To the world at large it might seem a bit strange, linking the Women's Liberation Movement and feminism with ideas of adventure. Hardly surprising, when most of the mass media do their best to reduce anything to do with women's liberation to the antics of a minority fringe group. As far as they are concerned, we are all dull, boring, and quite united in our lack of humour. With this kind of publicity to contend with, it does indeed take an adventurous girl to give feminism more than a second thought. But what exactly is the basis of this war waged on women who refuse to conform to society's image of how women should look and act and be? This is a question that touches on the whole way in which sex and gender are understood in our culture. It also relates to the way in which any challenge to the patriarchal status quo is greeted with fear and dismay if not outright terror. In this sense it is possible to interpret these stereotypical characterisations of feminism and feminists (bearing grudges, unpopular with the boys) as something which is created right across a range of institutions, precisely as a response to this threat, and as a clearcut defence of patriarchy — the power of men over women. If the women who challenge this power, who question the inevitability of their own subordination and the 'naturalness' of their inferiority, are reduced to a group of eccentrics, then half the battle is won. The threat is deflected and diluted — what woman in her right mind would want to join with this mob? Yet such unrelenting ridicule suggests something deeper. The fears, perhaps, of a patriarchy which is somehow beginning to lose its grasp, but doesn't know quite where to put the pressure on. The easiest way to deal with it is to hit back wildly, caricature it, trivialise it . . . and then hope it goes away. This anti-feminist promotional campaign depends then on transforming some of its representatives, those women who are no longer captured by suave masculinity, by machismo and charisma and charm ('your sex life complications are not my fascination' as the song
by Grace Jones puts it), into 'unfeminine' oddballs, women who are going against nature.