We’re living in a time when it feels like change is in the air- we’re celebrating #Vote100, reading about #MeToo and our feminism is rightly intersectional. This book was written as a reaction to Trump’s presidency and looks at the way women, using case studies from popular culture- including Serena Williams, Caitlyn Jenner, Nicki Minaj and Melissa McCarthy- are pigeon-holed as ‘problem women’. By using the prism of popular media, Petersen explores what it is to be a woman in the 21st century. All facets of womanhood are here and Petersen doesn’t shy away from looking at the issues facing the women in Hollywood and it’s easy to see how the roles these women play- albeit in glamorous lives far removed from ours- translate to the way women are seen in the ‘real’ world in a trickle down effect.
Petersen is not afraid to explore the role privilege plays in some of her case studies’ lives- the women from Broad City, Lena Dunham, Caitlyn Jenner- and how this affects the way they see the world and are seen by it. It’s a critical study that takes important issues and interprets them in an accessible way. And although it was written pre-Weinstein, it feels very now (Although I suspect it might read differently if it was written today.)
Each of these women is seen as a disruptor of the traditional female stereotypes; this book explores why and how- and what this means for society. If the media is a mirror, Petersen is interpreting its message for us. There is change afoot. Hollywood may be set for some self-reflection, but with writers like Petersen, we’ll all be watching very closely.