Old school and new school feminism meet in editor Lilly J. Goren's collection of essays, You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby: Women, Politics, and Popular Culture.
Every now and then, my inner academic tugs on my tattooed arm, begging to read a text that checks in on feminism’s response to stuff that’s affecting my life right now. You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby hits the spot, big-time. The series of essays looks at how women are faring in the spheres of work, home, media, and national politics—but what sets this book apart is how it doesn’t pigeonhole feminism as a concept to be discussed among academics; instead, it looks at feminism as a practical and functional lens through which to examine the realities of everyday life. In Natalie Fuehrer Taylor’s essay, the author analyzes how magazines such as Cosmo have valuable career advice for the ambitious professional snuck in between bubblegum celebrity interviews and fluff pieces on new, hot sex positions. Ever see the parallels between 18th-century feminist Mary Wollstonecraft and the movie Legally Blonde? Laurie Naranch’s contribution draws associations between historic feminist theory and gender politics in popular film. The book also contrasts how women are portrayed in the media with the realities of the expectations women are challenged with, especially when it comes to balancing work and motherhood. This is a provocative collection of work that articulates the fact that, although women have made tremendous headway, ladies still have a monumental challenge: to be valued equally with men. This remains, no matter what we choose to label ourselves.