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Review: 90s Bitch: Media, Culture, and the Failed Promise of Gender Equality

90s Bitch: Media, Culture, and the Failed Promise of Gender Equality 90s Bitch: Media, Culture, and the Failed Promise of Gender Equality by Allison Yarrow
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

To be called a bitch is contextual and gendered. If a woman is called a bitch in anger, it is demeaning. If a man is called one in anger, it is not just demeaning, but an attack on their masculinity. And then there are those, like myself, who embrace the term as one of strength. Sometimes women use it as a term of endearment, "You are a strong bitch!" Other times we translate the attack and flip is back to the offender, "You're damn right I'm a bitch!" But how does the word impact our daily lives and politics? From Brenda versus Kelly to Tonya versus Nancy, Allison Yarrow's careful examination of who gets called a bitch reveals why the feminist movement failed to make the progress it should have in the 1990s and its ramifications to our lives today.

You may wonder how one word has so much power. That is why "90s Bitch" is a must read, especially for everyone who grew up in the 1990s.

By examining both sides of different scandals such as Hillary Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, Yarrow unpacks how the media and our reactions helped to fuel the unraveling of feminist goals that we still feel today. Hillary began the 1990s as the number one bitch. She was an unconventional First Lady who offended many who believed in the traditional doting wife model. Hillary offended many with her comment about not staying home to bake cookies, but once challenged to a bake-off, worked her ass off to win it. Many felt she wasted any goodwill by the revelations of Bill's infidelity by staying with him. On the other hand, Monica was rarely afforded support due to a massive case of slut-shaming. One thread Yarrow misses in this conversation is the reality that the Republicans had taken over Congress and the defense of Bill was one of political will, especially in light of Newt Gingrich and Henry Hyde's history of infidelity. Yarrow's indictment of feminist leaders is a hard pill to swallow for those of us lived through the moment, even if we have a sneaky suspicion that Bill deserved to be impeached for preying on an intern. But what Yarrow does is not just reveal the flaws of 1990s feminism in relation to the Bill Clinton affair, but how the bitchification of Monica prevented a better analysis of the situation.

Again and again Yarrow reexamines how the trope of bitch derailed feminist progress in the 1990s. You may have lived through the 90s, but that means you likely took a side and Yarrow shows us that the only side of have was the movement's side.

Disclaimer: I received a review copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

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Comments

jack smith said…
cool stuff, good work, i love your work, keep it up.

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