Harry Potter: Tool of the Patriarchy?
Just when you thought it was safe to sink into some summer reading with your kids: a warning from researchers at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, about the oppressiveness of children’s stories. “Women characters in children’s storybooks fit 1940s stereotypes, being meek, gentle, ineffectual, rarely employed, and wholly dependent on their men,” reports the Times of London, summarizing the report. The researchers heaped special scorn on the popular Harry Potter series for having only one “tomboyish and clever” female character and noted that the only appropriately “feisty” adult women in the series are evil — usually witches. Once upon a time girls and boys could read stories without being subjected to the politically correct pronouncements of academic researchers concerned over the lack of female role models in children’s fiction. I admired Nancy Drew as a girl, but I was equally enamored of Encyclopedia Brown and the Hardy Boys — and even Huck Finn. The fact that some of these characters were heroes rather than heroines was beside the point. Alas, today’s gender wardens care less about fostering a love of reading in children than they do in inculcating “correct” thinking. Harry beware!

Who’s a Feminist NOW?
An interesting confluence of events: during the first week of July, as the National Organization for Women (NOW) met in Philadelphia for its annual conference, the Gallup polling organization reported that only 25 percent of American women today consider themselves feminists. This marks a steady decline since Gallup’s last poll in 1992, when one-third of women donned the feminist mantle. This is a clear sign that more women are wising up to the silliness of contemporary feminism. At NOW’s conference, leaders flakked the group’s latest report, “Watch Out, Listen Up!” which assesses television programs for “gender composition and diversity, violence, sexual exploitation, and social responsibility.” The NOW gals gave “Gilmore Girls,” a show about a young single mother and her teenage daughter, a thumbs up, while “Temptation Island,” a Lord-of-the-Flies-style reality hook-up show, received a predictable thumbs down. As for the upcoming fall schedule, NOW recommends the CBS show “Max Bickford,” a dramatic series that “includes a transgendered character as a regular” and “centers around mature male characters questioning their place in life while surrounded by strong female casts.”

While the NOW ladies gathered in the city of brotherly love, the group Veteran Feminists of America convened at Barnard College in New York to reminisce about the early, heady days of the feminist movement. As reported by Women’s E-News, the non-profit veterans’ organization “seeks to renew the spirit of commitment to a cause,” and to pass the activist torch to a younger generation of women. They also urge a disturbing form of activism in academia, challenging their academic colleagues “to reconsider their role within educational institutions and not to sacrifice activism and passion to academe and scholarly treatises.”

Entrepreneurial Success
More good news about female entrepreneurs: new data from the Commerce Department reveal that “nearly half of America’s minority businesses have a female owner or co-owner,” with women owning “almost four of every 10 black-owned businesses.”

Gore Glamour Gal
I can’t let pass without comment Karenna Gore Schiff’s “Guide to Not Getting Bush-Whacked,” which appears in the August issue of Glamour magazine. Karenna, you?ll recall, pushed for the hiring of feminist Naomi Wolf (self-appointed expert on earth tones and alpha maleness) during her father Al’s failed presidential bid. She now fancies herself the voice of Gen X women. Her Glamour “guide,” written in a forced-chatty style that nevertheless bears traces of Papa Gore’s condescending drone, is a rundown of the Democratic Party’s key issues. “Our power as citizens doesn’t end once the polls close,” Ms. Schiff reminds us in typical finger-wagging prose, as she exhorts readers to support organizations such as the Million Mom March and the National Women’s Law Center. Women’s fashion magazines have long been a safe haven for silly — and very liberal — politics; Karenna’s musings leave one wishing the magazines would devote more space to Versace and less to vapid political vanity columns.