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Women, Feminism, and Pop Politics

From “Bitch” to “Badass” and Beyond

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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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Advance Praise for Women, Feminism, and Pop Politics

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Advance Praise for

Women, Feminism, and Pop Politics

“Karrin Vasby Anderson’s gift to us is an intellectually invigorating and forward-looking collection of essays. If the future is truly female, it’s because the ‘badasses’ and ‘bitches’ featured here—women who are on the stage, screen, platform, bench, and dais—show us all exactly how to get things done.”

—Cheryl Glenn, Distinguished Professor of English at Penn State University and author of Rhetorical Feminism and This Thing Called Hope; Rhetoric Retold: Regendering the Tradition from Antiquity through the Renaissance; and Unspoken: A Rhetoric of Silence

“This perfectly timed collection achieves something that has been sorely needed: it explores feminist politics in popular culture from multiple angles and in multiple media forms, from digital platforms and late-night comedy to television drama and sitcom. Framed by opening and closing essays that reflect on Hillary Clinton’s complex role as a feminist symbol, each of the chapters—by a dream team of feminist communication scholars—gives welcome attention to intersectionality and shows impressive theoretical range, clearly making the case that popular culture is a key battleground for public debate over the politics of gender, race, class, and sexuality. This book is essential for understanding the convergence of media, politics, and feminism in the twenty-first century.”

—Bonnie J. Dow, Professor of Communication Studies, Vanderbilt University

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