chapter  9
17 Pages

Dear Anne Summers: ‘Microfeminism’ and media representations of women: Sue Turnbull

In March 1995, Anne Summers, editor of The Age Good Weekend published an essay in her own magazine supplement entitled ‘Shockwaves at the revolution’ (Summers 1995).1 In this article, she took young Australian women to task for (in her opinion) failing to embrace feminism; for resting on the laurels won by their mothers; and for being reluctant to rush into print with their own ‘passionate perspectives’ on contemporary feminist issues. By way of criticism she pointed approvingly to a new generation of American public/populist feminists including Naomi Wolf, Katie Rolphe and Rene Denfield. Summers’ grumpy criticism echoed the tone sounded in the final chapter of a revised version (in 1994) of her seminal work of feminist history, Damned Whores and God’s Police (first published in 1974). In a new introduction to this update, Summers duly acknowledged that her descriptions of society written some 20 years earlier might seem ‘quaint and outmoded’. However, what seemed even more ‘quaint and outmoded’ to the young female students I was then teaching was Summers’ militaristic metaphors: her rhetorical call to arms. They could not conceive of themselves as a united front of feminist ‘warriors’ banded together under the same ‘banners and slogans’ fighting shoulder to shoulder for any particular feminist cause.2