Cobble, Gordon and Henry in Salon:
Texts have helped to spread feminist ideas since the beginning of the U.S. women’s movement — from suffragist newspapers in the nineteenth century to mimeographed manifestos of the late 1960s to bestselling feminist books in all eras. In the late 1960s, it was not uncommon for feminist groups to write political statements, or manifestos, outlining their beliefs and goals. Such documents tended to come out of consciousness- raising and political groups, produced by a collective of women rather than just one author. Documents of this type, such as the “Redstockings Manifesto” (1969), were widely circulated in pamphlet form and often republished in feminist journals and anthologies, some of which became bestsellers, such as the collection “Sisterhood Is Powerful” (1970). Likewise, the emergence of a new feminist sensibility in the post-1990 era can be connected to texts, whether Rebecca Walker’s 1992 Ms. essay or feminist books preceding it, such as Susan Faludi’s “Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women” (1991) and Naomi Wolf’s “The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women” (1991). Texts were especially important in giving a presence to this new feminism, since it did not rely on the gathering of women in activist groups. If the women’s liberation movement of the late 1960s and 1970s was characterized by the rapid formation of groups and publication of their manifestos, the feminism that emerged in the mid-1990s developed primarily through the publication of individually authored texts. Texts named the generation, texts energized it, and reading texts became a way of participating in the contemporary movement.
…Perhaps one of the biggest changes in popular culture over the last two decades has been the emergence of women (and often feminist) comedians into the previously all-male world of stand-up comedy and comedy writing. Women like writer-actress-producer Tina Fey used humor to challenge sexism and misogyny and to astutely reflect on what passed for gender equality in the twenty-first century. On the inaugural episode of Fey’s critically acclaimed series “30 Rock” (2006–13), which she wrote, her alter ego, Liz Lemon, is described as “a third- wave feminist,” and over the course of the series Fey humorously poked fun at modern womanhood and the media-hyped crisis over “having it all.” Other feminist comedians during this period included Mindy Kaling, Sarah Silverman, Wanda Sykes, and Margaret Cho, who famously summed up her generation’s entitlement: “If you say you’re not a feminist you’re almost denying your own existence. To be a feminist is to be alive.”