For the record I was born in 1980, there is no reason for me to feel old. BUT where I work we're hiring people who were born a decade after me, so I must admit that someday "Backlash" stories about the early 80s and 90s pop culture will be lost on the young adults around me. sigh.
And that's a nice thing about FFF, it dissects pop culture without mentioning a whole lot of really specific TV shows, movies, or news stories. It's got some studies, and Valenti has updated it in this edition by re-writing an intro paragraph for each section that has some updates. It can easily stay up-to-date.
It's not as deep as "Backlash", but in ways that's good. It's really something you can hand to a 13-year-old and I like that about it, for instance it's got chapters about how your school should be teaching comprehensive sex ed. Old ideas for someone who's read a lot of feminist books, but important for a primer.
And even for me it did present choice feminism in a way I hadn't thought of. I was a little uncomfortable recently with the documentary "MissRepresentation" because it had these long montages of media images where women are flaunting their asses in music videos or parading around in lingerie and I felt like they were saying "THIS is the problem, these scantily clad women!" Really? Those women are the problem that's plaguing women? I didn't like that attitude. I also didn't want to say they were totally rocker girl-power empowered though... I felt stuck.
Well Valenti gets that issue unstuck. I've always felt like we should not pretend like leg-shaving or bikinis were "big feminist issues", when girls are being attacked with acid for going to school in third world countries, I was like "can we stop talking about whether makeup makes you a bad feminist?" But that's just avoiding the issue. Valenti's stance is that we can embrace culture and pick it apart at the same time... wear mascara because it's what you want, acknowledge that society may be driving you to do it, that's okay! Then move on. Not every choice you make has to be a STANCE... it's like we've turned choice feminism into "pick a side" feminism, which is exactly what society did to us with the whole "virgin/whore" dichonomy. You're either a good girl who doesn't like sex, or a total slut who's terrible for society if you like sex a little bit, am I right? We see it all the time and it's bullshit. So the college girls flashing their boobs in girls gone wild are not The Problem, nor are they "yay you did what you want!" symbols of empowerment. We do not have to put everyone on a side.
So maybe that's my favorite big idea from the book: only a sith deals in absolutes! No wait that's Star Wars. Well it clearly applies to feminism and cultural influences towards women, okay, Jessica Valenti is not nerdy like I am but I will use whatever language I'm comfortable using. That's what makes the third wave so great!