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Feminism is not a dirty word

Janelle Assellin on Wonder Woman and the new team writing and drawing her.

DC has a Wonder Woman problem. Or perhaps more accurately, Wonder Woman has a DC problem. The idea of Wonder Woman as a feminist icon is so imprinted in her history, and in analysis of the character, that separating her from feminism should be near impossible. But that hasn’t stopped people trying.

Much has been written over the years about the ebb and flow of feminism in the Wonder Woman comics, the relative feminism of her appearances on the small screen, and her role as an icon for the movement. A recent interview with the new Wonder Woman creative team of Meredith Finch and David Finch has brought the topic back into focus.

Why do I suddenly find myself remembering Jaclynn Glen disavowing feminism while saying feminist things?

It’s great to see DC hiring a woman to write Wonder Woman, and it’s impossible to guess how she’ll do on the book until it begins in November. David Finch’s art has a bombastic Liefeldian pin-up quality to it that is a severe contrast to Chiang, who drew Wonder Woman as strong, realistic, and sexy — but not sexualized. The real problem, however, stems from this exchange from a CBR interview:

Is there a favorite part of the mythology you’re getting to play with in your first couple of issues or any part you’re really excited to touch on with this book?

Meredith: For me, it’s just being able to write Wonder Woman. She’s really a female icon from way back in the ’70s when females were stepping up and taking such powerful roles. Being able to take on that quintessential female superhero who represents so much for myself and for millions of people out there — especially at a time where comics are coming more into the mainstream — I feel like it’s really special, and that’s really where I’m coming from when I’m writing this. I want to always keep who she is and what I believe her core is central to what I’m doing.

David: And for my part, I’m excited to be drawing Meredith’s story and to be drawing such an icon. That’s something — since I’ve been at DC, it’s been an incredible privilege to be able to draw characters like Batman, and to the limited degree I’ve had, to draw Superman, and now to get into Wonder Woman. I think she’s a beautiful, strong character. Really, from where I come from, and we’ve talked about this a lot, we want to make sure it’s a book that treats her as a human being first and foremost, but is also respectful of the fact that she represents something more. We want her to be a strong — I don’t want to say feminist, but a strong character. Beautiful, but strong.

Feminism is not a dirty word.

I’ll say it again, because it comes up a lot. Feminism is not a dirty word. There has been a decades-long political and cultural effort to confuse and undermine the meaning of the word — and it’s a bad look for anyone associated with Wonder Woman to fall victim to it — but the word’s meaning nevertheless remains the same: women should enjoy social, political and economic rights and privileges equal to those of men.

Well sure but – don’t be a feminist about it.

Comments

  1. MissEla says

    I had Wonder Woman underoos as a little girl. Wonder Woman is AWESOME. I hope they do her comic justice! (/punned)

  2. says

    The Jacklyn Glen’s and David Finch’s of the world have some twisted idea of what feminism is (probably female superiority or male enslavement or some foolishness). They really ought to educate themselves on the subject before they reject it. Wonder Woman *is* a feminist icon.

  3. says

    Feminism is not a dirty word

    It’s not, but the underlying emotions and reactions are very similar and there are some women and even businesses that act like it out of convenience or ignorance.

    It’s not the only word with an objective existence, and an assumed existence because of culture. Lots of other words get similar reactions. Liberal, conservative, republican, democrat, feminist, communist, socialist, atheist…you can point out plenty more.

    What matters is the perceptual object (the word), and the mental connections radiating from it like a concept map for each person. What they experience of a word is what it is to them. When you encounter someone who uses the word feminism like you could substitute nazi, irrational, offensive monster and such you are not responding to just him, you are responding to their culture. It takes group effort to put that much unreality into the implicit meanings they attach to words like that.

    I can’t speak for everyone but when I see one of these people I keep a hypothesis in my head that they only know what they do of feminism from what their social group says and negative anecdotes. That is a weakness. A big chunk of their approach is based on this assumption and presentation that feminism is this big evil thing at worse, and people making a fuss about nothing at best. When I don’t have time or energy to tackle the issues of disagreement above that level I sometimes take the lazy approach and get them to defend their view of feminism as an entity, relentlessly (if they can distract from woman’s issues with their BS, I can keep pressing in my directions). If they can’t defend their views, as is their obligation, I keep trumpeting that I really have no reason to believe anything else they are going on about if they can’t even justify what they think of the social movement foundational to what they are hysterical about (yeah, I call the overly aggressive anti-feminists hysterical).
    The risk of using black and white characterizations that they need group level evidence or they are simply offering opinions and those are common and boring.

  4. says

    While most of the asshats I encounter like this are men, this is still not right.

    “…you are not responding to just him, you are responding to their culture.”
    should read
    “…you are not responding to just them, you are responding to their culture.”

  5. RJW says

    How does an Amazon, from an exclusively female society who also possesses super powers, qualify as a feminist icon, isn’t the essence of feminism equality with men?

  6. Ariaflame, BSc, BF, PhD says

    Well, it’s more to do with what happened when she left said society and encountered the USA society which was shall we say, not women friendly.

  7. psanity says

    Also, Wonder Woman doesn’t have super powers, as such. She has certain, sort of magic, objects she uses, and a great deal of physical prowess. (Similar to Batman, who also has no superpowers.) She was constantly frustrated with how self-effacing she had to be to maintain her secret identity as an American woman. And she was well before the main “wave” of second-wave feminism, too — I was reading and adoring her when I was six or seven years old, well before Marvel changed the comics scene with the Fantastic Four, so, late fifties?

  8. sonofrojblake says

    I’m seeing more and more of this. And just saying “feminism isn’t a dirty word” doesn’t make it true, and more than saying “cunt isn’t a dirty word”. If enough people think it is, it is, regardless of your personal opinion.

    The interesting thing is the current formulation seems to be “I’m about to do/say something sincere that is objectively feminist – i.e. it’s something that promotes the equality of women – but I want explicitly to distance myself from a number of people who promote that same thing”.

    People doing good things don’t want to be labelled “do-gooders”, because “do-gooder” is, like it or not, a dirty word. And, presumably thanks to the actions of a few, so is “feminist”. You can protest that it’s not if you like, but passages like the one quoted are the evidence that you’re wrong.

  9. Maureen Brian says

    That last paragraph, sonofrojblake! Are you really suggesting that all the negativity about feminism is down to the mis-steps of a handful of slightly batty women over a couple of centuries and has nothing whatsoever to do with a campaign of disinformation and hate speech, some of which is about genuine shifts in power – like when the serfs were freed – but most of which is folk-tales on a par with boogeymen?

    I think we’ll need a citation for that.

  10. sonofrojblake says

    Read that last paragraph again, Maureen Brian.

    Are you really suggesting that all the negativity about feminism is down to the mis-steps of a handful of slightly batty women…?

    All I said was “the actions of a few”. I didn’t say those few were “batty women” (sorry, not clear here whether when you say “batty” you mean mentally ill or homosexual, perhaps you can clarify).

    Oddly, by getting defensive about how it has come about, you seem to be conceding my point – that “feminist” is, in fact, a dirty word in the minds of many.

  11. says

    Hi sonofrojblake.

    No, the “dirtiness” of feminism is not because the actions of a few, but the sexist beliefs of the many. Pointing to a handful of (mostly straw-) feminists who held additional irrational viewpoints that were amplified by sexists as the example of how bad feminism is doesn’t work here. The problem is sexism, not some weird minority feminism, giving feminism a bad name.

    But we’re arguing around the point anyway. “Feminism is not a dirty word” is a(n) (over)simplification, and you’re running with that aspect. Feminism is not a dirty thing, it’s a positive humanism focused on the particular issues of women dealing with sexist culture. It is nothing like “cunt”, which is just a word with misogynistic baggage when used as an insult.

    As to the original article, “not trying to be feminist” is stupid thing to say whichever way you slice it. It’s stupid because there is nothing wrong with feminism. It’s also stupid because if you do have a problem of some kind with feminism, you are now drawing attention to the thing with which you don’t want to be associated. Derpers be derpin.

  12. latsot says

    “Crevice” is a dirty word. “Leak” is a positively filthy word. But “feminist” isn’t.

    But people do tend to treat it as though it is, don’t they? It’s about the fifth time this week I’ve seen someone apologise for seeming feminist.

    @psanity:

    I’m not sure where you get that from, Wonder Woman has all sorts of superpowers in pretty much every incarnation. Superman-like strength, random psychic powers, accelerated healing, super senses, the ability to run at half the speed of light and to fly.

  13. Maureen Brian says

    Which few are you talking about? If you are going to attribute either blame or credit for something to “a few” then you have to be prepared to say which individuals constitute that few and how they qualify – either for the accolade or the opprobrium. If you just leave a thought like that hanging in the air then you are not someone I can take seriously as a commentator.

    Between these two posts and while doing administrative chores I was listening to a radio programme. On it appeared Baroness Williams talking about how her late mother Vera Brittain has just been honoured by the city of Hamburg, Hillary Clinton in a wide-ranging interview and Billie Jean King about her tennis match with someone called Bobby Riggs who seems to have been a bit of an arsehole – all conducted by Jenni Murray, the doyenne of speech radio. So there they are, feminists* to a woman. Should they be on your list?

    As for “still a dirty word” let me offer you a parallel. As we have had confirmed in the past few days, some people regard contraception as a dirty word, to use your phrase. Curiously there seems to be an almost 1:1 correlation between those who think that way and those who have almost no knowledge of the workings of the human reproductive system. Should we draw a conclusion from that?

    And with “batty” I use it in the English colloquial sense of a person somewhat odd in manner or appearance but basically harmless because insignificant. It can be a term of affection, as it is with one of the key characters in a long-running soap opera set just across the motorway from where I sit – Norah Batty in Last of the Summer Wine.

    * feminists – I use that word here in the only sense in which I ever use it, to mean that I long ago came to the conclusion, not original, that women are fully human and that our social and political arrangements should be adjusted to recognise that fact.

    The mere fact that I or any other person makes a political mis-step or gets snappy at explaining this to the grandsons of the people I first had the discussion with does not in any way undermine the basic premise.

    I am human, I live in a democracy, I get to say what I wish. Live with it!

  14. sonofrojblake says

    Which few are you talking about?

    You seem fixated on identifying whose fault the situation is. You seem to be missing the point that it doesn’t matter whose fault it is. Once you accept that it’s a fact – and you do accept that, clearly – the only question worth expending any energy on is what to do about it. Insisting on pointing the finger at someone and saying “it’s not our fault, it’s their fault” makes you come across rather badly. Batty, or worse.

    some people regard contraception as a dirty word

    I think we’ll need a citation for that.

    I’ll readily admit some people regard contraception as a dirty practice. But a dirty word?

    And this is very much NOT analagous here. What we have with feminism is people doing and saying feminist things and promoting feminist ideals, but desperately trying to avoid the stigmatising label “feminist”. With contraception, by contrast, you have people trying to stamp out the very practice, and everyone on both sides of the debate being happy to call a spade a spade. In fact if anything those opposing abortion seem perfectly comfortable deploying some very dirty words indeed in the course of their arguments.

    “feminist” isn’t [a dirty word]. But people do tend to treat it as though it is, don’t they?

    Well yes… and that, all on its own, makes it one. That’s how language works. You might just as well say “entrepreneur” isn’t an English word, and on one level you’d be right. But if enough people agree that it is, then hey, it is, and only a blinkered reactionary pedant would insist, in the teeth of the evidence, that it was not.

    It’s about the fifth time this week I’ve seen someone apologise for seeming feminist.

    And yet, in the teeth of the evidence, some are still saying it’s not become a dirty word.

    Stop denying it’s happening and start working out what to DO about it.

  15. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    sonofrojblake @ 14

    You seem fixated on identifying whose fault the situation is.

    You brought it up, yo. People are just trying to get you to follow your own reasoning through.

    You seem to be missing the point that it doesn’t matter whose fault it is.

    Orly? Is that why you said this:

    And, presumably thanks to the actions of a few, so is “feminist”.

    Instead of simply “and so is ‘feminist'”?

    Once you accept that it’s a fact – and you do accept that, clearly – the only question worth expending any energy on is what to do about it.

    And how do you propose to do that without first establishing the source of the problem?

    Insisting on pointing the finger at someone and saying “it’s not our fault, it’s their fault” makes you come across rather badly.

    Why is that?

  16. Maureen Brian says

    As far as I can see the only fault here is the people who seek to discredit feminism and one of whose techniques is to try to slap women down. There is no more fault with feminism than there is with any other human endeavour.

    I ask you for just one name or political action or piece of writing or loss of cool in an argument and what do I get? Arm-waving bullshit, that’s what.

    I give you one more chance. Tell me of one event or person of which you have knowledge that would tend to undermine the whole concept of feminism. Put up or shut up, in other words.

    And, in a moment of unwarranted benevolence so that you don’t make a complete fool of yourself, you are talking to the 72 year old retired chair of a political think tank. The style of argummentation with which you’d bat away an irritating child just doesn’t work with me, somehow

  17. says

    I’ll readily admit some people regard contraception as a dirty practice. But a dirty word?

    Err, I’m pretty sure neither Ophelia nor anyone else means that “feminism” is literally one of the “dirty words” or “swear words” that cause your speech to get bleeped out when on national television. So this is sort of an odd statement. In reality, when people try to distance themselves from feminism it’s not because they think saying “feminist” is like saying “motherfucker.” It’s because they think that feminism, like contraception, is a dirty practice. So I’m not sure what you’re on about here, or how or why you’re drawing a distinction between “feminism is a dirty word” and “contraception is a dirty word.”

  18. sonofrojblake says

    @Seven of Mine:

    how do you propose to do that?

    I haven’t proposed a method. Endlessly fixating on who’s to blame while simultaneously denying the issue even exists seems less than constructive, however.

    @Maureen Brian:

    I give you one more chance.

    Gosh. How magnanimous of you. I hope I live up to your expectations, I really do. Your personal opinion of me is everything to me, especially now that you’ve fel the need to share with us how old and important you are/were. And so on.

    Tell me of one event or person of which you have knowledge that would tend to undermine the whole concept of feminism.

    No such event or person exists. Indeed, I would dispute that any such event or person could exist even in principle. Next question.

    @SallyStrange:

    We both know I didn’t mean a “dirty word” in that sense. I let the disingenuousness slide if you’d acknowledge what follows:

    I’m not sure what you’re on about here, or how or why you’re drawing a distinction between “feminism is a dirty word” and “contraception is a dirty word.”

    Consider someone who is broadly in favour of family planning. They are pro-choice, think contraceptives should be freely available, and promote comprehensive sex education. Can you think of any example, in any media, of such a person espousing those views, but EXPLICITLY disassociating themselves from any particular word related to that opinion? I can’t. You just never hear someone say “I don’t want to come across as pro-choice or anything, but abortions should be legal and available.” You never hear someone apologising for seeming to endorse contraception.

    And yet latsot in post 12 mentions noticing someone apologising for coming across as feminist five times this week.

    The point is not that people who oppose feminism consider a dirty word or practice. That shouldn’t surprise or concern anyone.

    The point is that people who are demonstrably feminists are explicitly rejecting the label, even as they espouse feminist ideas. That’s what is meant by “it’s a dirty word” – it’s a label people are rejecting because of what they consider its toxic associations. As to what those associations are – you’d have to ask them.

  19. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    sonofrojblake @ 18

    I haven’t proposed a method. Endlessly fixating on who’s to blame while simultaneously denying the issue even exists seems less than constructive, however.

    1) I know you haven’t. That’s why I asked you to. See how that works?
    2) I didn’t deny there is a problem.
    3) Nobody has denied the issue exists. Clearly people think of feminism as a dirty word, and feel the need to disavow association with the movement. That’s kind of what this post is about.
    4) Again, how does one fix a problem without first determining the source of the problem?
    5) Leaving out bits of a quote that change its meaning is sort of #1 on the list of things you don’t do when you quote people. Especially when you can’t even be bothered to use an ellipses to <show you’re doing it.

  20. sonofrojblake says

    Further: @Maureen Brian:

    Your challenge was:

    Tell me of one event or person of which you have knowledge that would tend to undermine the whole concept of feminism.

    I trust I’ve adequately answered that.

    I wonder why you required an example that would tend to undermine the whole concept, when that’s not what’s being discussed. What’s at issue here is not the undermining of feminism. What’s at issue is the feeling among people who by reasonable definitions are feminists that they do not wish to so identify themselves.

    Can you, perhaps, think of an event or person associated with feminism, that would tend to make reasonable feminists dissociate themselves from the word?

    It’s fine if you can’t. But other people – other feminists – can. And have. And if you’d like to know what those events or persons are, you’ll need to ask them, directly, and then listen to the answer.

    Me, I don’t mind identifying as feminist. But then I don’t mind identifying as atheist, either, and that’s another label quite a few people have a problem with.

  21. says

    @ sonofrojblake 8

    People doing good things don’t want to be labelled “do-gooders”, because “do-gooder” is, like it or not, a dirty word. And, presumably thanks to the actions of a few, so is “feminist”. You can protest that it’s not if you like, but passages like the one quoted are the evidence that you’re wrong.

    Sorry to pile on, but this is only part of the equation. I never see social problems like this with simple causes because often there are many complimentary assumptions and behaviors that work to reinforce social behavior. Sure there are going to be be some badly behaved feminists, but in my experience most people that go on about feminists with disdain and outrage are using the bad examples to reinforce a prejudice. The safer assumption is that you can find bad examples in every group as a rule, so it’s a convenient bit of fallacious reasoning that people already politically opposed to something grab on to and you can find it in every group that acts like the name of another social group is some sort of bad word.

    Most of this push back is of the same flavor as Rush Limbaugh and his “feminazi” fantasy. They are people opposed to changing the old social structures because they benefit or want to benefit like others do, or they are convinced they have to keep old structures in place because of religious reasons, or they are pissed at some women in their life (wrongly or not) and choose to believe that all women are bad in some way so they see feminist values as a threat, or they see themselves as fighting for men’s issues but view it as a zero sum game and choose to attack efforts in women’s rights. They use pre-existing male-dominated social arenas as echo chambers (social, religious…) and hyperstimulate on each others pretend versions of feminism. It’s the same reason atheist, gay, transsexual and more get slander and vilification that does not match reality with it own set of cultural excuses. The simplest behavioral model is childhood rumor-mongering.

    Fault does matter. If you can understand the how, why, and who of this sort of bullshit you can better understand why it works and better look for a way to prevent or deal with it in the future. Social conflicts have histories of action and reaction that inform us of how we got to this point. It’s not possible to understand the shape of current social momentum without an idea of what set it in motion. We don’t have to go back to the stone age (though I’m of the opinion that unbiased evolutionary psychology will be invaluable when it arrives), but we do need to go back.

    I’ll readily admit some people regard contraception as a dirty practice. But a dirty word?

    The reactions are very similar. They often don’t want anyone talking about the concept because they find it disturbing so they act like the very name of the concept IS a dirty word. People objectify simple things, not complex ones. So the words for the concepts themselves become dirty words that let people opposed to the concepts to mentally lock everything down at the name itself. My very conservative parents certainly recoil at the very mention of some things and the reaction are very similar to hearing an F-bomb.

    Come to think about it the very existence of profanity might be a simple social game to maintain this sort of very useful behavior. Get the group of monkeys to react against the simple thing that represents the concept they don’t like.

  22. Maureen Brian says

    1. No, you haven’t answered my questions but don’t worry, I’m bored now.

    2. I’m puzzled that you are less interested in understanding why people who live by the basic tenets of feminism go to great lengths to distance themselves from the word than you are in spreading the black propaganda which may well be at the root of all this. You do that by repeating cliches as though they were fact – whther you intend to or not.

  23. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    That was one of the more condescending and obnoxious displays I’ve seen in a few days, sonofjrblake. You appear to believe Ophelia, Maureen, and other women are so hopelessly stupid they don’t realize the word has accrued taboo-disgust connotations. They know it. They’re *protesting* that. Saying “feminism isn’t a dirty word” is a positive act in service of reclaiming the word, of pushing back against the connotation.

    I know what you’re formulating in your head right this minute. You’re thinking of how to say, “Well that’s a useless endeavor because blah blah blah blah.” Don’t bother.

    You seem fixated on us simply accepting the cultural view of the word feminism. Why is that?

  24. says

    As a heads-up, I’ve seen sonorojblake do this again and again, JAQing off on threads regarding feminism. Garden-variety troll. Deploy pesticide, not arguments; trolls are immune to argument in the same way and for the same reason that D&D golems are immune to mind-affecting spells and effects.

  25. Crimson Clupeidae says

    I have to give the dudebros ‘credit’…they are akin to Faux Noise when it comes to getting people to think of positive things as dirty words. Liberal, progressive, and feminist are some of the more obvious ones.

  26. A. Noyd says

    CaitieCat (#25)

    As a heads-up, I’ve seen sonorojblake do this again and again, JAQing off on threads regarding feminism.

    He’s equally thickheaded where it comes to racism, too. He’s allergic to context and very sympathetic towards oppressors.

  27. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Ah yes, he does have a pattern. And he thinks we’re all so dim we can’t see it and we don’t understand his MO. Dick.

  28. Tessa says

    sonofrojblake

    I’m seeing more and more of this. And just saying “feminism isn’t a dirty word” doesn’t make it true, and more than saying “cunt isn’t a dirty word”. If enough people think it is, it is, regardless of your personal opinion.

    People doing good things don’t want to be labelled “do-gooders”, because “do-gooder” is, like it or not, a dirty word. And, presumably thanks to the actions of a few, so is “feminist”. You can protest that it’s not if you like, but passages like the one quoted are the evidence that you’re wrong.

    You seem fixated on identifying whose fault the situation is. You seem to be missing the point that it doesn’t matter whose fault it is. Once you accept that it’s a fact – and you do accept that, clearly – the only question worth expending any energy on is what to do about it. Insisting on pointing the finger at someone and saying “it’s not our fault, it’s their fault” makes you come across rather badly. Batty, or worse.

    First, you can’t assign blame, then get angry and evasive when people ask you to defend the blaming. And then to say assigning blame is a waste of time after already having assigned blame? Nice.

    Second, you’re spending a lot of energy telling us what not to expend energy on. I thought you believed the only thing worth expending energy on was what to do about it.

    Third, your framing of… pretty much all your points, especially the top one I quoted appears to be leading towards the “rebranding” idea. You’ve established your platform that people see feminism as a bad word, so by definition it IS a bad word. That’s just fact. So next step is, of course, we need to call ourselves something else. This seems logical if you cling relentlessly to the idea that the why doesn’t matter. No, that you shouldn’t even examine the why. Best course of action is to cut the name “feminism” loose. Cut our losses and call ourselves something else. (This suggestion is often “humanism” or something like that.) But the why does matter, or else you’re just fighting a symptom.

    I haven’t proposed a method. Endlessly fixating on who’s to blame while simultaneously denying the issue even exists seems less than constructive, however.

    Nobody denied the issue exists. Where did you even get that idea?

  29. sonofrojblake says

    @29: Gendered insults now OK? Duly noted.

    @21:

    you can find it in every group that acts like the name of another social group is some sort of bad word

    We aren’t talking about people from one social group acting like the name of another social group is bad word, i.e. it’s not dudebros acting like feminism is a bad word.

    What we’re talking about here is feminists acting like “feminism” is a bad word.

    My guess, for what it’s worth (and it’s worth what you’ve paid me for it) is that those who espouse a feminist viewpoint but explicitly reject the label “feminist” do so out of a desire to avoid confrontation, because if they self-identify as “feminist”, they believe that invites a much wider debate, one they’d rather not have right now if at all. Not everyone wants to fight the good fight, right now, right here, and I think it’s harsh to condemn them for that when they are in thought and deed on the right side.

    @30:

    Best course of action is to cut the name “feminism” loose. Cut our losses and call ourselves something else. (This suggestion is often “humanism” or something like that.)

    Hell no. Don’t agree with that. Can’t offer a best course of action, but a better one than that is supportively point out to people who say “I’m not a feminist but…” that hey, that thing they’re doing makes them a feminist and they shouldn’t be ashamed of it. It will inevitably be used as a term of abuse, just as is “liberal” (in the US at least), but history is on the right side. “Liberal” isn’t an insult in Europe. Neither is “godless”.

  30. says

    a better one than that is supportively point out to people who say “I’m not a feminist but…” that hey, that thing they’re doing makes them a feminist and they shouldn’t be ashamed of it.

    So…your ‘different’ response to the OP which you contemptuously dismissed as naive is…to do exactly what the OP said?

    Like I said. Asshole. You’re not arguing from any principles, you’re just wanking.

  31. says

    @ sonofrojblake 31

    We aren’t talking about people from one social group acting like the name of another social group is bad word, i.e. it’s not dudebros acting like feminism is a bad word.
    What we’re talking about here is feminists acting like “feminism” is a bad word.

    They are not feminists though. They might think, act, and other things that are consistent with feminism, but the fact that they don’t want to take the label matters. We can’t make someone take a label they don’t want. For example most of my politics is consistent with the Democratic party, but I won’t be a Democrat because of some major issues that I don’t think the party is handling well. Until they are handled I’ll stay in the unaffiliated camp and no one can make me do otherwise no matter how they might try to pin a label on me. Similarly forcing a label on someone else will just make them fight you on it. It’s better to fight the ones making the label look bad.

    We also can’t ignore the dudebros because they are part of the reason for why many won’t use the word, de facto feminists included. When it appears some dudebros go on the attack and that causes people to react and they do that differently. Some will do everything they can to avoid the word, some will use it and defend it, others will just pretend nothing is happening and ignore the controversy

    My guess, for what it’s worth (and it’s worth what you’ve paid me for it) is that those who espouse a feminist viewpoint but explicitly reject the label “feminist” do so out of a desire to avoid confrontation, because if they self-identify as “feminist”, they believe that invites a much wider debate, one they’d rather not have right now if at all. Not everyone wants to fight the good fight, right now, right here, and I think it’s harsh to condemn them for that when they are in thought and deed on the right side.

    I agree that many are avoiding that debate by avoiding the label and that they don’t want confrontation (or just that particular confrontation, Jaclyn Glenn is certainly confrontational). But I still get to condemn the ignorant things that they do say and believe. I’m not condemning them for not taking the label, I’m condemning them for the bad excuses and other illogic gymnastics that they play when they speak ignorantly about it and try to avoid it.

  32. yahweh says

    B&W thoughts run to insults as readily as the vicar’s daughter’s run to sex.

    The cartoonists’ reluctance to call their character feminist probably sprang from a fear of inviting comment from feminists who, let’s face it, are a broad* church whose members can be more vituperous towards each other than outsiders.

    Personally, I think it would be interesting if the character declared herself a feminist. That would ruffle feathers. But then again, some of the worst attacks would probably come from feminists, I’d expect.

    (* broad does not mean woman in UK English usage.)

  33. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    Feminist is a word that I think needs to be reclaimed just as liberal and progressive and a few others do.

    Those in opposition to the values of this trio of terms have tried to make all three terms of abuse when they are really terms of pride.

    I am proud to call myself a feminist – and, FWIW, I’m a man.

    I don’t think anyone should apologise for being feminist – those who need to apologise are those who are NOT feminist and this should be made clear to everyone on Earth. (Astronauts, cosmonauts and humans generally outside it too!)

    I agree with Ophelia Benson here.

    Incidentally, thinking female superhero’s I loved the old Birds of Prey series, Buffy and Xena too. Plus Cirocco Jones,and her partner Gaby in John Varley’s ‘Titan’ novel (& at least one sequel) as well.

  34. says

    Wonder woman is from an island only inhabited by females. If they want babies they would leave the isle to get pregnant, return to the island for pregnancy/delivery, and if the baby is male they trade it back to the outside world for weapons. I would call wonder woman a lesbian separatist, if anything. I’m sure a lot of people would call her a “terf”.

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