Regular readers here know that I am a tremendous fan of Feministing, which has been on my blogroll since Broadsides was launched. Founded by Jessica Valenti, it's one of my top go-to sites for the snarkiest in feminist news and views. I would link to it more often but for the fact that ''feminist'' is not the only f-word it uses and The Star, a family paper, frowns on that sort of thing.
(BTW: On Monday, I was REALLY dying to post a YouTube video of an HBO special starring the late George Carlin ranting about how pro-lifers are anti-woman, but the late, great comedian dropped so many four-letter words that it was out of the question. I did put it on my Facebook page. If you want to see it, Google is your friend.)
Anyway, the prolific, talented and eggsy Valenti is in town tonight to promote her latest book, He's a Stud, She's a Slut, and 49 Other Double Standards Every Woman Should Know, and to join in a panel discussion with ''with local feminist superheroes Jessica Yee, Sarah Wolf, and Laurel Mitchell.'' It's all sponsored by the shameless Shameless magazine and in support of the Miss G_ Project for Equity in Education, ''a grassroots young feminist organization working to combat all forms of oppression in and through education, including sexism, homophobia, racism and classism.''
Here's a snip from my column about Valenti, printed in the paper today.
He's the boss, she's a bitch. He's independent, she's pathetic. He's childless, she's selfish. He's a Romeo, she's a stalker. He's angry, she's PMSing.
These are just some of the gender inequities in Jessica Valenti's new book, He's a Stud, She's a Slut and 49 Other Double Standards Every Woman Should Know.
Pay close attention to how men and women are commonly characterized – come on down, Hillary Clinton! – and you can't miss the so-ingrained-most-can't-even-hear-them-any-more slurs against women.
"After I wrote my first book (Full Frontal Feminism), I got a lot of amazing responses," says Valenti, 29, on the phone from her home in Queens, New York, where she lives, writes and edits the popular blog she founded four years ago, feministing.com.
"I saw what resonated most with women of all ages, the everyday inequities, the everyday slights that really affected them, that made them understand why feminism is so important, that make women go `Wow, that is sexism!'"
All these gung-ho third-wave feminists gladden the heart of an old second-waver like moi.
That's because, rather than run from the f-word while benefiting from the hard-won battles for equal rights, these women embrace it.
"I call it `I'm-not-a-feminist-but' syndrome," explains Valenti. "It's like `I'm not a feminist but I think it's terrible that we don't have equal pay yet. I'm not a feminist but I think that women should have access to birth control without having problems at their pharmacies.'
"The conservative movement and the backlash against feminism have been extremely successful and smart in labelling feminism with all these ridiculous stereotypes that really serve a specific and strategic purpose. If young women believe that feminism is for man-haters, is uncool, is ugly, then why would they ever want to identify with it?"
When I was Valenti's age, feminists were labelled bra-burning, hairy-legged beasts that could never catch a husband.
Some things never change.
"They have been pushing the same nonsense for so many years and we continue to fall for them," she agrees. "I tell readers they're trying to pull one over on you. They're hoping that you're going to fall for it."
Really, it's been --what? -- some 40 years since the second wave really took off in the late 60s and "they'' are still trying to keep women down.
Who are "they?'' Everybody from Republican presidential contender John McCain who has flip-flopped his position on women's reproductive rights to Canada's Conservatives who are trying to pass Bill C-484 which opens the door to our losing the right to choose here. ''They'' are the misogynist commentators who got away with sexist slurs on Hillary Clinton. ''They'' are the people who blame ''femi-nazis'' for the divorce rate, the pregnancy rate among teenagers (hello? take away access to contraception and what do you think will happen?), the crime rate and the declining birth rate. "They'' are the Church(es) who refuse to recognize what Jesus did, that women are equal to men. ''They'' are the right (religious or otherwise), the Islamists, the many patriarchal cultures, societies, religions and institutions threatened by women who are strong, independent, mobile, not chained to the bed, the nursery and the stove.
''They'' are also the corporations that rake in billions by making women feel fat, ugly and old, so that they spend their 70 cents on the male wage dollar on clothes and cosmetics they don't need so that they don't merely looked groomed or stylish, but so that they feel human.
As Valenti discussed, all those tanning parlours and nail salons sprouting up in your neighbourhood are just the latest manifestation of that.
So good on Valenti and her Feministing sisters who blog for fun but not for profit.
Long may they bitch.