Romy Shiller

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: MS. MAGAZINE FEATURING BARACK OBAMA ON THE COVER OF Issue: WINTER 2009

In General on September 8, 2012 at 9:11 am

According to the book Third Wave Feminism and Television: Jane Puts it in a Box by the head of women’s studies at South-Carolina U., Merri Lisa Johnson, I’m a third wave feminist. I can imagine that you are getting many letters regarding your provocative cover featuring a superman Barack Obama. Obviously, he holds many views that feminists hold dear and indeed he considers himself a feminist. I do believe that men can be feminists. Does he belong on your esteemed cover? No. Your magazine defines feminism in female terms. It is important to realize that not all women are feminists by virtue of their biology. In your case it is absolutely necessary to keep women as a focus: Like black men, there is a major history for women and a continuing struggle. So yes there are parallels here but is that reason enough? You have the honourable and incredible opportunity to locate women who surpass their confines, who themselves represent change. In my own work as a gender specialist I validate the spectrum of femininity and masculinity for females and males. It would be entirely seamless for me to endorse your cover. I cannot. Look, if I were American (I am Canadian) I gladly would have voted for him. In my estimation he is remarkable, inspiring and transformative. I am thrilled he is your president. However, he would not be on the cover of my (hypothetical) feminist magazine.

Romy Shiller

3rd Wave Feminist

Romy Shiller is a pop culture critic and holds a PhD in Drama from the University of Toronto. Her academic areas of concentration include film, gender performance, camp and critical thought. She lives in Montreal where she continues her writing. All books are available online.

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