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My Feminist Icon is…

By June 9, 2009June 12th, 2009Myth or Reality, Politics

Dear Naomi Wolf,

I’m really a fan of your work. So I’m quite confused by the article you wrote about Angelina Jolie in Harper’s Bazaar where you declared her the new feminist icon.

One of your reasons? Because she had escaped the Madonna/Whore debacle. Interesting? Did she really? Was she ever a shoe-in for the Madonna? There isn’t enough ‘orphan’ in China to cover those tattoos. Sorry. (I have three tattoos myself, I love tattoos, but the Madonna – last time I checked – had none.)

Escape the image of the Whore? Um. Last time I checked she had an affair with a married man and then told everyone about it in a magazine. You wrote, ‘she managed the almost unheard-of task of turning the home-wrecker label into a wholesome, family-friendly triumph.’ …………….. Sorry for the pause. I was busy. Throwing up.

Is this a joke? Who decided that she triumphed and who the hell called it wholesome? I think what she did was horrid and unforgivable. I’ve never caught her face on the front of the tabloids and thought anything but, ‘Ew.’ She did something wrong. She hurt at least one person, badly. And because the media decided to spin it one particular way, she triumphed? Naomi, you say it yourself: Maddox was photographed playing squeaky clean football with Brad Pitt, the father figure, and by Annie Liebovitz loving his mother. This was not a triumph – but a well-played, well-moneyed PR stunt.

I don’t care how much good she does in the world, you can’t really erase that, can you??? Maybe you can note her change or congratulate her for doing good things – but call a spade a spade. I beg you.

Then, you claim that because Santa Angelina (as Perez likes to call her) got her pilot’s license, she’s chosen “the classic metaphor for choosing your own direction.” Oh? What about a race car driver like Danica Patrick? What about Secretary of State like Hilary Clinton (I mean, she travels all over the world!)? What about an artist? What about a writer? I can think of dozens of professions that involve choosing your own direction. Boldly, even.

You also declare that ‘she took for her own pleasure the male seen as the most desired of the tribe, Brad Pitt.’ Not to me. I’m a George Clooney kind of a girl. And there’s something so barbaric in your word choice…but I get that you meant to do that. You want us to see her as the cavewoman clubbing the man and dragging him back to her cave. You succeeded, I just don’t find that alluring, praise-worthy or as a desirable behavior.

Maybe this is my favorite part of your article:

“Yes, she is conventionally beautiful: Bosomy and wasp-waisted, with that curtain of hair and those crazy pillowy lips, she is an obvious male sex fantasy.”

Hello? Naomi? Are you even in there??? You, yes YOU, the one that wrote The Beauty Myth. On what planet is Angelina Jolie ‘conventionally beautiful’??? Her boobs are huge. She looks anorexic – whether she is or isn’t, her bones poke out and there is no meat on her. She’s 34 years old, has carried three children in her womb and her stomach is non-existent and those boobs stand up without stretch marks so far as we can see. Her lips are, as you say, pillows – meaning overstuffed (and I’m sure they’re natural, they do seem to exist in her childhood photos). BUT MOST WOMEN DON’T LOOK LIKE THAT.

If I remember correctly, you wanted to liberate us from thinking we needed to idolize that male, sexualized, impossible to attain ideal! Just because some women, or the majority according to your poll, think she’s hot doesn’t make it okay. Why do you think they find her attractive? Doesn’t this beauty myth play a role. Wasn’t your theory that women are pressured into taking on this idealized concept of the female body? By men?

I read your book a long time ago, when it came out in 1991. And it meant so much to me. So much – as a woman who was struggling with an eating disorder, who had just found herself plopped in an Abercrombie & Fitch catalog masquerading as a private, New England college, who went on to struggle and survive, who was proudly among the first small group of women to graduate with a Women’s Studies major.

So, my feminst icon? Well, she used to look a little bit like Gloria Steinem, Alice Walker, Billie Jean King, Sylvia Boorstein and my fourth grade teacher, Holly Tetlow, all rolled into one. But the more I read your article, the more I realized that my icon is so much more. She’s new women I meet doing amazing things, female authors that are writing their hearts out, mothers that survive the loss of a child, girls finding their voices, she’s my friends, she’s my family. And she’s me – on my good days and on my bad ones.

We are more universal. We’re a grab bag, really. As diverse as our needs and wants on any given day. But, bottomline, my icon is real. She’s here.

Live and let live. I don’t know Angelina Jolie and I don’t pretend to just becuase I can read about her life in People magazine. But, I do know my icons, idols, role models and fantasies…and they look, act and exist nothing like Angelina Jolie.

Join the discussion 56 Comments

  • FROM ASIA says:

    You might not agree on what Naomi Wolf wrote in HARPER’s bazaar but the millions of her fans around the world and those people that she helped AGREED. She is an icon because actresses in my countries admire and try to immulate Angelina Jolie when it comes to her humanitarian work. We admire her because she is so honest and work hard as a UNCHR Goodwill Ambassador. I admire her because i have never read in her interviews her saying any bad things about any actors or actress (unlike megan fox w/ her recent interviews. She never even give attention to people who bad mouth her like all tabloids magazine and people LIKE YOU (must be the reason why tabloids mags and haters hate her so much). What i don’t understand is why people hate her and maligned her work as a UNCHR Goodwill Ambassador when she is helping refugees issues out to the main stream media when no one bother to read it if Angelina is not the one doing it. If you can just see past the divorced issue which in HW is a common occurance then perhaps you would NOT HATE HER SO MUCH!!

  • sara says:

    Roads:I’m not concerned with the triangle. I’m concerned that Naomi Wolf is holding someone that had a public affair with a married man up as a feminist icon. That’s it.

    My response: I have no idea if Jolie had an affair but it is a fact that Oprah and Barbara Walters had affairs with married men. These two women has been praise for being feminist and helping women causes. Could you please post links to your columns where you criticized these women for being a homewrecker. It would be nice for you to prove your moral judgment does not sway depending on the person.

  • OPN says:

    I guess you’re censoring comments huh?

  • Meghan says:

    For those of you coming on here and “defending” Angelina, I have only one question for ALL of you. Did you even read this post? Your points, your arguments, and your complaints make no sense in response to this post. AT ALL.
    I’m happy for all of you who live such glamorous lives that you DO find Angelina relatable. But for the rest of us, she’s not someone we can relate to. I”m not saying she’s a good OR bad person, simply that she’s just not relatable for the average woman. Or a good representation of the average woman for that matter.
    Julie is a fair person, non-judgmental, kind, and open to everybody. If any of you took the time to read this post and the rest of Julie’s blog you’d see how off your comments really are.
    Julie, it’s one thing to defend to your point of view. But it’s another thing to have to keep trying to explain what you said over and over again to people who obviously are missing the point. Save your breath.

  • SAMESO says:

    Yeah, my conclusion exactly. Censoring comments indeed. What an original response to posts containing the KNOWN FACTS about this iconic woman, Angelina Jolie.

    Comments are being censored because now that Angie’s admirers have discovered this site with its diatribe against a young 34 year old world renowned humanitarian woman, which is being masqueraded as an objective critique of an article by THE Naomi Wolf, suddenly the author of the original post has become anti-free speech. LOL.

    So typical of weak, jealous women.

  • Julie Roads says:

    I censored one comment because it was full of vicious hate. Something that I’m sure Angelina Jolie would disapprove of – even in her name. If you actually read the comments you will see many people’s views that disagree with mine. And I responded and was grateful for them. That’s what blogging is all about – a fruitful discussion. We’re all entitled to our opinions – it’s what makes the world go round. I love it!

    I’m now closing comments because the comments are no longer about an interesting discussion. They are no longer about my post. No one seems to be reading the post anymore.

    This is not and never was a post damning Angelina Jolie. I think all of the humanitarian things she has done and all of her wild successes SHOULD BE CELEBRATED. Thank goodness for her, she has helped so many!!! I’m certainly not hung up on the divorce or the affair – that has nothing to do with anything. I took issue with Naomi Wolf’s words to describe IT. That’s all.

    For the last time: I was writing to Naomi Wolf – someone that positively influenced me for many years. And I was asking her why she chose to write the words she wrote and paint the picture she painted. It’s not about Angelina Jolie…it’s about Naomi Wolf.

    I’m sorry that some of you can’t see that. And I wish you all of the peace, wellness and happiness in the world.

    With the kindest regards,