The Rise of Enlightened Sexism: How Pop Culture Took Us from Girl Power to Girls Gone Wild
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The Rise of Enlightened Sexism: How Pop Culture Took Us from Girl Power to Girls Gone Wild

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  1,036 ratings  ·  150 reviews
Women today are inundated with conflicting messages from the mass media: they must either be strong leaders in complete command or sex kittens obsessed with finding and pleasing a man. In The Rise Of Enlightened Sexism, Susan J. Douglas, one of America's most entertaining and insightful cultural critics, takes readers on a spirited journey through the television programs,...more
ebook, 368 pages
Published December 21st 2010 by Times Books (first published 2010)
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Kira
I'll review this properly at some time in the future, but let me tell you: this is a must-read. This book literally took over my life. Hunger Games? No. This book? Yes. I read this book everywhere. I was simply fascinated by it. Susan, you blow my mind.

What a fabulous examination of that great monster we all know as the MEDIA, and its relation to feminism. Do we "have it all"?

Oh, of course not. And Susan J. Douglas is here to tell you why.

Wondering why I took off that star? Same reason I detract...more
Emma Sea
I missed the 1990s. I got married, had a baby, and lost my mind (not necessarily in that order). When I came to, I had missed the X-Files. I missed Xena. I even missed Buffy. And somehow, when I re-entered the world, we had gone from Murphy Brown to Brazilians for all.

Douglas did a great job of unpicking what happened with popular media in those years to end us up here, in the world of Jersey Shore and Real Housewives, where "girls have learned to be enforcers of their own opression" (p. 237),...more
Heidi
Ummm..... yeah.

So, I'm all about Feminism. In fact - as imperfect as I may be - I oft feel as though I'm keeping it alive all by myself. I thought that this book would help give me specific examples to use as alliterations during my various discussions with the masses.

What did I get instead? One woman’s pitiful excuse to watch and critique various sitcoms, movies, music videos and the like from the ‘90’s. I flukin kno that "entertainment" (television in general) is sexist. Believe me, the cons...more
Ms. Online
ANXIOUS EMPOWERMENT
Brenda R. Weber
Enlightened Sexism: The Seductive Message That Feminism’s Work Is Done
By Susan J. Douglas
Times Books

GIVEN ITS DEPRESSING TOPIC— the media’s insidious contribution to
the waning influence of feminism— Enlightened Sexism is a delightful
read. Douglas had me laughing out loud as she made her irreverent
but persuasive case against a popular culture that promises girls
and women they can be whatever they want as long as they don’t want
the wrong things. This “empowerment”...more
Chris
Well, I know now why I couldn't get into Alias.

Douglas, in an extremely funny and 'I'm gulity of it too' voice dicusses how modern televison is sexist, just in more subtle (in some cases) ways then in the first place. She also examines why some shows worked and some shows didn't. Wonder why the Bachelor is still on tv, this will tell.

I do have to admit, howver, that I would have liked to see inclusion of both The Wire and Homicide as they bucked some of the trends that Douglas talked about.

Man,...more
michelle
A very good read. Douglas dissects pop culture, the media and politics and presents a truly horrendous analysis of how women are presented to the public and how we continue to be treated as inferior to men despite the strides of feminism. What I particularly enjoyed was the calling out of alleged feminist characters in television and film as stereotypical ball busting bitches with no positive feelings towards men.

I highly recommend this one.
Alex Templeton
Anyone who's paying any attention knows that the subtitle of this book is, duh, true. Therefore, it's nice that every ten years or so a book comes along that analyzes the past ten years of pop culture and says that, while we've made progress, there's still a lot more work to be done. This is that book for 2010. As someone who's generally familiar with what's going on in pop culture and has read quite a bit about it, I found a lot of this book to be retreading of stuff I already knew. Still, ther...more
Jess
I really enjoyed this book. It was intelligent, well-informed, and articulate. Writing with humor and attitude, Douglas calls the many faces of media on it’s secretly sexist, psuedo-feminist BS.

Citing examples from popular TV shows, retail, magazines, and news media, Douglas provides several examples of enlightened sexism and backs it up with plenty of research. It’s written simply but is still very intelligent and doesn’t pander to the reader (a less than easy tightrope). It’s dense and a littl...more
Rabbit {Go Go Power Rangers}
This book is similar but covers more ground then the "viriginty culture" of the Purity Myth. Definitely recommend it as well.
Anita
I was recommended this book after I made a video about Retro Sexism in advertising (http://www.feministfrequency.com/2010...) and I'm really glad because I can't believe I almost missed this one. Douglas provides a well researched look at the backlash against feminism and its sneaky manifestation as something she calls "Enlightened Sexism". I think it's an incredibly important work that uncovers the way that sexism and by extension patriarchy still works to oppress women in some very subtle ways...more
Monica
All I can say about this book is "ehhh..." Here's why: the first chapter in which Douglas defines the term "enlightened sexism" is cool because she explains this new phenomenon in which it appears that feminism has won, women have it all, and, therefore, we can ignore any signs of sexism that we still see because they're not relevant to the overall success that women have achieved. I also like how she emphasizes that the same old female stereotypes are being packaged in a new gift box of indepen...more
Katherine Clark
I am almost finished with this book. Overall, I enjoyed it, if that is the right word. In many ways, it is an upsetting book. I say upsetting, because I agree with the author's premise that the powers that be are attempting to return women to their rightful place, under the thumb of patriarchy. (And yes, I am saying this with a straight face.) I wish I had read this book before teaching my Female Hero and Superhero book--very useful. Douglas examines how women are portrayed on TV and in film, in...more
Heather
Douglas really lays out how media continues to incorporate sexism into society and he we just buy it now. It was pretty disturbing and opened my eyes. I'm definitely more sensitive now and that's a good thing. It's good create awareness. The only thing I didn't like is she did repeat some ideas over and over again which got a bit annoying. But overall an excellent book on feminism, sexism, and the social media.
Jane Costanza
I didn't enjoy this book as much as i thought i would. The author critiques pop- media (especially television sitcoms) over the past decade over its portrayal of women. Media and entertainment industry is sexist. Duh. It's racist and ageist too. It is hard to take seriously any straight faced critique of pop media. Pop media is so bizarre that im a bit bewildered why anyone would do a flat critique of it.
Sally
The author writes very well, with a lot of humor, in bringing home the point that, not only is feminism's work not done, but powerful forces using the media are seeking to undo what has been accomplished. In the 2012 political climate, the anti-feminist agenda is even more obvious than when the book was written.
Brittany
I've been waiting to write this review because I honestly just can't think of enough words to sum up how incredible it is. I thoroughly enjoyed Douglas's (Douglas'??) Where The Girls Are when I read it for a women's studies class in college. This is Where The Girls Are 2.0, for my generation. It made me rethink all of these things that I grew up on and am currently experiencing. It pissed me off (in the best way possible), it made me laugh, it made me (true to my generation) roll my eyes so hard...more
Rose
Jul 02, 2010 Rose rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: non-fic
This one's a curious book in that, in terms of quality, I think it easily earns five stars. Then why did I only give it three? Because it kept making me angry. Not because I disagreed with what Douglas was saying (for the most part, I think much of what she had to say was absolutely spot-on) -- but because I _agreed_, and it made for frustrating, difficult reading. It is frustrating to realize how much feminism still has to achieve ... and, for that matter, how much, in some ways, it has backsli...more
Lisa H
This book was ok. I was already aware of most of the information but it will be a good resource, facts wise, for my papers that I write for school.
Overall, though, I did not like the style of this book. It had the feeling that the author was trying to be lighthearted and sarcastic but she just couldn't make it stick. Where as when I read Jessica Valenti the words just seem to flow, this writing was jarring at points due to grammar and failed attempts either to be "cool" or funny.
The author even...more
Phillip Rhoades
Almost a four. Douglas presents a compelling case for what she describes as a new wave in the anti-feminism/feminism tension: "enlightened sexism". She uses media literacy and analysis to show that this new social form conveys several basic messages: women have "made it"; traditional feminism is antiquated and dangerous for young women; women can obtain greater levels of power through emphasizing their bodies as objects (versus being passive objects of the male gaze); and that we as people are s...more
Nan
May 27, 2010 Nan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: College students everywhere
I received this book through the Goodreads First Reads Giveaway program. I could not be more thrilled.

Susan J. Douglas is a Professor of Communication at the University of Michigan, and she uses all of her skills to analyze feminism and sexism from the nineties to the present. Through her study of television, magazines, and music, she illustrates the way in which the powerful feminist impulses of the early nineties (such as the Riot Grrrl movement) were co-opted and emptied of meaning through co...more
Marisa Ikstrums
I really wanted to love this book. It was tragic that instead I found myself repeatedly inclined to throw it across the room. Part of this is my fault - I should've paid more attention to the dust jacket and realized that it was going to be nothing but a polemical against portrayals of women in the media without attention elsewhere. The title is incredibly misleading, for the record: this is much less about feminism or sexism but instead a 300-page description of women in media between 1990-2010...more
Vanessa
Excellently written and supported, I found Enlightened Sexism had the answer to a question that has been bothering me for quite awhile now: why does everyone think that the United States has surpassed sexism? I have also asked this about racism and classism and the other oppressions that continue to dominate American culture, such as homophobia and ageism.

Well, this book made it perfectly clear why so many people call me a 'femi-nazi' and harass me online when I speak about feminism. I am very...more
earthy
Really interesting, well-researched look at media representations of women and young girls, and how these more modern interpretations (whether intentionally or not) work to convince us that feminism is "over" or not necessary, even though the total opposite is true. Sure, the Baby Boomer author tries a little too hard to be hip, but she also makes sure to point out the profoundly troublesome aspects of modern media: We're supposed to be "post-feminist" and ironic viewers who know things like Gos...more
Dana
In Enlightened Sexism, Susan J. Douglas argues that the through the combination of "enlightened sexism" and "embedded feminism," the media and popular culture conceal the very real need for continued feminism - the very idea of which having become almost a dirty word. In embedded feminism, tv shows and the media present women in power as fait accompli, leading women to believe that feminism is part of the cultural landscape and hiding the fact that there still exist many disparities between wome...more
Katherine Clark
I am almost finished with this book. Overall, I enjoyed it, if that is the right word. In many ways, it is an upsetting book. I say upsetting, because I agree with the author's premise that the powers that be are attempting to return women to their rightful place, under the thumb of patriarchy. (And yes, I am saying this with a straight face.) I wish I had read this book before teaching my Female Hero and Superhero book--very useful. Douglas examines how women are portrayed on TV and in film, in...more
Emily
WHERE THE GIRLS ARE was assigned in the Introduction to Sociology course I took in the second semester of my freshman year of college. My professor recommended looking for used copies of the course books at the bookstore, but advised that we'd all have to buy new copies of Douglas' book because nobody sells it back at the end of the semester. He was right.

I hoped ENLIGHTENED SEXISM would be the new WHERE THE GIRLS ARE. I don't think it will be. Douglas' writing is as conversational, engaging, a...more
Pam
Jun 08, 2011 Pam rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who are slightly sad they didn't watch enough TV in the 90s
Shelves: feminism, non-fiction
Note - the last chapter or two are more like I was hoping the whole book would be.

I'm finding this book frustrating because it seems to mostly lack any analysis of political/societal issues (what laws are being passed that affect abortion, employment, day care, rape) and it pretty much just a run-down of all the TV shows and magazines that I haven't seen in the past two decades, and the negative affects that they probably have on women's self image. Occasionally she remembers to remark about ho...more
Shanshad Whelan
Decent enough read, but the title really says it all. The author takes a lot of time to work through about two decades of pop culture and analyze the shifts in women's roles. It's interesting, but nothing I didn't already know to some degree. The writing is very dense and sometimes I felt overlong--especially when discussing such things as Melrose Place and 90210.

There's a call to arms at the very end for baby boomer mothers to reconnect with their daughters and revive feminism in truth. Which...more
Nancy
Well, this was interesting. It was. The thing is, first the author states her basic premise - that popular media, under the pretense that sexism is so last century, is perpetuating damaging sexist stereotypes and colonizing both male and female minds with female images that are not substantially different from those of the 1950s. And truly, Douglas makes a powerful case, and I have only minor differences with her. The only thing is...

...Oh, I feel bad even saying this. But it just gets kind of b...more
Angela
I really wanted to love this book, but I couldn't get past Douglas' attitude. Far too often she came across as almost scolding, putting forth an us-vs-them dynamic where the "us" was older women like herself and the "them" were young women who will eventually need to be saved by older feminists once they hit retirement age (I'm not even kidding; this is a scenario put forth in her conclusion).

I read and really enjoyed Susan Faludi's Backlash in high school, and really hoped that this would be ab...more
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Susan J. Douglas is a prize-winning author, columnist, and cultural critic, and the Catherine Neafie Kellogg Professor of Communication Studies at The University of Michigan. Her book Where the Girls Are was widely praised, and chosen one of the top ten books of 1994 by National Public Radio, Entertainment Weekly and The McLaughlin Group. In her most recent book, Enlightened Sexism: The Seductive...more
More about Susan J. Douglas...
Where the Girls Are: Growing Up Female with the Mass Media The Mommy Myth: The Idealization of Motherhood and How It Has Undermined All Women Listening in: Radio and the American Imagination Inventing American Broadcasting, 1899-1922 Bonfire of the Humanities: Television, Subliteracy, and Long-Term Memory Loss

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“...There were the studies, beginning in 2007, which found that the suicide rate among women who had received breast implants were twice the suicide rate of the general population. So there's an alarming relationship between being deeply unhappy, being unhappy with your body, and having liquid-filled plastic bags surgically inserted into your body that kind of contradicts the whole "boost your self-esteem" line about the real reasons to have cosmetic surgery.” 2 likes
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