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Women, Feminism, and Pop Politics

From “Bitch” to “Badass” and Beyond


Edited By Karrin Vasby Anderson

Women, Feminism, and Pop Politics: From "Bitch" to "Badass" and Beyond examines the negotiation of feminist politics and gendered political leadership in twenty-first century U.S. popular culture. In a wide-ranging survey of texts—which includes memes and digital discourses, embodied feminist performances, parody and infotainment, and televisual comedy and drama—contributing authors assess the ways in which popular culture discourses both reveal and reshape citizens’ understanding of feminist politics and female political figures. Two archetypes of female identity figure prominently in its analysis. "Bitch" is a frame that reflects the twentieth-century anxiety about powerful women as threatening and unfeminine, trapping political women within the double bind between femininity and competence. "Badass" recognizes women’s capacity to lead but does so in a way that deflects attention away from the persistence of sexist stereotyping and cultural misogyny. Additionally, as depictions of political women become increasingly complex and varied, fictional characters and actual women are beginning to move beyond the bitch and badass frames, fashioning collaborative and comic modes of leadership suited to the new global milieu. This book will be of interest to students and scholars interested in communication, U.S. political culture, gender and leadership, and women in media.

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4. Feminist Comedy’s Blond Badass: Amy Schumer and the Limits of White Feminism (Valerie R. Renegar / Lacy Lowrey / Kirsti Cole)


4. Feminist Comedy’s Blond Badass: Amy Schumer and the Limits of White Feminism

Valerie R. Renegar

Southwestern University

Lacy Lowrey

Metropolitan State University of Denver

Kirsti Cole

Minnesota State University, Mankato

Amy Schumer is a well-known feminist comedian.1 She wrote and starred in the 2015 movie Trainwreck (which grossed $110 million), secured a record-breaking multi-million dollar advance for her 2016 book The Girl with The Lower Back Tattoo,2 and continues to write and star in the Comedy Central television series Inside Amy Schumer. She filmed an HBO stand-up comedy special, Amy Schumer: Live at the Apollo, and she smiles on magazine covers ranging from fashion cornerstones like Vogue, Marie Claire, and Elle, to lifestyle publications such as Vanity Fair, People, and GQ, to entertainment industry publications Variety and Entertainment Weekly.3 She has also appeared in mainstream feminist publications Ms. and Bust where she proudly proclaims herself to be a feminist. As one of only a few women in recent memory to command such consistent media attention, Schumer’s feminist identity is notable. As a comedian, actress, author, and public figure, she uses her popularity to reveal and ridicule a wide range of gender inequalities, cultural absurdities, and double standards.

The feminist critique that undergirds Schumer’s comedy suggests that her goals reach beyond simply making audiences laugh, as she points out social attitudes among men and women, not only in performance arenas, but...

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