The Hay Festival 1994

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The Independent Culture
A performance honed and polished to near perfection - that was the public's general view of Naomi Wolf's presentation of the new power feminism in the 1994 Raymond Williams Lecture this week.

Wolf seems to embody the very ideas that she presents with such gusto; she paces about the stage like a panther, smiling, hectoring, baiting her audience. It's a charm offensive in part - but no verbal persuading has ever been done by scowling at people. That requires the threat of heavy boots. And anyway, charm offensives usually go hand in hand with a woeful lack of intellectual substance, and there was meat in plenty here.

Most of it belonged to the savaged bodies of George Bush and those other inglorious, revanchist Eighties men who had contributed to the stifling and the ghettoisation of the feminist debate.

It is Wolf's vision to build on a moment of historic opportunity - the so-called 'genderquake' of 1991, in which the first of a series of important legislative advances for women were made in the USA, beginning with the Anita Hill case. In the new feminism, women will feel comfortable to wield power; comfortable to be earning as much as their male counterparts; comfortable to feel sexy, intelligent and fun.

And they will not be fearful of using the F- word either. And if the men don't yield, giggles Wolf, she'll stock them. She'll cook their bunnies. And 'if any of you men in the audience today feel marginalised, pay close attention to those feelings. It is my consciousness-raising gift to you.' - See below for today's Hay listings

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