Naomi Wolf

Olga Wolstenholme's picture

When “Feminist” Became a Bad Word

Back in September I wrote a post called When Did Being Called a Feminist Become an Insult? I didn’t really have an answer at the time, I mostly wrote about my personal musings on the questions, but after reading the first Chapter of Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth I have or rather she has an answer to the question. It might be pretty obvious to some, but she wrote about it so well, that I’m here to share it with you all:

The caricature of the Ugly Feminist was resurrected to dog the steps of the women’s movement. The caricature is unoriginal; it was coined to ridicule the feminists of the nineteenth century. Lucy Stone herself, who supporters saw as “a prototype of womanly grace… fresh and fair as the morning,” was derided by detractors with “the usual report” about Victorian feminists: “a big masculine woman, wearing boots, smoking a cigar, swearing like a trooper.” As Betty Friedan put it presciently in 1960, even before the savage revamping of that old caricature: “The unpleasant image of feminists today resembles less the feminists themselves than the image fostered by the interests who so bitterly opposed the vote for women in state after state.” Thirty years on, her conclusion is more true than ever: That resurrected caricature, which sought to punish women for their public acts by going after their private sense of self, became a paradigm for new limits placed on aspiring women everywhere. After the women’s movement’s second wave, the beauty myth was perfected to checkmate power at every level in individual women’s lives.

This book is AWESOME. I’ve only read chapter one and it has pretty much blown me away. You should all get your hands on a copy from somewhere. I borrowed mine from my neighbor. Seek it out! Spread the word!

Crossposted from Cuntlove.

Olga Wolstenholme's picture

Sticking it to the Man, in a Manner of Speaking

Today, on my lunch break, I decided to go browse for books at Chapters. I had no intention of buying anything, but when I got there I tried to find a copy of The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf.  To my surprise, they didn’t have this rather popular title in stock. Actually, there were only three copies to be found in all of the Chapters, Indigo and Coles on the island of Montreal. Montreal’s a big city, you would think this book would be a little easier to find.

This omission in Chapters in-store catalogue no longer came as such a surprise when I went looking for the women studies section of the store, because what I found was a section called gender studies, which consisted of two very small shelves of an odd assortment of titles. Sure enough they did carry some interesting books that spoke to a variety of gender identities, but these tiny little shelves also contained such titles as The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists by Neil Strauss.

On a more positive note, they did have three copies of Cunt: A Declaration of Independence. Three copies they DIDN’T have three weeks ago when I ordered the very same book from their store. I might be wrong in the assumption that my ordering CUNT was a key factor in the decision to make copies available for their in-store customers, but this made me happy. Sure, I’m sure this decision was purely fueled by the idea that if they were able to make money selling one copy they would probably make more money if they had it in stock. Nevertheless, I felt like the power I have as a consumer lead to a positive change in the world.

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