In 2017, in this “era of extreme self-regard we’re currently in,” says Bridget Read, a feminist need only speak up for herself in order to join the movement. Celebrities have discovered how easily “one can use feminist trappings to slip into the social justice realm simply by talking about themselves, while companies like Girlboss and “Ellevest” see the cash benefits of accessorizing their brands with feminist baubles.
“The idea that ‘a feminist is any woman who tells the truth about her life’ sets a ludicrously low bar to join a social movement,” argues Read.
Anne Helen Petersen’s latest book, Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman focuses on ten “unruly” women in film, music, television, sports, and politics who “step outside the boundaries of good womanhood” but achieved great success anyway—women like Serena Williams (too black, too strong) or Melissa McCarthy (too fat) or Nicki Minaj (too slutty).
Clearly each of these women has made great gains in her field, “Petersen’s dedication to overstating the transgressive behaviors of female celebrities in service of the notion of subjectivity as empowerment rings hollow,” notes Read and instead reveals all that has been collectively lost by the mainstream’s embrace of “feminism.”