Naomi Wolf Criticism - Essay

Justine Picardie (review date 21 September 1990)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Picardie, Justine. “The Suffering Sex.” New Statesman & Society (21 September 1990): 39–40.

[In the following review of The Beauty Myth, Picardie commends Wolf's moving personal accounts and insight, but criticizes in her “muddled” argument and use of statistics.]

A great deal of attention has been paid to this book: the Sunday Times has paid a large sum of money to serialise it; the author, a young American woman called Naomi Wolf, recently appeared on both The Late Show and breakfast television. Magazine profiles have been written; glamorous pictures taken of the attractive Ms Wolf. For The Beauty Myth is, according...

(The entire section is 951 words.)

Richard Davenport-Hines (review date 12–18 October 1990)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Davenport-Hines, Richard. “Torments of the Flesh.” Times Literary Supplement (12–18 October 1990): 1097.

[In the following review of The Beauty Myth, Davenport-Hines praises the eloquence and force of Wolf's writing, though finds shortcomings in what he perceives as her unconvincing statistical evidence and her failure to account for the personal responsibility of women.]

Naomi Wolf grew up in California. Her mother Deborah kept a notepad in the kitchen where the rest of her family could surreptitiously peep at it. On the notepad Deborah recorded the agonies of her diet, and the guilt that engulfed her when she broke it with food binges. Deborah...

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Wendy Wasserstein (review date 12 May 1991)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Wasserstein, Wendy. “Through the Good-Looking Glass.” Los Angeles Times Book Review (12 May 1991): 4.

[In the following review of The Beauty Myth, Wasserstein concludes that Wolf offers interesting and unsettling generalizations, but that her book is “not earth-shaking.”]

I remember reading The Feminine Mystique my senior year on the steps of my dormitory at Mt. Holyoke College. I had a yellow highlighter pen and every other sentence I would madly underline because not only did Betty Friedan seem to have put her finger on a previously unnamed plight, but she was, by doing so, opening up doors and possibilities for me and my classmates....

(The entire section is 1013 words.)

Marilyn Yalom (review date 16 June 1991)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Yalom, Marilyn. “Feminism's Latest Makeover.” Washington Post Book World (16 June 1991): 7.

[In the following excerpt, Yalom offers a positive assessment of The Beauty Myth.]

Periodically throughout our century the debate on women's position in society swells to daunting proportions. For the past two decades, it has pervaded the media in countless books, articles, films, plays and television shows, with no signs of abating. American women's gains in the workplace and homeplace are weighed against their losses. White middle-class women are contrasted to their working-class and minority counterparts. Feminist aspirations are evaluated in the context of...

(The entire section is 553 words.)

Clara Germani (essay date 18 June 1991)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Germani, Clara. “The Truth about the Beauty Myth.” Christian Science Monitor (18 June 1991): 14.

[In the following essay, Germani discusses The Beauty Myth and reports Wolf's comments on her feminist views.]

When a radio talk-show host here felt it necessary to note that Naomi Wolf is a beautiful woman, the author of The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used against Women turned the tables by describing him for the audience as tall, dark, and cute.

While the host's comment didn't immediately seem out of line, it did as soon as Ms. Wolf demonstrated the double standard implied by how out of place it seemed in that same...

(The entire section is 692 words.)

Mary G. Gotschall (review date 8 July 1991)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Gotschall, Mary G. “Poisoned Apple.” National Review (8 July 1991): 42–44.

[In the following review, Gotschall offers an unfavorable assessment of The Beauty Myth.]

In The Beauty Myth, a provocative new feminist tract which should take its place alongside such polemics as Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique, Naomi Wolf argues that American women are enslaved by the cultural edict to be beautiful. They are victims of an impossible standard. The pressure, according to Miss Wolf, has become relentless during the past decade, as women have begun competing head-on with men in the professional sphere.

For Naomi Wolf, the beauty...

(The entire section is 1095 words.)

Maurice Cranston (review date August 1991)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Cranston, Maurice. Review of The Beauty Myth, by Naomi Wolf. American Spectator 24, no. 8 (August 1991): 36–37.

[In the following review, Cranston offers a negative assessment of The Beauty Myth.]

The Beauty Myth has already caused something of a stir in England and, being English, I think I can understand why. The argument is outrageous, and it is written in a wild and witty way by a glamorous American graduate student, aged 28, who is at Oxford on a “Rhodes scholarship”—that is, with a fellowship endowed by the racist imperialist Cecil Rhodes, although her own views are those of the most radical-feminist left. Like Cecil Rhodes, however,...

(The entire section is 1585 words.)

Elayne Rapping (review date October 1991)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Rapping, Elayne. “Bad News, Good News.” Women's Review of Books 9, no. 1 (October 1991): 1, 3–4.

[In the following excerpt, Rapping offers an unfavorable assessment of The Beauty Myth.]

Is it the best of times or the worst of times? Have we come a long way, baby, or are we systematically being beaten back to ground zero by the right-wing goon squads? On any given day, depending on the headlines or my phone messages, I'm likely to believe either one. The times are certainly a-changing, but who's on first? The horrors of the Reagan-Bush era—increased feminization of poverty, terrifying threats to reproductive rights, reported increases in sexual...

(The entire section is 2013 words.)

Diane Johnson (review date 16 January 1992)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Johnson, Diane. “Something for the Boys.” New York Review of Books (16 January 1992): 13–17.

[In the following excerpt, Johnson discusses the significance of The Beauty Myth and renewed interest in feminism, gender roles, and masculinity, as reflected by a number of new books published in the early 1990s.]

1.

Dorothy Parker is said to have remarked to the authors of Modern Woman, the Lost Sex, “I bet you say that to all the sexes.” Reading these books together is like being locked in the coat closet at a cocktail party to overhear a muffled cacophony of half-truths, partial insights, and entrenched...

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Gayle Greene (review date 10 February 1992)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Greene, Gayle. “The Empire Strikes Back.” Nation (10 February 1992): 166–70.

[In the following excerpt, Greene offers a favorable assessment of The Beauty Myth.]

Those who are living through change may be the last to know it, until something we read brings things together in a way that makes us see that yes, things really are different—it's not just us growing older. These books [Naomi Wolf's The Beauty Myth and Susan Faludi's Backlash]—both written by young women, both bristling with indignation—demonstrate that something has changed profoundly in the culture's attitudes toward and representations of women, that we are undergoing a...

(The entire section is 2171 words.)

Maxine S. Theodoulou (review date summer 1992)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Theodoulou, Maxine S. Review of The Beauty Myth, by Naomi Wolf. ETC: A Review of General Semantics 49, no. 2 (summer 1992): 251–52.

[In the following review, Theodoulou concludes that The Beauty Myth is undermined by Wolf's narrow thesis and “pedestrian style,” but that the work offers useful insight.]

Women's preoccupation with beauty [in The Beauty Myth] fuels a billion-dollar industry. The “standards” of beauty constantly change, leaving women with closets of outdated clothes and, in the worst case, outdated bodies. To meet the current standards of feminine beauty women diet, exercise, and undertake dangerous and costly...

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Melissa Benn (review date 26 November 1993)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Benn, Melissa. “The Big Girls.” New Statesman & Society (26 November 1993): 39.

[In the following review, Benn argues that Fire with Fire oversimplifies women's liberation and the complexities of social reality.]

Absurdly over-hyped, Fire with Fire is the latest in a long line of high-energy, sweeping tomes by American feminists that everyone tells us overshadow our sour, small-minded, home-grown variety. But massive publicity of both book and author will ensure that they get out to millions of women looking hungrily (or lazily) for the text of their age. For that reason alone, it is important.

It is certainly the first...

(The entire section is 832 words.)

Anne Applebaum (review date 27 November 1993)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Applebaum, Anne. “Laughing All the Way to the Bonk.” Spectator (27 November 1993): 40–41.

[In the following review, Applebaum offers a negative assessment of Fire with Fire.]

Fire with Fire is an odd work. Neither fiction, nor journalism, nor criticism, nor autobiography, it nevertheless retains elements of all four: there are eye-catching, source-free statistics (‘most women have been sexually harassed at work’), up-to-date anecdotes (Anita Hill, Hillary Clinton, and the women of Sarajevo all make appearances), and odd bits and pieces of popular culture (the films Basic Instinct and Fatal Attraction get a mention, and...

(The entire section is 865 words.)

Katherine Boo (review date 28 November 1993)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Boo, Katherine. “Taking Off the Velvet Gloves.” Washington Post Book World (28 November 1993): 1, 10.

[In the following review of Fire with Fire, Boo finds Wolf's inclusive “power feminism” interesting, but concludes that her recommendations for change are inadequate, particularly as she fails to account for the economically disadvantaged.]

Lordy, what a mess this manifesto [Fire with Fire] is. Proving that even feminists have the right to change their minds, it argues against much of what undergirded Wolf's bestselling Beauty Myth two years ago. It's so full of subtextual exclamation points it reads like an over-caffeinated Katie...

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Maggie Gallagher (review date 29 November 1993)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Gallagher, Maggie. “Party Girl.” National Review (29 November 1993): 66–67.

[In the following review, Gallagher offers an unfavorable assessment of Fire with Fire.]

Feminism has come to a peculiar pass: Feminist ideas are everywhere; feminists, however, are hard to find. How did this happen?

That is the question Naomi Wolf—whose first book, The Beauty Myth, was a national best-seller—takes up in Fire with Fire, a feminist's critique of feminism. This is what she has come up with: Why did feminism fail? Because it isn't any fun. Holding her first large royalty check in hand, Miss Wolf has had an epiphany: Money is good!...

(The entire section is 874 words.)

Mary Nemeth (essay date 6 December 1993)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Nemeth, Mary. “Who's Afraid of Naomi Wolf?” Maclean's (6 December 1993): 70–71.

[In the following essay, Nemeth discusses Wolf's career, critical reception, and feminist perspective in Fire with Fire.]

Having determined that the restaurant does not offer free-range poultry, free-range meat or free-range anything, Naomi Wolf begins searching for a meatless item on the menu. The 31-year-old American feminist author is in a fancy French eatery in uptown Toronto, talking up her new book and running on adrenaline. Wolf finally settles on a croque monsieur sandwich—but insists that it be prepared without ham. Very gastronomically correct. Then, as an...

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Robert Scheer (review date 19 December 1993)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Scheer, Robert. “Revolution Betrayed.” Los Angeles Times Book Review (19 December 1993): 1, 8.

[In the following excerpt, Scheer offers an unfavorable assessment of Fire with Fire, describing it as “a breathless, noisy and contradictory tract that substitutes overblown rhetoric for analysis.”]

Are women a class with broad common interests? Does a welfare mother in Watts share a common oppression with a female executive in Beverly Hills that can be addressed by the women's movement? The unexamined assumption of both of these books [Naomi Wolf's Fire with Fire and Barbara Boxer's Strangers in the Senate] is that they do.

...

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Kio Stark (review date 31 January 1994)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Stark, Kio. “I'm O.K., You're O.K.” Nation (31 January 1994): 137–40.

[In the following excerpt, Stark criticizes what she views as Wolf's lack of concern for socioeconomic disparity and argues that Fire with Fire reflects Wolf's implicit interest in preserving existing power structures.]

Naomi Wolf's Fire with Fire takes its title from the proverb, which is juxtaposed on the opening page with a quote from Audre Lorde: “The Master's tools will never dismantle the Master's house.” Wolf's polemic begins with Anita Hill's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which, she says, marks a major turning point in women's history, one...

(The entire section is 1358 words.)

Lesley Hazleton (review date February 1994)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Hazleton, Lesley. “Power Politics.” Women's Review of Books 11, no. 5 (February 1994): 1, 3–4.

[In the following review, Hazleton offers a favorable assessment of Fire with Fire.]

Naomi Wolf's brand of feminism is full of energy. It includes laughter, and mischief, and a brash, cleansing honesty. It flexes its muscles and gets women out into the world, not asking but demanding, not self-pitying but doing.

A much better and far more important book than Wolf's best-selling The Beauty Myth, Fire with Fire incorporates two clarion calls. The first is for feminism to re-contact its power base: women. All women. Not just those...

(The entire section is 2099 words.)

Clare Collins (review date 25 February 1994)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Collins, Clare. “Genderquakes and Aftershocks.” Commonweal (25 February 1994): 22–23.

[In the following review of Fire with Fire, Collins approves of Wolf's inclusive feminist perspective, but finds shortcomings in the book's generalizations, repetitions, and underlying indifference toward the underclass.]

I was apprehensive about reviewing Naomi Wolf's new feminist treatise. After all, Ms. Wolf not only went to Yale but she became a Rhodes scholar. Besides, I'm not at all versed in feminist literature and have shied away from describing myself as a feminist because I am not adamantly prochoice. The unquestioning acceptance of abortion rights as...

(The entire section is 1047 words.)

Karen Lehrman (review date 14 March 1994)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Lehrman, Karen. “Women's Hour.” New Republic (14 March 1994): 40–45.

[In the following review of Fire with Fire, Lehrman finds flaws in Wolf's contradictory feminist positions and trivial self-help pragmatism.]

Underlying nearly all the commentary on relations between the sexes these days is the notion that we have entered a period of unprecedented contradiction and confusion. A president devoted to equal rights for women now resides in the White House, along side a First Lady who seems to personify those rights; twenty-eight new female members of Congress have helped press legislation concerning women's health and family issues that had been...

(The entire section is 4666 words.)

Ann Menasche (review date May 1994)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Menasche, Ann. “When Feminism Joins the Establishment.” Off Our Backs 24, no. 5 (May 1994): 9.

[In the following review, Menasche offers an unfavorable assessment of Fire with Fire.]

NEWS FLASH: The backlash against women is over. A “genderquake” represented by the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas hearings and the 1992 elections of Clinton and an increased number of female politicians, has brought us to the brink of the end of patriarchy. Now, all we need to do to make things “increasingly all right” is to “change our self images,” stop “bashing” men, and get over our “fear” of power and money.

If this sounds a bit far...

(The entire section is 901 words.)

Jeremy Waldron (review date 3 June 1994)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Waldron, Jeremy. “Take These Chains.” Times Literary Supplement (3 June 1994): 4.

[In the following review of Fire with Fire, Waldron approves of Wolf's candor and accessibility, but finds faults in the book's simplistic dichotomies and unconvincing anecdotal evidence.]

Naomi Wolf's first book, The Beauty Myth, was a remarkable piece of work: a bitter and compelling argument about the way in which the freedom that women are winning is poisoned by the culture of idealized physical beauty. Wolf's account of the social and psychological consequences of this insinuation was packed with insight. She traced the terror of ageing, the pathology of...

(The entire section is 1809 words.)

Karina Rollins (review date summer 1994)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Rollins, Karina. “Power Play.” Public Interest, no. 116 (summer 1994): 124–27.

[In the following review of Fire with Fire, Rollins finds shortcomings in Wolf's preoccupation with an outmoded notion of patriarchal oppression and a tendency to resort to unsubstantiated generalizations and truisms.]

Women's fight for equality did not end when women won the vote seventy-three years ago. Equal in theory but often not in practice, many women turned to feminism to help them fight the remainders of inequality. While these remainders were real, the feminist movement of the 1960s and beyond frequently degenerated into extremism and radical excess.

...

(The entire section is 1241 words.)

Helen M. Sterk (review date 13–20 July 1994)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Sterk, Helen M. Review of Fire with Fire, by Naomi Wolf. Christian Century (13–20 July 1994): 694–95.

[In the following review, Sterk offers an unfavorable assessment of Fire with Fire.]

We have met the enemy, and she is us. This is Naomi Wolf's message to women, especially feminists. Wolf tells women that they are “suffering from too much subordination for no more pressing reason than that we have stopped short of compelling it to end.” Ignoring the history of gender relations in the West, Wolf says all will be well if women just accept and use the power they already hold. Marked by good intentions and marred by poor execution, Fire with...

(The entire section is 647 words.)

Eve Pollard (review date 9 May 1997)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Pollard, Eve. “The Virgin Myth.” New Statesman (9 May 1997): 45.

[In the following review, Pollard offers a mixed assessment of Promiscuities, finding fault in Wolf's focus on the loss of virginity as the defining point of a woman's maturation.]

Just before the feminist movement seriously got under way, a rash of Hollywood films explored the sleep-over teenage sisterhood of America. Dazzlingly acne-free, Sandra Dee, Connie Francis and the rest would stay overnight at one another's houses, or in each other's hotel rooms and spend innocent hours wondering where the boys were. As lightweight as an asexual version of the TV series Friends, these...

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Mary Kenny (review date 10 May 1997)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Kenny, Mary. “Created, Not Begotten.” Spectator (10 May 1997): 36.

[In the following review of Promiscuities, Kenny commends Wolf's personal observations and provocative questions, but concludes that her assertions are undermined by a dogmatic view of gender as a social construct.]

The trouble really began when Simone de Beauvoir announced, ‘One is not born a woman, one becomes one.’ From this single sentence comes most of the discourse, over the past 40 years, on the feminine condition. If one becomes a woman, how does that process occur?

In the 1960s, some very clever feminist writers dissected this process of becoming...

(The entire section is 751 words.)

Barry Gewen (review date 19 May 1997)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Gewen, Barry. “The Seat of Women's Delight.” New Leader (19 May 1997): 19–22.

[In the following excerpt, Gewen offers an unfavorable assessment of Promiscuities.]

Not long ago I read an article on South Africa that was so smug and sanctimonious, so pleased to bask in the warmth of its own progressivism, that it made me want to come out in favor of apartheid. I had a similar reaction while reading Naomi Wolf's latest book, Promiscuities. In its effort to celebrate female sexuality—or, as Wolf puts it, “to redeem the slut in me”—it is so self-important and inflated, so sentimental to the point of ickiness, that I found myself thinking purdah...

(The entire section is 1858 words.)

Scott Shuger (review date June 1997)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Shuger, Scott. Review of Promiscuities, by Naomi Wolf. Washington Monthly 29, no. 6 (June 1997): 49–51.

[In the following review, Shuger offers a generally positive assessment of Promiscuities, though notes shortcomings in Wolf's evasion of personal accountability and failure to recognize the importance of responsible parenting.]

An aspect of political correctness that is particularly troubling from a public policy perspective is its hostility to distinctions among and within different social groups, distinctions often crucial for formulating and implementing solutions. Thus, even if Group A has a pronounced and disproportional tendency towards...

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Ellen Wilson Fielding (review date 2 June 1997)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Fielding, Ellen Wilson. “All-American Girl?” National Review (2 June 1997): 54–56.

[In the following review, Fielding offers an unfavorable assessment of Promiscuities.]

You remember Naomi Wolf. She was the author of a much discussed article in The New Republic titled “Our Bodies, Our Souls.” In it she coaxed her fellow pro-choicers to admit that abortion does kill a human being and is usually undertaken for reasons of convenience and therefore could be, may be, might be wrong. She got in some sharp jabs at the self-serving obfuscations of her allies on the Left, but ultimately her efforts petered out into suggestions on how to establish...

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Jean Bethke Elshtain (review date 6 June 1997)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Elshtain, Jean Bethke. “Danger in Paradise.” Times Literary Supplement (6 June 1997): 12.

[In the following excerpt, Elshtain offers a mixed assessment of Promiscuities.]

Naomi Wolf is another child of the revolution. She grew up in its Mecca, the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. She watched her parents shed the garments of what had become a despised conformism and take on new personae: Mom in mini-skirts, hair flying, wearing dark kohl eyeliner, the sexual object with whom her daughter fell into a weird competition; Dad as renewed adolescent, taking up vampires as his hobby. Wolf, too, must stamp out “repressive hypocrisy” wherever she finds...

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Annie Gottlieb (review date 9 June 1997)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Gottlieb, Annie. “First Person Sexual.” Nation (9 June 1997): 25–28.

[In the following review of Promiscuities, Gottlieb criticizes Wolf's “reverent rhetoric” and selective history of non-Western cultural practices.]

I'll never say another bad word about the memoir. Reading Promiscuities, which aspires to be so much more—to vault from the “first person sexual” into cultural critique and change-the-world exhortation—I was at first exhilarated by the grandeur of its reach, a familiar yet oddly dated emotion I traced to the early seventies. Here was a throwback to an earlier, nervier genre, a feminist Big Book à la Beauvoir and...

(The entire section is 1945 words.)

Wendy Smith (essay date 30 June 1997)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Smith, Wendy. “Naomi Wolf: Confessions of a Feminist.” Publishers Weekly (30 June 1997): 56–57.

[In the following essay, Smith provides an overview of Wolf's life, career, and critical reception upon the publication of Promiscuities.]

Discussing the books that have made her a prominent figure in the feminist generation she has dubbed the “Third Wave,” Naomi Wolf is articulate and forceful. When she feels something she wrote has been misinterpreted, she can be emphatically (albeit politely) combative. But she reveals another side after a fan approaches her in the Gramercy Tavern, praises her books, and urges, “Keep up the good work!” Wolf thanks...

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Naomi Glauberman (review date 27 July 1997)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Glauberman, Naomi. “Hot and Bothered.” Los Angeles Times Book Review (27 July 1997): 9.

[In the following review of Promiscuities, Glauberman finds shortcomings in the book's lack of focus and organization.]

Naomi Wolf, either through brilliance or luck, captured the gold ring of feminist punditry with the publication of her first book, The Beauty Myth in 1991. Her denunciation of the cosmetic industry in her discussion of beauty, health and feminism resonated with a new generation of young women, many of whom had never read a feminist text. Her second book, Fire with Fire (1994), shifted gears. In her new role as public feminist, she...

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Diana Schaub (review date fall 1997)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Schaub, Diana. “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” Public Interest, no. 129 (fall 1997): 116–24.

[In the following review of Promiscuities, Schaub commends the seriousness of Wolf's feminist concerns, but faults her “sloppy” eclecticism and contradictory aims.]

Clearly, it will not be supplied by Naomi Wolf, whose new book, Promiscuities: The Secret Struggle for Womanhood, shows her to be still in quest of “a better time.” The book is an evocative recounting of the sexual coming of age of Wolf and her friends in the San Francisco of the 1960s and 1970s, interspersed with potted summaries of the sexual mores of other times and places. In...

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Wendy Shalit (review date December 1997)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Shalit, Wendy. “Daughters of the (Sexual) Revolution.” Commentary 104, no. 6 (December 1997): 42–45.

[In the following excerpt, Shalit offers an unfavorable assessment of Promiscuities.]

The signals of distress currently coming from the fairer sex merit a hearing. They issue from books and magazine articles, and they are echoed in the often impossibly contradictory statements by leaders and spokesmen of the feminist movement on themes ranging from women in combat roles to the threat ostensibly posed to womankind by the all-male Promise Keepers.

On the one hand, we are still being assured by feminists that any behavior on the part...

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Rebecca Abrams (review date 17 September 2001)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Abrams, Rebecca. “More Mummy Lit.” New Statesman (17 September 2001): 55.

[In the following review of Misconceptions, Abrams commends Wolf's “determination” but finds flaws in the book's “hackneyed” and “self-indulgent” qualities.]

It was absolutely predictable that Naomi Wolf would write a book about motherhood [Misconceptions]. She belongs to a generation of women, which is also my generation, for whom becoming and being a mother have undone every comfortable feminist certainty we ever had, and whose trademark response is to write about it. Reared on a weirdly neutered brand of feminism, you regarded motherhood as just a vague...

(The entire section is 821 words.)

Marilyn Gardner (review date 27 September 2001)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Gardner, Marilyn. “The Baby Myth.” Christian Science Monitor (27 September 2001): 19.

[In the following review, Gardner offers an unfavorable assessment of Misconceptions, commenting that the book is narcissistic and lacks specific examples to support many of Wolf's points.]

Pregnancy can be a joyous, wondrous time. In the eyes of Naomi Wolf, it can also be a period fraught with confusion, ambivalence, and conflict with medical professionals. As she warns at the beginning of her sobering, often angry book, Misconceptions, the experience of becoming a mother in America is “undersupported, sentimentalized, and even manipulated at women's...

(The entire section is 827 words.)