Posted by: hellonhairylegs | December 13, 2008

Fire with Fire- Naomi Wolf

I was planning to give you guys a detailed a review but  I have a strict three strike rule. If I throw a book against the wall three times I stop reading. When I first saw the book I frowned and though of the Audre  Lorde quote “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house” and opened the book to find that quote staring back at me. Unnerved by this display I decided to read the book, because anyone with that kind of precognition would be worth reading. The introduction of the book caused much eye rolling.

The 1980s were the height of the backlash years, but from the autumn of 1991 to the present, a new era has begun – the era of the ‘genderquake’, in which the meaning of being a woman is changed forever… women have become the political ruling class. And they have the historical distinction of being the only ruling class that is unaware of its status.

Ahuh. Right.

I’ve renamed the chapters in Part I to demonstrate how I reacted to what can be only called empowerfulment.

1. Faulty Line Reasoning

2. The Decline of the Masculine Empire What about teh menz?

3. Genderquaketremor: The Evidence

4. A Change in Consciousness: Women Learn to Imagine Triumph Vengeance and Capitalism and Nike are empowerful! (or alternatively; Old Goddesses in patriarchal religions show us the way)

Among the things I learned was that knowledge of the Audre Lorde quote makes me an evil insider feminist. Where as the real woman on the street wants to “Just Do It” in the words of Nike (the shoe company that got so much publicity for the excellent way it treated its female workers, remember?). She used Sheba as an example of female triumph in using the master’s tools (money). Wolf failed to recognise that Sheba was using her vast wealth to buy wisdom from a dude (Solomon).

There was also a section where she implied that feminists acknowledging the truth about rape and women getting power in the senate must come at the expense of each other. Wolf sets up a binary between liberal feminists and radical feminists. Aren’t feminists supposed to be dismantling false binaries?

Just because most of her book reads like a fuck you to a feminist of my radical sensibilities doesn’t mean she didn’t have a good point in their somewhere. Women have power, and part of the feminist movement is co-ordinating and utilising that power.

It is not nearly as good as The Beauty Myth. Read at your peril.



  1. That is one fucked up book.
    good rule though.

  2. Aw, that’s sad. “The Beauty Myth” is so good and this sounds so lame.

  3. … women have become the new political ruling class.


    I guess we can add Naomi Wolf to the list of contributors to the Feminist Canon who went on later to become feminist-neutral or antifeminist.

  4. *sigh* I heard Naomi Wolf speak at the Sydney Writers’ Festival a few years ago, and unfortunately, she seemed to view feminism solely in terms of the economic capabilities of white middle class liberal feminists. It was painful, particularly since, as you point out, she did such a fine job with The Beauty Myth.

  5. I’ve only read The Beauty Myth so it’s sad to hear that this isn’t as good. I think I’ll skip over this one. Have you read any feminist books lately that you recommend?

  6. I’m reading Intercourse right now. The first two chapters were iffy but the rest is very good.

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