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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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7. Late Night’s Funny Feminists: The Women of The Daily Show, Satire, and Postfeminism (Alyssa Samek)


7. Late Night’s Funny Feminists: The Women of The Daily Show, Satire, and Postfeminism

Alyssa Samek

California State University, Fullerton

Ever since The Daily Show (TDS) debuted in the late 1990s, the show has had a “woman problem.”1 Few women were involved on the writing staff and only one, Samantha Bee, was part of the regular cast. Other women tried out or appeared infrequently, including Olivia Munn and Kristen Schaal. There is a dearth of scholarly attention to the work of the women on the show or the role they play in tackling issues related to gender. The wealth of academic literature and institutional praise and blame for TDS tends to focus on the show’s status as a news parody, whether it creates or shuts down public dialogue about issues, its relationship to millennial viewers as a news service, or its role in national elections.2 Some studies of TDS use ancient rhetorical concepts to illuminate the public role of TDS, while others focus on the power of parody and satire in the form and content of the show itself, from the parody of a nightly news program to use of correspondents to on-the-street interviews, studio interviews with guests from the entertainment industry, academia, public service, and more.3

This chapter takes a feminist approach to analyze segments featuring the three most visible female TDS correspondents, Samantha Bee, Kristen Schaal, and Jessica Williams, between 2004 and 2015, years in which TDS...

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