Fantastic Feminist

This week while I was scanning my N.O.W. items from 1977-1978, I came across a newspaper clipping that talked about Fantastic Feminist and Joanne McQueen’s feminist items business run out of her home in Oxford, OH. It talks about how she decided to make a Fantastic Feminist superhero-esque response to the over sexualized cartoon characters like Superwoman that existed. Her version was the first designed by a woman and the first of its type geared at feminism and equality. The article reads on about various items that Fantastic Feminists sell like booklets on human rights. A few of the mentioned booklets are “Rape: The Crime Against Women,” by Reba Deal and “Diary of a Battered Housewife,” by Lois Hake, who happens to be the director of the local crisis shelter for battered wives.

While I was reading this article I started thinking about how different information and educational resources about domestic violence and sexual assault was during the 70s and how now we are so technologically advanced that we should have a whole plethora of education and resources about prevention of campus sexual assault and domestic violence. Today the most common prevention strategies are risk reduction techniques, perpetrator prevention, and bystander prevention. Risk reduction techniques focus on victim by trying to equip them with knowledge, awareness, and self-defense skills to use against their attacker. Strategies which focus on the perpetrator prevention usually involve some sort of change in risk factors for sexual violence by trying to reduce the likelihood that an individual will engage in sexually violent behavior. Bystander prevention is aimed at changing social norms which support sexual violence. Only 11 institutions across the US implement bystander prevention even though it is found to be extremely helpful in reducing the rates of sexual assault. How come our technology and statistics are updated on sexual assault but our prevention and educational methods are not up to date? They just don’t match the times to me.

It seems silly to me that we are still so heavily focused on preparing the women of our society against possible attackers through means like making sure they are dressed appropriately (???), to making sure they don’t walk alone at night, to making sure they aren’t too flirty or don’t leave their drink unattended. As women, we are beaten with messages like this from very early on. It is not something new to us. I have been over protective of myself in all situations for as long as I can remember. Why doesn’t male centered prevention take a larger part in the conversation? What about bystander prevention? It seems that tackling it from this angle would be less futile than reminding women things that they could never possibly forget.

Posted 19th October 2016 by Lexi Miller