Dear Naomi Wolf: A few words on the latest feminist tome from America
Friday 12 November 1993
But enough about your incredible eyes and lustrous hair. The book's the thing, right? Shame the title, Fire With Fire, isn't as sexy and high-concept as your first bestseller. You know how Americans love buzz words: look how Date Rape has taken off. Did you think about The Sheba Principle: your idea that feminists must learn to love money and power?
Trouble is, you don't really have a Big Idea this time round, do you? Your central thesis is that feminism can be divided into two halves. There are the 'victim feminists' - which 'casts women as sexually pure and mystically nurturing, and stresses the evil done to these 'good' women as a way to petition for their rights' and 'power feminists' which sees women as 'human beings - sexual, individual, no better or worse than their male counterparts - and lays claim to equality simply because women are entitled to it'.
But, as you finally get round to saying, this division is as old as the movement. We used to describe the tendencies as radical and liberal feminism. (We also had socialist feminism but I know you Americans aren't big on that.)
Then you say that victim feminists should become power feminists. They already have] Those Seventies die-hards Andrea Dworkin (all men are rapists) and Mary Daly (all women are caring and sharing witches) are the lunatic fringe. Didn't you realise the new feminist orthodoxy is all about how great it was to see Sharon Stone as an icepick-wielding bisexual in Basic Instinct? It's got a bit boring: sometimes I yearn to hear someone talk about whether shaving your armpits is ideologically unsound, rather than where she gets her body piercing done.
Your other buzz word is the 'genderquake': Western women are, apparently, on the verge of taking power. Your evidence for Britain includes Opportunity 2000 and the Citizen's Charter. Wow] We are being held back, you say, only by our fear of power. All we need is a little power-sharing - sorry, 'cross-targeting'. 'Do women nurses at a given hospital need child care?' you ask. 'Women patients' groups can agitate on their behalf.' Sounds great] But - and maybe it's that darn British socialist in me - isn't power a bit more complex than that? Why, for example, did Thatcher not include any British women in the Cabinet?
Finally, Naomi, what exactly is your form of feminism? You conclude that we must 'resist the notion that there are any fixed truths or right answers about feminism, or that any one woman's way of sticking up for women is divinely better than any other woman's'. The 'Sheba Principle' seems to be all about getting rich and successful. I thought that was called capitalism.
Anyway, good luck with the UK promotional tour. I know you won't be upset about these tiny criticisms: like you say, sisterhood - sorry, Victim Feminism - is dead]
peopleContenders for Time magazine's Person of the Year are a mixture of the good, the bad and the holy
tvSteven Moffat reveals the actor was dying to take on the role of the Time Lord and says he is excited to see what he will do with the character
sportBayern Munich 2 Manchester City 3: City come from two down to beat reigning European Champions
newsAs the world remembers Mandela the hero, the prison where he spent 27 years seems all the more brutal
arts + ents... and a chance to paint Booker Prize winning author Hilary Mantel
danceUnder Tamara Rojo's inspired direction, it seems possible that it could challenge the dominance of the Royal Ballet. We meet some established names and rising stars
travelDiscover Uruguay's jet-set beach resort, an Atlantic enclave with plenty of art and culture to explore on the side
Life & Style blogs
- 1 Mountain goats' miraculous escape from avalanche captured in dramatic video footage
- 2 Gurdwaras-turned-food banks: Sikh temples are catering for rise in Britain’s hungry
- 3 Kenyan politician Mike Sonko left red-faced after photoshopping himself next to Nelson Mandela
- 4 Government delays EU immigration report because it is too positive
- 5 'I'm experiencing austerity as well', says Princess Michael of Kent
£22000 - £25000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: Junior/Grad C# .NET Wi...
Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C#.NET Developer (VB6,.NET, SQL, Winforms) Wokin...
£35999 - £44001 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: A Top Tier practi...
£41000 - £46000 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Academically Exce...