of their preborn children.

It is imperative that a crucial distinction be trumpeted far and wide. Surgical abortion is the common procedure whereby one goes to a hospital or clinic to snuff out the life of a preborn child. Recent figures indicate that there are between 1,300,00 and 1,400,000 surgical abortions annually in the United States.

Chemical abortion, on the other hand, is the taking of innocent preborn human life—as in surgical abortion—but by “silent” means of drugs and devices. The act of chemical abortion is usually not as “dramatic” as surgical abortion, but it is nevertheless just as real and deadly. An innocent preborn child made in the image of God is dead whether by surgical or chemical means.
This essential information must be quickly and clearly transmitted by bishops in their pastoral letters, priests in their homilies, catechists in their religious education classes, married couples in their instructions to engaged couples, etc. Furthermore, Catholic health care professionals must do all they can to pass this word along. CATHOLIC PHARMACISTS NEED TO BE COURAGEOUS IN CONFRONTING THIS EVIL AND REFUSE TO FULFILL PRESCRIPTIONS FOR THESE NOTORIOUS “HUMAN PESTICIDES.” If Catholic pharmacists along with Catholic physicians and nurses pledged to cease their complicity with chemical means of abortion, a new era would dawn signaling a fresh love and respect for innocent preborn human life.

Dr. Kuhar summarizes his study: “Clearly the present atmosphere surrounding the pharmacy profession does not bode well for preborn babies as the New Abortionists rush to make and market an increasing number and types of deadly chemicals and devices. Recent published data compiled by PLI analysts reveal that, conservatively, there are abut 9.6 to 14.3 million chemical, mechanical and surgical abortions yearly in the United States alone.” Hence, instead of saying that we have nearly 1.5 million abortions in our country every year, we should state instead that the number of abortions is between 10 and 15 million!

Is there anything that can be done to stop this bloodbath? Again, Dr. Kuhar: “A prescription for victory in this battle for the basic right to life must include much prayer, active education of the health professions and the public by pharmacists, proactive membership in groups like PLI, and local pro-life groups, as well as boycotting the products of those New Abortionists who insist on making chemicals and devices which kill our preborn brothers and sisters. The ordinary consumer, as well, must let the New Abortionists know they will not monetarily support the chemical and mechanical destruction of our nation’s most precious resource and its future, and then consumers must follow through and act accordingly, even if this means some minor inconveniences. Vote economically with your feet!”

Prayer and good work will make the difference. Join daily in praying the Plea to the Everliving God for the Preborn: “Lord God, our eternal Father, we come to Your Throne, full of awe and reverence at your saving power. Through our Savior and Brother Jesus Christ, we beg You to help us stop the widespread slaughter of preborn life in our land. May our love for our innocent brothers and sisters help us provide all human life with protection under our civil laws. We fervently pray that all surgical and chemical abortions and contraception will immediately cease in our beloved country, the United States of America. We know that through the intercession of Mary our Mother, Chosen Spouse of the Holy Spirit, and Saint Joseph, Chosen Spouse of Mary, our request will be granted. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.”

Friday, April 20, 2007

Femimism Friday: Dilation and Extraction of our Rights

What a week for women. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a ban on "partial birth abortion". They actually stood by legislation that makes it illegal for doctors to perform a medical procedure that is sometimes necessary to save a woman's life, bestowing more rights on fetuses with complete disregard for the women who are carrying them.

There has never been a more appropriate time for me to recommend this book:

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Every one of these "small victories" for the "pro-life" side is a step toward a scary future for our society. We can't expect too much from a country that makes such a clear statement about the value of women's health and lives. We're headed into a future in which there are no guaranteed rights to medical privacy, and even birth control is in danger of being completely taken away. (If that seems like a stretch, I assure you, it's not. Not only do ardent pro-lifers irrationally believe that most types of contraceptives are abortifacients, but Roe v. Wade was decided using the same "right to medical privacy" principle that was used to legalize birth control in the first place.) I joked in a comment over at Thinking Girl's blog that the right-wingers behind America's organized "pro-life" movement won't stop until zygotes are given social security numbers and we start celebrating fertilizationdays instead of birthdays, but I don't really feel much like laughing right now.

For more information and smart-blogger-insight into this decision, check out these links:

Thinking Girl: Feminism Friday: power in language, the abortion edition

Biting Giants: Justices Deliver Blow to Defenders of Choice and
A Woman Gets The Abortion Decision Right

Bitch Ph.D.: Supreme Court Declares Women Less Intelligent Than Legislators

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Margaret Cho reluctantly responded to the Virginia Tech shooting on her blog, commenting on white privilege in our society:
Our Humanity
"Whenever anything really bad happens around Korean people, that is when I would like to hide, go to Hawaii and eat spam sushi until it blows over. I don’t want to comment on it because I don't want to escalate the situation and I don't want to implicate myself in it. I don't want to 'come out' as Asian because therein lies a tremendous responsibility that I never volunteered for, that I don't have any real control over, and that is as mysterious to me as it is to someone who isn't Asian.

So here is the whole terrible mess of the shootings at Virginia Tech. I look at the shooter's expressionless face on the news and he looks so familiar, like he could be in my family. Just another one of us. But how can he be us when what he has done is so terrible? Here is where I can really envy white people because when white people do something that is inexplicably awful, so brutally and horribly wrong, nobody says – “do you think it is because he is white?” There are no headlines calling him the “White shooter." There is no mention of race because there is no thought in anyone's mind that his race had anything to do with his crime.

So much attention is focused on the Asian-ness of the shooter, how the Korean community is reacting to it, South Korea's careful condolences and cautiously expressed fear that it will somehow impact the South Korean population at large.

What is lost here is the grief. What is lost is the great, looming sadness that we should all feel over this. We lose our humanity to racism, time and time again.

I extend my deepest sympathies to all those who lost their loved ones, their children, their friends and family, in this unimaginable tragedy. I send them all the love I have in me, and I encourage everyone to do the same."

Friday, April 13, 2007

More Feminism Friday Fun

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(Cartoon by Pulitzer Prize winning editorial catroonist Ann Telnaes)

Feminism Friday: Not a period, but a comma.

I originally didn't really think I was going to add to the already overwhelming amount of talk out there about the controversial comments and susequent firing of radio personality Don Imus, but I found this article, and it seemed totally appropriate for this week's Feminism Friday. In it, CNN contriubutor Roland S. Martin argues that the incident is not only racist, but sexist, and that it is an indicator of entrenched sexism rather than an isolated incident. He says:

"Women all across this country have to play by a different standard. They often make less than men, even when doing the same job; are accused of being too tough when they are the boss; and are treated as sexual objects.

America, we have a problem with sexism. Don't try to make this whole matter about the ridiculous rants made by rappers. I deplore what's in a lot of their music and videos, but hip-hop is only 30 years old. So you mean to tell me that sexism in America only started in 1977?

Now is the time for this nation to undergo a direct examination of the depths of sexism. My media colleagues shouldn't go just for the easy target ­ rap lyrics. That is no doubt a logical next step, but sexism is so much deeper. It is embedded in our churches, synagogues, mosques, schools, Fortune 500 companies and in the political arena. We should target our resources to this issue and raise the consciousness of people, and expose the reality."
I know plenty of people say they are sick of hearing about it, but I think
Martin is right when he says, "Don Imus should not be the period. He can be the comma." Imus never should have said what he did, and it's true that he should have known better. But now that the damage is done, maybe some good can come from resulting conversations and realizations people may be having about just how prevalent sexism and racism are in our society. An argument I heard today from someone in the "enough already" camp was that he highly doubted that the media frenzy over this event would make a single bigot have an epiphany and change the way they think about oppressed groups. And that may be true. But I would argue that the news generated about this event is more likely to deepen the consciousness of average folks who go about their lives thinking that sexism and racism are no longer a problem, of whom there are probably plenty more than outright bigots.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

The Politics of Science

Can our knowledge of anything as humans really exist independently of socialization? Even when we define something "scientifically", is it possible to claim that we arrived at that knowledge without being influenced by our time, place, and cultural values? I'm not going to try to answer this question, but I am going to link to a fascinating description of how our perception of the beginning of human life has changed throughout history and the different ways in which it is being viewed today:

When Does Human Life Begin?

The site author, Scott F. Gilbert (author of the textbook Developmental Biology) has this to say about the question of when human life begins:
The "answer" is fluid, in that it has been changing throughout history, because any answer about when human life begins is deeply integrated with the beliefs, values and social constructs of the community or individual that drew the conclusion. Throughout history there have been several "answers" to the question of when human life begins, but the only consistency among the answers is that they are always changing as social contexts change, religious morals fluctuate, or new knowledge about the process of embryo development is obtained.
Gilbert's account of how human life has been viewed throughout history is really interesting, but if you scroll down, you can see where he describes the "Current Scientific Views of When Human Life Begins". I don't need to tell you that each of these views comes with its own political implications that influence the contemporary controversy over reproductive choice. Defining the point at which human life begins is inherently political, whether it is said to be at fertilization (the most widely held religious view), gastrulation/implantation in the uterus (the official position of the British government), first neural activity, the development of the nervous system (and therefore the ability to feel sensations like pain), or the development of working lungs (which allow a fetus to survive outside the womb).

For an even more detailed description of these different views, I recommend reading The Facts of Life: Science and the Abortion Controversy by Harold J. Morowitz and James Trefil. It will certainly make you think twice about accepting it as fact anytime someone asserts that life begins at conception. ("Conception", by the way, is an event that doctors have absolutely no way of determining that it has taken place. Pregnancy cannot be detected until the zygote implants in the uterus, and it is predicted that at least half of all zygotes abort naturally before they ever make it there. Scientists say fertilization may not even be an "event" at all, but a fluid process that lasts up to 22 hours.)

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Feminism Friday: A Litmus Test for Writing Female Characters

I love the idea and wanted to get in on the rapidly spreading movement to blog about feminist issues every Friday (which I first learned about from Thinking Girl and from Finally Feminism 101), and I've been dying to share and comment on the beautifully worded wisdom of Karen Healey, the author of the feminist blog, Girls Read Comics (And They're Pissed!). Karen gave a voice to every female who's ever been annoyed at the representation of female characters in anything (not just in comic books) when she wrote this post as a step-by-step guide for male comic book writers who wish to include female characters in their work. I totally recommend reading all of what she has to say, but I'm going to list her major points below (words in italics are Karen's):

When you're writing a female character, consider these things:

1) Is she the only female character in your magnum opus?

Seems simple enough, right? Don't make her the token female. Don't fall into the trap of the Smurfette Principle, or add a token April O'Neil just to balance out the masculinity of the Ninja Turtles.

Karen adds to this point:

Is her position within an ensemble cast "the girl"? As in, you have "geeky guy", "strong guy", "goofy guy" and "the girl"?

Having only one female within a group of characters sends the message that male is the norm, and that female is something else. Or that this particular female just happens to have what it takes to be included among the males, but that this is not typical. And this lone female character has the burden of representing all females - as if there is only one way to be female and many different ways to be male.

2) Does she talk to other women?

3) ... about something other than a man?

We womenfolk do have other interests and concerns, you know.

Karen's next point is probably my favorite:

4) What is she wearing?

Karen says:

Is it appropriate to the climate/society/personality/powers/financial circumstances/occupation of the wearer, or at least as appropriate as what the men around her are wearing? Is she wearing it for herself, or for her readers?


If you find yourself saying things like "But she just won't be as sexy in cargo pants," stop and ask yourself a) why you think your female lead character must be sexy and b) whether this is a character design imperative for your male characters (and why not?).

Understanding this argument is pivotal when it comes to realizing that all women are, at all times, living their lives under a "male gaze". In the vast majority of female representations, this seems to be the number one priority. No matter how strong, how independent, or how autonomous the female character is, to have value, she must still be beautiful. She must be attractive at all times. She does not get to be a hero or a protagonist if she does not have some sort of feminine desirability. She cannot be overweight. She cannot be older than mid-twenties. She cannot suffer from a disability that interferes with her desirability. She absolutely cannot be flat-chested. She cannot be taller than her male co-characters or more muscular, and she must be wearing considerably less clothing.

As an example, I had a discussion with a few friends recently who couldn't seem to understand why I have always been annoyed over the weird metal bikini Princess Leia wears in Return of the Jedi when she is being held captive by Jabba the Hut. While they saw no harm in it, I saw it as a pathetic attempt to sexualize a character that had no reason to be sexualized (aside from the mere fact that she was female, which is apparently always permissible and to be expected). That ridiculous outfit (which actress Carrie Fisher was forced to lose weight to wear) had nothing to do with the story, but was used to create a fantasy for a heterosexual male audience. And this is precisely why such a vast majority of female comic book characters are drawn (by male artists) with giant breasts complete with always-erect nipples (see Karen's Is it Cold in Here? Or is That Just Me?) and dressed in either barely-there or -super-tight clothing.

I could go on about that forever, but on to the next point:

5) Was she/is she going to be raped?

I could write a whole novel on this topic, but luckily, Susan Brownmiller already did that for us. Go read Against Our Will. Also pick up Inga Musico's Cunt: A Declaration of Independence and read what she has to say about how rape scenes occur in one out of every eight Hollywood pictures.

6) If she objects to sexism, make sure it's actually sexist.

I think a corollary to this argument should also be: If she responds to actual sexism, frame the situation so that she is able to be taken seriously. Does anyone else remember Jessie Spano from Saved by the Bell? Her constant frustration with sexism was basically used to either make her look uptight, or to give Slater an opportunity to make one of those oh-so-cute misogynist wisecracks. A few examples:

Jessie: Slater, haven't you heard of the Women's Movement?
Slater: Sure..."Put on something cute and MOVE it into the kitchen."

Jessie: Slater, since we're together, I think we should share the household chores.
Slater: Sure, you cook & I'll eat.

Jessie: You macho pig.
Slater: Oink oink, baby.

7) "I hit boys!" is not a strong feminist statement.

Karen uses a specific example to illustrate this point, but the general idea is that making a female character act like a male stereotype is not inherently feminist, and not necessarily a positive thing.

8) Are misogynistic situations presented uncritically?

Misogyny, like racism and homophobia, exists. There's no reason it can't make an appearance in your work, but it shouldn't be endorsed by it.

Beautifully put.

And finally:

9) If you're a man, consider getting a female feminist pre-reader.

Ding, ding! We have a winner!

If you're a guy, you have male privilege. This is not your fault. However, even if you're a feminist, your privilege may well be blinding you to parts of your work that might be offensive or dumb. (The link is mine. Not Karen's.)

It makes sense that what seems like common sense to us might be something that never even occurred to someone else, especially when that someone is male, and especially when that someone has been exposed to and mostly influenced by a body of work that represents a dearth of positive, realistic portrayals of women. This means that the compassionate male who seeks to write a real female character who is untainted by harmful stereotypes has an obligation to seek out some critical feedback on his work from someone with a feminist consciousness. Or to at least follow guidelines such as these.

I love Karen's post, because it lays it out so clearly. If this information was common knowledge in and better understood by heterosexual-male-comic-book-subculture (and in the media at large) we would no longer have to sigh, throw up our hands, and say we forgive them for knowing not what they do.