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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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Conclusion: Political Women and the Power Paradox: The Case of Hillary Clinton (Shawn J. Parry-Giles)


Conclusion: Political Women and the Power Paradox: The Case of Hillary Clinton

Shawn J. Parry-Giles

University of Maryland

I know that for a lot of people, including a lot

of women, the movement for women’s equality exists

largely in the past. They’re wrong about that. It’s

still happening, still as urgent and vital as ever.

—Hillary Rodham Clinton, What Happened1

The authors in this volume have grappled with the ways that popular culture makes meaning of political women. The assumption for many in this volume is that popular culture mimics political reality and infuses such “realities” with meaning. As we bring this volume to a close, I want to flip the focus and consider how political reality mimics popular culture, strengthening a hyperreal relationship between politics and entertainment. Liesbet van Zoonen explains the need for overlap between “politics” and “entertainment”: “Politics has to be connected to the everyday culture of its citizens; otherwise it becomes an alien sphere, occupied by strangers no one cares and bothers about.”2

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