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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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6. How to Be “Fierce as F*&!”: Full Frontal’s Angry Feminist Satire (Tasha N. Dubriwny)


6. How to Be “Fierce as F*&!”: Full Frontal’s Angry Feminist Satire

Tasha N. Dubriwny

Texas A&M University

Samantha Bee’s once-a-week late night show, Full Frontal, debuted on TBS with much fanfare in February 2016. Speculation about the content of her show coalesced around the hope that Bee would continue in the satirical path of the Jon Stewart-helmed Daily Show, but with a difference. Entering the boys’ club of late night, Bee was expected do late night differently as a woman. Bee’s response to these expectations is telling: “We kept saying, ‘Oh, our show’s gonna be different…not just because it’s hosted by a woman, but because…it’s hosted by me, and I have a different point of view.’”1 More than a different point of view, what I suggest in this chapter is that Bee’s approach toward satire is also distinct compared to the men she is typically aligned with, including John Oliver and Jon Stewart. Specifically, I argue that Bee’s Full Frontal is an exercise in satire grounded in feminist anger. It is feminist anger that provokes Bee’s description of Donald Trump as a “schoolyard sadist” and “dick waving Berlusconi knock-off,” anger that prompts her, near the end of a segment on how Catholic hospitals are harmful to women’s health, to declare, “I don’t have a joke here,” and anger that drives her careful use of the stage as she leans in to the camera, makes full...

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