I don't know Mr Henderson, nor have I read his work, though his photo looks familiar so we might have met at some point. I want to be clear: this is not an attack on his character, but on his words. Also, I'm not particularly "feminist" in that it's not an issue I have a ton of passion for. If I'm offended, it indicates that the statements have pretty wide reaching capability to annoy and offend.
Here's the quote I find offensive (bolded are particularly offensive):
The reason for Barbie's unbelievable staying power, when every contemporary and wanna-be has fallen by the way-side is, she's a nice girl. Let the Bratz girls dress like tramps and whores. Barbie never had any of that. Sure, there was a quick buck to be made going that route but it wasn't for her. Barbie got her college degree, but she never acted as if it was something owed to her, or that Ken ever tried to deny her.
She has always been a role model for young girls, and has remained popular with millions of them throughout their entire lives, because she maintained her quiet dignity the way a woman should.
Um, some points, Mr Henderson.
First, Barbie is horrible example for what you're trying to say.
Barbie has dressed like a tramp and a whore plenty, if by which you maybe mean clothing that some people think make rape okay. Take a gander at this little collection, which was on the first page I googled and contains few professional career items. Not to mention that her measurements are not remotely possible in a real human. (Not that it matters much to SFF writers with active imaginations, but it might to our readers.)
This is the example you use for staying power and reinventing oneself? Barbie is the toy I'm supposed to give to my elementary aged girl to play with to make that example? What's the real message in the toy, taking her and all her stuff and clothes and houses and car and steady boyfriend into account? Here's my takeaway. A college degree is not enough for a woman to be successful. She needs to dress sexy, never act like anything is owed her, pretend Ken doesn't get paid more for the same job, and maintain her quiet dignity the way a woman should. Quit bitching and sit in a corner, Barbie, but don't forget your corset and red stripper shoes!
Most girls my age (in the 70s way-back machine) played with Barbie because there were few other toys designed for girls at that time. Toys for girls have changed very little in the intervening years.
A look in my daughter's closet will confirm it anecdotally. There are bobble headed animals, plush animals, and not much else pink or purple; she's discarded it all for the legos and magnets and fishing and dirt and skateboards and other toys marketed to boys. She even dresses boyish because she has perceived, in her 11 year old wisdom, that no one takes you seriously if you're "cute" and boys get all the cool stuff and gigs. How did she come to that conclusion? Maybe she's realized boys get called on more in class than girls. Doubtless she'll soon learn that despite earning more degrees, women earn less than men coming out of college.
But that's okay. Women have Barbie for our entire lives!!
...the way a woman should... Sigh. I expect the battle is lost if those words are used in the first place. But I'll try.
Props for using a female toy as an example, but it was clumsily done at best. The real reason Barbie has maintained her staying power is a well-laid foundation of being the only toy designed for girls, millions of dollars in marketing, and a distinct continuing lack of competition. And really, if Barbie is the best example of a woman, or anyone, with staying power, then the world is in a heap of trouble. Actually, the choice to use her is indicative of the real problem: many men have difficulty thinking of examples of successful females. Why? Because Ken actually IS in our way, and we have sat quiet too long. Well, that, but it's also a damaging misconception that there aren't any good examples. There are myriad choices for a female example right in our own genre. I know many of these women personally, and the last way I'd describe them is "quietly dignified." Most of the women writers I know are noisily, joyfully enthusiastic! Quietly dignified gets ignored in our genre, and in the world at large.
Science fiction and fantasy claims to be the leading edge in social issues and equality. But the key words in that sentence are fiction and fantasy.