Friday Feminist – Naomi Wolf

Cross posted

Feminism gave us laws against job discrimination based on gender; immediately case law evolved in Britain and the United States that institutionalized job discrimination based on women’s appearances. Patriarchal religion declined; new religious dogma, using some of the mind-altering techniques of older cults and sects, arose around age and weight to functionally supplant traditional ritual. Feminists, inspired by Friedan, broke the stranglehold on the women’s popular press of advertisers for household products, who were promoting the feminine mystique; at once, the diet and skin care industries became the new cultural censors of women’s intellectual space, and because of their pressure, the gaunt, youthful model supplanted the happy housewife as the model of successful womanhood. The sexual revolution promoted the discovery of female sexuality; “beauty pornography” – which for the first time in women’s history artificially links a commodified “beauty” directly and explicitly to sexuality – invaded the mainstream to undermine women’s new and vulnerable sense of sexual self-worth. Reproductive rights game Western women control over our own bodies; the weight of fashion models plummeted to 23 percent below that of ordinary women, eating disorders rose exponentially, and a mass neurosis was promoted that used food and weight to strip women of that sense of control. Women insisted on politicizing health; new technologies of invasive, potentially dangerous “cosmetic” surgeries developed apace to re-exert old forms of medical control of women.

Naomi Wolf, The Beauty Myth, 1990

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6 responses to “Friday Feminist – Naomi Wolf

  1. She forgot the part with the poll on who’s the sexiest female politician.

  2. Which is why I fail to see anything redeeming about Americas Next Top Model or other such shows

  3. Thanks Deborah. I sometimes forget how clearly Naomi saw things when she began writing.

  4. I was going to post some more from Joan McGregor, but given the issues that cropped up during the week, I thought a bit from The Beauty Myth was a good idea. I recall reading this book when it first came out, and it was inspiring, for me. Not the only thing / book / event / person who formed my feminism, but certainly her writing was influential.

    Some of her more recent work – meh.

  5. I also loved this book when I read it about ten years ago, and nothing of hers that I’ve read since has impressed me as much. I’ll always have a soft spot in my feminist heart for Naomi Wolf because of my enjoyment of ‘The Beauty Myth’. I remember the ‘revelation’ of her comparison between diet industry language and Christian salvation.

  6. I was just flicking through The Beauty Myth the other day before it got packed away…it was hugely influential on my thinking at the time.