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“Mission: Equality – starring Barbie”
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squire
Valinor


Mar 12 2009, 3:07am

Post #1 of 58 (364 views)
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“Mission: Equality – starring Barbie” Can't Post

As some here know, I completed my teaching degree last summer. My last project for my last course was to compose a graphic novel or story relevant to the course subject, “Women of the World.” I was quite happy with the result, but have not gotten much feedback besides my teacher’s positive reaction. It recently occurred to me that folks here might enjoy reading it. Some of you might even like to discuss some of the issues that it tries to cover.

Without any further commentary, because I’m interested in how it reads to people who have not been primed for it like my classmates were, I submit for your consideration Chapter 1 of “Mission: Equality.”

Cover
Page 1
Page 2
Page 3
Page 4

If after this you all would like to read the following seven chapters as a kind of discussion series, posted a few days apart, just speak up. If not, again say so and I will just appreciate any comments this gets.




squire online:
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entmaiden
Forum Admin / Moderator


Mar 12 2009, 3:58am

Post #2 of 58 (171 views)
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Brilliant! Bravo! [In reply to] Can't Post

I loved it. It would be interesting to have a discussion about the topics presented - maybe we can do a sticky post Wink

Each cloak was fastened about the neck with a brooch like a green leaf veined with silver.
`Are these magic cloaks?' asked Pippin, looking at them with wonder.
`I do not know what you mean by that,' answered the leader of the Elves.


NARF since 1974.
Balin Bows


Alcarcalime
Tol Eressea


Mar 12 2009, 7:02am

Post #3 of 58 (152 views)
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Very Good and very interesting! [In reply to] Can't Post

A discussion of this would be enlightening!

Movie Technical Discussion -- Index


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Mar 12 2009, 7:03am

Post #4 of 58 (225 views)
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"Barbie! Think of your image!" [In reply to] Can't Post

Who would you say is your major influence in the graphic novel tradition? Do you think your work is more like Watchmen or V for Vendetta?

Nice work! What country comes next?

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(This post was edited by N.E. Brigand on Mar 12 2009, 7:08am)


a.s.
Valinor


Mar 12 2009, 11:09am

Post #5 of 58 (149 views)
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"state ideology of class consciousness and equal opportunity", is it? [In reply to] Can't Post

Barbie! I hardly know ye.

Cool

VERY nice, so far, though disconcerting somehow when Barbie giggles in the midst of discussing social policy. Not the giggling that's disconcerting, you understand, but the discussion of social policy by the Great Blond One!!

***a.s. giggles***

Would like to see more!

a.s.

"an seileachan"

Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana


Call Her Emily


dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Mar 12 2009, 11:50am

Post #6 of 58 (140 views)
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*applause*! [In reply to] Can't Post

Reporter Barbie - who'd 'a' thunk! Whether there's discussion or not, I'd love to read the rest, this is excellent!

Now, be honest: was Milady responsible for influencing your choice of primary character for this work of (graphic) art?


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"I desired dragons with a profound desire"

"It struck me last night that you might write a fearfully good romantic drama, with as much of the 'supernatural' as you cared to introduce. Have you ever thought of it?"
-Geoffrey B. Smith, letter to JRR Tolkien, 1915


Kelvarhin
Half-elven


Mar 12 2009, 12:09pm

Post #7 of 58 (138 views)
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That's brilliant! [In reply to] Can't Post

Would love to see more, and join in a discussion.


Warning - over washing may cause colour to fade

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One book to rule them all
One book to find them
One book to bring them all
And in TORn bind them
In the land of TORnadoes...where the brilliant play


Aunt Dora Baggins
Half-elven


Mar 12 2009, 3:53pm

Post #8 of 58 (154 views)
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That's very femine, squire. [In reply to] Can't Post

I loved it! My simple mind is enchanted with Barbie interacting with live people as though she were one of them. "Guilty as charged" LOL! As someone who's been 'sleeping with the enemy' for three decades, I get annoyed with the ultra-feminists who in my opinion get in the way of the struggle for women's rights. One of them asked me once what percentage of my calculus class was women, and I honestly said I had no idea, because my mind doesn't divide people into categories that way.

And the statistics about Sweden were very interesting. I marched for the ERA back in--gosh, it must have been the early 1980s, because my son was in a stroller on that march. And here we are with no constitutional guarantees against gender discrimination all these years later. And yet your graphic story points out the difficulty of legislating social change.

I've actually always felt that I'm treated fairly and respectfully at work. The only place I really feel discriminated against is at the car repair shop; I feel like i have to send my husband to talk to them because I'll get ripped off.

Anyway, I would love to see the rest of this. Very interesting! And entertaining too.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"For DORA BAGGINS in memory of a LONG correspondence, with love from Bilbo; on a large wastebasket. Dora was Drogo's sister, and the eldest surviving female relative of Bilbo and Frodo; she was ninety-nine, and had written reams of good advice for more than half a century."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"A Chance Meeting at Rivendell" and other stories

leleni at hotmail dot com
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



(This post was edited by Aunt Dora Baggins on Mar 12 2009, 3:57pm)


Alassëa Eruvande
Valinor


Mar 12 2009, 4:19pm

Post #9 of 58 (131 views)
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Dividing people into categories [In reply to] Can't Post

That's what drives me crazy sometimes. For all the talk of wanting to be a color-blind, gender-blind, whatever-blind society, we are still forced to check a little box.

And the notion of "sleeping with the enemy"; well, I've always been taught to love my enemy. Tongue Laugh



And suddenly the Ainur saw afar off a light, as it were a cloud with a living heart of flame.



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Alassëa Eruvande
Valinor


Mar 12 2009, 4:27pm

Post #10 of 58 (93 views)
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I like it. More please! // [In reply to] Can't Post

 



And suddenly the Ainur saw afar off a light, as it were a cloud with a living heart of flame.



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squire
Valinor


Mar 12 2009, 11:17pm

Post #11 of 58 (155 views)
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Well, thank you all! [In reply to] Can't Post

Let me answer a few questions:
N.E. Brigand: Who would you say is your major influence in the graphic novel tradition? Do you think your work is more like Watchmen or V for Vendetta?
Neither, I’ve never read them. The primary artistic influence, if there is one, is non-fiction comics produced to promote or teach about some corporate or government enterprise. They are generally written very earnestly and unironically, and are drawn in a workmanlike manner by artists who didn’t make the Marvel farm teams.

“Mission: Equality” is pretty thoroughly researched and perfectly serious in its overall presentation. But by hiring Barbie as my star/spokesperson, I wanted to add a layer of irony and humor that is generally lacking in feminist scholarship and criticism. Partly this was because I wanted to have fun and amuse myself and others. But to put it more theoretically, as I considered how to present to a U.S. audience the status of feminism in a wide range of non-U.S. societies, I wanted to puncture the “essentialist” point of view at once. (Essentialism maintains that women, and their issues, are essentially the same all around the world). Barbie herself, as an American anti-feminist feminist (more on that later), challenges that assumption before she even lands in Sweden, because feminists loathe her even though she is an accomplished and independent career woman by definition.

My professor, a leading feminist scholar of education, said she at first absolutely hated my proposal to use Barbie, remembering only her supposedly malign influence on girls’ self-images. But on seeing the final product she admitted that it worked out brilliantly on a number of levels, because Barbie can ask any softball question that is needed to drive the narrative along, yet also toss in faux-naïve challenges to feminist orthodoxy with equal plausibility. Also she is inherently funny, as a.s. has noted. You can decide if you agree, as we jet around the world with Agent Barbie.

N.E. Brigand: What country comes next?
The next chapter lays out the premise for the adventure and explains the choices of countries to come. The first chapter with Mona in Sweden was my attempt at beginning an epic in media res. As I was taught in school, always start “in the middle of things” and then go back later to recount the beginning.

dernwyn: Now, be honest: was Milady responsible for influencing your choice of primary character for this work of (graphic) art?
No, Milady is not the Barbie sort. Her older sister lotrluvr was, however. Our professor had encouraged us to do our graphic novel/story projects with original photography. I don’t remember how Barbie emerged in my head as the focus of my world feminism investigation, but I do know my original concept was to pose and photograph lotrluvr’s old Barbies to act out the script. Then I found they had all been thrown out a few years back!

So I switched to swiping Barbies off the internet and making use of found poses, outfits, hairstyles, etc., which was quite a lot of fun and very successful too. Not to mention saving me hours of set-ups and photography. There are many, many Barbie sites on line, and hundreds of photos of a seemingly infinite variety of Barbies. As you will see as we go along.

I’m going to take a chance and try to make this a low-key discussion thread. Here are a few questions to start off with. Let me know if they are too intimidating - it is a grad-school paper, after all! I will post the next chapter after a decent interval.


A. Do you find Sweden’s reputation as an ultra-liberal society off-putting, or inspiring?


B. Had you ever heard of “state feminism” before? I hadn’t. What do you think of the national government telling people to be more feminist, even if the people aren’t especially demanding such a policy?


C. This passage is based on research findings. If Swedish women generally feel this way, should the government continue to try to equalize things like pay and occupation structures?


The speaker here is Gudrun Schyman, leader of the Feminist Initiative in Sweden’s last election. As she notes, her party ran for office on a cutting edge feminist platform, and received a tiny fraction of the national vote.
D. Is this something only Sweden could produce, or is it a function of a European parliamentary system where fringe parties have a chance for a few seats in the assembly, or could such a party and platform be taken seriously in the U.S. someday?

E. Given that Barbie has been endlessly photographed in flagrante delicto, is Mona right that she still has an “image” to consider and protect? What is Barbie’s public “image” to you?


F. Is Mona right? Can patriarchy be overcome by determined national policy-making and social engineering, or not? Should the U.S. look to Sweden as a beacon, or a warning, in this regard?



squire online:
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squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


Aerin
Grey Havens


Mar 13 2009, 12:39am

Post #12 of 58 (131 views)
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Thank you! This is wonderful! [In reply to] Can't Post

No time to address all your questions, but I'll weigh in on a couple of closely related ones:

B. Had you ever heard of “state feminism” before? I hadn’t. What do you think of the national government telling people to be more feminist, even if the people aren’t especially demanding such a policy?

C. This passage is based on research findings. If Swedish women generally feel this way, should the government continue to try to equalize things like pay and occupation structures?

Hadn't heard that term before, but as you describe it, the state appears to be mandating equal opportunity and equal treatment and preventing discrimination on the basis of gender, not telling individuals what occupations they should enter (or not), or how to manage their personal lives. Sounds fine to me!

Thinking about these issues reminds me of a very uncomfortable conversation I had a few months ago with one of my brothers, who maintained that employers should have the right to refuse to hire women solely on the basis of gender, without regard to qualifications. I told him the story of how when I was applying for grad school, one of the professors I corresponded with said that his department would nominate me for a university fellowship. However, he changed his mind after learning that I was engaged to marry a grad student a year ahead of me. He explained that the department could not risk wasting a fellowship on someone who would probably quit as soon as her husband finished his degree, in order to follow him to a position elsewhere! The assumption was that any woman's education and career would necessarily be subordinate to those of her husband. Nothing personal! Things clearly have changed for the better since then. But I was shocked when my brother expressed the opinion that the professor was entirely within his rights to withdraw the fellowship nomination on those grounds!

Finally, concerning feminism and humor, I offer my favorite lightbulb joke:

Q: "How many committed feminists does it take to change a light bulb?"
A: "Just one — and it's not funny!!"

Hobbit Family Histories


entmaiden
Forum Admin / Moderator


Mar 13 2009, 2:21am

Post #13 of 58 (119 views)
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I wondered where you got your Barbies [In reply to] Can't Post

At first I thought one or more of your daughters were the suppliers, but then there were so many, I figured many or the images had to come from the internet. Most real Barbies are a little more, um, rumpled, because they are used and loved by the girls.

A. Do you find Sweden’s reputation as an ultra-liberal society off-putting, or inspiring?

Actually, I do. I don't like the idea of a culture where people are pressured to think or feel in a certain way. Ultra-anything tends to put me off because I'm very pragmatic - extremes tend to put me off.

B. Had you ever heard of “state feminism” before? I hadn’t. What do you think of the national government telling people to be more feminist, even if the people aren’t especially demanding such a policy?

I don't agree with the idea of legislating personal beliefs. I don't have a problem with the government providing a level playing field, but state feminism offends me as much as state masculinity.


C. This passage is based on research findings. If Swedish women generally feel this way, should the government continue to try to equalize things like pay and occupation structures?

It's interesting how women gravitate toward the more traditional roles, despite legislative attempts to change them. I wonder how much of that is women choosing a role they're comfortable with, or because they realize that someone's got to do the traditional female tasks.

D. Is this something only Sweden could produce, or is it a function of a European parliamentary system where fringe parties have a chance for a few seats in the assembly, or could such a party and platform be taken seriously in the U.S. someday?


I think it is a function of the parliamentary system in general, and I don't think the present political structure in the US would allow for a feminist party. The US is too tied in to the two-party system, and there are two many barriers to a third party gaining enough traction to become viable. I also think that Feminism isn't only concerned with women's issues - they're also concerned with health care, education, child welfare, and many other causes, so I can't see a group of people coalescing enough on the one topic of feminism to form a political party.

E. Given that Barbie has been endlessly photographed in flagrante delicto, is Mona right that she still has an “image” to consider and protect? What is Barbie’s public “image” to you?


How do you know that Barbie has been photographed that way? I've never seen it! What types of sites did you visit to prepare this????

Barbie's image to me is one of glamour, fast cars, beautiful clothes and an exciting life. I've never understood the claim that Barbie was harmful to young girls, but maybe that's because I've never used other people or images to define myself.

F. Is Mona right? Can patriarchy be overcome by determined national policy-making and social engineering, or not? Should the U.S. look to Sweden as a beacon, or a warning, in this regard?


I think the US can learn from Sweden, however as I said before, I don't believe in legislative mandates for lifestyle. I think Sweden went too far over the line of social engineering through legislation. We have enough of that with the IRS!



Each cloak was fastened about the neck with a brooch like a green leaf veined with silver.
`Are these magic cloaks?' asked Pippin, looking at them with wonder.
`I do not know what you mean by that,' answered the leader of the Elves.


NARF since 1974.
Balin Bows


Aerin
Grey Havens


Mar 13 2009, 3:33am

Post #14 of 58 (110 views)
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But has Sweden really gone over the line? [In reply to] Can't Post

Nothing in Squire's report suggests that they have done anything more than provide a level playing field — which is what all societies, everywhere, should be doing. In practice, "state feminism" appears to mean nothing more radical than a state guarantee of equal opportunity and equal treatment on the basis of gender. What's offensive about that? The label "feminism"? What's sad is that we even need a label for simple justice.

Hobbit Family Histories


entmaiden
Forum Admin / Moderator


Mar 13 2009, 3:47am

Post #15 of 58 (101 views)
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Clearly, this is an important topic for you [In reply to] Can't Post

but I feel that you are attacking my opinion. When you use terms "should be doing", "nothing more", "sad" ,"simple justice" your use of value words makes it appear you are rendering judgement on my response. Maybe you could shift your efforts toward responding to squire's questions instead of commenting on mine.

What do you think of the results of Sweden's legislation? Despite their best efforts to provide a level playing field, the women in Sweden do not appear to have gained much. They are still in predominantly "female" jobs, they take on most of the housekeeping and child care chores around the house.

I do not believe that social change can be brought about through the legislative process. I do change management in my job every day and I've learned that people only change when they want to and never when they're told to change.

Each cloak was fastened about the neck with a brooch like a green leaf veined with silver.
`Are these magic cloaks?' asked Pippin, looking at them with wonder.
`I do not know what you mean by that,' answered the leader of the Elves.


NARF since 1974.
Balin Bows


a.s.
Valinor


Mar 13 2009, 11:06am

Post #16 of 58 (112 views)
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"state feminism", is that an "authorized" translation? [In reply to] Can't Post

Barbie in flagrante delicto? Yeah, what websites did you visit to do your research, squire?

Of course, judging by all the nude Barbies and Kens I've picked up from bedroom floors in my house of three daughters over the years, I would say statistically you are probably correct.

LOL

I wonder if the words "state feminism" are a Swedish-approved translation and if it actually captures the intent of the, er, legislation (is it legislation? it's referred to as "state ideology", for instance). In other words, does Sweden actually have a law that says "thou shalt be feminist"? Or are the laws simply equal opportunity and civil rights laws premised on the belief in feminism?

Anyway, yes, I support any laws premised on equality, even if equality is not (yet) the basic belief of the masses.

To use my own state of Virginia as an example, the law overturning mandatory segregation by race in American public schools was met with Massive Resistance (that's a movement so it's in capital letters). The "grassroots" did not yet support the concept of the basic civil rights of people of state-defined color.

Laws based on popular beliefs about worth or equal human dignity can result in great injustice.

So yes, I think, based solely on what I have seen in your Barbie treastise and realizing there may be gaps in the information you have presented and that I have not examined all sides to this issue, and reserving the right to have my mind changed by further input, at this point in time I would support the concept of "state feminism".

Absolutely.

LOL

a.s.

"an seileachan"

Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana


Call Her Emily


squire
Valinor


Mar 13 2009, 11:33am

Post #17 of 58 (102 views)
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It's a standard descriptive term in the literature [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't know but a fraction of this vast field, having just skimmed the top for this project. My understanding is that "state feminism" is an English-language term for what Sweden did. I am cribbing Mona's dialog from my academic source, which was describing the Swedish history being recounted. Note the contrast Mona makes between state feminism, and feminism that arises from the "grass roots", another Americanism.

This will recur in the story, but I believe there is an active debate among feminists of quite varied political beliefs, about the justice, advisability, or (contrariwise) the necessity of implementing state feminism rather than waiting for feminism to blossom among the people - especially in the less developed parts of the world, where we will be jetting soon enough.



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Footeramas: The 3rd TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


a.s.
Valinor


Mar 13 2009, 11:46am

Post #18 of 58 (105 views)
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one looks forward to Barbie in a burka [In reply to] Can't Post

NO OFFENSE INTENDED OR IMPLIED. Just a picture comment on Barbie in totally different cultural dress than the dress (or more to the point, undress) usually found in my local WalMart!



"an seileachan"

Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana


Call Her Emily


Alassëa Eruvande
Valinor


Mar 13 2009, 1:25pm

Post #19 of 58 (115 views)
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In general, [In reply to] Can't Post

feminists offend me highly. They go from an assumption that taking care of children and the home is somehow unworthy of their vast talents. They go from an assumption that a woman's worth is measured in dollars. How is that different from regarding women as chattal?

From page 5 of your graphic novel: "...women and men as groups are seen as being equally qualified to take care of children and home-related responsibilities, as well as to occupy higher positions in society."

Higher positions?

I submit that this kind of thinking does more damage to society than whether or not somebody makes more money than somebody else. It's more subtle and insidious because it is put out there as a fact, not open for debate. In the above sentence, the emphasis is on the equality of men and women, and we are told that staying at home to raise a family is a low position. For this reason, and others, I will never be a feminist.



And suddenly the Ainur saw afar off a light, as it were a cloud with a living heart of flame.



SFTH Archive


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Mar 13 2009, 6:03pm

Post #20 of 58 (106 views)
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Is "higher positions" a phrase by Mona or squire? [In reply to] Can't Post

Haven't many anti-feminists themselves historically felt that homemaking is inferior to other employment? And isn't a hierarchy of positions unavoidable? Doesn't your boss have a higher position than you? Don't you have a higher position than your employees?

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Alassëa Eruvande
Valinor


Mar 13 2009, 7:36pm

Post #21 of 58 (106 views)
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It looks like it's from Mona. [In reply to] Can't Post

I didn't think it was from squire.

I don't know about other anti-feminists.

Why does there need to be a hierarchy of positions? I fully agree that a boss is "higher" than his employee. But that is within the same sort of job.

Why are stay-at-home moms and homemakers not equal to doctors, lawyers, Indian chiefs? Sure, we make no money staying at home, raising the kids, doing all that homey stuff. But does that make it a lower position? Because no money changes hands?

Teachers don't make much money either, but they are held in high regard anyway. There is something that feminists don't like about a woman staying at home to raise her own kids and provide a home to *gasp!* a MAN. Whom she is MARRIED to! I think they just see marriage and family as another form of bondage. And that is too bad for them and those they influence.



And suddenly the Ainur saw afar off a light, as it were a cloud with a living heart of flame.



SFTH Archive


batik
Tol Eressea


Mar 13 2009, 7:51pm

Post #22 of 58 (91 views)
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I was a *stay at home mom* for [In reply to] Can't Post

about 4 years. Yikes! That's the hardest job I've had in my life!
You know-- caregivers, overall, are probably among the most undervalued folk and underpaid employees--at least here in the US. From daycare workers to CNAs to stay at home moms (and yes dads, too)...there's little financial reward and little prestige. So strange when these people are taking care of *people*--us, our kids, our parents. Another example of twisted values in our world.


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Mar 13 2009, 9:44pm

Post #23 of 58 (100 views)
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So does "Goodbye, Barbie!..." [In reply to] Can't Post

"...Let me know if you find a better path to women's equality!"

Except where quotes are used, I took the conversation to be imagined.

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Alassëa Eruvande
Valinor


Mar 13 2009, 10:03pm

Post #24 of 58 (86 views)
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Well, [In reply to] Can't Post

whoever said it, my reaction is still the same. I've been a stay at home wife and mom for almost 11 years straight, now. When I tell people what I do, I'm either met with condescension (Oh! That's such an important job!) or bafflement (But you're wasting your college degree!)

If feminists really had the interests of women in mind, they'd support women in whatever "job" they choose to do, not just the jobs feminists think they should do.



And suddenly the Ainur saw afar off a light, as it were a cloud with a living heart of flame.



SFTH Archive


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Mar 13 2009, 10:51pm

Post #25 of 58 (84 views)
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Fair enough. [In reply to] Can't Post

I expect you'd feel the same way if the response you got was, "Where else would you be? A mother's place is in the home, while her husband works." Which is a comment you would have heard a lot more often, before those awful feminists worked to change people's perceptions.

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