Dear Naomi Wolf: A few words on the latest feminist tome from America

Congratulations] You've achieved 'blanket media coverage' again, only three years after The Beauty Myth. I know everyone says it's only because you're so pretty. Is that your fault? Anyway, the photo of you in this month's Elle shows you're not afraid to show the world you've got fat arms.

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]

(Photograph omitted)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: Project Manager - Birmingham - up to £40,000 - 12 month FTC

    £35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Manager - Birmingham - ...

    SThree: Recruitment Consultant - IT

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: Sthree are looking fo...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin (based in London)

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + commission: SThree: Real Staffing's Pharmaceutical...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before