Feminism has hit the big time. Once a dirty word brushed away with a grimace, "feminist" has been rebranded as a shiny label sported by movie and pop stars, fashion designers, and multi-hyphenate powerhouses like Beyoncé. It drives advertising and marketing campaigns for everything from wireless plans to underwear to perfume, presenting what's long been a movement for social justice as just another consumer choice in a vast market. Individual self-actualization is the goal, shopping more often than not the means, and celebrities the mouthpieces.
But what does it mean when social change becomes a brand identity? Feminism's splashy arrival at the center of today's media and pop-culture marketplace, after all, hasn't offered solutions to the movement's unfinished business. Planned Parenthood is under sustained attack, women are still paid 77 percent-or less-of the man's dollar, and vicious attacks on women, both on- and offline, are utterly routine.
Andi Zeisler, a founding editor of Bitch Media, draws on more than twenty years' experience interpreting popular culture in this biting history of how feminism has been co-opted, watered down, and turned into a gyratory media trend. Surveying movies, television, advertising, fashion, and more, Zeisler reveals a media landscape brimming with the language of empowerment, but offering little in the way of transformational change. Witty, fearless, and unflinching, We Were Feminists Once is the story of how we let this happen, and how we can amplify feminism's real purpose and power.
About the Author
Andi Zeisler is a writer, editor, and cultural critic. She is the cofounder of Bitch Media, the nonprofit best known for publishing the award-winning quarterly magazine Bitch: Feminist Response to Pop Culture, which has over 50,000 subscribers. Zeisler is extremely plugged into the community of feminist bloggers, her writing on feminism, popular culture, and media has appeared in newspapers and magazines including Ms., Mother Jones, BUST, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and the Washington Post. She regularly speaks at colleges and universities and holds interviews in various national publications and radio programs around the country. She has been featured and interviewed in publications like the New York Times, among others.
Andi Zeisler, Bitch Media cofounder and feminist samurai, breaks the pop-culture time machine and makes you beg for more. -Susie Bright, best-selling author and host of In Bed with Susie Bright
As one of our most passionate and important feminist voices, Andi Zeisler takes on 'marketplace feminism,' a feel-good, newly cool and media-friendly phenomenon disengaged from the reality of our ongoing and deeply entrenched forms of gender inequality. Engaging, smart and provocative, We Were Feminists Once challenges us to take on the gap between glitzy media appropriations of feminism and the significant unfinished business of the women's movement. -Susan J. Douglas, award-winning author of Where the Girls Are and Enlightened Sexism
Zeisler's analysis of what she calls 'marketplace feminism' is acute and endlessly relevant, highlighting the insidiousness of the coopting powers that be, and calling on feminists to direct their resources toward legitimate political action and reclaim feminism as an identity, not something commodifiable. -Publishers Weekly
With delightfully dry wit, Zeisler carries the discussion of the portrayal of women in advertising, movies, television, and fashion both in the present day and recent history. This thought-provoking yet sobering consideration of the current state of feminism emphasizes the need to continue to fight for full equality. Highly recommended for readers with an interest in women's studies, pop culture, and the media. -Library Journal, Editors' Spring Pick 2016
Spirited, witty, and ferociously incisive. -Kirkus Reviews
Extremely insightful One cannot quarrel with [Zeisler's] conclusion that the actual term feminism, once freighted with images of bra-burning, hairy-legged harridans has now become so lightweight as to be meaningless. -Jane Hailé, New York Journal of Books