Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Naomi Wolf: Fiery Words

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Naomi Wolf: Fiery Words

Article excerpt

FEMINIST author Naomi Wolf suddenly bolts from her seat in the elegant Four Seasons Hotel cafe and stomps off, her black-booted feet smacking against the carpet.

"This makes me so mad!" she says, shaking a clenched fist. "This is why I wrote this book!"

Moments before, the discussion had turned to "riot grrrls," the teen-age movement in the Pacific Northwest that mixes grunge music with feminist messages. Wolf had expressed hope that riot grrrls would be feminism's salvation in the coming century. But when she heard the grrrls exclude men from their ranks to the point of refusing pamphlets to boys, she leapt to her feet.

"There's this third wave of feminists coming up, and they're making the same mistakes. They're overly demonizing men." She reminds herself to calm down ("Deep breaths") and returns to her midmorning snack of herbal tea and cucumber finger sandwiches.

"Sorry to get so angry. But it's sexism. We're not the oppressed. We're running the show."

It's this point - that women have the power but can't act on it - that is one of the main focuses of Wolf's new book, "Fire With Fire: The New Female Power and How It Will Change the 21st Century" (Random House; $21). She is coming to St. Louis on Friday for a book signing, reading and discussion at 6:30 p.m. at Left Bank Books in the Central West End.

Wolf's new book is certain to stir up as much controversy as Wolf's first best seller, "The Beauty Myth," which went through five press runs and was sold in 14 countries.

In "The Beauty Myth," Wolf, 31, explored the cosmetics and fashion industries' stranglehold on women's self-esteem. The book was exalted by feminists as the first unflinching look at women and their relationship to their looks.

Now, in her second book, Wolf criticizes some of those very feminists who supported her, and she even takes a swipe at herself. Specifically, she speaks against a "very small minority" of feminists who have taken on victimization as an identity.

"Even in `The Beauty Myth,' I stressed what has been done to women more than what women can do about it," she said. …

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