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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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9. The Good Wife’s Fatalistic Feminism: Televised Feminist Failures in Work/Life Balance, Romance, and Feminist Alliances (Michaela D.E. Meyer)


9. The Good Wife’s Fatalistic Feminism: Televised Feminist Failures in Work/Life Balance, Romance, and Feminist Alliances

Michaela D.E. Meyer

Christopher Newport University

In fall of 2009, The Good Wife premiered on CBS—a series created by the husband and wife team Robert and Michelle King. Robert King explained the rationale for the series was the disturbing proliferation of real life political sex scandals where wives were highly scrutinized for their reactions to their husband’s sexual dalliances.1 For example, in early 2008, New York Governor Eliot Spitzer held a resignation press conference in the wake of a highly publicized prostitution scandal. The event showcased his spouse Silda Wall Spitzer, an accomplished graduate of Harvard Law, standing beside her husband as he resigned from public office. Much like lead character Alicia Florrick, Wall Spitzer had given up a promising career to raise children, and she also returned to work following her (now ex-) husband’s scandal. Alicia’s character shares characteristics with many political wives, as a surprising number of these wives have backgrounds in law such as Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Edwards, and Jenny Sanford. Shortly after the show’s premiere, People magazine quoted Jenny Sanford, a Chicago native and Georgetown grad, as saying that the fictional Alicia Florrick as a Georgetown grad in Chicago was “a bit creepy.”2

The Good Wife aired on CBS from 2009 to 2016, a unique and fascinating time for feminist television studies. With the proliferation of subscription television...

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