I’ve got little to add to this that wasn’t covered in the last post. Mainly this is the “do you believe in equality of the sexes? Congratulations you’re a feminist!” trope. The difference between the words “feminist” and “royalist” is in the fictional setting of these strips royalist meaning “a movement for equality between royals and peasants” is a new meaning that, at this stage in the strips, only exists in the mind of Liz, whereas in the real world the idea that feminism means, in principle if not practice, equality between males and females has been established and reiterated for long enough that a majority believes it.
However, contrary to the trope it ISN’T the dictionary definition in quite a few dictionaries! For example the Oxford clearly defines it as “advocacy of woman’s rights on the grounds of equality of the sexes” (a cynic, like Diogenes here, could replace the word “grounds” with “pretext”). The Merriam-Webster has, as a secondary definition, “organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests”.
In the real world, pro-equality anti-feminists will frequently query why feminism has “feminine” as it’s root if it’s a mutual equality movement, and will either be given the historical reasons (that it began as an advocacy movement for the rights of women) or a reiteration of the oppression narrative that men have more rights than women in every sphere already. It is this latter view that this allegorical strip is repeatedly challenging. In this fictional world with it’s fictional movement, royalism, no such query need be made – when Jim Politician questions whether that is the right word he knows it isn’t because that word already exists with an obviously inegalitarian meaning.
One other departure the strip (which is supposed to be taken allegorically) makes from it’s real world equivalence is, there is no real equivalent, certainly in first or second wave feminism to the Royalist use of the word “peasants” instead of “commoners” or “subjects” – there are numerous put-downs for men, of course, including “pigs”, “dogs” and with the current wave (fourth wave?) “dudebros” has crept in as a generalised derogatory term. However, I remember how the word “men” or worse “typical man” (which when you bear in mind that the word “typical” means “normal” is significant) would be used dripping with such vitriol that it might as well have been a derogatory word. Of course tone of voice doesn’t transfer to the written medium in the same way. But the word “peasant” is used to describe all “non-royals” with little regard for their status. The Prime-minister is as much a peasant as the servants or the people working down mines. Of course the fact that the prime-minister is a peasant reinforces Liz’s world view that it is the peasants that have all the power!
I suppose one of the big driving themes in this strip, which I won’t go into much further here because the theme is expanded on further in the next instalment, is that sometimes feminism is right in it’s recognition of inequalities and double-standards but is wrong in it’s understanding of what they actually mean, in the same way as a medieval philosopher may make a correct observation but assign a dubious magical explanation. And one is, few feminists, notable exceptions might be Camille Paglia or Angela Carter, correctly identify pedestalization of the female as a source of inequalities that negatively impact on the female – they assume that any inequality negatively impacting on them must be caused by women being seen as inferior. Why should I care? Because it’s that same topsy turvy assumption that blinds them to not only their own misandry but some of the misandry that is inherent in traditionalism.