An era of 'hard-core women'

Now would be a very good time to be a cartoonist. Or perhaps not. As the late cartoonist Doug Marlette frequently lamented, "How do you cartoon a cartoon? We're living in 'Toon Town.' "

On the other hand, sometimes only a cartoon character will do. There's hardly any way to treat seriously the goings-on in Toon Town's capital, Washington, D.C.

Let's just say, Central Casting's stable is full.

If men historically have dominated the scene, women are crowding them out. And they are turning our familiar archetypes inside out.

Women's liberation worked in ways we might never have imagined. The feminist woman of the left, who burned her bra and insisted that all hear her roar, is today a taupe-ish figure who wonders where things went wrong. The daughter she begat may well be a Republican - a gun-toting, breast-feeding supermom of several who condemns government for being a "nanny" and tells men to man up.

Adding insult to injury, she's also probably considered a "hottie" by the men who stand by admiringly, watching their women show those libs a thing or two about being a "hard-core woman."

We needn't name the queen of this emerging bevy of can-dos, who wouldn't deign to call themselves feminists even though they certainly are. If "That One" achieves nothing else in her life, she has popularized a new feminine image that drives men and women mad for different reasons.

Among other traditionally feminine tricks, the new hard-core woman has grabbed men's symbols and toys and made them her own. She shoots straight and plays hardball. At the same time, she has manhandled women's issues, neatly packaged them in ironic pink tissue and placed them neatly on a floral paper-lined shelf.

She really can do it all, and there's nothing left to whine about. This is precisely why she's so annoying. Polly Perfect in a Pinafore has only changed outfits and carries a concealed weapon instead of a lace hankie, though she probably has one of those, too. Being both feminine and tough is the latest girly wile.

In recent days, Toon Town has provided a glimpse of how these new roles are playing out.

In one scene, we see Michelle Obama and Michele Bachmann clashing coifs over none other than - drum roll - breast-feeding. The first lady wants to encourage women to breast-feed their babies as a way of combating childhood obesity by, among other things, providing tax breaks for equipment needed to express milk while mom is away from baby. Bachmann, noting that she breast-fed all five of her children, mocked the idea as one more manifestation of the nanny state.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it has come to this.

Across town at the Conservative Political Action Conference, where riper Republicans court their children's friends for straw poll votes, 19-year-old Regis Giles made a splash with her call for women to arm themselves in self-defense.

Giles, whose father is Doug Giles, a popular conservative radio host/columnist/artist/hunter, is a Generation X, Y, Z version of "That One." Self-assured and attractive, she's unapologetic about her passion for slaying large animals. She has a Web site titled "Girls Just Wanna Have Guns" and soon will be starring in a reality show called "Primal Urge."

Giles once used a spear to kill a wild boar that was in a tussle with one of her hunting dogs. She stabbed the beast straight through the heart, a clean kill resulting in one relieved canine.

It is one thing to kill a bison from a distance with a high-powered rifle. It is another to approach a wild boar and kill it with one's own hand and a stick. Not many can claim that level of courage, and, by the way, she ate her kill. That's all there is to say about that, though I did ask her what she was wearing, which I instinctively knew would be permissible. Giles didn't miss a beat: "Cargo pants and a very nice plaid T-shirt."

It is not a leap of hyperbole to observe that proving one's conservative bona fides these days requires a certain derring-do and some familiarity with weaponry. If you can't bring home the bacon, you might need to woman up.

I asked Giles about that, too. She said she couldn't really comment. She is who she is, after all. Just a young woman making her way in a hard-core woman's world. Let the old guard fret over how best to suckle their young.

 
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